2014 News

'Home For The Holidays Takes On A Whole New Meaning'
DECEMBER 15, 2014

Thank you hug"I want to live up here! It's gonna be fun!"

Four-year-old Ranyah couldn't control her joy, smiling broadly as she swung on the swing set in the yard of her new home in the Ivanhoe Neighborhood of Kansas City -- her family's first permanent home in years.

Ranyah's grandparents, James Ponder and Pamela St. John, had just received the keys to the home at a ceremony making the culmination of Jackson County’s sixth Constructing Futures project. They'll live there with Ranyah and their two sons, ages 9 and 15.

"This program is all about changing lives, and so many lives are touched by this one home," Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders told a crowd gathered at the Nutter Ivanhoe Neighborhood Center just before handing over the keys. "Home for the holidays takes on a whole new meaning on a day like this." > MORE

Jackson County Program Teaches Ex-Offenders Job Skills

With his knee pads and stocking cap, Ter-Rance Yancey looks the part of the construction worker he is becoming. On the first Monday in December, Yancey was helping put the finishing touches on a home in the Ivanhoe Neighborhood that Jackson County’s Constructing Futures program will turn over to a needy family this holiday season.

But the program does more than simply give homes to families that have struggled to maintain adequate housing. It helps people like Yancey with job training through the Connections to Success program, and it helps the Ivanhoe neighborhood by transforming blighted buildings.

Call it a win-win-win. > MORE

Eastern Jackson County Courthouse Being Renovated

Eastern Jackson County Courthouse groundbreakingWith an eye toward current and future needs, Jackson County has broken ground on the Eastern Jackson County Courthouse renovation project.

The $6.8 million project will add five new courtrooms and a new elevator and will rehabilitate an existing elevator in the building at 308 W. Kansas Avenue, located roughly two blocks south and west of the Historic Truman Courthouse in Independence. The project also calls for increased security screening capacity and a new accessible entry. The work is expected to be completed by December 2015. > MORE

Final Preparations Underway For County Holiday Traditions
It's beginning to look at lot like Christmas around Longview Lake, and Jackson County invites the public to take in the sights and sounds of its annual holiday displays with Christmas in the Sky, Christmas in the Park and the new Trip the Light Fantastic bike ride.

This is the 27th year for Christmas in the Park, featuring nearly 175 animated displays and 300,000 colored lights set up at Longview Lake Campground. It opens to the public November 26 and runs through December 31. While admission is free, 35 different charities will share in the donations made voluntarily by the thousands of people who visit the display. In the 26 previous years, Christmas in the Park has generated more than $1 million for local charities. > MORE

County Moves One Step Closer To Regional Transit Vision

Jackson County has received $10 million in federal funds to apply toward the $59.9 million total cost of purchasing the former Rock Island railroad line through the county. In addition, Jackson County and the line's current owner, Union Pacific Railroad, have extended a memorandum of understanding that gives the county the exclusive right to buy the line and other key transit corridors that have the potential to be used for expanded public-transit options.

"This allocation signifies the acquisition of the Rock Island corridor is not just a Jackson County priority, but a regional priority," said Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders. "That is significant news. It’s a major domino that has to fall if we’re going to make commuter rail transit work." > MORE

Royals Rally

Less than 24 hours after  the Kansas City Royals lost Game 7 of the World Series to the San Francisco Giants, nearly 10,000 fans turned out for a rally at Kauffman Stadium to bid a fond farewell to the 2014 American League champions.

A chant of "Thank you, Royals" resounded through the ballpark, even before about a dozen members of the team took the field to make remarks.

"I have never been more proud of Kansas City and this franchise than I am today," Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders said, starting off the festivities. "The record-setting sweep through the playoffs will live forever in baseball history because of this team. The 2014 American League championship flag will permanently fly over the house that Jackson County built in 1972 and renovated in 2006. How amazing did this stadium and this crowd look to the nation?" > MORE

Royals Give KC An October To Remember With Run To The World Series

Frank White Reflects On Meaning Of 2014 World Series

Someone who grew up in Kansas City, helped build Kauffman Stadium and played in the last World Series game there probably has a better perspective on what the 2014 Series means to this town than anyone else.

"You’ve seen it; you’ve heard it; you’ve felt it," says Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame second baseman Frank White. "People are totally excited about what this ball club has been able to accomplish."

