Archive for Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Tonganoxie couple request interchange e-mails

January 10, 2007

Tonganoxie resident Phyllis Shilling informed council members that she and her husband, Roger, are requesting all e-mail exchanges in the last three years relating to a proposed Kansas Turnpike interchange.

The request, filed under the Kansas Open Records Act, is seeking e-mails about the interchange sent among the city; Leavenworth County commissioners; the county counselor, David Van Parys; city attorney Mike Kelly; Lynn McClure, past director of Leavenworth County Development Corp.; Ralph Lewis, attorney for Tailgate Ranch; and Mike Johnston, president of the Kansas Turnpike Authority.

"We thought you should know we are doing this," Shilling said.

The Shillings led a petition drive to force a public vote on whether the city should contribute funds to a project to upgrade Leavenworth County Road 1. Construction of a turnpike interchange is contingent on the county road improvements. At last estimate, the county still was short on funding for the $12,961,000 project.

The city of Tonganoxie has not officially committed any funds. But the most recent information provided by county officials was that the city's negotiations are in the $1 million range.

The city currently is challenging in court the Shillings effort at forcing a vote on County Road 1 funding. No hearing date has been set on that court challenge.

The Shillings have copies of some e-mails sent last March that they say show "a disturbing and unethical approach to suppress opinions" against the interchange. The e-mails appear to have been sent to and from the former Leavenworth County Development Corp. director. Other recipients included city officials and LCDC officials.

In an interview on Tuesday, Phyllis Shilling said she made the request for the e-mails in preparation for a town meeting that she hopes to have on the turnpike interchange. A meeting date hasn't been set, but should be soon, she said.

"Hopefully, we'll know by then whether the city gets to vote on it," she said, adding, "I don't think we will get to."

During the meeting, she wants to provide a history of the interchange.

"What we've done and what the activity has been on both sides," she said.

She's already heard from Leavenworth County counselor David Van Parys, who said he would provide all his e-mail correspondence within three days.

"We're not trying to call anyone dishonest or anything," Shilling said. "We just want the information. It's something we should have done a long time ago."

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