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 ariellemnash.com. 

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 eilenemyers@hotmail.com.

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.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Education Foundation celebrates two decades





by Mary Wilson

The Grandview Education Foundation is celebrating 20 years of service and dedication to the students and faculty of the Grandview C-4 School District. On Thursday, April 26, current Foundation supporters and founding members gathered to celebrate the beginnings of the organization.

Former Grandview Superintendent Dr. Jerry Thornsberry was instrumental in the start of the Grandview Education Foundation (GEF), which was officially established in 1997. He shared how GEF began, and applauded the volunteers whom over the last 20 years have made the Foundation successful.

“I certainly want to begin my comments by congratulating those of you who have taken the Foundation and made it a success over the years,” said Thornsberry. “It is certainly reflective of the interest and the hard work that many of you have done. Really, it’s the work you’ve done and your efforts, rather than the idea and the concept, which should be celebrated.”

Prior to 1997, the late Roy Meyers, of Meyers Real Estate in Grandview, would drop by Thornsberry’s office to talk. According to Thornsberry, Meyers was one of a group of historically significant Grandview residents who were passionate about the community and the school district.

“Why Roy selected me and would visit with me, I don’t know,” said Thornsberry. “He was not visible in a lot of community activities or offices, but he was vitally interested in the image of the school district and the image of the community and how they fit together.”

Over time, the two talked about different ideas to help improve that image, and that’s when the idea of an education foundation surfaced. At the time, Thornsberry says there may have been only one other school foundation in the area. After discussions with other community leaders, it became apparent that the idea would be supported.

“I retired in 1997, right as this was getting started,” said Thornsberry. “A lot of the organization’s beginnings and board actions probably happened after I left. I do remember that everybody that we mentioned the idea to were very positive about it and would support it going forward.”

In the last 20 years, approximately $1,077,567 has been contributed to enhance the educational opportunities for students in the Grandview C-4 School District. Grandview Education has awarded more than 157 teacher and staff grants, and administered over $300,000 in student scholarships.

“There’s several people who deserve a lot of credit for the beginning, or the idea of the foundation,” said Thornsberry. “This is the first school activity that I’ve attended in 21 years of retirement. I’m really proud of our school district. I’m proud of this community, and I congratulate each of you who have worked to make the foundation a success.”

Current Grandview Superintendent Dr. Kenny Rodrequez has been active in support of the Grandview Education Foundation during his time in the district, according to GEF President Cindy Bastian.

“I don’t think that we can accomplish the things in this district that we need to without an active foundation,” said Rodrequez. “This one, in particular, has proven that on many occasions. We can’t accomplish our ultimate mission of educating every one of our kids without the support of the Foundation.”

Rodrequez said that the foundation is much more than providing scholarships for Grandview’s students and teacher grants; GEF is active in the community and provides support in the schools.

“We are still reaping the benefits of the creation of this foundation,” said Rodrequez. “But, ultimately, our kids are seeing the benefits. On behalf of the school district, thank you for everything that each of you have had to do with this.”

Bastian announced a new GEF scholarship, in honor of founding and current member Kathy Meyers, who has dedicated many years to the Grandview C-4 School District. She served as a Board of Education member and former president, currently works for the district, and is a Grandview alum.

“Certainly there are many people in this room who deserve this,” said Meyers. “Thank you, Dr. Thornsberry, for giving my dad an ear, and thanks to everyone all the way to the current Board, because it takes a lot of people, a lot of time and energy and a lot of dedication, and that’s what we have here. I can guarantee that my father would be very proud of what GEF has done over the last 20 years.”

Grandview Education Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit organization with a mission to partner with the Grandview C-4 School District and the community to enhance educational opportunities for students and staff in the district. For more information, visit www.grandviewedfoundation.org.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Area volunteers aim to breathe new life into forgotten cemetery






by Mary Wilson

Leaves, sticks and debris from a south Kansas City cemetery were stuffed into 297 bags on a recent Saturday morning. The cemetery, tucked inside the Timber Hill Estates subdivision at 125th and Wornall, is an old community burial ground, holding generations-old memories that have long since been forgotten.

Mount Pleasant Cemetery was the final resting place for around 45 known people. Once known as the one-acre King Burial Ground, it has been overgrown and seen significant damage since the last known clean-up event took place in 2012. Local historian and teacher, Diane Euston, discovered the cemetery several years ago. After conducting her own research with the city and trying to gather information from the subdivision that now surrounds the grounds, she came up with more questions than answers.

“I knew the subdivision didn’t own it, and the City of Kansas City and Jackson County have little, if any, records on it, too,” said Euston. “I decided that we needed to work together, the subdivision and my volunteers, and get a group together including some of those who have family members buried there and work toward a common goal.”

After gaining permission for the clean-up from Timber Hill Estates, Euston called on area Boy Scouts, students from Avila University, and descendants of those buried at Mount Pleasant for whom she had contact information. According to Euston, a fence was installed by the subdivision developer around three-fourths of the cemetery, while shrubbery was planted along the northern side.

“From what I understand, when things fall inside the fence boundaries or the fence itself needs repaired, the subdivision is repairing it,” said Euston. “But when it comes to the contents of the actual cemetery, nothing is being done.”