A product of Royals owner Ewing Kauffman’s now-defunct Baseball Academy, White joined the big-league club in 1973 and played for Kansas City until 1990. During that time, he was selected to the American League All-Star team five times, won six Gold Glove awards for his defensive skill and played in both the 1980 and 1985 World Series. > MORE

Taxpayers To Save $32 Million On Interest

Jackson County's outstanding credit rating is paying off, adding up to big savings for the county's taxpayers.

Taking advantage of lower interest rates, Jackson County is refinancing up to $360 million in bonds issued in 2006 to renovate the stadiums at the Truman Sports Complex. This move will save approximately $32 million in interest.

"We're proud to be able to save the taxpayers millions of dollars," said Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders. "This will ensure that we can properly maintain these taxpayer assets and give our teams the support they need to remain competitive." > MORE

COMBAT Award Winners2014 COMBAT Awards

COMBAT is making an impact.

The programs funded through the Community Backed Anti-Drug Tax first approved in 1989 have helped reduce drug abuse and drug-related crime in Jackson County. When voters renewed the tax in 2009  with 71 percent support COMBAT's mission expanded to include reducing violence.

Violent crime in Kansas City, Missouri is on the decline this year.

October 9 at the historic Gem Theatre, Jackson County honored the people behind the programs dynamically changing the community when County Executive Mike Sanders and Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker presented the first-ever COMBAT Awards. > MORE

Breast Cancer Solidarity Walks

Measured in minutes, Jackson County's Breast Cancer Solidarity Walk -- a symbolic Monday afternoon stroll around the courthouse grounds in downtown Kansas City -- was short, lasting only about six minutes. But measured in terms of how often a woman in the United States is diagnosed with breast cancer, that brief walk equates to another three women somewhere in the U.S. being told they have the potentially deadly disease.

"Every two minutes a woman in the United States is diagnosed with breast cancer," Jackson County Mike Sanders pointed out. "It is the second most common form of cancer overall." > MORE

Last Of The Original County Legislators
A Lot Has Changed Since 1973

He looks out a window and points a knotted finger at a lush fairway on the par 3 golf course -- the vibrant emerald green grass a stark contrast to the drab gray clouds overhead.

"I can remember when that was just an empty field out there," he says. "Me and two or three guys from the Parks Department -- maintenance men, mechanics, a couple of rangers -- we'd come out here and bale the hay.

"A lot has changed."

Sitting in the clubhouse at the Fred Arbanas Golf Course, Fred Arbanas reflects on how much Jackson County has evolved over the last 42 years. He is proud of the role he has played in the county's growth since he first took office as a Jackson County Legislator in 1973 -- when the Legislature was first formed three years after voters approved a new County Charter.

He is the last of the original County Legislators. > MORE

St. Louis' Loss, KC's Big Win!

Fred Arbanas had a choice to make in 1961. After a stellar collegiate football career at Michigan State University, he had been drafted twice. And at two different positions.

"In college back then, you had to play both ways, offense and defense," recalls the former MSU Spartan. "You had to play both ways. It was a rule. When the ball changed hands, only one guy could come off the field, and that was usually the quarterback.

"There were some guys who were darn good at either offense or defense, but they never got on the field because they were just too bad on the other side of the ball."

Arbanas' offensive and defensive prowess had teams from both the staunch National Football League and upstart American Football League interested in acquiring the Detroit native's services as either a linebacker or tight end. > MORE

Going Red For Fred

The Jackson County Courthouse in Kansas City was awash in red Friday afternoon -- Chiefs red.

A sea of Chiefs flags adorned the courthouse grounds, and the team's logo was painted on the front lawn. Chiefs placards, the famous KC-inside-an-arrowhead against a red backdrop, filled the windows.

A crowd lined the courthouse steps, nearly everyone wearing red, mostly in the form of Chiefs jerseys and T-shirts, a few of which were custom-made for the occasion with a name and number printed on the front: "Arbanas 84."

On what was no ordinary Red Friday, Jackson County decided to "Go Red 4 Fred" in honor of longtime County Legislature and former Chief Fred Arbanas. > MORE

Fort Osage Exhibit Focuses On 19th Century Native Americans

Mohongo with childThe adage "a picture is worth a thousands words" can be traced back to the early 20th Century, when use of photographs became a standard newspaper practice. More than 2,000 years ago, the ancient Roman Horace said, "A picture is a poem without words."

