You better not pout,
you better not cry

Naughty or Nice 2016

Written by Karen Long

Dear Santa,

After this past election season you might be tempted to just drop a few tons of coal on America and keep right on flying. There were plenty of naughty shenanigans taking place on both sides. But you will be pleased to read our 2016 list from the heartland, where inspirational sports stars and heroic police chiefs rule. Even our legislature came together for one shining moment. Oh, there were still a few perpetrators of wrongdoing, but we think on balance you’ll find that you need to budget more for candy canes than coal in Kansas this year.

Nice

Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet, legendary Shocker guards, who are doing Wichita proud in the pros — Baker signed with the New York Knicks and VanVleet with the Toronto Raptors. VanVleet is still sporting the digits he wore at Wichita State: No. 23.

Police chief Gordon Ramsay who threw a massive cookout for 2,000 members of the community, bringing together law enforcement, leaders of the local Black Lives Matter movement, and a bunch of other people who just appreciate a good burger and police officers line dancing.

Naughty

Hasty drivers who persistently breeze through Kansas turnpike toll booths without paying, forcing the creation of a new law that will put a hold on the getaway car’s registration when the owner tops $100 in tolls.

Nice

Food truck owners who organized a benefit for B.S. Sandwich Press, a fellow food truck whose rig was in need of a new engine. The spirit of mutual support instead of dog-eat-dog competitiveness is very nice indeed.

Naughty

Damian Mayes who was charged with stealing Louie the Clown, the iconic, organ-playing Joyland mascot, along with the Vampiress, Porky the Paper Eater and other vintage memorabilia. Mayes was already serving time for previous sex offenses: Louie will not be waiting for him when he gets out in 2028.

Nice

Textron, who unleashed its newest business jet, the Citation Longitude, in a picture-perfect first flight. The mid-sized twinjet aircraft boasts a range of 3,400 nautical miles, high-speed internet and an optional heads-up display. It will be produced in the company’s Beechcraft plant in Wichita.

A budding posse of startups and public and private interests who are reviving Wichita’s entre- preneurial mojo. They include WSU’s Ennovar, the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, 1 Million Cups, The Labor Party, StartupWichita and e2e Accelerator.

Naughty

Nefarious white-collar criminals who absconded with over half a million dollars of Sedgwick County’s money. The investigation is still ongoing to track down the fraudsters and bring them to justice.

Nice

The Four Legged Project, a nonprofit which has the back of Kansas K-9 officers — literally. The group raises money to provide police departments across the state with ballistic vests to protect the working canines in the line of duty.

Occidental Management, which completed phase one of renovating the historic Union Station and the adjacent train depot and Grand and Patrick building. The exterior plaza has already hosted bands, festivals and food kiosks, and the entire complex bustles with restaurants, businesses and shops.

Naughty

The Kansas Supreme Court, who went against the will of Wichita voters. A majority of Wichitans voted in favor of lowered penalties for marijuana possession, but the court refused to even review the case, striking it down on a technicality.

Nice

Watermark Books, Wichita’s very own independent bookstore, for keeping us stocked with interesting authors and unique books all year long. And for a cafe that feeds body, mind and soul with espresso, local art and a newsstand right next to the dining tables.

Naughty

Puppy mill proprietors who were busted when cops came looking for drugs. Instead officers found 20 pit bulls, including eight puppies, confined in small cages.

Nice

The Humane Society, which organized a “Puppy Bowl” for the pit bull pups, and found foster homes for them until they were old enough for adoption. They also cared for the adult dogs’ medical needs and made them available for adoption as well.

Celebrity chef Alton Brown, who was in town promoting his new book “EveryDayCook.” He dropped in to see some of his old Wichita chums at Espresso to Go Go, Reverie Coffee Roasters and Public at the Brickyard, and then tweeted some pics.

Naughty

Supporters of Tim Norton, who took box cutters to the campaign signs of his opponent for Sedgwick County Commissioner, Michael O’Donnell. When O’Donnell posted a photo of a vandalized sign, Norton responded by condemning such behavior.

Nice

Legislators played nicely with each other and school districts in a special summer session to pass a bipartisan school finance plan, allowing schools to open their doors on time in August. School children’s disappointment turned to elation when they discovered that they get an extra 15 days off in the Wichita district this year, thanks to schedule changes in response to budget cuts.

Naughty

Governor Brownback, who discontinued the quarterly financial reports containing metrics intended to hold him and his administration accountable. A spokeswoman claimed it was because many people found the reports “confusing.” Others suspect the reports were nixed because they cast a less-than-flattering light on the governor’s statewide economic experiment of the past five years.

Nice

Volunteer firefighters for protecting people and property during one of the worst wildfires in the history of our state. A gift from Oklahoma, the grass fire raged across the border and spread over 300,000 acres in southern Kansas. Thanks to the bravery of the firefighters no lives were lost.

Another hero this year was Hesston Police Chief Doug Schroeder, who didn’t wait for backup while responding to reports of a mass shooting at Excel Industries. Schroeder stopped the gunman in his tracks, and then declined interviews and gave credit to Excel employees, emergency medical services and the law enforcement community.

 
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