Thursday, June 30, 2011


A watch party gathered at Applebee's in Grandview celebrates the news that Grandview product Alec Burks was selected in the NBA Draft. Burks was a first round pick of the Utah Jazz, 12th overall, and will look to fit in with one of the youngest teams in the league. He will join fellow first round selection and 3rd overall pick Enes Kanter on a revamped Jazz team. Burks averaged 20.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.9 assists as a sophomore last year at Colorado. (Photo by Paul Thompson)

Monday, June 27, 2011

OBITUARY: Laroy S. Gann

Laroy S. Gann, 82, Grandview, MO, passed away peacefully surrounded by his devoted wife of 52 years & his loving family on Tuesday, June 21, 2011 at St. Joseph Medical Center.  Memorial Visitation was  1-3 PM Saturday, June 25th at McGilley & George Funeral Home, 12913 Grandview Rd., Grandview, MO.  Family requests you come casually dressed.  Contributions to the Grandview Historical Society.
Laroy was born October 27, 1928, in Gans, Oklahoma to Floyd & Opal (Anglen) Gann.  He married Lois (Niebergall) Gann on May 16, 1959 and they immediately made their home in Grandview, where they lovingly raised their three children.  Prior to their retirement in 1994, Laroy and Lois owned and operated Barry-Gann Lumber Co. in Kansas City, MO.  He was an avid hunter and fisherman, and treasured the time he spent hunting with his son, Mark, and fishing with his wife, Lois, at their family farm in Cleveland, MO.  Reading anything he could get his hands on was also a favorite pastime, as well as spending time with his cherished children and grandchildren that he was so proud of.  Laroy never met a stranger, loved telling stories and jokes, and treasured his morning coffee time at McDonald's in Grandview, where he developed many special friendships.   
Laroy's survivors include his loving wife, Lois Gann of the home; daughter and son-in-law, Tonya and Sam Buccero and grandchildren, Sammy and Alesha of Lee's Summit, MO; daughter and son-in-law, Pam and Steve Hinderliter and grandchildren, Ryan and Hillary of Overland Park, KS; and son, Mark Gann of Cleveland, MO.  He was preceded in death by his parents and sister, Shirley Henderson.  We have lost a wonderful husband, an incredible father, a very special grandpa and a dear friend to many, and he will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him and loved him.
Condolences may be made at

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Grandview Smoking Ban Update

The Grandview Board of Aldermen, after rejecting a citywide smoking ban on June 14, intends to bring the issue back to the table. A new "compromise" ordinance is being crafted that would allow smoking in some bars for a certain time period, possibly to coincide with Belton's total ban in 2016. About a half dozen bar owners attended a June 21 work session to hear further discussion, but three board members were absent. Aldermen Jim Crain, Annette Turnbaugh and Joe Runions were at the meeting, but without a quorum, the issue could not be discussed. Mayor Steve Dennis said the issue would come back for discussion at the board's next work session, scheduled for 7 p.m. July 5 at City Hall. The board could vote on a new version of the ordinance as early as July 12. Keep an eye on the Advocate's facebook page for more updates as this issue progresses.

