by Cole Arndorfer
The Grain Valley Board of Aldermen met on Monday, February 26, for their second meeting in the month of February. This meeting included a presentation from Grain Valley Schools Superintendent, Dr. Brad Welle, over the district’s tax levy ballot measure, one new resolution, and two ordinances.
Welle said that the district is asking for a 25-cent increase to the overall tax levy in order to improve pay for teachers and staff, as well as positions such as a new school resource officer and paraprofessionals.
Welle explained that in the ballot language, voters will see that they are voting on whether or not to increase the districts’ operating levy by 65-cents. He said that the district is in a position currently where it can decrease its debt service levy by 40-cents in order to get to that 25-cent total increase.
One of the main reasons, Welle explained, the district is asking for this levy increase is due to a drop in applicant numbers. He said that applicants for teaching positions across all subjects are half of where they were just four years ago.
The impact of this new levy on a household with a home worth $250,000 would be about $119 per year. Even with this increase, Welle said that Grain Valley would still have one of the three lowest school tax levy rates in Jackson County.
After Dr. Welle’s presentation, the board moved onto resolutions. This resolution allows the city to engage with Crawford, Murphy and Tilly Inc. to design intersection improvements at Eagles Parkway and Kirby Road. Some improvements would include adding turn lanes at the intersection and new trail/sidewalk construction. This resolution was approved.
Next, the board moved to ordinances. The first bill was the second reading of a bill to amend city code in order to update the Board of Aldermen meeting procedures.
Alderman Arnold noted a provision in the bill that would automatically cancel meetings that fall on observed holidays and made a motion to postpone any action on the bill until the board gets more information regarding how many meetings this would affect and the protocol regarding that. Alderman Arnold’s motion was approved and action on this bill was postponed until the next meeting.
The second and final bill discussed was the first read of a bill that would amend the city code in order to include vehicles without ignition interlock devices in the city’s alcohol-related traffic offenses. Chief Turner said that the state recognizes this practice and other local agencies already participate in it as well, this would be mirroring their practices. The board passed the first read and it will be brought back for its second read at the next meeting.
The board then moved into city staff reports. First, Parks and Recreation Director Shannon Davies, gave an update on construction at Armstrong Park. The work on the all-inclusive playground has started and is ongoing.
The new playground will be named “Kiki’s Playground” in memory of Christina “Kiki” Claphan, who worked for the parks department for over ten years and Grain Valley Schools for nearly ten years before passing away unexpectedly in February of 2020.
The next Board of Aldermen meeting will be held at 7:00pm on March 11 in City Hall.
by Cole Arndorfer
The Board of Education met on Thursday, February 22nd for its February business meeting. The board recognized three groups, took action on two items of new business and heard two more, and discussed an update to board policies.
First, the board recognized the Sni-A-Bar STEM club. This club received third place in the Burns & McDonnell STEM Battle of the Brains competition and was awarded a $20,000 grant to be used on STEM materials.
Next, the board honored four present members of the MMEA All-State Children’s Honor Choir that was held on January 24. For their final recognition, the board honored two present members of the High School All-State Band.
After the three group recognitions, Grain Valley South Middle School principal, Jim Myers, along with staff and students, took time to recognize the school board ahead of School Board Recognition Month in March. Eighth grade students passed out origami eagles, thank you notes, cookies, showed off a thank you painting made in an art class, as well as a thank you video put together by students and staff.
Following the recognitions, Superintendent Dr. Brad Welle gave his monthly report. Welle first talked about the tax levy campaign by the district. The district has put information regarding the ballot measure, as well as frequently asked questions on their website as well as on YouTube.
Welle also said that construction is still on track at the high school. The new weight room is still on track to be ready by April, with the rest of the construction slated to be completed by the first day of school next fall.
Next, the board moved into new business. The first item under this was amendments to the 2023-24 budget. Dr. Welle said these amendments account for different grants that the district received that affect its income and expenditures. This item was passed.
The next item of new business was the approval of three new certified full-time positions for next school year. While this is a bit earlier than normal, Welle said that the reason to bring these positions up now is to gain a competitive edge on other school districts in the hiring process. This item was also passed.
