Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Grandview alum returns home to help fill the GAP

Jackie Knabe, at right, Grandview Assistance Program's new Executive Director, receives a donation of school supplies from Burger and Brown Engineering.


by Mary Wilson, mwilson@jcadvocate.com

Grandview Assistance Program’s new executive director may be a slightly familiar face to those who have been in the area for a while. Jackie (Burkhart) Knabe officially began her new role at the beginning of the month, but has already made a splash in the community by helping to bring relief to those who suffered damage due to the recent flooding.

Formerly with Hillcrest Transitional Housing in Kansas City, Kansas, Knabe is a Grandview High School alum with two children. She grew up in South Kansas City and Grandview, and after getting married, became a stay-at-home mom in Lee’s Summit. She ran a daycare in her home for a while and became very involved in the PTA organization at her children’s elementary school.

“When my daughter was heading into kindergarten, I realized that I felt invisible as a person,” said Knabe. “I became just this mother and wife and nothing was for me anymore.”

She began reading a series of books that opened her mind to the world outside of motherhood, and at 38-years-old, decided that she wanted more out of life.  She then reflected on her entire life and weighed the pros and cons of most everything.

“From just being so involved in volunteering at the school at the time, I realized that I knew a lot of women who were in the same place I was,” she said. “I could tell that they, too, felt invisible.”

Knabe would hear of needs in her own community, and began a gift card program where women would buy WalMart or other cards and started a small food pantry. Another mom came to her and told her that the heat was out in their vehicle, so Knabe then organized funding for the family for a new van after enough community members pitched in what they could.

Circle of Hope was born out of this group of moms who would gather together for dinner, crafts and fellowship. She began visiting a different church after reading a book read by the congregation that changed the way she thought about life. There, she met the pastor and they began Coldwater of Lee’s Summit, a faith-based organization which provides food and clothing for those in need in the community.

“They had just started a clothes closet, and I had my little food pantry. So, we created Coldwater,” said Knabe. “The premise of it is that if you have nothing else to give, you can offer a cup of cold water. Sometimes just doing something small is enough to make an impact.”

She then divorced, and as a single mom couldn’t manage the hours of working at Coldwater. An opportunity with Hillcrest Transitional Housing eventually came along and Knabe became a case manager there for four years. She was happy where she was, and wasn’t looking for a change when the Grandview Assistance Program’s executive director position became available.

“It is GAP’s desire and passion to really impact people’s lives and to really help people, not just by putting a bandage on, but to help them learn to be self-sufficient,” she said. “If somebody is willing and the circumstances are right, you can change their lives for the better. To get to do that in Grandview, where I came from, it just really spoke to me.”

She is excited to be able to give back to the community that raised her, as she said she had a wonderful experience growing up here. Knabe brings a fresh set of eyes and new ideas to the organization, and would like to see GAP further their financial education and training for their clients. She’d also like to partner with as many other area resources as she can.

“I definitely want to get involved in the community more than just GAP,” she said. “Everything that was said during my interview process for GAP just aligned with what I am all about. I can’t wait to get past this learning curve I’m in right now and really get in there.”

Knabe would also like to expand volunteer opportunities to get more citizens involved in the organization. She feels that GAP’s hours are not aligned with when families can typically volunteer to serve and she’d like to find a way to offer an opportunity for those who may not have had one before to become involved.

“I want kids in there working, and teenagers and families,” said Knabe. “I think it’s important that we offer an array of options for people in the community to be able to give back.”

She’d also like to create a welcoming and inviting space for clients using GAP’s services and those who are there to volunteer.

“I want us to be able to say yes as much as we can, and I’m working on figuring out a way that we can do that,” said Knabe. “I don’t want to just give people a fish, I want to find ways that we can teach them to fish.”


