Skip to main content

News / Articles

Observer Corps Report

Eileen Marshall | Published on 6/28/2021

Johnson County Board of County Commissioners

Meeting dates: May 20, 2021 through June 3, 2021 (most recent appears first)

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


June 3, 2021


The Board now meets in person with limited seating in the meeting room. Go to  Home - OnBase Agenda Online, to see meetings. COVID-19 questions? Call  913-715-CV19 (2819) Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. or go to For weekly COVID-19 updates, sign up here: People may sign up the day of the meeting by 9:30 AM to make public comments.


Starting next week, the County Communications plan is to scale back on weekly reports on COVID-19 (CRF) Funding and on Dr. Areola’s report. All information will be available as needed to the public and to the Board. This plan will be altered when circumstances change. (This information is also available in PDFs on the weekly Board agenda posted on the Internet.) The CRF report is available here. (COVID-19 Operating Summary as of 06-01-21.pdf)  Dr. Areola reported that the unvaccinated population is continuing to contract COVID-19, and we are not yet at population immunity. (BOCC Public Health Update 6.3.2021.pptx)


Commissioner Hanzlick stated that she was privileged to join with local Korean War veterans and Korean Americans at the Korean War Memorial at 119th and Lowell on Monday to commemorate Memorial Day.


Chairperson Eilert noted that graduation for Project Search is June 4, 2021. Project Search, a job training program for intellectually and developmentally disabled individuals, is supported by the county, the IRS, Academy Sports, and Embassy Suites, among others. The program has a 70% employment rate.


May 27, 2021


Dave Trabert, spokesperson for the Kansas Policy Institute, spoke during the public comment time, objecting to the appointment of the county auditor.


Commissioner Fast reported on a presentation on the role of mental health issues for police responders.


May 20, 2021


Andrew Bowne, president, Johnson County Community College, provided a brief update on “the most affordable college in Kansas,” adding that both the Nerman Art Museum and the Midwest Trust Center will open to the public on June 1. The College plans to offer 50% face to face instruction by fall, in addition to already well-established virtual offerings.


The 2021 legislative session featured a record breaking number of bills, and monitoring these to prevent adverse effects on the county proved to be challenging for the three to five law clerks assigned to this task.


The county will request an amendment to the contract with Interpersonal Frequency for the Election Office website rebuild, hosting and maintenance for a one time cost of $205,875 and an ongoing cost of $88,000 annually. The use of a third party vendor is necessary for more efficiency to mitigate hacking. Threats to cyber security have increased substantially. 


The County Economic Research Institute (CERI) reported that building permits for single family housing are up 36.5% year to date, compared to last year. The security audit for the county’s social media platforms indicates that the county has 101 accounts using four platforms (You Tube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) with a total of 242,000 followers.


The COVID-19 vaccine is now available to 12-15 year olds, and many of these children are getting vaccinated. It was recently learned that the Pfizer vaccine does not need as much cold storage as previously thought, making it possible for more medical practitioners in the area to have the vaccine in their offices. Neither the state nor the county has sufficient immunity to COVID19; masks are still necessary. 


Commissioner Hanzlick will form a task force to continue working on the issue of affordable housing in Johnson County.

Johnson County 2021 Charter Commission

May 26, 2021, 4:00 p.m.

Submitted by Alleen VanBebber and Eileen Marshall

This was the fifth meeting of the 2021 Charter Commission (CC).  It was held via Zoom and is viewable by the public via Facebook Live. Twenty-three members were present at roll call. The Commission will be meeting at the KU Edwards Campus beginning on June 23.  The next meeting, June 14, will be virtual.

Deputy Clerk Lynda Sader announced that the website is up and available to the public. The address is 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.

The Commission’s Rules of Order as proposed by the Executive Committee (Chair Greg Musil, Vice-Chair Dawn Rattan, and Secretary Ed Peterson), were discussed. It was agreed that, as proposed, the final report should include “minority reports.” Paula Schwach (Mayor of Westwood Hills) moved that, to be included in the final report, a “minority report” have a minimum threshold of signatories. After discussion, this amendment was defeated; therefore anyone who wishes to write a minority report may do so. 

In another vote on rules, it was decided that any member may bring an issue to the group, but at least nine of the 25 members must vote for an issue to be taken up by the commission for it to receive further consideration. With these two amendments, the proposed rules of order were adopted.

“County Government 101” Presentations:

Airport Commission, by Aaron Otto
. Mr. Otto stated that he does not know of any charter issues affecting the Airport Commission, but workforce housing is an issue for the surrounding business park.

Johnson County Wastewater, by Susan Pekarek
. There are no known charter issues.

Public Works, by Brian Pietig
. There are no known charter issues.

Chairman Musil stated that there are probably three more meetings to cover “County Government 101”, and then substantive discussion or public input can begin. (If so, then the earliest public comment session would be mid-July.)

Meeting adjourned at 6:00 p.m. Next meeting: June 14, 4:00 p.m. via Zoom, viewable on Facebook.

Johnson County Mental Health Center (MHC) Advisory Board 

May 24, 2021, via Zoom.

Submitted by Harry and Mary Bognich

Mike Walrod served as chair for the MHC Advisory Board for the first time.

The city of Overland Park started a Task Force in February 2020 to study mental health issues citywide. On May 17, 2021, the task force provided a lengthy report with recommendations to the city.  Justin Shepherd, Overland Park Police Department, gave a presentation on the report.

MHC is requesting four new Case Managers and two new Clinicians for the next budget year, based on state funds. MHC is making its 2022 budget presentation to the county on May 27, requesting five other positions, to get back to the full-time employee level it had prior to the pandemic.

