Thursday, December 20, 2018

Grandview alum keeps his wheels spinning despite disease

by Brent Kalwei

Since the age of 13, Doug Bolton has dealt with symptoms of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT), a neuromuscular disorder. CMT has paralyzed him from his knees to his toes, and from his elbows to his fingertips. However, Bolton’s disorder has not taken away his ability to fulfill his love for competing in sports.

Bolton, 41, is a 1996 Grandview High School graduate who has pushed his body to the limit by competing in a number of athletic activities. He has competed in triathlons, including the Capital of Texas Triathlon, a national event for para-athletes, which Bolton raced against athletes who qualified for the Paralympics.

“I got to race, and see how I compared to other athletes similar to me,” he said. “I was in the pool, I was running, and on my bike every day for a year working my butt off.”

Bolton occasionally uses a wheelchair in his personal life. He also wears a device called an ankle foot orthotic (AFO) to help him walk. With Bolton’s condition, he can become fatigued by overexerting.  Without his leg braces, he can walk up to about 500 feet before getting tired, adding that his braces allow him to walk about a mile without feeling completely fatigued.

Over the years, CMT has progressed to the point where it has affected Bolton’s ability to work. He said he can still write, but added that it’s difficult to type.

Bolton loves biking so much that he participated in Biking Across Kansas (BAK) seven times. BAK is an eight-day bicycle tour across the Sunflower State.

He has also taken part in Ride the Rockies, a six-day cross state tour of Colorado. Bolton still enjoys
occasionally riding his bike about 100 miles on the Katy Trail from Pleasant Hill to Windsor. With no feeling below his knees, riding a bicycle is a challenge for Bolton.

“This affects the power that I have going uphill,” he said. “I cannot stand safely. I have to be careful  on how hard I push myself, so I don’t break down the muscles further.”

Bolton’s feet are clipped into foot pedals while riding his bicycle.

“If I don’t have pedals that keep my foot in place, my feet just flop off,” he said.

Bolton also enjoys swimming. He competed on the Grandview swim team from 1993-1996.

“Swimming has always been something that I’ve done to help me stay competitive, and also to keep my health up,” he said.

Bolton has also competed in cyclocross, which is raced on a circuit spanning one to two miles.
“You’re in the grass, in the mud and in the rocks. You have to dismount and climb hills and jump over barriers,” Bolton said.

In October 2017, Bolton made the decision to participate in his first team sport activity. He joined the Kansas City Revolution Wheelchair Rugby Club, playing games at the Hy-Vee Center, formerly known as Kemper Arena.

“Since day one, he has always been a hard worker,” said Brad Hudspeth, a KC Revolution player/coach. “He’s done a lot of training with head coach Tony Durham and me, outside of just our one practice a week to really help himself get in rugby shape.”

Hudspeth added that Bolton brings a positive attitude to the team.

“If you’re having a bad game or not liking how the weekend is going as far as your own personal play, he is always there to tell you that you are doing a good job,” Hudspeth said. “He may also point out what he sees that you can be working on.”

Bolton’s interest in the sport began after meeting a man at a bike store, who was getting a tire changed on his wheelchair rugby chair.

“I started asking questions,” Bolton said.

He instantly fell in love with wheelchair rugby after deciding to give the sport a try.

“Playing the game requires every ounce of my ability and brain function,” he said. “It is the most rewarding thing that I’ve ever had when I get the ball, do something right, and we score.”

According to Bolton, players who participate in the sport have disabilities such as a spinal cord injury, amputations or neurological disorders. Although traditional rugby and wheelchair rugby share a similar name, the two sports are quite different.

“The only similarity between rugby and wheelchair rugby is the aggressiveness,” Bolton said. “It’s 100 percent effort the entire time. Think of soccer, think of hockey and think of basketball when it comes to wheelchair rugby. There is a lot of the same strategy in comparison to those sports.”

Bolton said each wheelchair rugby chair costs $5,000 to $10,000. He raised about $1,000 to buy his and paid for the rest out of pocket.

“I also sold a bunch of my personal belongings to buy this wheelchair to be able to play,” he said. “I made some sacrifices to play.”

The Kansas City Revolution used money raised to play in a national tournament called the Wheelchair Rugby Metal and Muscle Tournament from Friday, December 7 through Sunday, December 9, in Houston, Texas. Bolton only played a few games, but he was proud of getting the opportunity to compete on the national stage.

“It allowed me to be validated for all the training I did over the last year,” Bolton said.

He enjoys participating in wheelchair rugby, because the sport allows him to be around other people with disabilities.

“It’s just a pure joy to get them out on the floor and let them hit someone. The smile is something amazing,” he said. “It’s like the very first time you tackle someone playing a football game.”

One of Bolton’s favorite memories of the sport came in his first practice with the Revolution.

“At the end of practice, one of the big guys and I started at opposite ends and hit each other at midcourt,” he said. “That was my addiction point.”

Bolton’s eagerness to compete has allowed him to travel to new places and meet many para-athletes along the way. He likes hearing stories about how other para-athletes deal with their disabilities and he enjoys sharing his story. Bolton urges others with disabilities to never give up on their dream of playing sports.

“If you’re motivated after an accident, and if you are willing to put in the time and effort, it’s going to be rewarding,” he said. “Going and pushing your boundary, and learning what you can actually do to play a sport are huge.”

Bolton is always looking forward to his next athletic challenge. His goal in the next year or two is to compete in the Redman half Ironman Aquabike event in Oklahoma, which is a 1.2 mile swim and a 56-mile bike ride.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Grandview McDonald’s owner retires, restaurant sold

by Mary Wilson

Back in 1988, young entrepreneur Ty Yano opened his first McDonald’s restaurant in Grandview, Missouri, after moving to the area from California. Since that time, Yano has acquired a dozen more restaurants, and has sold a countless number of hamburgers and French fries to the communities surrounding his stores.

Believing in promotion from within, Yano has provided employment and advancement opportunities for his crew. Many began their careers under Yano’s direction, working their way up to management positions in the company.

“So did I,” said Yano. “I worked my way up, too.”

In recognition of owning and operating the McDonald’s restaurant in Grandview for 30 years, Mayor Leonard Jones and the Board of Aldermen presented Yano with a proclamation during their meeting on Tuesday, November 27. As he was preparing for retirement and more time to enjoy his family, Yano sold each of his restaurants.

“Thirty years have gone by very, very quickly,” said Yano. “I understand this thanking, but I’m the one who should be thanking the city. They accepted me thirty years ago and with that one store, I now have thirteen. It's a blessing.”

“Ty has been very instrumental here in Grandview,” said Jones. “Of the 13 McDonald’s restaurants he owned, Grandview McDonald’s on Blue Ridge was his first. Because of the success of that one, he was able to open up 12 more, which is a blessing by itself.”

