Thursday, March 26, 2020

Lawmakers Respond to COVID-19 Across Metro

by Mary Wilson

The impact of Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is sweeping the nation, and has made its way close to home, as it was discovered that Grandview’s own Representative Joe Runions has been in the hospital after testing positive for the virus. Runions, who serves Missouri’s District 37, is the first state elected official to be hospitalized with COVID-19.

“I feel a duty to share my experience as I begin the long recovery from this illness and urge you to do everything within your power to prevent Missouri’s hospitals and medical staff from becoming overwhelmed during this pandemic,” said Runions in a letter he wrote to Governor Mike Parson on Sunday, March 22, following a phone conversation they had earlier that day.

Runions stated that a top concern of his doctors at St. Joseph Medical Center in Kansas City is the possibility that they will run out of vital supplies, especially personal protective equipment.

“Since I am in isolation, every time a doctor or nurse comes in to check on me, they must put on all manner of gear to protect themselves,” Runions said. “However, stocks of that equipment are rapidly running low, and doctors are deeply concerned about whether those stocks will be replenished fast enough to keep up with demand. Our hospitals need these supplies.”

He has had a first-hand account of how much of these supplies are being used to treat patients with COVID-19, saying that he believes doctors and hospital staff are using 20 sets of supplies on him daily. He urged Governor Parson to speed up the process of getting supplies directly to hospitals across the state.

“My doctors also tell me there still aren’t enough testing kits,” said Runions. “The quicker patients get tested, the quicker they can get the proper treatment. Please, do whatever is necessary to expedite the availability of testing kits. I have no doubt expanded testing will save lives.”

Runions remains hospitalized at St. Joseph’s, and is getting better, but understands that it will be a long recovery. Following news of Runions’ diagnosis, Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jr. released an emergency funding proposal to combat the toll of COVID-19 in the county. White named the proposal in honor of Runions, calling for $10 million in the Representative Joe Runions Act.

The proposed funding is focused on providing essential support to the county’s safety-net health care providers, Truman Medical Centers and the county’s Health Department, as well as first responders and area in-home food delivery agencies. If approved by the County Legislature, the Runions Act would make millions of dollars immediately available to frontline providers to purchase equipment, tests and resources they need to keep the community safe.

“While my team’s work on this plan started prior to hearing the unfortunate news about Rep. Runions’ diagnosis, I thought it was fitting to honor him in this way as soon as I heard Joe’s powerful call to action,” said White. “At a time of what I imagine must be great pain, fear and uncertainty for Joe and his family, he showed not only why he is such a great leader, but also what we are all capable of in these difficult times. From his hospital bed, still fighting this terrible disease, he called on us to step up and do everything we can to ensure that those we rely on to take care of us have the tools and resources they need to wage this war. That is exactly what the Runions Act does and that is exactly what I will continue to do for Joe and everyone else in our community.”

The Runions Act would provide $3 million to Truman Medical Centers to assist the hospital with the purchasing of needed medical equipment, such as ventilators or personal protective equipment, and increase their testing capacity and bed capacity. The Jackson County Health Department would receive $1 million to maximize their partnership with other community health care providers to increase testing, contact tracing and care for uninsured. The Act would also provide $2 million to go toward temporary sheltering and increased hospital capacity in the county.

For area food agencies to provide meal delivery to those who are unable or it is unsafe for them to leave their homes, The Runions Act would provide $1.5 million for agencies to hire unemployed service employees, or utilize restaurants negatively impacted by the virus to assist in the preparation or delivery of food. Finally, $1.5 million will be allotted for first responders, law enforcement and detention facilities to provide personal protective equipment, and additional supplies and staff.

“Without thinking twice, the dedicated providers at Truman Medical Centers jumped into gear to provide quality, compassionate care for our community,” said Charlie Shields, President and CEO of Truman Medical Centers. “We greatly appreciate this financial support from Jackson County. Together, TMC and Jackson County will heal, protect and save lives.”

Effective as of Tuesday, March 24, Jackson County is requiring people to stay at home except for essential needs, in order to ensure the maximum number of people self-isolate in their places of residence. The order is in effect until at least April 24, and may be extended depending on recommendations from public health officials.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Grandview Recognizes Service of Outgoing Board Members

by Mary Wilson

School Board Recognition Month is typically celebrated in February, however, the Grandview School District recognized certain board members for their service during the meeting on Thursday, March 12. Each March, Superintendent Dr. Kenny Rodrequez makes an effort to thank board members as they complete their three-year terms.

