Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mayor Bob Beckers passes away

Grandview Mayor Bob Beckers, who has been battling brain and lung cancer for several months, passed away in the early hours of Aug. 18. The prayer event in his honor scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 21 at Freedom Park will still be held to pray for Grandview and the Beckers family.
Funeral services will be held in the mayor's home state of Minnesota. A local, informal memorial gathering to celebrate Beckers' life will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 29 at The View Community Center. The public is welcome to attend.
Those wishing to share their memories or thoughts about Bob Beckers are invited to send them to: A tribute to the mayor, including the submitted comments, will be featured in the Aug. 26 issue of the Jackson County Advocate.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

IHOP University Opens at Former Grandview Plaza

By Andrea Wood
For the first time in years, cars filled nearly the entire parking lot of the former Grandview Plaza Shopping Center on Monday.
But the drivers weren’t there to shop. They were there to learn.
Over the past six months, the shopping center has been converted into International House of Prayer (IHOP-KC) University, complete with nine state-of-the-art classrooms, a library, video studio, administration center, and community relations office.
Higher Grounds Coffee Shop will be ready to be opened to the public within the next few weeks, and a recording studio is also in the works at the site.
“It’s exciting to see life be brought back into this area,” said Doug Conder, the Vice-President of Administration for IHOP-U. “And with more than 600 students attending class here,  there will definitely be a lot of life.”
IHOP-KC invested more than $6 million at the site to convert the abandoned grocery store and former Carpet Corner into their educational facility for the Forerunner School of Ministry, Forerunner Music Academy and Forerunner Media Institute.
Jeff Westergard, IHOP-KC Senior Project Manager, said that the University and related renovation amounts to 65% of the 98,000 square feet in the plaza.
Some businesses remain in the center, including Burger King, Firestone, Styles Unlimited, Wilson Insurance and Edward Jones.
But will having a non-profit group in a former shopping center be good for Grandview?
“It’s wise for people to remember that this building had a low occupancy rate, which wasn’t generating a lot of tax revenue,” said Grandview Economic Development Director Alan Kenyon. “The purchasing power that  hundreds of students will have on our city should be significant.”
Conder thanked the City of Grandview for working to help make the redevelopement of the center a smooth one.
“We hope to begin phase two exterior facade renovation this fall,” Westergard said.

Smooth First Day of Class as Hickman, Ruskin Students Combine

By Mary Kay Morrow
“Completely uneventful,” proclaimed Ruskin High School Principal Chad Ryerson of the first official half-day of the 2010-11 school year last Thursday.
It was the first day that former rival student bodies of Ruskin and Hickman Mills High Schools attended classes together. Ruskin’s 1,300 tenth, eleventh, and twelfth-grade students marked the occasion by entering the school through doors hand-painted with inspirational words such as “unity” and “inspiration,” peace signs, and a globe.
Asked how the first day had gone, some seniors said,” It’s cool.”
Last February, the board decided to consolidate the district’s two high schools into one beginning with the 2010-11 academic year. The decision was an emotional one for many students, parents, and teachers. Hickman Mills closed its doors as a high school at the end of last year and reopened last week as the district’s junior high school for grades eight and nine.
Through focus groups conducted this spring, security was identified as a major concern. As a response, metal detectors have been installed at secondary schools where students must wear student ID badges at all times.Elementary schools have front-door cameras, intercoms, and magnetic door releases.
Schools will be locked down during school hours.  Visitors will be required to enter only through front doors, sign in, consent to searches, surrender photo identification, and wear “visitor” badges during their visit.
New procedures promise to be strictly enforced.
Aside from a few minor snafus, Thursday was the best opening day Ryerson said he’s seen in years. 
“Everything went off fantastic,” Ryerson said - despite a broken intercom that caused the Principal to use a two-way radio to direct hallway and parking lot traffic throughout the first day.
An ambulance and fire truck caused a momentary scare when they roared into the driveway during dismissal.  A girl had passed out.
“She’s alright,” said emergency personnel, exiting the building a short while later.
In other areas of the district, the first day of school got a thumbs-up as well.
Admitting a few glitches, Smith-Hale Middle School Principal Angela McConico complimented her staff, parents and students for wonderful support during the transition.
A handful of bus problems had to be worked out.  One bus reportedly broke down.  Some children weren’t picked up. And there was some confusion regarding RHS and Hickman Mills Junior High students riding the bus together.
“In the morning, HMJHS students will be taken to school first and the bus will then continue to RHS,” clarified district official John Baccala. “In the afternoon, busses will take HMJHS students to Ruskin first and then home. Consolidating routes was the best solution, both economically and logistically.”
Charmaine Lewis, parent of a third- and twelfth-grader, pleaded to let her daughter stay at Truman Elementary where the district mistakenly assigned her.
“This won’t cost a dime.  I’ll drive her,” Lewis said.  “I’m just asking the board to allow the district’s mistake to continue” rather than having to move her daughter to Johnson after having started out at Truman where she’s already excited about her teacher and classmates.
Dr. Williams said a final seat-count is not yet available due to some families keeping students at home until after Labor Day.
“Many parents have asked for transfers and have the right to request changes up until August 20,” Dr. Williams said. 
“We have to make sure we have space to accommodate kids at the schools they’ve requested before making those changes.”