Over the last three decades, Yano has been a generous community supporter, with financial donations going toward many area nonprofits including the Grandview Education Foundation and Grandview Assistance Program.  He has provided support for Music on Main and Harry’s Hay Days, to name a few.

“We want to say thank you for all you’ve done and, if you know anything about Ty, you know he’s been very faithful in helping support the community,” said Jones. “Ty has given back to the community over and over again.”

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Creators of impactful fundraiser in Hickman Mills honored

by Mary Wilson,

The Hickman Mills Educational Foundation recognized two outstanding alums on Friday, November 2, at their annual gala fundraiser. Mark Launiu, a 2007 graduate of Hickman Mills High School, and AbdulRasheed Yahaya, a 2006 graduate from Ruskin High School, teamed up to host a basketball fundraiser last August called “Play It Forward,” in which former Hickman Mills and Ruskin students competed, raising funds for school supplies.

Launiu went on to graduate from Longview and attended Kansas State University. He is cofounder and co-owner of MADE Urban Apparel, and is also the founder of Kritiq Fashion Show in Kansas City. Yahaya also attended Kansas State, where he studied Computer Information Systems. He is the owner of Local Legends Gaming.

As a child, Launiu moved to California from Hawaii, and ended up in Kansas City by accident when an aunt from Indiana said she was tired and made a pit-stop with the trailer.
“’What do you think about moving to Kansas City?’ she asked. So, here I am, right in front of you in Kansas City,” said Launiu. “I went to Dobbs Elementary School, Ervin Middle School, and graduated from Hickman Mills.”

His clothing company, MADE Urban Apparel, recently opened their second location in Kansas City, and his products are carried and sold in retailers internationally. Launiu’s wife is a teacher at Ervin.
“Everything I do is brought right back to this community,” said Launiu. “None of this I would have been able to accomplish if it wasn’t for this district.”

Yahaya attended Symington Elementary, Smith-Hale Middle School, and graduated from Ruskin.
“Mark and I met briefly at K-State, and it’s crazy how the world works and we’ve circled back around and get closer and closer,” said Yahaya.

His company, Local Legends Gaming, hosts a slew of competitive games all around the Kansas City area. It began with a mobile gaming truck one year ago, and Yahaya is currently in the middle of a 5000-square-foot build-out of a gaming center, opening in mid-December in Westport. His wife also works in education, and is an administrator at Longview Community College.

“This idea Mark had really hit home for me,” said Yahaya. “Being a product of the Hickman Mills School District, it is really great to be part of something that allows me to give back. Year after year, teachers reach in their own pockets to provide for their students. That’s the reason I wanted to be a part of this. Even if I couldn’t fork it out of my own pocket, I can use my resources to generate something with an impact.”

“Play It Forward” was inspired by Launiu’s wife, who had a DonorsChoose funding page asking for help with getting students in the Hickman Mills district what they need to be successful in the classroom. Each time, Launiu paid each project off to give back to the community he was raised in. He then decided he would like to do something for the district on a bigger scale and make a larger impact.

“I wanted to help out every teacher in the district,” said Launiu. “If my wife needed help, I was sure everyone needed help. I know what it’s like growing up in south Kansas City and being very limited.”
The charity game raised enough money to fill around 300 book bags with supplies, which were distributed at the beginning of the school year to students from all schools in the district.

“I alone can’t change the perception of what people think south Kansas City is,” said Launiu. “But, I want the change to start in the classrooms.”

Launiu and Yahaya intend to make the “Play It Forward” charity basketball game an annual event.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Missouri girl gets a taste of local politics

by Mary Wilson 

Mayors across the state of Missouri are showing their sweet side as one five-year-old girl invites each of them to meet her for an unforgettable treat. Taylor Duncan, the “almost six-year-old,” as she’d tell you, from Waynesville, is on a mission to meet every mayor in Missouri while learning about each town and enjoying some ice cream along the way.

On Saturday, October 13, Taylor, her mother and younger siblings, visited Grandview Mayor Leonard Jones, her 116th mayoral ice cream visit, to be exact. The idea came about when Taylor, who is homeschooled, was studying the state and learned that the ice cream cone originated in Missouri. So, she set a goal to have an ice cream cone with every mayor in the state.

“It’s a really delicious idea,” she said through a big bite of her rainbow sherbet.

Taylor toured the Truman Farm Home before heading over to Topsy’s with Mayor Jones for their special treat. There, she also met Alderman Damon Randolph, and was excited to ask questions of both elected officials. Randolph, with bubblegum ice cream, and Jones, with his vanilla swirled with fudge and peanuts, answered questions from Taylor like why they decided to get into local politics, the biggest challenges, and what their favorite thing about living in Grandview is.

When asked which mayor has been her favorite so far, Taylor responded, “Mommy asked me to not answer that question.” Her mom said that she’s supposed to answer the question differently than that, but Mayor Jones is convinced that he’s the favorite.

While she couldn’t answer which mayor she likes best, cotton candy ice cream is the flavor she chooses most. She also loves orange sherbet. Following their treats at Topsy’s, Jones, Randolph and the Duncan family headed over to City Hall. There, Taylor was impressed with the size of Grandview’s municipal government building. She also sat at the mayor’s desk and played at Freedom Park.

After Grandview, the family was headed to Oak Grove. Taylor’s trek across the state is documented by her mom on a Facebook page. Follow her journey at Show Me Ice Cream.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Aldermen approve a number of ordinances to finish out Grandview’s fiscal year

Splash park and shooting range to become reality; shopping center revitalization receives CID; outer roads to eventually convert to two-way

by Mary Wilson

With sixteen ordinances to get through in one meeting, the Grandview Board of Aldermen had a stacked agenda before them for their regular session on Tuesday, September 25. In just over an hour, all 16 ordinances were approved, but not without opposition on a handful of items from one alderman.

“Each issue I voted no on is the same issue that I voiced concerns and opposition to during all previous work sessions,” said Ward 3 Alderman John Maloney. “Though, knowing that I am in the minority doesn't stop me from voting no on any issue that I have serious concern or opposition to. Our responsibility as aldermen is not to be a rubber stamp, but to make the best decisions for the future of our city. Luckily, the Board usually sees eye-to-eye and we always treat one another with respect, but I believe we can all do a better job saying no and asking for more responsibility and accountability from staff and developers.”

Maloney’s first opposition of the evening had to do with the construction of the city’s newest splash park, which will be located adjacent to The View community center. Grandview citizens approved a no tax increase bond vote in 2014 for the splash park for $2.25 million. The project had been tabled after the original bid came in over budget. Mega Industries will be responsible for construction in the amount not to exceed $1,859,653. The project will include spray features, playground with slides, site furnishings, cameras, and fencing.

