Thursday, April 26, 2012

HOT SPOTS THIS WEEKEND

Prescription Drug Take-Back Saturday
The Kansas City, Missouri Police Department is taking part in a prescription drug take-back (open to all) on April 28th. Bring your unused prescription drugs to CVS at 11124 Holmes in KCMO between the hours of 10am-2pm to have your old prescription drugs disposed of in a way that is healthiest for the environment.

Pets Helping People Returns!
On Saturday, April 28th, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.(pet owners start to line up as early as 6:30 a.m.), the City of Grandview is hosting the Tenth Annual Pets Helping People, at Conn West Elementary, 1100 High Grove Rd., in Grandview, MO. This event is intended to provide rabies vaccination for cats and dogs at minimum cost to help a local charitable organization, the Grandview Assistance Program. The event will also provide spay and neuter vouchers and will sell ID Microchips at a reasonable cost ($20). The microchip is a tiny computer chip, which has an identification number programmed into it. Once an animal is injected with the chip, he can be identified throughout his life by this one-of-a-kind number. The price for vaccination is $7 per pet and 3 cans of non-perishable food items to benefit the Grandview Assistance Program (GAP). GAP is an emergency assistance program for those people living in Grandview and in the Grandview school district. It is intended to provide short-term assistance to low income families who need help during a crisis, such as food pantry and school supplies, rental and utility assistance. All the net proceeds will help support GAP and that is why organizers named the event “PETS HELPING PEOPLE.” Grandview residency is NOT required to participate in the event.

NASB Shred Day!
North American Savings Bank will host a “Shred Day” Saturday, April 28, 10:00 a.m. -12:00 p.m. 12498 S. 71 Hwy, Grandview, MO 64030. Bring any personal documents and watch them get shredded beyond recognition for FREE!

Bike Safety Rodeo
Saturday, April 28 at 10:00 a.m. Cost: FREE! Location: Freedom Park 1215 Jones Grandview, Missouri 64030. Children ages Kindergarten to 14 years, bring your bikes to Freedom Park and get ready for the summer fun by learning bike safety and the “rules of the road.” Grandview Police will be on hand to inspect bikes, check helmets and guide children through a “chalk street.”

Healthy Kids Day® Activities Encourage Healthy Habits for Families
Free event at April 28 at Red Bridge Family YMCA is open to the community
Join YMCAs across the greater Kansas City area for fun, educational activities to help families improve their health and well-being on Saturday, April 28. Participating location include the Red Bridge Family YMCA, which will be open to the community 10 a.m.-1 p.m. to offer fun indoor and outdoor activities. Red Bridge Family YMCA is at 11300 Holmes Road, Kansas City, MO. The schedule at the Red Bridge Family YMCA Healthy Kids Day: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Help plant a garden, face painting, tug-of-war, water balloon toss, 3 legged races, sack races, obstacle course by Camp Wood YMCA - 11 - 11:30 a.m. Family Zumba - 11:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. Kwanzaa Karate Demonstration 12 - 12:30 p.m. Duck Races--for a $5 donation to the Y, race a rubber duck by splashing it across the pool. The winner receives a price package including a Kindle Fire, 12:30 – 1 p.m. Prize Drawings--restaurant gift cards, mini-golf passes, Target gift card and more! For more information about Healthy Kids Day activities, call 816.942.2020.

Grandview Seeks Funds for Road Projects

Is a road near you on the list?

Grandview officials are prepping for a slew of applications for federal aid earmarked for street and highway improvements. 

At a April 17 work session of the Board of Aldermen, Public Works Director Dennis Randolph outlined potential projects for the board and shared priorities for potential funds. Together, Randolph and the board narrowed down seven projects to submit for federal funds. The seven projects for which the city will apply for grants are: 

• A $1 million pedestrian bridge over 150 Hwy just west of Grand Summit;

• Widening 155th street from the east frontage road to the eastern city limits to three lanes, adding sidewalks and a multi-use path. The estimated cost for that project is about $2.5 million, for which federal funds would pay for all but $250,000. 

