Wednesday, November 23, 2011

LOCAL HOLIDAY EVENTS

Christmas In The Sky Today - November 23
Watch fireworks reflect in Longview Lake at 99.7 The Point’s and Jackson County’s Christmas in the Sky event. At 6pm today, enjoy holiday stage productions. A fireworks display synchronized to your favorite holiday music begins at 7:30pm. For more info call (816) 503-4800.
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RUSKIN CHOIR PERFOMS AT PLAZA LIGHTING
RHS’ Advanced Choir will perform at this year’s Plaza Lighting Ceremony, Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24. Ruskin will perform at 5:20-5:45 pm, then join other choirs for two opening numbers before the actual lighting ceremony at 7pm.
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KC Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
On Friday, November 25, at 5:30pm, join Mayor Sly James and R&B/soul sensation Janelle Monae light the 100-foot-tall Mayor’s Christmas Tree at Crown Center. The tree is a symbol of the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund, which assists the city’s less fortunate. For more info call 816-274-8444.
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GRANDVIEW MAYOR’S CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING
Get into the holiday spirit with live entertainment from local elementary schools and the lighting of Grandview’s Mayor’s Christmas Tree on Thursday, December 1st from 6:45-8pm at Grandview City Hall. Santa will be there passing out candy canes as well! Please bring a donation to benefit the Grandview Assistance Program. For more info, call 316-4888.

New Red Bridge Spans River, Tracks & History

By Seann McAnally
When local leaders cut the ribbon on the new Red Bridge last Friday, they took a further step in a historic odyssey of pioneering transportation improvements that started in the early 1800s, when covered wagons first rolled through South Kansas City as part of  the western expansion of the United States.
The new $14 million bridge, which had some $4 million in federal funds, replaces the decades-old covered bridge on Red Bridge Road with a new, two-lane structure with sidewalks and a multi-use trail.
“As I drive over this bridge in my hybrid electric car, I’m going to be marveling at all the covered wagons that came through this area,” said David Jackson, director of archives and education for the Jackson County Historical Society.
Jackson recounted the history of the region, from its early days as a trading post to a key gathering spot on the Santa Fe trail. Would-be settlers on their way to New Mexico gouged deep ruts in the landscape – those swales can still be seen in Minor Park, within view of the new Red Bridge. The Blue River was the first major obstacle on the trail, and in 1859 a 100-foot long covered bridge was built. Someone painted it red, Jackson said, and the name has survived to this day. The bridge was replaced with steel in 1914, and again in the 1930s.
In the year 2000, as traffic volumes and population grew in the area, city officials began to talk seriously about replacing the Depression-era bridge, starting a plan that came to fruition on Friday.
“To be honest I didn’t think we’d ever be standing here,” said Patrick Klein, director of capital improvements.
While the bridge was open for traffic on Friday, there is still more to be done – including one of the key features of the bridge: lighted monument plaques that celebrate 10 influential historical figures that pioneered settlement in the Red Bridge area. Still to be installed are a series of red LED lights that will light up at night to carry on the tradition of having a “red” bridge.
The old Red Bridge, pictured below, will remain a part of the area’s history, Klein said, as it will be incorporated into bike and walking trails.
“The old bridge will remain for pedestrian use,” Klein said. 
Councilman John Sharp said it was important to remember the core focus of the entire project – to improve public safety. He said the bridge saves commuters two or three minutes when trains pass – and those minutes could be vital.
“Two to three minutes may not mean much if you’re just driving home from work, but if you’re the one waiting for an ambulance to get to your home, if you’re the one waiting for a fire truck to get to your home, if you’re the one waiting for a police car to get to your home, those two to three minutes could mean the difference between life or death,” Sharp said. “That’s what this project is – a public safety enhancement.”
Sharp said he couldn’t wait for the lights and artwork to be installed.
“I think it’s a beautiful bridge now, but it’s going to be a lot more beautiful,” he said.
The bridge features several look-out points where pedestrians can stop and take in a scenic view of the [river] valley, Sharp said, and historical plaques will tell the pioneer history of the area.
“It will be an educational destination,” Sharp said. “Unlike a lot of monuments, it will be one that will reflect the ethnic and gender diversity of the pioneers of this area.”
Councilman Scott Taylor said the bridge was key to the future of South Kansas City, and that the associated pedestrian and bicycle paths could draw new people to the area.
“This Red Bridge is so important in our district that it can’t be understated,” Taylor said. “It’s not only an improvement for commuters but for joggers and bikers. As we attract new families to Kansas City, this is one of the amenities that families are looking for.”
Taylor passed the microphone to his wife, former Councilwoman Cathy Jolly, who was a champion of the project during her time in office.
“Cathy put her heart and soul into this bridge,” Taylor said.
Jolly acknowledged that throughout the planning and design process, there were some residents who didn’t like the direction it was going. They felt it destroyed the rural character of their neighborhoods. But many others were enthusiastic about the need for a new bridge, Jolly said.
“It’s fair to say this bridge was controversial,” Jolly said.
Klein agreed, and spoke of numerous public meetings about the issue, some of which were occasionally contentious.
“This bridge has had more public input than any bridge in the city, trust me,” Klein said.
Jolly said the fact that the bridge opened, however, speaks to the forces that pull the communities of South Kansas City together.
“It took a lot of commitment and a lot of compromise to get to this point,” she said. “We’re a close community and we have a lot to celebrate.”
She had a message for the current elected officials:
“Keep at it. Make sure our funding stays in place,” Jolly said. “Make sure that artwork gets up, because that’s what makes the bridge ours.”
Sharp joined Taylor in praising Jolly for her work on the bridge, along with former council members Alvin Brooks and Chuck Eddy, who initially got the ball rolling on the new bridge.
“I remember the first meeting about this in February 2000,” Sharp said. “We’ve come a long way since then.”

