Northeast Johnson County morning roundup

first_imgThe Prairie Village pool will stay open until 10 p.m. Friday.Johnson County manager says state policy prompts need for property tax hike. Johnson County Manager Hannes Zacharias said last week that the state’s decision to phase out the mortgage registration fee is to blame for the need to raise property taxes in the county for the first time in eight years. The proposed 2015 budget includes a .814 mill increase, translating to about $23.28 for the average homeowner. The county is looking to replace about $49 million dollars that will be lost over the next five years from the elimination of the mortgage registration fee.[Zacharias blames state lawmakers for budget woes — Kansas City Star]Register to continuelast_img read more

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Dogs have their day as Mission’s new pool marks the end of its first season

first_imgThese dogs could not have been happier than they were sharing the pool in Mission Tuesday night.It was a dog party Tuesday at the Mission Family Aquatic Center and there was some running on the deck. The pool filled with dogs in the Pool Party for Pooches event that marks the closing of the season. Human-only swimming ended Monday and the Tuesday is traditionally reserved for the dogs before the pool is drained.Tugboat was the most appropriately named dog in the pool Tuesday.The group was clearly heavy on Labrador breeds who were having a great time chasing balls and water toys with abandon. Among those was the appropriately named Tugboat, a lab belonging to Trevor and Shelley Bacon and family.Perhaps less enthusiastic about swimming were a pair of Great Danes, Heidi and Notre, attending the party with Zach and Karla Werner. Zach said the dogs, clearly the biggest in the water, were “big couch potatoes,” and brought their laid-back style to the water. They did more standing than swimming Tuesday.The party had two sessions to give everyone a chance at the pool, which was confined to the leisure pool – no competition laps.Notre (L) and Heidi weren’t quite as sure about getting in too deep.last_img read more

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Olympic wrestler Melvin Douglas teaching his trade at SM East

first_imgKansas Sports Hall of Fame inductee Melvin Douglas is giving a two-day wrestling clinic at SM East.Melvin Douglas knows a thing or two about wrestling. The Topeka native won the Kansas state title three times and earned a national junior freestyle championship before heading to the University of Oklahoma where he became a two-time NCAA champion. After failing to qualify in previous Olympic trials, he broke through in 1996 and made his first Olympic team, qualifying again in 2000.And on Tuesday, Douglas was in Prairie Village to start teaching a group of neophyte grapplers the tricks of the trade.Douglas is coaching a two-day wrestling camp at SM East put on by the Kansas City Wrestling Club. Fifty wrestlers from across the area, from 6 years old up to high school, jumped at the opportunity to learn from the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame inductee. But Douglas’s path to wrestling stardom wasn’t always clear. He said he was initially turned off by the sport.“I thought it was what you saw on WWE,” he said. “No one was going to knee me on my head, or elbow me in my face, so I didn’t want anything to do with it.”But after watching his brothers start to compete in the sport, Douglas was attracted to the challenge. At 13, he took to the mat for the first time. He said that the young wrestlers in the room at SM East this week have the opportunity to become great wrestlers as well.“Wrestling to me is one of the hardest sports out there,” Douglas said. “It makes you a better person, because you’ve really got to be dedicated.”Grant Kline, a member of the SM East wrestling team, said the chance to learn from Douglas was special.“It’s really interesting — I like every opportunity I can get to get better,” he said.Douglas told the camp participants that one of the keys to success was “not being afraid to get your butt whooped in practice.”last_img read more

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Capitol Update: ‘We can no longer live in denial; the state of our state is eroding’