Established in 1991, GAP’s mission is to assist in a dignified manner families and individuals in Grandview and the Grandview School District with emergency assistance and guidance toward ultimate self-sufficiency. Community members looking to volunteer with GAP can do so by either emailing Knabe at grandviewassistanceprogram@gmail.com, or by calling 816-761-1919. Currently, Grandview Assistance Program is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and days align with the Grandview School District. They are located at 1121 Main Street in Grandview. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Union head, BOA clash over safety tax details

by Mary Wilson, mwilson@jcadvocate.com

Divided public opinion on the prospect of a public safety tax vote and its ultimate usage brought Bill Galvin and Mayor Leonard Jones face to face during last week’s Grandview Board of Aldermen work session.

“I think you know why I’m here,” said Galvin, president of Local 42, Grandview’s sole bargaining union for firefighters and EMTs. “You’ve heard what (the public safety sales tax) can do. We’d like to know what the issue is with not putting it on the ballot.”

Mayor Leonard Jones asked Galvin to explain why the public safety sales tax issue has become a priority for Local 42 to push in front of Grandview’s voting population. Galvin and his organization have been leading the charge to persuade city elected officials to put the tax on a future ballot. Discussion during public comments during previous meetings, social media posts and paid advertisements expressing Local 42’s dissatisfaction with the Board of Aldermen and Grandview’s Mayor prompted last week’s meeting. 

“Why didn’t this come up last year, the year before, or the year before that?” asked Jones. “What has changed?”

Galvin credited the urgency to legislation passed recently, while Jones and City Administrator Cory Smith said that the legislation Galvin referred to has been established for quite some time. As far as Galvin knows, there has not been an issue in other municipalities with getting a public safety sales tax on the ballot.

“I think it’s time to put it on there,” said Galvin. “You keep losing firefighters and getting new ones, I don’t know, every three months. I think you’ve lost 12 in the last nine months. I’d like to work as a partnership instead of going against each other, but I don’t know what the deal is why you wouldn’t want it on there.”

 Ward III Alderman Jim Crain said that, despite Local 42 claiming through advertisements and social media the Aldermen are anti-public safety, he was instrumental in equipping police vehicles with mobile data units, bringing thermal imaging cameras to the department, and demanding that all three ambulances be outfitted with electronic-powered cots to prevent injuries. 

“If you had done your homework, you would know that over the years that I’ve been sitting here I’ve been a very, very strong supporter of public safety,” said Crain. “I’m surprised you would even question my support of public safety. I support the public safety sales tax. My guess is that between three and six months we’ll have it on the ballot.”

While Crain said that several discussions have taken place regarding putting the public safety sales tax on the ballot, the Aldermen are still trying to figure out how such a tax would be implemented if it were to pass.

“I doubt very seriously that the way a lot of it will be used is going to be up for negotiation,” said Crain. “The Chief will have recommendations, but this Board is going to figure out how it will be spent. I strongly disagree with the tactics of the union, and I’ve heard a lot of negative comments. It’s been disheartening and disappointing.”

Ward II Alderman Brian Hochstein brought up the fact that the City of Grandview has negotiators who help determine contracts for public safety employees.

“The public safety tax is a separate issue, but you’ve drug it into this,” said Hochstein. “You’re going to say things like we’ve failed and we don’t care about firefighters’ lives or our citizens’ lives? That’s really disappointing. If people showed up at this meeting at other times, they’d know that we’ve talked about the public safety sales tax.”

Hochstein added that he has personally brought up a potential tax numerous times. In 2014, the City of Columbia voted down a similar tax, so Hochstein said the tax has been around since before then. When it comes to a specific public safety tax, he said he is in full support of putting one on the ballot for the voters in Grandview to decide.

“However, we had already lined up other taxes for our citizens to vote on,” said Hochstein. “We’ve had two major problems in the last few years when it comes to sales taxes that feed the general fund which allows us to provide services. My concern has always been, first and foremost, making sure that my constituents were getting services from all departments and that those were funded.”

“What is more important though, their safety or other services?” asked Galvin.