Friday, November 18, 2011

Missouri Social Services’ child support office on Blue Ridge is temporarily closed due to electrical problems

Families seeking services can do so over the phone and at other area offices
Kansas City, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Social Services’ South Jackson County Child Support Enforcement Office, located at 8800 Blue Ridge, is closed temporarily due to electrical problems identified by building inspectors with the Kansas City Fire Department.
 
“We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this temporary closure may cause our clients. Impacted staff will relocate to other areas offices to ensure that we continue to offer child support services in Jackson County without interruption,” said Seth Bundy, Missouri Department of Social Services spokesperson. “Meanwhile, we appreciate the work of the Kansas City Fire Department to ensure that our employees and the families we serve are kept safe, and that a potentially dangerous situation was avoided,”
Parents who would normally access child support services at the South Jackson County Office can do so by either visiting the next-nearest office, or calling the toll-free customer service center at 1-866-313-9960.

Kansas City Office
615 East 13th Street
Kansas City, MO 64106
Phone: (816) 889-2000

Independence Office
103 N. Main, Suite 300
Independence, MO 64055
Phone: (816) 325-5800

On the afternoon of Thursday, November 17, the Kansas City Fire Department determined that a water leak inside the office at 8800 Blue Ridge was causing an electrical short, which posed a risk of fire. This location will reopen after this issue has been permanently fixed, and the building is again inspected by fire department officials.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

National Basketball Star Alec Burks To Be Honored For His Outstanding Athletic Accomplishments on November 22 in Grandview

Alec Burks, Grandview High School alumnus, and National Basketball Association star for the Utah Jazz, will receive a proclamation on Tuesday, November 22, at 7:00 p.m. in the Grandview City Hall during the Board of Aldermen meeting, declaring Wednesday, November 23, as “Alec Burks Day”. The proclamation will be presented to Burks for his outstanding athletic accomplishments in basketball.

Burks was recently selected by the Utah Jazz in the first round (12th overall) of the National Basketball Association 2011 Draft, thus becoming the first Grandview High School athlete to ever play in the NBA.
 