“We have a very limited amount of money, and I think we’re doing a very poor investment by putting the Splash Park next to The View,” said Maloney. “I think this is being used as an excuse to raise membership rates at the community center, and we’ll essentially be competing with ourselves because we have a free Splash Park on the other side of the city. This goes against what the parks commission and staff are wanting.”

With Maloney’s no vote, the ordinance still passed 4-1 (Alderman Sandy Kessinger was absent from the meeting). Ward 3 Alderman Jim Crain stated that while the location of the splash park is not preferable to him, he is simply going along with the majority on his yes vote.

Maloney also disagreed with the two ordinances on the agenda that would begin the process of converting Grandview’s I-49 outer roadways to two-way traffic. While both passed 4-1, Maloney said that he was not in favor of the conversion project partnership with the Missouri Department of Transportation and the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission

“I’ve voted no on the outer roads before,” said Maloney. “Grandview lost a lot of its economic competitiveness years ago, and most of the businesses that have moved out don’t even exist anymore. Everyone wants to blame Grandview’s loss on the outer roads. We just didn’t do a very good job selling ourselves while neighboring communities offered so many incentives to developers and they went elsewhere.”

Finally, Maloney also opposed the petition to establish a Community Improvement District (CID) for the Grandview Village Shopping Center, located on Main Street. The property owners propose to use the CID as an economic redevelopment tool to upgrade the center, demolish a vacant building (former Econo Lube), and build a next-generation Dairy Queen Restaurant (DQ Grill and Chill). It will impose a one percent sales tax upon all retail sales within the CID, all proceeds to be used for the redevelopment project.

“I will not be supporting this tonight,” said Maloney. “I find it very hard to support an owner who has built and maintained this property from start to finish and has allowed it to become in certain array to be considered blighted, and then reward them with a CID. I think that sets a very bad tone for our city, in which all our property owners are allowed to just let their property become in disarray and then ask for a CID.”

Despite 4-1 approval, Ward One Alderman Damon Randolph expressed concern that shop owners and managers didn’t seem to have any knowledge of the CID process for their buildings nor had any communication with the property owners.

“I know several people up there, and from what the current tenants say, they haven’t been told anything,” said Randolph. “They read about all these improvements happening at the center in the Advocate.”

The project attorney said that he was surprised to hear that the tenants were unaware, but will ensure communication happens going forward.

The first of the unanimously-passed ordinances included the construction of the shooting range to be installed next to the Grandview Ball Park, off of Arrington Road. Grandview citizens approved a no tax increase bond vote in 2014 for the shooting range in the amount of $750,000. An additional $250,000 was secured from the Land Water Conservation Fund, along with an additional $12,300 from earned interest on the bond. TRS Range Services, out of Idaho, will be responsible for construction, including handicap parking and walkways, shooters briefing building and storage shed, the range, a target turning system and fencing.

With the project estimated to be completed in the spring of 2019, Grandview Police Chief Charles Iseman said that they plan to offer an education along with the opening to make patrons aware of the expectations and what will and will not be allowed at the public shooting range.

“This is a new adventure for us, so there definitely needs to be an education piece to it,” said Iseman.

Also approved at the meeting were the installation of a new roof at City Hall; a one-year extension to the Metropolitan Area Regional Radio System (MARRS) user agreement for all city radios along with software support for the Response CAD system, Police RMS and other public safety systems; an increase in charges for ambulance services ($900 for residents and $1050 for non-residents), an increase in the first-aid rate to $250 and an increase in the mileage charge to $14 per mile; and an ordinance to begin use of an electronic grant management system with the Federal Railroad Administration for the Blue Ridge Boulevard overpass replacement project. 

Grandview High School freshmen Taj Manning and Cierra Smith recently competed
on the international level at the first ever Junior NBA World Championships
in August. For their accomplishments, Grandview Mayor Leonard Jones issued a
proclamation during the September 25 Board of Aldermen meeting in recognition
of their outstanding individual efforts, team play, sportsmanship and success in
their sports and academic careers now and in the future.
“On behalf of the Board of Aldermen and the citizens of Grandview, I hereby
congratulate the Central Boys and Girls teams for their Junior NBA World Championship,”

said Jones.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Kander excuses himself from Kansas City Mayor race

About four months ago, I contacted the VA to get help. It had been about 11 years since I left Afghanistan as an Army Intelligence Officer, and my tour over there still impacted me every day. So many men and women who served our country did so much more than me and were in so much more danger than I was on my four-month tour. I can’t have PTSD, I told myself, because I didn’t earn it.
But, on some level, I knew something was deeply wrong, and that it hadn’t felt that way before my deployment. After 11 years of this, I finally took a step toward dealing with it, but I didn’t step far enough.
I went online and filled out the VA forms, but I left boxes unchecked – too scared to acknowledge my true symptoms. I knew I needed help and yet I still stopped short. I was afraid of the stigma. I was thinking about what it could mean for my political future if someone found out. 
That was stupid, and things have gotten even worse since.
By all objective measures, things have been going well for me the past few months. My first book became a New York Times Bestseller in August. Let America Vote has been incredibly effective, knocking on hundreds of thousands of doors and making hundreds of thousands of phone calls. I know that our work is making a big difference. And last Tuesday, I found out that we were going to raise more money than any Kansas City mayoral campaign ever has in a single quarter. But instead of celebrating that accomplishment, I found myself on the phone with the VA’s Veterans Crisis Line, tearfully conceding that, yes, I have had suicidal thoughts. And it wasn’t the first time.
I’m done hiding this from myself and from the world. When I wrote in my book that I was lucky to not have PTSD, I was just trying to convince myself. And I wasn’t sharing the full picture. I still have nightmares. I am depressed.
Instead of dealing with these issues, I’ve always tried to find a way around them. Most recently, I thought that if I could come home and work for the city I love so much as its mayor, I could finally solve my problems. I thought if I focused exclusively on service to my neighbors in my hometown, that I could fill the hole inside of me. But it’s just getting worse.
So after 11 years of trying to outrun depression and PTSD symptoms, I have finally concluded that it’s faster than me. That I have to stop running, turn around, and confront it.
I finally went to the VA in Kansas City yesterday and have started the process to get help there regularly. To allow me to concentrate on my mental health, I’ve decided that I will not be running for mayor of Kansas City. I truly appreciate all the support so many people in Kansas City and across the country have shown me since I started this campaign. But I can’t work on myself and run a campaign the way I want to at the same time, so I’m choosing to work on my depression.   
I’ll also be taking a step back from day-to-day operations at Let America Vote for the time being, but the organization will continue moving forward. We are doing vital work across the country to stop voter suppression and will keep doing so through November and beyond.
Having made the decision not to run for mayor, my next question was whether I would be public about the reason why. I decided to be public for two reasons: First, I think being honest will help me through this. And second, I hope it helps veterans and everyone else across the country working through mental health issues realize that you don’t have to try to solve it on your own. Most people probably didn’t see me as someone that could be depressed and have had PTSD symptoms for over decade, but I am and I have. If you’re struggling with something similar, it’s OK. That doesn’t make you less of a person.
I wish I would have sought help sooner, so if me going public with my struggle makes just one person seek assistance, doing this publicly is worth it to me. The VA Crisis Line is 1-800-273-8255, and non-veterans can use that number as well.  
I’ll close by saying this isn’t goodbye. Once I work through my mental health challenges, I fully intend to be working shoulder to shoulder with all of you again. But I’m passing my oar to you for a bit. I hope you’ll grab it and fight like hell to make this country the place we know it can be.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Advocate earns first-place awards in Better Newspaper Contest

