Thursday, June 20, 2019

Comment Period Opens for Transportation Improvements in Missouri


Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) is seeking public input on the draft submitted to the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission for the 2020-2024 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). The STIP focuses on taking care of the state’s existing transportation system, and provides for a 30-day public review and comment period.

MoDOT Planning Director Machelle Watkins told commissioners the draft STIP includes 1,869 highway and bridge projects, of which 85% will be maintained in the condition they are in today. On average, the STIP annually invests in 1,014 lane miles of interstate pavements, 1,346 miles of major route pavements, 2,652 miles of minor route pavements and 213 bridges.

Missouri has the nation’s seventh largest state highway system with 33,859 miles of roadways and 10,385 bridges, but ranks 48th nationally in revenue per mile.

“With the priority of maintaining the existing system, MoDOT has developed asset management plans for each district, with the goal to maintain current pavement and bridge conditions,” Watkins said. “The asset management plans focus on preventive maintenance improvements to keep good roads and bridges in good condition. If preventive maintenance investments were not made, the cost of improving the asset in poor condition can cost four to ten times more.”

The STIP includes funding for the “Focus on Bridges” program that was initiated by the Governor and funded by the Missouri General Assembly approved budget with a one-time $50 million injection of general revenues for the rehabilitation and/or reconstruction of 45 bridges, including one in Jackson County at 140th Street at I-49. The money currently dedicated to these bridge projects will then be freed up for additional improvements to the state system of roads and bridges.

The program was developed assuming federal funding levels consistent with the FAST Act, which expires in September 2020. A forecast assuming a reduced level of federal funding, consistent with Highway Trust Fund revenues, was also prepared. MoDOT and planning partners worked together to identify specific projects that would be delayed, should federal funding be reduced.

The STIP details an annual construction program that averages $924 million per year for the five-year period. But it is insufficient to meet the state’s unfunded high-priority transportation needs that are estimated in MoDOT’s “Citizen’s Guide to Transportation Funding,” at an additional $825 million per year.

“Across every region of the state, feedback from Missourians has consistently prioritized maintaining the existing system as the highest priority,” MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna said. “The STIP represents our commitment to Missourians of the projects that will be developed and delivered over the next five years.

“However,” McKenna continued, “this STIP recognizes the serious consequences to our plans if policy makers in Washington are unable to fix the Highway Trust Fund. In Missouri, that puts $613 million of projects including 5,423 lane-miles of roadway improvements and 55 bridge projects in jeopardy in FY 2021 and 2022. We have worked with our planning partners to determine these at-risk projects and offer a qualified commitment of project delivery.”

The draft STIP also includes detailed project information for non-highway modes of transportation and includes a section detailing planned operations and maintenance activities for the next three years, alongside expenditures for those same activities in the prior year. This additional information is provided to allow Missourians to more easily see how their transportation funding is invested.

The draft 2020-2024 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program lists transportation projects planned by state and regional planning agencies for fiscal years 2020 through 2024 (July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2024). Those interested in seeing the program or offering comments can contact MoDOT by email to STIPcomments@modot.mo.gov, by calling customer service at 1-888-ASK-MoDOT (275-6636), or by mail to Transportation Planning, Program Comments, P.O. Box 270, Jefferson City, MO 65102. The program is also available on MoDOT's website at www.modot.org/DRAFTSTIP and at MoDOT district and regional offices around the state. The formal comment period ends July 5, 2019.

Following the public review period, the comments will be presented to the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission. The Commission will review the comments and the final transportation program before considering it for approval at its July 10 meeting in Richmond.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Grandview’s Athletic Director retires after 32-year career


