• Special to the Leader & Times
ELKHART – Bob Boaldin, president of Epic Touch Co. and a Morton County (Kansas) commissioner, has been appointed to a commission to study the state’s court system with a potential for dramatic change to the state’s judicial branch of government.
Boaldin is part of a 24-member “Blue Ribbon Commission” that will review the Kansas court system and its operations and structure. The review will assist the Kansas Supreme Court in finding improvements in the way the courts serve Kansans.
The appointment was announced recently by Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss who said, “The Commission’s recommendations will have the potential to provide the most dramatic changes to the judicial branch of government since court unification in the 1970s.”
The Blue Ribbon Commission is authorized to consider such issues as the number of court locations needed to provide Kansans access to justice, the services to be provided in each court location, hours of operation, appropriate use of technology, cost containment or reductions, and flexibility in the use of human resources. Nuss said that the Commission would not be limited to those subjects and will have authority as its work progresses to review other operational efficiencies associated with the court system.
Once the Commission completes its work, a report to the Supreme Court will be submitted. It is expected the report will contain recommendations for action the Court can take on its own authority, as well as action that may require legislative approval or state constitutional change.
“We want many alternatives presented that could lead to a better system of justice in Kansas,” Nuss said. “We also want to ensure we are being optimum stewards of our taxpayer resources.”
The commission will have precise information about the work of the Kansas courts that has not previously been available due to a weighted caseload initiative that was launched in August, according to Nuss. The weighted caseload study is the first review in Kansas history to accurately measure the time and personnel required to process cases by considering such influences as case complexity, the driving time for some judges in less populated areas to travel from court to court within their district, and administrative burdens.
Nuss said the Court’s appointment of the Blue Ribbon Commission, and the weighted caseload study, were in large part the result of a historic Spring 2010 in which the state’s courts were forced to close, for the first time in their nearly 150-year history, due to lack of money.
“With some 500,000 cases to be handled by 266 judge positions and 1,590 non-judicial positions across this vast state of Kansas and budget cuts, the work of this Blue Ribbon Commission is very important to Kansans. I am honored and ready to work on this committee which represents a diverse population and geography,” Boaldin said.
In addition to Boaldin members of the Blue Ribbon Commission are Court of Appeals Judge Patrick McAnany, Chair, Topeka; Wyandotte County District Judge Constance Alvey, Kansas City; Barton County Counselor and Administrator Richard A. Boeckman, Great Bend; Wabaunsee County District Magistrate Judge Blaine A. Carter, Alma; 12th Judicial District Chief Judge Kim W. Cudney, Washington; and Graham County Clerk of the District Court Donna L. Elliott, Hill City.
Also appointed are Trego County District Magistrate Judge Richard Flax, Wakeeney; Kansas Corporation Commissioner Joseph F. Harkins, Topeka; Karen H. Hester, University of Kansas School of Law, Director of Career Services and Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Lawrence; Martha Hodgesmith, University of Kansas Associate Director for Disability Policy, Lawrence; State Sen. Jeffrey R. King, Independence; Susan Lynn, editor and publisher of The Iola Register, Iola; Doris Miller, co-owner of Rocking M Radio, Manhattan; Mike Padilla, Kansas Department of Revenue, Alcoholic Beverage Control Chief Enforcement Officer, Topeka; and Linda Parks, Attorney and Managing Partner, Hite, Fanning & Honeyman, Wichita.
Others on the committee are Reginald Robinson, Washburn University School of Law Professor, Topeka; Gerald O. Schultz, Attorney, Garden City; Sam H. Sheldon, Haley Title Company attorney and owner, Ottawa; State Sen. John Vratil, Overland Park; Finney County Attorney John P. Wheeler, Jr., Garden City; Calvin Williams, Attorney, Colby; Sam Williams, managing partner/CPA, Sullivan Higdon & Sink, Wichita; and Riley County District Judge Meryl D. Wilson, Manhattan.
Boaldin is a veteran of 51 years in the telecommunications management and construction businesses, and has long been a state and national leader in the promotion of telephone and cable television service to America’s rural communities. His activities have taken him to remote rural areas of America and to the halls of Congress in Washington D.C., as well as the offices of the FCC, and the inner offices of the National Security System of our nation. As a Morton County commissioner for 23 years, Boaldin is deeply involved in his local communities, contributing to many county and city projects.
He is a member of the Kansas Board of Emergency Medical Services, Next Generation E911, Kansas Wireless E911 Advisory Board and Government Affairs Committee, and a former member of President Bill Clinton’s National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee, just to name a few.
EPIC TOUCH CO. is a proven voice, video and data provider in southwest Kansas and the Oklahoma Panhandle that began more than a half century ago in Elkhart, Kan. An innovative leader in the industry, the company installed digital switching and the longest unrepeated fiber network in the nation in 1984 and in 1997 was one of the first to provide Internet service to rural America and to provide high speed Digital Subscriber Line based service with its deployment. Owned by Bob and Dian Boaldin, EPIC TOUCH CO. includes the cable, telephone and Internet company in Elkhart, a wireless PCS network with partners nationwide and communications product retail stores in Guymon, Okla., and Liberal and Elkhart.