UG Commission to hold special session Thursday on COVID-19 and emergency declaration

The Unified Government Commission will hold a special session at 5 p.m. Thursday, March 19, at the fifth floor meeting room, City Hall, 701 N. 7th St., Kansas City, Kansas.

The commission will decide whether to extend the emergency declaration and may take other action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the meeting notice.

Afterward, the UG Commission will convene as the Board of Health for an update on COVID-19 and take action as necessary, the meeting notice stated.

The meeting can be seen on UGTV on Spectrum Cable Channel 2, in HD on Google Fiber Channel 141, online at, and on YouTube.

The proposed resolution would extend the state of emergency through May 18, 2020. A state of emergency was declared here on March 13. At a recent discussion, Mayor David Alvey said the state of emergency allows the Unified Government to access resources that are needed from the state or federal level.

The UG Commission also will consider an amendment to the UG’s ordinances concerning violation of the orders of the health officer or Board of Health.

The proposed amendment reads, “(a) It shall be unlawful for any person to violate, refuse, or fail to comply with a written order of the Health Officer, Board of Health, or Director of Health issued under their respective authorities. (b) A violation this section is a class C misdemeanor.”

Another resolution on the agenda would authorize the county coroner or the UG administrator to appoint one or more deputy coroners if necessary.

Then, the UG Commission will meet as the Board of Health. During that time, the board will hear an update on COVID-19 by Terrie Garrison, interim director of the UG Health Department.

Also, the Board of Health will consider a resolution to ratify and support the emergency public health orders issued by Dr. Allen Greiner, chief medical officer, on March 16 and March 17. Those orders restricted gatherings to 10 or fewer, and also closed restaurants, bars, taverns, movie theaters and casinos. The establishments could continue providing takeout food, but sit-down dining was eliminated to try to reduce gatherings and the spread of COVID-19.

The agenda is online at

New developments planned in KCK

Unified Government Commissioner Harold Johnson said that there are $60 million to $70 million in developments underway in the 4th District of Kansas City, Kansas. He recently held a 4th District community summit meeting at Northwest Middle School. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)

More than 100 persons attended a recent 4th District community summit meeting at Northwest Middle School. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)

by Mary Rupert

A new housing development, a new Northeast area grocery store and a new building at Donnelly College are planned for the 4th District of Kansas City, Kansas.

The new developments, along with other improvements, were announced at Commissioner Harold Johnson’s 4th District community summit meeting held Nov. 15 at Northwest Middle School, 2400 N. 18th St. More than 100 people attended the meeting.

Johnson said there are currently $60 million to $70 million of investment in the 4th District. The district goes from 3rd Street on the east to 47th Street on the west, as far north as Quindaro Boulevard and as far south as Park Drive, and its boundaries are somewhat jagged.

Information also was presented at the meeting about the Northeast Area Master Plan, which is expected to be on the Unified Government agenda for approval at 7 p.m. Nov. 29. According to UG officials, it is the first time a master plan has been in place in the Northeast area, and it is expected to help the local government set priorities for decisions.

The Northeast area is on the cusp of development and expansion. Recently, the possibility of land speculation in the Quindaro area led to the UG Land Bank halting transfers of land in Quindaro, until after the master plan is approved.

Johnson said as the master plan was being developed, a new housing initiative was underway in the 4th District.

Drawings for the Boulevard Lofts project were displayed at a community summit meeting Nov. 15 at Northwest Middle School. (Staff photo)

Drawings for the Boulevard Lofts project were displayed at a community summit meeting Nov. 15 at Northwest Middle School. (Staff photo)

Drawings for the Boulevard Lofts project were displayed at a community summit meeting Nov. 15 at Northwest Middle School. (Staff photo)

Boulevard Lofts project

The $11 million Boulevard Lofts project will be in the Douglas-Sumner Neighborhood, developed by the Prairie Fire Development Group, according to officials. It will include affordable market-rate housing.

The development will include a four-story apartment building, with some six-plexes with one and two-bedroom apartments, according to officials. Community gardens will be an important aspect of the development.

Johnson said the development will be between 8th and 9th streets, from Washington to Everett avenues.

The first phase will be called the Boulevard Lofts, with more phases planned, he said.

New grocery store planned at 17th and Quindaro

Rob Richardson, UG planning director, said at the Nov. 15 District 4 community summit meeting that a cooperative grocery store is planned at 17th and Quindaro in an old hardware store. Currently, the building is being cleaned up.

