Friday, May 27, 2011

Grandview Helps Joplin

A 50-foot truck is parked at Gail's Harley-Davidson (71 & 150 Hwy) ready to fill with emergency items for Joplin residents. Take your items (see the list below of needed supplies) to Gail's today, Friday from 8am - 9pm, or Saturday from 8am - 3pm. 
  • Bottled water
  • Baby hygiene products (all ages)
  • Baby feeding tools (bottles, sipper cups, spoons, pacifiers, and bowls)
  • Drink products (water, juice, sports drinks, coffee, tea, soda pop)
  • Canned foods and vegetables (dinners: chef-boyardee, dinty moore, mac and cheese etc.)
  • Dining products (paper plates, plastic silverware, cups)
  • Cleaning supplies (Bleach, antibacterial cleaning products)
  • Paper products (paper towels, toilet paper, Kleenex, napkins)
  • Trash bags
  • Batteries (all sizes)
  • Medical supplies
  • Feminine Hygiene products (all kinds)
  • Condiments (sugar, sweetener, cream, ketchup, mustard, mayo, salt, pepper)
  • Bedding/Blankets
  • Bibles
  • Clothing including socks (new or like new only)
  • Shoes (new or like new only)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Potential Grandview Smoking Ban Draws Crowd

By Seann McAnally
The Grandview Board of Aldermen is set to pass a smoking ban, and some bar owners aren’t happy about it. They made their voices heard at the May 24 regular session of the Board of Aldermen.
The proposed ordinance, which was brought forward by aldermen Leonard Jones and Joe Runions, would ban indoor smoking everywhere except for private residences. Bars could be exempt, but only by installing ventilation systems that completely remove smoke from the building without circulating it into the HVAC system. That’s because most bars in Grandview are in strip malls and share heating and cooling systems with their neighbors.
Aldermen Jones and Runions, along with aldermen Brent Steeno and John Maloney, have stated publicly that they would vote for a ban. Alderwoman Annette Turnbaugh said she will vote against a ban.
Alderman Jim Crain, however, said he has wrestled with the issue, primarily because he is hesitant to place a financial hardship on bar owners by requiring separate ventilation.
About two dozen people showed up at Tuesday’s meeting to oppose the ban. About half a dozen spoke, urging the board to exempt bars.
“85 percent of my customers are smokers,” said Mike Cherry, owner of Open Road Bar & Grill. “People come from all over just to come to Grandview to smoke. I think Grandview needs to spend more time trying to keep the businesses we have, rather than running them off.”
Lonnie Mabin, owner of Babeeboys, said it would be too costly for most owners to install a new HVAC system. He said such systems would generate unforeseen maintenance costs. 
“I don’t know about you, but our light bill, our gas bill, is already high enough,” he said. “Quite frankly, we as owners can’t afford the up-front costs of the equipment, let alone ongoing costs.”
Wendy Orlando, owner of Jeremiah Bullfrogs and a non-smoker, said she knows first-hand that banning smoking can only hurt, not help, her business. She’s been through a ban once before.
“In a perfect world, we would prefer not to work in a smoking environment, but we make that choice,” she said. “We went through this once in Olathe. When Olathe went smoke free, we almost lost our business.”
She said Jeremiah Bullfrogs started as a non-smoking bar when it opened in Grandview, but soon switched to smoking.
“We thought there should be at least one non-smoking bar in Grandview,” she said. “But those 80 percent of people you say don’t smoke? They never showed up.”
Yvette Jones, who works at Babeeboys, urged the board to look at the issue from an emotional and financial standpoint, rather than a political one.
“This is some people’s livelihood,” Jones said. “We have three generations working at some of these bars. If they lose their business, are you going to ask them to start over? Say it’s not your fault?”
The board is scheduled to discuss the issue further at its June 7 work session. The public is welcomed to attend, but are typically not allowed to address the board at work sessions.
No date has yet been set to vote on the smoking ban ordinance.