Burks on the Cusp of His Dream

By Paul Thompson
Former Grandview High School basketball star Alec Burks will realize a dream tonight (June 23). He will be a first round pick in the NBA Draft, and become a professional basketball player. Projections have him being picked near the top of the first round, somewhere between the 9th and 15th selections in the draft.
Every team drafting tonight will have a tough decision to make. Do they want to be the next team to regret overlooking Alec Burks?
Despite a distinguished high school career that included an appearance in the state championship game in 2009 and a selection as the Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Missouri, Burks was not heavily recruited out of high school. Missouri missed on him. Kansas didn't give him a thought. Kansas State jumped into the fray, albeit late in the game. He has said that the recruiting slights he received have helped keep him hungry. In fact, even Colorado University, where Burks attended for two years before declaring for the 2011 NBA Draft, somewhat lucked into the future star.
Former coach Jeff Bdzelik was actually recruiting another player in a quiet gym when Alec Burks exploded into his view. Bdzelik was immediately impressed. Just like that, Burks was on the map. He had impressed the right person. When Burks arrived at Colorado, he was hoping to come in and contribute in any way he could. Bdzelik had greater expectations.
Burks was given big minutes from the get-go at Colorado, and he was a revelation. During his freshman season, Burks scored in double figures in every game but one: a match-up against Iowa State when Burks departed after two minutes due to injury.
 I'll always remember the first time I saw Burks play. It was a sleepy Saturday afternoon, and a Kansas State vs. Colorado basketball game provided the background noise. I wasn't particularly enthralled by the contest until, much as it happened for coach Bdzelik, a lean 6'6" shooting guard for Colorado opened my eyes with a series of tough finishes around the basket. Colorado lost the game, and Burks didn't put up earth-shattering numbers (14 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists), but the eyes told a different story.
Burks was polished. He didn't look like a freshman. He was ready for the moment. And he became one of my favorite players in the Big 12. The coaches of the Big 12 saw it too, and awarded Burks with the Freshman of the Year award.
When I got the job at the Jackson County Advocate, I learned that the young Colorado freshman I had pegged for greatness had starred at Grandview High School. Now, Colorado became must-see TV. I told my friends to watch out for this guy, Burks, who was a superstar in the making. I built him up so much that it seemed impossible to meet my lofty expectations.  Of course, Burks didn't meet my expectations. He surpassed them.
This season, Burks scored 36 points and grabbed 8 rebounds against Missouri. He scored 25 points with 6 rebounds against Kansas. These schools knew who he was now, and were kicking themselves for not knowing earlier. Then Burks scored 33 points and grabbed 10 boards against Texas. He was catching fire. In the Big 12 Tournament, Burks had his virtuoso performance of the season, scoring 29 points, grabbing 15 rebounds, and dishing 6 assists in an opening round victory over Iowa State.
It wasn't just the numbers that were staggering. Burks had elevated his game yet again, cementing himself as the clear leader of that Colorado team. Burks turned himself into one of the best finishers in the nation, artfully sinking impossible lay-ups, oftentimes while getting fouled in the process. He looked like a man among boys. It became a foregone conclusion: Burks was ready for the NBA.
Burks' NBA dream will be realized tonight, it's now just a matter of when. His detractors point to his thin frame and questionable 3-point shooting as negatives on his resume. Those types of critiques are nothing new for Burks. He's heard it all before. But he hasn't let that stop him from reaching his dreams, which began right here in Grandview.
Tonight, Alec's mom Dina will know the impact that all those rebounds she caught for her son, and all the AAU tournaments she took Alec to, had on his life. And Alec's older brother Steve, who played pick-up games at The View with his "little" brother, will know those paid off as well.
Earlier this year, Burks left a message with the Advocate for his fans back home.
"I appreciate everything from you guys in Grandview and I'll keep doing my best."
We here in Grandview have a message for Burks too. If his best is anything close to what we've already seen, it will be plenty to make him a success in the NBA.
The NBA Draft begins at 6 p.m. June 23 on ESPN. Check out as well as our Facebook page for draft day tweets regarding Alec Burks.