But sometimes for a picture's true meaning to come into a focus -- for its poetry to be fully appreciated -- a few words accompanying it are necessary.

For the last few years, original prints plucked from the pages of the History of the Indian Tribes of North America, a three-volume collection of hand-colored engravings of Native Americans published from 1836 to 1844, have adorned the auditorium walls in the Fort Osage Education Center. They are striking images. They would often catch the eye of visitors to the center, which opened in 2007 next door to the National Fort Osage Landmark. > MORE

Red Friday At Union Station

A little wet weather failed to put a damper on the enthusiasm at Union Station, where Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders joined fans for a Red Friday Pep Rally in anticipation of the Kansas City Chiefs' 2014 season kickoff and to officially jump-start the weeks-long celebration of Union Station's 100-year anniversary. > MORE

Quick Paint ContestQuick Paint Challenge
Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders and Independence Mayor Eileen Weir invite you to enter a "Quick Paint Contest" to celebrate the one year anniversary of the rededication of the Historic Truman Courthouse. Enter for the $500 cash prize in the adult division or $250 price in the teen division. > MORE

Monday Night Game Target To Set Loudest Stadium Record

X-FactorIf Ty Rowton -- a.k.a. the X-Factor -- has his way, the Kansas City Chiefs' Monday night game at Arrowhead Stadium on September 29 will be a record-setter. But the fans in the stands, not the players on the field, will be the ones breaking a record.

"When the New England Patriots come to town September 29, with Marcia Brady at quarterback," Rowton said, mocking Patriot quarterback Tom Brady, "we want to prove on Monday Night Football -- on a national and world stage -- that ours is the loudest and proudest stadium not only in the NFL but in the whole world."

Representatives from Guinness World Records will be at Arrowhead that night to monitor the crowd noise and determine if the fans forming the "Sea of Red" can reclaim the record for loudest stadium on the planet. > MORE

County Extends The Royal Treatment To Royals Super Fan

SungWoo Lee and Frank WhiteJackson County has extended the royal treatment being bestowed upon Kansas City Royals super fan SungWoo Lee. At Monday's County Legislative meeting in Independence, Legislative Chairman Scott Burnett presented Lee a proclamation honoring the South Korean's unlikely devotion to the Royals.

From afar -- Seoul, South Korean is about 6,500 miles from Kansas City -- Lee has been, for two decades and counting, the most unlikely of passionate Royals fans.

As a middle school student in the 1990s, he began tuning into the American Forces Korean Network to develop his English skills. The sports broadcasts were easier to follow than other programs.

While learning the language viewing baseball games on TV, he gravitated toward the Kansas City Royals. Why? > MORE

Honoring Special Olympians

Mike Congratulates Samantha SnowBea Webb sums up what she likes most about being a Special Olympics coach in a single word: "Smiles."

Those smiles that have inspired Webb lit up the Jackson County Legislative Chamber on Monday, August 4, when County Executive Mike Sanders presented proclamations to 11 athletes and four coaches for their participation in the Special Olympics 2014 USA Games, held June 13-21 in Princeton, New Jersey. Webb, a recreational therapist in the Jackson County Parks + Rec Special Populations Services Division the last 35 years, was among the four coaches. > MORE

Jackson County Honors Young Eagle Scout
MONDAY, JULY 28, 2014 

When Ryan Niederschulte was asked to step forward during the County Legislature's July 28 meeting, his appearance sparked murmurs befitting the entry of a surprise witness in a classic Perry Mason episode. Perhaps, it is only fitting that the setting was the Eastern Jackson County Courthouse's legislative chamber, which also doubles as a courtroom.

Among the oohs and awes, one Legislator asked, "How old is he?"

Another guessed, "Only 12, maybe."

County Legislator Bob Spence (6th District) let out a "wow" as he observed in amazement, "Look at all of those merit badges."

Ryan was called before the Legislature so that Jackson County could pass Resolution No. 18573 formally congratulating him for recently achieving the highest rank attainable in Scouting. While any boy becoming an Eagle Scout would naturally have to be young, few are this young. > MORE

Big Bang Celebration Attracts Big Crowd
FRIDAY, JULY 4, 2014

Jackson County's "Big Bang" Fourth of July Celebration proved to be a big hit. Approximately 20,000 people attended the event at Longview Lake.

