Kansas City Kansas

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Mayor Mark Holland tonight expressed confidence in the downtown Healthy Campus project.

Speaking at a Unified Government Commission meeting, Holland said the project funding is on track and was going well, if somewhat slowly at times.

The mayor reported to the commission that the community center fundraising was delayed almost a year to put together a master plan, and the master plan and vision for healthy living in an urban area has now caught national attention.

Mayor Holland said he hopes to have significant announcements about major lead gifts for the project in the next 30 to 60 days.

There is already a $6 million local commitment, plus a $1 million commitment from the Wyandotte Health Foundation, and together it provides half of the funding needed for the community center, he said.

With both the Kansas City, Mo., and downtown Kansas City, Kan., YMCA projects delayed, that has resulted in the YMCA being able to ask for donations from nonprofits for both centers at the same time, he said, which is a benefit to Kansas City, Kan.

The mayor said that with the plan complete, the UG is now working on architectural drawings for the community center, to show potential donors. There is a funder which is providing the money for architectural drawings, he said.

Jason Banks, director of business access for the mayor’s office, said the UG’s downtown Healthy Campus project has been selected for a pilot program through the National Resource Network that will provide $105,000 in direct funding for initial implementation costs. The network will serve as liaison to public and private resources and partners, and assist with establishment of ongoing management and coordinator plan. It would serve as project manager and leverage national investment, he said. Funding has been secured for two years for a project manager.

The Downtown Central Parkway District plan was adopted in December after several public hearings, according to Rob Richardson, UG planning director. It includes two major parts, a community center to be run by the YMCA and a grocery store. The district extends from Waterway Park to Sumner Academy.

Pat Tobin, UG director of public works, said the green space planned for the downtown Healthy Campus will help in the UG’s correction of the combined sewer overflow, which is mandated through a consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency. The plan includes green space, and green solutions.

George Brajkovic, UG director of economic development, said there have been ongoing discussions about the grocery store downtown.

A request for proposals for the grocery store was issued in 2012, and the UG selected R.H. Johnson as developer and the Charles Ball grocery family as the operator, and have been negotiating.

He said there was still some work to be done on the financing side, and there will be efforts to bring other retailers in.

“The key on each of these is leverage,” Mayor Holland said.

The UG hopes to leverage other retail development as a result of bringing the community center and grocery store to the downtown area.

The UG’s plan is being tracked by a number of national groups, he said, and some of them are providing funding.

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Rain delayed the start of a multi-bridge repair project on Wednesday at I-70 and I-635 in Wyandotte County, moving the project start date to tonight at 7 p.m.

It’s the time of year for rain delays on construction projects, according to the Kansas Department of Transportation. Officials said they are not sure at this time if the weather will delay the project again tonight, as there is more rain potentially in the forecast overnight.

KDOT officials will wait until closer to the start time to make the determination. Skies currently are sunny, with potential rain in the forecast. Motorists can assume that the bridge project will start tonight if they don’t hear otherwise.

From Thursday through Sunday, there are plans for pavement marking and temporary concrete barrier placement.

There are a number of lane closures and ramp closures taking place in connection with the I-70 bridge project, and a detour route is planned, according to KDOT.

Unless there is another weather delay, eastbound I-70 from just west of I-635 to just east of Kaw Drive will be reduced to one lane overnight from 7 p.m. Thursday to 5 a.m. Friday.

Also, eastbound and westbound I-70 from just west of I-635 to just east of Kaw Drive will be reduced to one lane at 7 p.m. Friday and reopen at 5 a.m. Saturday.

Another lane reduction is on westbound I-70 from just west of I-635 to just east of Kaw Drive, that will be reduced to one lane overnight, closing at 7 p.m. Saturday and reopening at 5 a.m. Sunday.

The northbound and southbound I-635 to eastbound I-70 ramp closures will be in place, 24/7 round the clock, throughout the project duration, according to KDOT. The eastbound I-70 to Park Drive-Kaw Drive ramp will reopen to traffic in July 2015.

