Topeka Fire Department Welcomes New Accelerant Detection Canine Benny

The Topeka Fire Department is pleased to announce the addition of our new Alcohol Tobacco and Fire Arms (ATF) Accelerant Detection Canine Benny. Benny will take the place of Webster, who died in March of this year. The Topeka Fire Department would like to invite our media partners to come meet Benny and see a demonstration of his skills in detecting the presence of ignitable liquids.
Benny is a 2 year old male Yellow Labrador Retriever who completed his training at the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Canine Training Center at Front Royal, Virginia. His Handler, Fire Investigator James Vollintine, completed an intensive 6 week training program on December 7, 2018, where he was introduced to Benny and they received their ATF Accelerant Detection Canine certification.
Benny will respond throughout the City of Topeka, Kansas and assists investigators in detecting the presence of ignitable liquids at fire scenes. When requested, Benny will respond throughout northeast Kansas and the Midwest region to assist other agencies. Benny will also assist with public relations and educational programming.

City of Topeka Potential Victim of a Cyber-Attack

12/13 Update

If you are concerned about the exposure of your credit or debit card information, please access www.IC3.gov to file a complaint. The Internet Crime Complaint Center or IC3 accepts online Internet crime complaints.

In order to file a complaint on IC3, you will need personal information, including your address, telephone, and email. You will also need financial transaction information, specific details on how you were victimized and any other relevant information that you believe is necessary to support your complaint.

When filling out a complaint with IC3, please be sure to include Click-2-Gov in the description part of the incident form. The City of Topeka is cooperating with the FBI and your input and information are valuable to support cooperation efforts.

Original Post

On the afternoon of December 7th, the City of Topeka was notified by our Utility Billing Payment System software vendor Central Square that the City of Topeka has been a potential victim cyber-attack. This potential data breach has not been confirmed at this time. Central Square has turned over their information to a forensics investigator to confirm the potential breach of the City of Topeka Utility Billing Payment System. On Saturday, December 8th the City of Topeka Information Technology team went through the data breach system and did not see any malicious activity. As a potential victim of a cyber-attack, the City of Topeka wants to keep our costumers information safe and city Information Technology staff worked with the software vendor on December 7th to transition the current online Utility Billing Payment System to a more secure platform as advised by the software vendor. Local law enforcement and the FBI have been notified of the potential breach.

The City of Topeka is working with very limited information at this time regarding the potential cyber-attack. The data breach occurred between October 31st and December 7th. The data breach would affect any City of Topeka Utilities customer who made a one-time payment or set up autopay during this time. E-checks and customers who set up autopay before October 31st will not be affected. While this potential compromise has not been confirmed by a qualified forensic investigator yet, the City is strongly recommending, as a precautionary measure, customers who make credit card or debit card transactions using the online Utility Billing Payment System between October 31st and December 7th to contact their credit card issuer for advice related to the potential exposure of their credit card information.

As the potential victim of a cyber-attack, the City of Topeka has identified that up to 10,000 customers have been potentially impacted by the data breach. City of Topeka Utilities Department will be sending a letter to customers whose information has potentially been impacted.

Information on the potential breach will be on the City of Topeka website front page and updated as information becomes available. You can find more information on how to respond to a data breach at: https://www.ftc.gov/data-breach-resources

Topeka Police unveil identification cards for the unsheltered


The Topeka Police Department is proud to announce a new collaborative state-of-the-art initiative to help the unsheltered and indigent population in Topeka.

TPD has started issuing official City of Topeka Personal Identification Cards, an initiative that has never been done in Kansas. The cards are meant to bridge the gap for the unsheltered or those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford or have the proper documentation to apply for a state issued ID. The city issued ID cards are free and available to anyone in need.

The City of Topeka issued ID card will include the person’s legal name, photo, signature, date of birth, personal demographics, address or last know location, and Kansas State ID card number if applicable. In order to qualify, individuals must go through the Topeka Police Department for this process.

The City of Topeka issued IDs can be used to apply for a job through Day Labor Services, apply for residency and more.

“We are very excited to have partnered on this progressive effort to aid the unsheltered population in Topeka. These ID cards will allow people to gain access to a wide range of services that otherwise would not be available to them,” said Chief Bill Cochran. “Proper identification is a crucial element on the path towards gaining self-sustainability for this section of our population. We are here to help them along the way.”

