Bond opposition ready for revised plan
The Tonganoxie USD 464 bond issue was soundly defeated this past week, but an opponent is ready to get to work on a new plan.
Gretchen Busche, who helped organize the opposition group, The Committee for the Kids, said the district needs a new elementary school and another bond question should be put on a ballot “as soon as possible.”
“First of all, I’m disappointed more people didn’t turn up to the polls,” Busche said. “Turnout is disappointing, but I am excited the community came together and voted.”
She said she hoped people who voted against the bond would play a part in the planning for the next bond issue “because we do need a new grade school.”
The final official tally, which was determined after Leavenworth County Commissioners canvassed the votes, was 1,121 no votes to 683 yes votes.
At Monday’s school board meeting, superintendent Kyle Hayden said the plan needs tweaking when the next bond issue is brought before voters.
“It’s a convincing ‘no,’ so I think that means we need to rework the plan and get more people involved and take a different approach people will support,” Hayden said.
Board member Diane Truesdell mentioned there were comments from some about the wording of the bond question, that it was vague in some areas and might give free reign to the district to spend money. A bond attorney created the wording, Hayden said.
A new face has joined the Tonganoxie City Council.
Challenger Dennis Bixby and incumbent Bill Peak were elected to the council this past week, beating out incumbent Paula Crook, who was elected in 2007.
Bixby, a former construction project manager who now is self-employed, was the top vote-getter with 430, while Peak, who is retired from the U.S. Postal Service, was a close second with 427, and Crook, who works for Meals on Wheels, had 363. The three candidates were vying for two seats.
Peak was elected for the first time April 5. Mayor Jason Ward appointed him in 2010 to fill the position previously held by Tom Putthoff, who resigned this past August.
“I was humbled by the support,” Peak said. “And for me, it was a very pleasant experience. I went to more than 400 houses door-to-door. Several of them asked good questions.”
Peak said he’s hoping to get better attendance at meetings from the public “but at the same time, show up and do the best I can for the city, whether there’s anyone there (at meetings) or not,” he said.
He said the budget is one situation the city faces and another, he said, was “hoping the town can grow a little, and we can help to enhance it.”
Bixby, meanwhile, was elected in his first bid for public office.
“I was excited,” Bixby said about the Election Day results. “You get excited whenever you succeed at anything.”
Bixby said he spent some time since the election meeting with the police and fire chiefs and riding along with a police officer.
“I’m just getting a feel for what their challenges are,” he said.
Building up the city’s reserve will be key, Bixby said.
“They gave me about a 50-pound backpack of charts and ordinances and all kinds of light reading I’m supposed to get up to speed on,” Bixby said with a laugh.
A retired carpenter will be the newest member of the Tonganoxie school board.
Gene Becker won election April 5 against Jonathan Boone and Tamara Behm.
Becker garnered 642 votes to Boone’s 496 and Behm’s 431.
Becker, whose wife, Debbie, is administrative secretary at Tonganoxie Elementary School, will take the at-large position currently held by Mildred McMillon, a longtime board member who also served at one time on the state board. McMillon announced in December she would not seek re-election.
“I just thank the voters,” Becker said.
Now Becker, whose term begins this summer, said dwindling state aid would be an issue he’ll be trying to help tackle. The board will need to move forward after the bond issue was defeated, he said.
“My thoughts are that we have to go back to square one and rethink everything and get a larger community involvement,” Becker said.