Local Lawmakers in Washington, D.C.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James, was among 14 Mayors from around the country that were called to the White House this week to meet with President Obama, Vice President Biden, Chief of Staff Daley and Special Assistant Valerie Jarrett.
The President listened to the economic challenges the Mayors were seeing in their communities and heard about Kansas City's successful efforts to spur economic growth, promote job creation and accelerate hiring.
"It was an honor to be invited to the White House to meet with the President and Vice President. The experience was humbling, and the interest the leaders of our nation have in Kansas City was extraordinary. I can say, they are focused on getting America back to work, and are committed to the success of Kansas City. It was proud to tell both of them in person about the hard-working people who call our City home," said Mayor James.
"At the end of the meeting, the President said, 'Sly, you have the last word,' and I said that everyone had spoken eloquently about the need for investments in jobs, but I wanted to urge us to let no crisis go unused. In the cities we know we have to collaborate to succeed, and I know Congress could be helped if they adopted that same spirit. Mayor Joe Reardon of Kansas City, Kansas and I are working together on a project to bring ultra-high speed internet to our cities. While we are often competitors we recognized that we have to work together to capitalize on a once in a lifetime opportunity. Kansas City is a city of entrepreneurs like Hall and Kauffman and we are going to use this moment to increase the innovation in Kansas City in ways we have not even dreamed of yet. We are going to succeed no matter what, but some assistance on the federal level to help spur new ideas and investments in start up businesses would be appreciated," said Mayor James to conclude the meeting.
In addition, on June 17, 45th District State Represenative Jason Holsman (D-KC, Grandview) was among eight Missouri elected officials who traveled to Washington, D.C., for a policy briefing in the Eisenhower Building with top members of the Obama administration as part of the Young Elected Officials organization (YEO).
YEO is a program of the People for the American Way Foundation, a non partisan non-profit organization. YEO's mission is to unite and support young leaders who share a passion for building communities that reflect the values of freedom, fairness, and opportunity.
House Minority Leader Mike Talboy, State Rep. Jason Holsman, Kansas City Councilman Jermaine Reed and Kansas City School Board President Airick Leonard West made up the Kansas City delegation invited to the event.
Representative Holsman, age 35, serves on seven House Committees and chairs both the Joint Committee on Urban Agriculture and the Committee on Renewable Energy despite being a member of the minority party.
During the three and a half hour policy briefing the group of Young Elected Officials heard from speakers: David Agnew, Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs; Austan Goolsbee, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors; Stephanie Cutter, Deputy Senior Advisor to the President; Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for the Office of Energy and Climate Change; Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; and Aneesh Chopra, Chief Technology Officer.
Rep. Holsman was recognized for questions during the energy segment conducted by Heather Zichal.
"Considering the tragedy in Fukushima Daiichi and Germany's recent announcement to draw down nuclear power by 2020 what is the administration's view of nuclear resources in the future and are they considering alternative fuels and technology like thorium and modular generation?" Holsman said.
Zichal responded to Holsman by acknowledging the concern over Fukushima Daiichi and expressed the need for clean base load power with an interest in exploring modular technology.
Following the policy briefing, the group of elected officials were escorted to the White House for a reception attended by President Obama. At the reception the President gave remarks on the importance of young officials gaining valuable leadership experience that will carry on our unique American Democracy.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Grandview Officials Reject Smoking Ban

By Seann McAnally

A crowd of people opposed to a smoking ban in Grandview helped sway the city's elected officials to reject a ban at the Board of Aldermen's regular session Tuesday night.  

Mayor Steve Dennis broke a 3-3 tie vote on a proposed smoking ban. Aldermen Jim Crain, Joe Runions, and Leonard Jones voted for a ban. Aldermen John Maloney, Annette Turnbaugh, and Brent Steeno voted against the ban. 
Steeno said he walked into the meeting prepared to vote for the ban, but after hearing from some two dozen members of the public, including bar owners, decided the ordinance needed some changes. 
"I'm 100 percent for a smoking ban in Grandview, I want to make that clear," Steeno said. "But I was elected to represent people, even if it's not a large group of people. I think they gave us some good reasons to take this back to the table. No one has swayed me but the people who came out tonight and spoke." 
The move was a shift from Steeno's stance at a work session just one week earlier. 
"I'm not convinced at all it will hurt businesses," he said on June 7. "The vast majority of people want should have been done 10 years ago."
But on Tuesday, Steeno changed his mind and joined Turnbaugh and Maloney in voting against the ban. Both Turnbaugh and Maloney had previously said they favored a ban, but wanted bars to be exempt. Maloney had originally favored a total ban, but said he changed his mind after talking to bar owner.

Aldermen Runions and Jones have pushed for the ban. 

"All the surrounding communities have a ban," Runions said. "It's a terrible image for the city of Grandview. From the outside looking in, we look bad." 
Alderman Jim Crain said he wrestled with the issue, because he believes in small government. But in the end, he said, health and safety had to win out. He also said he didn't like the reputation Grandview was earning as a "smoking city." 
"I've been told people come here just so they can smoke," Crain said. "Quite frankly, I'm ashamed of that - to be known as the ashtray of Kansas City." 
He said his constituents were overwhelmingly in favor of a total ban, and eventually decided to vote in favor of the smoking ban.
Alderman Leonard Jones said he was for a total ban.
"Without a doubt, my constituents back a clean air ordinance," he said.

Some two dozen members of the public, including bar owners, showed up to the June 14 vote to speak against the ordinance.  
"I'm going to be homeless," said Mike Cherry, owner of Open Road Bar and Grill. "I'm not going to be able to get a credit card to feed my kids." 
Steeno said comments like that got to him. 
"We're dealing with real people and real lives," he said. "I want to take a little more time to think about it. Smoking is horrible, but I still think we should take more time."
Dennis said he was confident a new smoking ordinance would be back before the board, possibly within a few weeks, but one that had some form of exemption for bars.  
An early draft of the ordinance exempted bars that would install special HVAC systems, but that language was dropped from the final ordinance after bar owners protested such systems were too expensive. 
Crain opined that the state of Missouri would eventually pass a ban anyway that would make those new systems moot. 
Nonetheless, the Board of Aldermen will continue to discuss the issue and eventually take another vote on an ordinance.
"It will be a different ordinance," Mayor Dennis said. "We saw democracy at work tonight."