As part of the annual convention, the results of Missouri Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest were announced on Saturday, September 15. The Jackson County Advocate brought home some awards. We received:
First Place - Best Sports Photograph - Brent Kalwei
First Place - Best Sports Feature Story - Brent Kalwei
First Place - Best Feature Story - Mary Wilson
Third Place - Best Government Coverage - Mary Wilson
Third Place - Best Story About History - Mary Wilson
Honorable Mention - Best Business Story - Mary Wilson
Wilson and Kalwei are pictured above receiving their awards with Missouri Press Association’s Second Vice President Trevor Vernon.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Aldermen to consider updating registration of rental properties ordinance

by Mary Wilson

Dozens of property owners turned out for a public hearing on rental homes at last week’s Board of Aldermen meeting in Grandview.

An ordinance proposing amendments to the Grandview Code of Laws that deal specifically with certain provisions of residential rental properties will be voted on by the Board of Aldermen at an upcoming meeting, but not before a handful of landlords put in their two-cents worth regarding registration and inspection of rental properties in the city.

The City of Grandview, in 2009, established a registration ordinance for rental properties, providing the city with detailed ownership and point-of-contact information for these properties regarding issues such as exterior maintenance, building codes, nuisance abatements and general property management. Due to a number of factors, most notably the economic conditions and staffing restrictions, the City of Grandview did not actively enforce the rental registration ordinance. In 2017, the Board of Aldermen asked for a review of that ordinance and for staff to come up with ways to enforce the provisions already on the books. As a result, staff is proposing amendments to the current rental property registration ordinance.

“Most of the changes are definitions, like adding a definition for the city, updating the definition for ‘owner’ to match the definition in the building code, adding a definition for non-owner occupied, clarifying the registration period for the first year, and updating the fee schedule,” said Billie Hufford, City of Grandview Building Inspector and Planner. “It’s a tiered pricing scale of $8-12, depending on how many units an individual has.”

One resident spoke during public comments on the hearing on behalf of support for the registration of rental properties. She stated that near the home she owns, she has seen five other homes become rentals and is concerned that they may be owned by absentee landlords.

“I am pleased to see that the board is considering a registration of rental properties,” said Grandview resident Ann Heinzler. “We are a community of homeowners and tenants, and I would like to be sure that people who are tenants and those landlords who own the properties are all treated in a fair and equitable manner. The first step is to register what properties are rentals.”

Several property owners spoke out against the ordinance, however most seemed concerned with upcoming inspections of their properties. At this time, the Board of Aldermen will only be voting on the registration of rental properties, with discussions on inspections to come at a later date. According to Mayor Leonard Jones, at that time, another public hearing will take place for input regarding that process.

After the latest string of gun violence in the City of Grandview, Holiday Inn Express has suffered financial loss due to issues in the high rental neighborhood directly behind where the hotel sits.

“There’s been shootouts over there at the rental properties behind us, at Greenfield,” said Jovana Johnson, a representative from Holiday Inn Express hotel in Grandview. “We have had several bust-ins from our cars. We lost major accounts, thousands of dollars lost because it wasn’t safe. One bullet went into one of our guest rooms, ricocheted inside the room and hit inside the mattress where the guest’s head was. They didn’t know, our housekeeper found it the next day. I’ve been at that property for six years, and there’s always been an issue.”

Johnson said that due to the violence stemming from Greenfield Village, her employees don’t feel safe coming to work. Her concern with the ordinance is that the city ensures landlords are doing proper background screenings of their potential tenants. She added that the ordinance seemed to have some racial undertones to it.

“I’ve heard comments from CEOs, not necessarily mine, but that it’s Section 8 people that’s the issue. If it’s put out, there needs to be a way that there’s no segregation, that it’s fair,” said Johnson. “I see both sides, I see the businesses that are there, because I’m losing money, and then I see my friends over there who, some of them, might not even make the cut if the registration is too hard.”

Of the landlords who spoke against the proposed ordinance, only one stated that they personally lived in the City of Grandview. Their concerns ranged from potential financial burden due to additional fees and potentially raising rents to cover them, tenants who don’t take care of the homes they rent, and what the potential inspection process will look like if and when it is implemented.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Grandview Aldermen to consider turning Municipal Court over to County

by Mary Wilson,

Municipal courts in the State of Missouri must now follow rules which have been in place for quite some time, but previously were not enforced, according to Grandview Municipal Court Judge Ronald E. Johnson. With the passage of Senate Bills 5 and 572, the state has begun to take a closer look at court procedures and ordinances; and therefore, it has been determined that the Grandview Municipal Court is doing some things incorrectly.

“The State of Missouri and Missouri’s Supreme Court really hadn’t paid a lot of attention to municipal courts,” said Johnson. “County and state courts have been using these mandates forever. Since the municipal court is part of the same superior system, we are to adhere to the same principles.”

One such principle is that the municipal court be separate from city government. In many situations, according to Johnson, the courts were essentially being treated as another department of the city rather than an independent entity. The offices for the Grandview Municipal Court shares space with the city’s finance department, which Johnson said is not in compliance with the Missouri Supreme Court.

“The court has to remain neutral,” said Johnson. “It’s not proper and it doesn’t set a good appearance. We started making the city aware that we needed to change. What I get from them (the city) is that, because of the cost, because of being told what to do, and because of the space that we recommend using, they’d rather just hand us over to someone else rather than be in compliance with the law.”

Johnson and Court Administrator Becky Diederich proposed moving the municipal court offices into what is now the Business Center inside City Hall. It is a two-room area, away from the finance department and would comply with Missouri Supreme Court’s operating standards.

Because Grandview Municipal Court is not in compliance with operating standards, Judge John Torrence, with the Circuit Court of Jackson County, in a letter dated July 11, 2018, will consider all available sanctions to be imposed against the City of Grandview. Torrence requested a response from the City of Grandview by August 3. On that date, City Attorney Joseph Gall responded to Torrence, stating that he has been directed to prepare an ordinance for the Board of Aldermen to consider at its regular meeting on Tuesday, August 14.

