Located in northern Overland Park, Dimensional Innovations specializes in custom architectural design and fabrication. The council approved a 10-year tax abatement for the business in December. Photo credit Johnson County Appraiser’s Office.Discord may be in store on the Overland Park City Council tonight as new member Scott Hamblin and mayoral candidate Faris Farassati try to rescind a tax abatement that was strongly favored by nine of the twelve-member council.Hamblin and Farassati say the abatement is clouded by a faulty cost analysis and ethical concerns because of a family connection between one council member and a company official. But one council member who supported the tax break counters that it is a political move.Ward 5 Councilman Faris Farassati was the lone “no” vote on the tax-abatement package when it came before the council in December.Farassati and Hamblin said Friday they plan to call for a reversal on the council’s Dec. 16 decision to grant a ten-year property tax abatement to Dimensional Innovations, an architectural design and fabrication company on the city’s extreme northern edge. The abatement starts at 50 percent, but has the potential to grow to 65 percent under certain conditions.If December’s discussion is any indication, the council may be headed for a first test of how the three new members will interact on what could be a contentious issue. Tax incentives were a major part of the campaign season in which two incumbents were defeated.In December, most council members took turns supporting the move, citing the cost analysis and saying again and again it would help a part of the city that, in the words of a DI official, “needs a little love.”But anger bubbled over when Farassati, the lone “no” vote, argued that the cost data didn’t support the incentives. In reaction, Councilmember Chris Newlin, who sat next to Farassati, slammed down his hand, saying, “Jesus! It’s right here in your face!” Later, Councilmember Fred Spears said he would take the unusual step of a direct public confrontation with another council member by noting that Farassati, a doctor, has supported incentives for a project at Menorah Medical Center. “I think you’re letting your bias show,” he said.Family connections to former council member prompt questionsThe CFO of Dimensional Innovations is the son of former Overland Park Councilman Rick Collins, seen above in a file photo, who was defeated in November’s elections by Scott Hamblin.Dimensional Innovations, at 3421 Merriam Drive, designs and builds distinctive architectural features on public buildings and has a national footprint. The company designed the large book spines on Kansas City’s downtown library, as well as the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame.Its headquarters is just off the intersection of Interstates 35 and 635, near the junction of Merriam and Kansas City, Kan. with Overland Park. Company officials want the abatement to help them expand at their current site, which is located in an area dominated by used car sales and mechanical companies.The company estimated it would add 225 people to its 187-person workforce over the next ten years. According to a computer-generated cost-benefit analysis, that would result in a total of 705 direct and ripple-effect jobs over the same time period. That analysis said the city would get $3.51 back for every dollar invested. Other taxing districts were estimated to get a wide range of return on the dollar, from $7.29 for the state of Kansas to $1.72 for Johnson County Community College.Hamblin and Farassati now say the abatement should be rescinded. In explaining their reasoning, they note that the company CFO is Tom Collins, son of former councilmember Rick Collins, that the application was made shortly after Hamblin defeated Collins in November and voted on before the new council members took their seats.“If that doesn’t raise some suspicion then I think you’ve got to have your head in the sand,” Hamblin said.Collins recused himself from the discussion and abstained from the vote. Councilmember John Thompson was absent the night the incentive was passed, 9-1.According to Hamblin’s research, the analysis used an incorrect multiplier to figure how many jobs would be created. He and Farassati say the company was already invested in buying nearby property, negating their argument that they might have to move out of Overland Park without the incentives.Farassati said the incentives are not offered to smaller companies. “If we’re going down this path, who is a qualified candidate for it?” he said. “That’s why Overland Park is getting criticized that it is only in business for the big boys.”Lyons says move is ‘politically motivated’Councilmember Paul Lyons called the reasoning “absurd, ridiculous and outrageous.”“I think the whole purpose here is to push forward Faris’s campaign for mayor,” he said. “I think they’re trying to put doubts in people’s minds that something nefarious is going on here and that something isn’t right.”The company was clear about its options without the incentives, Lyons said. The fact that it was invested in adjacent property before the vote only proves officials were keeping their options open, he said, adding that it was reasonable for company officials to take their case up before the new members took office.Unless more council members abandon their enthusiasm for the expansion, it seems unlikely that the incentives will be rescinded. Under the rules, a rescission would be asked for tonight and then discussed at the following council meeting. But since Farassati voted no, a supermajority will be needed to bring the matter back up.“They know they’re not going to get the votes to make this happen,” Lyons said. “If this was a legitimate concern they had, then there are avenues for them to go to deal with through our staff and through the mayor and through the council and not through the press. The fact that they’re going to the press tells me that it’s politically motivated, for the purposes of supporting Faris’s campaign. I’m irritated by it because it gives me the impression that we’re going to see this kind of nonsense going on for the next two years.”