by Brent Kalwei

Steve Robertson’s commitment to the Grandview School District was put on display from the very first day he showed up for work in August of 1987. Robertson was so dedicated that just two days after getting married, he skipped the honeymoon for the beginning of his educational career.
“They were in need of a junior high science teacher and football coach,” Robertson said. “I had practice at 6 a.m., and that was my first job, so I wasn’t going to miss that. I’m still looking for that honeymoon.”
Robertson, who is currently the Grandview athletic director, has stayed true to the school district. He is just weeks away from retiring after spending the entirety of his 32-year educational career with Grandview.
“Loyalty is big for me. That’s why I appreciate George Brett, Cal Ripken and guys like that, because they are with one team their entire career,” Robertson said.
Robertson has worn many hats as a coach in the district. He was a high school assistant football coach for 13 years, eighth grade basketball coach for five years and spent one year each as the head boys’ and girls’ high school golf coach. Robertson, who played college baseball at Baker University, served as the Grandview Bulldogs head baseball coach from 1991-2007.
“Baseball is in my blood,” Robertson said. “That holds a special place. So many of the relationships that I have with coaches and players is what I cherish as much as anything.”
Robertson led the Bulldogs to their first and only baseball district championship in 2001. He enjoyed when Grandview participated in baseball tournaments in St. Louis, and played four times at Kauffman Stadium. Robertson coached Jay Bollinger, a 1997 graduate and First Team All-State baseball player. Bollinger liked Robertson’s approach to coaching.
“Every day he had a plan to help everybody get better,” Bollinger said.
Robertson is in his 17th year as the athletic director. Grandview has won 10 of its 11 all-time team state championships during Robertson’s tenure as athletic director.
“We’ve been blessed with so many unbelievable athletes and kids. It’s been a pleasure of mine to witness so many unbelievable feats. Those are things that I’ll never forget,” Robertson said.
Dana Bedwell, Grandview head girls’ track and field coach, believes Robertson has played a key role in the success of the athletic programs.
“He’s so professional. He requires us to stay on top of behavior and supervision,” Bedwell said. “He keeps his coaches to a high standard, and we rise to his standard.”
Robertson takes pride in making opposing teams and fans feel welcome during sports events at Grandview.
“One of my goals is to try to make every event a quality event, so when people come from other school districts, they leave with a good taste in their mouth about Grandview,” he said.
Bedwell said Robertson is well prepared and hardly ever misses a Grandview home sports event.
“He has lists for everything that needs to happen,” Bedwell said. “I’ve never been to any events that are as organized as the ones that he puts on.”
The Missouri Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association named Robertson as a District Athletic Director of the Year in 2016.
Also in 2016, Robertson created the Grandview Athletic Hall of Fame, which honors the greatest student-athletes in school history. Hall of fame inductees are selected annually. Robertson invites each hall of fame athlete back to the high school to be recognized during a two-day induction celebration. Each inductee receives a plaque to honor their achievement. Robertson said the event is a great way to build the relationship between alumni and current staff.
“One of the best things is when they come back and share their stories,” he said. “For them to come back and see our kids playing football and or basketball, and to see the school, they are just amazed at how nice it is, and how much they miss and appreciate Grandview. I heard about all of the previous student-athletes that have gone through here. To hear about them, and then finally meet them is a thrill.”
Robertson also created the hall of fame hallway located outside of the main high school gym. It features an array of items including championship trophies and plaques, banners, record boards and photos of former standout teams and athletes.
Grandview Superintendent Kenny Rodrequez said Robertson has had a significant impact in the Grandview School District community.
“I’d be shocked if people in 10 to 15 years aren’t still talking about the athletics program and mentioning Steve in the same sentence,” Rodrequez said. “He has become synonymous with the athletic successes in this district.”
Rodrequez is impressed with the relationships Robertson has built with the student-athletes in the school district.
“In every single sport, he knows all the different kids,” he said. “He knows their skills and ability levels. He has built relationships with them. He wants the absolute best for Grandview because our kids deserve it.”
Robertson said being a part of the Grandview School District has been special, adding that he will miss the relationships he has formed with athletes and coaches.
“I’ve always found it to be an interesting district with the diversity and the quality of kids,” he said. “I’ve always harped on trying to make sure that we represent our school district well. Anything I’ve done has been in an attempt to put Grandview in a good light and make people in the community proud of us. I’m sure I’ll follow the district closely for a long time just to see how things are going.”
Kirk Hipple, the athletic director and assistant principal at Summit Lakes Middle School in Lee’s Summit, will be taking over as the next Grandview athletic director.
“Hopefully, I’ve set a good foundation and people will just continue to do that,” Robertson said. “I’m proud to say that I’m leaving it in good hands.”

Thursday, May 23, 2019

McGee resigns, maintains innocence of alleged sexual harassment


by Mary Wilson

Despite an independent investigation that revealed no sexual harassment took place, Missouri District 36 Representative DaRon McGee said he had no choice but to resign last month.