Euston said there are several missing headstones, and most of those which are visible are in pieces. Some of the larger gravestones have gone missing within the last six years.  The last records that Euston has found of those buried at Mount Pleasant is from the Daughters of American Revolution’s 1934 history book. Family names include the Bargers, Holmeses, Hayses, Kings, Lees, McCraws, McPhersons, Sheltons and Sharps, along with several other individuals.

“The first burial, at least in 1934, that was on record according to the DAR is a Shelton, a five-year-old,” said Euston.

During the recent cleanup, Euston and the volunteers unearthed pieces of headstones, and uncovered pits where the ground has sunken into a burial site. Some of those sites have no markers or just fragments of a headstone near them.

With the nearly 300 bags of debris collected, there is still work to be done. Euston is organizing another cleanup effort at Mount Pleasant Cemetery for this Saturday, April 28, beginning at 9 a.m. Those interested in helping are encouraged to bring gloves, rakes and lawn bags. Euston would also like to reset the headstones. Hundreds of flags were placed where volunteers thought a grave might exist.

“We need a better report. We’re an operation of volunteers and no money,” Euston. “We would rather donate time and services and, eventually, maintenance of the cemetery, but we need help to get to that point.”

Euston would like to find someone willing to donate ground-penetrating radar services to determine where each grave is located in the cemetery. She also believes there may be an old slave burial ground on the site that she’d like to confirm. At Saturday’s cleanup, Grade A Tree Care has volunteered to help with the trimming and removal of large branches on the property.

With no ownership on file, it has been suggested to Euston that a cemetery board be incorporated, which would include descendants of those who are buried there to provide maintenance and upkeep of Mount Pleasant going forward.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Sheriff resigns amid sexual misconduct allegations


by Mary Wilson

Jackson County Sheriff Mike Sharp resigns this week after allegations of sexual misconduct were brought to light following a recent deposition held earlier this month. A former employee of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office sued the county in 2016, indicating that she was sexually harassed by two female and one male employee of the department.

In his letter of resignation addressed to Jackson County Executive Frank White, Sharp said that “due to a pending legal matter, and in order to avoid further disruption to the important work of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, I have reached the conclusion that I will resign the office of Sheriff of Jackson County, Missouri, effective Thursday, April 19, 2018.”

According to a statement released by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, Sharp takes full responsibility for his actions.

“I allowed my judgment as Sheriff and my obligations to Jackson County be clouded because of my feelings for someone I cared very deeply for in the past,” said Sharp in the statement. “I am accountable for my actions. This was a personal failing and is entirely my responsibility.”
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker’s office was first made aware of the misconduct and Sharp’s involvement in a civil case against the county last year.

“My office was notified in late 2017 by the county counselor of concerns regarding a pending civil action involving the Sheriff,” Peters Baker said in a statement issued this afternoon. “We contacted a law enforcement agency and began our own investigation into the matter. We also closely monitored the on-going civil litigation involving Jackson County. While the allegations that have come to light are extremely troubling, today’s resignation satisfies the state’s interest regarding a potential ‘quo warranto’ action to remove the Sheriff from office. We will continue to monitor this matter and take any appropriate action in the future.”

Sharp indicated in a deposition on April 4 that he had an ongoing relationship with a former employee of the Sheriff’s Department, sometimes of a sexual nature involving Sharp, the employee and his wife. Sharp also went on several different trips with the employee where he paid for hotel rooms, food and drink and other items. During the deposition, Sharp said that he personally put the down payment down on a house for the employee and has supplemented her income since 2013.

Sharp leaves with two years remaining on his term as Sheriff. White will have to appoint someone until the November 2018 election.

“Based upon the serious allegations made public today, the Sheriff has taken the appropriate action to step down," said White in a statement released this afternoon. "Under the authority of the Jackson County Charter, I have the responsibility to name an interim. I will be making an announcement regarding my appointment in the coming days.”

Thursday, April 12, 2018

City and developers come to partnership agreement for Gateway Village


by Mary Wilson, mwilson@jcadvocate.com

With last month’s $8 million infrastructure ask of the City of Grandview from PG, LLC, developers of Gateway Village, left on the table, an agreement has been reached.

“We’ve talked at length about this being a partnership and I think we’re at a point now where we can say that we do have a partnership and we are working together to accomplish a phenomenal goal of building a world-class soccer/mixed-use facility here in Grandview,” said Deron Cherry, developer.

According to Grandview Mayor Leonard Jones, the city and Gateway Village developers are coming to an understanding of potential costs or risks that may be associated with a development of this magnitude. The $250-300 million project, upon completion, will bring in an estimated 1.8-2 million visitors each year for the soccer facilities alone. Adding in the other amenities such as retail, hotels, 
restaurants and other mixed-use, Cherry said the number of visitors will definitely be higher.

“From a city perspective, we have a much better understanding of what the Gateway Village complex is going to look and feel like based on the last six or eight months of negotiations with our partners,” said Grandview Mayor Leonard Jones. “This is the very beginning of what is happening in the Grandview and the surrounding metropolitan area that will have a long-lasting legacy for many, many years to come.”

The developers have been exploring the financial implications, and lenders are looking for the City of Grandview to have some ownership and be involved in the project. The now $5.65 million contribution from the City of Grandview will go toward the public infrastructure pieces of the development. The City of Grandview will eventually own the public infrastructure pieces, and the funds used for that part of the development will be 100% reimbursable costs.