Following the approval of three certified full-time positions, the board discussed next school year’s pay schedules. Assistant Superintendent Dr. Nick Gooch said that the new pay schedules drafted are based on if the levy passes and they would ensure that each district employee will receive a raise.
For the final item of new business, the board discussed the board scholarship for the year. Dr. Julie Taylor, Eddie Saffell, and Sarah Swartz volunteered to review the record 48 student applications.
Next, the board moved onto board policies where they discussed updates to a set of policies. Many of the updates are related to new laws regarding marijuana set forth by the state. Welle explained updates ensure the language of the policies make clear that just because marijuana is legal, it is not okay for students or faculty to come to school under the influence. The only other update would be changing language in student discipline policies to include the use of A.I. under academic dishonesty.
The board then adjourned into executive session. The next school board meeting will be held at 6:00pm on March 14th in the Leadership Center.
Good People Café is a new 501c3 non-profit café in Grain Valley focusing on providing equal employment opportunities for individuals in the disability community.
The Café is hiring individuals looking to make a positive difference while having fun and working in a fast-paced environment all while learning new skills.
“Our café believes that everyone should be given a fair opportunity when it comes to learning new skills and the ability to make money regardless of our differences,” Pastor Michael Cassidy, Founder of Good People Café said. “We are pleased to now offer this opportunity to people in Grain Valley who may have been overlooked while trying to find a job elsewhere, and we look forward to this community helping us support this initiative.”
Even though the café is not open to the public, applications can be picked up and dropped off at the Café Monday-Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM or Saturday from 11-3 PM.
The Café will foster an inclusive environment where all individuals always feel welcome. Located at 101 SW Eagles Parkway, Grain Valley, MO. The Café is expected to open for business by the end of March.
Central Jackson County Fire Protection District (CJCFPD) will host a safe sitter babysitting class for students interested in babysitting on March 20th from 9:00am - 4:00pm at the Fire/EMS Training Center, 4715 S US 40 Hwy, Blue Springs.
Students will learn life and safety skills for staying home alone or while babysitting.
The cost of the class is $75, which includes a student textbook and course completion certificate. All students will receive instruction in American Heart Association Heartsaver CPR/First Aid and have the option to purchase a CPR certification card for an additional $20.
Call 816-229-9118 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
The Grain Valley Chamber of Commerce celebrated the honorees selected for the 2024 Heart of Grain Valley Awards during a dinner at the Grain Valley Community Center on Saturday, February 24th.
Eighteen nominees in six categories were celebrated, and the following honorees were announced:
Businessperson of the Year: Jason Fenstermaker, Iron Kettle Brewing
Business of the Year: Grain Valley Chiropractic
Emerging Business of the Year: Baking with a Bass
Nonprofit/Community Group of the Year: Faith United Methodist Church
Volunteer of the Year: Marcia Napier
Unsung Hero of the Year: Theresa Osenbaugh
A recap of each of the nominees can be found at: https://youtu.be/9myTMXxuPGg
For more information on the Grain Valley Chamber of Commerce, visit www.growgrainvalley.org.
Missouri nonfarm payroll employment decreased by 800 jobs in January 2024, and the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained unchanged from December at 3.3 percent. Private industry employment decreased by 300 jobs and government employment decreased by 500 jobs. Over the year, there was an increase of 42,100 jobs from January 2023 to January 2024, and the unemployment rate increased by half of a percentage point, from 2.8 percent in January 2023 to 3.3 percent in January 2024.
ANNUAL REVISIONS FOR 2023 DATA
With the release of January 2024 data, previously released employment and unemployment estimates for Missouri statewide and sub-state areas from both Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) and Current Employment Statistics (CES) programs have been revised through the annual revision and benchmarking process. Revised estimates reflect additional data and estimation methods developed over the year, including new population controls from the Census Bureau, updated input data, and reestimation.