Anytime there are allegations of sexual harassment in the House of Representatives, an independent investigation is conducted. In the conclusion of the report, completed by HF Law Firm in Kansas City, the investigators determined that there was “no evidence of sexual harassment” between McGee and the alleged victim.

“This is why I was so shocked that this thing even proceeded,” said McGee.

The independent investigation also stated that the alleged victim did not raise any concerns regarding overtly sexual conduct on the part of Representative McGee. A romantic relationship between McGee and the alleged victim never took place, according to the victim’s statement in the report.

The victim, in the independent report, states that she “never felt uncomfortable around Representative McGee. I never felt that he retaliated against me.” McGee said that the victim’s testimony changed after the report was concluded and she got a lawyer. According to him, she opted to tell a different story when testifying in front of the Committee on Ethics.

“I think that she is now trying to sue the state and financially gain,” said McGee. “What she told the independent investigators was completely different than what she told the committee.”

The independent investigation also revealed that the alleged victim was not the one to file the initial complaint against McGee. It was reported and filed by another elected official. In the House of Representatives, there are certain leadership members who are designated mandatory reporters.

“From my understanding, and the way the report read, was that she (the alleged victim) was basically gossiping with another legislative assistant, and that legislative assistant told her boss,” said McGee. “Then they felt the obligation to report it. She never reported this.”

McGee also feels that the process was unfair to him. The Committee on Ethics is evenly split between democrats and republicans, however, McGee said he believes two of the democrats on the committee had a conflict of interest.

“She (the alleged victim) worked for one of them,” said McGee. “She had been a secretary to one of the representatives, and the second representative had written me a letter urging me to keep her when we were going through the hiring process.”

He said he submitted this information to the committee with the assumption that this was a clear-cut conflict of interest for the two representatives. They both refused to recuse themselves, stating they didn’t believe there was a conflict.

“I had a huge issue with this,” said McGee. “This was before they received the independent report. They told me to wait until they got the report back. Keep in mind; we didn’t have the report this whole time. They didn’t turn the report over until they went to a vote to go to a preliminary hearing.”

He said that the two individuals he felt had a conflict of interest in making decisions on the matter voted to proceed with the hearing.

“They were allowed to take a vote on this,” McGee said. “Two republicans voted to dismiss. Had the two democrats who had conflicts not been on this committee, I think this thing would have been dismissed. But they were allowed to vote. Not only were they allowed to vote, they called her (the alleged victim) in for a hearing.”

McGee stated that he told the committee he didn’t think it was fair that they were going to hear the alleged victim’s testimony. The chairman said that since the hearing was already scheduled, the two committee members would be allowed to hear her testimony and then be able to recuse themselves.

“How in the hell is that fair?” McGee said. “So, they voted to proceed. They heard the victim’s testimony, and then they said they’d recuse themselves.”

He requested that the committee consider delaying the hearing and appointing two new members to hear the testimony.

“Why would they hear her testimony only to turn around and recuse themselves?” McGee said. “That didn’t make any sense to me.  They did it anyway. Under any court of law, that would have never flown.”

Once he was able to see the independent investigation, he felt that the report was in his favor. He said that he and the alleged victim were friends, and there were text messages between the two where they joked about going on dates.

According to the report, “when asked if Representative McGee treated her differently or negatively in any way after she declined his request for dates, she indicated he did not. She stated she never felt that he was upset with her; she further stated she never felt uncomfortable around him and he never retaliated against her.”

The alleged victim, according to McGee, then said that he repeatedly asked her out on dates through text messages, though he adamantly denies any romantic relationship with her. When her testimony changed in front of the Committee on Ethics, McGee said that there were instances where the alleged victim would fly out of KCI and leave her car at his house in Kansas City.

“I had no problem with that, because we were friends,” said McGee. “You wouldn’t do that with someone you felt uncomfortable around, or that you feel is sexually harassing you. You don’t leave your car at their house. You don’t ask them to pick you up from the airport. It was never a big deal to me because there never was a romantic thing here.”

When McGee addressed the committee, he stated that there was nothing sexual in the text messages between the two. The alleged victim indicated to the independent investigator that she did not want to be involved in the investigation and wanted to move on with her life. McGee believes she didn’t want to testify because she never reported anything.

“If I’m guilty of anything, maybe I’m guilty of being too comfortable with a staffer,” said McGee. “It was never romantic. It was never sexual. At best, it was flirtatious.”

