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Kitchen veteran Stroud excited to teach next generation

Having over 35 years’ experience in the food service industry, Cathy Stroud has learned a lot of lessons she can pass on to the next wave of chefs. For that reason, Stroud had no problem coming on board as an instructor with The Kitchen at Derby’s Hubbard Arts Center this summer.

“I enjoy teaching and I enjoy sharing my knowledge; what I know, what I’ve learned. I think it’s my duty,” Stroud said. “I think it’s rewarding to teach someone else something of what I’ve learned.”

Stroud, a Wichita native, got her start as a baker’s apprentice before securing a job in the Marriott Hotel kitchen before it had even opened.

Prior to opening, kitchen staff at the hotel were trained in a variety of techniques like how to flip eggs and crack them with one hand, something Stroud has certainly brought with her to The Kitchen.

“That’s why I can teach the kids how to break them with one hand, because they think that’s really cool,” Stroud said.

From 1989 to 2009, Stroud worked in food service at Wichita State University starting as a cook and eventually moving up to the position of resident dining services director. She also worked as a chocolatier at Cero’s Candies in Wichita for a few years.

Experiences along the way helped shape Stroud as a chef and led her to invest in passing on what she had picked up to others.

“Overall, I’ve learned so much about food and training people through all my experiences, and I think that I bring that to the table. I just enjoy training somebody, teaching them how to do things like how to use a knife,” Stroud said. “The most rewarding part is just seeing enjoyment on their faces, young and old, and [them] learning different things about food.”

So far this summer, Stroud has led a course on chocolate-making for adults (something she looks forward to doing regularly), but she has primarily been in charge of the week-long sessions for kid chefs age 7 to 11 an experience she has enjoyed.

Most recently, Stroud taught her fledgling chefs how to make “Muffins Many Ways,” but she has also led classes on breakfast dishes, no-bake treats, cupcakes and more with a session on pizza coming up on July 27.

Within those lessons, Stroud is focused on teaching proper technique like knife skills with the hopes that a dedicated class will come in the future. Beyond that, though, she is trying to create a fun environment that will help young participants push past any fears so they are not afraid and become accustomed to using standard kitchen appliances.

Being retired, Stroud has the flexibility to lead any number of classes (when she is not taking trips) and she is open to teaching whatever participants want to learn whether how to temper chocolate or frosting techniques for cake.

Above all, though, Stroud wants to make her lessons fun and informative  and push the boundaries a little to engage her participants, young or old.

“I’m excited and I want them to be excited about the classes. And I try to find recipes that are a little offbeat like the macaroni and cheese muffins (we made) and like the pizza I’m going to be doing in the next couple of weeks. We have all different kinds of crusts from crescent roll dough to sugar cookie dough. I try to find some off-the-wall kind of things that maybe they haven’t heard of before to do. That makes it a little more exciting,” Stroud said.

“The instructors are all excited; we’re all real hyped up about this new concept. Out of my 35 years of experience, hopefully I can bring some of that exuberance to the participants, too.”

Slight budget increase recommended for Derby in 2021

COVID-19 has certainly thrown a wrench into the city’s budgeting process, but staff continue to roll with the punches. That continued to be taken into account as City Manager Kathy Sexton presented the recommended budget to the Derby City Council at its meeting on July 14.

During the pandemic, city staff adjusted and made mid-year reductions (holding positions open and delaying purchases) to the 2020 budget in light of coronavirus. Those adjustments led to a one percent decrease in the overall budget to $41.86 million for 2020.

While COVID-19 is still being factored in, the recommended budget for 2021 would see an increase of one percent to $42.27 million  though the total mill levy would remain unchanged due to a 6.5 percent increase in assessed valuation over the past year.

Property tax remains the city’s biggest revenue source, Sexton noted, and that jump in assessed valuation means Derby can hold the mill levy flat at 48.049 mills in 2021 with one mill now bringing in $253,280 (up from nearly $238,000 collected per mill). That increase means the city can address some major projects in 2021  like pavement maintenance and the design of new water treatment facilities.

“Because of the growth of Derby it is time to decide and design what we need to build next so Derby can keep growing,” Sexton said.

Sexton stated that routine adjustments to personnel costs (merit pay, etc.) were also factored into the recommended budget increase for 2021, but the biggest adjustments were to nearly double the amount of funding for pavement maintenance from $933,041 to $1,634,000 and design new wastewater ($1 million) and water ($1.5 million) treatment facilities.

In particular, the water treatment facility has been part of negotiations with the city of Wichita recently. Having its own facility would enhance Derby’s capabilities of both collection (from wells) and processing something it has never done before.

“This would be a full-fledged water treatment facility where the water would basically taste and smell just like the Wichita water. It would be very good quality water,” Sexton said.