This store will be closer to the Northeast area than the proposed downtown Kansas City, Kansas, grocery store to be run by the Merc, at 5th and Minnesota. The store at 5th and Minnesota is in the 2nd District.

Rita York Hennecke, general manager of the Merc store in Lawrence, spoke at the community summit meeting Nov. 15 at Northwest Middle School. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)

A representative of the Merc was present at the Nov. 15 meeting, and described their efforts to involve the community in planning for the store, what will be in it, and in hiring local people.

Safe Routes to Schools

The Carl Bruce Middle School will be built to replace Northwest Middle School, and a Safe Routes to School sidewalk is being planned between Northwest and the Bertram Caruthers Elementary School, Richardson said.

Johnson said another Safe Routes to School walk is being built from the Frances Willard School to Central Avenue.

Elnora Jefferson, left, of Historic Northeast Midtown Association, described the Groundwork Trust grant for the Northeast area. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)

Groundwork Trust project

A Groundwork Trust USA project has been approved for the Historical Northeast Midtown Association, according to Elnora Jefferson of HNMA.

At the community summit, she said a project in the Northeast area will receive federal grants in which a committee will study areas with the goal of changing brownfields into usable assets. Over $300,000 of investment is expected with this project.

Patrick Sallee, CEO of Vibrant Health, said a new health clinic is coming to 13th and Quindaro. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)

New safety net clinic planned

Also at the community summit Nov. 15, Patrick Sallee, CEO of Vibrant Health, said a new Vibrant Health safety net clinic is coming to 13th and Parallel, in conjunction with the Boys and Girls Club and the Mt. Carmel Redevelopment Corp. The new clinic may open in May or June of 2019, he said.

Vibrant Health was created by the merger of Turner House Clinic, Silver City Health Center and KU Pediatrics Clinic at Children’s Campus. It has clinic locations at 12th and Central; at 444 Minnesota Ave.; and at 1428 S.32nd St. in the Argentine area.

‘18th Street Renaissance’

Johnson said an “18th Street Renaissance” is underway. He said it includes a new 18th Street transit line, the new Carl Bruce Middle School and a new Donnelly College building.

“I see a complete renaissance in that area,” Johnson said.

Justus Welker, UG transit director, described the new bus line planned on 18th Street. It will go from Quindaro to Roeland Park, he said, in less than 25 minutes. The bus route will allow residents to connect with grocery stores, health clinics, colleges and jobs, he said.

More than 14,000 people live within a quarter-mile of the route, he said. It will be part of the Ride KC network and will connect routes 101 and 102, as well as other bus routes. It will start as a Monday through Friday route on Jan. 2, he said.

One college student who attended the community summit said he liked the idea of an 18th Street transit line because currently, he has to take the bus to Kansas City, Missouri, and then transfer to another bus to Johnson County, which takes more time. Students at Kansas City Kansas Community College and some other area colleges currently receive a pass to ride the bus for free.

The new Carl Bruce Middle School will replace Northwest Middle School in 2020. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)

The new Carl Bruce Middle School on 18th Street. (Staff photo)

New middle school planned

The new Carl Bruce Middle School is planned to replace Northwest Middle School in 2020, and it will include “maker spaces” for tech and robotics students, according to officials.

The new school will house about 900 students, according to officials.

Johnson said the Northwest student count had dropped to about 240 a few years ago, but now they are back at capacity. He said the new school is a $30 million investment in the 4th District.

Emily Buckley, vice president of advancement at Donnelly College, discussed a new building planned for the Donnelly campus on 18th. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)

Plans for the new Donnelly College building were on display at the community summit at Northwest Middle School. (Staff photo)

Plans for the new Donnelly College building were on display at the community summit at Northwest Middle School. (Staff photo)

New Donnelly College building planned

Emily Buckley, Donnelly College vice president of advancement, showed renderings of the campus plans on 18th Street during the community summit meeting.

In 2013, Donnelly opened a new events center, and in January 2018, remodeled Marian Hall. Donnelly also plans to build a new three-story, 72,000-square-foot building on 18th Street, she said.

The college is raising funds for the expansion and is “more than halfway there,” Buckley said. The total of all the Donnelly renovations, including the new building, will be a $30 million-plus investment in the campus, she said.