McGee said that the Committee on Ethics offered him three options: resign and the complaint goes 
away; appeal the decision; or take a censure.

“In my mind, why would I appeal to the same 10 people, dragging this thing out for another three months,” said McGee. “I looked up the censure, and they’ve never censured anybody in the history of the House. I didn’t want to go through that. The rules stipulate that you have to be present for a censure. So, you have to sit there in the chamber and take their berating. Which, I don’t believe that I deserved.”

He felt he only had the choice to resign at that point. However, according to McGee, the Speaker stated that his resignation letter was received 30 minutes too late. They issued the report from the Committee on Ethics anyway.

“It was cruel, and they didn’t have to be,” said McGee. “They had my resignation, and they held onto it until they issued the report. The Speaker’s response was very harsh, and it didn’t need to be.”

He believes that he was treated unfairly for two reasons: the republicans saw this as an opportunity to embarrass a democrat; and he feels that his own party was worried they would appear to not be defending the woman in the time of the “me too” movement.

“The process, at the basis, should be fair,” said McGee. “I don’t believe it was.”

Having previously served on the Committee on Ethics, McGee said that anytime a report came before them that had no evidence to support the claims and was inconclusive, it would be dismissed.

“Hindsight being 20/20, I probably shouldn’t have sent joking text messages back and forth with this person,” said McGee. “I guarantee you there is a lot worse in other people’s phones in Jefferson City.”

He doesn’t believe his career in politics is over. He said while there is a great segment of supporters who simply don’t believe the allegations, unfortunately in this society an accusation is a conviction. However, he feels that the issue will eventually blow over.

“People know me and know my character,” said McGee. “I have never, in my life, sexually harassed anybody. I don’t have a reason to; that’s just not me. As a man with a mother and a sister, that’s just not who I am. I still contend that I did nothing wrong. I would have liked to continue to serve and remain the State Representative for our area. I think I did well for as long as I was there. I have always tried to do good work.”

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Leading aquatics organizations promote safe enjoyment of water



by Mary Wilson 

The American Academy of Pediatrics is encouraging parents to start their children in swim lessons as early as age one, according to a recently released study. Drowning is the leading cause of injury death in children in the US aged one to four, and the third leading cause of unintentional injury death among children under 19.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowning claimed the lives of almost 1000 US children in 2017. In recognition of the popularity of swimming and other water-related recreational activities in the United States, and the resulting need for ongoing public education on safer water practices, the month of May 2019 is considered National Water Safety Month.

“It is a powerful way to send a crucial message at the start of the busy summer swim season,” said Connie Harvey, Director of the Aquatics Centennial Initiative for the American Red Cross. “There are layers of protection involved in water safety. Ensuring everyone in the family learns how to swim and that parents and caregivers have the knowledge and skills to handle emergencies around the water, including how to perform CPR, is a good place to start. National Water Safety Month helps us communicate these messages.”

According to Barbara Tulipane, CAE, National Recreation and Park Association president and CEO, nearly all Americans believe it is important for children to learn how to swim at an early age.

“That’s why we’re proud to promote the importance of water safety at our nation’s park and recreation centers where there are opportunities for everyone, especially children, to learn how to swim,” Tulipane said.

What started as a week in 2003 has grown into this annual month-long event that is supported by thousands of aquatics facilities and professionals that provide educational programs, public service announcements, governmental proclamations, dealer and aquatics business promotion and the distribution of water-safety-themed materials, designed to help prevent water-related fatalities, illnesses and injuries.

“In 2018, we were able to secure proclamations from governors in all 50 states recognizing May as National Water Safety Month. This recognition emphasizes the importance of protecting kids and families in and around the water through education and building awareness,” said Rick Root, World Waterpark Association (WWA) President. “Participating in National Water Safety Month is a wonderful opportunity to broaden our reach and amplify our message about the importance of learning to swim and providing undistracted parental supervision while children are in or near the water.”

Locally, employees at The View community center in Grandview take water safety seriously, and consider it a top priority for anyone visiting the facility’s swimming pool.

“We have too many kids coming in here needing saved,” said Grandview Parks and Rec’s Aquatics Supervisor Kaitlyn Keck. “We had two saves on Saturday alone. It seems like every year, we have more and more kids needing saved or are drowning. Water is everywhere. It’s not just in a pool. It’s really scary to have to go in and save a kid. It is also scary for the kid. It can give them a bad experience and make them uncomfortable around water.”

