Sedgwick County has denied The Eagle’s request under the Kansas Open Records Act for information about two groups that have expressed interest in the Judge Riddel Boys Ranch.
The Eagle filed an open records request Monday for e-mails, letters or informal or formal proposals to the county from groups that approached the county about the property at Lake Afton.
In a response Wednesday, County Manager William Buchanan said that “a search for the above-described records identified several items of email correspondence between Sedgwick County and two entities which have expressed some interest in the Judge Riddel Boys Ranch property.”
Buchanan cited an exemption to the open records law that exempts from mandatory disclosure “public records pertaining to prospective location of a business or industry where no previous public disclosure has been made of the business or industry’s interest in locating in, relocating within or expanding within the state.”
“Consequently, your request is respectfully denied at this time,” Buchanan said in a letter to The Eagle.
County commissioners on Tuesday agreed to issue a request for proposals to gauge interest in the ranch, which is slated to close later this month.
Sen. Michael O’Donnell, R-Wichita, said Tuesday that he has been talking to some groups that run youth residential centers in other parts of the state that might be interested in taking over the ranch.
The ranch for troubled boys is classified as a youth residential center II. The state has paid the county $126 per boy per day to operate the ranch on its behalf, but the county’s cost has been about $200 per boy per day.