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Observer Corps Report

Eileen Marshall | Published on 3/30/2021

Johnson County Board of County Commissioners

Meeting dates: Feb. 18, 2021 through March 11, 2021 (most recent appears first)

Observers: Lenore Rowe, Joan Gilson, Jerry Gilson, Kathleen Morrow, Karen Wiederaenders, Rebecca James


The Board meets virtually. 

Go to The Johnson County Health and Environment Department broadcasts COVID updates on OnBase and Facebook Live daily at 4 PM. COVID questions? Call 913-715-CV19 (2819) Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. or go to Daily updates, sign up here:  


March 11, 2021


Public Comments

There were seven public comments.  Topics included COVID data collection, county staff pay increases, property taxes, opening schools, “disconnection” between BOCC members and their constituents. 


Action Agenda

Approved funding for KDHE staffing and infrastructure support.  Adopted 2021 Johnson County Federal Legislative Platform including: 

  • Cleanup of Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant.

  • Increased funding for mental health services and community mental health center (CMHC) grants.

  • Medicaid expansion in Kansas.

Legislative Update:   

  • SCR 1606 – home rule bill – dead. 

  • HB2026 – Creates drug abuse treatment program – to be considered at a later date. 

  • Legislative Post Audit – JoCo got positive “good practice” score 

  • Senior Care Act – still being considered 


COVID-19 Update

Dr. Areola:  Now in Phase 2. All 65+ individuals who filled out the county survey have been contacted regarding availability of vaccine and booking appointments. Individuals 65 and older can now call the Health Department at 913-715-2819 for a vaccine appointment. Now scheduling homebound individuals and homeless persons in clinics and with partners. Will provide transportation to clinics for some individuals next week. K-12 teachers are all vaccinated. 78,000 in Johnson County have received doses. Project 100,000 by the end of March. 


Commission Comments

Thank you to all individuals who have helped with COVID info and treatment.  Also thank you to recent efforts of the Fire Department. 

Commissioner Fast is working with the group renaming “Negro Creek”. 



March 4, 2021   

Opening Ceremonies

Chairperson Eilert proclaimed March 7-13 as Heroes Week, in honor of the many first responders, local health care systems, businesses and public schools that have worked with the county for the response and recovery efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. 


Business Session

Action Agenda—The Board authorized a lease agreement for a large vaccination site of 45,000 square feet for $534,000 with the option to terminate after six months. The county plans to vaccinate 20,000-30,000 people per week and needs a facility that does not require daily set-up and tear-down. 


Reports and Communications

Dr. Areola reported a COVID positivity rate of 3.6%. 


Commission Comments

Commissioner O’Hara commented that it is time to rescind the mask order, claiming that it is hurting businesses and not being enforced. Commissioner Meyer objected to O’Hara’s encouragement of behavior flouting the county ordinance. It was further reported that over 90% of Johnson County businesses replied in a recent survey that the mask order was being respected and that it helped their businesses.


Commissioner Fast stated that the county is still working on equity issues in vaccine distribution, an effort complicated by the cold storage requirements for the Pfizer and Moderna Vaccines. The Johnson & Johnson Vaccine, requiring less extreme storage, will help alleviate this situation. 

Individuals 65 and older can now call the Health Department at 913-715-2819 for a vaccine appointment. 


Feb. 25, 2021   

Consent Agenda

The Board authorized a contract extension with Valley Services, Inc. and the Department of Aging and Human Services, Area Agency on Aging for Food Service Program, at a cost not to exceed $180,000. To obtain assistance through this program, call 211, the United Way information number. 

Action Agenda

The Board approved a rezoning application from Gardner, KS for a mobile home park, affordable housing, to be located on the northwest corner of 175th St. and Hedge Lane, one mile from the New Century Airport. 


Reports and Communications

The CERI indicators (County Economic Research Institute) reveal that the median price for a home in Johnson County is $327,000. 

The 2021 Johnson County Charter Commission will meet Monday, March 1, 2021 at 5 p.m., live streamed on FaceBook. [Editor’s note: this was an organizational meeting only. All future meetings will be observed and reported.]


The county’s Dark Store lawsuit to retain property tax dollars generated by big box stores is proceeding through the courts. At this point the outcome looks positive. 


Other Reports

The Board voted to continue meeting virtually through Thursday, March 25 because of COVID-19.   


Board of Public Health Action

Sitting as the Board of Public Health, the Commissioners voted to approve the removal of curfews and closing times for restaurants, bars, night clubs and other businesses licensed to sell alcohol for on-premises consumption. No other changes were made to the public health order. See link for details.