“The fact that the city is willing to invest in the project makes it a lot better for all of our partners involved to know that the city is in on this deal,” said Cherry. “I think it’s important for people to understand that the investment from the city could be recouped down the road.”

The developer and the City of Grandview are working together to seek public funding assistance from all local, state and federal resources, including Missouri Department of Economic Development, Missouri Department of Transportation, Jackson County and the federal government.

Residents of the City of Grandview will see other benefits beyond having the development along the 150 Highway corridor. Part of the agreement includes that any Grandview resident who wishes to participate in recreational soccer, youth or adult, at Gateway Village, will be able to do so at a 75% or more discounted rate.

“Gateway wants Grandview to be very strong participants in the soccer program,” said Jones. “It’ll be right here in our city and they want to draw from the youth here in Grandview to the point that they are willing to discount that participation rate. That shows, to me, that the developer wants to invest and be a very good partner with the City of Grandview.”

“We’ve always believed in giving back to the community,” said Cherry. “It’s so important and we look forward to doing that.”

The city’s contribution will enhance the developer’s opportunity to obtain private financing. PG, LLC anticipates closing on their financing within six weeks, with construction on the first phase of soccer fields to begin in mid to late summer. Depending on the site excavation and other work on the property itself, the plan is still to have fields ready for soccer by fall of this year.

“The focus at this point is to get this project started,” said City Administrator Cemal Gungor. “We want to jumpstart this project and start seeing some momentum.”

Retail, restaurant and other development that will occur in Gateway Village will be announced at a later date as the developers continue to receive letters of intent from potential business partners.

“I know it’s taken a long time, but we should be proud that we can work together to see this thing happen,” said Cherry. “This is something that is completely different and entirely new, and the developer has a lot of skin in the game, as well as the City, now, to a certain degree. It truly is a public-private partnership, and we’ve taken the necessary steps to make that happen.”

Gungor stated that the 26,000 residents of Grandview remain the city’s priority and that they will ensure that whatever contributions are made to the development will be affordable and include a return on investment.

“The City of Grandview can be proud of a project of this magnitude,” said Jones. “People will begin to see that they’ll have options here that they may not have thought about before. It’s not just about the soccer; this is for the entire metropolitan area and we can all benefit from that.”

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Community member honored for act of heroism


by Mary Wilson

In the early morning hours of Saturday, February 24, Grandview resident Joshua Jenkins noticed that his street seemed to be full of what he considered fog, but quickly realized from the smell that something was on fire. He then discovered that the heavy smoke was coming from a neighbor’s house at 13803 10th Terrace.

Jenkins immediately called 911 to report the fire, and then approached the home where he saw flames through the living room window.

“After witnessing one of the occupants breaking out a window in the middle room of the house, Joshua reported to the 911 dispatcher that there were people trapped and could see the fire in the living room growing larger,” said Grandview Mayor Leonard Jones, who presented Jenkins with a proclamation during the Tuesday, March 27 Board of Aldermen meeting.

Shortly after, Grandview police arrived, followed by the Grandview Fire Department. Upon investigation, it was discovered that the home had no working smoke detectors.

“Fire Department staff believes that by stopping and becoming involved in reporting the house fire, Joshua saved the lives of the three trapped occupants who only had a few minutes to spare before being overcome by smoke inhalation,” said Jones.

 “A couple more minutes, and these could have been fatalities,” said Grandview Fire Marshal Lew Austin. “One victim was taken out of the rear window by an assisting police officer, and the two others were rescued by firefighters through the front door of the home.”

According to Austin, one occupant was admitted to intensive care for severe smoke inhalation, one was unconscious when they were rescued and they all suffered from lacerations and other injuries from the fire.

“The key thing here is that we need to have working smoke detectors,” said Austin. “If residents in Grandview do not have smoke detectors, call us and we’ll come out and install them.”

The City of Grandview Fire Department receives donations of smoke detectors from the American Red Cross organization, and the department purchases any additional that may be needed for homes in the community.

“We don’t want to see any fatalities,” said Austin. “His actions that evening have led to a Community Fire Department Citizen’s Award.”

For his actions, Jenkins received further recognition from the fire department. He has been a Grandview resident for 23 years, and lives with his wife and three children. Jenkins has also completed the Community Emergency Response Team training as well as additional safety training in the Boy Scouts, his church and from his family.

“It is nice to be recognized, but I want to recognize our EMS personnel, our fire and our police that do this every day,” said Jenkins. “They are who do the heavy lifting of all that for our community, and I’d like to thank them for their services, as well.”

If you are a Grandview resident in need of a smoke detector in your home, you can contact the Grandview Fire Department at 816-316-4961 to have one installed at no cost.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Soccer complex needs $8 million investment from Grandview in order to proceed


by Mary Wilson, mwilson@jcadvocate.com

The developers of Gateway Village are asking the City of Grandview for an investment into the private development before the project can proceed. On Tuesday, March 6, representatives of the project met with the Grandview Board of Aldermen, leaving an $8 million question on the table.

“Basically, we are at the end of our rope, to be brutally honest,” said Greg Cotton, President of PG, LLC, Gateway’s development company. “Hopefully we can move this project that has been a big dream for the past several years into reality. Quite candidly, we’ve heard that there might be some bad blood between the Board and our development group and maybe some deal fatigue setting in. It’s a quarter-of-a-billion-dollar deal, and that takes a lot of time. That’s not the type of partners we want to be.”