If you can’t get out into the natural world, let it come to you. The internet has dozens of smile-inducing animal feeds from around the world. … Read the whole story: The New York Times More of our Members in the Media > If you spend hours scrolling through cat videos online, there’s a scientific explanation for why that’s a hard habit to kick: A new study has found that watching footage of cute animals can reduce your anxiety, blood pressure and heart rate. The study, led by the University of Leeds in Britain, Singapore Airlines and Western Australia’s tourism agency, featured videos of a quokka — a cuddly-looking wallaby native to Australia that the internet dubbed “the happiest animal on earth.” But footage of other wildlife can also elicit positive emotions like adoration, awe and love, said Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who studies how nature impacts the human psyche. “We are a visual species,” he said. “We derive a lot of health and happiness from our relationship to the natural world.”
Asymptomatic carriers unknowingly spread COVID-19 in Asia, reports sayA multicenter study published yesterday in Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease shows that 60% of asymptomatic (symptom-free) COVID-19 patients in Sichuan province, China, were diagnosed as having pneumonia on their first computed tomography (CT) scan.The study involved 100 asymptomatic and 411 symptomatic coronavirus patients in hospitals in 21 cities and 47 counties or districts from Jan 25 to Feb 20.The researchers also found that patients without symptoms were younger and came from higher-altitude areas with less resident mobility and more defined epidemiologic history than patients with symptoms but had similar rates of underlying conditions.Of initially asymptomatic patients, 27.4% later developed symptoms, two of them older patients who developed severe symptoms. No asymptomatic patients died. One patient was believed to have transmitted the virus during the incubation period.And in Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses, a May 30 letter details likely asymptomatic COVID-19 spread in a household and school after travelers returned to Brunei after attending a religious event in Malaysia from Feb 28 to Mar 2. Of the more than 4,000 confirmed cases linked to the event, 19 from Brunei tested positive for COVID-19 after returning home, where they infected 52 others.The authors said that their findings support the use of testing and longitudinal surveillance of asymptomatic close contacts, as well as widespread testing at mass gatherings in places with known community spread.May 31 Travel Med Infect Dis study May 30 Influenza Other Respir Viruses letter Low COVID-19 prevalence found among pregnant, postpartum womenUniversal testing found an overall low prevalence of COVID-19 among pregnant and postpartum women in Seattle, Washington, according to a new study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.The study was conducted at University of Washington-associated labor and delivery units and clinics from Mar 2 through Apr 15. The researchers used rapid tests for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, which returned results in 6 to 8 hours. Women were tested in the hospital, at outpatient clinics, and via drive-through testing.Researchers found a (2.7% [5 of 188]) prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 among pregnant and postpartum patients after initiating universal testing. Among symptomatic patients (22.2% [4/18]) tested positive, and among 170 asymptomatic patients, two were positive or inconclusive; repeat testing at 24 hours was negative.The authors said the low prevalence in pregnant and postpartum women, as compared to that of New York City, is reflective of virus trends in Seattle.”Despite low numbers of additional cases identified, universal screening of pregnant patients provides important surveillance information due to the representativeness of this population to the greater community,” they concluded. May 30 Clin Infect Dis study CDC study finds no secondary