Feb. 18, 2021   

The Board approved the appointments of six individuals to boards and commissions, including Lindsay Grise, Planning Commission; Lisa Huesers, Transportation Council; and Stacey Knoell, Public Art Commission, among others. 



County Manager Penny Postoak Ferguson and Emergency Management Communications Director Dan Robeson reported on the rolling blackouts initiated by Evergy in response to the winter storm. These were scheduled from 60 to 120 minutes, with repair trucks dispatched for longer power failures. Thirteen of the 87 county buildings were impacted. 


Maury Thompson, Deputy County manager, reported on Senate Bill 13, which requires new notice and hearing requirements for property tax assessments and is likely to pass in the House. 

A full accounting of CARES funds was presented. 



Blue Valley School Board

March 8, 2021

Submitted by Elise Kammeyer


  • There was one comment from the open forum asking for a refund of student activity fees and for a breakdown of how those fees were used, considering how limited student activities were with COVID-19.

  • Reviewed the plan for return to school with added and modified mitigation efforts. These included things like the flow of hallways and contact tracing/notification plans.

  • Reviewed the plan for spending ESSER funds from the state. These plans can be revised as needed in the future, but the funds must be used for areas directly impacted by the pandemic.

To read more, click here.

Olathe School Board

March 4, 2021

Submitted by Cindy Hicks

The following topics were discussed:

  1. Pending passage of the education bill in the KS Legislature, it is possible that only two options of learning will be offered for the 2021-2022 school year: In-person and Virtual Learning. The Olathe school district has submitted its application for a virtual learning school so that it can offer both options. A Virtual Learning school is 100% online, with its own curriculum. Remote learning, which uses the regular curriculum and offers online access when in-person is not available, such as during a pandemic, will not be offered if this bill passes in its current form. See article from Kansas Association of School Boards:

  1. The Olathe school district administration praised the Governor of Kansas for her commitment to provide the K-12 educators the opportunity to become vaccinated for Covid-19. Working with Children Mercy and the other school districts in Johnson County, Olathe hopes to finalize the first round of vaccine the week of March 8. Approximately 900 individuals have already received the second dose. 

To read more, click here.

Overland Park City Council

March 1, 2021

Submitted by Nancy Allen

The OP City council met virtually Monday March 1, 2021. All members and the Mayor were in attendance.

  1. The Mental Health Task Force is working on a plan that will be brought to the Council in April for a vote.

  2. Fair Housing: Rezoning the hotel at 6300 W. 110 Street from hotel to apartment complex was discussed. At issue is the number of parking spaces available if it is an apartment complex; they are currently 26 parking spaces short. The developer is asking for an approval for the deviation from City ordinance. The Council approved the deviation, and the developer will continue to create the apartments at this site. There will be 112 units, of which 75% (84) will be studio apartments. 

Overland Park City Council

March 15, 2021

Submitted by Nancy Allen


The OP City council met virtually on Monday March 15, 2021. 

  1. The first non-virtual City Council meeting is expected to be in May 2021.

  2. City Council members and other members of the OP Governing body are attending a two-part training session on Social Equity. The final training will be on Apr. 5, 2021.

  3. Now projecting that the report from the Mental Health Task Force will be presented at a May 2021 Council Meeting.

  4. Extending the changes made to signage ordinances due to the pandemic to the end of April 2020. The usual signage ordinance will go back into effect May 1, 2021.

To read more, click here.

Prairie Village City Council

March 1, 2021

Submitted by Nancy Kalikow Maxwell

The Prairie Village City Council met virtually on Monday, March 1, 2021. Mayor Eric Mikkelson proclaimed March 7-15 “COVID Heroes Week” to honor all those who have helped deal with the pandemic. He reported that the positivity rate for virus test results is currently 4.3%. The Diversity Committee reported on progress being made to review homeowner’s associations’ deed restrictions and a forthcoming implicit bias training program. Following extensive discussion of safety precautions, the Council approved a special use permit for a classic car show at Meadowbrook Park on Apr. 10. The Council also approved amendments to the 2018 Building Code that will increase energy efficiency and sustainability. 

Prairie Village City Council

March 15, 2021

Submitted by Nancy Kalikow Maxwell

The Prairie Village City Council met virtually on Monday, March 15, 2021, beginning with presentations providing an update on legislative developments, changes being proposed to the International Energy Conservation Code, and a proclamation in honor of Women’s History Month. Following extensive discussions, the Council approved a new Tree Protection Ordinance and approved changes to the pool hours. The Mayor announced that the new Corinth Quarter commercial area is 50% leased and plans are underway for redevelopment of the former Macy’s space. 

To read more, click here.