Flash flood watch issued for Wyandotte County

Wyandotte County is under a flash flood watch from midnight today through 7 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 3, according to the National Weather Service.

Showers and thunderstorms are expected to redevelop tonight into Thursday morning across portions of eastern Kansas, the weather service said.

Additional rounds of precipitation are expected over the next several days through early Sautrday morning, according to the weather service.

The rainfall rate and multiple rounds of rain could lead to the potential for flash flooding, the weather service said.

Rainfall totals of 2 to 4 inches are possible by Saturday morning, the weather service said. Areas near rivers, creeks and streams could become flooded during and after heavy rainfall.

Motorists are advised to be very careful if driving at night as flood waters are hard to see, according to the weather service.

UG’s general services director resigns after jury convicts him of battery against female employee

by Andrea Tudhope, Kansas News Service

The general services director of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, has resigned after a jury on Tuesday found him guilty of misdemeanor battery against a female employee.

Dennis “Tib” Laughlin was director of general services and worked for the UG for 21 years. According to the UG, he submitted his resignation in writing after the verdict was handed down Tuesday afternoon.

Had he not resigned, the UG told KCUR that Laughlin would have been fired.

Last May, now former Unified Government employee Maddie Waldeck said she was having a “light-hearted” conversation with colleagues after work when Laughlin, her boss at the time, grabbed her by the shirt and pushed her against a wall.

“At the time, it struck me as funny,” Laughlin testified.

Eyewitness Theresa Duke, who was subpoenaed to testify, told the court she did not find it funny.

“Honestly, I was shocked,” Duke said.

In a statement Tuesday, the UG said it had investigated the incident thoroughly and came to a different conclusion than the jury.

UG Public Relations Director Mike Taylor told KCUR that UG officials were surprised by the guilty verdict.

“We were a bit disappointed, but we knew that was certainly a possibility,” Taylor said. “[Tib Laughlin] was well-liked in the organization, so I think there’s some surprise and disappointment that an incident like this happened, and that it came to the end that it did.”

Waldeck, who worked for the UG for five years, told KCUR that the two years she worked with Laughlin were the most “stressful and heartbreaking” of her professional life.

She documented several incidents over those two years that she felt were inappropriate and made her uncomfortable, including comments Laughlin made about his sexual relationships or about how Waldeck looked.

Two other employees, who spoke to KCUR on the condition of anonymity, backed up Waldeck.

One said Laughlin’s “inapproprate” behavior was “not something hidden.” The other said she was warned early in her career “not to spend any time alone with him.”

Waldeck said she tried to go through the proper channels inside the Unified Government but they failed her.

After she left the UG for another job following the battery incident, Waldeck saw Laughlin on TV talking about the project they worked on together at work.

“You know that he put his hands on me, you know that he has pending battery charges against him, you know all of that and you put him on camera,” Waldeck said. “Horrible, it was horrible.”

Taylor said the UG has mandatory training for sexual harassment and violence in the workplace.

“It teaches employees what’s appropriate and what’s not. And clearly I think our view was that you don’t put your hands on an employee,” Taylor said. “We’ve got a good foundation in place to, as best we can, make sure things like this don’t happen.”

Laughlin faces up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for the misdemeanor conviction. His sentencing has been set for the end of August.

Andrea Tudhope is a reporter at KCUR 89.3. Email her at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter @andreatudhope. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to kcur.org.

See more at https://www.kcur.org/post/wyandotte-county-official-resigns-after-jury-convicts-him-battery-against-female-employee

Summit focuses on minority business needs

Opinion column

by Murrel Bland

Jim Echols saw the need for minority business to communicate better.

Echols, a retired manager with the Kansas Department for Children and Families, came to Kansas City, Kansas, in 2017 and founded Renaissance Management and Training Solutions, a consulting company.

Echols reached out to various business organizations that serve minorities. Two other key resources for the Kansas Minority Business Summit would be the Kansas Chamber, who provided logistical and administrative support; and Kansas City Kansas Community College, that provided space for the event at its Technical Education Center. The summit was held Tuesday, July 23; about 150 persons attended.

A keynote speaker at the summit was Alan Cobb, the president of the Kansas Chamber. Cobb said that the free market economy is important to the economic success that the United States enjoys. Examples of failed state-owned economies can be seen in Venezuela and Russia. He also pointed to the failure of the Yugo automobile which was manufactured by the state in Yugoslavia.

Another speaker was Vercie Lark of Overland Park. He is a past executive vice president of DST Financial Services, Kansas City, Missouri. During his leadership, annual revenue for DST grew from $750 million to about $1 billion, according to his resume.

Lark cautioned those attending not to be too dependent on government business. He said such business can be lost with the stroke of a pen.

Lark is the author of the book “Pathway to Prosperity.”

Others who actively participated in the Summit included Carlos Gomez, president, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Joseph Melookaran, co-founder of the Asian-American Chamber of Commerce, Kansas City; John O’Brien, executive director, American Indian Enterprise and Business Council; Daniel Felder, Axiom Construction Group; Delbert Selectman, president, SnapIT Solutions; and Kim Randolph, president, Heartland Black Chamber of Commerce.

Echols said plans call for the summit to be held next year.

Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is executive director of Business West.