The revision process resulted in Missouri’s seasonally adjusted unemployment in 2023 being adjusted upwards for every month except December. December’s revised unemployment went down by 1,000 people. Missouri’s unemployment increased over the year by between 502 to 11,634 people per month. During 2023, Missouri’s total unemployment increased from a revised 86,079 people in January 2023 to 100,920 people in December. The unemployment rate in 2023 increased for most months of the year by 0.1 to 0.4 percentage points. December’s revised unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.3 percent. During 2023, Missouri's unemployment rate increased from a revised 2.8 percent in January 2023 to 3.3 percent in December. Missouri’s unemployment rate was below the national rate for the year.
Revised data for 2023 show that seasonally adjusted total nonfarm payroll employment averaged lower than reported in the original release for every month. On net from January 2023 to December 2023, Missouri gained over 2,000 fewer jobs than reported in the original estimates. Revised estimates reported fewer job gains over the year primarily due to the revised May, June, July, and August being lower than the original estimates by 13,100 jobs, 17,700 jobs, 19,200 jobs, and 15,200 jobs, respectively. The original estimates for October, November, and December were within 5,000 jobs of the final estimates.
Missouri's smoothed seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained unchanged in January 2024 at 3.3 percent from the revised December 2023 rate. The January 2024 rate was half of a percentage point higher than the January 2023 rate of 2.8 percent. The estimated number of unemployed Missourians was 101,652 in January 2024, up by 732 from the revised December total of 100,920.
The state's not-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate increased in January 2024 by nine-tenths of a percentage point to 3.8 percent, compared to the December 2023 not-seasonally-adjusted rate of 2.9 percent. A year ago, the not-seasonally-adjusted rate was 3.2 percent. The corresponding not-seasonally-adjusted national rate for January 2024 was 4.1 percent.
Missouri's labor force participation rate was 63.1 percent in January 2024, six-tenths of a percentage point higher than the national rate of 62.5 percent. Missouri's employment-population ratio was 61 percent in January 2024, eight-tenths of a percentage point higher than the national rate of 60.2 percent. Missouri's unemployment rate was 3.3 percent in January 2024, four-tenths of a percentage point lower than the national rate of 3.7 percent. Missouri's unemployment rate has been at or below the national rate for more than eight years.
Missouri's nonfarm payroll employment was 2,999,800 in January 2024, down by 800 from the revised December 2023 figure. The December 2023 total was revised downward by 4,500 jobs from the preliminary estimate.
Goods-producing industries decreased by 2,600 jobs over the month, with mining, logging, and construction gaining 100 jobs. Private service-providing industries increased by 2,300 jobs between December 2023 and January 2024. Employment in private service-providing industries increased in professional and business services (4,300 jobs), financial activities (1,400 jobs), leisure and hospitality (900 jobs), and information (100 jobs). Employment decreased in trade, transportation, and utilities (-3,400 jobs); other services (-600 jobs); and private education and health services (-400 jobs). Total government employment decreased by 500 jobs over the month, with a decrease in local government (-700 jobs) and small increases in federal (100 jobs) and state (100 jobs) government.
Over the year, total payroll employment increased by 42,100 jobs from January 2023 to January 2024. The largest gain was in private education and health services (16,600 jobs); followed by leisure and hospitality (14,100 jobs); financial activities (5,500 jobs); trade, transportation, and utilities (4,400 jobs); mining, logging, and construction (2,400 jobs); other services (300 jobs); and information (200 jobs). Employment decreased in professional and business services (-5,400 jobs) and manufacturing (-3,300 jobs). Government employment increased by 7,300 jobs over the year, with increases in state (3,600 jobs), local (2,400 jobs), and federal government (1,300 jobs).
by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
You know what people say about hindsight. Looking back, I certainly wish we had some old calendars from previous Leap Years.
Throughout history, various events have occurred on February 29, the actual day marking leap year. For example, George Armstrong Custer fought the Battle of the Little Bighorn (1876), the Titanic sank (1912), Benjamin Franklin proved that lightning is electricity (1752), and gold was discovered in California (1848). By inserting ("intercalculating") an additional day, a leap day, or month, a leap month, into some years, the drift between a civilization's dating system and the physical properties of the solar system can be corrected.