Cotton added that his team believes in the power of a public-private partnership. Gateway is asking the City of Grandview to make a contribution into the infrastructure of the development, including roads, lighting, grading, gas and sewers that would in-turn be owned by the city.

In 2016, the Board of Aldermen approved a tax-increment financing (TIF) plan, and while the project scope has stayed roughly the same since then, there have been a few changes. The 250-acre site, owned by PG, LLC, located off of 150 Highway and Byars Road, will feature 15 synthetic soccer and sporting fields, a multi-sport fieldhouse, approximately 400,000 square feet of retail, 540 hotel rooms, 864 new residential units for over 2000 new residents in Grandview, and would bring in roughly 1.8 million visitors annually.

“We had an agreement a year and a half ago, and now you’re asking for something different,” said Mayor Leonard Jones.

Currently, the property generates $1000 per year in property taxes. Over the lifespan of the TIF, Cotton said that the City could see $155 million in projected new tax revenues from the development. PG also estimates around 400 new jobs will be created between the construction of the project and openings associated with the commercial retail and soccer operations.

“This is a project that is fully designed and shovel ready,” said Cotton. “The reason that this project is here is that we, as a development team, are the beneficiaries of a 25-year market-rate lease with Heartland Soccer Association. That is, without a doubt, the most lucrative youth sports contract in the United States. That supports a certain amount of debt repayment.”

All of the money from the Heartland lease has been pledged to repay the private debt that will be incurred to pay for the fields. Heartland Soccer Association requires, according to Cotton, that those fields be opened as soon as possible.

“They want it by the fall of 2018,” said Cotton. “We are under intense time pressure to get that done.”

According to Cotton, every other area soccer complex has been paid for using public funds. Because the market has been accustomed to these developments being paid for publicly, bank underwriters have not seen a private development of this scale.

“What we’re talking about here is the very first live, work, play and entertainment zone complex, truly, in the country,” said Cotton. “We’re calling this Soccer 3.0. It will attract a huge volume of people that are all looking for commercial opportunities.”

The development will be constructed in phases, and the first phase was discussed last Tuesday. The first part of phase one, called project one, includes the soccer field installation and commercial development that is ancillary to the soccer portion of the complex. Approved in 2016, the pay-as-you-go $43.7 million TIF agreement and CID (community improvement district) plan must be pledged to the lending organization in order to repay private debts incurred, according to Cotton.

“The developer, as the plan is situated today, takes 100 percent of the risk of operating this facility,” said Cotton.

After the TIF was approved, the developer was unable to obtain financing on the entire phase one. Multiple lenders suggested that the first phase be broken down into two projects. The construction costs for project one came in around $38.5 million, which included $9.2 million in infrastructure expenses.

“The consensus was, after meeting with 15-18 different lenders, that the city didn’t have any skin in the game up front in terms of real cash,” said Matt Webster, Senior Vice President of George K. Baum and Company, who has served as a financial advisor for the developers. “The banks didn’t really have any interest in lending on the roads and improvements to those roads that would ultimately be dedicated to the city.”

The $9.2 million infrastructure cost was shaved down to $8 million in order for the developer to feel comfortable with the repayment sources, and the banks felt that an infrastructure contribution from the city was vital to financing the development, according to Cotton.

“We are asking the City for $8 million in infrastructure cost improvements, whether built by the city, built by us, or whatever process the city would allocate or create,” said Cotton. “We came to that number from the total infrastructure costs being $9.2 million, then meeting with the banks and our experts and getting the loan to cost ratios to a level that the banks would say yes. This $8 million is critical.”

Cotton said that while the City’s TIF agreement with the developers is a significant investment, underwriters do not view that as a direct contribution into the project. Besides the pressure to complete the fields from Heartland Soccer, the developers are also feeling pressure from the banks, as the predevelopment line of credit has been exhausted. $7 million of the developer’s private funds have been invested into the project as payments continue to be made on that preconstruction loan.

“We were at the end of our rope when we met with the Aldermen last time, and we’re even more now,” said Cotton. “Over the past seven or eight months as we’ve tried to get this project started, that’s real money that has racked up.  $7 million of private investment in Grandview is a significant amount of money. We can no longer afford to continue making those payments.”

With the $8 million ask, the City of Grandview’s total investment into phase one of the project would be around 21 percent, or three percent of the completed development. The total development expense for the entire Gateway Village project is $234 million. The City of Grandview previously suggested that a neighborhood improvement district (NID) be implemented in order to help cover the investment costs the developer was requesting of the city. According to Cotton, lenders viewed this is a developer debt and not equity. In February, the developers received a final offer from the City of Grandview that included $3.7 million of infrastructure costs, which the developer deemed insufficient.

The developers suggested that the City of Grandview carve out portions of funds from other allocated sources to cover the $8 million infrastructure costs. According to the City of Grandview’s economic development director Troy Nash, the city does not wish to incur any new debts for the project and create liability or obligation. Alderman Sandy Kessinger stated that the developer should consider decreasing the already-agreed-upon TIF amount by $8 million, which already included reimbursable infrastructure costs.

“I work at a bank, and I know that infrastructure costs are usually factored in,” said Kessinger. “I think it’s interesting that you say you’ve talked with 20 banks who say they won’t finance the infrastructure. To my knowledge, since I’ve been on the Board, we’ve had a lot of private development projects come across and we’ve never had another company ask us to finance infrastructure.”