Liz Worth and Matt Clark discussed MHC’s response to “Persons Experiencing Homelessness” with its Homeless Outreach Services:

  • Breakthrough House – transitional beds up to 6 months (homeless and in need of mental health services).

  • Shelter Plus Care – Housing Vouchers (U.S. HUD) – permanent – 21 beds.

  • Street Outreach – reaching people living on the streets, in cars, camps, etc.

  • Safe Space Parking – allows individuals living in their cars to park/sleep overnight at Shawnee location.

MHC partners with Section 8 Homeless “set aside” vouchers through JoCo Housing Authority and partners with Switzer Safe House.

Tim DeWeese, Director, reported that the 2021 Kansas State Legislative bipartisan “Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics” approved bill represents the most significant piece of state legislation since the Kansas Mental Health Reform Act of 1990. CCBHCs “are the leading shift in improving access to high-quality mental health and addiction treatment nationally and are making a difference in the lives of thousands.”

Next meeting July 26, 2021 – In person at the Mission Office. To read more, click here.

Olathe School Board

June 3, 2021

Submitted by Cindy Hicks

The school district presented its preliminary COVID-19 Protocol for the 2021/22 school year, including face coverings being highly recommended but not mandatory. Parents and teachers are to continue reporting positive COVID-19 test results. COVID-19 vaccinations are recommended, if age appropriate, but not required. Approximately 300 students are registered to attend the Virtual School for the 21/22 school year.

To read more, click here.

Shawnee Mission School Board

Submitted by Lisa Bonds

April 12, 2021 [Workshop] 

The main topic of the workshop was the district’s plan to recover from the COVID-19 effects.  A committee of over 90 staff used student achievement data to develop the recovery plan. High school students’ GPAs dropped from 2.9 before the pandemic to 2.7 in the current school year. However, the number of F’s jumped from 5% to 15%. Middle school students experienced the same trends with GPAs dropping from 3.1 to 2.7 and the number of F’s jumping from 5% to 15%. Among elementary students, those who lost math abilities increased from 22% to 42% while ‘gainers’ dropped from 26% to 12%. The committee proposed a $10.5 million budget to recover student achievement. The budget would be used for more staff (counselors, social workers, secondary math teachers), scholarships for summer programs, and money for CARES committees. The money to carry out this plan is federal money, which will be available for three years.   

April 26, 2021 [Meeting]

The board was updated on the bond issue, with work starting on two of the elementary schools in June and another in October. The board was also briefed on non-operational budget items. The district predicts that the mill levy will decrease by .67% in 2021, meaning an $8 decrease for the owners of a $200,000 house.  

May 17, 2021 [Meeting]

The meeting started with constituents making emotional anti-mask statements during the public comment period. Next the board heard a legislature update; the two main points covered were (1) the state will continue funding the schools at the level established under the Gannon lawsuit, and (2) a new law was passed that will tie state money to at-risk student academic progress. The district presented the board an operational budget overview, and the main topic was increasing the accredited staff.  Secondary teachers will reduce their teaching load from six periods a day to five; in order to achieve this more teachers are being hired.  The district is also increasing elementary staff to help students recover from the pandemic.   Class sizes will be reduced to twenty-two for K-2 grade levels and twenty-five for 3-6 grade levels.  This reduction will only be for two years, since the money is federal Covid money. 

The board took two actions at the end of the meeting. The first was to approve funds for a math and reading measurement tool. This tool has been used three times a year for K-9th grade students. The second action was the approval of bonds. The board approved the sale of first half the bonds which the public approved in the January election, along with the refinancing of 2015 bonds, which saved the district $20.5 million. 

To read more, click here.  

Overland Park City Council

June 7, 2021

Submitted by Nancy Allen

The OP City council met virtually Monday June 7, 2021. I attended virtually. Councilman Jim Kite was not in attendance.

69 Express Project—
The Committee of the Whole will meet June 14 at 6pm in the City Council Chambers to receive updated information from KDOT on this project. There will be a public comment period after the update. 

JoCo Community Housing Study and Housing for all Toolkit
— The Committee of the Whole will meet on June 21, 2021, to receive a presentation on this project. No information on provision of time or process for public comment.

Farmers’ Market Location
–The Council President Skoog noted the increase in accessibility for people of different abilities to shop at the OP Farmers’ Market at the site established during the pandemic. Evaluation of keeping the Farmers’ Market at the old vs. new site is ongoing. No plans for open public discussion currently.

Pit Bull ordinance
—the Public Safety Meeting on June 9, 2021, will include public comment on the Pit Bull ordinance. Discussion will start at 7:00 p.m. and end at 10 p.m. The meeting will be held in the City Hall Council Chamber.

Wolf Creek Plaza Expansion
- appears development at 175-183 Pflumm will be developed into housing that will meet goals of the Community Housing Study (see info on meeting above). 

To read more, click here.

Prairie Village City Council

June 7, 2021

Submitted by Nancy Kalikow Maxwell

The Prairie Village City Council met virtually on Monday, June 7, 2021. The Mayor read a proclamation in honor of Pride Month, and Jeff Steward from the Johnson County Parks and Recreation District provided an update on Phase 2 of the Meadowbrook Park development. The Mayor announced that the Prairie Village Covid vaccination rate is now over 50%, with almost three-quarters of seniors totally vaccinated. The Council approved the Diversity Committee’s request for $1,200 to support the upcoming Juneteenth Freedom Festival to be held Saturday, June 19 at Franklin Park. 

To read more, click here.