During his years at Grandview High School, he was named the 2009 Gatorade Player of the Year in the State of Missouri as a senior, while averaging 23.0 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Burks scored 33 points and had 13 rebounds while leading Grandview to runner-up in the Missouri Class 5A state championships; He also named the Kansas City Star and Metro Sports Player of the Year as the top player in the Kansas City metro area; In addition, he earned First Team All-Suburban Six League honors. 
During his two seasons as a guard at the University of Colorado, Burks also broke numerous school records, including most points scored in a single season (779), most points scored by a sophomore (779), most points scored in a season by a guard (779), most free throws made in a season (249), most free throw attempts in a season (302) and first player with at least 500 points (779), 200 rebounds (247), 100 assists (112) in a single season.
 
Burks earned honorable mention 2010 – 2011 All-America honors from the Associated Press. He was awarded Andy Katz National Player of the Week for the week of February 21, 2011 to February 27, 2011. He was named to the Big XII Conference First Team and to the National Invitational Tournament All-Tournament Team. He was a Top-20 list finalist for the John R. Wooden Award. He was also part of the Lute Olson All-American Team, Big 12 Basketball Championships All-Tournament Team, and was named Big XII Conference 2009 – 2010 Freshman of the Year.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ebenezer: Calendar Donkey


Grandview's beloved, unofficial mascot--Ebenezer the Donkey--is once again facing some challenges that his caretakers hope he can overcome with a little help from his friends.
If you have missed seeing the donkey trotting around his tree-covered lot on the west side of Grandview's Main Street this summer and fall, there is a reason.
"In May, Ebenezer started having issues with arthritis on the stifle joint and the howk joint," caretaker Shirley Phillips explained. To get up off the ground, the donkey had to be picked up using furniture straps over the course of several months.
An injection of an amino acid has helped Ebenezer once again get up on his own. However, the donkey needs to have the shot every two weeks for the rest of his life.
 "We don't want to put him down because he's still really healthy besides the joints not working as well as they used to," Phillips said.
Friends and fans of the donkey can help in several ways.
A 2012 Ebenezer calendar is now on sale for $17 at May Milling, 606 Main Street, in downtown Grandview. The calendar features photos of the donkey showing his lively spirit, dressed in everything from his winter coat, to a variety of holiday-related hats each month. All proceeds will go toward Ebenezer's continued care.
"The 12 month calendar that has been put together is by George Gross, a professional photographer that is smitten with Ebenezer just like the rest of us," explained Joe Dimino, who administers the donkey's website. "This is a must for all fans of Ebenezer."
Those who wish to purchase the calendar online can do so as well. Visit www.ebenezerthedonkey.com and click on the Shutterfly link to purchase the calendar.
Ebenezer's new veterinarian has also agreed to accept donations for the donkey's medical care. The Koch-Stigge Veterinary Clinic can be reached at (816) 380-1990, or by mail at 28204 Southwest Outer Road, Harrisonville, MO 64701.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Hillcrest Country Club Files for Bankruptcy

Hillcrest Country Club was scheduled for sale at public auction today, but a last-minute bankruptcy filing gives the owners more time to restructure, according to attorneys. Photo by Paul Thompson
The Hillcrest Country Club came only a day away this week from being sold in a foreclosure auction. The auction had been scheduled for Friday, November 11 at 2 p.m., but a last minute filing on Thursday led to the auction’s cancellation. 

According to the group’s lawyer, Tim West of the Berkowitz Oliver law firm, Heartland Golf Development II, LLC filed for bankruptcy protection on Thursday to put off the sale.

“The foreclosure sale scheduled originally for tomorrow at 2:00 pm at the Jackson County Courthouse is off because the entity that owns Hillcrest, Heartland Golf Development II, LLC, filed for bankruptcy protection today,” said West in a phone message. “So that will obviously put the foreclosure sale off until they go through a restructuring process.”