Four board members have reached a service milestone in Grandview this year, including Member Chuck Cornforth, who completed his first three-year term; Member Paul Alexander, who completed his third three-year term; Treasurer Barbara Polette, who also completed her third three-year term; and Board President Leonard Greene, who completed his fourth three-year term in 2018. Each received a service pin from district administration.

Rodrequez also recognized Alexander and Polette, who are retiring from their service on the Board of Education this April. Both received a cupcake and a certificate detailing their specific attributes and qualities brought to the board.

“Paul is a selfless volunteer on behalf of Grandview schools,” said Rodrequez. “He cares about exposing students to engineering careers and has a humble, helpful servant’s heart. He is optimistic, he listens earnestly before taking action, and was an office holder on the board for six of his nine years of service. He is deeply dedicated to his family and community.

“Barbara is a supporter of early childhood education,” added Rodrequez. “She has a heart for kids, and has earned 115 MSBA (Missouri School Board Association) Certified Board Member credits. She has been involved in a lot of things at our state level and continues to be dedicated. Her life has been devoted to helping others, and she achieved Master Board of Education Certification in her first term.”

Their fellow board members indicated that they have been mentors and offered guidance to more rookie elected officials. Board Secretary Kathy Meyers, who is also a former board member, also thanked each for their service.

“I want to thank both of you for dedicating nearly a decade of your lives to board service,” said Meyers. “I especially want to point out, to you, Barbara, that your devotion to continuous learning is rare and impressive. To get your Master Certification in your first term is outstanding, but even more than that, to get 115 MSBA continuing education credits in nine years is a bar I’m not sure will be reached in quite some time.

“And Paul, I want to say I have always appreciated that you always seem to be in the same mood,” added Meyers. “Your calm demeanor is a real benefit to this board. I could almost always count on Paul being at every meeting. For that, you have made my job much easier, and it is a testament to your dedication to this district.”

Meyers said to both Alexander and Polette that they’ll likely miss their board service, and the connections and being in “the know.” Although, she added, they will probably appreciate the free time they’ll have going forward.

“We’ve been around for a while, folks,” said Board President Greene. “I thank you both from the bottom of my heart. We’re like family up here. The one thing I’ve noticed over the years, and I’ve said this before and I’ll continue to say it going forward, everything we’ve done has been about the kids. You two have dedicated your time, money and efforts to ensure that we move forward for our kids.”

As Alexander and Polette step down, new members Don Kessinger and Damon Greene will be sworn in during the April meeting. Vice President Monica Terry will also be sworn in to serve her second term at that time.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Peterson Manufacturing Celebrates Milestone Anniversary

by Mary Wilson

The Armacost family was in the car business. As Don Armacost Jr. says, his grandfather opened his first car dealership in 1923 in Cincinnati, and after opportunity struck in Indianapolis in 1926, he moved and became the sponsor of three Indy drivers, whose cars were marked Armacost Special. He then was offered a position in Kansas City as a master dealer, which entailed every car in the metro’s 16 counties going through him.

“Dad grew up in that business,” said Armacost Jr. “So did his younger brother. It got to the point where Dad realized that that car dealership, at 14th and Baltimore, wasn’t going to provide all of them with the lifestyle they wanted.”

Armacost’s grandfather, he said, who could care less about cars and was just in it for making money, was always looking for businesses. In 1956, he had a little company called Peterson Manufacturing come across his desk, located in a dump at 14th and Chestnut in Kansas City. Armacost Sr. asked his father if he could look at it. Started in 1945 by Wilbur Peterson, who had two businesses at the time, Peterson Manufacturing made several things including bicycle pumps and, eventually, vehicle lighting.

“Dad bought the company with a loan from Crosby Kemper,” said Armacost. “I started working there in the summer of 1957, at 14 years old, sweeping floors, straightening stock, and such. Because of my age, I couldn’t be on the payroll. So, I was ‘miscellaneous expenses.’ I got 75-cents an hour. Which was enough to keep gas in my motorcycle.

“It’s amazing that he took a leap of faith. He didn’t know anything about the industry,” Armacost added about his father. “He was a very brilliant guy. A smart learner.”

Peterson Manufacturing, celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, came out with the first color catalog in the lighting industry, and for three-quarters of a century, has remained a leader in lighting innovation, technology, and service internationally.

When the Armacosts took over, Peterson didn’t have a chair for anyone to sit on, and made employees pay a dime a cup for their coffee. As business grew, Armacost Sr. decided he needed to get out of, what Armacost Jr. refers to as, the hole-in-the-wall.