COVID-19 transmission of early US caseA Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) contact tracing investigation of one of the first US COVID-19 patients identified no secondary transmission among close contacts on molecular or serologic testing after 14 days of last exposure.The study, published late last week in Emerging Infectious Diseases, identified 11 coworkers, 31 waiting-room contacts at an urgent care clinic, and 8 unprotected healthcare contacts of the patient, a 35-year-old man returning to Washington state on Jan 15 after visiting Wuhan, China.Thirty-eight of the 50 contacts (78%) were interviewed, and 11 (29%) reported unprotected interactions with the patient, who had worked while ill. Thirty-seven (74%) tested negative for coronavirus, and none of the 23 who underwent serologic testing for 6 weeks had detectable antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The presence of antibodies would indicate previous infection.All contacts were monitored daily for 14 days. Median contact age was 44 years (range, younger than 1 to 86 years), and 25 (50%) were male. Eight contacts developed symptoms, including cough, headache, runny nose, sore throat, and fever.Of the 11 coworkers who had face-to-face interactions with the patient, four (36%) had been exposed to the patient over 1 day, and seven (64%) had been exposed over 2 days for 2 to 90 minutes. Six coworkers (55%) said they had touched the patient. Three of seven coworkers who had attended a 2-hour lunch with the patient had also traveled in the same vehicle for a total of 30 minutes.The authors said that the lack of secondary transmission may be “the nature of the community exposures to the case-patient compared with the more intimate and continuous exposures that would typically be experienced by household contacts.”May 29 Emerg Infect Dis study
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SHARE Do you see a typo or an error? Let us know. Published: September 14, 2016 7:36 AM EDT Man charged with murder in Chicago fire that killed 4 Author: The Associated Press CHICAGO (AP) – A man has been charged with murder in a Chicago apartment building fire that killed an infant, two other children and a man.Police say in a statement that 51-year-old Reginald Hester faces four counts of first-degree murder and two counts of arson. He’s scheduled to appear in court Wednesday for a bond hearing, a day after he was arrested. It wasn’t known whether he had a lawyer.Hester’s family has denied he had anything to do with the fire.Police said after the Aug. 23 fire it appeared to have been deliberately set by someone after a domestic dispute.Three children ages 3 months, 4 and 7 died in the fire along with a 56-year-old man. The Chicago Tribune reports Hester was earlier questioned in the case and released.
THAILAND: A 6bn baht programme of track renewals and earthworks enhancement is due to begin next month, according to State Railway of Thailand Governor Prapat Chongsanguan.The work is focused on the 1 200 km main line running south from Bangkok, with the aim of raising line speeds and improving safety on the metre-gauge network. Soil reinforcement and replacement of wooden sleepers with concrete will initially be undertaken on the 1 000 km section between Hua Hin and Sungai Kolok, close to the border on the eastern branch of the two rail corridors between Thailand and Malaysia. The programme is expected to take around three years to complete, although Chongsanguan said that he hoped ‘the southern rail route would remain open to travellers’ during most of the work.Medium-term investment in SRT’s main line network has been in doubt after the government’s plans to introduce a 2tr baht national infrastructure programme were declared ‘unconstitutional’ in a court ruling in early March. Any revival of the ambitious proposals, which included funding for a network of four standard gauge fast passenger lines, double-tracking of the metre-gauge network and a series of urban rail projects in Bangkok, is dependent on the election of a permanent government.