“Their safety is factored into that,” said Hochstein. “I’m not saying that we can’t do better.”

Hochstein added that with Grandview voters recently passing the Capital Improvement Sales Tax this month, the Aldermen are looking toward passing the Local Use Tax. With online sales, the City of Grandview has seen significant reduction in sales tax revenues.

“We finally have the ability to recoup some of that, and that’s been our plan,” said Hochstein. “Our sales tax has been getting killed, absolutely murdered, by online sales.”

Hochstein also said that he has been a part of frank discussions with the Board regarding timing of putting the issue on a ballot. He would like to see it go to a public vote in six months, though he understands that while Local 42 is in negotiations with the City of Grandview, the timing is not convenient for the union.

“You said a keyword there, you said killed,” said Galvin. “Is that what it’s going to have to take to happen, one of these officers or one of these firefighters to get killed?”

“We can’t look at everything in one little bucket, Mr. Galvin,” said Hochstein. “I don’t look at it that way. I agree that there are things that can be improved, and I think there is a way to get there. But, the negotiating parts of public safety taxes are separate things. We have other concerns, and frankly, Local 42 attacking us (with billboards and on social media) is not productive and is not helping things.”

Ward I Alderman Damon Randolph asked what the staffing standards are for fire departments. According to Galvin, the standard number of firefighters to fight a residential fire is 15 and goes up from there with larger fires. Randolph also asked why strategic partnerships with other surrounding departments are considered to be a bad thing in regards to Local 42’s efforts to educate Grandview’s citizens on the need for additional fire employees.

“We don’t think it’s a bad thing, but the staffing would be nice if it was here,” said Galvin. “A lot of municipalities around here have a four-man staff on every rig while you just have three.”

Randolph said he has heard Local 42 say the opposite, that a strategic partnership is not a good thing.

“If you had proper staffing, you wouldn’t need as much help, which also hurts other cities too,” said Galvin. “You’re then taking resources from other cities. Now they have to find somebody to fill them spots.”

If voters in Grandview were to pass a public safety sales tax, Ward I Alderman Sandy Kessinger asked what the proposed use of the additional tax revenue would be. Galvin said that Grandview’s Fire Chief would have the ultimate say, but that Local 42 would be involved in negotiations to determine the use. He added that he would like to see the tax used for salaries and the hiring of additional firefighters.

“Grandview is not the first jurisdiction to push back or have concerns about a vague plan from the firefighters’ union,” said Kessinger.

Ward II Alderman Annette Turnbaugh added that she is also in support of a public safety sales tax ballot issue, but she feels that the personal bashing Local 42 has used to force the issue has caused a loss of confidence in the community.

“They feel that we don’t care,” said Turnbaugh. “That could not be further from the truth.” Though he was absent from the meeting, Ward II Aldermen John Maloney said he has always been supportive of having the public safety sales tax on the ballot, and if not in November, he’d like to see it be voted on in April.

Mayor Jones said that the City of Grandview has been doing the same thing it has been doing for several years and nothing in regards to public safety has changed.

“You now have the opportunity for change with the public safety sales tax,” said Galvin. “If it’s been there for a long time, how come you didn’t implement this a long time ago? The opportunity was there to have those tax dollars for public safety and it was never acted on.”


Jones said that the Board of Aldermen has approved a sequence of ballot issues to benefit the entire city, and the public safety sales tax has already been queued to move into the ballot cycle. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Area superintendents discuss back to school and district goals

by Mary Wilson, mwilson@jcadvocate.com

The preparations for the new school year have been completed as area districts welcomed students back this week. District leaders from Grandview, Hickman Mills, Center and Kansas City are focusing on predetermined Board of Education priorities heading into 2017-18. Superintendents from each district presented those focus areas to members of the South Kansas City Alliance on Monday, August 16.

