by John Unrein
Grain Valley Eagle first baseman Kaden Jeffries sat in the dugout prior to the game looking down with his head on his bat. Minutes passed and Eagles head baseball coach Brian Driskell considered checking on whether his clean up hitter was okay. Turns out Jeffries was only gathering his thoughts and visualizing doing good things during the Class 5 Quarterfinal playoff round versus the Smithville Warriors. The Eagles would win the contest by a score of 7-3 on May 29th at Blue Springs South baseball stadium.
The precedence placed on envisioning positive things paid off for Jeffries in the top of the fourth inning. Jeffries pulled a fastball down the right field line well over the 325 foot sign. The no doubt home run left the entire Grain Valley bench waiting for Jeffries at home plate. A raucous celebration ensued on the way back to the dugout as the Eagles moved ahead 4-0 at that point in the game. Jeffries would end up with three runs batted in total in providing offensive muscle for his team.
Grain Valley’s confidence was a high point due to scoring at least one run in each of the first four innings. The Eagles dugout was louder than it had been at any point during the season. To say that Eagles came to play would have been an understatement. A sentiment echoed by Jeffries who held true to being a young man of few words.
“The more chances I get to see the baseball throughout at-bats during the game the better I feel about my swing. Today was no different. I knew the baseball was gone (on the home run) as soon as it left my bat,” Jeffries said.
“Getting to go to Springfield next and getting to travel with the boys was the best thing about today.”
Equally as impressive to Jeffries fireworks at the plate was the effort on the mound by starting pitcher Cole Keller. The senior hurler would strikeout five Warrior batters and only surrender one hit across four innings of work. Keller would work top to bottom and both sides of the plate with his fastball and secondary offerings. The fastball would be Keller’s go to pitch when in trouble or needing to put away hitters.
“I leaned on my fastball today until the second time through the lineup when I turned to my curveball. My breaking stuff felt good out of my hand, and I relied on my defense behind me to help keep them scoreless when I was pitching,” Keller said.
“KJ (Kaden Jeffries) is a special player. We have seen him hit balls over and off the wall all year. Bown showed up as well in relief. He is smart and is not necessarily going to overpower you with his stuff. I think he has like seven different pitches, and he locates all of them really well.”
Keller continued, “I have never been to the semifinals before, and we will approach it like it is just another game. We will take this one step at a time with our focus being on preparation.”
Bown has shown his mettle throughout the season for Grain Valley. The senior has gotten ready to pitch in relief on short notice, through a nagging injury, and with a fearless mentality when he steps on the hill. Bown was no different in the two and one-third innings he delivered for his team in the win against the Warriors. A Smithville team that refused to go away quietly, scoring three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to make things interesting as the game progressed.
Bown fought back emotion to stay composed in sharing his postgame thoughts.
“There are no words to describe this feeling right now. It is awesome. I walked that guy and gave up a run initially. To get to go to the semifinals is unreal. We all have each other’s back and that is special.”
Driskell approached his team during preparation the day prior to the game in their film room with what he told them may sound corny but asked that they participate with faith in what was being asked. The Eagles were asked to close their eyes and focus on the first three innings of the game going well before something going sideways in the middle of the contest. The last thing requested by Driskell was to focus on how they would finish the game through any adversity they faced before picturing a jubilant celebration. Driskell would turn on the lights and tell his team to go get it done.
“This was an incredible game today. I am a little bit lost for words. We played outstanding team baseball today. We did have a couple of hiccups and glitches as well. We missed a couple of signs that could have scored some runs. I am excited that we get to move forward,” Driskell said.
“Jeffries is coachable and has been a consummate professional at the plate. He is a kid that has not shrunk in the moment.”
Driskell added, “Keller did a great job as well. He told me before the game that he had four solid innings for us and that is what he ended up delivering. I am proud of Cole’s effort and what this team has accomplished.”
Grain Valley (26-8) will next travel to US Baseball Park in Ozark for their matchup against Rockwood Summit (17-14) on June 4th at 11:00 am.
The Grain Valley Eagles baseball team celebrates their Class 5 quarterfinal victory.
Photo credit: John Overstreet
Cole Keller struck out five batters and only gave up one hit across four innings of work.
Photo credit: John Overstreet
Kaden Jeffries delivers a homerun for the Eagles during the fourth inning.
