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September 16, 2020
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Grinding Gears: USC hoops can still make it to March

first_imgEric He | Daily TrojanAfter practice one day before the season began, senior guard Jordan McLaughlin talked about the heightened expectations that came with being ranked the preseason No. 10 team in the country.“We’re not going to be ranked No. 10 and blow it all away,” McLaughlin said.With seven games left in the regular season schedule, the jury is still out on pretty much everything for USC men’s basketball. A season that began with its hype train at full speed ground to a halt with three straight nonconference losses, a defeat to Princeton and then a lackluster Pac-12 opener against Washington.But then the Trojans caught fire, winning eight of their next nine games, their only loss coming on a halfcourt buzzer beater by Stanford. They beat Colorado, Utah and Cal by double digits. They pulled off close wins over Oregon and Oregon State, and then redeemed themselves against Stanford. And they took a huge step toward solidifying their NCAA Tournament bid.Still, there is work to do. USC lost to UCLA last Saturday in a game they should’ve won, if not for immaturity on the part of sophomore forward Nick Rakocevic and poor late-game execution. With or without De’Anthony Melton, it is clear at this point that the Trojans are not as strong as the No. 10 ranking they were handed preseason.They can, however, do their best not to “blow it all away.” Right now, the best case scenario for this team would be to make the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season, and go from there. Expectations can shift over the course of the season, and considering the start to this year, simply making the tournament would be a win. To do that, USC must get through this pivotal weekend ahead against the Arizona schools in the desert.On Thursday, the Trojans will play an upstart Arizona State program that has faded in Pac-12 play but burst onto the scene early in the season with several impressive wins. On Saturday, they face No. 13 Arizona, the Pac-12 favorite.These two games, combined with last Saturday’s loss to UCLA, constitute perhaps the most important stretch of USC’s remaining schedule. The Sun Devils may be faltering in conference play, but still sport the most dynamic offense the Trojans will see this season. They lead the Pac-12 in scoring offense, while the Wildcats, after a poor start, have won 16 of 18 games, lead the Pac-12 in field goal percentage and 3-point field goal percentage and have emerged once again as a Final Four hopeful. History does not bode well for USC on this road trip. The Trojans have been swept on their last five sojourns to the desert and seven of the last eight years. The last time they beat both Arizona teams in the same season was in 1985. This history underscores just how big these two games are. At the very least, USC needs a split — and if it can’t pull the upset at Arizona, at least make it a close game. Because if the Trojans lose both games, there are few opportunities left to climb back up in the tournament picture.Heading into Thursday, the Trojans rank 45th in RPI. That should be good enough to qualify for the tournament — both ESPN and CBS currently project USC as an 11th seed. Both opponents this weekend rank ahead of USC in RPI — Arizona State is 44th, Arizona is 16th. After these two games, the Trojans won’t have a chance to really build on their resume. Their only big test will be the season finale against UCLA, which is 56th in RPI. Otherwise, games against Oregon, Oregon State, Colorado and Utah won’t move the needle.USC has been through a lot this season — the preseason hype, the early struggles, the injury bug that has hit star junior forward Bennie Boatwright again. And, of course, the ongoing FBI investigation that led to the firing of assistant coach Tony Bland and the absence of Melton all season has lingered in the back of everyone’s minds.Perhaps this team, which some thought would be a sleeper to make the Final Four, won’t be the one that brings USC hoops back to glory. The Trojans won’t fully live up to their No. 10 preseason ranking. But they can’t blow it all away, and a couple of wins this weekend would go a long ways toward avoiding that.Eric He is a junior majoring in print and digital journalism. His column, “Grinding Gears,” runs Thursdays.last_img read more

August 14, 2020
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Wellington City Work session gets feisty as council figures what to do with utility rates

first_imgCurrent Utility rate comparisons     Johnson City12611138 Osawatomie4,595 $118.80 $26.22 $38.58 $183.6011 8,098 $146.78 $33.25 $50.97 $245.251 Fredonia2,486 $129.04 $61.00 $12.30 $202.344 8,098 $142.28 $33.25 $50.97 $240.753 Eudora*6,027 $112.10 $34.49 $41.86 $188.458 Chetopa133267 In his cost analysis, Estes provided two tables of “possible” future increases. If Wellington was to go through with the electrical project and raise rates to replenish the utility reserve fund at an acceptable level, the average Wellington consumer would pay $146.78 a month compared to $128.28 a month it currently is using. That would make Wellington the most expensive of the 14 towns compared with. It would be $1 above a town like Chetopa, who currently has the highest electrical rates of the 14 compared cities.If Wellington was not to go through with the project but still replenish the utility fund it would be at $226.50 which would put it at third amongst the 14 cities.Wellington City Council member B.J. Tracy said it is all a matter of perspective. For example, if say Chetopa has high utility rates, what would be its property tax rates?