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Observer Corps Report

Eileen Marshall  | Published on 5/28/2021

Johnson County Board of County Commissioners

Meeting dates: 4/15/21 through 5/13/21 (most recent appears first)

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


May 13, 2021

 

The Board now meets in person with limited seating in the meeting room. Go to https://boccmeetings.jocogov.org/onbaseagendaonline, to see meetings. The Johnson County Health and Environment Department broadcasts COVID-19 updates on OnBase and Facebook three times at 4 PM. COVID-19 questions? Call 913-715-CV19 (2819) Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. or go to https://jocogov.org/county-services-impacted-covid-19 For COVID-19 updates sign up here:  https://www.jocogov.org/  Public comments may be made in person or by Zoom now, and speakers must register by noon the Wednesday before the meeting.


Notes for the Record

Chairperson Eilert signed an agreement with the city of Overland Park for government enforcement services of health orders. 


Reports and Communications

The audit report for Johnson County Disability Services, JCDS was presented. Johnson County has received the second round of rental assistance funds, now with more flexible guidelines. The county continues to work on creating a three month reserve of PPE supplies, but distribution levels are now adequate. 


Dr. Areola reported on COVID-19 vaccine distribution, now available to 12 to 15 year olds. In answer to Commissioner O’Hara’s query, county epidemiologist Elizabeth Holzschuh explained that vaccination requirements for public school students are set by Kansas state statute. 


Commission Comments

Commissioner Meyers reported that he met with the Solid Waste Management Committee for a good presentation on composting. Commissioner Fast met with Representative Sharice Davids to discuss earmark funding for the Coleman Plant cleanup, an ongoing neighborhood hazard in Johnson County. The Commissioner asked that others contact Senators Moran and Marshall to consolidate our efforts in Washington to get financial help with this project. Commissioner Hanzlick noted that May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage month, thanking all the Johnson County residents of this heritage for their rich and ongoing contribution to our community. 


May 6, 2021


DMV Presentation

David Harper, Kansas and Johnson County Division of Motor Vehicles, presented information on updates to the three county facilities, which serve 470,000 licensed drivers. Wait times and backlogs are being successfully addressed, and locations for license renewals are being set up at Tallgrass Creek retirement facility and at Blue Valley Schools. Online renewal is available for people under 65, and we can practice the written exam on the Amazon smart device Alexa. Questions and feedback are welcome.


Reports and Communications

Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) and CERI reported on current economic conditions for the metropolitan area and Johnson County, respectively. The metro area has recovered 75% of jobs lost, a rate nearly three times faster than the Great Recession, a result of vigorous federal response to the pandemic. The CERI report for Johnson County describes a slowing growth rate (current population approximately 607,000) because of lower birth rates. Major employment is in health care, retail, professional-technical services, administration and waste management, construction, and accommodations-food service. Job losses have recovered to within 5% of the year before the pandemic (42,000 jobs lost). COVID-19 unemployment has hit women harder than men, with nearly half the claims by women, compared to 34% the previous year (number adjusted for fraudulent claims). The housing market remains tight with only about two week’s supply of housing. The average home price in the county is $413,000.

 

Commission Comments

Commissioner Fast noted her appreciation for community members and staff with whom she has been working to rename Negro Creek and acknowledge local history. She also stated that the County is losing affordable, multi-family housing in the northeast section.


April 27, 2021


Business Session

The Board approved a grant application by the 10th Judicial District for $1,632,691 to the Kansas Department of Corrections-Juvenile Services for client services and positions. After several public comments and defeating a motion to table, the Board passed Resolution no. 032-21, five to one, strongly recommending (not mandating) masks, social distancing and vaccination for the COVID-19 virus. https://JoCoHealthrecommendation4.29.21


Reports and Communications

The Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) Report for 2022-2026 recommended approval for county projects in Emergency Management and Communications, the Library system, Parks and Recreation, Road and Bridge Maintenance in the amount of $161,046,675. Two recommendations, the new Lenexa Med-Act facility and Household Hazardous Waste are to be funded through debt service. 


April 22, 2021

 

Notes for the Record

The county signed an agreement with the city of Merriam for Government Enforcement Services for the March 25, 2021 Health Order.


Business Session

The Board approved the appointment of Emily Coleman Hildalgo, a frequent critic of Johnson County's health order requiring masks, to the southeast Consolidated Zoning Board by a four to three vote, with several commissioners expressing concerns about her documented behavior of threatening staff. The Board entered into a Memorandum of Understanding authorizing the expenditure of $148,665 to allow the hiring of three attorneys and a trial assistant to address the 15-month backlog of court cases. 