Colors Validate Historic Graduation

By Mary Kay Morrow
They had been rivals. They had been strangers. But on Sunday, 397 students from Hickman Mills and Ruskin high schools celebrated side-by-side in a sea of orange and blue.
They were the Class of 2011—the historic firsts to graduate since the two schools combined last fall. Although some had speculated that the consolidation of the two adversary schools could have disastrous results, Valedictorian David Jones set the historic record straight:
The courageous students had united.
“We will forever be a large family of Cougars and Eagles,” he told his fellow graduates and their loved ones on Sunday.
(See full story, and full coverage of all the local graduations in the May 26th issue of the Jackson County Advocate. See more photos on the Jackson County Advocate FB page)


Memorial Day weekend is the start of splash-time at pools and spraygrounds:

LONGVIEW SPRAYGROUND opens on Sat, May 28th. It will be open daily from 11am-7pm through Sept. 5th. Call KC Parks and Rec at 513-7500 for more info.

MEADOWMERE POOL opens on Saturday, May 28th also. The water park will be open 1pm – 8pm Mondays-Thursdays; 1-7pm Fridays & Saturdays, and Sundays from 1-6pm.  Call Grandview Parks and Rec at 316-4888 for more info.
JOHN ANDERSON SPRAYGROUND also opens on Saturday. It’s open daily from 10am-7pm, except Wednesdays it opens at noon. Call Grandview Parks and Rec at 316-4888 for more info.

Friday, May 20, 2011

President in our Midst

How Truman shaped our town, and our town shaped a President
By Seann McAnally
Although he is usually associated with Independence, President Harry S Truman said he always thought of his family farm on Blue Ridge Blvd. as “home.” Truman came of age in Grandview, and said his years here shaped his character.
“Riding one of these plows all day, day after day, gives one time to think. I’ve settled all the ills of mankind in one way or another while riding along seeing that each animal pulled his part of the load,” Truman said of his farm days.
Truman was born to John and Martha Truman on May 8, 1884. His parents moved around Missouri during his childhood, then settled on Martha’s parents’ farm in Grandview. It was a huge farm for the time, some eight times larger than the average American farm. At 600 acres, it was the size of about 450 football fields.
After two years there, they left for Independence, primarily so young Harry could go to school there. Truman graduated from high school in 1901 and began working as a clerk in a Kansas City bank. But in 1905, older family members needed help working the farm. Harry and his dad were asked to leave their banking jobs and “come home” to work the Grandview farm.
Harry was just 22 years old. But the dutiful son did just that, later saying it was because of “family loyalty”.
In describing his duties, Truman said he “...plowed, sowed, reaped, milked cows, fed hogs, doctored horses, bailed hay, and did everything there was to do on a 600 acre farm with my father and my brother.”
Truman would later describe his father’s supervision over the farm as “stern” and he learned the value of hard work as he spent almost all of his waking hours, from dawn to dusk, tending to Grandview land, crops and animals.
Folks who worked at the farm recalled Truman as a “man of the people,” working shoulder-to-shoulder with farmhands and migrant workers. He’d even help his mother, Martha, and little sister, Mary Jane, cook for the farm hands.
“The fact is, Truman was a late bloomer,” said Mike Ryan, of the National Parks Service. “Before he came back to the Grandview farm, he was shy and a little bit immature. When he was put in charge of the farm, he had to develop those leadership qualities that he would carry with him to the White House.”
Truman agreed.
“I thought maybe by cursing mules and plowing I could perhaps overcome my shyness and amount to something,” he had said.
Truman normally worked 12 hour days. During what little there was of his free time, the future president enjoyed practicing the piano, and he would often play it for his family in the evenings. He was also an avid reader.
To overcome his sense of shyness, he began getting involved in community affairs and meetings with other farmers. Truman joined the Masons, and in 1911 he organized the first Masonic Lodge in Grandview – Lodge #618. Over the years he stayed involved in the Masons and advanced in rank.
When his father died in 1914, Truman took over his father’s work as county road overseer for the area, and this was his first formal entrĂ©e into Jackson County government.
Truman accepted the job of Grandview Postmaster in 1915. In 1916, Truman added more community service to his resume when he served on the Hickman Mills C-1 School Board.
During those Grandview farm years, as Truman developed his leadership skills, lost his youthful shyness and became known for his hard work and community service, there was always a distraction on his mind…a girl with bright blue eyes who he met during his school years in Independence, Bess Wallace.
Truman would later recall sending regular love letters to Bess from the farm. To get to Independence to court her, Truman often walked from the farm to the Grandview train depot, and rode the train to Independence.
But before Truman got a chance to build his family, duty called again. World War I was raging in Europe. When his National Guard unit – the 35th Division, made up of men from Missouri and Kansas - was called up, Truman went to France, where he served as an artillery captain.
After two grueling years of war, Truman came home to Grandview. He was now 35 years old, and anxious to start a family and strike out as his own man. He and Bess were married in Independence in the summer of 1919, and he moved there to live with Bess and her widowed mother.
Meanwhile, Truman’s little sister Mary Jane stayed on the Grandview farm with her mother, and helped run it with the assistance of Truman’s brother Vivion, who lived nearby.

