Wichita’s Naughty & Nice 2015

Filling stockings of heroes and heels

Written by Karen Long

Dear Santa,
We don’t envy you this global list-making task every year, but we’re doing our part, as requested, and submitting our roster of famous and infamous worthy of special stocking attention. There were a few coal candidates who also make positive contributions to our community. Those we’ll leave to you, but most of the list-worthy were quickly sorted into those deserving of diamonds or carbon.

Nice

The Pop-Up Urban Park which turned a previous naughty developer’s mess into a magnet for foodies who celebrated with aloha sliders, shaved ice and pizza tacos ordered from food trucks on opening day. Also nice are the food truck chefs who’ve agreed to serve hungry office workers in the park every weekday at lunchtime, continuing throughout the winter. John Bardo, Wichita State University president, who donated his 2% raise back to the university. He and four other state university CEOs acted in solidarity to make this gesture of support for our cash-strapped state.

Naughty

ATM thieves who placed “skimmers” on automated teller machines across the city this summer in an attempt to record users’ debit card account numbers. The robbers were technically savvy — but not enough so to block the surveillance cameras, and police were able to isolate photos of the suspects and blast them out to the community.

Nice

Garth Brooks for adding four extra concerts at Intrust Bank Arena, and subsequently selling 65,000 tickets in an hour. Props also to Wichita-area country fans for their support of national-level talent when it moseys through the city.

The three-judge panel who declared Kansas’s controversial block grant bill unconstitutional. The new school finance law would have cut $50 million in operating and maintenance funds per year from the education budget, disproportionately impacting low-income school districts. Governor Brownback and key Republicans cried judicial overreach and vowed to appeal the ruling.

Naughty

Hackers who broke into the USD 259 computer system for unknown nefarious reasons. Even if they weren’t able to abscond with student and employee records, the attempt required the shutdown of the system, inconveniencing teachers, students and parents, and inciting panic attacks in high school seniors requesting transcripts for scholarships and college applications.

Nice

Coach Gregg Marshall and the Wichita State Shocker basketball team who hosted ESPN’s College GameDay at Koch Arena and triumphed in a long- awaited match against Kansas to advance to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA. A victory over rival University of Northern Iowa for the MVC championship title foreshadows more thrilling match-ups in the upcoming season.

Naughty

The IHOP patron who assaulted a groom as he was celebrating with his new bride, still in their wedding finery. The assailant knocked out the groom and subsequently plead guilty to aggravated battery, and was sentenced to almost four years in prison. Without pancakes.

Nice

Local bars and restaurants who, looking for a way to honor beloved restaurateur Tanya Tandoc, donated a percentage of their earnings in support of her friends, family and her restaurant, Tanya’s Soup Kitchen. The Doo-Dah Diner also changed the name of their Eggs Benedict from Timi’s Benny to Tanya’s Benny.

WSU, Koch Industries and the Fred and Mary Koch Foundation, who formed a partnership and announced GoCreate, a new makerspace for inventors of all ages. Located in the Innovation Campus at WSU, the state-of-the-art facility will offer tools, equipment and inspiration for innovators and is envisioned as an economic catalyst for the entire community.

Naughty

Hungry counterfeiters who were passing fake $20 and $50 bills on the South side, many of them at fast-food joints. Authorities nabbed one woman, but reported other suspects may still be at large.

Nice

The new airport terminal at Eisenhower Airport notches up the city’s authority as Air Capital of the World. It simultaneously pays tribute to historical luminaries in the aviation industry and points the way to the future, capturing in both form and function how ICT will continue to embody the title. And with concession dollars and passenger counts increasing after the grand opening, economic indicators are nose up as well.

Doc’s Friends, the group of volunteers who’ve been hard at work restoring a historic B-29 Superfortress to flying condition. This year they exceeded their Kickstarter fundraiser goal and raised $159,151 to purchase fuel and send Doc through flight testing, with the aim of securing a certificate of airworthiness and conducting a first flight by the end of the year.

Naughty

County Commissioner Richard Ranzau, who dissed a bilingual reporter and slashed budgets so dramatically that he riled up the Hispanic and arts com- munities alike. The Immigration Advocacy Network is so outraged it filed a request to recall the commissioner.

The shoplifting grandmother who was accused of abandoning her 5-year- old grandson at Kohl’s. Caught in the act, the woman attempted to flee, leaving the boy behind. She was charged with theft, probation violations and abandonment of a child.

Nice

Wichita Art Museum for opening its new Art Garden, a “roofless museum” which is free and open to the public 24/7. Newly landscaped in native Kansas plantings, the garden incorporates fresh outdoor sculpture additions as well as re-imagining existing pieces. Perfect for a stroll by the river.

Developer Jack DeBoer, who launched yet another successful hotel brand concept. WaterWalk Hotel Apartments combines the amenities of a hotel with the roominess and longevity of an apartment — an idea that is apparently ready for prime time, since the flagship facility in Delano reached 98% occupancy in just 9 month. There are already 34 properties in various stages of development across the county, and the UK-based Henley has signed on for five franchises.

Naughty

The porn-watching Derby middle-school teacher who was caught in a sting operation after chatting up what he thought was a 14-year-old girl. She turned out to be an undercover agent. Authorities subsequently seized his electronic devices and discovered child pornography on his school-issued laptop, giving a whole new meaning to the expression NSFW.

Nice

Priority Motorsports owner, Jeff Horning, who said “yes, yes” to the Nae Nae in a spontaneous display of the trendy dance move. Horning busted out the Whip, the Nae Nae and a little Stanky Legg in the middle of a car commercial and the video — uploaded by a savvy marketing manager — went viral. Viewers around the globe got a laugh and Horning got international inquiries about his automobiles. Not to mention redeeming the reputation of used car salesmen worldwide.

 
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