first_imgRep. Barbara Bollier.The 2016 legislative session is under way in Topeka, and throughout the session we’ll be bringing you a weekly update from one of northeast Johnson County’s elected officials — Rep. Barbara Bollier, Rep. Stephanie Clayton, Rep. Jarrod Ousley, Rep. Melissa Rooker and Sen. Kay Wolf — about what they’re working on in Topeka. Rep. Bollier submits this week’s update:This past week the most important news out of Topeka was the failure of House Constitutional Resolution 5005 to pass. Changing Kansas’ selection process for Supreme Court Justices was one of Governor Brownback’s top priorities. To bring about such a Constitutional change required 84 votes in the House (a two-thirds majority) to pass. The final vote was 68-54 with all northeast Johnson County Representatives voting NO. Kansas will continue to select our justices using the “Missouri Plan.” A panel of lawyers (four elected by lawyers from each Congressional District, four appointed by the Governor, and the chair elected by the approximately 5,000 lawyers in Kansas) review all nominees (all names known to the public) and select three candidates. The Governor then chooses a Supreme Court Justice from those three names after public hearings. This Tuesday the House will be debating an updated budget. The bill has critical problems yet also tries to effectively address some crucial issues with the Governor’s budget. Stay tuned to PVPost for results of this debate. As the session proceeds, we can no longer live in denial; the state of our state is eroding. Missed revenue estimates, borrowing millions of dollars to fund the budget, refusal of leadership to follow the will of the people are but a few examples of the failures before us in Kansas. In spite of the rhetoric claiming that all is well, the evidence clearly points to the contrary. As an elected member of your legislature, my concern grows by the day. The number one question I am asked is, “What can I do to help?” This past week a bill was heard in Education committee that called for extreme consolidation of Kansas K-12 school districts. The chairman of the committee received more than 600 e-mails AGAINST this bill and then STOPPED the bill due to this outcry. IT MATTERS that you contact your legislators and the committee chairs as evidenced by his response; participating in the process is something you can do! To find contact information for your Senator or Representative, use kslegislature.org. You can click on the icon “Find your legislator” followed by “Search by your address” if needed. Contact the Speaker of the House, Ray Merrick, and the Senate President, Susan Wagle. Those two control every single bill and whether a bill is worked in committee or not. If you want something to change, go to the leaders who pull the strings!Stay informed! Subscribe to your legislator’s e-newsletter. For me, in addition to a newsletter, I use a Representative Barbara Bollier Facebook page where I post articles daily from multiple sources to help Kansans follow legislative news. Organizations such as the Kansas Association of School Boards publish regular newsletters. Your Prairie Village legislators write for shawneemissionpost.com every Monday morning. With so much at stake, information is critical!Plan to vote in the Aug. 2 Primary! Of course, be registered to vote, but also understand the rules of primary voting in Kansas. The Democratic Party allows unaffiliated voters to vote in their primary. The Republican Party allows only voters registered with their party. Unaffiliated voters can choose to affiliate with a party on election day. Current law states that you can only change your party affiliation up to 21 days before an election.I remain hopeful. Every day is an opportunity for me to try to make your Kansas the best it can be. Thank you for allowing me to serve.last_img read more

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NEJC resident Chris Cindric to run against incumbent Steve Roberts for State Board of Education seat

first_imgPhoto via Chris Cindric campaign.Former Shawnee Mission School District school psychologist Chris Cindric announced this week that she had submitted a petition with 800 signatures on it to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to get her name on the ballot as a Democrat in the race for the State Board of Education’s District 2 seat.The seat, which represents an area that encompasses parts of the Shawnee Mission, Blue Valley, Olathe and DeSoto School Districts, is currently occupied by Steve Roberts, who ran for the seat as an independent in 2008 and won election in 2012 running as a Republican. Roberts lists his current occupation as professional math tutor.Roberts has raised eyebrows on occasion during his tenure. In 2013, he was rebuked for using the n-word several times during a discussion of whether history and social studies standards in the state were too politically correct. In 2014, Roberts led a campaign against the Common Core standards the state adopted in 2010.Cindric said in a release announcing her candidacy that she believed Roberts was too closely aligned with the conservative policies of Gov. Sam Brownback to be an effective advocate for the best education practices.“My opponent has aligned himself with Sam Brownback conservatives to try and block the development of these strong standards which allow local districts to create curriculum to meet the needs of their students,” she said. “I will resist any efforts to eliminate high standards.”She also said she believes early childhood education opportunities need to be expanded in the state.“Unlike my opponent who believes kindergarten teachers are simply finger painting specialists, I know the critical importance of early childhood education to the future success of students including, but not limited to, graduation rates and college attendance,” Cindric said.Cindric mounted a write-in campaign for the Shawnee Mission School Board seat occupied by current board president Sara Goodburn last year. Cindric attracted around 9 percent of the vote in that three-person race despite not having her name on the ballot.last_img read more