In Kansas, to apply for a state issued identification card, you must have proof of identification. Many unsheltered people don’t have proof of identification, making the process nearly impossible.

In partnership with the Kansas Department of Revenue and Kansas Department of Health and Environment: Office of Vital Statistics, the Topeka Police Department is streamlining this normally difficult process. KDOR will be accepting the city issued ID card as proof of identification, which will then allow a person to get a temporary one-year state issued ID card. With that temporary state issued ID, the person has one year to go to Vital Statistics to get a copy of their birth certificate. With the temporary state ID card and the official copy of their birth certificate, they are then able to go to Social Security to get a copy of their social security card. After this process is complete, they can then go back to KDOR to get their official state ID. There will be a cost associated with applying for the temporary state ID card and official state ID card.

The identification process for the City of Topeka issued ID card will be in depth, to make sure that the person is identified correctly. This process will take anywhere between a week to a month.
The Topeka Rescue Mission will be assisting in our unsheltered and indigent outreach efforts as we work to identify those who can benefit from this initiative.

“One of the greatest barriers to success for unsheltered individuals is the inability to obtain legal identification. Without this identification, unsheltered individuals and families are unable to obtain employment, open a bank account, attend many educational opportunities and often move into safe and affordable housing. All too often they have nowhere else to turn other than the shelters of the Topeka Rescue Mission or the streets,” said Barry Feaker, Topeka Rescue Mission Executive Director. “Once again, the Topeka Police Department, under the leadership of Chief Bill Cochran and dedicated Officers like Sgt. Josh Klamm who has spearheaded this initiative, have created an innovative way to serve those most in need. I believe this new initiative may prove to be one of the greatest tools to breaking the cycle for unsheltered individuals that we have discovered thus far and undoubtedly will be replicated in other communities. It’s an honor to work alongside the men and women of TPD as they continually look for ways to protect and serve all of our citizens.”

It is important for people to understand that the city issued ID cards are free, but will not come with the same rights as a state issued ID card, driver’s license or passport, which will come at a cost.

Anyone interested in getting a City of Topeka Identification Card can email Sgt. Josh Klamm at jklamm@topeka.org. You can also come down to the Law Enforcement Center located at 320 S Kansas Ave. Suite 100 and speak with an officer at the front desk for assistance.

SW Fairlawn Storm Sewer Project

All northbound lanes on SW Fairlawn from SW 25th Street to SW 28th Street closed this afternoon due unstable subgrade near a manhole that is about to be removed and replaced.
“The contractor will begin removing the existing manhole tomorrow morning,” said Robert Bidwell, project manager for the City. “Once we know the extent of the sand backfill and the pavement undercutting, we can determine repair options and a timeline for restoring northbound traffic.” Southbound traffic will be continue to be allowed in the outside lane.
The problem was found when the City’s contractor began excavating for replacement of a 48-inch stormwater pipe and three manholes in that stretch. The project started Monday and is expected to be completed by January 28.

Public Meeting on Zoo Drainage Project

On Monday, December 3rd at noon, the Topeka Zoo will host a meeting to share updates about the storm water management project getting under way in Gage Park. When completed, Gage Park will benefit from a planted drainage swale and detention pond that will manage and clean storm water that flows through a portion of the park. The project will essentially develop two new ecosystems in the park benefiting native wildlife and presenting educational opportunities.
The project will change how areas along Zoo Parkway look. During the installation of the storm water management system, approximately 30 trees will be removed. They will be replaced by a more diverse variety as the project concludes next spring. Some of the oaks that are at the end of their life span will be used to make benches. Other trees will be recycled back into the park in different means.
“When we held the last public meeting about this project back in September, it was hard to understand the scope of the project just looking at a piece of paper,” said Zoo Director Brendan Wiley. “With areas in the park now marked, we want to provide another opportunity for the community to ask questions.”
The meeting will be held on Monday, December 3rd at noon in the Gary K. Clarke Living Classroom at the zoo.