Perhaps because of his father’s interest in politics, Truman ran for county judge – a title that was later changed to County Executive - of Jackson County in 1922 and 1926, when he won the seat with the backing of notorious Democratic political boss Tom Pendergast.
As county judge, Truman engaged in a major building and renovation program, including an ambitious road improvement program he said would “bring Jackson County out of the mud.” He would later say it was his time on the Grandview farm that made him aware of the desperate need for road improvements.
Indeed, his old friends in Grandview soon saw their old rock roads replaced with new concrete roads.
Truman pushed through construction of 150 Highway, which opened up south Jackson County and Blue Ridge Blvd. from Independence to the Kansas state line. He would later say it was the first dependable road in southern Jackson County.
In 1934, Truman ran for the U.S. Senate, where he served from 1935 to 1945. Truman’s no-nonsense attitude in the senate attracted notice high up in the Democratic Party. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was running for re-election, chose Truman to be his Vice Presidential candidate for his re-election bid in 1944.
They won the election, and Truman himself was sworn in as the 33rd President of the United States after Roosevelt’s death.
Truman visited Grandview often during his years as President, checking in on his mother and sister. 
Martha Truman had to sell the farm in the 1940s, and she and daughter Mary Jane moved into “town”— 13106 13th Street, to be precise. The house still stands, and is part of the Grandview Residential Historic District walking tour.
As one story goes, Martha became ill and had trouble sleeping.  Her son, Harry, came for a visit. President Truman made some none-to-subtle changes in order to help his mother finally get some sleep. There was a train that went through town every night blowing its whistle.  Harry, being a good son, called up the railroad department and told them not to blow the whistle when the train came through Grandview. Of course the railroad clerk was a little surprised at this request. He told Harry that it wasn’t possible, and “just who did he think he was asking the railroad to disrupt their usual business?” 
Harry replied “My mother has been ill and not able to sleep for two weeks. I am the President of the United States and I am telling you not to blow the train whistle!” 
Needless to say, the train went through Grandview without blowing the whistle, and Martha got some much-needed rest.
Later, after his presidency, Truman himself decided to sell off much of what remained of the farm, citing the need for suburban development. At the 1957 dedication of the Truman Corners shopping center, he said “…it gives the family rather a case of homesickness. While we would have liked very much to have kept the farm as home, and have used it and run it as a farm, we know very well that progress pays no attention to individuals.”
After the presidential years, local legend has it that Truman wanted to build his presidential library in Grandview, but that local politics made that impossible.
The Grandview Advocate--as the Jackson County Advocate was called then--reported in its Thursday, Feb. 12, 1953 issue that Tom L. Evans, then secretary of the Harry S. Truman Library, announced that Truman would move to Grandview and build his library here.
“I’ve had all the success and happiness and honor paid me that any man could ever hope to have, but there is one thing that I want more than anything else – a library out at my farm in Grandview to house my papers.”
In the end, large donations from Independence notables made the Independence location a more pragmatic choice. Bess also wanted to live in her longtime Independence home, so the office location would be more convenient for the Trumans.
“Had he not been married to Bess, I don’t think he would have settled down in Independence,” Ryan said. “After all, he always said that his very earliest memories were of the farm.”
Truman died in 1972, and Bess joined him 10 years later.
Regardless of where Truman truly felt his “home” was, his impact on Grandview, and its impact on him, cannot be overstated.
In its History of Grandview, the committee of the Grandview Historical Society summed up Truman’s Grandview legacy:
“The people of the community of Grandview admired and respected him, and called Harry a neighbor and a friend, regardless of their politics. He was just one of the hometown boys who grew up to make the community proud. Today, we have the Truman Farm Home to keep alive the memory of the good time and the trials of the past, and the man who changed the destiny of the world.”
The Truman Farm Home, located across the street from Sonic on Blue Ridge Boulevard, is now maintained by the National Park Service and open for tours. It’s open 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Memorial Day through Labor Day, but it will be open Saturday the 21st during those times. Tickets are $4 for ages 15 and up.
The staff of the Grandview Historical Society contributed to this story.

