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The city of Wichita is starting the process of hiring a new chief for the Wichita Police Department, which includes nearly 900 people. (Fernando Salazar/The Beacon)

Chief Ramsay is out. How Wichita will hire its next police chief.

For Pamela Barber, it’s someone who has a great relationship with youth in the community.  For Jay Fowler, it’s someone who has demonstrated accountable policing in the past. For Sheila Officer, it’s someone with a sense of diversity and equity. Every Wichita resident might have an idea of what the perfect police chief looks like.…

Aujanae Bennett, president of the neighborhood association in Northeast Millair

Why dozens of Wichita public housing units are sitting vacant

Aujanae Bennett wants to see her Northeast Millair neighborhood flourish — children playing in the streets, clean lawns and driveways, pride in the community.  But the 41 city-owned homes dominating the northwest corner of her neighborhood are an obstacle to that, Bennett said. Over the past four years, she’s noticed the homes have been vacated…

Sheriff Jeff Easter is president of Sedgwick County’s Mental Health and Substance Abuse Coalition, which alongside the county is seeking a new regionalized state mental health hospital in the Wichita area. (Fernando Salazar/The Beacon)

‘We’ve become the substitute state hospital’: Four years later, Sedgwick County still calling for state mental health hospital

For decades, the Sedgwick County Jail has been overcrowded.  A federal lawsuit in 1986 that capped the jail population and required a plan to deal with overcrowding at the facility was only the start. Since, multiple expansions and facilities have been built in an attempt to alleviate the numbers.  But throughout 2021, the jail continued…

Tires on the side of a street in Wichita

From tall grass to tires, here’s how Wichita handles over 10,000 nuisance complaints a year

From a lawn with grass 12 inches too high to vacant homes with broken windows, the city of Wichita’s Neighborhood Inspections division takes complaints about major and minor neighborhood nuisances. For some residents, what appear to be minor code violations can hint at more serious issues. Aujanae Bennett, president of the neighborhood association in Northeast…

Council members-elect Mike Hoheisel and Maggie Ballard will join Wichita City Council in January after winning their District 3 and District 6 elections, respectively. (Photos courtesy of Hoheisel and Ballard)

Five questions with Wichita’s two new incoming council members

This November, a shake-up to the Wichita City Council was clinched by the election of two political newcomers.  Wichita’s City Council District 6 elected Maggie Ballard, defeating one-term incumbent Cindy Claycomb with 55% of the vote.  Wichita’s City Council District 3 elected Mike Hoheisel, defeating nine-month incumbent Jared Cerullo with 50% of the vote.  The…

Council members Jared Cerullo and Cindy Claycomb are leaving City Council in January after losing their re-election bids. (Photos courtesy of Cerullo and Claycomb)

Accomplishments, regrets, advice from Wichita’s outgoing City Council members

Nearly four years ago, Wichita City Council member Cindy Claycomb was sworn into her seat after winning a landslide election for her District 6 seat.  Nearly nine months ago, City Council member Jared Cerullo took office after the existing council appointed him, in a 4-to-2 vote, to fill a vacant District 3 seat.  Now, Claycomb…

Gov. Laura Kelly at a Dillons in Wichita

What eliminating the food tax could mean for Wichitans

In early November, Gov. Laura Kelly announced a major initiative: “Axe the Food Tax.” The plan would ​​eliminate the state sales tax on groceries. Efforts to squash or reduce this 6.5% tax on food items have been ongoing since at least 2015. But with the opposing parties both signaling their support for removing the tax,…

Wichita Transit has removed 189 bus stops in 2021 — nearly four times the number removed in 2019 when the agency last removed stops. (Fernando Salazar/The Beacon)

Why has Wichita removed 189 bus stops in 2021?

When Cindy Coss picked Dodge Literacy Magnet Elementary for her son, a huge draw was the bus stop three blocks away from the school.  “‘It was like, ‘Yay,’” Coss said, when they learned of the bus stop at Maple and Bebe streets. Coss can’t drive due to epilepsy. She relies on the city bus system…

The Ad Hoc Sedgwick County Redistricting Committee, including member Casey Yingling (center), met Nov. 8 to discuss which of the proposed maps it should recommend to the County Commission. (Fernando Salazar/The Beacon)

‘It hasn’t gotten the focus and attention it should’: How Sedgwick County redistricting will impact Hispanic residents

Araceli Amador is concerned about Sedgwick County’s redistricting process.  She’s worried that her community, largely made up of Spanish speakers in southwest Wichita, has not been sufficiently included in the county’s redistricting efforts. The process began in the fall and concludes with a vote on the final maps Wednesday. The result will be new boundaries…

December Markham stands outside her home on North Piatt Street, which she rents from the city of Wichita. A new affordable housing fund may invest money in rehabilitating public housing like hers. (Fernando Salazar/The Beacon)

An affordable housing fund is on the horizon in Wichita. Here’s what that means.

December Markham’s kids grew up in the house she rents from the city of Wichita. Over the years, though, she’s seen it deteriorate.  An unreliable heater. Flooring that is starting to peel, revealing nails that threaten her feet. She’s concerned that mold is growing on her bedroom wall. “I like my house,” Markham said. “There’s…

Rachel Mayberry, senior director of public policy and communications at Heartspring, has advocated for the city of Wichita and Sedgwick County to release their American Rescue Plan Act dollars to community organizations promptly. (Alex Unruh/The Beacon)

Why $161 million in local COVID relief still hasn’t been spent

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Heartspring — a nonprofit that provides services and education to children with special needs and developmental disabilities — spent $109,000 on personal protective equipment and cleaning equipment. They paid  $1.24 million in COVID-related personnel costs. They’ve also lost $170,000 to rescheduled, modified or canceled events and $2.12 million in revenue when the…

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