New Hickman Mills Superintendent Dr. Yolanda Cargile said that the focus of the district continues to be acquiring full accreditation. Hickman Mills is a provisionally-accredited district and Cargile said that emphasis will be on the five priorities, including highly-qualified staff, attendance, being fiscally responsible, racial equity impact and increasing community and family engagement.

“We believe focusing on those five items will help us to get closer to full accreditation,” said Cargile. She added that her personal goal as the new superintendent in Hickman Mills is to be visible in the community and establishing trust and relationships with the Board of Education and district staff.

Hickman Mills is also implementing restorative practices in order to think differently about how to discipline students. Cargile said that not every offense should result in a suspension, and the district will be looking at new, innovative ways to determine punishment when rules are broken. She said that Hickman Mills has seen a decrease in out-of-school suspensions and formal hearings that have occurred over the last few years.

“I’m a proud graduate of the Hickman Mills School District,” said Cargile. “Being able to come home and serve as the superintendent of schools for a district that educated me? I attended Ingels Elementary, Smith-Hale Middle School and graduated from Ruskin High School. I never would have thought that I would come back and be superintendent, but here I am. I’m proud of that. So, when we think about commitment and successes, I’m super proud to be able to come back and talk to kids that I relate to. My goal is to inspire students and inspire staff.”

Center School District Superintendent Dr. Sharon Nibbelink spoke about the Made Smart initiative and campaign to promote student academic achievement. The goal of Made Smart is to engage parents and the community in the learning process from birth through graduation to make students college and career ready.

“The influence of parents on student success cannot be understated, and we want to support that,” said Nibbelink. The district doesn’t assume that parent guidance in education is natural, and has developed support materials to help families through every step of schooling.

Nibbelink added that the four districts presenting share a lot of the same students, and therefore all have student success at the forefront of their goals. “We celebrate the successes of all of the schools around us because we all rise together,” said Nibbelink.

Center’s strategic plan includes six goals focused on academic achievement. The district has hired a college and career coordinator to help with the focus on having students ready to enter the world after graduation.

Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Mark Bedell is beginning his second year at the helm as students headed back to the classrooms on Monday. He said the first year provided an opportunity for him to get a feel for the district and gain some contextual understanding as to why the district is where it is.

“Unless you just recently moved to the city, there is a very dark history in the district,” said Bedell. “In addition, there is a conversation that we have to deal with in KCPS that a lot of other districts don’t have to, and that’s charter schools.”

He added that the mobility of families in his district is high due to the other 14 school districts surrounding KCPS, along with the 23 charter schools that reside in his boundaries. Preliminarily, Bedell said it looks like Kansas City Public Schools is trending in the right direction according to the district’s strategic plan. As part of that plan, the district engaged 170 secondary students to provide feedback and insight into KCPS’s blueprint for success.  

“We have to accelerate and close these gaps. We have to give these kids what they need because we don’t have a lot of time,” said Bedell. “My kids are down to 179 days remaining in the school year. We need to focus on what we are doing in the time that we have them and make sure that this plan addresses that."

Grandview Superintendent Dr. Kenny Rodrequez said that the focus on his district is around centralizing their message. He said that everyone who works in the district is a teacher, and that building positive relationships with students is a priority.

“On any given day, there is an opportunity for three or four employees to have an impact on a kid before they even step foot inside a classroom,” said Rodrequez. “We don’t want to miss those opportunities. If we don’t do this, we will never get to the academic side.”

Each staff member in the Grandview School District has gone through cultural competency training, and is working on trauma-informed care training this school year. The focus is also on making sure students in the district are successful when they leave for work or college. Rodrequez said that the district’s ACT scores were not where they needed to be, so they are working on ways to implement test-taking strategies and trainings for students to be better prepared.

“We want to make sure we can meet the needs of all of our kids,” said Rodrequez.