Regarding the adjustment to pavement maintenance, those funds are being recommended to increase over the next three years, but would drop back below 2020 levels starting in 2024.

Concerns were raised by city staff about that steep drop off, but living with the doubled maintenance budget over the next three years will illustrate how realistic that expectation is something with which Mayor Randy White was in agreement.

“We’ve got plenty of time to see what doubling our budget means to our roads,” White said. “What we’re trying to do is never get below that curve where we have roads that are a little iffy.”

Other changes for 2021 were minor and dealt with some shifting of funds, like shifting costs for four part-time firefighters, contractual expenses and commodities from the Derby Difference Sales Tax Fund to the general fund (due to the tax lid). The budget Sexton presented also recommended reducing the transfer to the public safety equipment reserve fund given the amount that has been collected there over the past three years.

Due to the normal personnel cost increases, a request for a longevity bonus was not recommended to be included in 2021. A request to dedicate funds to the second phase of the Derby Historical Museum roof replacement was also recommended to be put on hold (to see if more funds could be raised).

Moving forward with the water treatment facilities and other capital improvement projects still on schedule in 2021 and beyond, city debt was also addressed during the budget presentation.

While construction of the water treatment facility is projected to spike the city’s debt in 2024, Sexton also noted that 70 percent of the city’s debt retires in 10 years. Per state statute, city’s are allowed a 30 percent debt to assessed valuation ratio with Derby currently at 19 percent (having set its own goal at 20 percent). That means the city of Derby has a remaining $41 million debt capacity.

Revenue changes won’t be fully known until February 2021, most likely, according to Sexton. As such, council member Tom Keil questioned how the city plans for the future amidst the current pandemic.

Given that Derby doesn’t receive much state aid, Sexton noted its primary revenue sources come from property taxes and sales tax. The inelastic nature of retail (meaning mostly necessities are sold) in Derby has kept the community “sales tax rich” while city staff are also taking advantage of the assessed valuation increase and keeping all other factors in mind.

“It’s a conservative budget, but it does take advantage of that full 6.5 percent of assessed valuation,” Sexton said. “What we’re trying to do is present a budget that’s a best case scenario.”

Additionally, it was noted the recommended budget sets the maximum budget authority for the city in 2021 — meaning the city can spend up to what the budget is set at, but it does not have to spend that full amount.

The city council would also still have the authority to amend the “optimistic budget” if they felt that was needed, but at present the city council approved the recommended budget for publication, setting a public hearing on the budget for Aug. 11.

How sweet it is: Crumbl Cookies coming to Derby

Milk and cookies fans, rejoice! There is a new destination where you can satiate your sweet tooth coming to Derby with the Crumbl franchise expanding into the market in 2020.

While 2020 has thrown out a lot of curveballs so far, it was a simple business decision that led Wichita Crumbl Chief Operating Officer Steve Wallace into the local market.

A native of Utah (where Crumbl is headquartered), Wallace moved out to Kansas City this year to franchise a number of locations. Within a month of that, the owners of the Wichita location were looking to sell. Corporate reached out to Wallace to see if he would be interested in buying, with Wallace officially taking over the Wichita store on May 4.

Given the sales Wichita’s Crumbl location has done since opening in November 2019, expansion in the market made sense.

“We were happy with the numbers we were seeing,” Wallace said. “We think the Derby market will beat the Wichita store. We have lots of positive feedback already. We’ve done a little social media research. With what we have done, it’s been exceptionally well received  the idea of doing the Crumbl store out there so we’re very excited about what we’re seeing.”

Derby’s Crumbl store is slated to open near the old Pita Pit location (1918 N. Rock Road, by Buffalo Wild Wings) in late September 2020.

This continues the rapid expansion for Crumbl, which began in Logan, Utah, in 2017 and opened two additional stores within the first year. That grew to 30 stores in the company’s second year, with Crumbl set to open its 100th franchise in July 2020. Wallace plans to bring that same mentality to the Midwest region.

“I believe it just kind of exponentially keeps growing. We have plans on doing 30 stores in Kansas City, Wichita, Tulsa (Okla.), everywhere in between. If we don’t get to 30 when we get done with all that, we’re going to move into Lincoln and Omaha (Neb.),” Wallace said. “We’re going to hit that goal and our goal is to do it in five years. That’s pretty fast.”

For the Derby market, Wallace noted the store is not breaking the mold, but local customers can expect the same quality service and product variety that Crumbl strives to offer at all its locations.

“One of the things that we pride ourselves on is the quality of the cookie and the positive and happy experience that our customers will have when they come in and get their cookies,” Wallace said. “We want to focus on them getting not only a great cookie, but a great experience.”