“The ordinance will resemble the ordinance passed by the Lake Tapawingo Board of Aldermen on September 7, 2017, an ordinance electing to have municipal ordinance violation cases heard and determined by an Associate Circuit Judge of the Circuit Court of the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit,” Gall’s letter stated. “On Wednesday, August 15, I will advise you of the Board’s decision with respect to the ordinance.”

“Ultimately, if we are not in compliance, the State can shut the court down,” said Johnson. “They’ll be voting on whether to dissolve our court and move our cases to the Associate Circuit Court Judge. As far as I know, Lake Tapawingo is the only other community to have done this. Nobody our size is even considering not having three branches of government but us.”

Grandview’s Municipal Court collects fines and fees associated with traffic and city ordinance violations, and has accounted for roughly $1 million annually in net revenue to the City of Grandview the past two years, with previous years seeing even higher returns. Johnson said that revenues have been down due to the Grandview Police Department’s ticketing numbers decreasing.

“That’s all we do,” said Diederich. “We don’t go out and issue tickets; we don’t collect failure to appear fees because that’s not allowed. We don’t do any of that. Collections of fines and fees are down across the board. There’s a lot of turnover in police departments and it is a statewide issue, not just here. I think we are very proud of the changes we have made to be in compliance.”

Johnson added that they pride themselves on being a citizen-friendly court.

“We’ve got 81 years in Grandview, and now we’ve got someone coming in saying we don’t really need this court and it would be better not having it in our community,” said Johnson. “Instead of building tomorrow’s community here, we’re going backwards. It doesn’t benefit our community.”

If the Grandview Board of Aldermen votes to turn the municipal court over to the circuit court, Johnson said that the city will still have to have a prosecutor and likely a court clerk who will then have to electronically transfer all tickets and violations to the court system. The Associate Circuit would hear the Grandview cases along with all of the other caseload already there.

“That judge would use whatever he believes to be appropriate fines, and the circuit system will only allow 30 days to pay those fines,” said Johnson. “I believe there is a $25 cost to go on a payment plan, which we don’t have here. After 30 days, if you have not paid, it will then be turned over to whatever collection agency they choose. The City of Grandview would not see any part of that money until it is collected, after the circuit court assesses its own costs.”

It is unclear what the proceedings would look like because this is such a new concept for the associate circuit court, according to Johnson. He also feels that the City of Grandview will lose more in revenues than it would take to simply move the court offices as Johnson and Diederich recommended.

While the state ordinance says that a municipality can elect to have a municipal court which the municipality must pay for and provide staff to run, as far as Johnson knows, there is no precedence on who has the authority to shut a municipal court down.

“It’s brand new; no one else is doing this and there’s simply no research done on how this will look,” said Johnson. “Some other judges in the area have offered their help on this because they, too, think this is ridiculous.”

However, the City of Grandview says that these are unfunded mandates and other municipalities across the state have gone the route of transferring their courts or are in the process of doing so. According to Grandview City Administrator Cemal Gungor, there are 235 cities in Missouri whose cases are heard by circuit courts which include those who have historically done so.

“There are a number of other city’s because of what Senate Bill 5 has done, it has made a lot of cities reevaluate where they were, where they are and some of the other opportunities that we don’t know about that could be forthcoming impacting all types of city budgets,” said Grandview Mayor Leonard Jones.

Since the state passed Senate Bill 5, Gall said that Missouri has seen a number of cities transfer their courts to the associate circuit level. While Lake Tapawingo is the only city in Jackson County to do this, there are several in other counties in Missouri who have, including Platte City, Chillicothe and Washington.

The senate bills call for complete separation of municipal court activities, offices and records from city government. Senate Bill 5, specifically, is not settled, and numerous versions are still being circulated around Jefferson City. The bills are also up to the interpretation of whomever has the authority to implement the mandates.

“These unfunded mandates have specific requirements that are costing us money, and when you look at a small budget like ours, it makes us concerned,” said Gungor. “The other concern is that with complete separation, there is no administrative interaction with the court staff.”

While technically court staff are city employees, as they are on city payroll, receive city benefits, and so forth, Gungor said that when issues arise, specifically in the area of human resources, they are on their own. The Missouri Supreme Court has also mandated court automation, said Gall, which requires a new court software system.

“It remains to be seen what costs that might mean for the city,” said Gall. “We’ve been coexisting with the municipal court since 1978 and even before that, and there weren’t any problems or perceived problems until the new mandates came down. The playing field has changed.”

“We don’t know what other unfunded mandates may come out after this. We know what we know today, but, a scary thing for me, is what we don’t know,” said Jones. “What we don’t know is what we need to figure out for tomorrow.”

According to Gungor, 70 percent of the violations heard in Grandview Municipal Court are not residents of Grandview. If the aldermen determine to keep the court in Grandview, city administration will then have to determine what costs will be associated with the mandates and where the money will come from.

“They (Missouri Supreme Court) have made it clear that they want complete separation here,” said Gungor. “If that is what they want, then complete separation it is.”

Ultimately, the Grandview Board of Aldermen will determine what they feel is best suited for the City of Grandview, going forward. A public vote will take place during their regular session on Tuesday, August 14, 7 p.m., at Grandview City Hall.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Voters won’t decide on Jackson County Sheriff Tuesday

by Mary Wilson

The ballots have been printed. The polling places are beginning their setups. But, the candidates for Jackson County Sheriff are breathing a sigh of relief, for now.

On Tuesday, with one week before the upcoming election on August 7, a judge determined the primary for Jackson County Sheriff was not valid. Any votes cast for Sheriff on Tuesday’s election will not be counted, nor will they be used in consideration as democratic and republican party committee’s will appoint their respective candidates for election in November.

With the abrupt resignation of former Sheriff Mike Sharp in April, County Executive Frank White appointed interim Sheriff Darryl Forte’, former KCPD Chief of Police. The interim sheriff appointment is only through the end of the year, and a new sheriff will be sworn in to serve beginning January 1, 2019. This leaves the replacement being chosen by voters in November, based on the candidate provided from each party.

Jackson County provided the following statement regarding the Sheriff’s election:
“The Clerk of the Legislature, who serves as the election authority for candidate filing and calling county elections, asked for the assistance of the County Counselor’s Office in providing a legal opinion regarding the procedure to elect a sheriff to fill the remainder of the sheriff’s unexpired term, starting January 1, 2019. The County Counselor’s Office acknowledged a lack of clarity in the law on this point, but reviewed that law and prior precedent, and determined that the best way to proceed was to open candidate filings for a primary election. However, that determination was taken to court and the court has decided differently. The County will follow the court’s order.”