Zoo’s Swans Get out of Town Visitors

For the past several years, Trumpeter Swans hatched at the Topeka Zoo and Conservation Center have been released back to the wild to bolster the wild population. This morning, two wild Trumpeter Swans dropped in for a visit with the pair of Trumpeters that call the Topeka Zoo home.
In the early 1900’s, Trumpeter Swans nearly became extinct. With laws in place to protect them and active breed and release programs, the species has made a dramatic turnaround and the population today is estimated to be in excess of 35,000 birds.
Trumpeter Swans range from Alaska and Western Canada down into the Northern United States. Kansas is typically not considered to be part of their normal range. The weather front that passed through this past weekend most likely pushed them further South.
The arrival of the visiting swans made for an interesting morning at the zoo. “It definitely got our attention,” said Zoo Director Brendan Wiley. ”We don’t know how long they will stay with us but they are welcome for as long as they want.”

African Painted Dog Annie Succumbs to Injuries

Staff at the Topeka Zoo and Conservation Center are heartbroken to report the loss of a female African painted dog named Annie. Annie came to the Topeka Zoo from the Bronx Zoo last week the day before Thanksgiving to be a mate for one of the Topeka Zoo’s male African painted dogs.

African painted dogs are a critically endangered species found in sub-Saharan Africa. Unlike hyenas that continue to do well, painted dogs have been challenged as human populations continue to grow in their range territories and have splintered populations of painted dogs into isolated areas.

The introduction and integration of Annie into the zoo’s pack of dogs began upon her arrival at the zoo last week. For successful integration of a new dog into a pack, it typically needs to be done within three to five days. “All appeared to be going well,” said Zoo Director Brendan Wiley. “We saw positive signs as they got to know each other through a visual and auditory introduction process.”

African painted dogs have an extremely complex social system unlike any other canid. “That is one of the reasons they are facing such a hard time in the wild,” said Wiley. As wild packs become more and more isolated, genetics become more and more related and because of their social system, it’s not just as simple as introducing new dogs into the wild groups.
That same challenge with the complex social system makes it difficult to build new groups in zoos with animals under human care. “You know the dynamics you are dealing with. You take every precaution. Yet it’s impossible to fully predict how the introduction will play out,” said Wiley.

After an introduction plan was developed in conjunction with the African Painted Dog Species Survival Plan, zoo staff began the introduction process in the painted dog outdoor habitat Saturday afternoon. Annie was first introduced to the alpha male. Things went very well. When things continued smoothly after the next subordinate male was added to the mix, it was time to include the last male. “That is when things went wrong for Annie,” said Wiley. “She was attacked by the beta male and sustained life threatening injuries.”

The introduction occurred under the watchful eye of zoo staff the entire time. In just two minutes, the fight was broken up and the males were separated inside. With the males secure, staff rushed in to save Annie. She immediately underwent surgery to repair the injuries. She was given a very guarded post-op prognosis and was monitored throughout the night. She succumbed to her injuries at about 10:00 Sunday morning.
“We aren’t sure why the attack to occurred,” said Wiley. “Over the next several weeks we will work with the Species Survival Plan to determine what the next step is for the group of male painted dogs that live here.”

Mayor Michelle De La Isla Selects Momentum 2022 to Participate in the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative

Earlier this year, Mayor Michelle De La Isla was chosen to participate alongside thirty-nine other Mayors from across the globe in the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative. The program offers leadership and management training to Mayors who lead cities with vision and purpose, and to two senior officials from each city who are most crucial to affecting organizational change. In addition to an intensive classroom experience, which the Mayor participated in back in July, the program works with each participating Mayor and city leader over the course of a year to foster their professional growth and the advancement of key capabilities within their city halls.

As part of the yearlong program work, the Mayor has chosen to build skills around community collaboration and has selected Momentum 2022 as her area of focus. With this, she was able to select eight additional community leaders to participate in the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative. These leaders, who have a key leadership role in our community and represent a sector of emphasis for Momentum 2022 will receive professional development and support, including an intensive four day training in the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative classroom in New York City. This all at no expense to the City of Topeka thanks to the generosity of Bloomberg Philanthropies.