• Landscape the roadside of Highgrove/Main St from Winchester to the east frontage road, including sidewalk rehabilitation at Bennington, a $650,000 project; 

• A Byars Rd "trail connector" that would provide a link between 150 Hwy's multi-use path and Byars Rd sidewalks (about $150,000). 

• Extending 135th St. from 5th St to the west frontage road, a $2.2 million project that includes two road lanes, curbs and gutters, storm sewer and a 10-foot-wide multi-use path. 

• Reconstructing curbs and resurfacing Highgrove Rd from the east city limits to Whie Ave (about $925,000); 

• Extending the 150 Hwy north frontage road from Gateway Commons to Grand Summit Blvd., with two or three lanes plus a 10-foot-wide multi-use path at a cost of about $900,000. 

"We have needs that far outweigh our ability to fund them...federal funds are one way to address the shortage." Randolph said. "These funds can help us leverage our available transportation sales tax funds as we have done with our Main Street projects."

The current round of federal fund applications, administered through the Mid-America Regional Council, are available for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, which begins in October 2015. The funds could cover up to 80 percent of costs for whatever projects are awarded funds. There is about $40 million total available, but cities all across mid-America will be competing for that money.
A few members of the board have said that they are politically opposed to the use of "big-government grants" to fund local projects. But in the end, no members of the board actually suggested not going after the money. 

"Someone is going to get it," said Mayor Steve Dennis. "It might as well be us." 

Randolph reminded the board that to be eligible for federal funding, the potential projects must have "area-wide importance," that improves traffic flow or safety for a broad segment of the population, as opposed to projects that may only benefit one or two neighborhoods. 

He added that it's likely not all seven projects would receive federal funds.

"Practically speaking, we'll be thrilled if we can get one or two of these," Randolph said, "because the funds are for the entire MARC region. We're looking ahead to the future. There are no guarantees, but if we don't apply, we won't get anything."

Thursday, April 19, 2012

FREE FAMLY FUN THIS SATURDAY!

Our community is the place to be this Saturday, April 21st, with three fun, FREE events for people of all ages! Enjoy one of more of these wonderful events, then share your photos on our Facebook page! You could be on next week’s cover!

Flights of Fancy Kite Festival
MCC Longview- 10am- 5pm
Bring your kite and join the fun at MCC-Longview’s  6th annual Flights of Fancy kite festival. Once again, members of the Kansas City Kite Club will have some of the most amazing kites on display at this FREE event for all ages.
Professional kite flyers from around the Midwest will be flying their mega kites and stunt kites all day while the rest of the MCC-Longview campus will be open for public kite flying.
FREE activities for kids include  a bounce house, face painting, balloon artists and much more.
For more information, directions or a look at last year’s festival, check out the Flights of Fancy website at: www.mccflightsoffancy.org
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Truman Farm Home Junior Ranger Day!
Truman Farm Home 10am-2pm
The National Park Service and Harry S Truman National Historic Site will host a special Junior Ranger Day Celebration on Saturday, April 21, at the Truman Farm Home at 12301 Blue Ridge Blvd (across from Sonic) Grandview, Missouri.
The event is offered free of charge, and will run from 10:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M.
The theme of the  event is “Explore, Learn, Protect: Be a Junior Ranger.” A variety of ranger-led activity stations for kids of all ages will engage children in different aspects of Truman’s early life on the farm as well as the mission of the National Park Service.
For additional information contact Ranger Dave Suvak or Sharon Lujin at 816-461-5550.
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Brumble’s Forest Grand Opening & Arbor Day Event
Meadowmere Park 10am
Join Mayor Steve Dennis as Grandview celebrates Arbor Day with the grand opening of ‘Brumble’s Forest’ playground at Meadowmere Park!
Activities  begin at 10am and include kids crafts, food and drink vendors, face painting and information booths, as well as a tree planting in honor of Grandview’s 100th anniversary. For more information call 316-4888.