“Mr. Peterson went crazy when he heard that my father put chairs in there for everybody,” said Armacost. “And then we provided coffee. He actually came down and stood on our shipping dock and gave my father a hard time, calling him a big shot. Dad looked at him and said, ‘Mr. Peterson, you don’t seem to understand that I own this business now, and if you don’t leave right now, I will physically throw you off the shipping dock.’”

A new facility was built in 1960 in the Swope Park Industrial District, surrounded by the Little Blue River. A dock-high building, the first year Peterson Manufacturing was in operation there, it flooded within a foot of the business. It got so bad that only three people remained, including Armacost Sr. and the business owner from across the street, whose building was ground level and had flooded.

“The guy from across the street put his head on my dad’s shoulder and said, ‘Don, I’m ruined,” said Armacost. “My dad looked at him and said, ‘Ewing, I think you’ll be just fine.’ As in Ewing Kauffman.”

The company outgrew the facility and expanded, adding another 30,000 square feet, in 1965. By the late 1960s, Peterson Manufacturing was again out of space with no room to expand further. They were looking at building a 100,000 square-foot facility with an additional 12,000 square-foot of office space in Kansas, a right-to-work state. Clipper Manufacturing Company, located at 4200 E 135th Street in Grandview, was for sale and empty. At that time, the building was 225,000 square feet with 45 acres of ground space surrounding it.

“I remember walking in it with my dad, and when you see a building that big that’s empty, we just kind of said that it was way too much,” said Armacost. “So, we made an offer of exactly what we thought we were going to pay in Kansas, and I’ll be darned if they didn’t take it.”

In 1970, the office staff moved over, and the back part of the building, 90,000 square feet worth, was leased out, along with all the offices on the east side of the main entrance. In 1971, just prior to the rest of the move, Peterson Manufacturing was looking for someone with shipping experience, and hired Steve Sharp to join the team.

“This was so not going to be my career. I wasn’t going to do this,” said Sharp. This July, he will celebrate his 49th year with the company.

Sharp, who now serves as Director of Inventory, along with a handful of other employees, loaded 18 pallets with product to take to the new facility in Grandview in December of 1971.

“I came into the back doors, and though I had seen the building before, had not been in it,” said Sharp. “I put these pallets all back-to-back, and I thought, ‘this is insane.’ I knew it wasn’t going to work. It’s monstrous and we’ll never fill it up.”

Armacost said that, for years, 24 acres of the property was for sale. Luckily, though, that never sold, because Peterson Manufacturing would go through more growth over the next several decades. In 1987, Peterson doubled the space and, according to Sharp, stayed that way for a little while. In the early 1990s, Mission Plastics and Vector Tool and Engineering, which were part of the ownership’s group of companies, moved to the property in Grandview.

The Armacost car collection started with a 1947 Studebaker. Armacost Jr.’s first collectible car was a 1953 Studebaker, bought used from someone in Nashville, TN. From there, the collection grew, and grew. The restoration shop was built, and eventually they outgrew that.

“They couldn’t restore any more cars because they couldn’t get around the ones that were stored in there,” said Armacost Jr.’s daughter, Kristen Goodson, now the company’s Vice President of Product Management.

Armacost’s younger brother, David, convinced their dad that they needed to build a museum for the cars. The Armacost Car Museum opened in 1992.

“Plus, we needed the space,” said Armacost. “We took all the sixties-era chairs and furniture from Dad’s old office that were then scattered around the building, every bit of it, and put it in the office in there.”

Unfortunately, Armacost Sr. had a stroke, and after recovering from that, never had the time to devote to enjoying the museum and what was built as his office inside. He did, however, have some friends out to tour the museum on a few occasions, before his passing in 2000.

Peterson Manufacturing, along with the other companies it owns, now has around 600,000 square feet under roof in Grandview. Tunnels, completed in 2005, connect each building, so that business can take place between them rain or shine.

In 1956, when the Armacosts took over the operation of Peterson Manufacturing, they employed just under 50 workers. Today, Peterson Manufacturing and its subsidiaries employ over 600 in Grandview. A true locally-owned business, Armacost and his brother employ many members of their family. At one point, a change in the company’s name was discussed, but it was decided that with all the catalogs and publicity already out there, there wasn’t a real need.

“Quite often, I’m called Mr. Peterson,” said Armacost, “mostly by people who don’t know any better.”