For further details as the story develops, please refer back to jcadvocate.com.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Voters Say Yes to zoo

New animal exhibits and additional employees are in the KC Zoo’s future.
Jackson and Clay County voters on Tuesday passed an 1/8th-cent retail sales tax to help fund improvements at the Kansas City Zoo. In Jackson County, the issue was approved by 70%.
The tax will mean an additional penny for every $8 in taxable purchases in both counties, and is expected to fund more than 100 new permanent jobs, in addition to construction jobs.
The funds will pay for a Penguin Exhibit, Predator Canyon/Tiger Exhibit, new Kid’s Wet Play Zone, a Gorilla/Ape Exhibit, Orangutan Canopy, a Giraffe Tree Tops viewing area, a renovated sea lion cove and other projects. It will also expand the zoo’s education program, fully sponsoring science educational field trips for local schools, and creating dedicated “Zoomobiles” to bring programming to schools, libraries, community centers and other public places in each county.
Jackson County residents will also receive half-price admission to the Zoo, and four free Zoo days per year.

Citizen-Led Code Enforcement: KC's Volunteer Inspector Program

By Seann McAnally
South Kansas City residents who are worried about code violations in their neighborhoods can now do something about it other than calling 3-1-1.
The Volunteer Inspector Program (VIP) is a city program that empowers neighborhoods to hold accountable owners who do not keep their properties up to code. Essentially, the program trains volunteers to notice and document codes violations.
“We can’t be everywhere,” said Carla Finch, of the city’s Neighborhood and Community Services department. “You pretty much know and see what’s going on in your neighborhood, so if you see violations you can let the city know.”
Currently, residents can call the city’s 3-1-1 service to report codes violations such as weeds, trash, peeling paint, and similar issues. But that can take up to 90 days, Finch said.
“This is much faster than going through 3-1-1,” Finch said, adding that most violations will be cleaned up in about 10 days after a citizen inspector reports them.
The way the program works is that neighbors – ideally a group, such as a homes association – can call Finch at 513-9039 to set up a training session. An employee of the city’s Neighborhood and Community Services department will schedule a session and come out to train volunteer citizen inspectors.
The volunteers attend a short training class, where they are informed about how to properly document codes violations.
“We ask that volunteers ensure they have the correct address, date, and violations documented on a 8.5 by 11 dry erase board or notebook,” said Mike Schumacher, assistant to the director of the Neighborhood and Community Services department. “The citizen inspector photographs this document and then photographs the property.”
And that’s all they’re to do, he said.
“They are not to leave the sidewalk of the street, and are not authorized to walk around the subject property,” Schumacher cautioned.
The citizen inspector would then submit those photos to the city, who will notify the property owner of the violation. After 10 days, the violations will be issued to a contractor for cleanup, and the city bills the property owner.
The citizen inspectors need to provide their own equipment, including cameras.
Orrin Ellis, of the KC Neighborhood Advisory Council, said he’s a big believer in the program.
“We’re trying to get every HOA involved in this,” Ellis said. “It makes them more self-sufficient and self-reliant in taking care of their own neighborhoods.”
Gary Kempf, president of the Terrace Lake Gardens Homes Association, said he hopes people in his area will want to get involved. He said people often don’t like to tattle on their neighbors, but they’re actually performing a service to the community when they do.
“You’re not being a busybody when you report codes violations,” he said. “In fact you’re being a responsible citizen.”
April Cushing, of the Ruskin neighborhoods, was trained in the program last year and said it’s been a big help in getting codes violations cleaned up in a more timely manner.
“These violations are usually in homes that are owned by absentee landlords,” Cushing said. “They can drive down everyone else’s property values and give a neighborhood a bad feel.”
Finch urged residents who are interested in setting up a training session to call her office at 513-9039 if they have more questions, or they can email her at carla.finch@kcmo.org.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Delay for Brumble’s Forest