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Northeast Johnson County communities differ on response to new state law governing political yard signs

first_imgCommunities in Northeast Johnson County are not lockstep in following a new state law on political yard signs.A new state law that requires cities to allow political yard signs to be placed on the street right-of-way for 45 days before an election is receiving a mixed response in northeast Johnson County.Prairie Village and Roeland Park are ignoring the new state measure that went into effect last summer and continuing to apply their local ordinances governing yard signs.“The City Council provided clear direction to staff to enforce the regulations the city has adopted that prohibit signs in the right-of-way,” said Roeland Park City Administrator Keith Moody. “We view the law as unconstitutional.”Prairie Village City Administrator Quinn Bennion also said his community is continuing to follow its municipal sign code “the way it is.”And Merriam City Administrator Chris Engel said his city is going along with the new state law, but reluctantly.“Our city ordinance allows no signs in the right-of-way and we have not changed it to conform to state law,” he said.“We are trying to comply with state law, but we believe it violates the (U.S) Supreme Court ruling in terms of signs being content neutral.”Kathy Axelson, Fairway city administrator, said her community is complying with the new state law. Mission also is following the new state law, said spokeswoman Emily Randel.The unhappiness with the new state law on political yard signs is not limited to northeast Johnson County. Wichita and other communities across the state also have balked at the state’s new law taking away local control.The state law states that “no city or county shall regulate or prohibit the placement of or the number of political signs on…the unpaved right-of-way for city streets…during the 45-day period prior to any election and the two-day period following an such election.”It does allow cities to prohibit signs in areas that could block the view of drivers or cause other hazards.last_img read more

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Block and Co. looking to turn long-vacant former K-Mart site in Merriam into mixed-use project

first_imgThe Kansas City Business Journal’s Rob Roberts reports that the long-vacant commercial property at Antioch and Shawnee Mission Parkway in Merriam could soon be the site of a new mixed-use development featuring restaurants, hospitality, entertainment and some retail.Roberts broke the news Wednesday evening that Kansas City-based Block & Co. had led a group of investors who finalized purchased the property from its New York owners this week. According to his report, Block is negotiating to purchase the adjacent parcel that houses the IHOP restaurant building as well.Menards, the Wisconsin-based home improvement chain, spent months in 2014 on plans to turn the former Kmart site into a new store. But it announced it was pulling back from those efforts in early 2015.Block is reportedly looking to invest around $85 million in construction and development of the new project.last_img read more

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Mission explores changes to regulations that could affect long-standing business signage