Other speakers at the community meeting

Commissioner Melissa Bynum, 1st District at large, spoke at the community summit meeting Nov. 15 at Northwest Middle School. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)

Commissioner Johnson has really worked hard to bring these improvements to the 4th District, said Commissioner Melissa Bynum, 1st District at large, at the community summit.

The community summit meeting also featured appearances by Kansas City, Kansas, Superintendent of Schools Charles Foust; Kansas City Kansas Community College President Greg Mosier; Crystal Watson, deputy chief of staff to Mayor David Alvey; Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree and Kansas City, Kansas, Deputy Chief Tyrone Garner.

Dr. Charles Foust (Staff photo)

Dr. Foust told the audience that his goal, as a new superintendent, is to make sure that quality education is aligned to the standards. He said the district is now aligning its teaching to state standards.

“As adults, we have to be the voice of the children,” he said. “I am excited, passionate and I hold people accountable.”

Dr. Greg Mosier (Staff photo)

Dr. Mosier said the growth opportunity for Wyandotte County is endless. One of the college’s goals is to prepare students to be ready for the work force, he said.

Currently there are about 15,000 jobs available in Wyandotte County with an average $40,000 salary, he said. One of the college’s goals is to graduate students with hard and soft skill sets to be ready for the work force. KCKCC provides vocational training for some of these highly skilled jobs.

Johnson pointed out there has been a disconnect in the past between high-paying jobs here and residents who can’t get those jobs.

Deputy Chief Tyrone Garner (Staff photo)

Deputy Chief Garner said public safety is an important part of a community’s sustainability. He said the Police Department is focusing on community policing.

While crime has increased in Kansas City, Kansas, over the last four years, this summer there was an 11 percent cut into that increase, he said.

“We’re at 29 homicides this year. Out of 29, the Police Department has solved 27 of them,” he said.

He also said the police force needs to be more diverse.

Currently, he said the Police Department is focusing on youth, taking youth off the streets and getting them into programs that will help improve their lives. He discussed the police summer youth program, which is a successor to the police cadet program. There also is an effort to establish a Police Athletic League for youth.

District Attorney Mark Dupree (Staff photo)

Dupree said he views the district attorney’s office as public safety, prosecution and prevention. He discussed the office’s outreach to youth. He also said a behavior health court was created and in the coming year, mental health diversion will be implemented.

“I’m doing prevention, and also the traditional work,” he said. He said numbers of cases are up, citing 101 cases in the past month.

He also is planning to start the conviction integrity unit in January.

Dupree said he is prevented by Kansas ethics rules from making comments about ongoing cases.

“When the case is over, I will speak, and I will speak the truth, and you will hear all of the facts,” Dupree said.

Christal Watson (Staff photo)

Christal Watson, representing the mayor’s office, asked residents to call 311 if they were having any concerns about their trash pickup. She also discussed the Mayor’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony at 4 p.m. Nov. 30 and the UG commission retreat Jan. 17.

The community summit meeting was open to the public, and it did not include questions-and-answers from those in attendance.

Audience members listened at the community summit Nov. 15 at Northwest Middle School. (Staff photo)

Picking up information after the community summit Nov. 15 at Northwest Middle School. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)

Nonprofits receive more than $600,000 in casino-SVV grants

About $609,403 was given away to charitable agencies Thursday through the Hollywood Casino and SVV (Schlitterbahn) grants.

The funds are given to the Unified Government as part of agreements made with the casino and Schlitterbahn to provide funds for local charities. Agencies submitted grant applications.

UG commissioners then made the decision on what nonprofit agencies and programs will receive funds, and how much they receive. The final version of the casino grants was passed at Thursday’s UG Commission meeting, with no discussion.

This year, 49 programs were listed as receiving funds. The agencies submitted applications to the UG, listing how they would use the funds.

Each UG commissioner and the mayor gave away $54,764 in this year’s grant program, except for two commissioners who carried over a small amount of additional funds from last year.

Many of the commissioners split their funds among several groups, while one commissioner, Ann Brandau Murguia, gave the entire $54,764 amount to one organization, Argentine Betterment Corp.

Nine agencies that applied for grants did not receive any money, according to the list located on p. 503-504 of the UG agenda for June 28 at More details about exactly how much each individual commissioner allocated to the recipients are on the agenda at p. 503.

