Locals selected for ‘Best Lawyers in America’

Thomas A. Adrian has been selected for inclusion in the 20th edition of “The Best Lawyers in America” for his work in the practice area of trusts and estates. Best Lawyers is widely regarded as the definitive benchmark of excellence in the legal profession, a news release stated.

Lawyers are selected based on extensive confidential evaluations by their peers. In the United States and Canada, only about 2.4 percent of all lawyers are chosen to join the list.

Adrian founded the law firm Adrian & Pankratz, P.A. and has practiced in the Newton community for more than 40 years. In addition to a primary practice focus in the area of trusts, wills and estates, Adrian has extensive experience in other areas, including agricultural law, water law, health-care law, civil litigation and business law. Adrian & Pankratz, P.A. is a general practice firm with six attorneys.

John Robb of Somers, Robb & Robb in Newton also has been recognized by Best Lawyers in America for 2014 in the area of education law.

Newton attorney appointed to Kansas task force

Randy Pankratz of the Adrian & Pankratz law firm has been appointed to serve on the Kansas Bar Association’s Task Force for Mandatory IOLTA (Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts) Committee.

The IOLTA program collects the interest from lawyers’ trust accounts, and then allocates and administers the funds in charitable public service projects. The appointment was made by Kansas Bar Association President Dennis D. Depew.

IOLTA was established and approved through an order of the Kansas Supreme Court in 1984. In 2009, Pankratz was appointed by Gov. Mark Parkinson to serve on the Kansas Bar Foundation IOLTA Committee, and has helped administer the program’s grant application and selection process since that time.

The goal of the Mandatory IOLTA Task Force is to maximize the effectiveness of the program by seeking a reform of Kansas Supreme Court standards to allow Kansas to join other states in more comprehensive use of lawyers’ trust account interest for public service purposes. Newton’s Offender/Victim Ministries Inc. and other south-central Kansas charities have benefitted from the IOLTA project in recent years.

Westar Energy requests renewable energy proposals

TOPEKA — Westar Energy is requesting proposals to increase its renewable energy resources by at least 80 megawatts.

The utility is looking to enter long-term contracts with one or more renewable energy project developers with the new generation coming online to serve Westar customers by 2016. Proposals are due Sept. 13.

“With federal regulation of greenhouse gases coming, good market prices for wind energy, and the next milestone for the state’s requirement on the horizon, it’s time to consider adding more renewable energy,” said Mark Ruelle, president and chief executive officer. “If developers submit projects that help us meet these requirements and that are good for our customers, we’ll move forward.”

Historically, most renewable energy in Kansas has been wind, but any renewable energy project will be considered if it meets Westar’s objectives. Westar’s ultimate decision to add more renewable resources will hinge on overall cost, reliability, adequate transmission capacity to deliver the energy to its customers, the status of state and federal policy on renewable resources and regulatory treatment. Westar will give preference to projects in Kansas.

Westar said key among considerations will be how developers address the interests of local communities, the state’s environment, wildlife and natural resources. All proposals must adhere to the guidelines set forth in the Kansas Energy Council’s Wind Energy Siting Handbook.

Westar was the first utility in the state to provide wind energy on a commercial scale with a pilot program almost 15 years ago. Westar also serves its customers with electricity from a generator that uses landfill gas from Rolling Meadows Landfill north of Topeka. As a result of its efforts, all Westar Energy customers receive some of their electricity each month from renewable resources.

A complete copy of the request for proposals is available at the utility’s website, www.WestarEnergy.com/rfp.

CASA: A Voice for Children adds new board members

CASA: A Voice for Children Inc. continued to strengthen their community representation on Tuesday, Aug. 27, by formally electing four new individuals to their Board of Directors, joining the five who were already serving.

Ken Knepper, branch manager with Bank of the West in Newton, Doris Coppock (retired) from McPherson, Cindy Blankenship of Plastics Extrusion Machinery Inc. in McPherson, and Deb Clark with McPherson Hospital were all voted-in unanimously to help steer CASA into the future.

“I’m extremely excited to have these great people joining our organization,” said Executive Director Eric Litwiller. “Serving on the CASA Board isn’t easy. It’s a three-year term, and we expect all Board members to actively serve on committees, outside of just the monthly Board meetings. The fact that Ken, Doris, Cindy and Deb all came on understanding this expectation and have agreed to commit their time to our mission really speaks volumes about their character and commitment.”

They’ll hit the ground running, as CASA is planning a fund-raising event for mid-October, and the new Board members will play an active part in helping to make it a success. Along with non-Board committee members who have already scheduled the location, booked entertainment, and set the menu for this new event, everyone will play a part in securing items for the silent auction.

“I’m not going to release the details just yet,” says Litwiller. “But it’s not something you’ll want to miss, so stay tuned.”