first_imgPlanning Commissioner Scott Babcock said the Village Inn sign was a good example of why he wanted to be cautious about stepping up regulation of pole signage in the city. Photo via Yelp.By Jerry LaMartinaMission leaders have started to dig into the weeds of what it would take to declutter the city’s business areas from the kinds of imposing signage that have drawn complaints in recent years — but concerns persist about how such changes might affect longtime businesses.At a joint meeting of the City Council and Planning Commission Monday, officials discussed proposed ordinance changes that had been laid out an Oct. 26 work session, focusing on marquee signs, monument signs in the Main Street District 1, window signs, electronic signs, temporary signs, pole signs and costumed characters.During the Planning Commission’s regular meeting Monday, Chairman Mike Lee asked questions about how the behavior of costumed characters could be regulated under the city’s loitering ordinance.“If Mike Lee decides that he wants to dress up as the Statue of Liberty as a Mission resident and (walk) down the street, what would constitute that being loitering?” Lee said.“That’s not my specialty, so I’m not going to try to answer that,” City Planner Danielle Sitzman said. “But you’re not getting paid to do it.”“The concern,” Lee said, “is that (it’s) because I’m advertising a business or I’m a distraction or it’s a safety hazard? … I mean, I don’t like them, but it is sometimes amusing to sit there and watch them.”During the public comments segment of the Planning Commission’s regular meeting, former Mission Mayor Laura McConwell, who spoke as the lawyer representing The Mission Bank’s owner, Valley View Bancshares, said that Valley View had found itself “in a little bit of a pickle” regarding the sign ordinance. The company recently changed the name of its nine banks to Security Bank of Kansas City and has four pole signs at its banks in Mission. The sign ordinance requires removal of a pole sign when a business changes its name.“I do understand that the goal is to work at ultimately phasing out some of the pole signs,” McConwell said. “We have had some pole sign clutter in Mission, and over the years that has been eliminated. …“Nothing about the operation of Mission Bank has changed,” she said. “This sign-maintenance ordinance does not allow them to just reface these existing signs. That’s an impairment to this business that’s been in Mission … longer than I’ve been around, and I’ve been around a long time.”McConwell said that she didn’t think Valley View Bancshares’ change of its banks’ names constituted “(thumbing) their noses at the design ordinance or the community in any way” and asked that the company and others in similar circumstances not be penalized.In the joint work session, Planning Commissioner Scott Babcock cited the iconic Village Inn sign as an example.“That sign’s been there since the mid-‘60s,” Babcock said. “He takes very good care of it. It’s very appropriate for where it’s located. … And it’s part of the city. And it’s a fixture of the city. … Why would we tell him to get rid of this sign? Now, if he leaves, take it down.”Ward 3 Councilwoman Debbie Kring said in the joint work session that the sign ordinance should be written and enforced consistently, and that “the exception has to be based on some set of criteria that could be applied across the board.”Planning Commissioner Frank Bruce said in the joint work session that he thought it was “the responsibility of every single person in this room to do everything we can to support our business community.”“That (sign) is a high-revenue generator for the Village Inn,” Bruce said. “If you want to get your driver’s license renewed, you can drive right by there and not have any idea that the driver’s license bureau is right down there in a hole that you can’t see from Johnson Drive. So, many of those signs are really lifeblood to those people.”The Mission Planning Commission will continue discussion of the proposed ordinance changes at its Feb. 27 meeting.last_img read more

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Briefly noted: Stand Up Blue Valley releases county commission endorsements; 4 NEJC Republicans in legislature say they won’t support Kobach for governor

first_imgStand Up Blue Valley makes county commission endorsements ahead of fall election. Stand Up Blue Valley, the pro-public education advocacy group centered in southern Johnson County, has released its endorsements in the county commission races on the fall ballot. Stand Up Blue Valley’s endorsed candidates are:Commission Chair: Incumbent Ed EilertDistrict 1 Commissioner: Dual endorsement for incumbent Ron Shaffer and Becky FastDistrict 4 Commissioner: Challenger Janee’ HanzlickDistrict 5 Commissioner: Challenger LeEtta Felter“As with other races, we used a combination of candidate questionnaires, interviews, previous votes (when available), past statements, and other available information, to make endorsement decisions,” said the group in its announcement. “We endorse the candidates who we believe will best serve our Blue Valley community and the interests of our schools.”Northeast Johnson County moderates among Republicans who have said they won’t support Kobach for governor. Reps. Melissa Rooker and Stephanie Clayton and Sens. Barbara Bollier and Dinah Sykes are among a small group of elected Republicans statewide who have said they will not support GOP nominee Kris Kobach for governor. Almost 40 percent of Republicans in the legislature will not say whether they are support Kobach or not. [Kansas GOP lawmakers’ silence on whether they support Kobach angers some within party — Kansas City Star]last_img read more

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Briefly Noted: Shawnee Mission area reps respond to bill that would stop recognition of same-sex marriages

first_imgFreshman Rep. Susan Ruiz said she was disappointed with the introduction of the bill that would cease recognition of same-sex marriages in the state.First openly gay reps in legislature respond to bill that would stop recognition of same-sex marriages. Two Shawnee Mission area legislators on Wednesday responded to the news that a Sabetha, Kan., lawmaker was leading sponsorship of a bill that calls same-sex marriages “parodies” and would have Kansas stop recognizing them. Rep. Susan Ruiz and Rep. Brandon Woodard, Shawnee Mission area officials who are the first two openly gay members of the state legislature, expressed disappointment with the bill, which had eight sponsors. In contrast, a bill co-sponsored by Woodard and Ruiz that would provide legal protections for LGBTQ+ Kansans in housing and employment issues had nearly 40 sponsors. [Kansas lawmakers sponsor bill calling same-sex marriages ‘parody’ — Wichita Eagle]last_img read more

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