Previously, the City has been told that the developer did not wish to change the initial agreement, and that the $8 million infrastructure costs are over and above the agreed-upon TIF plan. Through conversations last Tuesday, the developer has now agreed to adjust the TIF plan accordingly should the City of Grandview decide to fund the infrastructure for the development.

Cotton said that the project is unique and should be considered a community amenity, which will benefit more than the private developer.

“Deron Cherry is giving a gift, in many ways, to the citizens of this city,” said Cotton. “He is putting his own private money where public entities have only put their money before. There are probably 8 million reasons not to do this. We know and we’ve been told that the city can’t afford it since day one. This is a city that prides itself on fiscal conservatism and has managed its budget extremely well over the years, and you should be proud of that. But, at the end of the day, this is a project that doesn’t land in your lap very often. This is an opportunity to create a project that is truly transformative.”

The City of Grandview’s general fund, which has not seen an increase in the last 10 years, is approximately $15 million annually. City Administrator Cemal Gungor said that because the City is responsible for taking care of 26,000 residents who have other needs than soccer fields, $8 million is a scary figure to try and allocate out of that general fund. Ultimately, a decision will be made one way or another by the Board of Aldermen later this month on how they plan to proceed with Gateway’s request.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Grandview Schools focus on district safety



Partnerships with the community are key to student safety, and the Grandview School District, according to Assistant Superintendent Ann Marie Cook, has a great relationship with the Grandview Police Department. Recently, as part of PREP-KC’s career day activities, Grandview Police Officer Monica Romero talked with students at Martin City Elementary School.

by Mary Wilson, mwilson@jcadvocate.com

With the tragedies in Parkland, Florida, still fresh in the minds of community members, administration from the Grandview School District provided a timely discussion to the Board of Education regarding safety in schools during their regular meeting on Thursday, February 22.

According to Assistant Superintendent of Operations and Finance Ann Marie Cook, the district is still working to utilize bond funding to complete safety enhancement upgrades throughout the district. In the last two years, there have been parking lot improvements and fire alarm system upgrades.

“We have Martin City slated for this summer, which will be the final upgrade or replacement of all the fire alarm systems,” said Cook. “This has been a multi-year project that includes camera systems and intercom upgrades. We’ve done a lot, but we still need to do a lot of things as it relates to safety.”

Over the last year or so, the district has maintained a focus on student reporting, and has implemented security scans and completed staff, student and parent surveys regarding safety.

“Probably the thing I’m most excited about is that the safety committee has really evolved over the years,” said Cook. “It was focused more on doing walkabouts to make sure we didn’t have slip trip hazards and those sort of things, and it really has changed in where we are focusing our efforts. It is now much broader.”

The district is currently in the process of reframing the safety committee, creating what they refer to as “safety silos,” which include physical safety, student safety and staff safety. While there may be some overlap, according to Cook, the intent and desire is to share ideas and implement programs that will ensure safety while students and staff are in the district’s buildings.

“I think this will provide us an opportunity to dig a little deeper and improve some of our practices,” said Cook. “I think we’ve made a lot of improvements over the last several years, but there’s always more that we can and should be doing.”

The district has a strong partnership with the Grandview Police Department and the Grandview Fire Department, which are both part of the district’s safety meetings and conduct various trainings throughout the year. Every year during spring break, Grandview Fire Marshal Lew Austin does a walk-through in all school buildings to ensure their safety.

“We are extremely fortunate to have those partnerships because they help us create and keep a safe environment for our staff and our kiddos,” said Cook.

Grandview also continues to work on updating its crisis plans, looking for consistency and alignment with safety standards. While physical safety is important, the district continues to look for ways to increase the feeling of safety for students and staff in the buildings.

“Student reporting is critical in helping minimize or eliminate threats to the schools and other students,” said Cook.

Since becoming superintendent, Dr. Kenny Rodrequez has worked to implement a change in the way staff thinks about safety.

“As superintendent, I’m taking matters of student safety very seriously,” said Rodrequez. “I think we pushed the envelope quite a bit over the last year with things that we’re doing. I’m not a big fan of us constantly having to be reactive. I want to be as proactive as possible. We can’t resolve everything and we can’t stop everything; however, there are a lot of things that we can prevent.”

While he says that the district is on a good path, Rodrequez added that the district isn’t anywhere near where they should be. In a conference he recently attended, safety was a widely-discussed topic. One session focused on the importance of a relationship with the first responders in the community, which Rodrequez said is strong in Grandview. 

“I’m very proud of the work that we have done,” said Rodrequez. “We will continue to do everything we can to make sure everyone is as safe as possible.”

Friday, February 23, 2018

Local mom creates clever way to hang laundry



by Mary Wilson

One Grandview family is hoping to change the way you hang your clothing with their invention. Majigeez (pronounced similar to thingamajigs) are flexible attachments that Jessica Del Rosario and her husband, Larry San Nicolas, came up with to prevent shoulder bumps and clothes falling off of everyday hangers.

“It all started with my son’s NFL jerseys, which he wore a bigger size in, that were really high dollar and we had to save money for,” said Del Rosario. “You can’t dry them and you don’t want to fold them, so we started modifying our hangers. We did that, just waiting for something to come out in the market so we could hang his clothes.”

