WICHITA, Kansas (KSN) — New sports facilities at one Wichita high school means some homeowners are being forced out. Some say they will take it to court. “This could have been handled differently,” says John Layton who lives near North High School. “They told us they were going to get the house one way or another.”

Layton is one of ten property owners who have not come to terms with USD 259 on the sale of their homes. The school district wants the homes gone so it can build much needed parking spaces, new athletic fields and make other improvements. “North High sits on a very crowded space,” says USD 259 school board member Lynn Rogers. “Those kids at North High deserve to have decent facilities.”

And with ten homeowners near North High School not selling, the school district is using the power of eminent domain to acquire those homes. The district previously made offers on the properties. No terms were reached. “Fair market value,” says Rogers. “But they are not selling.”

“No. I didn’t even know what it was,” says Layton of the process of eminent domain. “I still don’t quite understand it. Basically, it seems to me it’s a way of kicking people out of their houses.” Which is true, according to legal analysts.

“The power of eminent domain is often a sad hardship on families who have understandable historical and emotional attachments to their homes,” explains legal analyst Dan Monnat. “Eminent domain is an inherent power of any sovereign state or nation Which allows the sovereign to take or confiscate or expropriate property.”

Some school board members say they are hesitant to use that power. “We’ve not used it often,” explains Rogers. “This is only the second time in the ten years that I’ve been on the board.” USD 259 last used the power of eminent domain in 2005. Linwood Elementary was proposed for building and expansion, but some of the property sat on city park property. Park enthusiasts wanted the park land to stay. It ended up in court, and the school won.

“I guess we will see what comes next,” says Layton. “We will talk to our neighbors here and see what they want to do. This could be a fight.”

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KSN TV – By Craig Andres

 A Garden Plain teacher and football coach appeared in court Monday to face three sex-related charges following what police described as a sting operation.

According to court documents filed last week, Todd Puetz, 39, is charged with electronic solicitation, attempted aggravated indecent liberties with a child and attempted criminal sodomy. All three of the charges are felonies that occurred on or about Oct. 22, court documents say.

Puetz has taught physical education and health and has been a highly successful coach of the Garden Plain High School football team.

The solicitation charge accuses him of using an electronic communication to try to “entice or solicit” someone he thought was 14 or 15 “to commit or submit to an unlawful sex act.”

The second charge accuses him of trying to meet with a “child believed to be 15” to commit aggravated indecent liberties. The third charge accuses him of trying meet with a “child believed to 15” to commit criminal sodomy.

Puetz made his first appearance in Sedgwick County District Court on Monday morning with his attorney Dan Monnat.

Puetz was one of seven men arrested in late October after being suspected of communicating electronically with someone they thought was an underage girl, according to police and records. The communication was of a sexual nature, police said.

Police said that six of the seven men tried to meet with someone they thought was an underage girl for sex, but have not said which men. The special operation came in response to a surge in human trafficking cases in Wichita over the past couple of years, police said. The two-day sting operation involved the FBI, the Internet Crimes Against Children task force, the Wichita-Sedgwick County Exploited and Missing Child Unit, Wichita police and Sedgwick County sheriff’s officers.

After Monday’s court appearance, Monnat, Puetz’s defense attorney, gave this statement: “The charges today show why it is critical for the public to continue to honor the presumption of innocence that Todd Puetz is entitled to. Two weeks ago, according to publicity generated by law enforcement, Coach Puetz was accused of some kind of human trafficking or human slavery said to maybe even merit federal prosecution. That accusation has now disappeared altogether.

“Today, the coach is accused of something completely different. We intend to fully investigate these new charges as well, and if necessary, take them to a jury trial until Coach Puetz is found not guilty.”

Puetz remains on administrative leave with pay and is suspended from activities, school district superintendent Tracy Bourne said Monday. The district will gather information about the charges before deciding whether Puetz’s status should change, Bourne said.

Puetz has been released on a $50,000 bond. He faces a hearing Nov. 21.

Read Article on Kansas.com

The Wichita Eagle – By Tim Potter