“I would love it if someday someone would do a college thesis on all utilities, all taxes, all rates to determine what a city’s overall cost of living is compared to others,” Tracy said. “That would be quite a project, but it might put everything in perspective.” Herrington2,563 $147.60 $36.38 $15.75 $199.736 Osawatomie4121022 Population Electric 1000 kwh  Water 5000 gal.  Wastwater 5000 gal.  Utility total w/sanitation Rank  Lindsborg3,321 $138.18 $27.56 $36.25 $201.995 Wellington with $5.2 million electrical switching project Chetopa1,281 $145.43 $51.32 $33.40 $230.151 Estes then added two more tables that included what the utility rates had to be to help replenish the utility fund to a financially healthy level.Currently, Wellington has agreed on an electrical project that includes a substation, switching station and sub transmission circuit that will coincide with upgrades made by Westar Energy, the city’s utility provider. That project once completed is estimated at $5.2 million. The bond for that project has yet to be issued, but the design work for the project at $234,000 was approved in Oct. 15, 2013. Herington916111 What to do next —The utility rate discussion soon gave way to what measure the city council should take next. Etter, in his first meeting in a city council capacity, said the city has to figure out a way to cut costs but continue to make itself attractive to outsiders.Valentine said he would vote against any kind of rate increase especially with the number of people who were at poverty level.Etter warned though that rates have to be raised or the city would be out of cash reserves shortly and have a negative balance which would only make the situation worse.Council member Jan Korte offered several specifics including a departmental employment analysis to determine whether there needs to be cuts in personnel.“Wages and benefits are our biggest expenses, so naturally if we are going to make cuts, let’s start there,” she said.Valentine questioned Eckert on whether or not the city is best using its equipment and if some of it needed to be sold.Shields outlined the dire need to start making decisions soon because the upcoming budget process is right around the corner and the demands for funding for various projects aren’t going away.He said just for capital utility projects, $2.5 million is estimated, and that does not include lesser capital outlay projects. Ultimately, the Sumner Regional Medical Center utility fund abatements will affect the 2016 budget. The hospital has yet to pay for utilities in 2015, Shields said.“You have to factor in all these things when looking at the big picture,” Shields said. “We are really going to have to look at specifics soon.”And to top it all off, Larry Mangan, once a city employee and now a school board member, asked the board to study ways to help the USD 353 school district out with its utilities. He said the school district pays $750,000 a year. He compared the rates of two similar elementary schools: Eisenhower in Wellington and Pleasantville in Derby. USD 353 is paying $3,280 a month in utilities at Eisenhower while Derby is paying $2,192 a month at Pleasantville.Follow us on Twitter. RankingsPopulationElectricWaterWastewaterSanitation Johnson City1,331 $132.31 $25.50 $9.00 $166.8112 Augusta110884 Marion1123910center_img Wellington281255 Eudora3137112 Fredonia1071126 Hugoton61113109 Hoisington*2,975 $127.60 $41.25 $28.35 $197.207 He picked 14 cities that were comparable or lower in population to Wellington. Estes did not include bigger towns like Winfield or Wichita.The 14 towns were then ranked based on electric, water, wastewater and sanitation. Beloit555311 Hoisington894712 Augusta8,600 $126.10 $32.65 $27.55 $186.309 Lindsborg74943 Marion1,927 $145.50 $45.00 $22.50 $213.002 Where utility rates need to be to replenish reserve fund by Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — The new Wellington City Council won’t be ushered in until next Tuesday. But judging from this Tuesday’s work session meeting it could be a lively two years.The utility reserve fund and the consumer rates were the subjects for the meeting, but the two-hour plus meeting often veered into philosophical discussions about the city’s future. And at one point it got downright nasty.Very late into the two hour meeting, Wellington City Councilmen Vince Wetta and Jim Valentine got into a shouting match. In a nutshell, Wetta was upset about how confrontational Valentine is at city meetings. Valentine was upset that the other city council member’s aren’t listening to him.Work sessions are unlike regular city meetings. Council members sit at a round table and discuss issues without any formal proceedings. No action can be taken, and talk is most generally done informally. People of the general public are usually not allowed to address the council unless addressed by a council member first. Basically, it’s a company business meeting with reporters lurking in the background. This work session was one for the ages. It included newly elected council member Kip Etter and mayor Shelley Hansel, who was not physically there but was participating via teleconference from another location. Outgoing mayor Roger Stallbaumer was present, but outgoing council member John Brand was not in attendance.The meeting also included City Clerk Shane Shields, City Manager Roy Eckert, and Electric Department Interim Director Roger Estes. Beloit4,160 $135.46 $39.78 $36.44 $211.683 Hugoton3,412 $125.95 $16.75 $16.50 $159.2013 Wellington without $5.2 million electrict switching project Utility rate comparisons —At issue was the utility reserve fund that has depleted over the past five years (see story here). This was the first time the council as a group sat down to discuss possible solutions after City Finance Advisor John Haas informed them of the situation in work session a month ago.Many ideas were tossed around, but no concrete solutions were made Tuesday. If there was one thing the council was in agreement, the solution of replenishing the reserve fund and getting the city of Wellington back to financial health may take years to resolve.Estes provided some cost comparisons of Wellington’s utility rates compared to 13 other cities including Chetopa, Marion, Beloit, Fredonia, Lindsborg, Herington, Hoisington, Eudora, Wellington, Osawatomie, Johnson City and Hugoton. The comparison figures involved an average consumer using 1,000 kWh of electricity, 5,000 gallons of water, and 5,000 gallons of sewer.  