Over the years, Del Rosario and her family continued to struggle with hanging their clothes properly, and instead of using hangers, she noticed her son would just stack his clothes on a table. Later, when another sibling was in junior high, Del Rosario noticed that her daughter’s clothes were all over the floor of her closet and not hanging up where they should be.

“I was rewashing things she hadn’t even worn because they’d been on the floor and had gotten all wrinkled,” said Del Rosario. “I told her I’d just start throwing all her clothes on the floor because that’s where they end up anyway. She then showed me that when she moved her clothes around on the hangers, they would fall off.”

It was then that Del Rosario decided to go back to the drawing board for her hanger modifications. From that point on, the family got busy making a prototype. Together with their son, Frank Arceo, they came up with the hanger attachments. Using materials around the house, San Nicholas came up with the first prototype that satisfied both Del Rosario and Arceo.

“Once we had the way, we tweaked it some and went to a patent attorney in 2011,” said Del Rosario. “After several years of battling, we finally landed our patent in 2016. We trademarked the name just before that. Our attorney kept giving us deadlines, and told us we had to come up with a name before we had the patent, so we had to figure out what to call it.”

Majigeez were born. With a background in drafting and design, Arceo worked with a manufacturer to come up with several different working prototypes that lived up to his mom’s idea and his dad’s model. During the design phase, they determined what current hangers were lacking. They discovered that hangers are rigid, too short for larger clothing; velvet hangers can cause bunching; toddler hangers are too small after a certain time; and wood hangers caused bumps in sweaters, leathers and jerseys.

Their product is the only resilient and flexible hanger attachment in the world. Majigeez are the only attachments that will fit on almost every household hanger, and they adapt to the weight of sweaters, shirts, jackets, blouses, and delicates to provide a natural curve. By attaching Majigeez to hangers (velvet, store, plastic, wire, and toddler), users can get the most out of hangers they already have. The product prevents shoulder bumps, and provides added benefits of hang-drying wet garments, extending the length of hangers (men’s 7XL and women’s 4XL), holding garments up to 10 pounds, and maximizing the longevity of toddler hangers into adult sizes.

“My mom, who is 89-years-old, can work these,” said Del Rosario. “We used her as our tester to make sure that anyone can attach them to hangers they have in their homes.”

The family has traveled to invention conventions, where their product was favorably received. While they eventually would like to seek out potential investors, Del Rosario said they hope to keep Majigeez in the family for as long as possible.

“We talked about partnering with a big company, but we decided not to go with them because it was a royalty type of agreement,” said Del Rosario. “That company would essentially own it all and give us a small percentage. We decided we want to try it out on our own; and in fact, our manufacturer encouraged us to.”


Majigeez will be sold in pairs of eight for $19.99, and their online retail store will be launching soon. In the meantime, Del Rosario and her family hope to sell their product at different merchandise shows and events. For more information, visit their website at www.majigeez.com, or follow Majigeez on Facebook. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Area’s oldest operating auction house to close its doors



by Mary Wilson

After 40 years, England’s Auction in Grandview will host its final sale on Friday, February 16. Over the last four decades, hundreds of buyers from all corners of the metro have spent their Friday evenings with Mike England.

In 1977, England, with his brother and father, purchased the auction business that began in 1960, at 1530 Duck Road in Grandview. Four years later, England purchased his family’s shares of the business. England’s Auction is the oldest operating auction house in Kansas City, a status that England is proud of.

“We’ve probably been the best kept secret in Grandview,” said England, a 1964 Grandview High School alum. “We have seen customers from all over the city. We’ve had thousands of customers.”

Early on, the auctions were twice a week, but eventually the sales were scheduled once weekly on Fridays. England’s four daughters grew up working in the family business, and he said the work is hard but never dull.

“It’s kind of a niche business,” said England. “It’s just what I do. I think this year I’m close to almost 2,500 auctions.”

He now sees the grandchildren of customers who used to come to the auctions years ago. Most weeks, England said he sees roughly 200 people on Friday nights, and some of them are repeat customers who have reserved seating.

England’s Auction received most of their items to sell from estates, moving sales and storage delinquencies. England’s was the first auction company in the area to sell storage, and he handled the advertising and public notices for the warehouses. “I have contracts with storage companies all over the city,” said England. “There’s quite a bit of stuff involved with that. There’s a lot of trash. It’s evolved so much; there are now thousands of mini storage units.”

England’s Auction hauls the contents to their facility and prepares them for the weekly auctions. Each week on Mondays, England has walked into a nearly-empty building and is tasked with filling it with auction items in three days.  Items sold run the gamut from household items to furniture. England says they don’t sell anything pretentious and it’s never been fancy. Some nights England’s has done $200,000 in sales, and other nights $4,000.

“I’m probably the craziest auctioneer in Kansas City,” said England. “People come here for entertainment. Years ago, the Mayor would come up and hold stuff for me; then it was the Chief of Police. A lot of people know who we are.”

He doesn’t plan to retire completely, and will continue to piddle with auctioneering now and again. With his children grown, he is looking forward to spending some quality time with his wife of 51 years, Sheila.

“We’ve had only one vacation in 40 years,” said England. “When you work for yourself, you’re pretty much married to the business.”

According to England, his building has been sold to a local real estate rehabilitation company. As he prepares for the doors to close for a final time on Friday, England said that leaving his 40-year business is a little bittersweet because he built the company and it’s as if his best friend is dying.