Armacost has worked a variety of jobs at Peterson Manufacturing since he was first pushing that broom at 14. From shipping, to finished goods, warehousing, sales, billing and so on, his dad thought he might like to do accounting. However, he wanted to be where the action was in sales. That’s where he spent most of his career, until becoming President and CEO of the company upon his father’s retirement.

“Dad always drank martinis,” said Armacost. “He once told me, he said, ‘I never dreamed the company would be this size. I was just looking for a way to have a nice lifestyle for my wife and my children.’ His father was a taskmaster, and my dad was tough on me, too. Really tough. We were having cocktails on my deck one afternoon and he looked at me and said, ‘You know, I was really, really tough on you. But I was just trying to make you strong.’ I said, ‘Dad, I’m strong enough, let’s call it quits, okay?’”

Over a drink at a Chiefs game, Armacost Sr. told Sharp that he couldn’t’ be happier with the way Peterson Manufacturing had come out.

“He said he was harder than hell on Don Jr.,” said Sharp. “He said, ‘But look what it’s done. Look at what he’s done now. Between those two boys, they’ve built something that I’ve never in my wildest dreams imagined.’”

While he was hard on his boys, and had high expectations, Armacost Sr. was also very charitable. It wouldn’t be unheard of for him to load up his car full of Christmas gifts for a family in need.

“I think he would be astonished at what he started,” added Goodson.

For a family in the car business, the Armacosts grew to love, and respect, the light business. And for 75 years, Kansas City, Missouri, the nation and the world, have respected them back ten-fold.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Grandview Aldermen to Consider Potential Fire District Consolidation

by Mary Wilson

The City of Grandview, along with the Mount Pleasant Fire Protection District, the South Metro Fire Protection District, the West Peculiar Fire Protection District and the Western Cass Fire Protection District, jointly participated in a study with the City of Belton in 2018 to determine if a potential consolidation of fire services is feasible. Belton, with joint participation from the other five communities, served as the coordinating agency for the proposal.

The departments in Cass County initially prompted the discussion among themselves after years of conversation regarding combining forces into one fire district. Grandview became a part of those discussions in early 2018, and Emergency Services Consulting International (ESCI) was engaged to conduct a study on the feasibility of consolidating the six departments.

The final report was completed in 2019, and on Tuesday, February 18, Sheldon Gilbert, CEO of ESCI, and John Stouffer, ESCI’s regional manager who served as the study’s project manager, met with the Grandview Board of Aldermen to discuss the results and provide a recommendation for city leadership to take into consideration.

“The main reason you look at regionalized efforts is because you want to see if there’s opportunity for reduction of redundancy, better efficiency, and you want to be able to manage your risk,” said Gilbert.  “Regionalization doesn’t happen quickly, and sometimes it doesn’t happen at all.”

Gilbert added that the primary motivation for a potential consolidation is not to save a substantial amount of money. Rather, the intent is to improve the quality and effectiveness of providing fire protection, emergency medical services (EMS), and other emergency services to the communities. As part of the study, ESCI conducted a detailed historical financial analysis of each of the fire departments and districts, including property tax levy rates and revenue, financial forecasts, and transport analysis.

ESCI presented five options to four of the six districts and departments (it was determined that Mount Pleasant and Western Cass would be best suited to maintain operation as they are currently): maintain status quo, without making any changes to current operation; form an Interlocal Cooperation Agreement (ICA), which includes administrative, functional and operational collaboration; create a new fire protection district; consolidate city departments and fire districts; or expand (annex) a current fire district boundary.

“Ultimately ESCI recommends annexation by a current fire protection district,” said Gilbert. “ESCI believes that South Metro FPD is in the best position for extending its boundaries through annexation of the other jurisdictions. However, we see this as a ‘crawl, walk, run’ approach to consolidation. Even in the best-planned collaborative efforts, unforeseen issues may arise, errors can be made, and alternative paths will be identified.”

If ESCI’s recommendation is ultimately approved by the four communities, and not necessarily at the same time, eventually this could mean a new fire district including the cities of Grandview, Belton, Raymore and Peculiar. The South Metro name would be changed, and the new district would take on a new identity. ESCI recommends the district be organized into Life Safety, Training and Safety, Support Services and Emergency Operations divisions.

“ESCI is confident that implementation of a consolidated fire district is both feasible and in the best interest of the respective communities in the study,” said Gilbert. “If a decision is made to move forward with consolidation, it will require a considerable amount of planning and compromise to achieve success. Regionalization is sometimes the right thing, but it’s never the easy thing.”