April 15, 2021


Notes for the Record

Chairperson Eilert signed agreements for government enforcement services of health orders with the cities of Lenexa, Mission Woods, and Prairie Village. Judge Ryan Dixon was reappointed as Overland Park representative to the Community Corrections Advisory Board through Feb. 7, 2023


Action Agenda

After a discussion of interest rates and the strong demand for airport hangar rentals, the Board authorized airport improvements to hangars in the amount of $6,500,000, in addition to the publication of notice of intent to issue general obligation internal improvement bonds for that amount. Rental fees will provide repayment of this obligation.

Commission Comments

Commissioner Allenbrand reported on meeting with MARC and Long Term Care Facilities executives from other states to explain our vaccine rollout, a successful model for the rest of the country.


Johnson County 2021 Charter Commission

April 28, 2021

Submitted by Alleen VanBebber and Eileen Marshall 


This was the third meeting of the 2021 Charter Commission (CC). It was held via Zoom and is viewable by the public via Facebook. All 25 members were present.

Interim Chief Counsel Cindy Dunham discussed what constitutes a meeting according to the KS Open Meetings Act. All meetings of the CC are to be conducted in public view.

County Manager Penny Postoak Ferguson gave a comprehensive presentation on Johnson County government – organization charts, headcounts, county demographics, budgets and finances. This took up most of the meeting. 


Johnson County 2021 Charter Commission

May 10, 2021

Submitted by Alleen VanBebber and Eileen Marshall


This was the fourth meeting of the 2021 Charter Commission (CC). It was held via Zoom and is viewable by the public via Facebook Live. All 25 members were present.

The Commission is still looking for a place to meet in which both distancing and public access via technology is possible. The KU Edwards Campus is being considered. Until a location is found, meetings will remain virtual.

Deputy Clerk Lynda Sader walked the group through the proposed web pages, and members gave the go-ahead to make them public after a few improvements are made. They will be accessible from the County’s website. Agendas, packets, minutes, and meeting videos will be posted and available to the public, as well as a calendar, reports of the past commissions, and the list of current members.

Chairman Musil has distributed the proposed rules of order to the members, and they will discuss at the next meeting. Musil also requests input from members regarding specific county departments they wish to examine and written questions for the County Commissioners and former County Managers, who will address the group in a future meeting. The next meeting (May 26) will cover airports, wastewater, public works and planning/housing/community development.

Sheriff Calvin Hayden (elected official) presented an overview of the Sheriff’s Department. District Attorney Steve Howe (elected official) presented an overview of the DA’s office, and Chief Judge of the District Court Kelly Ryan (elected official) presented an overview of his department. The District Court is mostly funded by the State of Kansas (which covers all salaries), but the County covers the cost of operations, e.g., the courthouse and security. 

Once the presentations were finished, there was a Q&A period:

  1. Sheriff Hayden stated that he is not in favor of the changes made as a result of the original Home Rule Charter to make several positions (e.g., Appraiser, Auditor) appointees of the County Commission instead of elected positions. He states that elected officials are more accountable to the public than appointees.

  2. Commissioner Brenda Sharpe asked about racial equity policies. The answers were positive but vague. Someone noted that the Criminal Justice Advisory Council (CJAC) is a citizen’s group acting as a resource to the Sheriff’s and DA’s offices; perhaps they could present to the CC on this subject.

Meeting adjourned at 6:00 p.m. Next meeting: May 26, 4:00 via Zoom, viewable on Facebook.


Blue Valley Board of Education Meeting 05/10/2021

May 10, 2021

Submitted by Elise Kammeyer


Meeting was moved to Zoom due to safety concerns.

A large group gathered and joined open forum to ask the board to lift the mask restrictions for the rest of the year and for the next school year. A few people asked the board to remove diversity education curriculum additions that they referred to as critical race theory. Two librarians spoke about the importance of keeping the impressive staff and volunteers for continued programming in the Blue Valley library system. 

Presentation was given on structured literacy. Presentation was given on plans for Esser funds. 

To read more, click here.


Olathe School Board

May 6, 2021

Submitted by Cindy Hicks


The Olathe School Board met on May 6 for its regular monthly meeting. The following topics were discussed:

  1. The Administration gave an update on the status of their Real World Learning Initiative of career awareness and development for students in all grades (K thru 12). As a part of this the school district has been working with the Kauffman Foundation the past few years toward the goal that every student who graduates will have at least one Market Value Asset [(1) Internship and Client work, (2) College and Articulated Credits, (3) Industry Recognized Certification, (4) Entrepreneurship]. The goal for this school year was to have 30% of the graduates have at least one MVA. While they will not meet this goal, due to the pandemic, 25% of the graduates are on track to have at least one MVA. 