We do have a 2024 Leap Year Calendar and the historic photographs for the year featuring Downtown Grain Valley. The February photo was given to the Historical Society by Alan Lefko and Mr. Lefko told me it was given to him by someone who noted it was the year he was born! (I hope he doesn’t mind that his age has been revealed.)
Downtown Grain Valley, circa 1933
The photographer was probably standing on the east side of Main Street a block south of the railroad. It is difficult to determine what was in each of the buildings. In the foreground on the left we can see what must have been an auto repair shop. At least we can be sure they sold Goodyear tires. Across the tracks we clearly see the Bank of Grain Valley which still had a corner entrance. Beyond the bank was Storm’s Pharmacy and in the distance the Sni-A-Bar Bank building and the Christian Church.
On the right side of the of the photograph is the old lumber yard. It is impossible to see the remaining buildings which would have been Loring Hardware, a hotel, the Ryan Building, and the grocery store which was owned by Edward and Otis Williams in the early 1930s.
While there are few cars parked along the street, this shows our peaceful little town during The Great Depression (1929-1939) and just prior to World War II. It certainly makes one wonder how many families were still using horses or walking? Electricity was not in every home, certainly not water, and just out of view on the right there was an icehouse. Many homes got 25# blocks for their ice box. My grandfather would tell you that refrigerators were a luxury in most Grain Valley homes in the 1930s!
If you have a leap year calendar you are will to part with, please bring it to the Historical Society Museum. It is open on Wednesdays from 10 AM – 3 PM.
The following information is derived from Grain Valley Police Department daily calls service log for the week of February 21-27, 2024.
February 21, 2024
100 Blk SW Rock Creek Ln
Follow up from DWI
Motor Vehicle Accident
1000 Blk Pamela
3000 Blk Outer Belt
100 Blk NE McQuery
100 Blk SW Cross Creek
February 22, 2024
1000 Blk Hilltop
1000 Blk Eagle Ridge
700 BLK SWMisty Glenn Ct
400 Blk NW Whitney
February 23, 2024
1000 Blk Persimmon
Jefferson/Buckner Tarsney Rd
300 Blk Old 40 Hwy
1000 Blk Eagles
300 Blk Yennie St
900 Blk NW Barr Rd
600 Blk NW Yennie Ave
900 Blk NW Barr Rd
Buckner Tarsney Rd/ Duncan Rd
800 Blk San Kar
February 24, 2024
200 Blk Eagles Pkwy
Follow up missing Juvenile
100 Blk Sunny Ln
700 Blk Cross Creek
SW Eagles Pkwy/Sni-a-bar Blvd
Motor Vehicle Accident
1000 Blk NW Scenic Dr
1000 Blk NE Mcquerry rd
Out of control Juvenile
1000 Blk Stonebrook Ln
1000 Blk NW Nicholas Dr
February 25, 2024
2000 Blk Hedgewood Dr
600 Blk Capelle St
1000 Blk Jaclyn
600 Blk Capelle St
100 Blk Sunny Ln
1000 Blk NW Persimmon Dr
Confirmed stolen auto
Buckner Tarsney/South city limits
February 26, 2024
700 Blk Lakeview
1000 Blk Crestwood
100 Blk S Buckner Tarsney
100 Blk EPW
February 27, 2024
Additional calls for service:
Suicidal Subject: 1
Domestic Violence: 1
Order of Protection: 1
Missouri House and Senate OK two plans making it harder for voters to amend the state constitution
by Meg Cunningham, The Beacon
The Republican-controlled Missouri House and Senate advanced two different proposals Thursday that would make it harder for voters to change the state constitution using a constitutional amendment.
The Senate passed a bill on a party-line vote that would dramaticallycrank up the difficulty of passing a constitutional amendment proposed by voters using an initiative petition process. The resolution would require a statewide majority — that’s already the rule — but also require majority support from five of Missouri’s eight congressional districts. That bill now awaits action from the House.
Meanwhile, the House passed a bill backed by Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft that would add restrictions onto the signature gathering process for initiative petitions. That bill is now in the Senate for consideration.
