TOPEKA (KSNT)- Shawnee County Commissioner Kevin Cook spoke about the state of Topeka, Heartland Motorsports Park, mental health resources and the city’s unsheltered Friday on the 27 News morning show.
“This is the worst that I’ve ever seen our community,” Commissioner Cook said. “Between the issues of fentanyl and the spread of that throughout our community, exasperating mental health and a lack of real resources.”
He said this is not to say that people in the community are not doing good work; he believes that is not where the problem lies.
“It’s just that there is not enough of it out there,” Cook said on mental health resources. “We need to be able to make that measured impact and do something very bold, at least at this point.”
For that reason, Cook has started drafting up a $6 million initiative that allows the county to set aside those allotted funds to address the issues the county is experiencing.
“And that’s what I’m asking my fellow commissioners to join me in,” Cook said. “To set aside money so that we can work together with the city and the county together as a community, to address this unsheltered, the mental health, and the drug and alcohol issues that are really rampant in our community.”
As far as specifics of the initiative, Cook gave some insight.
“We’ve been working with the Topeka Community Foundation,” Cook said. “Working with Valeo, working with our mental health providers, Department of Corrections, the court, the District Attorney; it’s really going to call for all-hands-on-deck.”
Commissioner Cook was also able to provide a comment regarding the situation at Heartland Motorsports Park, after a Kansas Court found there was no fault on the part of Shawnee County.
“If we look at Heartland Park, we have an owner who has paid no taxes in more than 6 years,” he said. “At this point, the District Court of Shawnee County and the Court of Appeals have both come back in our favor in showing that there is no wrongdoing on the part of Shawnee County or our employees.”
He said the owner has one more avenue they could try, and that would be going to the Kansas Supreme Court.
“It’s really a sad story, you don’t pay your taxes and then you blame it on the county,” he said.
Commissioner Cook also commented on the 2024 budget for the county next year. To hear that full story, watch the interview above.