The overall project work is scheduled to be completed in late December 2015, according to KDOT.

To keep up-to-date to see if there are any more changes in the schedule, visit the website, http://www.ksdot.org/kcmetro/laneclose.asp.

To see an earlier story on this project, visit http://wyandottedaily.com/i-70-multi-bridge-repair-project-to-begin-in-wyandotte-county/.

by Kelly Rogge
Kansas City Kansas Community College will bring an ethnic flair to Wyandotte County next month with the 10th annual Wyandotte County Ethnic Festival: A Human Family Reunion.

The event is from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 11, at the KCKCC Athletic Field House, 7250 State Ave. The event is free and open to the public. There is also no charge for parking. Tax deductible donations will be accepted at the door.

“The goal of the festival is to bring people together to enjoy different types of music, dance, foods and to educate each other about different ethnicities and cultures,” said Curtis Smith, professor of biological sciences at KCKCC and co-organizer of the WyCo Ethnic Festival. “The festival is like a trip around the world with no cost. It’s an opportunity to celebrate the pure joy of being human without the trappings of politics or economics for one day.”

More than 45 countries, ethnicities and organizations affiliated with Wyandotte County will be represented at the festival. In addition, two individuals will be recognized with the “Legends of Diversity” award – Kamiasha Tyner and Janith English.

Smith said the goal of the festival, which was started by former KCKCC Trustee Karen Hernandez and the former director of the KCKCC Intercultural Center, Professor Melanie Scott, is to celebrate Wyandotte County’s greatest asset – its diversity and all the unique culture of people who live, work or attend schools in the county.

Back again as the master of ceremonies is Clarence Small. Shawn Derritt, director of the Student Advising Center at KCKCC and his wife Gloria, will kick off the event with “The Star Spangled Banner” followed by a rousing spiritual version of “America the Beautiful.”

New to the festival this year is Kolograde, a musical combo performing music from the Balkans; a Colombian dance group, Sabor a Peru Dancers and a Latin Jazz Combo in tribute to Cuba. Notable returnees are Danny Hinds and Ayotunde, who will provide Caribbean music; the Harvatski Obicaj Croatian Orchestra; Nartan Dancers from India; the ever-popular West of Marrkesh Dancers; Los Bailadores Mexican Dancers; local rap artist Roger Suggs; Tikvah Israeli Folk Dancers; the Santa Monica Inspirational Choir and a South Korean TaeKown Do demonstration.

In the food court area there will be six different vendors with traditional ethnic food ranging from “soul food,” Indian and Mexican to Peruvian and Columbian foods. In addition, free water and mint tea will be available. Caffeinated drinks can be purchased from the pop machine. Popcorn will be sold outside by “Combat Corn.” Proceeds go to support veterans.

Educational presentations will be made by the Wyandot Nation of Kansas, the Quindaro Museum of History, the Wyandotte Historical Journal of Wyandotte County and Chinese Qugong and Tai Chi. In addition, there will be an outdoor Creative Children’s Tent supervised by the director of the KCKCC Intercultural Center, Barbara-Clark Evans.

“The festival would not be possible without the generous support of the community college and community sponsors,” Smith said. “Their support makes everything possible and the committee extends its heartfelt appreciation.”

College sponsors include the KCKCC Endowment Association, Enrollment Management Division, Athletics, Buildings and Grounds, Music Department, Sound Engineering, Campus Police and the Intercultural Center. Community sponsors are the Unified Government Human Relations Commission and Community Development Department; the Board of Public Utilities; Wyandotte Daily News; Dos Mundos Publications; Google Fiber, Gene Hernandez and Imagine Magic Productions and co-founder of the festival, Melanie Scott.

“It is an annual celebration that promotes cultural awareness and inclusion in WyCo,” Smith said. “We especially highlight our greatest strength, which is our diversity while at the same time celebrating our common humanity.”

For more information about performance times, the list of ethnic groups or organizational participants, visit www.freewebs.com/wycoethnicfestival/.

Kelly Rogge is the public information supervisor for Kansas City Kansas Community College.

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