Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Advocate is on Twitter!

As the Fall sports season approaches, the Advocate wants to get you as close to the action as possible! Thus, we have decided to start a Twitter account designed specifically to give you as-it-happens breaking news and live updates from local high school sporting events.

You can follow our tweets at our Twitter page, or on the sidebar under this issue's cover image. Have fun!

Community Mourns the Murder of Local Man

By Andrea Wood
Memorial services are being held this Sunday, August 1st for Nicholas Dutcher, age 30, who was found dead in his South Kansas City home on July 20th.
His death is being investigated as a homicide.
Police were called to his house in the 6900 block of E. 114th Street to check on Nick when he didn’t show up at his job as an assignment editor for KSHB, the local NBC affiliate. Officials entered the house and found him deceased.
Nick’s 2009 gray Ford Escape was located the following evening in the 4200 block of E. 56th Terrace. An officer on routine patrol found it abandoned.
Police are not releasing the cause of death, or any suspects.
“We are pursuing a number of good leads,” said KCPD Captain Rich Lockhart.
Detectives ask anyone with information to call the TIPS Hotline at 816.474.8477.
Nick was a familiar face in South Kansas City, and neighbors are mourning the loss of a young man who was involved in his community.
“He was the one who played Santa for our Stratford Estates Christmas parties for the last 10 years,” said Carol McClure. “It’s going to be a big loss for the whole community. He was such a neat guy. The kids loved him. He related well to them. Adults loved him too. He was quite the caregiver.”
“He was really a big teddy bear,” said April Cushing.
Nick, who was a Ruskin High School graduate, volunteered many hours to help coordiante the Ruskin Tornado 50th Anniversary Memorial event.
“He was very instrumental in making that day a success,” said John Baccala with the Hickman Mills C-1 School District.
His co-workers are also grieving. NBC Action News gave this statement:
“Nick worked on our assignment desk and was at his best during severe weather coverage. He was always cheerful and friendly and also spent several years as volunteer for our “Call to Action” service. It’s a very sad time.”
Services will be held 1-3 pm on Sunday at Floral Hills Chapel, 7000 Blue Ridge Blvd., KCMO. The family suggests memorials to the Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund, Attn.: Janet, PO Box 1589, Jefferson City, MO 65102.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

71 & 435 Ramp Closed After Lane Collapse


By Andrea Wood

A portion of the ramp from 71/470 highways to westbound I-435 collapsed into a sink hole on Saturday afternoon, causing the heavily traveled roadway to be closed potentially until autumn. 

Officials at the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) said that on July 8th, highway engineers inspected the roadway following more than two months of frequent rain. They noticed cracked concrete pavement and nearby ground settlement, and closed the right lane of the ramp.

By Saturday afternoon, however, the sink hole had grown. The right lane and a portion of the retaining wall collapsed, taking with it a massive street light.
Soil and geology specialists from MoDOT worked Monday to take soil core samples where the road collapsed. Analyzing the results of the work will help engineers determine how to safely remove sections of the roadway and retaining wall, according to District Engineer, Beth Wright. 

Preliminary finding from the geology study should be complete by mid-week. Wright says that MoDOT plans to have a contract in place to begin the demolition work by the end of this week. In addition MoDOT plans to have a contract finalized with engineering firm HNTB to design the repair to the roadway by the end of the week. 

“MoDOT plans to move quickly to stabilize, then repair the roadway. By the end of this week we should have an idea of what it will take to repair it,” Wright added.

While the timeline is still uncertain, Wright hopes to have the roadway repaired and open by early fall.

In the meantime, thousands of motorists who use the 3-Trails Crossing interchange are facing detours and increased travel times attempting to reach westbound I-435 without the roadway. Traffic volumes in this area range between 67,000 and 88,000 vehicles a day.

Some help comes from the construction along 87th Street. Drivers are able to take I-435 north to the 87th Street exit, which is closed off in a way that allows motorists to turn back around and get onto I-435 south without stopping. From there, drivers can access westbound I-435 as normal.

Other detours are also posted. To help with detours, MoDOT created a website on www.modot.org/kc, which includes each detour for the major traffic flow from the area. The site includes directions, maps and google mapping tools.

“Until motorists become accustomed to the new detour routes, traffic will be very heavy and commutes will be longer,” said Wright. “If you have the option to go in later, telecommute or flex your work schedule, please do so. If you must be in the office, give yourself plenty of extra time. This detour will be in place for at least the remainder of July.”

Wright also reminds drivers that the signed detours are not the only option. Research all routes available to you. The signed detours may not be the most convenient based on individual commutes.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Storm Slams South KC

By Andrea Wood

It happened fast, say neighbors in South Kansas City.

On Sunday morning, July 11th, the sky turned incredibly dark. Rain began to pour so hard, they couldn’t see out their front windows.

Then came the hail, quickly covering their green lawns.


“It was five minutes until 10am, and I was getting ready for church,” said Vanessa Claborn-Welch, who lives in the Avalon View neighborhood. “When the hail came, I stepped onto my front porch to have a look outside. That’s when I saw it…the clouds were spinning, and I saw them lower to the ground. I said, ‘Oh God! That’s a tornado!’ I started praying for my family and neighbors. The sound was incredible, and you could hear the trees cracking. Then it was over. It was quiet, and the sun came out, and my neighbors all came outside to find a mess. It was dramatic.”