The judge’s ruling has no effect on other races, including legislature or county executive.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Grandview names local pastor as Civic Leader of the Year

by Mary Wilson

Tom Worstell’s community hats come in many colors, shapes and sizes. He is more than the pastor of Southview Christian Church in Grandview; he serves as a Police Chaplain, volunteers his time with the school district and at community events, and he’s recently been named the City of Grandview’s Civic Leader of the Year.

He grew up in the small Missouri town of Milan, and attended Central College of the Bible in Moberly, with the intention of becoming a youth pastor. After graduating, he landed the job at Southview Christian in Grandview, which has been his church home ever since.

“We’ve been here for over 20 years now,” said Worstell. “Honestly, I’ve not felt like God has called me to go anywhere else yet. I love the people here. I love the community. I don’t know of anywhere else where City Hall, the police and fire department, the parks and the schools and the churches all work together. Everyone wants the best for this city.”

It is that common goal of community betterment that sparked Worstell’s interest in becoming involved in more than just his church. He says that he is blessed to be in a church that not only allows him to be a part of the community, but also encourages and supports him to do so. While he may be the face of the church, he said, it’s the members of Southview Christian who are really doing the work.

“I’ve tried to do some of these same things in other places and in other communities, and it is unique,” said Worstell. “I don’t know where else you’d find what we have here. I love that about Grandview.”

A decade ago, Southview Christian was considering a move out of Grandview, looking at properties in Belton. The church felt like it had hit a point where they were no longer able to build on what they had in Grandview, and so naturally, the community service aspect of the church dropped off significantly.

“We just didn’t do much here for years because we were leaving,” said Worstell. “Then some things changed, we decided we were going to be here, and looking around we thought, ‘if we left, would anyone care or would anyone even notice?’ We knew we had neglected some things. We treated the church like it was a rental home, and this is our ‘home’ home.”

It was then that the church elders, and now Pastor Worstell decided to become more invested in the community, which didn’t happen overnight. He took on the notion that not only is he the pastor of Southview Christian Church, but he’s a pastor of the Grandview community as a whole.

“We had a group of people who said, ‘this is our city,’ and they wanted to be a part of this, too,” he said. “Really things started happening with the revamp of Truman’s Heritage Festival. Once we started going to that and volunteering there, all the connections with other aspects of the city just sort of fell into place.”

Worstell also serves as a chaplain with the Grandview Police Department. He says that the opportunity allows him to see a side of Grandview that he didn’t see before. The chaplains are there to assist officers and fire personnel with whatever they may need assistance with, sometimes being the person who breaks bad news to family or other similar tasks that police may not be trained in handling.

“It helps me see the bigger picture of the city,” said Worstell. “We get to be the light in someone’s darkest day, a lot of times. It’s a way to be a pastor to the city and help in a different way.”

He said it has helped build other connections in the city, with the Pastor’s Alliance being brought back to life between church leaders.

“There’s a lot of overlap, and we see each other a lot,” said Worstell. “We’re in for a penny; we’re in for a pound. Let’s just get involved everywhere.”

Being a chaplain has helped him become a better pastor to his congregation. The police ride-alongs, Worstell said, give him sermon material he wouldn’t otherwise have had.

“After 20 years, it’s just become kind of a natural friendship,” said Worstell. “I spend a lot of time with these people, and when it comes down to it, you are going to help your friends.”

Worstell and his wife, Nikki, have been together for 21 years this fall. Probably his most important job is that of dad to three sons: Thomas, 18, Jonathon, 16, and Timothy, 14; and to his daughter, five-year-old Hope, who was adopted by the family when she was born.

“We had three boys, and honestly, they were super easy. We had it made; it was easy and life was good,” said Worstell. “Then my wife said that she’d always had a dream that we’d have two dark-skinned, curly-haired girls in our family. I thought, ‘why mess this up?’ So, we got a dog.”

Apparently the dog didn’t cut it for Mrs. Worstell, and the family began looking seriously into adoption. After almost a year-and-a-half of not connecting with the right birth mothers, the Worstells received word that a baby girl had been born in Wichita, and if they could get there that night, she would be theirs.

“We were expecting maybe six months of planning time,” said Worstell. “It was literally that fast. Within half an hour, we were driving to Wichita, and we had a baby that night. It was amazing how it all happened.”

The family took out a second mortgage on their house in order to pay for the adoption, but with the help of grants, their church friends and family, the Worstells turned around and paid off the loan in a week.

Worstell was recognized by Grandview Mayor Leonard Jones and the Board of Aldermen on Tuesday, July 24. He received a mayoral proclamation naming him as the City of Grandview’s Civic Leader of the Year.

“I do hereby express the heartfelt appreciation of the citizens of Grandview to Tom on this special occasion,” said Jones. “The Board of Aldermen recognizes Tom as a great ambassador for the city of Grandview, who has given selflessly to this community, sharing his time and talents to contribute to the betterment of the community.”

Friday, June 29, 2018

Flee. Fortify. Fight.

How to respond to an active shooter situation

by Mary Wilson

As part of the hospital’s ongoing commitment to community education, St. Joseph Medical Center last Thursday hosted the Kansas City Police Department for free active shooter training.

KCPD Sergeant Steve Schramm presented to around 50 participants, focusing on recognizing and protecting oneself from an active shooter situation in the workplace or in other public settings like malls, stores, restaurants and churches. Schramm has worked for KCPD since 1995, and has worked with tactical response teams to train his department on active shooters.

“Six or seven years ago, charter schools in Kansas City reached out to us wanting some type of plan,” said Schramm. “They needed some type of guidance for active shooter response. We put a presentation together that has since evolved three or four times. At this point, I now give this presentation about a half dozen times a week to businesses, schools, and churches, you name it. Anyone that asks for it, we’ll come out and provide at least an hour-long training.”

The department started doing active shooter drills for the charter and public schools to help develop their plan, which is no longer offered to the public. City Hall, the health and water departments, and other Kansas City organizations also receive the shooter drill trainings.  

“There are numerous programs out there for active shooter training,” said Schramm. “They’re all pretty much the same. They might be called something different, but I guarantee 90 percent of them are identical with maybe a different twist.”

Schramm said that while most of the time people know what to do for a fire or tornado drill, there has not been formal training for an active shooter situation. He added that each individual has to take ownership when it comes to active shooter training, because if the situation arises, no one will be telling everyone what to do or how to respond.

“You have to know what your options are,” said Schramm. “Our program is 100 percent options-based. At the beginning, schools and businesses used to just strictly have a lockdown. While that is great and very effective, it misses some key elements.”

KCPD focuses on Flee. Fortify. Fight. for their active shooter training. Similar to a lockdown, it provides an option to escape from a threat. The definition of an active shooter, according to Schramm, is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined or populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearms and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly.