SKC, Grandview Rapid Rail Line Study Funded

By Seann McAnally
A look at Grandview's history makes one fact clear - the railroad brought the city to life. Now, county officials want to continue that tradition with a passenger rail line to Grandview. It's part of a larger Regional Rapid Rail plan developed by Jackson County and TranSystems that is winning converts across the Metro - including Grandview Mayor Steve Dennis. 

County Executive Mike Sanders took his message to Grandview City Hall to convince the Board of Aldermen that his rapid rail plan is going places.

Funding to the tune of some $652,000 has come down from the Federal Highway Administration to study the so-called "Grandview Line," a passenger rail line that would run from Union Station south through the Bannister Mall area and down the 71 Higway corridor to Belton.

"We're in the preliminary stages of beginning that study," said Dan Ferguson, public information officer for the county. Such studies are a necessary first step to securing further federal funds to actually build the line. 

A previous study had some worried that the southland would be left out of the plan. In Dec. 2010 the Federal Transit Administration awarded some $1.8 million to study the Rock Island Line, which would run to Lee's Summit and Pleasant Hill, and the I-70 Line, which would run through Independence to Blue Springs. That study is nearing completion. 

"We always intended to study the south line," Ferguson said, "but there was only so much money available." 

Sanders said it's worth noting those were both competitive grants, and that, ultimately, they were paid for with the federal gasoline tax. 

"For years we've been paying in," Sanders said, "but we've watched that money go to Denver, to St. Louis...in the past, when it came time for federal funding, the Kansas City area has missed the boat."

But Kansas City has a secret weapon in its arsenal to compete for future funds to build the line, he said. 

"Dollars are limited, and the competition is fierce," Sanders said. "Federal officials want the most bang for the buck. They want to put that money where it makes the most economic sense. Our plan uses existing, under-utilized rail corridors. That means we save time, money, we don't have to do environmental impact studies - it's by far the most realistic and affordable plan in the nation right now." 

Sanders said he's heard feedback that Kansas Citians are "in love with their cars" and that few would use rapid transit. He said that's not been the case in similar cities. 

"We're similar to Denver and St. Louis, both size-wise and demographically," Sanders said. "In St. Louis, they said the same thing - folks will never ride it. But they did. In both cities, ridership exceeded expectations. It's tough to even get a seat." 

Rapid transit is not just about getting people to jobs, Sanders said. It's about economic development. 

"In Denver, 40 new businesses have headquartered there since their rapid rail plan went into effect," Sanders said. "In speaking to Denver officials, they told me those businesses said, ‘yes, we'll come, but we want to be at a rail stop.' In St. Louis, there has been $3 billion in new investment along the rail lines. It's clear that rail stops create islands of economic development around them. It's not like being near a bus stop, where the route can change or the line is eliminated entirely. Most of the lines we're using have been in place since the 1880s. They're not going anywhere." 

Dennis has personally endorsed the plan, as have most other area mayors and chambers of commerce. The plan got nods of approval from the rest of the board, although a formal vote of endorsement was not on the agenda. 

"I like this," said Alderman Leonard Jones. "The way we're doing it, with the existing rail, makes a lot of sense." 

"What can we do to help get this moving?" asked Alderman Joe Runions. 

"Unanimity is important," Sanders said, hinting that eventually, he'd like to see formal resolutions of support from Metro area cities. "At the federal level, they see the Kansas City region as fragmented and disunited. They see it has north versus south, east versus west. Now they're starting to see that we're coming together. That makes a big difference." 

Ferguson said the first study - the Rock Island and I-70 lines - will be complete this summer. The south line study should be complete toward the end of the year. 

"2013 could be the last year we see significant federal funds for this," Sanders said, hinting at what could happen if Republicans take the White House. "This could be our last chance for decades. Remember that there are only two major cities in the United States without comprehensive transit plans. That's us and Detroit. Do we want to be compared to Detroit? The fact of the matter is that this money is going to go somewhere. Through our gas taxes we've paid in billions over the years and we've watched that money go everywhere but here. It's our turn."