By Seann McAnally
A new playground at Grandview’s Meadowmere Park has been plagued with delays and will not be finished by the end of October – a deadline imposed by the Board of Aldermen after an earlier May deadline was missed by the contractor. Now city staff are consulting with legal counsel to see what can be done to get the project finished. 
Update: The Board of Aldermen at its Nov. 1 work session decided against terminating a contract to build the park, saying it would delay the project even further. Kirk Decker, assistant city administrator, said the contractor believes the park can be completed in mid-December, weather permitting. 
Cobra Contractors, of Overland Park, in Oct. 2010 was awarded an $896,000 contract for construction of the state-of-the-art playground, designed to resemble a magical forest kingdom. But bad weather slowed construction, which was supposed to be complete in May of this year.
“The original completion date was May 20,” said Tony Finlay, parks director, “but the contractor lost 113 days due to weather.”
That created a domino effect, Finlay said, because Cobra wasn’t ready for sub-contractors when they were scheduled, and at least one sub-contractor didn’t show up for scheduled work.
“Of course we’re extremely disappointed with that,” Finlay said.
This summer, the Board of Aldermen gave the contractor an extension due to weather delays, asking that the park be finished on Oct. 28.
“Progress has been made since our last notice to the contractor, but it does not appear that the contractor will complete the project by Friday,” said Cory Smith, city administrator. “The city is very disappointed in the slow progress.”
Smith said the city understands about weather-related construction delays, but that that recent weather has been ideal.
“The weather has been great for construction over the past two months, and the city is not aware of any viable reasons for delays during that period,” Smith said. “Due to the lack of progress to date, the city cannot provide a completion date at the present time.”
Alderman Jim Crain, who serves as a liaison to the Board of Parks and Recreation, echoed feelings of disappointment and said the city wants to work with the contractor so it doesn’t have to start from square one with a new contract. That could delay the project even further. At this point, he said, the city is exploring its legal options.
“We’ll just have to meet with our legal counsel and see where we go from there,” Crain said. Finlay agreed.
“Once we’re done reviewing our legal options we’ll have a statement,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can to get this done.”
Cobra checked out with good references when the city awarded the contract. The contractor has done work for the city before on some public works projects.
Smith said he is hopeful action can occur soon.
“The city is committed to completing the project and providing a quality project as expeditiously and effectively as possible, given the delays and the current status,” Smith said. “We will try to get everything but landscaping done this fall, before winter, if at all possible.”
Crain said it was possible city workers could complete some of the work.
Smith said it is preferable to complete the project without resorting to litigation, but that option is on the table.
“With the help of its attorney, the city is exploring ways to bring the project to a conclusion and reviewing the contract for legal options,” Smith said.
The Board of Aldermen discussed this issue at its November 1st work session.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Hickman Mills Clinic Opens

Hickman Mills Clinic, Albers Pharmacy and Carondelet Heart Institute opened in their new location off 150 Highway and Byars Road in Grandview on Halloween day. Hickman Mills Clinic professionals Sequita Richardson, Douglas Call of Albers Pharmacy, Connie Hart, David Kricsfield, Paula Messmore, Michelle Franey, Steve Buie and Melanie Smolen, were joined by Mayor Steve Dennis, Alderwoman Annette Turnbaugh, Nola Wood, and Aldermen Jim Crain and Joe Runions. (Photo by Paul Thompson)

Zoo Tax Election November 8th

On Tuesday, November 8th, residents of Clay and Jackson counties will decide whether to approve an 1/8th-cent retail sales tax to help fund new attractions and improvements at the Kansas City Zoo.
The funds would help pay for a new Penguin Exhibit, new Predator Canyon/Tiger Exhibit, new Kid’s Wet Play Zone, a Gorilla/Ape Exhibit, Orangutan Canopy, a Giraffe Tree Tops viewing area, a renovated sea lion cove and other projects.
It would also expand the zoo’s education program, fully sponsoring science educational field trips for local schools, and creating dedicated “Zoomobiles” to bring programming to schools, libraries, community centers and other public places in each county.
Jackson County residents would also receive half-price admission to the Zoo, and four free Zoo days per year.
If approved, the tax is expected to fund more than 100 new permanent jobs, in addition to construction jobs.
The tax would mean an additional penny for every $8 in taxable purchases in Jackson County.
Polls will be open from 6am to 7pm Tuesday. For more information about poll locations, Grandview residents should contact the Jackson County Election