The City of Grandview received, as part of the study, a detailed analysis on the fire department’s best practices, financial standings and projections, and more, and will work to determine what steps they can begin taking to ensure that procedures and policies are in place for a successful department.

“I think that’s something that the Board of Aldermen is going to want to see first,” said Grandview Mayor Leonard Jones. “We need to find our low-hanging fruit and tackle those items, and improve upon those, before we do anything else.”

The report itself has, according to Gilbert, a lot of information and a lot of moving parts. As far as Grandview is concerned, city staff will go through the study and make a recommendation to the Board of Aldermen regarding next steps, which may or may not include regionalization and consolidation into an agreed-upon fire district.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Candidates File for April Elections

by Mary Wilson

The deadline for those interested in filing for local elected positions was last week, and those who wish to serve on school boards or city council in Grandview have made their first move in what will be a few months of campaigning.

Grandview’s Board of Aldermen has three positions open, one in each of the three wards. Each ward has multiple candidates for the positions. In Ward 1, incumbent Sandy Kessinger has decided to step down from service to the City of Grandview. Former Alderman Debbie Bibbs, who resigned from the position in September of 2016 due to health issues, has filed again for Kessinger’s seat, along with resident Tom McBride.

“Serving on the Board of Aldermen has been one of the most educational and gratifying activities of my adult life,” said Kessinger. “As a society, we tend to think meaningful outcomes are attained at the federal or state level. Conversely, I have learned that our neighborhoods and local communities are the venues where we can have a powerful voice and have the most impact on our day-to-day lives. To this end, it was a privilege to serve the citizens of Grandview by being their voice.”

In Grandview’s Ward 2, incumbent Annette Turnbaugh has filed for her own seat, and she is contested by Kaele Bybee and Bud Day. In Ward 3, incumbent James Crain has also filed for his seat, and he is contested by Ron Brownlee.

In the Center School District, seven candidates for three open positions are seeking office. Incumbent Marcie Calvin, Sam Cook, Johnathan Decker, Margo Simms-Hurst, incumbent Danielle Quinn, Amy Carr and Bryce Thomas Shields will face off in April.

Grandview School District also has three open positions. Four filed; however, candidate Sheila Maberry has since withdrawn due to family health issues. Therefore, an election for Grandview Board of Education will not be held, and the three candidates will be sworn in in April. Incumbent Monica Terry, Damon Greene and Don Kessinger will take the oath of office.

Finally, Hickman Mills also has three positions open, for which six candidates have filed. Former board member Byron Townsend, former State Representative DaRon McGee, incumbent Clifford Ragan, incumbent Richard Abram, Irene Kendrick and Debbie Long will campaign for their spot on the school board.

The Advocate will issue questionnaires to each candidate seeking office, and those will be printed in March, prior to the election on April 7, 2020.

Filing for the statewide August 4, 2020 primary election opens on February 25 and closes on March 31.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Grandview Schools to Implement New Visitor Management System

by Mary Wilson

Visitors to any Grandview School District buildings will soon be required to provide identification as the district works to ensure a safe and secure environment for students and staff.

After reviewing and testing a handful of different management systems, two vendors were selected for demonstrations with the district team, which was comprised of representatives from central office administrators, building level administrators, building secretaries, the IT department and the public relations coordinator.

“The conversations we have had with our safety team throughout the district have revolved around the need for further security at our entrances,” said Superintendent Dr. Kenny Rodrequez. “These discussions have gone on for the last year or two, and this is the recommendation from the team.”

Raptor Technologies, or the “gold standard” as Assistant Superintendent Lori DeAnda referred to the company, has a visitor management system used by school districts in the Midwest.

“The things we liked about this technology were also things that the safety committee wanted in the system that we acquired,” said DeAnda. “Accessing the database was really important and doing that every time a person comes through the door. What’s true on Tuesday many not necessarily be true on Wednesday, and this program will show us that.”

The system is customizable to the district’s specific needs, but overall will offer:
• Screening of every visitor against registered sex offender databases in all 50 states.
• Creation of custom alerts for custody issues, trespassing, etc.
• District-wide reporting for all visitors.
• Visitors’ passes including a photo.
• Tardy slips for late students.
• Expansion capabilities for student attendance, volunteer tracking, and emergency management.

“We also appreciated the ease in which the system could be implemented,” said DeAnda. “Training should take less than an hour at each building site.”