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Jim Botts Obituary

James “Jim” W. Botts, 84, Grandview, MO, passed away Monday August 9th, 2010 at KC Hospice House.  Memorial services will be 7pm, Sunday, August 15th, 2010 at Community of Christ Church, 12600 Byars Rd, Grandview, MO.

Jim was born January 15th, 1926 in the family home on Botts Rd in Grandview, MO, and worked the family farm with his mother, Fanny Lillard Robinson, and father, Fayette Arthur Botts, as well as his 3 siblings: Mary Eleanor Young, Fayette Botts, and Margaret Heafer, all preceding him in death.

He attended William Jewell College, and served as a sergeant in the Air Force during the Korean War.  He married Shirley Elaine Crowell, West Haven, CT, in 1949.  They recently celebrated their 61st anniversary.  They have four children: Leslie Rogers (Allen), KC, MO; Mike Botts (Ulla), Hannover, Germany; David Botts, Lee’s Summit, MO; and Jerry Botts (Amy), Tonganoxie, KS, and 7 grandchildren, Aaron, Moritz, Zachary, Rachael, Devin, Dakota, and Dalton.   Jim is survived by many beloved relatives.
Jim’s interests were varied.  He co-founded Ray & Botts TV, worked in the electronics industry for Bendix, and retired from the U.S. Postal Service in 1991.  He played an active role in his community as President of the School Board, Optimist Club, and Historical Society.  He was on the Board of Directors of the Grandview Bank and Trust, and was a valued leader of Boy Scout Troop 552, District Commissioner, and a Tribe of Mic-o-say Honorary Warrior. 

Jim’s community involvement was only eclipsed by his love for his church family, where he was very active in many roles, including over 50 years of Priesthood service. 

Jim was particularly proud of being Grandview Citizen of the Year in 2004, and Grand Marshall of the Harry’s Hay Days Parade.

Jim, loving husband, father, grandpa, uncle, cousin, you were kind and considerate and will be missed greatly.  Thank you for the love you shared with us for many years.

In his continuing spirit of giving, Jim donated his body to the KU Medical Center.  In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Grandview Assistance Program, G.A.P, or KC Hospice, 12000 Wornall Rd, KC, MO.