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Grandview Gets Pro-Active on the Future of Truman Corners

By Seann McAnally
Is a new lease on life in store for Truman Corners?
Grandview officials are getting aggressive about changing the city’s image and drawing new business to town. Specifically, officials are meeting with developers and retailers about breathing new life into the Truman Corners Shopping Center.
“Not that it is a surprise, but when I’m out talking with the citizens of Grandview, the number-one question I get from them is, ‘What are you going to do about Truman Corners?’” said Mayor Steve Dennis. “We’ve all said that we want to be aggressive in bringing new business to Grandview and changing its image. There’s a lot of campaign promises that we’ve made to our community. I just want to keep those promises.”
Dennis recently travelled to the International Council of Shopping Centers conference in Las Vegas to “tell Grandview’s story to the retailers of America;” meanwhile, the Board of Aldermen has hired consultants to do market studies for the center, and is moving toward the possibility of working with RED Development to redevelop Truman Corners.
With the center under-performing for more than a decade, the board voted early this year to dissolve the Truman Corners tax increment financing deal. Joe Lauber, legal counsel for the city, said the center’s owners had appealed several increases in its property tax value, claiming to the taxing jurisdiction that the value of the center had actually gone down.
“That’s contrary to the purpose of a TIF, which is to increase value,” Lauber said at a public hearing on whether to dissolve the TIF. Several board members expressed frustration that economic activity at the shopping center actually declined during the life of the TIF.
But things have changed in Grandview, say officials – national developers are now eyeing the shopping center, indicating that it may soon have a new lease on life.
The Board of Aldermen unanimously passed two ordinances in May that set up an agreement with RED Development to pursue a market feasibility study for the shopping center.
That doesn’t mean RED has a formal deal to redevelop the shopping center, but it is exploring the possibility of purchasing it from the current owner, a New Jersey utility company. RED representatives have had several meetings with city officials to discuss hypothetical future uses for the shopping center.
“We’ve always believed that we needed to be ready to go if anyone showed interest,” Dennis said. “Then RED showed interest. (Grandview’s) image is starting to change. The energy here is starting to get noticed.”
The city hired Jeff Green Partners, of Pheonix, Az., to conduct the market feasibility study for some $30,000. What came back was encouraging, Dennis said.
“The bottom line of the study is, Truman Corners is ripe for the harvest,” Dennis said.
The study says the best fit for Truman Corners would be a mixed-use development that included mostly retail, restaurants and entertainment, but also some office space and residential units. The study also said Grandview could support a hotel at the site.
Retail stores that would be appropriate for the location, according to the study, are such stores as Marshalls, Gordman’s, T.J. Maxx, Staples Office Supply, a major brand female clothing, and a Wal-Mart Supercenter, to mention a few. None of those businesses have definite plans to move to Truman Corners, but the study says they’d fit well there. And each of those retailers have been contacted and have at least shown interest in taking talks to the next phase.
The study also spoke of Grandview’s need for local entertainment options, and said a movie theater and high-end “sit-down” restaurants would be appropriate. It also spoke of the need for an additional grocery store.
The consultants indicated that while Grandview has declined in recent years, the high volume of traffic that travels through the city, as well as expansion and improvement of the 150 Hwy corridor, makes Grandview well-poised to host some form of mixed-use development at the Truman Corners site.
Dennis said he felt that was appropriate for Grandview.
“It bodes well,” Dennis said. “Our city is mixed in many ways – ethnicity, socio-economic, age groups…the bottom line is that Truman Corners is more than ever a doable project.”
While Mayor Dennis was in Las Vegas to “tell the Grandview story” he met with some 78 vendors, developers, brokers and investment groups. 
“Forty-four of those want to have more conversations,” Dennis said. Those include grocery store chains, theater chains, and a major home improvement chain.
RED was also at the conference talking about Grandview, in addition to its numerous other projects.
“We all though tit would be a good idea to go out there and sell ourselves and meet with every business we thought would be a good fit for Grandview,” Dennis said. “It’s at these meetings where you get to meet face-to-face with the decision makers.”
Dennis stressed that RED and Grandview do not have a formal deal to redevelop Truman Corners, but the fact that RED and other major developers are interested speaks volumes.
“No formal partnership on Truman Corners has been reached between the city and any developer,” Dennis said. “But there is serious interest. Grandview is now on the radar screen with many developers. So far, RED is the most adamant. They’ve shown the most interest.”
Dennis said he’s confident that whatever redevelopment project ultimately is approved has some green space for residents to gather and relax, and to break up the vast expanse of concrete that is so visible from 71 Hwy as motorists pass through town. He said he hoped some form of military memorial would be part of the plan.