Keck helps adults and children of all ages to get over their fear of water. She said that there are some adults who are terrified to go on a cruise or be near a body of water because of something that may have happened to them a long time ago.

“I went to a job fair at Grandview High School a few weeks ago, and we asked students if they’d be interested in being a lifeguard at The View,” said Keck. “Probably 90 percent of those we asked said they didn’t know how to swim. It’s like riding a bike: you never forget once you learn, but you have to learn how to do it.”

New this year, Parks and Rec is partnering with the Grandview School District to offer basic swim lessons for fourth graders enrolled in summer school. They’ll teach the students basic water safety, including when to get help, survival swimming, and how to properly wear a life jacket.

Swim lessons are offered through Grandview Parks and Rec, as well as lifeguard certification, CPR and other water-related activities. Private or group swim lessons are available. The View also offers free, family-oriented events year-round. Visit www.grandview.org for more information on lessons or events.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Controlled Chaos

Mock crash held at Grandview High School to prepare students for prom weekend

By Mary Wilson

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every day, 29 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. The Grandview police and fire departments don’t want Grandview High School students to become part of that one death every 50 minutes statistic.

On the morning of Friday, April 26, before juniors and seniors headed to their prom on Saturday night, a mock crash was held in the parking lot of the high school. Retired Grandview firefighter Terry Magelssen served as the crash narrator. The dramatization is an effort to ensure that students put safety at the forefront of their minds when attending celebrations.

The crash staging included a head-on collision with multiple passengers with differing severity of injuries. Throughout the dramatization, Magelssen provided students with tips on what to do if they are in an accident, and how to avoid something of that magnitude altogether.

“The statistics tell us that everyone here, at least once in your lifetime, will be involved in something like this,” said Magelssen. “That’s a scary thought. It could be tomorrow, or it could be 50 years from now. At least once, you’ll experience something like what you are seeing today.”

A car crash happens almost every 30 seconds in this country, according to Magelssen. In Grandview, crashes happen two or three times each week.

“Keep this in the back of your mind: when you are driving a vehicle, what you are actually doing is controlling a 5,000 pound weapon,” said Magelssen. “You are essentially seated inside of a missile. When these two cars collided, they expended enough energy that would be the equivalent of three or four sticks of dynamite.”

He added that there are three crashes that occur with each vehicle accident. The first is when the cars hit each other. The second is when the bodies, restrained by seatbelts and airbags (or maybe not) hit the inside of the car. The third collision is the one that kills passengers.

“I want you to be serious when you get behind the wheel of that 5,000 pound weapon,” said Magelssen. “Not only could you injure yourself, but you can injure innocent bystanders or everybody in your car. While today we’re focusing on prom season and the distractions that cell phones can create, or the craziness that happens in your brain from alcohol and drugs, know that this happens from a bee flying in the car, a flat tire, or an old man who’s having a stroke or a heart attack. What you can do for us is take away that part that deals with cell phones and other distractions.”

Magelssen said that the first responders have a job in Grandview to make certain that no students end up in crashes like the one shown on Friday. The crash demonstrated what happens when a vehicle collision occurs, acted out by peers from the Grandview High School drama department. 





Friday, April 19, 2019

KC’s largest no-kill animal shelter celebrates diamond anniversary


by Mary Wilson

For three-quarters of a century, Wayside Waifs has been preparing pets and people for the bond of their lives. This year, as they celebrate their 75th anniversary, the nonprofit organization focuses on remembering their rich history while preparing for the next 75 years.

Fenby Webster recognized that conditions for animals in the community simply weren’t right, and she sought to do something about it. With $5,000 and 28 other volunteers, 75 years ago, she purchased farm acreage along Martha Truman Road in Grandview to create the Jackson County Animal Betterment Association, which has grown to the almost 50 acres Wayside Waifs sits on today.

“This organization was created out of recognition by Fenby Webster of how animals were cared for at the local dog pound,” said Wayside Waifs President Geoff Hall. “She knew that what she was seeing wasn’t right. That was a sea change in society in recognizing that we should care about animals and that animals have intrinsic value beyond the utility.”

The farm that Webster purchased served as Wayside’s shelter for the vast majority of the organization’s existence. At some point, the Jackson County Animal Betterment Association became known as Wayside Waifs, and the organization has always been an independent nonprofit.