All four district leaders presented highlights of their students and staff, and continue to work together to better the community as a whole. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

City of Grandview looks to renew Capital Improvement Sales Tax

by Mary Wilson, mwilson@jcadvocate.com

Voters in Grandview will head to the booths next Tuesday to determine whether or not to renew the city’s half-cent sales tax devoted to funding capital equipment and improvement to infrastructure and facilities. The tax was originally approved by voters in 1998 for a 10-year period, and then was renewed in November of 2007. The current Capital Improvement Sales Tax (CIST) plan is set to expire at the end of 2018.

“Back in 1998, we ran out of funding in the general fund for any capital projects, particularly ambulances, fire trucks, police cars, dump trucks and other big ticket items,” said City Administrator Cory Smith, “let alone things like City Hall repairs, computers and other facility issues that come up. We’ve got a tremendous amount of facility and equipment all over the city and we just couldn’t squeeze it into the general fund anymore.

From 1998 to 2007, several projects were completed totaling nearly $14 million. Those CIST projects were: completion of the Merrywood Bridge, storm drainage improvements, West Frontage Road improvements, police video and electronic equipment, police and fire radio system upgrades, computer-aided dispatch replacement, police vehicle replacement, public works vehicle replacement, fire trucks and ambulances, communication system improvements, 140th Street bridge, Blue Ridge traffic signals, new sidewalks and repairs, storm channel repairs, curb repairs, facility improvements and repairs, fire equipment and station improvements, and computer and technical improvements.

From 2008 to now, the city has seen CIST dollars go toward: facility improvements and repairs, computer and technology, police and fire equipment, vehicles, technology and facilities, street construction projects, storm drainage improvements, sidewalk and curb construction and repair and various vehicle replacements.

To date, nearly $3 million of the 2008 CIST has been devoted to police equipment, vehicles, technology and facilities, while $2.6 million has gone to fire equipment, vehicles, technology and facilities.

“This year, the general fund is at least 80 percent personal services,” said Smith. “The rest is just support costs, contractual supplies, uniforms and all those things.”

On Tuesday, August 8, voters will decide on the renewal of the CIST, with a projected $15 million in revenue from the half-cent sales. That projection includes a two-percent annual growth in sales tax revenues as well as interest income and the trade or sale of miscellaneous vehicles and equipment that the city owns.

City of Grandview’s administration has put forth a CIST renewal plan with $15 million in expenditures for the next 10 years. 46 percent of the renewal plan, totaling nearly $6 million, is public safety improvements, including body worn cameras for police officers, tactical equipment, replacement of cars and motorcycles, mobile data terminals, radio equipment, ambulance and fire truck replacement, mobile radios, cots and other ambulance equipment and firefighter safety gear.

Also included in the CIST renewal plan are: a new roof, various repairs and HVAC replacement at City Hall, a new roof at the public works facility, fire station improvements, computer and technology improvements, replacement of vehicles in public works and community development, the replacement of the Kansas City Southern Railroad overpass at Blue Ridge and new equipment and furnishings at The View community center.

“We have received money from the Federal Railway Administration through a grant that is good for the next two or three years,” said Smith. “The railroad would potentially cover about 25 percent of the project. It’s a $7 million project.”

Ultimately, it is up to Grandview voters to decide whether or not the project list gets completed in the next ten years. The specific ballot language reads: Shall the City of Grandview, Missouri reimpose a sales tax of one-half of one percent (1/2 of 1%) for the purpose of funding capital improvements, which may include the retirement of debt under previously authorized bonded indebtedness, for a period of ten (10) years commencing January 1, 2019, and ending December 31, 2028?


The City of Grandview has developed a website with more information. Voters can go to www.buildingtomorrowscommunity.com  to find out more. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Fire brewing among union, city officials

by Mary Wilson, mwilson@jcadvocate.com

A war of words continues with Grandview elected officials and fire union leaders, with differing messages regarding pay and contract terms.

Even though it was a packed house at the Grandview Board of Aldermen meeting last week, the crowd wasn’t there to listen to the approval of ordinances or witness oaths being given to newly-appointed commissioners. Members of the local fire union, wearing red shirts in solidarity, were there to listen to supporters during the public comments portion of the meeting.

