Natural gas bills are expected to rise significantly across the state, including in Geary County, after bitter cold temperatures struck the Midwest last week. Bills could possibly go up by 10 to 20 percent, according to Junction City Manager Allen Dinkel.
“If you’re normally getting a $100 gas bill for your house, you’re could get a $2,000 gas bill,” he said.
These bills will likely come in March or early April, he said.
Dinkel took part in public comment during the Geary County Commission meeting Monday morning, where he addressed the problem.
“Last week, the market (for natural gas) skyrocketed,” he said.
Dinkel said he had been lead to believe the problem would hit Geary County “big time.”
“We don’t know how Kansas Gas is going to treat this yet,” he said.
This concerns both the city and the county and could have an impact on any resident who uses natural gas.
He said he believed it was “a real concern” for the community.
“It’s going to be a sticker shock,” Dinkel said.
The State of Kansas is seeking federal help to deal with the disaster, which could help mitigate the cost of natural gas stemming from this recent winter weather disaster, though there’s no guarantee the state will receive this help. Dinkel said Gov. Laura Kelly had already contacted the federal government to request aid.
“With the disaster declaration, money could flow this way,” he said.
Both the county and city use natural gas and could be struck with this increase in cost as well.
“A lot of us will be guessing until we get our first bills,” he said. “But also, I think it’s important to start preparing people for it.”
Dinkel said he was unsure what might happen to people who use only electricity in their residences. He said it was possible energy companies might pass on demand charges to customers.
At Junction City High School’s Winter Homecoming game Megan Hunt was crowned Homecoming Queen and Chris Dixon was crowned Homecoming King.
Junction City High School students were recognized for high achievement and academic accomplishments at a special Unified School District 475 Board of Education meeting that took place Thursday evening. Interim JCHS Principal Merrier Jackson presented students with their honors one by one during the meeting.
Junction City Union Staff
The Geary County Sheriff’s Office is seeking a suspect after a road rage incident left one woman with non-lifethreatening injuries from a gunshot wound Sunday morning.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded to I-70 near near mile marker 311 after receiving a report of a possible road rage incident. When they arrived, the deputies found a woman alone in her vehicle with a single gunshot wound. The woman, identified as Tina Borawski, was taken to Via Christi Hospital for her injuries
At approximately 11:32 a.m., Deputies were dispatched to Interstate 70 near mile marker 311 in reference to a possible road rage incident. Upon arrival deputies located a vehicle with a single female occupant, who was suffering from a single gunshot wound. The female, who was identified as Tina Borawski, was transported to Via Christi Hospital for treatment of non-life threating injuries.
To deputies, Borawski described the suspect as a white male between the ages of 25 and 37 with a possible goatee and shaggy strawberry blonde hair that may have been unkempt. The suspect was driving a white, four-door vehicle with unknown registration, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
The Sheriff’s Office is seeking to locate this individual. People are asked to contact the Sheriff’s Office at (785) 238-2261 or Dispatch at (785) 762-5912 if they have any further information.
Junction City Union Staff
COVID-19 infections have decreased since the start of the year in Geary County, according to the Geary County Health Department’s most recent update. As of Friday, there are 37 total active cases of the virus in the county, according to the health department, where at the turn of the year there were 127 known active COVID-19 cases.
The unofficial death count still sits at 24. According to the health department, three community members remain hospitalized with the virus.
The county has 1450 total recoveries from the virus and 1505 total cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, by the health department’s count. In the last week, the health department has listed 19 new recoveries and 24 new cases of the virus.
The health department’s numbers differ from those of the Kansas Department of Health and the Environment. The KDHE lists all cases of COVID-19 on a map on its website at www.coronavirus.kdheks.gov/160/COVID-19-in-Kansas which breaks down COVID-19 cases by county. The KDHE’s map lists Geary County as having had 2,947 cases of the virus since the start of the pandemic.
This difference of 1,745 is accounted for by Fort Riley cases and sometimes duplicate cases created for single people by the KDHE, according to health department Director Tammy Von Busch.
Geary County Emergency Management updated its vaccination numbers Friday. A total of 3,197 people have been vaccinated for COVID-19 in Geary County, including vaccines that have been distributed through the health department, Geary Community Hospital, Konza Prairie Community Health Center, Brookdale Junction City, Valley View Senior Life and pharmacies at Dillons, Walmart, CVS, and Kolhoff.
Of this total, 908 are fully vaccinated, having received their second vaccines. Depending on what vaccine people received when having their first shot — Pfizer or Moderna — people will have to wait either 21 or 28 days before receiving their second. To achieve full immunity, people need to have both shots.
All of the people who have been vaccinated were in either the first or second phase of the vaccine rollout. The community is still in the second phase of the rollout, which includes people older than 65 years of age, school employees, firefighters and law enforcement.
People are encouraged to sign up for their vaccines on the county website at www.gearycounty.org, contact the Health Department at 785-762-5788 or Geary Community Hospital at 785-238-0305 to be put on a list to receive their COVID-19 vaccination. People will be contacted when the phase they are part of begins. People are asked to remain patient while waiting for their turn to arrive.