Grant recipients included:
• Argentine Betterment Corp., a Healthy Active Argentine for All Ages, $78,764;
• ABC for Argentine Eagles Post 213, youth softball field renovation project, $3,000;
• Armourdale Renewal Association, east side of Shawnee Park sidewalks and walking trail, final phase, $2,500;
• Artist Outreach Inc., “Play With Your Food, Culinary Nutrition Classes,” $2,500;
• Avenue of Life Inc., Impact Wednesday Program, $41,200;
• Bethel Neighborhood Center, Youth Fit for Life, $5,000;
• Bishop Ward High School, Healthy Habits in High School, $7,500;
• Caritas Clinics Inc., Duchesne Clinic, Coordinating Bilingual Diabetes Care for High Risk Populations, $9,564;
• Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas Inc., Wyandotte County: Hunger Relief Beyond the Basics, $2,500;
• Cross-Lines Community Outreach Inc., Healthy Choices Food Pantry, $8,664;
• Cultivate Kansas City Inc., Healthy Growing and Eating in Wyandotte County, $11,000;
• Doing Real Work Inc., Court Advocate-Case Management Services, $24,000;
• El Centro Inc., Promotores de Salud: Creating a Culture of Health, $4,500;
• Episcopal Community Service – Nourish KC, KCK Mobile Market, $4,000;
• The Family Conservancy, Healthy Parents, Healthy Kids, $13,000;
• Friends of Yates Branch Inc., Living Healthy and Well: Domestic Violence Education – Prevention Program, $21,264;
• Grinter Place Friends Inc., Grinter House, $10,500;
• Harvesters – The Community Food Network, BackSnack Wyandotte County, $7,500;
• Hillcrest Ministries of Wyandotte County Inc., Wyandotte Hillcrest, $2,500;
• Historic Northeast Mid-Town Association, Learn to Earn Program, $15,500;
• Humane Society of Greater Kansas City, Healthy Pets, Healthy Owners, Healthy Community, $5,500;
• Kansas City Community Gardens Inc., Expanding Healthy Food Access in Wyandotte County Neighborhoods, $5,800;
• KCKCC Endowment Association, KCKCC-Kids On Campus, $8,000;
• Kansas City Kansas West Kiwanis Foundation, Bike Safety Rodeo – Car Seat Check, $10,500;
• KC Healthy Kids, I Am Here Wyandotte, $2,000;
• KVC Hospitals Inc., Two Twelve Passenger Vans for KVC’s Residential Shelter for Youth, $1,500;
• LRA serving as fiscal agent for the Welborn Lake Group, Welborn Lake Revitalization Project, $5,000;
• Love Outreach International Ministries, Homeless Men’s Empowerment Initiative, $13,000;
• Mercy and Truth Medical Missions Inc., Improved Access to Healthcare Year 3, $10,000;
• Mo-Kan 20-20 Vision Inc., Bonner Springs Brave Bodies for Future Success, $22,500;
• Mo-Kan 20-20 Vision Inc., Piper Pirates Center for Exercise and Sports, $14,500;
• Mo-Kan 20-20 Vision Inc., Sumner Academy – Project Relief from Pressure and Stress, $1,264;
• Mt. Carmel Redevelopment Corp., Eliminating Barriers to a Healthy Lifestyle, $8,200;
• Oak Ridge Missionary Baptist Church, “Nutrition, Education and Fitness” Initiative, $24,000;
• Piper Soccer Club, $16,632;
• Kansas City, Kansas, Police Athletic League, $52,896;
• Quindaro Development Corp., Summer Enrichment Program, $15,500;
• Riverview Health Services Inc., Nutrition, Motion and Emotion, $4,464;
• Rosedale Development Association Inc., Rosedale Healthy Kids, $8,000;
• Salvation Army, Eat Better and Move, $7,000;
• St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds, Healthy Lives, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, $3,264;
• Turner House Clinic Inc., Vibrant Health Pediatric Obesity Management Program, $3,000;
• Turner Recreation Commission, Highland Park Phase 2, Project 2, Baseball – Softball Fields, $24,764;
• U.S. Conference of Bishops, Blessed Sacrament Health Programs, $5,000;
• United Way of Wyandotte County, fiscal agent for Back to School Program, WyCo Back to School Fair, $4,000;
• Vaughan-Trent Community Services Inc., Bonner Springs-Edwardsville Fresh Foods Program, $17,000;
• Village Initiative Inc., Family Life Resource Center, $7,000;
• Working Families’ Friend, Emergency Assistance, $19,764;
• Young Women on the Move, Young Women on the Move Collaborative Center, $14,400.