“We are thrilled and honored to work with Bloomberg-Harvard,” said Michelle De La Isla, Mayor of Topeka. “We believe that our community leaders engaged in the implementation of Momentum 2022 will learn skills and bring back solutions through their educational experience with Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative. The training these leaders will receive will grow their knowledge, skills and abilities, thus, empowering them to not only effect the goals our community is seeking to achieve through Momentum 2022, but to challenge and execute in other areas that benefit our community. One can never underestimate the gift of education. Thanks to Bloomberg Harvard we are building a very special capacity in our city. ”

Representing Topeka are:
Leading the Momentum 2022 Strategic Plan – Kayla Bitler, Sr. VP Momentum 2022

Representing the Develop Home Grown Talent Pillar – Dr. Julianne Mazacheck, Washburn University Dean of Academic Affairs

Representing the Creating Vibrant and Attractive Places Pillar – Keith Warta – CEO Bartlett and West and Tri Chair of Momentum 2022

Representing the Growing a Diverse Economy Pillar – Matt Pivarnik, CEO of the Greater Topeka Partnership

Representing the Promote a Positive Image Pillar – Mike Padilla – Councilman District 5 and member of the Engagement Committee

Representing the Collaborate for a Strong Community Pillar – Marsha Pope, CEO of the Topeka Community Foundation and Shanae Holman, Executive Director of Topeka JUMP

Representing the East Topeka Council – TD Hicks, Pastor of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church

“We’re grateful to the leaders in our community who have agreed to give their time to participating in this program,” said Matt Pivarnik, President & CEO, Greater Topeka Partnership. “Specifically, I’d like to thank Mayor Michelle De La Isla for her leadership on initiatives that will be transformational for our community. Her selection of such a diverse and willing team will ensure maximum gains from this program.”

Representatives from the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative met with the team in Topeka on Tuesday, November 20 to kick-off the work. The program will officially begin in January of 2019.

Be a Good Neighbor. Help Reduce Leaf Litter in City Stormwater Pipes, Streams and River

Fall leaves are beautiful but when they fall on the ground in autumn they become a major source of litter throughout the treed areas of our community. If not removed, leaves are washed into storm water inlets during a rain or when snow and ice melts which can create clogs in the storm drains and put litter into the water supply.

The City of Topeka is responsible for sweeping our streets. In the fall, sweeping becomes much more burdensome than any other season due to the large amount of leaves.

To assist street sweeping crews, please do not rake piles of leaves or throw twigs and limbs into the street. What might take a two-sweeper crew one or two passes could turn into a five or six pass process. Twigs and larger limbs also can damage the equipment. The fewer limbs and twigs in the street, the less the chance of a breakdown, which would only slow the leaf removal process.

“We are seeking voluntary compliance,” said Jaci Vogel, Deputy Director of Public Works’ Operations, whose department is responsible for maintaining our streets. “While there are measures in our litter ordinance that outlines action to be taken against those who violate it, we would rather have voluntary compliance and have residents bag their leaves.” Vogel said crews would much rather spend their time picking up leaves as quickly as possible and not get bogged down in leaf piles swept into the street.

The purpose of removing leaves from streets is to keep them out of our waterways. Once leaves break down, they become sludge that can clog pipes. Clogged pipes can cause melting snow not to drain, which results in water at intersections freezing. In turn, the intersection can become dangerously slick.

“It is a big job to maintain streets without piles of leaves being added to our workload,” Vogel said. “Help us help you and your neighborhood be clean and safe.”

For more information, click on this link for a video about the City of Topeka’s leaf removal process. https://youtu.be/w3wWEAiscZo

 

Food for Fines Results

The Topeka Municipal Court designated the month of October as Food for Fines month. During the entirety of October, anyone with an outstanding fine at the Municipal Court could bring in 10 non-perishable food items and receive a $25 credit toward their fines.
The Topeka Municipal Court collected 2,048 pound of food and credited defendants $4,274.00 on their cases in exchange for the food donation. Additionally, the City of Topeka Finance Department held a department food drive and donated 128 pounds of food. In total, 2,176 pounds of food was donated to Project Topeka.
“I’m incredibly appreciative of the generosity shown by the citizens of Topeka. Food for Fines has allowed us to help so many people with their court fines and in turn they were able to help others in need,” said Municipal Court Judge Lori Dougherty-Bichsel. “The first year of Food for Fines has been a success and I hope that next year this program can bring in even more food donations.”
Fourteen percent of people in Shawnee County struggle with food insecurity. Food drives go a long way to help out the 25,000 people struggling with hunger in our community. All food items were donated to Project Topeka, which is a non-profit organization that distributes items to seven food banks in Topeka and Shawnee County. Since 1986, Project Topeka has collected over 58,000 food items and distributes nearly 200 tons of food annually.
For more information on the Topeka Municipal Court, visit: www.topeka.org/municipalcourt