Interim UG administrator named

Cheryl Harrison-Lee (Kansas Board of Regents photo)

Mayor Tyrone Garner on Thursday named Cheryl Harrison-Lee to be the interim Unified Government administrator, through April 1, 2023.

Harrison-Lee will fill the temporary post vacated by former Administrator Doug Bach, who retired effective Jan. 6. Bach announced his retirement on Dec. 29. Deputy Administrator Alan Howze served as interim administrator on Thursday night.

Harrison-Lee’s appointment was approved by a unanimous vote of the UG Commission Thursday night.

She will become the first interim UG administrator who is a person of color and a woman, according to Garner.

She has extensive experience as a municipal administrator in Florida and also served as city administrator of Gardner, Kansas, he said.

Harrison-Lee is currently vice chair of the Kansas Board of Regents.

Garner said he selected Harrison-Lee because of her qualifications and his belief that this appointment is what Wyandotte County needs at this time to address some of the needs in the community, including addressing taxes, and investing in disinvested parts of the community.

According to her biography on the Board of Regents’ website, Harrison-Lee is CEO of HLDC, a management consulting firm. She served as chief technical adviser for the city of Kansas City, Missouri, working on the central city sales tax.

She also was executive director for the Kansas Office of Recovery, and was in charge of distributing federal CARES Act funding to local communities.

UG commissioners spoke in favor of Harrison-Lee’s appointment.

Commissioner Christian Ramirez said it is a historic moment for Wyandotte County, a first female interim county administrator and the first interim administrator who is a person of color.

Commissioner Mike Kane said he supports the appointment because of excellent recommendations from Gardner officials.

Commissioner Melissa Bynum also asked about getting a copy of the interim administrator’s contract, and Commissioner Gayle Townsend was interested in a procedural question and if there were plans to conduct a national search for a permanent administrator.

Misty Brown, chief legal counsel, said in the past, mayors have negotiated and signed contracts with the administrator. The administrator reports directly to the mayor. The contract will be provided to commissioners after it has been negotiated, she said.

Mayor Garner said he was impressed by Harrison-Lee’s resume and qualifications and her desire to provide servant leadership.

He said it was “premature” to talk about the long term. There will be the opportunity to come back to the commission for evaluation, he said, and it would surprise him if she does not meet or exceed expectations of the commission, staff and community. He said he would notify the commission if he moves forward with a national search.

“Ms. Harrison-Lee has my full support,” he said. “She’s going to need all of our support, to need this community’s support.”

Appointment, stormwater fees on Thursday night UG agenda

The appointment of an interim Unified Government administrator and proposed changes to stormwater fees are on the agenda for the 7 p.m. UG Commission meeting Thursday.

The Unified Government Commission will meet at 5 and 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 6.

UG Administrator Doug Bach recently announced his retirement, effective Jan. 6. The interim administrator position is on the agenda.

The proposed stormwater rate options are a tiered rate structure, and an individually calculated rate structure.

There also is a 5 p.m. special session on Thursday. On the agenda for the 5 p.m. meeting are an update on the legislative agenda, a COVID-19 update and a presentation on stormwater rates.

Also on the 7 p.m. agenda are a number of planning and zoning items, including:

• A resolution to extend the moratorium on enforcement of pre-existing murals prohibited within certain zoning districts.

• A resolution to extend some sections of the code of ordinances in conjunction with COVID-19 emergency ordinances passed previously by the UG Commission.

• 7331 Holliday Drive, change of zone from single-family and planned non-retail business districts to planned limited business district for a single-family residence and accessory structures.

• 230 S. 65th St., change of zone from single-family district to planned commercial district to convert a warehouse to a skate park-skate school, Ride 4 Ever Skate Park.

• 4461 Eaton St., change of zone from single-family district to townhouse district to bring the existing nonconforming triplex into compliance.

• 3159 Orville Ave., change of zone from single-family district to traditional neighborhood design district for an existing nonconforming three-unit residential building.

• 3740 N. 35th St., change of zone from single-family district to agriculture district for agricultural uses.

• 1150 N. 38th St., change of zone from single-family district to planned nonretail business district to split office from cemetery property.

• 4403 Rainbow Blvd., change of zone from single-family district to townhouse district for a 17-unit building for Friendship Inn for family members and guests of patients at the University of Kansas Health System.

• 7512 Leavenworth Road, change of zone from limited business district to commercial district to accommodate a used car dealership with light repair and maintenance.

• 4108 Adams St., change of zone from single-family district to two-family district for two living units.

• 2000 S. 49th St., change of zone from single-family district to agriculture district for agricultural purposes.

• 1625 S. 86th St., change of zone, previously approved to MP-3, to revise the hours of operation condition of approval, Bettis Asphalt and Construction.

• 4621 Swartz Road, special use permit to keep about 50 chickens.