“These take place in 10 minutes or less, but more often they occur in less than five minutes,” said Schramm. “It can happen in two to three minutes, depending on where you’re at. The trend right now is more open-air environments or venues. There’s a lot of concern with churches, and that’s a valid concern. But the reality of active shooters inside churches is very small.”

About 25 percent of active shooter instances are happening in school environments, according to Schramm. Half are occurring in the business world, including stores and restaurants or businesses that are not open to pedestrian traffic.

The number-one option, according to Schramm, is to flee, or run away from the threat of an active shooter, if possible. If fleeing is not an option, fortifying, or hiding in a safe, secure location where one can barricade oneself is best.

“We all do the same thing. We walk through the entrance of a building, and we walk out the same way we came in,” said Schramm. “We walk through the front door, and that’s our exit.”

Schramm said that it is important to know where the exits are in every building one enters. Familiarizing oneself inside of a structure can provide for easy and quick exits, which could potentially save lives. In restaurants, specifically, Schramm added that there is always an exit door through the kitchen.

If fleeing or fortifying are not options, Schramm said that the only thing left to do is to fight, or disengage, the threat. Using whatever is available as a weapon or distraction, including chairs, aerosol sprays, or objects that can be thrown, the goal is to stop the active shooter from creating additional harm.

“Suspects will not stop until they are stopped, run out of ammunition, or are faced with direct law enforcement,” said Schramm. “Sometimes they then commit suicide. The most important thing to take from any training you may have is to always be aware of your surroundings, and listen to your intuition. If something is telling you that things aren’t right, get out of the situation and seek help.”

The Kansas City Police Department offers their active shooter training through its Crisis Intervention Team. To find out more information about the training, contact the department at 816-234-5000. St. Joseph Medical Center provides free community education classes regularly. To find out more information, visit, or follow the hospital on social media.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

#WeAreGrandview recognized for changing community conversation

by Mary Wilson

From congratulating state champions to building comradery between neighbors, a new social media campaign in Grandview has gained popularity, and is receiving regional recognition.

We Are Grandview has been seen on Facebook and Twitter (#WeAreGrandview), in newsletters and on mailers, in print and online, and was even used as the theme for the Harry’s Hay Days parade. What began as a strategic marketing campaign to try and put a positive spin on Grandview’s image has become a clear message of change and evolution in the community.

A few years ago, the Grandview C-4 School District began a communication audit, focusing on how the district is perceived in and out of the Grandview community.

“For the district, one of the biggest findings that came out of the audit is that we were missing out on branding,” said Public Relations Coordinator Sheba Clarke. “This was huge and something that we really needed to pay attention to.”

At that time, after a conversation with some City of Grandview staff, Clarke discovered that the city was also thinking of Grandview’s perception and how to change it. Meetings began to take place to figure out how the district and the city could work together to put a brand on Grandview.

“We were learning that the perception was not our reality,” said Clarke, “not necessarily from people in the community, but more from folks outside. We figured that one voice, one message, was stronger than just a school district brand or a city brand. While we all have our own distinction, we all want to push the same message of who we are.”

We Are Grandview was born out of a cheer. Clarke said that during a high school pep rally, varsity cheerleaders chanted “we are Grandview” to help students get excited about an upcoming game.

“It just seemed so prideful,” said Clarke. “That’s what started the hashtag and the We Are Grandview slogan.”

Clarke added that she often hears from people outside of the community who may have a negative view of Grandview based on untrue information. From a city standpoint, one of the biggest challenges that Communications Manager Valarie Poindexter has is surrounding that perception and image.

“This is such a proud community,” said Poindexter. “It’s a beautiful community, but we have to overcome that challenge. I was immediately on-board with this because something has to be done. We have to be able to take back that narrative and we will tell the story.”

The brand provides residents and the community an avenue to express pride in the Grandview community. Clarke said that she has seen the We Are Grandview social media conversation from people all over the country.

“It really touches your heart when you see all of these great things, one after the other, these great stories from Grandview when you search We Are Grandview on social media,” said Poindexter.

The two decided to enter their We Are Grandview campaign in the Social Media Club of Kansas City’s annual AMPS awards, which was established four years ago to recognize outstanding social campaigns from brands, nonprofits, governments and educational institutions in the region. With no budget, no social media campaign software, and with a brand just underway, Poindexter and Clarke weren’t sure they even had a shot for last year’s deadline, and thought they may have more material to enter for their 2018 campaign.

“It has already begun to change the conversation,” said Clarke. “We definitely know that there is still a lot of work to be done, but we’re happy with where it’s going.”

They say their next hurdle is continuing the momentum they have created, and maintaining a positive brand message in the community.

“We Are Grandview makes a statement,” said Clarke. “I’d like it to be a story. When I think of ‘We Are Grandview,’ I think of people like Jane Bryan, who grew up in Grandview, who gives back time and time again on committees, in our schools, taught our kids and still very much involved in who we are. I think of residents like her. I think of the normal, everyday person who truly loves our community and does whatever they can do to give back.”

"We Are Grandview" is a story. It is a collective voice that defines who Grandview is as a community. It puts a face on the people who live, work, and have fun in Grandview. It is redefining what makes Grandview unique, and creating a positive buzz surrounding the community.

“If you come to Grandview, our hope is that you have gotten a good glimpse into who we are by the time you leave,” said Clarke. “That’s what this is all about.”

The We Are Grandview social media campaign was recognized as a gold winner on Tuesday night at the AMPS Awards Ceremony, held at Boulevard Brewery in Kansas City.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Young entrepreneur creates her own future path

by Mary Wilson

With graduation now behind them, members of the class of 2018 are likely preparing to head off to college. Things like dorm room bedspreads, microwavable meals and PC versus Apple have taken priority as they set out to begin adulthood. However, one young graduate has her sights on things a little out of the ordinary for someone her age.

Kansas City native Arielle Nash, who spent the last four years at an elite private school, is ditching status quo and paving her way straight into entrepreneurship rather than heading off to a university for the next two, four or more years.

“My mom went to law school, and she has massive amounts of student loans that she is still paying,” said Nash. “I’ve always been sort of an outlier. Growing up the way I did, being exposed to different things, I always had this entrepreneurial spirit thanks to my dad. I’ve always wanted to do my own thing, be my own boss.”

Nash’s father, former Kansas City Councilman-turned real estate developer and economic development consultant Troy Nash, has been  a major influence in his daughter’s life and ambition, exposing her to city government and the world of corporations at a young age.

She has heard a lot of skepticism about her decision to forgo college, but she is determined to be taken seriously in the corporate world. One of the factors in Nash’s decision was the debt associated with a traditional four-year degree.