Trash Truck Takes Down Power Lines

Some 1,700 Grandview residents were without power for about an hour on June 3. A roll-back style trash truck was driving down Main St./Highgrove Rd. with its loading rails up. At about 3:15 p.m. the rails caught power lines over the road that did damage to nine utility poles and a nearby privacy fence. Grandview police closed down a stretch of road at Highgrove and Beacon--just east of the Grandview MidContinent Library--while emergency crews repaired the damage. Sgt. Greg Pruitt, of the Grandview Police, said about 1,700 residents were without electricity for approximately one hour, when it was restored to all but 52 homes, which were powered up later that night. (Photo by Gavin Wood)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Longview Pool Design Unveiled

This time next year, South Kansas City residents will have a $7 million state-of-the-art outdoor aquatics facility to cool off on hot summer days.
After years of planning, construction is to begin soon on the Longview Tract pool, located off Longview Road near the current sprayground facility.
“This will be a great ammenity for our area,” Councilman John Sharp said at the May meeting of the Southern Communities Coalition.
The facility will feature a lap pool, zero depth entry pool, lazy river, swirl bowl slide, raft slide, family slide, shade structures, pool lighting, landscaping and fencing. The pool will also have a concession building, administration building, bath house building, and filter building.
Six bids were received and opened on May 4, for the Longview Tract Outdoor Aquatics project.  The bid was awarded to Barsto Construction at a recent Park Board meeting.

Polette Ends Claim Against Grandview C-4

Grandview C-4 School Board Member Barbara Polette announced before the regular school board meeting last week that she would not pursue any legal action against the district stemming from her 2010 termination from Meadowmere Elementary School.
Polette fought the termination in a public hearing last year, but lost. She then filed an age discrimination claim against the district with the Human Rights Commission, and ran for the school board. Polette  garnered the most votes for school board in the April 5th election. At her swearing in, however, the district said she had a conflict of interest due to the claim, which should prohibit her from participating in finance-related votes.
At last Thursday’s meeting, Polette thanked the voters for their support, and reiterated that she never brought forth any legal suit against the district. Her brief statement effectively ended the issue.
“I do not intend to pursue any legal action in regards to the age discrimination issue. Signed Barbara K. Polette.”

KCMO Police Seek Info on Shooting

A drive-by shooting in the early hours following Memorial Day is being investigated by Kansas City Missouri police.
   On Tuesday, May 31st at 1:50am, police were called to a residence in the 11200 block of Corrington in regard to a shooting. Upon arrival, witnesses stated three men were walking in the street when suspect(s) in a white Ford Taurus shot at them. One of the men,  19 year-old Brian Washington, b/m (pictured left), had been shot and was transported to a local hospital by private vehicle where he was pronounced dead. There are no suspects in custody and anyone with information is urged to call the TIPS Hotline at 816.474.8477.

Are You Prepared for a Tornado?

The American Red Cross says one of the best ways to prepare for a tornado is to have an emergency preparedness kit for your family with:

• Water—one gallon per person, per day (3­+ day supply)
• Food—non­perishable, easy ­to ­prepare items (3­+ day supply) and manual can opener
• Flashlight
• Battery­powered or hand­crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
• Extra batteries
• First aid kit
• Medications (7­day supply) and medical items
• Multi­purpose tool
• Sanitation and personal hygiene items
• Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
• Cell phone with chargers
• Family and emergency contact information
• Extra cash
• Emergency blanket
• Whistle
• Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes
• Blankets or sleeping bags
• Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
• Extra set of car keys and house keys
• Towels
• Work gloves
• Tools/supplies to secure your home, such as plastic sheeting, Duct tape and scissors