Grandview Aldermen Discuss Downside of Liquor License Limits Near Churches

By Seann McAnally
Is the proliferation of churches in Grandview’s downtown hurting the chance for new business owners to open up shop there?
Only if they plan to sell alcohol.
The Grandview Board of Aldermen last month directed city staff to explore ways to change the existing ordinances regarding where liquor can be sold.
Currently, a business cannot obtain a liquor license if it is 100 feet or less from a “place of worship.” That’s stricter than state law by some 100 feet.
“Actually, if its within 100 feet of a church they can get a license with the written permission of the church,” said Becky Schimmel, city clerk. “But if it’s this close (75 feet) then they can’t get one even with the church’s permission.”
That means trouble for anyone who wants to buy the former Main Street Inn, and that’s what has some aldermen worried.
When Main Street Inn closed, its liquor license expired 30 days later. If a new owner had purchased the building during that time, the liquor license could have been renewed. Now, it can’t.
“It’s not going to be easy getting a new restaurant in there if they can’t serve alcohol,” said Alderman Jim Crain. Aldermen Leonard Jones and Annette Turnbaugh echoed Crain’s concerns.
Until it closed, Main Street Inn could serve drinks, despite the presence of several nearby places of worship, one of which is directly across the street. But the restaurant, which was open for decades, had its liquor license “grandfathered” when local liquor laws changed in the 1970s.
City Administrator Cory Smith said city staff would look into ways to change the ordinance, but advised proceeding with caution.
“You’ve got to remember there was a reason the law was changed in the first place,” he told the board.
Jan Martinette remembers why.
A former state representative and Grandview mayor, she was also married to the late Gary Martinette, another former mayor. She said Grandview was a very different place back then.
“Originally, Grandview was so conservative they would not allow liquor by the drink at restaurants,” Martinette said. “Later, they passed the ordinance we have now, and that took years. It was a very conservative community back then.”
Martinette mentioned that a former Holiday Inn hotel was constructed so that the bar and restaurant portion of the building was in Kansas City, and the rooms were in Grandview.
It’s a very tricky issue, say aldermen.
“Obviously, I’m not against any church or any religion,” Crain said. “But with the economy the way it is, businesses are struggling and rents have fallen. That makes some retail spots affordable for churches. So we’ve seen a proliferation of churches in our downtown.”
That’s not a problem, he said – but what is a problem is reconciling the presence of several churches with the city’s mission to revitalize downtown. Many of those retail spaces, he said, are ideal for restaurants, especially Main Street Inn. 
“This makes it very difficult for a restaurant to operate,” Crain said. “Lots of folks like to have a drink with dinner. That can be up to 30 percent of a restaurant’s sales. It’s difficult to bring a new business like a restaurant to our downtown area when they know up front that they’re not going to get that.”
He also worried that potential new restaurant owners might not learn about Grandview’s stricter-than-average ordinance until it’s too late.
“Businesses sell to businesses without the city ever getting involved,” Crain explained. “What happens when a new business owner comes to the city for an occupational license, and oh, by the way, a liquor license, and they’re told they can’t get one? The new owner could very easily have a legal recourse to get out of the deal.”
That being said, Crain said he and the other aldermen support the basic idea behind the current ordinance.
“We’re an old-fashioned town and we don’t like liquor sales to be too close to churches and schools,” he said. “But we have to decide what we want our downtown to be.”
One reason city staff must research the issue is that it might not be possible to relax the ordinance in just one area, such as downtown.
“A lot of times, these things have to be applied evenly across the board,” he said, referring to all parts of the city.
Meanwhile, he said, churches can exist in every zoning classification.
That bothers some longtime residents.
“I don’t think churches should be allowed to go into established retail space without paying taxes of some sort,” Martinette said. “That robs us of the opportunity to put anything in there that will raise sales tax. This city lives on sales tax.”
Smith also reminded the aldermen that it’s not just churches that don’t like liquor sales.
“We have several businesses downtown that don’t want anyone selling liquor near them,” he said, referring to a pending liquor license application for the former O’Reilly Automotive building that has been opposed by some of its potential neighbors on Main Street. A public hearing on that particular issue – which is unrelated to the church ordinance – is scheduled for Aug. 23. Call 31-4800 to confirm meeting dates.