Population Electric 1000 kwh  Water 5000 gal.  Wastwater 5000 gal.  Utility totals Rank Wellington8,098 $128.28 $20.17 $35.46 $183.9110 Close Forgot password? Please put in your email: Send me my password! Close message Login This blog post All blog posts Subscribe to this blog post’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Subscribe to this blog’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Follow the discussion Comments (38) Logging you in… Close Login to IntenseDebate Or create an account Username or Email: Password: Forgot login? Cancel Login Close WordPress.com Username or Email: Password: Lost your password? Cancel Login Dashboard | Edit profile | Logout Logged in as Admin Options Disable comments for this page Save Settings Sort by: Date Rating Last Activity Loading comments… You are about to flag this comment as being inappropriate. Please explain why you are flagging this comment in the text box below and submit your report. The blog admin will be notified. Thank you for your input. +12 Vote up Vote down Jim · 278 weeks ago How can you compare the monthly cost of school electric bills without first comparing how much electricity they are using?? Report Reply 0 replies · active 278 weeks ago +6 Vote up Vote down Home Town Boy · 278 weeks ago They should already have that data on hand as long as they have been paying the bills at the schools. How about shutting down some of the street lights that burn all night with out anyone using them. I dont know how many times I drive by the schools at night all lit up and no one home. Report Reply 2 replies · active 278 weeks ago +4 Vote up Vote down Steve · 278 weeks ago My Wellington Electric rates are higher than that. Last July 862 KWH $130.68 Report Reply 1 reply · active 278 weeks ago -5 Vote up Vote down sally · 278 weeks ago Why would anyone apply for the Sumner Regional Medical Center board after City hall declared war on SRMC and the SRMC Board last night at this work session? Report Reply 0 replies · active 278 weeks ago +16 Vote up Vote down anonymous · 278 weeks ago Bravo Mr. Valentine for standing up on behalf of the vast majority of people alrdady strapped for cash and tired of one-after-another util increases to cover rampant spending that necessitates transfers and depletes reserves. Hey council…. if you want Valentine to back off… Stop spending like you don’t care! Is there end to new taxes and raising of rates? Report Reply 1 reply · active 278 weeks ago +20 Vote up Vote down resident2014 85p · 278 weeks ago I have a few questions: 1) The number of Wellington residents has decreased; has the number of city employees decreased in any of the departments? 2) How many vehicles does the city own/utilize in 2015 compared to 2001 or even 2005? 3) How many new buildings have we acquired in the last 10 years (I can think of several – the building on South “C” Street, the building(s) North of town) and more. We have to quit buying until we can afford. I’m hoping the new leadership, along with the existing members, can answer these questions and together we can reduce the costs of maintaining our city by working together instead of acting foolish and yelling and criticizing each other (Mr. Wetta). I believe we all want the best for our town; let’s roll up the sleeves and work together. Report Reply 1 reply · active 278 weeks ago +1 Vote up Vote down dusty · 278 weeks ago Heck do like our wonderful government and just think of a way to tax everyone more that’s what they do when they need more money,they never look at making cuts on there level,looks like wellington is headed in that direction. Report Reply 0 replies · active 278 weeks ago +7 Vote up Vote down WellMom · 278 weeks ago At the end of the day those charts are useless without considering the cost adjustment. Picking in one of those towns you’re comparing us to and you’ll be hard pressed to find them paying a final bill as high as we are. Report Reply 1 reply · active 278 weeks ago +7 Vote up Vote down Home Town Boy · 278 weeks ago I am just curious do these other cities add all the add on’s to the final bill like ours. My city bill has a lot more than just the 3 items listed on it. An example as above just showing electric water and sewer is misleading for the over all total bill we are charged monthly. Report Reply 0 replies · active 278 weeks ago +17 Vote up Vote down Guest · 278 weeks ago Do these new elect. include fuel adjustment. Also about cutting back on equipment, do we really need a gas guzzling 3/4 ton, 4 wheel drive pickup running around town looking for stray dogs, and I repeat looking .What a overkill. Report Reply 0 replies · active 278 weeks ago 123Next » Post a new comment Enter text right here! Comment as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new comments Comments by IntenseDebate Enter text right here! Reply as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Cancel Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new commentslast_img read more