GHANA: A US$2·2bn build-operate-transfer concession agreement for the 340 km Accra – Achimota – Koforidua – Bososo – Boankra – Kumasi railway project was signed by the Ministry of Railway Development and Ghana European Railway Consortium on April 4. The agreement must now be approved by the cabinet and parliament.GERC comprises 16 companies including Germany’s Havelländische Eisenbahn and Ralf Blankenbach GmbH, Austria’s Voestalpine, Italy’s Salcef and local company Keteke Group. It is envisaged that government would take a 30% stake, and construction would be supported by German development assistance funding. The concession would run for 30 years, including a three-year construction period and 27 years of operation before the line is transferred to the government.The double-track electrified 1 435 mm gauge line would follow the alignment of the existing 1 067 mm gauge eastern railway corridor built between 1910 and 1923. There would be a 24 km branch from Achimota to the port of Tema and another from Bososo to planned bauxite mines at Kyebi. The line would also serve an inland port being developed at Boankra, south of Kumasi. There would be major stations in Accra, Koforidua and Kumasi, and 30 smaller stations. Traffic is estimated at 12 000 to 18 000 passengers per day with 4 million tonnes of freight per year. The only operational passenger rail service in Ghana at present is the link between Accra and neighbouring Tema, operated by a fleet of CRRC DMUs.
PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti, CMC – Opposition political parties in Haiti on Sunday vowed to resume their street protests on Monday in a bid to remove President Jovenel Moise from office.The opposition parties buoyed by the turn out over the past few days, said that the protests would be held on Monday and Tuesday even as the Speaker of the Senate, Carl Murat Cantave, called a meeting for Sunday of all legislators to address the “political situation” in the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.“I invite all the political groups of the Senate to be represented to an important meeting which will take place this Sunday, September 29, “Cantave said in his invitation, adding “it’s an organized meeting with the different political tendencies of the great body to discuss our differences and especially address the political situation.“The time is serious, the Senate has its word to say,” he said.The Bishops of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Haiti (CECH), in a September 27 letter to Moise and other senior State officials called on them to act immediately to stem the violence in the country.“We Catholic Bishops of Haiti, we salute you all with respect and affection in the heart of the indescribable distress that we have lived as a people and citizen for more than a month in the country. It’s like we’re in a state of fratricidal war. We got there because of the behaviour of elected officials and leaders.“Despite our repeated calls for almost two years, Haiti’s current leaders, politicians and elected officials remain deaf, busy managing their power, privileges and petty interests. Meanwhile, some sectors continue to grow rich on the backs of the poor who can neither eat nor pay for their children’s schooling.”The CECH in its letter asked the officials to ponder on a number of questions.“Is there violence more atrocious than living constantly in insecurity? Is there worse than the misery that takes away all hope? No people must accept misery, poverty and violence in a defeatist way. “Therefore, the highest officials of the State must assume their responsibilities to ensure the smooth running of the country and the institutions; they are morally responsible for the safety and well-being of the population. And, in the first place, the President of the Republic.”The Catholic Bishops said that if the country is on fire,” it is because of their irresponsibility.“How can they not know what everyone knows? In a jump of awareness that they measure the extent of their accumulated failures and draw the consequences. It is now that they must act to change lives in Haiti. Tomorrow will be too late.”Haitians have been taking to the streets demanding Moise’s resignation and efforts to get the Senate to ratify his fourth prime minister, since coming to office in 2017, have failed because supporters of opposition legislators have taken over the building preventing the ratification process.In addition, the Haitians have been protesting a fuel crisis that has left motorists fuming and gas stations closed around the country. Gasoline suppliers are demanding as much as US$100 million they said are owed to them for previous shipments before delivering more supplies.In a radio and television broadcast last week, Moise said that he wanted all stakeholders to come together to deal with the problems facing the country.“I extend my hand to all the forces of the nation to form together a Government of National Unity, able to address the urgent problems of the country,” he said, adding that all actors should be involved in the initiative.But the opposition parties have rejected his call, saying the solution to the current political crisis lies “first and foremost in the resignation of Jovenel Moïse”.On Saturday, in Cap-Haïtien, a commune on the north coast of the country, pro and anti-government protesters armed with sticks, machetes, stones, bottles and other objects, clashed.The action came one day after Waslin Saint-Fleur, a security officer with the Procuratorate of Port-au-Prince, was shot dead at his home by unidentified gunmen.Saint-Fleur had been assigned to former Government Commissioner Paul Eronce Villard, who resigned last week.On Friday, thousands of protesters took the concrete in the capital and several provincial cities, in what some political observers said was the largest anti-government protest recorded in Haiti for a very long time.There were scenes of looting, violence as the demonstrators, armed with sticks, machetes, axes and firearms, shouted hostile remarks at the government.They erected barricades with tree trunks, old vehicle and burning tires on the main roads of the capital paralyzing most activities, forcing the shutdown of banks, schools, ministries and public offices.A move by the government to establish a multi-party institutional unit to coordinate the clearing of public roads of barricades and other dangerous debris was met by opposition parties urging supporters to ensure that the barricades remain in place.