“Like most nonprofit organizations, we were hand-to-mouth, struggling to make ends meet,” said Hall. “The need for all these homeless animals in the area far exceeds what we could do. They were great intentions to do good, and they did good, but they didn’t have the luxury of resources.”

Expansion of the facility happened gradually overtime, as funding allowed. Hall said that the organization operated in this fashion up until the mid-90s. At that time, the Missouri Department of Agriculture said that Wayside was maintaining deplorable conditions for the animals in the organization’s care, and that a new shelter would need to be built or they would be shut down.

“Thankfully, a group of people said that we could either fold up, or we can forge ahead just like Fenby Webster and her friends did decades earlier,” said Hall. “They raised a tremendous amount of money to build the shelter we’re in today.”

The current shelter at Wayside Waif’s opened in 1998. Hall said that while the agency has had a good reputation in Kansas City since the beginning, the organization ran short of the goal to air condition the new building.

“We had the building built, but we didn’t have the climate control that we needed in Missouri,” added Hall. “At that time, a board member stated that she had a friend of the family who may have the interest and capacity to donate.”

That turned out to be successful local entrepreneur Harold Melcher, who, along with his business partner, was revolutionary in introducing the world to canned meats after World War II. At the time, the board member informed Melcher that there was a dog named Sophie at Wayside that he should come see.

“Harold said no. He didn’t like animal shelters and refused to come meet this dog,” said Hall. “So, Susan brought Sophie to him. He loved Sophie right away. The irony is that it took Sophie an entire year to love Harold. But, Harold loved this connection, and Sophie then became known as the dog that saved Wayside.”

Hall added that Melcher was generous to the organization, but his involvement went beyond his financial philanthropy. He recruited his own friends to become involved with Wayside Waifs, and Melcher fell in love with the organization and found a way to utilize his expertise in entrepreneurship.

“What he gave this organization was not only the gift of his time and his treasure, but also his talent of having professional expectations, hiring competent staff, the appreciation of branding, and recognizing the benchmarks of successful nonprofits organizations, and specifically successful nonprofit animal shelters,” said Hall. “Of all the previous 60 years, I consider Harold sort of a virtual founder. Without his influence, we wouldn’t be who we are. We’d probably be here, but Harold was an important secret ingredient to Wayside’s success in a lot of ways. The one thing he added that money can’t buy is leadership.”

Melcher, who turns 100 this year, served as Wayside’s board chairman for a number of years, and has since been named chair emeritus. Hall said that Melcher’s influence has helped Wayside maintain its credibility in the community as being an exceptional organization, but the nonprofit continues to recognize that resources are finite.

“We have to make decisions all the time based on allocating resources for the greatest good,” said Hall. “In its essence, Wayside is Kansas City’s largest no-kill pet adoption campus. What that means is adoption is our primary focus and means of helping animal welfare.”

Every animal that comes to Wayside is homeless, which can be the cause of many different scenarios. Some come from unsafe or unhealthy conditions, some are cases of neglect or abandonment, and others the volunteers or staff simply don’t know why or how they got there.

“Wayside is here to help animals,” said Hall. “We are a no-kill animal shelter. Euthanasia is a very rare occurrence here, and the condition in which we will choose euthanasia is a chronic medical condition that will practically guarantee suffering, or if behaviorally they are such a risk to people and other animals.”

Wayside maintains a nearly 98 percent live release rate, which means the animals that come to the shelter leave as pets. The organization is a managed-admission shelter. They control the intake of animals in order to provide the shortest stay possible for each pet, providing the opportunity to care for more animals over time. Working strictly with domestic animals, the average stay for each pet is right around 13 days, caring for nearly 6,000 animals annually.

“We strongly believe that a community of responsible pet owners is an embraceable community, a safer community. People are looking after each other. There are tons of benefits of pet ownership. But, pets aren’t for everybody,” said Hall. “We’re not saying that everybody should have a cat or a dog, but I think many people will say that their lives are better because of a connection with a pet. Even though we are an agency that helps homeless animals, we are really a human agency. We’re a people organization. Without people, none of these animals have hope.”

Moving forward, and to fulfill what Wayside sees as a necessity in the community, the organization will soon embark on creating the Wayside K-9 behavioral center of excellence. The organization will scientifically produce approaches to benefit shy and fearful dogs into becoming more confident around people, and high-arousal dogs becoming more calm and peaceful around people. With that will come brand-new, dedicated facility for these two populations of dogs.

