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Observer Corps reportsObserver Corps
Jill Quigley, chair


Johnson County Parks and Recreation
Cynthia Stephens

February 20

Newly elected Johnson County commissioners are appointing new JCPRD officers, replacing Mike Pirner and Nancy Wallerstein.  Steve Baru was the vice chair, replaces Mike Pirner as chair.

The Cedar-Niles Park design was presented with the estimate costs of $5,609,884 for 10-foot-wide trails, bridges, parking lots, restrooms, drinking fountains, fixit stations, bike racks, a shaded playground, a 60- to 65-person picnic shelter, a pad for grilling, and a truck access. The park is west of highway K-7 and will have access points on 119th, 127th, and 135th streets.

Five hundred households have been invited to a meeting about the Camp Ranch Park on February 25.

KCPL helped pull out old barbed wire from a JCPRD park so the land can be mowed and maintained.

March 20

JCPRD has two new commissioners, Bob Carlson and Heather Rubesch.

The preliminary 2020 JCPRD budget and the proposed increases in fees and charges were presented to the commissioners for review before the April 8 committee of the whole meeting.

Susan Pekarek, general manager of Johnson County Wastewater, gave a presentation about the wastewater system, which has six major plants and 31 pumping stations.  The Tomahawk Creek Wastewater Treatment facility, built in 1955, will have improvements completed by spring of 2021.

To access the most recent agendas and board minutes, click here.


Observer Corps reportsBoard of County Commissioners
Leonore Rowe

January 31

The BOCC authorized the Mental Health Center to enter into agreements with the cities of Prairie Village, Leawood, Mission Hills and Lenexa that would add co-responders to accompany their police when needed. The funding would come from the participating cities.

A listing of the BOCC member liaison assignments was given out. The BOCC is represented in this way at most county and area boards and committees.

February 14

The BOCC adopted a proclamation raising awareness of and urging active opposition to human trafficking in all forms.

February 21

During public comments, it was noted that efforts to provide housing for homeless men in the county are being hindered by recently changed rulings in Olathe. The speaker asked the BOCC to work on this problem.

March 22

At the study session following the March 21 meeting the commissioners discussed their 2019 priorities. Of interest to the League was the second priority:

  • Strengthen and finance the appropriate level of service to meet the needs of the county ‘s vulnerable populations, pursuing innovative strategies.
  • Impact statement: Identify the community challenges to meeting the needs of vulnerable populations. Enhance the coordination of the continuum of services provided across county agencies and departments to increase the self-sufficiency of vulnerable populations including those who fall outside of the traditional safety nets.
  • The vulnerable populations were identified as those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, those with mental health needs, the aging population and those who are housing insecure and cost-burdened.

During the discussion, some commissioners emphasized that the needs were more widespread than just the identified vulnerable populations and that solutions could not just be provided by the county government, but by a wide cooperative circle of groups across the county.

You can watch videos of the BOCC meetings.


Observer Corps reportsJohnson County Community College
Roberta Eveslage

February 21

There was discussion of a recent tweet, which reported a conversation between President Sopcich and Trustee Angelina Lawson while having breakfast in Washington, D.C. The Kansas City Star reported on the incident. The secret recording of an overheard conversation was deemed wrong at the meeting, but the economic struggles of students are real. The college has a scholarship program that benefits about 1,000 of the 10,000 applicants each year. Individual contributions to student scholarships can be made to the JCCC Foundation. For more details, call the foundation at 913-469-3835.

You can watch the video of this meeting and read minutes posted at a later date.

March 21

Highlights of the meeting included recognition of the Gardner School District as an outstanding district and reception of a Distinguished Service Award from the Kansas Adult Education Association. Also, the new audit committee did a survey of all information technology of the Business Continuing Education.

The college lobbyist reported that few bills have been passed by the legislature. The House did pass the expansion of Medicaid for the state; that bill will now go to the Senate. Digging and construction of new facilities has blocked roads and made navigation of campus difficult.


Observer Corps reportsUnited Government of Wyandotte County and KCK
Diane Derge


Mayor’s agenda:  
Recognition of Dawn Herron of the transportation department for providing warmth, shelter and safety for a family in their time of crisis in January 2019.   

Planning and Zoning consent agenda:
Change of zone applications and special use permit applications: Nine items were voted on and approved for recommendation. One item was recommended for denial but after a long discussion was overturned and approved unanimously.

Ordinance amendments:
Final action on previously approved items: Seven items were recommended for approval and approved unanimously. One item requiring a special use permit for small box variety stores was sent back for a special meeting for further explanation and consideration.