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to LinkedInLinkedInLinkedInBetween 07.10am and 7.10pm on Monday 5th June 2017 a White Ford Transit Connect van, registration mark GL07OJT, was stolen from a layby on the A755 near Kirkcudbridght.The vehicle was subsequently found by Police in Lincluden area of Dumfries around 8.00pm that night.Constable Thomas Patterson at Castle Douglas said “the location where this van was taken from sits off the A755 road and we want to hear from anyone who may have been on that road on Monday during the day and saw anything suspicious. We are also keen to identitfy a young adult male who was wearing camouflage clothing, dark rimmed glasses, dark hair and holding a rucksack/bag and was seen walking on the A755 in the direction of Twynholm around 6pm.Anyone who may have seen this vehicle or the male described should contact Police through the 101 number quoting incident reference PDG0130120617, or through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”
Dumfries and Galloway scored the one of the highest rating for the number of people returning to the area on holiday with 43% of all tourists coming here because they ‘holidayed here before and wanted to return’. This compares to the Scotland wide statistics of 24%. A total of £175 million was spent by tourists during this time with the largest overseas market being Germany, USA and France. 70% of visitors said they came to the area to sightsee and 61% coming for walking, hiking or strolling activities. In total 826,000 overnight stays occurred in 2015 with 96% of these visits from people within the UK. A report by Visit Scotland into tourism in Dumfries and Galloway which covers 2015 and 2016 showed the number of people coming to the area has increased. AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to LinkedInLinkedInLinkedInSouth of Scotland MSP, Colin Smyth has welcomed a new report which has showed tourism in Dumfries and Galloway has grown- with the region scoring one of the highest rates for return visitors. The vast majority of people visited Dumfries and Galloway because of the scenery and landscape with 63% of people sighting that as the reason for them coming here. A similarly high proportion of visitors said they would recommend Dumfries & Galloway as a holiday destination to family or friends – 95% scoring 7-10 out of 10. Two-thirds gave 9 or 10 ratings on the recommendation scale, indicating a strong likelihood of telling friends and family about their positive experience in Dumfries & Galloway. Visitors to Dumfries & Galloway were very positive about their overall experience with 95% giving a satisfaction rating of 7 or more out of 10. Three-fifths of visitors gave the highest ratings of 9 or 10 for their trip to Dumfries & Galloway. These top 2 scores (9 or 10) show genuine satisfaction and can foster loyalty. The challenge is to continue to improve the visitor experience to encourage more visitors to give the highest scores on the satisfaction scale. Colin Smyth MSP said, “Tourism is vital to our region, supporting over 7,000 jobs and bringing over £300m into the local economy each year. These figures are really encouraging and show not only the strength of the sector but the great deal of potential Dumfries and Galloway has as a tourist region.What is especially encouraging is that 43% of tourists had been to the area before and were returning to holiday again. That is an incredible figure and shows that once we attract people and see our area as a place to come on holiday they love it and want to come again.Crucially though we need to use these successes as a way to build our economy. The council, Visit Scotland and Scottish Government can all do more to attract people to our area. Dumfries and Galloway still invests sustainably less in tourism than other areas in the country. Imagine the success that could come from our area having the same level of investment that some other regions get?These results show that Dumfries and Galloway if supported can be a real tourist hub, but only if the ambition and passion of the people and businesses here is matched by investment from the Scottish Government, Council and visitScotland”