Funeral services for Alvin Sykes to be livestreamed on Thursday

Alvin Sykes (File photo)

Funeral services will be livestreamed on Thursday, April 1, for Alvin Sykes.

Sykes, 64, a human rights activist, died on Friday, March 19. He pursued social justice issues and was instrumental in the passage of the federal Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act, as well as several Kansas laws dealing with social justice.

The services are open to friends and family, with face masks required.

Visitation is 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Thursday, April 1, followed by services at 11 a.m. April 1 at the Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church, 2310 E. Linwood Blvd., Kansas City, Missouri.

Services will be streamed live at the Alvin Sykes Celebration of Life Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/groups/127888179296464/media.

A Go Fund Me account for a memorial fund for Alvin Sykes has been set up at
https://www.gofundme.com/f/alvin-sykes-memorial-fund?qid=ce4a0eb6d2d26726f76b0234c163d1f2.

For more information, visit http://www.wyandottedaily.com/remembering-alvin-sykes-human-rights-activist/.

First day of in-person school in KCK district

Students at Grant Elementary School, 1510 N. 4th St., Kansas City, Kansas, returned to in-person school on Wednesday, March 31. (Photo by Kamron Porter, Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools communications staff)

The first day of in-person school in the Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools district went very well on Wednesday, according to district spokesman Edwin Birch.

“I think people were just happy to see people and to see kids,” Birch said. There was laughter, smiling faces and “it was awesome,” he said.

Students in kindergarten through 12th grade returned to in-person school after having been at home for remote learning for around a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. There were safety precautions in place, including masks, social distancing and clear barriers. Students at the elementary level are sitting in small groups, or pods, within the classroom.

Until now, most students in the district had been in remote learning through the internet. A small group of students, including some high school seniors, some special education students and some students with internet connectivity problems, came back to in-person school earlier this year.

Teachers in Kansas City, Kansas, were able to be vaccinated before they returned to school.

Birch, executive director of communications for the district, said more than 80 percent of the district’s parents selected in-person instruction for their students. The other 20 percent opted to stay at home in remote learning, he added.

Classrooms at Grant Elementary School and at other schools in the Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools district look a little different as in-person school reopened Wednesday. Students are wearing masks, there are clear plastic barriers and students are sitting in pods (small groups at tables). (Photo by Kamron Porter, Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools communications staff)
The first day of in-person school was on Wednesday at Grant Elementary School, Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Kamron Porter, Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools communications staff)
The first day of in-person school was on Wednesday at Grant Elementary School, Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Kamron Porter, Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools communications staff)
The first day of in-person school was on Wednesday at Grant Elementary School, Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Kamron Porter, Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools communications staff)

Electricity cutoffs can resume this week in Kansas City, Kansas

A moratorium on disconnecting electricity expires today, March 31, and cutoffs may start on April 1 for Board of Public Utilities customers.

The BPU recently urged customers who have fallen behind on their electric bills to get in touch with the BPU billing or customer service office at 913-573-9190 before their electricity is cut off. There are several repayment plans available for customers, according to a BPU news release.

The BPU lobby is currently closed to in-person business because of COVID-19, and BPU offices will be closed for the spring holiday on Friday, April 2. Telephone 913-573-9190 is recommended to reach the customer service office.

The BPU also encouraged customers who need assistance in paying their bills to sign up with the Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance (KERA) program, that is run through the Kansas Housing Resources Corp. at the state level. Both tenant and landlord apply together for this program in a joint application. If approved, the landlord or service provider receive funds directly from KHRC.

Those eligible for this program include renters who were experiencing financial hardships because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program was funded through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021.

Eligible for the program are tenants who rent their home, tenants whose 2020 household income did not exceed 80 percent of the area’s median income, households where at least one member was experiencing documented financial hardship as a result of the pandemic, or at least one member of the household is uncertain of where they will stay or may become homeless without housing assistance.

For more information on the KERA program, visit https://kshousingcorp.org/emergency-rental-assistance/.

Assistance with utility bills also was a topic during a recent CARES Act funding update at a Unified Government Committee meeting on March 22.

Crystal Sprague, who led the CARES Act local committee, said that the federal aid from the CARES Act was eligible for spending through March 1. That program sent dollars to the local communities that then distributed them through charities to assist in COVID-19 hardships.

Sprague said another round of funding, the American Rescue Plan, did not send dollars to Wyandotte County organizations to distribute in programs designed by the community, in the same manner as the CARES Act.

Wyandotte County was estimated by the National Association of Counties to receive about $89 million through the American Rescue Plan in direct federal aid.

Some Wyandotte County residents will be eligible for assistance under the American Rescue Plan’s programs at the state level, according to Sprague.

One of these programs was KERA, she said, available through the state of Kansas. It covers rental and utility assistance.

The application is online and available to anyone who might need the services, she said.

Several community agencies are helping residents with this application process, as it is not easy, and it requires electronic applications, Sprague said. Several community agencies are working together with the Housing Authority on it to help residents, she added.

There are many steps required to prove applicants are not receiving funding from any other sources, and to show they are needy because of COVID-19 issues, she added.

The money is there, and she encouraged residents who need it to get online, apply or contact the United Way (telephone 2-1-1-) or Avenue of Life to see if they can help them fill out the applications.

Sprague said that through the Kansas eviction prevention program, funded through the state in the first round of federal assistance, there were 315 households in Wyandotte County that were found eligible for assistance. About $806,000 of rental and utility assistance came to local homes through the first round of funding in that program, she said.