2006 in review-A year of progress
No. 1-Voters narrowly reject USD 232 school bond
November 9, 2006
With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, De Soto USD 232 schools won't be taking out a $105.7 million bond issue -- at least not for now.
Even as those for and against the bond proposal digested unofficial results showing the bond issue was defeated by a mere 81 votes, they agreed a new bond issue must pass eventually to address the growth of 300 to 400 students each year in the district.
"We've utilized all the nooks and crannies to keep class sizes down," Superintendent Sharon Zoellner said. "We have no options at this point."
No. 2-Council approves contract to build sewer plant
Elvyn J. Jones
January 12, 2006
The city of De Soto has found the funding needed to start construction of the new wastewater plant in the West Bottom, and the good news for customers is that it won't require rate increases.
Last-minute adjustments to bring construction of a new wastewater plant into budget were needed when all bids to build the sewer plant were higher than the engineer's estimate of about $5.2 million.
Last month, the council agreed the low bidder, Walters Morgan Construction of Manhattan, would be the contractor for the project. But it didn't approve a contract.
That step was to be taken when the project was made affordable through a two-pronged attack involving cost cuts and exploration of other funding sources. If those measures didn't cover the deficit, it was agreed to borrow money from the city's $2.5 million electrical utility fund.
No loan will be necessary. Enough cost-saving measures were found in a value engineering effort with the contractor to shave $180,000 in construction costs, and staff identified $225,000 in funding sources to supplement construction revenue available in the $9 million bond issued for the project in September.
"We can fully fund the project, and that would include a $200,000 contingency," city engineer Mike Brungardt told the council.
No. 3-Pool opens to big splash
Elvyn J. Jones
June, 1, 2006
Soon after the gates of the De Soto Family Aquatic Center opened Friday, Sheryll Schmidt approached De Soto City Councilwoman Mitra Templin to thank her for her work to make the new pool possible.
"I think it's been a long time coming," Schmidt said after thanking Templin. "A lot of people did a lot of work for it."
A few minutes earlier in short speeches before the cutting of a ribbon to open the pool, Templin acknowledged others who had a hand in the new pool, including former Mayor Steve Prudden, who starting the ball rolling for a new pool when he appointed her to a De Soto Planning Commission pool committee in 1999.
In his remarks, Mayor Dave Anderson told the crowd of children awaiting their first swim to thank their parents for voting to approve the $2.6 million bond issue that built the pool.
With the ribbon cut and gate raised, there was no indication of buyer's remorse for the parents attending the grand opening. "Great," "awesome" and "wonderful" were the words often used to describe the pool.
"I'm really excited," said Kay Speed, who helped with the campaign for the pool. "I think it's going to be very crowded."
With warm weather, that has been the case since the pool's opening, pool manager Justin Huslig said.
"We've been at about capacity every day," he said.
No. 4- Community rallies in support of Libby
Elvyn J. Jones
December 7, 2006
Libby Stone said her brother Ross would be better prepared to enjoy her coming a celebrity.
"This is more of a Ross thing," she said of her brother, a freshman studying theater at Pittsburg State. "I'm more of a shy, quiet type. He would jump at it. He said, 'I'm related, so I still get to be on TV.'"
The 21-year-old De Soto woman will become a reality TV star as the Discovery Channel tracks her preparations for a liver transplant, the surgery and her recovery. Libby is on list for a liver transplant to arrest the genetic disorder Maple Syrup Urine Disease.
It was learned soon after her birth Libby lacked a gene the that produces an enzyme responsible for process three of the 22 amino acids the body produces. Without strict dietary control, a toxic three-branch chain of amino acids could build up in Libby's blood stream, affecting her brain functions and -- if unchecked -- lead to coma or death.
Libby might be considered one of the TV show's co-stars. Producer Debra Ridpath said those with the new Discovery Channel show "Surgery Saved My Life" got her name from her surgeon, Dr. George Mazariegos, the pediatric transplant director at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh and the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute, as it searched for patients slated to be involved so-called "domino" transplants. Libby agreed to donate her liver, which will function fine for someone without her genetic disorder.
Ridpath said Libby was selected for a number of reasons, not the least was her personality.
"She's such a wonderful young woman," she said.
Libby is still waiting for the call from Pittsburgh. A trust fund has been established at the FCB Bank in De Soto to help the Stone family with the expense of the operation and her recovery.
No. 5-City administrator named
Elvyn J. Jones
January 12, 2006
Patrick Guilfoyle got confirmation he picked the right career choice when years ago he saw the results of a university study as a young assistant city administrator.
De Soto's next city administrator, who will assume his City Hall duties March 6, said the study asked city managers what alternate careers they found attractive.
"One and two -- I can't remember in what order -- was theater and the ministry," he said. "Both of those were things I was interested in and pursued before I turned to city management for a career choice.
"I enjoy working with people and am very people oriented. I like to think I'm not only comfortable with that kind of environment but thoroughly enjoy it."
Guilfoyle's interest in the two alternate careers suggest the De Soto City Council found the right man to replace Greg Johnson, who departed in September. Council members said they wanted an experienced and confident spokesman for the city.
Plainsboro, N.J., Mayor Peter Cantu, said Guilfoyle was a knowledgeable financial administrator who brought new methods to that city's budget, Cantu said. He also praised Guilfoyle as a skillful communicator in the central New Jersey city of 22,000.