• 749 Locust St., special use permit for a short-term rental.

• 401 N. 6th St., special use permit for a drinking establishment with live entertainment in a record store, Manor Records.

• 4403 Rainbow Blvd., special use permit for a 17-unit building for Friendship Inn for family members and guests of patients at the University of Kansas Health Systems.

• 812 S. 12th St., renewal of a special use permit for a restaurant and drinking establishment with live entertainment.

• 4108 Adams St., special use permit for a short-term rental.

• 7512 Leavenworth Road, special use permit to accommodate a used car dealership with light repair and maintenance.

• 2601 Ridge Ave., special use permit for a group home program with gardens and greenhouse for training (Shalom House) and office and gardening space for New Roots program, Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas.

• 4600 Parkview Ave., vacation of right-of-way.

• 1801 S. 14th St., preliminary and final plan review for BPU water Argentine reservoir reconstruction, BPU.

• 7331 Holliday Drive, master plan amendment from low density residential to neighborhood commercial, Crossroad Trucking.

• 230 S. 65th St., master plan amendment fro low density residential to community commercial, Ride 4 Ever Skate Park.

• 4461 Eaton St., master plan amendment from single-family residential to general urban.

• 4403 Rainbow Blvd., master plan amendment from urban mixed use to general urban, Friendship Inn.

• 4108 Adams St., master p lan amendment from single family to general urban.

• 1150 N. 38th St., master plan amendment from public-semi-public to community commercial.

• 3159 Orville Ave., master plan amendment from urban density to mixed use.

• 3600 Rainbow Blvd., ordinance rezoning property from planned apartment district to planned high-rise apartment district.

• 2211 N. 13th St., ordinance rezoning property from nonretail business district to planned two-family district.

• 8537 State Ave., ordinance authorizing special use permit for liquor sales in conjunction with a convenience store and gas station.

• 221 S. 22nd St., ordinance authorizing special use permit for continuation of a dog day care.

Also on the 7 p.m. agenda:

• The nomination of Lynn Melton to the Law Enforcement Advisory Board, submitted by Commissioner Tom Burroughs.

• Adoption of the proposed UG legislative agenda for the 2022 state legislative session.

The 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. meetings will be on UGTV cable television and on YouTube. The public also may watch the meetings from the City Hall lobby.

The meeting can be accessed through Zoom at

The meeting passcode is 308958.
The webinar ID: 893 1920 7660

The toll-free telephone numbers: 877-853-5257 or 888-475-4499.

UG plans to apply for FEMA grant reimbursement for COVID expenses

A proposal to apply for budget authorization for FEMA reimbursable expenses related to COVID-19 moved forward at Monday night’s Unified Government Economic Development and Finance Committee meeting.

In November, the federal government extended the FEMA reimbursement period through April 1, according to UG officials. Previously, it had been set to expire in December.

The UG will be able to apply for federal FEMA grants to assist it with its recovery efforts and vaccination efforts, said Kathleen von Achen, chief financial officer for the UG. The expenses are reimbursed at 100 percent. That will allow the UG to use county taxpayer funds and ARPA (American Rescue Plan) funding it previously received for other programs.

Von Achen said there is a total $5.76 million request made in three different applications. The first application was submitted in 2021 and the UG already has received some funds from it, she said. The next two applications will be submitted soon, she added. They need budget authority to spend the funds so they can get reimbursed later for them, she said.

Wesley McKain, a manager with the Health Department, said in answer to a question from Commissioner Gayle Townsend that the only vaccination site currently open through the Health Department is the Kmart site at 78th and State. He said they are paying $11,000 a month on rent for that site. They also paid rent on the Best Buy site at 106th, now closed. They did not pay rent on the Kansas National Guard Armory site on 18th and Ridge, as they were allowed to use it without charge. Currently the Armory has a COVID testing site run by the state of Kansas.

According to McKain, major cost drivers for COVID-19 expenses include testing, contact tracing, communications, community engagement, social services and support, and vaccinations. Only contact tracing is not eligible for reimbursement by FEMA, he said.

Construction took place so quickly on the Turner Logistics Center, along the Turner Diagonal south of State Avenue, that a community improvement district is no longer needed, according to UG officials. The project has already met its minimum building goals.

In other action, the EDF Committee voted to end the community improvement district for the Turner Logistics Center project and repeal an ordinance concerning minimum building improvements of 1 million square feet constructed.

According to Katherine Carttar, UG economic development director, this is something to celebrate because the Turner Logistics Center has exceeded its completion goal by four years.

She said when the UG structured the industrial revenue bonds for the project, they wanted to make sure the local government would be paid back for its portion of the upfront investment in the new I-70 interchange at the Turner Diagonal. The project met its minimum construction goals quickly, she said, and the CID is not needed.