“We recognize that our biggest limiting factor is our own facility,” said Hall. “While it’s great for some things, it’s not ideal for others. This new facility will provide these dogs with the quiet space and a professional staff to do this.”

Wayside has partnered with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), which started a similar program a few years ago. SFS Architecture, out of Kansas City, will work with A.L. Huber contractors to build the facility. There will also be a significant expansion of the existing building to accommodate classroom space for public education like dog behavioral classes, and provide additional staff workspaces.

Hall invites anyone who hasn’t experienced Wayside Waifs in the last several years to come out and see the facility and the grounds. There is a pet cemetery (even a monkey is buried there) that dates back to 1946, an off-leash dog park, and walking trails on the 50-acre site.

“75 years is a big deal,” said Hall. “We recognize that at numerous points over the last 75 years we could have ceased to exist. I’ve been very lucky to inherit the hard work of so many of my predecessors. It is the love of this organization that was founded by Fenby Webster in 1944, and a recognition that we have been here for people and animals that entire time, that has made us a Kansas City metro region asset and resource.”

He added that the most important part of the Wayside organization is the people. With a staff of around 75, and a regular volunteer core of 1,400, Hall said that a large portion of the people who do the hard work day in and day out also contribute to the nonprofit financially.


“Culture, for me, is the most important thing that I can provide this organization,” Hall said. “The celebration of 75 years is more than a celebration of physical existence in Grandview and serving Kansas City metro; this is really a celebration of all the people who struggled through many, many years to provide the platform for where this organization is today. We’re looking forward to a future where the work done here is going to help animals far beyond our region.” 

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Grandview’s first distinguished alumni honored

by Mary Wilson

After receiving dozens of nominations spanning the country and the world, the Grandview Education Foundation recognized the first two Grandview High School distinguished alumni award winners during a dinner celebration on Thursday, April 4.

Ina Jane (Billingslea) Bryan, class of 1947, and Leonard Jones, Jr., class of 1973, were honored among friends, family, business associates and peers with a presentation of their awards at The Martin event space in Martin City.

Bryan, who currently volunteers with the education foundation, attended Grandview schools throughout her early education, then after graduating from Central Missouri State University in 1951, she returned home where she was offered a job to teach junior high social studies. Thus, her 40-year teaching career in Grandview schools began. In 1967, Bryan became librarian at Grandview High School, and she remained in that position until her retirement in 1991. She went on to serve on the Grandview Board of Education, the Order of Eastern Star, St. Matthew Presbyterian Church, her sorority alumni club, General Federated Women’s Club, Grandview Retired School Personnel, and her bridge club, just to name a few.

“I want to thank the foundation for recognizing me in this way,” said Bryan “Over the years, I’ve received many awards and been recognized for many things, but receiving this tonight is probably the highlight of my life. I’m grateful to all of those who were foolish enough to go along with this. You have all impacted my life and have made me a better person. I hope that in some small way I have impacted yours.”

Mayor Jones has called Grandview his home for more than four decades. He was first elected to the Grandview Board of Aldermen in April of 1998, and was then appointed Mayor of Grandview on January 21, 2014. He was elected to that same role in April of 2014, and has served in the city’s highest elected office since, splitting his time between his careers at Sprint as a Sourcing Manager and leading the City of Grandview. Jones has actively served on many boards and commissions over the years, including: the Grandview Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Little Blue Valley Sewer District Board of Trustees, VFW post 8100 and the ReDiscover Board of Directors. He received the 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award from MCC Longview, and actively participates in municipal organizations such as the Missouri Municipal League and National League of Cities.

The Grandview Education Foundation is planning to make the distinguished alumni awards dinner an annual event. Nominations for future recipients will be accepted by the foundation later this year. Going forward, according to the foundation board, the award will be named the Jane Bryan Distinguished Alumni Award.

“When the GEF Board considered what to name our Distinguished Alumni Award, we didn't have to look farther one of our own members,” said Foundation President Cindy Bastian. “Jane Bryan has been a member of the GEF Board for nearly 20 years, served 6 years on the Grandview Board of Education, taught in Grandview for 40 years, graduated from GHS, and has been a life-long resident of Grandview.  It was an easy decision to name the award the Jane Bryan Distinguished Alumni Award.”