Grandview Alum Goes Full Cirque-le

By Paul Thompson
Suspended high above the crowd at the Sprint Center last weekend, a woman twists acrobatically around a hoop. Every successive act of dare-devilry she makes is driven by a Spanish flamenco beat, building the pace of the Dralion show. It’s trademark Cirque Du Soleil: a unique fusion of acrobatics paired with live, exotic music.
This is Anthony Cooperwood’s favorite part of the show, which he’s seen hundreds of times. The 1989 GHS graduate plays a vital part in Dralion, laying down the driving bass line on the performance. Utilizing his vast musical knowledge, Cooperwood has played this riff on his electric NS bass for audiences across the country.
“It’s high energy, and it grooves like crazy,” says Cooperwood.
Cooperwood has been touring with Cirque Du Soleil since 2001, when he was discovered while working for the Big Apple Circus in New York. It was a whirlwind time for the former Grandview student.
“I submitted my materials to Cirque, and next thing I knew I was out on the road,” he says fondly. “It was a feeling of wonder and amazement. It was also a feeling of being a professional; I was just trying not to mess up.”
Cooperwood’s parents L.V. and Jesse had never heard of Cirque Du Soleil when Anthony made the band, they just knew that it was a huge career step for their son. It wasn’t long before they received an education.
“I was not familiar with Cirque Du Soleil, so he had to tell us about it. When I told one of my nieces about it, she went gung ho,” his mother Jesse said with a laugh. “It wasn’t long before I heard all about it.”
The talented musician, who plays keyboard and bass for Cirque Du Soleil’s Dralion, once crafted his trade within the walls of Grandview High School. He played piano in the jazz band, first chair flute in the symphonic band, and bass drum in the marching band during those years. His parents were Anthony’s biggest supporters. They were the ones who initially steered their son towards music.
“Actually, he started taking piano lessons when he was seven,” said Jesse. “At that point he was taking lessons just because we wanted him to stay busy.”
Later, when Anthony branched out and experimented with new instruments in high school, his parents realized that he had a real talent. At that point, they started to audiotape all of his performances at school.
“On our way home from the school, we would take our time getting home, and we would play that music over again,” says his mother, Jesse, about the tapes.
Now Cooperwood is back in Kansas City, performing at the Sprint Center with Cirque Du Soleil. Friends and family will be pouring in to support Cooperwood.
“It’s wonderful. Everything has been so nice here in Kansas City. Being able to play in front of friends and family is really great,” Cooperwood says.
 As usual, he took the opportunity while in town to stop by his old high school. Usually, he stops by a band class to talk to some students. Band Director Danny Watring, after all, was his instructor and one of his biggest influences back in the late 80’s during his time as a Bulldog.
But this time Cooperwood spoke to over 200 students during a Q&A that included two other Cirque Du Soleil performers. Anthony couldn’t have been happier with the event. He passed on some advice to kids who hold similar musical aspirations.
“Work on the fundamentals and basics. Remain focused on improving yourself and your instrument. That will lead to more development and more fun,” Anthony advises those who dream to follow in his footsteps.  “You have to remember to always make it fun. I do it for work, but it is always fun.”