“An auctioneer is a bit like a doctor,” said England. “All these people, they think I’m their best friend. Though, I’m not sure I’d want to invite them to dinner. But this business becomes personal. I wanted to quit while I was still vertical.”


When people would ask England how business was doing, he would always say, “It’s as good to me as I am to it.” He believes that if he wasn’t good to England’s Auctions, it wouldn’t have been good to him. Many folks in the community have spent their Friday nights at the auction, and England’s business has certainly been good to Grandview for 40 years. 

Friday, February 9, 2018

Candidates prepare for April election

*Editor's Note: In the February 8, 2018 published edition, we incorrectly stated that Clifford Ragan had resigned from the Hickman Mills Board of Education. We apologize for the misprint. 

by Mary Wilson

Filing for those seeking office in the upcoming April local elections closed last month in Grandview and South Kansas City. The City of Grandview, Grandview C-4 School District and Hickman Mills C-1 School District were all open for potential candidates to run.

In the Grandview C-4 School District, there were three positions open. The Grandview Board of Education has had a vacancy since former president Wayne Terpstra resigned late last year. His seat was available for a two-year term, and Monica Terry, Grandview resident and district parent, filed for that position unopposed. Incumbents Leonard Greene, current board president, and Chuck Cornforth filed to continue serving another three-year term, also unopposed. Due to no opposition, the school district will not hold an election in April.

The Hickman Mills C-1 School District will see five candidates on their ballots on April 3. There are two seats open for a three-year term and one seat available for a one-year term, due to the vacancy created by the resignation of Byron Townsend. Luther Chandler has filed for the one-year term, while Sandra Sexton, current president Carol Graves, incumbent Alvin Brooks and William Young have filed for the two open three-year seats.

The City of Grandview Board of Aldermen had three openings for the three respective wards. Sandra Kessinger, Annette Turnbaugh, and James Crain each filed to retain their seats on the Board. Grandview voters will have the opportunity to suggest write-in candidates, or vote for the incumbents.

“Since I am running uncontested, I will begin my third term in April,” said Kessinger. “In the time I’ve been in office, I have been privileged to be a part of some very exciting activities in the City, including the renovation of Truman’s Marketplace and downtown Main St. I am humbled to continue to be a part of the forward momentum that is helping to reshape our collective identity.”

The last day to register to vote for the April 3, 2018, general election will be March 7. Those wishing to register can do so online at the Secretary of State’s website, www.sos.mo.gov

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

KC history comes alive in Grandview classroom



by Mary Wilson

Not all high schoolers have the opportunity to learn about their own communities, but students at Grandview High School are receiving an education on Kansas City culture and history. Teachers Diane Euston and Mike Stringer, who teach English and history respectively, have combined forces to offer Grandview juniors and seniors a fresh and different perspective on local history and the influence of various cultures, events and circumstances that impacted the development of the area.

The course, Crossroads of America: Survey of Kansas City, exposes students to a seminar style, interdisciplinary study environment where both a social studies and an English teacher co-teach the class, offering insight to genealogical research with a secured grant through Ancestry.com, primary and secondary sources, document-based questions, scholarly publications and a culminating activity that will include a formal research paper over a chosen aspect of local history.

“We sort of handpicked the students,” said Euston. “It is an elective. We promised these ‘recruits’ that it would be fun and worth it. So far, so good. We were just so excited to have this opportunity to merge our passion of the history of Kansas City and share it in a unique way. We want students to be excited to learn about history, and challenge them as well. Even in Grandview, there is such a cool backdrop to the city. It's our goal to take these students back and time and have them uncover the past, survey the area and reflect on where we go from here.”

By partnering English and history together, the course develops a strong and mutually-supportive focus to benefit the students, school and community. The 25 students enrolled in the class will also have the opportunity for field experiences, including tours of local areas like Watts Mill, New Santa Fe, historical homes, the Battles of Westport and Island Mound, and the Grandview Bushwhacker Conflicts.

“I am really excited for when we do a tour of Grandview area, and I can show the kids where all these bushwhackers lived and the shady stuff they did back in the day,” said Euston. “Tim Reidy, Rockhurst High School teacher, guided us. He has been teaching a class on this for a while, and though we aren't doing the same thing as he is, there is no other public school that I know of in the metro area teaching a class like this; and certainly not with two teachers in this type of setting.”

This week, students in the class were creating a map of the Kansas City area from the 1850s, labeling key landmarks such as Kaw Point, Westport Landing, Fort Osage, Red Bridge and New Santa Fe, and the rivers that flow through the region.  Students can be creative and artistic, while learning about the community they are from.

“I’ve always wanted to learn more about our history. I’ve lived here for years, so why not learn more about the place you live in,” said senior Christabella Ramirez. “When I first came to the class, I didn’t even know anything about the Oregon Trail. We played the game and it was pretty fun. I did die a few times, but then I finally made it all the way through the game.”

Junior Nick Johnson said that while growing up in the area, he and his family would drive past different monuments or historical places, and he is getting the chance to learn the history behind them now.

“The high school I was at before didn’t really have a class like this, so it’s nice to be exposed to something new,” said Johnson. “I hope I can learn things and pass the experience onto my children and my family.”

Euston and Stringer knew of the need for new, innovative classes in the district, and thought that an interdisciplinary class proposal would fit the bill.