"This is the third year Jackson County has hosted a Fourth of July event, and each year we've been able to deliver a celebration bigger than the one that proceeded it," said County Executive Mike Sanders. "Tomorrow, we'll begin planning next year's celebration, so it'll be even bigger and better."

While the largest fireworks finale in the Midwest capped off the 2014 Fourth of July "Big Bang" in dramatic fashion, the highlight of the evening might just have been Jackson County's Salute To The Military. > MORE

$150,000 Awarded For Railroad Corridor Study

Jackson County recently was awarded $150,000 from the One-KC Brownfields Coalition to conduct an extensive environmental study of the old Rock Island Railroad Corridor, which runs through southern Kansas City, Raytown and Lee's Summit. > MORE

County Honors Vets With A High-Flying Tribute

Jackson County's Flag Day Salute To Veterans was literally uplifting.

Following a ceremony at the National Airline History Museum, housed in Hangar 9 of Kansas City's Downtown Airport, the veterans attending the special event Saturday, June 14 were given a chance to take flight aboard the Axis Nightmare, a vintage World War II bomber. The B-25, its name scrolled on its fuselage, sped down a runway not far from where the twin-engine aircraft had been built in Kansas City, Kansas. During America's massive military build-up after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Kansas City region became an epicenter for producing many of the planes that would be needed to claim air superiority in Europe and the Pacific. > MORE

A First Ride & A 'Rough' Reminder

Emma Jean Newland had never before flown on a B-25. She helped build the World War II bomber, though -- hundreds if not thousands of them. During Jackson County's Salute To Veterans, Newland finally got her chance to climb aboard a B-25 for an "honor flight" over downtown Kansas City.

"This is exciting," she said, while standing under the Axis Nightmare's tail section prior to the ceremony Saturday, June 14 -- two days before her 90th birthday. > MORE

County Supports 'Stand Down' Effort For Homeless Veterans
FRIDAY, JUNE 6, 2014

Army ShoutWhile dropping off the contributions county employees had made to support the cause -- assisting homeless veterans -- Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders struck up a conversation with a vet at the latest Heart of America Stand Down donation drive held Friday, June 6. The man told Sanders, an Army officer in the early 1990s, about waiting in line at a previous Stand Down event 3½ years ago, seeking assistance alongside other men and women who had served the nation, yet upon leaving the military found themselves without a home.

"Today, Fred has a job, and he's here as a volunteer," Sanders said a few hours later, during the Stand Down opening ceremony at the Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City. "This makes a difference." > MORE

Iconic Stone Arch Bridge Rededicated

Declaring the iconic structure "good to go for another 50 years," Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders joined with Independence Mayor Eileen Weir to rededicate the Stone Arch Bridge during a special ceremony Wednesday, May 28. 

The bridge on Blue Ridge Boulevard crosses over Truman Road, separating unincorporated Jackson County and the City of Independence. The Jackson County Public Works Department completed six months of renovations to the historic span, which was originally built in 1906. > MORE

Jackson County TIGER Grant Update
TUESDAY, MAY 27, 2014

Jackson County recently submitted a grant application for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) funding made available by the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT). This grant would provide funding for the acquisition and construction of the Rock Island Corridor and Trail, stretching from the Truman Sports Complex to south Lee’s Summit. A recent press release from USDOT highlights the competitive nature of the program and demonstrates the need for transportation investment. > MORE

Time Capsule Sealed Until 2093
SATURDAY, MAY 10, 2014

Think about how much the world changed from 1913 to 1993. In 1913, it was not uncommon for the family car to still be a horse and buggy, the radio was only a work in-progress, and Harry Truman had not yet turned 30.

Now imagine how much will change between 2013 and 2093. What will people then, on the eve of the 22nd Century, think when they look back at the early 21st Century?

Our descendants will be able to get a glimpse of the past when they open the Historic Truman Courthouse time capsule that was sealed during a special ceremony Saturday, May 10 at the recently renovated landmark on Independence Square. > MORE

Drug Task Force Named Law Enforcement Unit Of The Year
MONDAY, APRIL 14, 2014

When new investigators join the Jackson County Drug Task Force, Officer in Charge Dan Cummings tells them, "I'm going to afford you the opportunity of a lifetime, and it's what you make of it. You're going to work harder than ever before in your career, and you're going to have the most fun you've ever had."

What's fun about perilous undercover work, dealing with dangerous drug traffickers?