  2. The Administration updated the school board members that, as a result of support from the Olathe Public School Foundation, the Social/Emotional Support programs provided through the Summer Mental Health Clinic will be expanded this summer. They provide help for students, parents and staff.

On May 10, 2021 the Olathe School Board held a special meeting to discuss the racial slur used the previous Thursday by an Olathe high school coach in regard to a student. The Board terminated the individual’s contract with the district. The board has also directed the Superintendent to develop a comprehensive diversity training plan to be presented at the August meeting, including an evaluation of the current diversity training programs.

To read more, click here.


Overland Park City Council

April 20, 2021

Submitted by Nancy Allen


The OP City council met virtually Monday April 19, 2021. 

Mental Health Task Force recommendations are on-line, and open for public comment. Overland Park city pools will be open this summer. Deanna Rose Farmstead will open May 4th


Overland Park City Council

May 3, 2021

Submitted by Nancy Allen


The OP City council met virtually Monday May 3, 2021. Meetings are changing over to in-person. Some meetings will be continued to be streamed as well. Check the City website to see if meeting will be streamed. 

Public Safety Committee will hold a public hearing on the pit bull ban in June. 

The report of the Mental Health Task Force will be presented at the May 17 City Council meeting. Nine recommendations will be made. A draft of the recommendations is available on the city’s web site.

 

Overland Park City Council

May 17, 2021

Submitted by Nancy Allen

 

The OP City council met at Overland Park City Hall Monday, May 17, 2021. I attended virtually.

 Presentation: A Service Flag and Certificate of Recognition was presented to the City of Overland Parkby Manny Cabral, who is a Code Supervisor for the City of Overland Park, and  a member of Echo Company 501st Aviation Regiment of the US Army who served last year in Afghanistan. He talked about being grateful for his job with the city being held safe while he served during COVID-19. Many soldiers he served with lost their jobs at home during the pandemic. He presented a flag and citation of thanks. The flag was flown inside a predator drone that kept soldiers safe in Afghanistan, and it was flown “in the face of the enemy” over Bagram Airforce base. His presentation brought a tear to my eye.

Mental Health Task Force

Recommendations can be found here. https://opkansas.civicweb.net/document/38678/05-17-21%20COW%20(Mental%20Health%20Task%20Force%20Recommendat.pdf?handle=40ED9056C99742E5804575B5C063999D Recommendations were unanimously approved.

Announcements

City Pools – Three pools will be open this summer from 12 noon to 7 pm. Stonegate, Youngs Park, and Tomahawk Ridge are the only pools that will be open. The primary limiting factor is the availability of lifeguards. 

Mid-America Regional Council is starting work on a Regional Housing Partnership.

 

To read more, click here.


Prairie Village City Council 

April 19, 2021

Submitted by Nancy Kalikow Maxwell


The Council met virtually on Monday, April 19, 2021, beginning with a formal recognition of the two Teen Council representatives, followed by a presentation on the energy audit recently conducted by Energy Solutions Professionals. The Council approved a new residential sustainability grant program that will provide assistance to residents making certain energy-saving changes to their home. The proposed budget for 2022 was presented, with further budget discussions to be held by the Finance Committee later this week. 


Prairie Village City Council

May 3, 2021

Submitted by Nancy Kalikow Maxwell


The Council met virtually on Monday, May 3, 2021, beginning with an update from the City’s lobbyist on pending legislative issues. An update was provided by staff on public works projects and road conditions and the roll-out of a new Sustainability Grant program. Following a staff presentation and extensive discussion on possible marijuana ordinance options, the Council voted to direct the city attorney to research additional options. 


Prairie Village City Council

May 17, 2021

Submitted by Nancy Kalikow Maxwell


The Prairie Village City Council met virtually on Monday, May 17, 2021. The Mayor announced that 53% of those 16 and over in Johnson County have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. After approving 4 public works contracts, the meeting adjourned so the Council Committee of the Whole could discuss the proposed 2022 budget. The budget was passed as presented after two proposed amendments failed--one that would have reallocated $50,000 in street expenses for property tax reduction and one that would have reallocated $50,000 for a proposed Civic Center feasibility study or public engagement program. 


To read more, click here.