Tim Dupin, a former Grandview Fire employee in 1996 and currently the secretary and treasurer for the International Association of Firefighters Local 42 union, addressed the Mayor and Board of Aldermen as a representative of those who work for the Grandview Fire Department.

“Your firefighters are in a unique situation. They don’t have enough people to do the job,” said Dupin. “I left here, first and foremost, for my safety. You have the same amount of firefighters now that you had in 1996.”

He added that wages and benefits of the firemen, while not where they should be, are secondary to the safety concerns of Local 42. According to Dupin, the Grandview Fire Department calls for mutual aid of surrounding departments daily.

“We’re not out here asking you to supply enough firefighters to fight fires in the industrial complexes you have,” said Dupin. “We’re not asking you to have enough to fight an apartment building here. We’re asking you to get enough firefighters to fight a house fire.”

Grandview Mayor Leonard Jones stated that 46 percent of the upcoming Capital Improvement Sales Tax is to ensure that both police and fire personnel have the needed equipment to safely fulfill their respective responsibilities in the future. He added that the Board of Aldermen has also discussed other tax issues, including the public safety sales tax and the local use tax, and they plan to consider both of those in the coming months or year. 

“During public comment at last week’s regular session, a number of people gave the impression that the police and fire departments were not trained and equipped to safely perform their duties,” said Jones. “This is not true now nor has it been true in the past. The Grandview residents that attended the Citizens Academy were shocked to hear such misleading and unverified comments last Tuesday.”

Dupin added that the National Fire Protection Agency standards are to have 15 firefighters to safely fight a fire, while Grandview has only 10-12 on duty at any given time.

“Do your job. Put it on the ballot,” said Dupin. “You want to shut me up and stop the social media posts? Do your job and stop kicking the can down the road. Support your men and women. Put their safety first. Put the safety of your citizens first and do your job of protecting Grandview. You’re not doing it right now.”

According to Jones, salaries are negotiated and evaluated with Local 42 on a regular basis, including overtime, sick leave, vacation and career development.

“We also realize that 85 percent of Fire Department calls are for EMS services, and they typically have about 20 structural fires a year,” Jones added. “Currently, we have significant reinforcements from Kansas City under our new EMD dispatching agreement.”

Kristina D’Agostino from Independence, whose husband has worked as a Grandview firefighter for the past 12 years, also addressed the elected officials during public comments. She claimed that the Grandview Fire Department is understaffed and underpaid. She also stated that some of the firemen in the department work upwards of 96 hour shifts due to lack of manpower.

“I am very concerned that nobody takes the time to address the safety of the fire department,” said D’Agostino. “These guys are exhausted. They need resources. They need safety. They need help.”

Grandview resident and president of the Belvidere Neighborhood Watch Pam Miller spoke of the vital role that the firefighters and police have in the community. She requested that the aldermen put on a future ballot to let Grandview voters decide on a one-percent tax increase for public safety.

“We all have a voice,” said Miller. “We have to make sure that we have public safety. We need more police. Grandview is a great place; we just need to invest more.”

Michael and JoLynn Lane, who are Grandview business owners, also urged the Grandview Board of Aldermen to consider an upcoming ballot issue to increase funding for public safety training and personnel.

“We have resources, they’re just not being allocated to the right spot,” said Michael Lane. “We need personnel. We need public safety. We need our fire department. Let the people speak.”


The City of Grandview is currently negotiating a new three-year agreement with Local 42 and plans to allow the negotiations to proceed to its conclusion this fall.  

