A Weekly Column
by Mary Wilson
Mary Wilson, editor of the Jackson County Advocate newspaper, grew up in the Grandview community. She currently serves as President of Grandview Main Street and works as a development coordinator for the Grandview Education Foundation. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 2, 2017
Between political divisiveness, concerns regarding public and private safety and other issues affecting the community as a whole, it seems people are finally finding a voice. For years, I’ve attended public meeting after public meeting where I am the sole community member in the room. At times, I wear many hats in these meetings: reporter, mother, resident, concerned citizen, etc.
Whatever my purpose for being there, and whatever the discussion is about, I’ve seen it all.
I’ve seen groups of activists come and go. I’ve seen neighbors angry at neighbors. I’ve seen parents fed up with their kids. I’ve seen people complain, I’ve seen them give thanks and I’ve seen them pour their hearts out for their cause. They come, they say their piece, and they go. Sometimes, action is taken, whether by the city or our school districts. That all depends, in essence, on the way the information, concern or complaint is presented.
There’s a certain amount of decorum expected when a community member voices an opinion during the public comments portion of meetings before a governing body. In order to not fall on deaf ears, the presenter must have their thoughts concise, be educated in what they are talking about and be engaged in what goes on behind the scenes.
Two members from a community group recently stood up in front of Grandview’s Board of Aldermen during public comments. Grandview resident Joshua Teel, vice president of the Belvidere Neighborhood Watch, spoke first. He first petitioned for all city officials to live within city limits.
“If we want Grandview to grow, we need to buy more Grandview,” he said. He also stated that he has seen concerns regarding public safety and patrol. “I’m friends with majority of the business owners in Grandview, and they are not receiving patrols from our local police department.” He added that he tries to stay active with the aldermen, the police department and his neighborhood.
“We need truancy officers in our schools, not just resource officers,” said Teel. “Wherever the resources come from, we need community involvement. My goal is to get more people to fill these
Grandview resident Pam Miller, president of the Belvidere Neighborhood Watch, spoke next.
“I feel very bad for our cops,” Miller said. “They are understaffed. We need more. If we are going to have police officers in our high school that cannot be on our streets to protect our children, who is protecting our homes while we are at work? I feel that the Kansas City Police Department, seeing as we are housing some of their children in Martin City, should be asked to loan some of their police officers to help patrol our schools so our police officers can get back on our streets, our businesses and our residents.”
She also expressed concerns with the way juvenile cases are handled through the Jackson County Prosecutor’s office. In addition to that, she voiced her concerns regarding the sanitary sewer lines.
“How would you like the sewer to back up in your basement and your playstation gets ruined that you spent hours working on at 16?” Miller asked. She had additional complaints regarding neighborhood services, the need for more snow plow drivers, the mixture used for treating the streets, and she ended by thanking the Board for their service.
The newly-formed Belvidere Neighborhood Watch group, which can be found on Facebook, is garnering community support to fix what they perceive to be concerns in the City of Grandview. While their complaints are valid, and feedback and discussion in public meetings is more than encouraged, this is the first time I’ve seen a representative from this group speak.
When I was young, I learned that when you have a complaint, or several, in this case, it’s always best to have two positives for every negative. Only once did I hear a thank you. Our city simply can’t pull police officers from other jurisdictions. Our school district can’t simply hire truancy officers (is truancy even the issue?). My business is right next to the police station, and if I’m in need of assistance, they are here. Complaints regarding the handling of juveniles should be brought before the Prosecuting Attorney.
Of course we need more community involvement. I see the need for it all the time. I see the lack of support during the Homecoming parade, I see the empty chairs at school board meetings, I see the same names listed on our ballots every election. I’ve seen it all. Our kids deserve our support, our elected officials need to hear from us, but we have to do it tactfully, we have to educate ourselves and we have to be involved. Showing up to a meeting and rattling off everything you see being done incorrectly isn’t going to solve the problem.
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