“The other really fun thing about the store is that it’s unique in its approach in that we have two standard cookies we do  a sugar cookie and we do chocolate chip. Those are our mainstays, the signature cookies; those happen all the time,” Wallace said. “We have over 100 flavors now and the other four cookies we offer six flavors every week rotate out all the time. They’re changing constantly.”

Rotating flavors include varieties like dulce de leche, raspberry cheesecake, samoa and more. Unless chilled, cookies (“the size of your hand”) are always served fresh and can be ordered in store, for curbside pick-up or delivery. Other menu items include drink options (like milk) to go with those cookies and specialty ice cream flavors based on Crumbl’s cookie varieties.

Having a rotating weekly menu means that customers may have to wait three to four months for their favorites to be offered again, but Wallace noted that gives them three months of new cookies to try or they can stock up on their favorites and store them in the freezer.

Previously running a food truck business back in Utah, franchising with Crumbl seemed like a good fit for Wallace and his family and they have been happy with the partnership so far. Wallace loves getting the chance to serve up Crumbl cookies and he is confident Derby customers will come to love the cookies as well.

“The cookies are absolutely awesome. They really are. It’s not a hard pitch at all to have people to see and taste the cookies,” Wallace said. “The cookies sell themselves. They are delicious, they are just absolutely gorgeous and they are inviting. You want to eat them as you see them.”

Mulvane Old Settlers Days cancelled for first time in 147 years

Mulvane Old Settlers recently announced that this year’s Mulvane Old Settlers Days is cancelled. It is the first time the event has been cancelled in 147 years.

Old Settlers Days is a sort of community party that happens each year in Mulvane. It features a variety of events, and was slated for August.

Event chairpersons met in June to discuss whether to go forward with Old Settlers Day this year. At that point it became clear that many of the chairpersons were on the verge of cancelling their individual events, citing concern about growing COVID-19 case numbers in Mulvane, surrounding areas and throughout the state.

The decision to cancel Old Settlers Days was made at an unannounced board of directors meeting in early July, and the decision to cancel the event was publicly announced at a special meeting the following week.

Though the overall Old Settlers Days event has been cancelled, some of the events scheduled will still happen. They just won’t be done in conjunction with other events or as part of a bigger event.

The Mulvane American Legion will hold a horseshoe pitching tournament on August 15 behind Post No. 136. 

The Old Settlers car show will be moved to downtown Mulvane, if approved by the city. Details have not yet been finalized.

Some of the events cancelled include the annual quilt show, road run, Little Miss Pioneer, medallion hunt, the rodeo, and various museum events. 

Derby participants shine in Wichita, KC All-Star Game

If this weekend’s results are any indication, the future of baseball in the Wichita area couldn’t be much brighter.

Wichita and Kansas City’s best for the classes of 2020 and 2021 met at Eck Stadium on July 17-19. Over 30 players were selected for each team. Derby had five players selected for the first weekend of games, while seven more will participate on Aug. 3 and Aug. 5 in Parkville, Mo., and Goddard, Kan.

“It was really good for the [local] community,” 2020 head coach Tonto Baxley said. “We had about 500 fans show up Friday and Saturday and probably about 200 on Sunday. The greatest thing about it was that it brought a level of competition that these boys haven’t played with in awhile.”

Each team played a three-game series and the 2020 Wichita-area roster finished 1-2. Former Derby pitcher Grant Adler started Saturday night’s game. He’ll now return to the Rose Hill Sluggers for the remainder of the summer before moving to Cowley College in the fall.

“I’ve know Grant for a long time,” Baxley said. “… His competitiveness and always wanting the ball in any spot in any big game – there’s not many like him. He’ll get frustrated if I tell him he’s not pitching. He wants the ball and he believes he’s the best and that says a lot about who he is. He has great character, he’s a great person and he’s a pleasure to coach.”

In the final game for the 2021 class, two Derby soon-to-be seniors played a critical role in wrapping up the series win. Reid Liston finished with two hits and three RBIs, while Grant Ash picked up the win on the mound.

Baxley, who will be the recruiting coordinator for the new 316 Elite/Wichita Sluggers Academy merger, said Derby fans should be thrilled with what this class of players will bring back to Panther Field next spring.

“For [Derby coach] Todd Olmstead to have that much talent in one place, it’s unfair,” Baxley said. “It’s unfair for the state next year. I’ve been around those [2021] players for the last four or five years and they’re outstanding players and contributors in the community.”

The 2022 and 2023 games are set for the first weekend in August. The games in the Wichita area will be played at the new Genesis Sports Complex in Goddard.

Baxley also indicated that they have already begun conversation for next summer’s series with hopes that it could grow even bigger.