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Kansas City International Raceway gone too soon



By Brent Kalwei


In 1967, The Beatles proclaimed that “All You Need Is Love,” the Kansas City Chiefs played against the Green Bay Packers in the first Super Bowl and Chevy introduced the first Camaro. 1967 was also the year that the Kansas City International Raceway drag strip opened on Noland Road.
For 44 years, two lanes of asphalt provided KCIR’s spectators with entertainment one quarter mile at a time. However, the track that thrived for so many years seemed to be taken away from us all too quickly. The track closed on November 27, 2011. If still standing today, KCIR would be celebrating its 50th year. Although the space once occupied by KCIR now essentially sits as an empty lot, there is no doubt that the track provided many highlight moments.
KCIR housed premier events such as the Summer Nationals from the 1960s-1980s that featured National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) legends such as John Force, Gene Snow, Shirley Muldowney, Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins, Tom “the Mongoose” McEwen, Don “the Snake” Prudhomme and “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, who was selected No. 1 on the list of “NHRA’s 50 Greatest Drivers.” My father, at 13 years old, along with a standing-room-only crowd, witnessed KCIR’s 1976 Summer Nationals.
Dick Harrell, known as “Mr. Chevrolet,” who owned Dick Harrell Performance Center located on Hickman Mills Drive, raced at KCIR the first year the track opened its gates. Harrell won KCIR’s King of Kansas City in 1968. He was also the American Hot Rod Association’s (AHRA) World Point Champion, and named AHRA’s “Driver of the Year in 1969” and “Driver of the Decade” for the entire 1960s. Harrell tragically lost his life in a funny car crash in 1971 in Ontario, Canada.
Larry Larson, who owns Larson Race Cars in Oak Grove, spent many years racing at KCIR. In 2014, Larson became the first driver to complete the quarter mile in less than 6 seconds in a street legal car. Larson did so in his 1998 Chevy S-10 truck.
I’ve been a baseball player for 22 years and since I began my career, I have enjoyed playing it more than any other sport. But I have to tell you, when it comes to being a sports fan, there is no better spectacle to attend than a drag racing event. There is a sense of thrill when you browse the variety of sweet rides in the pits, hear the sounds of the engines and take in the side-by-side action as the cars roar down the track.
My dad, Donnie Kalwei, took me to my very first drag race at KCIR in 1992 when I was just 2 years old. I would be lying if I said I remember any memories I had of the track at that age. However, that was the start of something special. Beginning in 1999, I enjoyed the many times my father drove me to the track in his black 1955 Chevy, similar to the one in American Graffiti, and in his blue 1971 Chevy Nova. But, he didn’t just drive his cars up to the track, he raced them too. He consistently attended weekly grudge nights from 1999-2011.
In the same way I gained interest in drag racing thanks to my dad, so did he from his dad. Before there was KCIR, my grandfather raced at Kansas City Timing Association Drag Strip located on Front Street from 1957-1967. My dad also watched his dad race his 1962 409 four-speed Chevy Impala at KCIR in 1967.
One of my other favorite memories was getting the opportunity to watch racers like DeLon Joseph, Terry Murphy, Willie Brumitt, David Schorr, Mike Bodine, John Hocking and my cousin Justin Kalwei compete in the Kansas City’s Fastest Doorslammer race. Joseph, who created and raced in the inaugural KC’s Fastest Doorslammer race in 1992, was a five-time winner of the event. Joseph, Murphy, Hocking, Brumitt, Jack Schorr, Edgar Wright and Dwayne Robinson competed in the inaugural doorslammer race. For more than 15 years, the KC’s Fastest Doorslammer race was KCIR’s premier event. The event featured pro modified cars that reached speeds of over 200 miles per hour. To this day my favorite drag racing class to watch is pro modified.
I think I can speak for the many drag racing fans and drivers of the Kansas City area when I say that a part of us is missing without KCIR. Earlier, I mentioned why drag race events were so special to me, and I would be remiss if I didn’t say that the track connected all who raced and attended as fans.

“The drag strip was just like a big family,” said Joseph, who raced at KCIR on the very first day the track opened. “There were hundreds of people that were down there that you knew. You saw them once a week and that’s how you got to know a lot of people. I have people stop in my shop all the time and say, ‘we used to watch you race down there.’ The drag strip closing is one of the most destructive things that has happened to this city in a long time.”