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Let the State Races Begin!

The board is set and the players are in place for the 2012 state and federal elections. Missouri's primary for a number of state seats will take place on August 7.

Legal chaos over state redistricting maps created a last-minute round of musical chairs as some candidates changed plans on what seats to file for. Boundaries for all state and federal seats were altered a number of times, and faced many legal challenges. But finally, a map drawn by a bi-partisan commission appointed by Governor Jay Nixon seems to be the final version.

The changes move State Senator Jolie Justus and District 10--which had included South Kansas City and Grandview--to a rural area just north of St. Louis. Justus is not up for reelection this year.

Meanwhile, the new state senate seat for Grandview and much of South KC is District 7. No Republicans filed for the seat. For the Democrats, State Representative Jason Holsman and Jackson County Legislator Crystal Williams have both filed.

Holsman had originally intended to run for re-election in the newly created 37th State Representative seat (which includes all of Grandview). Now, the race includes three Democrats--Grandview Alderman Joe Runions, and two Lee's Summit residents-- former state representative and Mike Sager and consultant Christopher Moreno. The sole Republican vying for the seat is Nola Wood, of Kansas City. Neither Moreno nor Wood lives in the new 37th District, but if elected, they would have two years to move there.

State Rep. Kevin McManus (D) was the sole candidate to file for election to the new District 36 seat.

In the 27th District, Hickman Mills School Board President Bonnaye Mims, Bill Clinton Young and Adnan Bayazid--all Democrats--will be on the ballot.

In the 26th District, only Democrat Gail McCann Beatty filed.

For the 25th District, Democrats Jeremy Lafaver and Chris Miller will face off, and Sally Miller and Joshua Judy will be on the August ballot for the Republicans.

Filing for the House of Representatives seat for the new 56th District, which includes Martin City, are Patty Johnson (D), of Raymore, and Chris Molendorp (R) of Belton.

In addition to the state senate and state house, the upcoming election will include our U.S. House of Representative seat, one U.S. Senate seat, and Missouri's top state jobs - governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer and attorney general.

Incumbent U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver II (D), who represents the KC area, is being challenged by a field of four Republicans - Jason Green of Raytown; Jacob Turk of Lee's Summit; Jerry Nolte of Gladstone; and Ron Paul Shawd of Lee's Summit.

Incumbent U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D) is being challenged by a wide field of Republicans - Todd Akin, Jerry Beck, Sarah Steelman, John Brunner, Mark Memoly, Mark Patrick Lodes, Robert Poole, and Hector Maldonado. Libertarian Johnathan Dine of Riverside, is also challenging McCaskill.

Incumbent Governor Jay Nixon is being challenged from within his own Democratic party by Clay Thunderhawk. Republicans challenging Nixon are John Weiler, David Spence, Bill Randles, and Fred Sauer. One Libertarian candidate is running: Jim Higgins.

A slew of candidates is vying for the Lieutenant Governor job. Democrats seeking the seat are Susan Montee, Dennis Weisenburger, Fred Kratky, Becky Lee Plattner, Judy Baker, Sara Lampe, Bill Hass, and Jackie Townes McGee. Republicans running for Lt. Governor are Charles Kullmann, Brad Lager, Peter Kinder, and Mike Carter. Matthew Copple is running as a Libertarian; Cynthia Davis is running for the Constitution Party.

Democrats hoping to be the new Secretary of State are Jason Kander and MD Rabbi Alam, both of Kansas City. Republican candidates for that position are Scott Rubb, Shane Schoeller, and Bill Stouffer. Cisse Spragins is the Libertarian candidate; Justin Harteris the Constitution Party candidate.

Incumbent Democrat State Treasurer Clint Zweifel is challenged by Republican Cole McNary and Libertarian Sean O'Toole.