“The work that our teachers do each and every day is the driver in preparing our students for their futures,” said Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Juan Cordova. “Grandview C-4 empowers teachers to find ways to reach today's students.  Our work in cultural competency, innovation classrooms, and a number of other initiatives are all designed to empower our teachers to be equipped for the students of today and prepared for those students to come.  By having teachers be a part of the curriculum and instruction process, we tap into those closest to students and all parties benefit from the work.”


“We were passionate about making this happen, and I think that passion shows when we teach together,” said Euston. “We wrote a class proposal, met with a committee and were approved last year. We hope that we can continue to learn and develop this class so it exists for years to come.”

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Grandview man charged in weekend homicide

On Sunday, January 14, Grandview Police were dispatched to the Arbors of Grandview apartment complex on report of a burned body found near a dumpster. The officers responded to 6715 E 119th Street, where they discovered a 27-year-old female victim from Grandview.

The victim, Lynnette Williams (dob: 05/26/90), suffered traumatic injuries and was burned. On Tuesday, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker charged 27-year-old Kasanova Callier, of Grandview, with Murder 2nd Degree and Armed Criminal Action charges.

When officers arrived on the scene, they extinguished the fire and tracked where Williams’s body was dragged in the snow from an apartment complex stairwell nearby. They also found blood and heard from witnesses of a disturbance in the apartment where police had responded previously on domestic disturbances involving the victim and the defendant. The Medical Examiner advised the victim had suffered deep cuts to her throat and a stab wound to her abdomen. Callier's shoe was matched to a unique shoe print found near the drag marks at the crime scene. Evidence of blood was found in the apartment. Callier told Grandview detectives that Williams was a bad mother and she had tried to stab him so he had to kill her.


Prosecutors requested a bond of $250,000 cash.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Peace Ambassador visits Grandview High School


by Mary Wilson

Students in Amy Cameron’s class at Grandview High School are getting a lesson in peace this school year. The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) selected Grandview teacher Amy Cameron to serve in the 2017 Peace Teachers Program. The Peace Teachers Program is rooted in the conviction that educators can be pivotal in bringing peace themes into their classrooms, schools and communities. At a time when violent conflict regularly dominates headlines, USIP believes that teachers are the key to helping young people obtain the knowledge, skills and perspectives to envision a more peaceful world and their part in creating it.

Recently, USIP’s executive vice president, Ambassador William B. Taylor, visited Grandview High School and met with Cameron and her students. Before working for USIP, Taylor was the special coordinator for Middle East Transitions in the U.S. State Department.  He oversaw assistance and support to Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Syria.  He served as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009.

He also served as the U.S. government's representative to the Mideast Quartet, which facilitated the Israeli disengagement from Gaza and parts of the West Bank.  He served in Baghdad as the first director of the Iraq Reconstruction Management Office from 2004 to 2005, and in Kabul as coordinator of international and U.S. assistance to Afghanistan from 2002 to 2003.  Ambassador Taylor was also coordinator of U.S. assistance to the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. He earlier served on the staff of Senator Bill Bradley.

“I am so impressed with your school,” said Taylor. “As part of USIP’s role, we identify and look for ways to reduce conflicts around the globe. We also have a team that works in schools and educators in the United States and around the world.”

Cameron’s senior students were provided the opportunity to ask Ambassador Taylor questions ranging from how he became the Ambassador to how conflict can be resolved. Cameron wrote curriculum for her high school British and World Literature students using the book What Is the What, written by Dave Eggers, which is based on the life of Valentino Achak Deng, a Sudanese child refugee who immigrated to the United States under the Lost Boys of Sudan program. Last school year, after the students read the novel, Cameron invited a Lost Boy from Sudan to come and speak with her classes.

As part of the Peace Teachers Program, Cameron has received a number of resources to help her incorporate peace building into her everyday teaching. The other teachers selected for this year are from Montana, Florida and Oklahoma, and the four speak monthly to discuss what may or may not be working in their respective communities.

“Part of this is to show that peace and conflict can be incorporated into anything you teach,” said Megan Chabalowski, USIP’s Interim Director of Public Education. “It isn’t subject-based. Whether you teach math, Spanish, literature or social studies, there are ways to teach through a peace-building lens. The teachers that we choose can then serve as models to show what this could look like.”

Cameron will help develop strategies for other teachers to use to incorporate peace into their lessons. She has also written a reflection article that will be published on USIP’s website.

“We look for teachers who are passionate and go above and beyond for their students, which Amy obviously does,” said Chabalowski. “The idea of taking students and helping them to think outside of themselves and do something for their community is really important. When we talk about being a peace builder, that’s what it’s about. It’s about being responsible for creating a culture of peace in your school, your community and the world.”

Cameron will focus on bringing conflicts from around the world into the world of her students and find ways to relate them to the issues kids in Grandview are facing. Each day, her students will be asked how they can be effective peace builders in their school and community. For each individual student, the idea of peace can look very different.

“It could mean no more child abuse; that there is clean water; that we don’t mistreat animals. They all have different ideas of what peace should be,” said Cameron. “At the beginning of this, some of my kids were rather hopeless. A lot of them have said that conflict is just going to exist and there is nothing they can do.”


Cameron believes that her students are the ones who can make a difference, and it is up to them to instill peace and find conflict resolution. Every day, as she teaches World Literature, she explains to her students different perspectives and that the world is much bigger than the community they live in. Her classes will begin reading What Is the What in February.