Wichita, Kan. - A dozen state legislators from the Wichita area and three county commissioners heard testimony Friday on the importance of keeping the Judge Riddel Boys Ranch open.
The public forum, hosted on Friday by the South Central Kansas Delegation, drew dozens of citizens to the COMCARE building in downtown Wichita. Many of them testified to the importance and quality of the services the program provides and the dangers of discontinuing it to help balance the budget.
The Boys Ranch, located near Lake Afton, provides rehabilitation services to young men with serious behavior problems. Reports surfaced recently that county commissioners were being advised to consider closing the program to help close a $9.5-million budget shortfall.
Two past program participants received applause from the audience after telling the group how they had personally benefited from the program. One of them, Sam Lamping, is about to attend W.S.U. in the fall said “I think if I wouldn’t have gone to the Boys Ranch things would have gone a lot differently in my life.”
Sedgwick County Commission Chairman Tim Norton said “nothing has been determined yet” and noted that formulating the budget is still in the early stages of gathering information and input.
The county manager will present a proposed budget to the commission in mid-July. Following that there will be two public hearings before a final budget is adopted.