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Missouri camp offers no limit to children’s potential


by Mary Wilson

Many Kansas City-area children spend their school year looking forward to summer vacation. And, for some, that means heading off to camp. Summer camp means friends, swimming and adventure. For one Kansas City girl, summer camp means overcoming obstacles, pushing herself past her limits and achieving things she never thought possible.

Emily Roots has attended Camp No Limits in Missouri for several years in a row. The No Limits Foundation provides a camp for children with limb loss or limb differences and their families in ten locations across the country. Last month, Roots, along with her parents, traveled to Potosi, Missouri to experience what she says is her favorite part of summer.

Kim Bergman, Clinic Manager for Hanger Clinic and a first-time volunteer at Camp No Limits Missouri this year, met and worked with Roots and her family during their stay at camp. Hanger Clinic is a sponsoring partner of Camp No Limits and provides a scholarship program for area children to attend that may not be able to afford it. Bergman, along with a prosthetist from her office, volunteered their time at the Missouri camp when they heard that helpers were needed.

“It was absolutely amazing,” said Bergman. “I’ve heard stories about how cool the camps were. The word ‘magic’ kept coming up. It really is, though. It is a magical experience.”

In talking with the Roots family, Bergman discovered that Camp No Limits is not all that known in the Kansas City-area. This year, there were only three children from the metro at camp.

“It really surprised me, especially with Children’s Mercy here in Kansas City, that there weren’t more families from this area,” said Bergman. “There is such a need to get the word out because it is such a great program. The number of families this could serve here at home is hard to even imagine.”

Hanger Clinic works with a number of families to provide prosthetic and orthotic patient care services, and provided the funds for one of the three Kansas City families to attend Camp No Limits. While there, campers are able to experience therapeutic programs with specialized professionals, including physical and occupational therapists, prosthetists and adult amputee role models.

Camp No Limits is the only camp for young people with limb loss and their families, creating a network of support for all the campers. Each camp is unique, but there are generally five programs offered each day. All activities incorporate family members as well, with specific group sessions for siblings and parents, when appropriate, to address the needs of families living with individuals with limb loss.

“These kids and these families see each other once a year,” said Bergman. “You would think that they live next door to each other by how close they are. There are some very emotional moments for everyone, and it is a family. I thought, ‘gosh, they only see each other one time a year. We have to change that.’”

Bergman got to work planning an event before school begins in the fall. She began to organize a Camp No Limits Kansas City weekend for Missouri families.

Emily Roots, according to Bergman and her family, is one of the biggest Kansas City Royals’ fans. She loves them so much, in fact, that she had a Royals prosthetic arm made for her, and last year was featured in Kansas City media with her request to have her arm signed by some of the players on the team, especially Eric Hosmer. While her wish didn’t come true, she did meet George Brett, who signed her arm.

In a few weeks, Camp No Limits Missouri families will get together and attend the Royals game on Friday, July 21. The weekend activities will continue into Saturday, where the children and their families will meet a congenital amputee who works for Hallmark as a graphic designer.

“She’s got an amazing job and makes it happen despite her differences,” said Bergman.
Roots, on Friday at the Royals game, will attend batting practice before the game and meet the players, take photos and finally receive the autographs she’s been wanting. However, because she is growing, her current arm no longer fits, so she will be sporting her new Royals prosthesis at the game that day.

“Whatever we can do to put a smile on the faces of these kids, we’re going to try and do,” said Bergman. “They are amazing kids with amazing capabilities, and we want to celebrate them in whatever ways we can.”

Camp No Limits, a division of the No Limits Foundation, relies on support from volunteers and donors. More information can be found at nolimitsfoundation.org. To support efforts in Kansas City, contact Kim Bergman at 913-397-7600 or email her at kbergman@hanger.com