Upon entering a district building, visitors will be asked to present an ID such as a driver’s license, which can either be scanned or manually entered into the system. If a parent or guardian for any reason does not have a US government-issued ID, the school staff member can use any form of identification and manually enter the person’s name into the Raptor system. The Raptor system will check to ensure that registered sex offenders are not entering school campuses without staff’s knowledge. The Raptor system checks the visitor's name and date of birth for comparison with a national database of registered sex offenders. The registered sex offender database is the only official database checked by the Raptor system. No other data from the ID is gathered or recorded and the information is not shared with any outside agency.

Once entry to the school building is approved, Raptor will issue a badge that identifies the visitor, the date, and the purpose of their visit. A visitor’s badge will not be necessary for those who visit the schools simply to drop off an item in the office or pick up paperwork.

“The system will be a little different in some ways, and very similar in others, to what we’ve done in the past,” said Rodrequez. “While we know that there may be some concerns and challenges, we think that at the end of the day, this will ensure a safer environment for our district.”

The implementation of the Raptor visitor management system began at CAIR and Central Office on January 13, with the rest of the district sites seeing the new system beginning on January 22.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Community Input Requested for Hickman Mills Area Plan

By Mary Wilson

The City of Kansas City is seeking public input in helping shape the future of the Hickman Mills area. A public meeting will be held regarding the Hickman Mills Area Plan on Thursday, January 16, at 5:30 p.m., at the Kansas City South Patrol Division Station, 9701 Marion Park Drive.

The previous Hickman Mills Area Plan was adopted by the City of Kansas City back in 2007, and includes the area generally bound by 87th Street on the north, I-49 on the west, Grandview city limits on the south, and Raytown Road on the east. At the meeting, community members can expect an overview of the planning process, proposed recommendations of the upcoming plan, and next steps for adoption and implementation. Those interested will have an opportunity to hear the ideas and provide input to city staff to be included in the final document.

City Planner Brian Jackson, who focuses on long range planning and preservation, said that the goal of the public meetings is to provide a comprehensive framework to guide public decisions on land use, housing, public improvements, community development and city services. Area plans, like the one in Hickman Mills, recommend strategies to help realize a community’s long-term vision.

During the planning process, Hickman Mills and South Kansas City lost a longtime community advocate, Lou Austin. Always a visionary and forward thinker, Austin never hesitated to make personal commitments to the things he believed in, whether that meant funding development studies for his properties or donating land to be used as a park and educational opportunity. Austin’s dedication to the bettering of his community was an inspiration to all who had the pleasure of meeting him, and because of this, Jackson said, the Hickman Mills Area Plan is dedicated to his legacy.

“Lou has always been a tireless advocate for South Kansas City, and especially the Hickman Mills community that he lived in,” said Jackson. “His contributions can be seen across the planning area in the form of off-street trails, historical markers, and public spaces. It is difficult to think of a community group or organization that he did not impact. After learning of  his passing, it seemed like an obvious action to dedicate the upcoming plan in his memory."

In 2007, Kansas City established 18 area plan geographies. The previous Hickman Mills Area Plan was the first area plan to be completed of the original 18. Prior to 2007, the city was comprised of 46 separate areas, with three in the current boundaries of Hickman Mills. Since 2007, Kanas City has created area plans for all 18 geographies and recently has begun to update those plans in communities that were among the first to go through the planning process. Martin City and Greater Downtown have also had plans updated or are currently in the planning process.

According to Jackson, the current planning effort in Hickman Mills is focused on ensuring that the document reflects the current conditions while communicating a long-term community vision. It will update community concerns, form development guidelines, provide future land use recommendations, and establish priorities for capital improvements. The updated Hickman Mills Area Plan will also serve as the reference point for community members and city staff to evaluate future development projects.

Since March of this year, city staff has been conducting various outreach efforts to gather input on the goals and priorities for the plan. From those discussions, Jackson said that a few items were identified as crucial community priorities. Those priorities include:
• Preventing commercial expansion into single family neighborhoods.
• The renovation or redevelopment of aging and underperforming commercial centers.
• Prioritizing sidewalk construction around schools, transit stops, and areas of highest need.
• Improving access for all modes of travel throughout Hickman Mills.
• Continued buildout of the trails system and promotion of the trail history in Hickman Mills.
• Improved code enforcement to improve neighborhood livability.

The draft version of the Hickman Mills Area Plan is available for review on the city’s website at, under the City Planning and Development page. Members of the community are encouraged to contact city staff with any feedback or questions related to the document. Final adoption by the City Council is expected in early 2020.