Just because the number of the population that has been vaccinated has increased and the number of active cases has gone down does not mean that the danger has gone away. It is still possible to catch COVID-19 and people can take precautions such as social distancing, wearing masks in public spaces and practicing proper hand hygiene.
Temperatures dipped significantly last week around the Midwest and rolling blackouts plagued the state and the country.
Geary County was no exception to the winter weather. Tuesday morning, the air temperature was -18 in the Junction City area.
According to Geary County Extension Agent Chuck Otte, it’s too early to know if the cold will have an impact on Geary County’s crops.
Most crops have not actually begun growing yet, he said, which protects them from damaging cold.
For example, the wheat crop was insulated from the chill, two inches below the surface of the soil.
While the air temperature aboveground was in the negatives, the temperatures below ground were about 20 to 24 degrees — still cold, still below freezing, but not as cold as it could have been.
“There will be fields that have damage and we’ve always got the potential of late frost that’s going to damage wheat heads when they’re coming out,” Otte said. But it could have been worse.
“The only thing that would have been better is if we had six inches of snow just laying evenly across everything,” he said.
Horticultural and ornamental plants in people’s gardens and yards won’t be so fortunate, according to Otte.
“It’s going to be hit and miss,” he said. “Roses will get burned back further than they usually are. Just things like that.”
It has had an impact on the livestock producers of the county, however.
“My biggest concern is for the livestock producers,” Otte said.
It’s calving season. All around the county, cows, goats and sheep are having babies and many of them had those babies right in the middle of the bitter cold that plagued the community last week.
According to Otte, many producers found themselves with newborn livestock who had sustained frostbite on their noses, ears and tails.
“While it may not sound like all that much, it can really set them back,” Otte said. “Death loss is going to be higher than normal. Just so many things — a lot of these cattle producers were getting very little sleep over a three (to) four day period, going out every hour, every couple of hours, checking on the cows. Cows are just like people — they’re going to have their babies when they’re darn good and ready and there’s no way to predict when that is. So it’s really a challenge sometimes.”
To combat the cold, many livestock producers bring newborn baby animals into their homes and try to warm them up.
“I saw more than one picture of baby calves — a baby calf, a baby goat, baby lambs — in a laundry room or in a kitchen on blankets, trying to get warmed up,” Otte said. “Then (producers) try to get the colostrum to them — that first milk from mama — because it has all the (antibodies) in it. And there’s only about a 24-hour period after that animal is born that it can take that stuff up through the gut and then the gut kind of seals over … We’ve got to get that in them. And you’re having a baby when it’s 18 below and windchills of 25 or 35 below, I mean that’s tough. That is real tough. It’s tough on the animals and its tough on the producers too. So these folks, they did awesome. They just do amazing things. They don’t want to lose a single one of those animals, but sometimes they do. There’s just only so much you can do.”
Otte addressed the rolling blackouts and requests to reduce energy consumption that accompanied the cold weather as well.
During the winter weather, people were asked to reduce their use of electricity and natural gas.
“Utilities systems are designed to reach what they think is going to be the normal maximum load,” Otte said. “It would be perfect if we could devise systems or develop systems that would be 150 percent of what we think we’d ever need. It’s just too expensive to do that. So we just do the best that we can and it’s making some people upset, but that’s ok.”
It’s not out of the question to have arctic blasts such as the one that struck the community last week, according to Otte. However, he said it is the coldest weather the Junction City area has seen in roughly 30 years. The last time the area had actual temperatures dip below zero was in March of 2019, he said. It’s not exactly normal, Otte said, but not out of the question either.
“Does it mean global warming is false? No. It absolutely does not mean that,” he said. “When we get to the end of the year, I think people will realize that. It may be a cold two months — not record cold as far as we have had colder weather. December 1989 was colder.”
An uptick in gunnery training at Fort Riley will continue into and through the spring as both the 1st and 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Teams take to the field to hone their live-fire skills. This has led to an increase in noticeable noise levels in the surrounding communities.
Currently, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team is conducting gunnery training, with 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team preparing for its gunnery training. At different times from now through June, Soldiers will train on weapons systems such as the Abrams tank, Bradley Fighting Vehicle, and Paladin self-propelled howitzer.
The training is designed to hone the skills of vehicle crews and validate their ability to shoot, move, and communicate effectively.
According to Col. Will McKannay, Fort Riley Garrison Commander, “The Soldiers of the 1st Infantry Division and other units who train at Fort Riley are working to become real masters of their craft, which involves actual and virtual shooting of artillery and small-arms weapons. We certainly regret if we’re keeping anybody awake as we train in replicated real-world conditions, but that’s our young men and women out there making themselves better, so they’re ready and able to answer the Nation’s call should it come.”
Communities surrounding Fort Riley can expect to hear training noise now through June at various times during the day and night, from small-arms fire to artillery and demolitions. Fort Riley updates the Noise Advisories page at home.army.mil/riley weekly to inform the public about expected noise levels.