Planning and Zoning non-consent agenda:
Change of zone applications and special use permit application: Change of zone from C-1 Limited Business District to C-2 General Business District for X-Press Mart convenience store with fuel pumps at 3801 Leavenworth Rd was approved unanimously.

Special use permit for an office and shop and to temporarily store up to three vehicles waiting to be recycled at the scrapyard at South 11th Street were approved unanimously 9-0.

Regular consent agenda:
An ordinance authorizing the chief counsel to commence legal proceedings to acquire property necessary for Safe Routes to School Phase F Project, CMIP 1613 was approved 9-0. The project consists of new sidewalks, replacement of existing sidewalk and corresponding pedestrian walkway improvement for William A. White Elementary/West Middle School along Welborn Lane from Georgia Avenue to N. 45th Street; Frances Willard Elementary School along Orville Ave from N. 28th Street to N. 36th Street.  

A replat of the Enclave at Mission Cliffs located along Lake Ave and South Minnie Street was approved 9-0.


Observer Corps reportsPrairie Village City Council
Eileen Marshall

March 18


  1. Students from Prairie Elementary presented a series of public service announcement videos on curbside recycling. The videos will be available on the city website.
  2. KCPL presented a new program called Renewables Direct, which offers large users of electricity a “share” in the capacity of a new wind farm to be developed once enough users sign up. Advantages include replacing coal-fired generation with renewable sources and cost-savings to the user. The city council voted to join the program and is the first local municipality to do so.

Mayor’s report:

  1. Current plans for the south part of the Corinth shopping center (the old antique mall area) have dropped the parking garage and mixed-use idea and are more in keeping with the rest of the center on the north side of 83rd Street.
  2. City representatives met with KCPL to make clear that PV residents are very upset with the number and extent of recent power outages and expect some actionable ideas from KCPL about prevention of outages.
  3. City officials continue to work with the YMCA and other potential partners on the feasibility of a new community center.

Other items:

  1. The Public Works Director reported on storm debris pickup, potholes and plans for road work through the county CARS program.
  2. 2020 preliminary budget proposals were approved for Village Fest, the Jazz Festival, the Environmental Committee and the Arts Council.
  3. Preliminary revenue projections for budget year 2020 were presented and discussed. The 2020 budget is set to be finalized and adopted at the August 5 meeting.
  4. Council is hearing from citizens who are concerned about their property taxes increasing due to increased valuations. Council also realizes that the mill levy rate for PV could be reduced, thereby reducing the tax burden. The subject has been raised and will presumably be part of the 2020 budget discussions. Council Memer Dan Runion testified in Topeka recently regarding the related issue of local control over property tax rates.

View meeting packets and minutes or watch the streamed video of the meeting.


Observer Corps reportsJohnson County Mental Health Center (MHC) Advisory Board
Harry and Mary Bognich

January 28

MHC puts out a Mental Health In the Know newsletter. Register online for the newsletter, or send an email to jcmhcinfo@jocogov.org and request to be added to the distribution list of Mental Health in the Know.

2018 year-end budget projections are still accurate, but with revenue down, there are concerns about the 2019 budget. The top request for the 2020 budget is an after-hours clinician.

2019 Initiatives include: United Health Care Transportation Expansion; Juvenile Crisis Intervention Center (a joint effort by MHC & juvenile corrections to divert juveniles who need mental health intervention to treatment rather than jail); Attachment and Bio-behavioral Catch-Up (trying to reach kids sooner); Response to Homelessness; Police Co-Responders Expansion; School Co-Responders; Mental Health Basics (a school curriculum requested by students).

Access the Educ(ate) video series on its Facebook page and click on video in the right sidebar.

Future MHC meetings will be held every other month, instead of monthly.

You can access the board minutes here.


Observer Corps reportsLenexa City Council
Becky White

March 5

Tax abatement and creation of a Special Benefit District were approved for the Lenexa Logistics Center East.

The Lenexa City Code was amended to allow the city manager authority to hire and terminate city department heads without asking for city council approval. This amendment codifies how the city has been operating. Some city council members did not want to cede control. The amendment passed 6-2.

Added to the agenda after a vote of the council was discussion of a resolution supporting diversity, inclusion and equality. City council members all agreed the issue was very important but were not in favor of passing a city ordinance. They prefer to have the state and federal government take the lead. They unanimously approved a resolution to amend city legislative platform to support this issue at state and federal levels.