Both moves come as the effort to place a constitutional amendment allowing abortions in Missouri ramps up. Missourians for Constitutional Freedom, the group spearheading the effort, says it’s raised more than $3 million since launching the campaign.
At least 13 states could vote on constitutional amendments regarding abortion in 2024. Ohio saw a similar effort unfold last year: Lawmakers there placed a question on an August 2023 ballot that asked voters to raise the voting threshold required for a constitutional amendment. Voters rejected that proposal and went on to pass a constitutional amendment enshrining the right to an abortion in the state’s constitution.
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said that the effort to raise the threshold was “100% about … abortion,” though he later walked his statement back and said the effort was about any effort looking to amend the Ohio Constitution.
Senate backs tougher standard for passing constitutional amendments
Missouri has two ways to amend its state constitution. Legislators can propose a change subject to a statewide vote. Or voters can collect signatures to put a change up for a statewide vote.
On Thursday, senators passed a resolution that would require more voter support for constitutional amendments.
The approval came after an overnight filibuster from Senate Democrats. They were blocking a vote on a version of the bill that coupled popular ideas with the effort to raise the amount of voter support needed to pass an amendment, known as “ballot candy.”
The resolution, sponsored by Republican Sen. Mary Elizabeth Coleman of Jefferson County, who recently announced a bid for Missouri’s 3rd Congressional District, originally included language that would bar non-Missouri residents or U.S. citizens from voting on constitutional amendments, something that is already illegal under Missouri law.
It would have also prohibited foreign governments from financially supporting initiative petition efforts and placed a ban on constitutional amendments allowing lobbyist gifts to lawmakers.
“There absolutely is ballot candy in the substitute,” Coleman said on the floor.
After the filibuster and debate, Lee’s Summit Republican Sen. Mike Cierpiot offered an amendment that removed the extra language from the resolution.
“This amendment is taking out all the things that we’re calling ballot candy today and just going back to this straight underlying amendment,” he said.
The amendment passed 18-12, with support from moderate Republicans.
In a press conference Thursday, House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, a Springfield Democrat, predicted House Republicans will work to get the ballot-candy language added back into the resolution.
“It’s also finally nice that they’re saying it out loud of what they’re trying to do,” she said. “To deceive voters and put language in there that they specifically call candy because they know its intent.”
Missouri House passes its own measure to restrict processes on signature gathering for constitutional amendments
The House on Thursday finalized a measure that would place a number of restrictions on signature-gathering efforts for constitutional amendments.
The proposal, sponsored by Pleasant Hill Republican Rep. Mike Haffner, would require the pages that voters sign to support a constitutional amendment to be issued by the secretary of state’s office. The bill would also require signatures to be recorded in black or dark ink.
Signature gatherers would also be required to be residents of Missouri or physically present in Missouri for at least 30 consecutive days before collecting signatures. It would also ban paying people based on how many signatures they collect.
Haffner’s bill would also give the secretary of state and attorney general power to assess whether initiative petition efforts comply with the Missouri Constitution.
Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, a Republican running for governor, backs the measure.
“These changes to statute will establish safeguards and enhance clarity and transparency in the process making it more efficient for Missourians,” Ashcroft said in a press release Thursday, adding that he will work closely with the General Assembly to finalize the bill.
The Senate proposal is SJR 74. The House bill is HB 1749.
by Bill Graham, Missouri Department of Conservation
Walk beside a river, lake, or pond on a warmer day in late winter and you can see turtles sunning themselves on a log. They’re anxious for spring. Learn all about these fascinating reptiles when the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) hosts a free Totally Turtles class from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 2, at the Burr Oak Woods Nature Center in Blue Springs.
Join experts Cindy McManis and Crystal Parson, the Turtle Ladies, as they discuss the variety of land and aquatic turtles found in Missouri. They will give insights into the habitats, life cycles, survival skills, and specialized structures such as the protective shells. Participants will get a chance to see 10 different live turtles from the smallest ones to big ones like the eastern snapping turtle.
This class is open to all ages. Registration is required. To register, visit http://short.mdc.mo.gov/47n. For information about MDC’s Burr Oak Woods Nature Center, visit https://mdc.mo.gov/burroakwoods.