Candidates for Attorney General include incumbent Chris Koster (D), Republicans Ed Martin and Adam Lee Warren, and Libertarian Dave Browning. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I-435 Traffic Alert

The right lane of southbound I-435 will be closed from Front Street through the Blue River Bridge through April 20 to construct a new acceleration lane.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Ruskin Student Dies in Car Crash

A Ruskin junior was killed Wednesday during what police are calling a possible drag-race on Hillcrest between 87th and 95th streets.

Alycia Cornelius, who would have turned 18 on April 25th, was riding in a car with a young man who graduated from Ruskin last year. Inside another car was her best friend, another Ruskin junior, who was riding in a car with an unidentified 18 year-old man. The two girls had skipped school, said Hickman Mills C-1 spokesperson John Baccala.

According to witnesses, the cars were speeding north on Hillcrest when the driver of Alycia's car lost control, hitting a tree and killing Alycia. The driver of the car, a 2011 Ruskin graduate, was taken to an area hospital with serious injuries.

The driver of the second car was taken into police custody and released. The incident is under investigation.

School officials say that Alycia was an active, well-liked student at Ruskin High School. Grief counselors are on hand at the school.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

KC Council passes 2012 Budget

 By Seann McAnally
 
It’s official – the Kansas City Council has passed the 2012 budget. 

The $1.4 billion budget includes some $7.6 million in cuts to the Kansas City Fire Department, which was the chief area of controversy at several public budget hearings before citizens’ groups. 

The council on March 29 passed the budget 12-1, with 6th District Councilman John Sharp casting the dissenting vote. 

City Manager Troy Schulte said some 105 firefighters could be laid off, though most cuts would be sought through attrition – early retirements and the like.
Sharp earned a lengthy standing ovation from the audience in the packed council chambers when he said he did not believe cuts should be made to public safety, especially when the plan ads $800,000 to the Mayor’s Office budget and puts some $1 million in a “rainy day fund” that already includes about $39 million. 

“If this occurs, the people laid off will be the newest, with the least seniority,” Sharp said. “But those are the people who are cross-trained to serve on an ambulance or a fire truck. They’re the last ones we want to lose.” 

City Manager Troy Schulte said wherever possible, those cuts will be achieved through attrition – early retirements and the like – though he did not dismiss the idea of outright layoffs. 

Sharp said he was concerned that the cuts would reduce the number of fire fighters per truck from four to three. That means Kansas City will no longer meet minimum standards for service set by the National Firefighters Association. 

“When voters passed the fire sales tax in 2000, part of that was a promise to meet that standard of four people per truck,” Sharp said. 

But 5th District Councilwoman Cindy Circo defended the cuts, pointing out that she well understands the challenges firefighters face because she was once married to a firefighter. 

“Suck it up, do what needs to be done,” Circo said. She also pointed out that almost every department faced some cuts. 

Other cuts included reductions in street resurfacing and parks maintenance. The Leaf and Brush Pickup program loses its funding, so that this Spring will be the last time that happens if the budget is not amended before next year.
“I don’t think that will save money,” Sharp said. “I think we’ll pay more to clean all the leaf and brush out of the catch basins, and have a trashier-looking city.” 

The budget does include raises for the city’s upper management positions, who received no raises over the past three years. Sharp also opposed that plan. 

“I would have preferred that rather than giving raises to our highest-compensated employees, we would have put that money into basic city services,” Sharp said. “It’s true they haven’t gotten raises in three years, but they are very well compensated already.” 

Sharp said he was pleased, however, that funding remained in place for the KC Community Garden program, and that the Human Relations Department was saved as its own department – Schulte had proposed that it be folded into the Mayor’s office. 

“That department fights hard for minority and women-owned businesses,” Sharp said. “If it had been demoted, it would have lost a lot of clout.” 

Mayor Sly James said he was pleased the council made the tough decision.
“This…represents a good budget,” he said, “despite the fact that it taxes all departments and forces us to get by with a lot less money.”