Friday, May 13, 2011

Grandview Considers Smoking Ban

Bars may be exempt with proper ventilation

By Seann McAnally
JC Advocate

Darrah Reece lives in south Kansas City, where smoking isn't allowed in bars and restaurants. So when she'd like to enjoy a beer and a cigarette with friends, she goes to Grandview.
But not for much longer.
The Grandview Board of Aldermen is expected to pass a smoking ban at its May 26 regular session. The board discussed the issue once last year, and it was recently brought up again by aldermen Joe Runions and Leonard Jones. They, along with aldermen Brent Steeno and John Maloney, said they will vote for the ban. Alderman Jim Crain was still in fact-finding mode at press time, and Alderwoman Annette Turnbaugh said she will vote against the ban. If the aldermen vote the way they say they will, it won't matter how Crain ends up voting - a ban has the votes to pass.
The ban would affect all public and commercial indoor spaces - that is, everything but private homes and fraternal clubs - in Grandview. Bars would be exempt, but only if they installed ventilation systems that would completely remove smoke from the building - and some aldermen worry the price tag for that could be too steep for some Grandview bars.
If her favorite watering hole, the Highlander, goes smokeless, that means the end of trips to Grandview for Reece.
"I only come here so I can smoke," she said. "I can understand it, if there's food being served, or children, but in a regular bar, where there are no children, it's not fair. It's not right. It wasn't right in Kansas City and it's not right here."
Most elected officials disagree, however. At the board's work session, city staff circulated an editorial in the Kansas City Star that graded all Metro cities for their smoking ordinances. Grandview got a "double F," and its leaders were said to have "fumbled" and offered "lame excuses" for failing to pass a ban.
That's no good when Grandview is trying to change its image to attract development, said Runions. Grandview and Raytown are the only cities south of the river in the KC Metro area that have not adopted a ban. Runions said it's time for Grandview to "get in step."
"Everybody's already done it," Runions said. "We've been talking about wanting to improve Grandview's image, and being a smoking city is not the way for us to do it."
Crain said he wrestled with the issue.
"I don't like big government, and I don't think the government needs to tell people how to run their businesses," he said. "But this is a health issue. It's a public safety issue. I wish that businesses would voluntarily ban smoking."
Crain said he would like to patronize local Grandview restaurants, but he is bothered by smoke.
"I really don't go to restaurants as often as we'd like because of it," Crain said.
Crain knows the dangers of smoking first-hand. He had polyps removed from his larynx some 30 years ago.
"The last time I had a cigarette was at 11 a.m. on July 5th, 1980," he said, adding that he quit cold turkey. "I was pretty hard to live with for a while."
He said he is concerned that Grandview's four bars would incur too great a cost if they had to install new ventilation systems before they could allow smoking.
"I could support something that just left bars alone," he said. "But I want all the possible facts before I make any decisions. I want to know how much it's going to cost. Is it $500 or $50,000?"
Shirley Van Black, owner of Shirley's Family Restaurant, said she has bigger worries than a smoking ban, saying parking restrictions on trucks and trailers in her lot, and a poor economy in general, are already hurting her business.
"These are hard times anyway...I think a smoking ban would have an effect on us, I really do. But I don't think it's going to be significant," she said. "We may have to put a smoking booth on the sidewalk," she added, laughing.
Mayor Steve Dennis said he was letting the board take the lead on this issue, because, as mayor, he is no longer a voting member. He said he is conflicted by the issue, but that in the end, health and safety must win out.
"This has been a tough one for me," Dennis said. "But the sentiment of the board is that this is a public health issue. I think business owners should be allowed to run their business however they want, without government interference. It's not our role to get involved in every detail. But this particular issue has become more of a public safety issue, and that's when we do intervene. In the end, what we want is for business owners to do what's best to promote safety and health in our community."
Several aldermen and city officials said some restaurant owners and managers have privately encouraged them to adopt a ban, because they didn't like smoking but wanted the government to bear the blame, should customers become disgruntled.
In the end, said Cory Smith, city administrator, a ban was more-or-less inevitable.
"Of all the cities in the Metro area, only four allow smoking, only two of those are south of the river, and one of those is us," Smith said. He opined that statewide bans, such as the one in Kansas, will someday be common, and have already been proposed for Missouri.
"Pretty soon," he said, "you won't be able to smoke anywhere."