Cummings answered that question during the Jackson County Legislature's meeting Monday, April 14: "I think we're doing some really great things and putting some really bad people in jail, which is really fun."

Their peers from throughout Missouri agree that Cummings and his Task Force team are raising the standard for excellence with regard to "putting some really bad people in jail." For the third consecutive year, the Missouri Narcotic Officers Association (MNOA) has named the Jackson County Drug Task Force the Law Enforcement Unit of the Year. The association also recognized Cummings as the 2013 Officer of the Year.

County Moving Forward With Eastern
Jackson County Courthouse Renovations


For the second time in two years, Jackson County is taking on the task of completing a major renovation to one of its courthouses.

At the regular weekly meeting of the Jackson County Legislature on Monday, April 7, County Executive Mike Sanders and Presiding Judge Marco Roldan of the 16th Circuit Court provided an update on the planned renovations for the Eastern Jackson County Courthouse in Independence.

Some of the work is already underway. In January, Jackson County Public Works crews began tuck pointing the exterior of the courthouse, which was last renovated in 1972. Tuck pointing is a process that involves restoring the joints of a building so it is sealed properly and protected from water leaks. That work will be completed in early summer. > MORE

A Timeless Work Of Art Unveiled

The word "capsule" doesn't exactly have a lot of eye-appeal. One hears it and usually doesn't envision anything fancy. Thanks to five students in Jackson County's MyARTS program the Historic Truman Courthouse time capsule should be catching people's eyes for the next 80 years -- until the capsule, which will be sealed May 10, is opened in September 2093.

The five young artists, from three different Independence-area high schools, have adorned the capsule with a mural depicting two United States Presidents, the recently restored Truman Courthouse, the Community of Christ Temple in Independence, the county seal, and a clock with Roman numerals representing the decades, not hours, that will past between now and 2093. The two Presidents have direct ties to Jackson County: Harry S. Truman, the county's Presiding Judge in the 1930s, and Andrew Jackson, the man for whom the county was named. (Jackson occupied the Oval Office when the Missouri State Legislature authorized forming the "County of Jackson" in 1826.) > MORE

Option To Acquire Rail Rights-Of-Way Represents
Big Step Forward In Regional Transit & Trail Development


Jackson County and the Union Pacific Railroad Company (UP) have reached an agreement crucial to the potential development of a commuter rail system and expansion of trails in the county.

Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders and UP Chief Executive Officer John Koraleski have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) giving the county the no-cost option to purchase more 20 miles of UP rail corridors running through Raytown, Lee's Summit, Kansas City and Independence. After Sanders announced the agreement during the Monday, February 24 County Legislative meeting, Independence Mayor Don Reimal called the potential acquisition of these corridors "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity we need to take advantage of." > MORE

Work Begins To Upgrade Facility, Creating Courtrooms For Busy Docket
Eastern Jackson County Courthouse Renovations

Just a few short months after completing renovations and re-opening the Historic Truman Courthouse in Independence, Jackson County has begun much needed renovations and repairs to the Eastern Jackson County Courthouse (formerly known as the Courthouse Annex), also in downtown Independence.

County Public Works crews began tuck pointing the exterior of the building on Monday, January 13. Tuck pointing involves restoring joints on the brick exterior, in order to seal a building so it is protected from water leaks.

The Eastern Jackson County Courthouse has not been renovated since the early 1970s. Since then, the population in the county residing east of Interstate 435 has risen dramatically, which has led to the county courthouse in Independence having some of the busiest court dockets in the State of Missouri. > MORE

Goals To Curb Violence Emphasized During Meeting With Agencies
Focus On Anti-Violence

For 25 years, the Jackson County Community Backed Anti-Drug Tax, better known as COMBAT, has focused on fighting drug abuse and crime throughout the community.

Through a quarter-cent county-wide sales tax, COMBAT funds various drug treatment and prevention agencies as well as providing funding for law enforcement to help fight drug crime locally. But over the last year, the COMBAT staff has worked to expand its mission by putting a new focus on stemming the tide of violent crime in local cities and neighborhoods.

The new emphasis on anti-violence initiatives began last February with the launch of the “Don’t Look the Other Way Campaign,” which encouraged citizens to “Step Up” and “Speak Up” by calling the COMBAT hotline (816-881-3662) when they see crime or illegal activity occurring. > MORE

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