In the winds’ wake, more than 1,000 trees were toppled, crushing homes, power lines and vehicles across South Kansas City. The windows at Baptiste Educational Center were also damaged.

Mayor Mark Funkhouser held a press conference Sunday afternoon at Clark Ketterman Park, near 107th Street, to announce that the city was assessing the damage and would provide clean-up assistance to residents. 


“Thankfully no one was hurt in Sunday morning’s freak storm,” he said. “Now it’s time to get our neighborhoods back to normal. The city will do everything we can to help as residents complete the clean-up.”

By Monday, thousands of residents were still without power. A KCP&L bucket truck at the scene got stuck in mud in Clark Ketterman Park Monday afternoon, and a special tow truck had to assist. 

With damaged roofs, spoiled food, and no air conditioning, many residents made calls to the city for help. In response, KC and the Kansas City Chapter of the American Red Cross opened an emergency shelter for victims at the Hillcrest Community Center at 10401 Hillcrest Rd. 

“We appreciate the patience of our residents and the assistance other agencies like the Red Cross have offered us during this time of need,” said Troy Schulte, acting city manager. 

Meanwhile, city crews worked to remove downed trees and hazardous limbs in streets and  public rights-of-ways, while neighbors pitched in to help one another dig out from tree branches that had fallen onto their homes and cars. 

To assist residents in their clean-up efforts, KC is providing a special curbside woody debris pickup in the area bounded by 95th Street to the north, Raytown Rd. to the east, 119th Street to the south and Blue River Rd. to the west. The special pickup will begin Monday, July 19 at 7 a.m. Residents must have wood debris piled at the curb. Small brush should also be placed curbside in bundles four feet or less in length or placed in paper yard sacks. Trash is not to be combined with woody debris from the storm. Residents can also take advantage of the city’s no-tag period through 16. During a no-tag period, excess trash beyond the two-bag limit may be placed curbside without an Excess Trash Tag.

In addition, the city’s Leaf and Brush Drop-Off center at I-470 and Raytown Road will also be open to residents between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. through Sunday, July 18. 

“I want to thank the City’s Parks crews, the private contractors and neighborhood residents for all their hard work in cleaning up the aftermath,” Mayor Funkhouser said.

Residents wanting to report downed trees in the public rights-of-ways or other storm issues should contact the 3-1-1 Action Center by calling 311 or 816-513-1313. 

The National Weather Service stated Monday that straight-line winds, not a tornado, was to blame for all the damage. Officials have said that the wet winter and spring have saturated the ground, making it easier for trees to uproot in a severe storm.

“I’ll never believe it wasn’t a tornado,” said Vanessa Claborn-Welch. “I saw it spinning.”

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy Fourth of July!

To help you have a safe celebration this Fourth of July weekend, here is a list of fun events around the metro. Have a blast!!

Lee’s Summit: On Friday, July 2nd, Lee’s Summit’s Legacy Blast will include food vendors, entertainers and inflatables before a fireworks display which is set to music. South entrance of Legacy Park will open at 6pm and close at 9pm to traffic. For more info call (816) 969-1500.

Independence: On Saturday, July 3rd, a concert by the Spirit of Independence Concert Band will be followed by fireworks at the Mormon Visitors Center, 937 W. Walnut. Call (816) 325-7860 for more information.

KCRiverFest. Gates open at 1pm for a two-day annual event on July 3rd and 4th with fireworks and family entertainment at Kansas City’s Riverfront at Berkley Park. Several performers will be featured on three stages. Fireworks on Friday and Saturday evenings over the river are scheduled for 10:05pm. Tickets are $6 per person. For more info see www.kcriverfest.com

Red, White, and Zoo. Active and retired military individuals with valid ID receive free admission to the Kansas City Zoo on July 4th. Military families will receive the Zoo’s military discount of $1 off regular Zoo admission prices. For more information, please call 816-513-5800.

Worlds of Fun will feature fireworks all weekend, with a ‘huge’ fireworks display on July 4th. This display is timed to music throughout the park. Fireworks at 10 pm. See www.worldsoffun.com.

Raymore: The city’s annual display is held in Raymore’s Recreation Park, 1011 S. Madison St. The event begins July 4th at 7 p.m. with food and music before the fireworks begin sometime after 9:30pm.

Leawood: Leawood City Park will be the site for family festivities on July 4th. Kids activities and food vendors will be available from 5-9:30pm. Stage show events will be from 5:45 to 7pm and the musical entertainment will be provided by Cherry Bomb from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Fireworks will begin at 9:45 p.m. No parking will be available in City Park but free parking, with shuttle bus transportation to the park, will be provided in the west lots along Tomahawk Creek Parkway at no cost. For more info call (913) 339-6700 ext. 201.

Overland Park: July 4th Star-Spangled Spectacular at Corporate Woods includes a free concert, classic concessions, activities and inflatables starting at 4pm, and one of the biggest fireworks displays in the metro at 9:30pm, with music simulcast on Q104. For more info call (913) 345-4203

Missing Man Identified

A missing Grandview man has been found, with a tragic ending.
Lee Turner, age 60, had been missing since April 30, 2009. A body found at Longview Lake earlier this spring has been identified as Turner.
“My gratitude goes out to the Grandview Police Station and the officers that worked on the Lee Turner situation,” said Pat Turner, Lee’s wife, on behalf of the family.
Over the past 14 months, Grandview Police Officer Amanda Kerns had worked closely with Turner’s family to help find their missing loved one.