Thursday, May 5, 2011

KC Water Bills on the Rise

By Andrea Wood
Water rates are on the rise...again.
The Kansas City Water Services Department issued a system-wide rate increase, which began on Sunday, May 1st. With rising costs associated with infrastructure improvements, flat demand for water as appliances and residents get more “green” with their usage, and “historic underpricing,” the department says rates must be raised.
“You are going to see significant rate increases in the near future,” Water Services CFO Sean Hennessy told the Southern Communities Coalition last month.
Hennessy said that the city’s efforts to comply with the Clean Water Act and other federal regulations are expensive ventures. He said the department must replace aging infructure and address overflow issues, and those costs are going to be reflected in residents’ water and sewer bills.
The Jackson County Public Water Supply District #1, which primarily serves Grandview and purchases its water from Kansas City, issued a statement about the rate increases this spring:
“The continuing annual increases in rates by Kansas City, along with the cost of repair and replacing aging water mains, leaves the District with no choice other than a rate increase.

Chief Dickey Honored, Iseman Named New Police Chief

By Seann McAnally
The Board of Aldermen honored outgoing Chief of Police Larry Dickey and named a new police chief at its April 26 regular session.
Dickey recently announced his retirement from the force. His last day is tomorrow, May 6. His successor is current Deputy Chief Charlie Iseman.
Mayor Steve Dennis was visibly emotional as he presented Dickey with a plaque for his service.
“I’m having a hard time with this, because I’m going to miss you,” Dennis said. He went on to praise Dickey’s contributions to the force.
“He means more to our city than most people will ever know,” Dennis said. “He’s been the backbone of this department, and he’s looked to as a leader and mentor.”
He said Dickey, who has been with the force since 1969, was named chief in 2007.
“I started here in 1969, blinked my eyes and now it’s 42 years later,” Dickey said. “It’s really been a pleasure working here, and I’m glad I picked Grandview to go to work in.”
The board lost no time in finding a replacement, and in a last-minute agenda item that was not added until minutes before the meeting, unanimously ratified the appointment of Deputy Chief Charlie Iseman to fill that role. Iseman will not be officially on the job until May 7, and will be sworn in at a special ceremony at the board’s May 10 meeting.
“He was everyone’s first choice,” Dennis said of Iseman. “He’s going to fill the role admirably, and we’re all looking forward to it.”
City Administrator Cory Smith said he appointed Iseman based on Dickey’s recommendation and the high esteem other officers regard him with. Smith said Iseman was the ideal man for job because of his extensive education, more than 20 years law enforcement experience, seven years of command staff experience, detailed knowledge of the Grandview community, and ethical values.
Iseman lives in Blue Springs with his wife and two children. He will make $88,000 per year.
Dickey said he would be leaving the department in good hands.
“He’s well-respected by the men, he’s level-headed and fair, and he knows and loves this city,” Dickey said of Iseman.
As for his future, Dickey said he and his wife, who also retired a few weeks ago, are looking forward to hitting the open road in their RV.
“We’ll go as far as the cost of diesel fuel will take us,” he said.