“I went to Pembroke Hill, and it is assumed that everybody goes to college right after graduation,” said Nash. “It’s a well-established feeder school for the Ivy Leagues. But, doing my research and knowing the things that my parents went through, I found there is nearly $1 trillion of student debt in my generation. I would be a part of that, and I didn’t want to start out my life at a financial disadvantage. I didn’t want the stress of making such a big financial decision when I’m so young.”

“You don’t know what you want to do when you’re 16, 17, 18 years old, that’s why people change their majors all the time,” said Nash. “I don’t want to spend money, time, effort and energy on something that may change.”

Spending her childhood seeing women in power has inspired Nash from the beginning. Women like former Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes, Ellen Darling, who runs the company her dad works for, and Janice Howroyd, the first African-American woman with a $1 billion business, have impacted and motivated Nash to pursue her dreams.

“I spent some time with Janice a few weeks ago in Detroit,” said Nash. “Being around her and seeing her entrepreneurial spirit, I thought, ‘why can’t I do something like this?’ I can do this too. These are ordinary women who have led extraordinary lives through their work ethic and dedication.”

Her company, Arielle Marie Nash Enterprises, serves as a consultant to corporations, nonprofits and other organizations to reach the millennial population. She works with companies to help employers attract and retain workforce, and then helping with branding, marketing and selling their goods to the younger generation.

“I am a millennial, and I know what millennials want,” said Nash. “What I’ve found is that others who are doing consulting with businesses are not millennials themselves, which is pretty funny to me. So I saw there was a gap, along with the generational gap in the workforce, and I can help people in management positions talk to and relate to the millennial population.”

Through the influence of her father, Nash is also interested in real estate development. Most recently, however, she published a book, Mixed Signals: Lessons Learned Outside the Classroom, which focuses on things teenage girls struggle with like social pressures and self-esteem issues.

“Nobody is really bold enough to talk about the real issues,” said Nash. “So, I wanted to write my book and tell my stories to help girls navigate this really vulnerable time in their lives.”
In the book, Nash addresses drugs and alcohol, self-harm, depression, and an array of subjects that a typical teenager may experience. Despite the social pressures and stigmas, Nash said there is a “light at the end of the tunnel and you can be successful.”

She will be taking a trip to China to help cultivate a worldwide consulting brand. She also hopes to break the millennial stereotype and prove that innovation and change can be positive. Nash said that she has received support from both of her parents, and gives credit to her father for showing her the ropes and providing real-world education.

“My dad has been one-hundred percent behind me doing this,” said Nash. “I spend every day all day with him, we’re business partners, really. Our relationship has morphed into this really cool partnership. I feel like school would be a waste of time and money for me, because four years from now, I’m going to be pretty well-established, while my classmates will just be starting out.”

She said, down the road, if she feels the need she will go to college, but that right now this was the best option for her. She’d like to continue to study Chinese, and will likely take classes here and there for different things, as necessary.

“I’d rather take risks now, while I’m still young,” said Nash. “I have the time, and I can always go back to school later. I don’t want to look back and wish I had done this or that.”

Nash’s book is available on Amazon, and her business can be found at 

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Volunteers plant community garden in Terrace Lake

by Mary Wilson

Neighbors in one South Kansas City community are sharing their love of gardening and homegrown nourishment through their collective green thumbs.

Along undeveloped park land in the Terrace Lake Gardens neighborhood, resident Eilene Myers had visions of a way to utilize the unused space and bring neighbors together. The community garden has been established as a way homeowners and residents of Terrace Lake can connect with others in the association through planting.

“Last year, I wanted to do this project,” said Myers. “We had the garden shed in one of the four parks that our association maintains, and just ran out of time to get the garden going then.”

The association learned that, according to city ordinances, the shed on the park ground could not be there unless it was adjacent to a home or an established community garden.

“It was something we already wanted to do, so it worked out really well,” said Myers. “I want it to be something that everyone can get involved in, including renters and everyone who lives over here. I hope that it fosters some ownership of the neighborhood and gets people out and talking to one another.”

Myers, with funding help from the homeowner’s association and a few committed gardeners, rented a truck and purchased the supplies, including two full loads of dirt.

“All of these people came out to help,” said Myers. “Wonderful people showed up with wheelbarrows and shovels, too. I’ve had other people volunteer to come help water and weed throughout the season.”

Homeowners or residents of Terrace Lake Gardens can rent space in the garden on an annual basis. They are then responsible for their plot, tending to it for the season, then winterizing it and keeping it for the next year or releasing the plot for another resident. The garden is still a work in progress, and Myers hopes to expand the available plots as interest in the community grows.

“If it wasn’t for Eilene, we wouldn’t have this,” said resident and community garden volunteer John Dell. “She got the dirt here and unloaded all the boards herself. We had community members out here hauling dirt and helping build who aren’t planting, but just wanted to chip in and help.”

Myers said the response from neighbors in her community has been positive. Any resident of Terrace Lake interested in becoming involved with the community garden can contact Myers by emailing

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Seventh-grade student receives surprise scholarship through Starlight

by Mary Wilson

A stunned seventh-grader from Grandview learned last week that her dream of singing and acting professionally are coming true, thanks to Starlight Theatre and the Vincent Legacy Scholarship.

Since 2006, Starlight Theatre in Kansas City has awarded Vincent Legacy Scholarships to qualified and deserving middle school students throughout the metropolitan area. The needs-based scholarship was established with a generous donation from former Starlight board member and longtime supporters Greg and Rebecca Reid. It provides ethnically-diverse youth in Kansas City the opportunity to pursue professional training in the performing arts.

During a special surprise assembly in front of her peers, Erica Brown discovered her hard work had paid off to the tune of a $2,500 scholarship. Brown has been performing since she was a young girl, and has made her mark at Grandview Middle School by not only landing the lead role in Annie, Jr. this year, but also entertaining her fellow students by singing in the cafeteria on Tuesdays.

“Scholarship winners are selected not only because they exhibit passion in the arts, but they also have to be excellent students, have strong school attendance record, and give back to others through community service,” said Richard Baker, President and CEO of Starlight Theatre. “Erica’s level of singing and performing made her a perfect choice for our scholarship.”

According to Assistant Principal Tim Moore, Brown is respected by her teachers because she is an active participant in class and is very involved in many school activities. Moore said Brown will likely achieve much success in her future endeavors. She aspires to one day be an instructor in the arts.

“Thank you all so very much,” said Brown. “I’m really excited, and I just want to thank you.”
To qualify, students in grades 6, 7 and 8 must also be nominated by a current instructor, have strong grades, and audition for Starlight’s scholarship committee.

Each $2,500 Vincent Legacy Scholarship, funded in memory of Greg Reid’s infant son Vincent, is administered by the Starlight Education Department, and funds are applied to the scholarship recipients’ performing arts training during their middle and high school years.