Photo credit: John Overstreet
Alex Snyder alludes the tag at home plate to add a run on the scoreboard for the Eagles.
Photo credit: John Overstreet
by Michael Smith
Grain Valley sophomore Kylie Barnett missed half of the girls soccer season with a broken right foot.
She said she was only supposed to be out for a month or a few weeks, but the pain wouldn’t go away. That’s why when she came back around the 13th game of the season, Eagles head coach Tyler Nichol decided to only play her 5 minutes.
From there, he slowly increased her minutes each week as the sophomore came off the bench. After a few weeks, the sophomore said she felt 100 percent, just in time for Saturday’s Class 3 quarterfinal game against Platte County.
Barnett played a crucial role in the contest scoring in the 24th minute off a rebound that was deflected by Pirate goalkeeper Avery Krahenbill. That goal helped spark Grain Valley’s 2-0 victory as the Eagles will be making their first final four appearance in school history next week.
They will face Notre Dame St. Louis at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 2, at World Wide Technology Soccer Park in Fenton, Mo.
“It’s kind of surreal,” Nichol said of making the final four with the girls for the first time.” We had an idea early in the season that it was going to be this matchup in this game. It’s a game we’ve been waiting for.
“We’ve been close to making it a few times, so to finally get across that line, and for them to go and get that experience, we are just so pumped for it.”
And the Eagles may not have made it without Barnett’s big goal.
She said she felt good, and it reflected in her play and she fit right in with an Eagles team that has multiple players who can score.
“(The pain) just kept continuing throughout the season when people stepped on it,” Barnett said. “Now I’m finally getting back. I got a great assist from (Annabelle Totta). I had to contain my excitement and remain calm.
“Today it felt good. In past games (her right foot) has been a little swollen.”
With Barnett playing more minutes, the chemistry was unaffected. The Eagles midfield and front line looked sharp Saturday.
“When she came back from injury, she showed up and played amazing,” Grain Valley freshman midfielder Annabelle Totta said. “She keeps her head up and she can find people. She has amazing footwork and she is able to keep possession when she has it and get rid of it at the right spot.”
Nichol said he was getting emotional talking about Barnett’s big moment.
“I can’t say enough about her. She works so hard all the time,” Nichol said. “We are just excited for her. It was awesome for her to be the one who made the game-winning goal. It’s a moment she will never forget.”
While Barnett’s goal was huge, Totta provided some insurance for the Eagles (21-2-1) when she executed a perfect give-and-go with freshman Emma Thiessen. Totta passed the ball to Thiessen, who gave it right back to her on a through ball. Totta tucked a shot inside the far post from the right wing with 15:45 remaining for a 2-0 advantage.
“I was excited because we were right in front of the goal and it was because of Emma’s perfect pass to me, and I was able to finish it,” Totta said.
Meanwhile, Grain Valley, which controls possession in most games, had an even battle with Platte County. Sophomore goalkeeper Camihle Williams stepped up big with six saves to help her team preserve the shutout.
She had a couple of diving stops in the first half and stopped a point-blank shot from Platte County’s Addison Bradley late in the second half. Williams plays an aggressive style of goalkeeper and often comes off her line to challenge ball handlers.
“To be in goal, you have to be willing to sacrifice yourself,” Williams said. “It helps your team a lot. If I hadn’t done that, we probably would have had to go to overtime. I know I am going to get hurt, it’s only for a second. It’s not like it’s a baseball or a bowling ball.”
Coming off her line almost backfired late in the first half. A Platte County player lofted a shot toward an empty net when Williams was on the ground at the top of the penalty box. Center back Sophie Broockerd used a sliding kick to knock the ball away when it looked like it was going in.
Williams had a similar situation happen in the second half but Platte County’s Allie Corbin overshot the empty net.
“Camihle was phenomenal today,” Nichol said. “She’s not afraid to come off her line as you saw. It made me nervous a couple of times. It was a risk vs. reward thing. She’s aggressive and that’s not something we want to coach out of her.”
The Eagles now turn their attention to Notre Dame St. Louis.
“To be honest, we don’t know a lot about them,” Nichol said. “We will watch film tonight and tomorrow and find out as much as we possibly can. Just based on their results, we know they are a quality team. After looking at the teams they beat I thought, ‘Wow. How are they not ranked in the top five?’”
The Grain Valley Lady Eagles soccer team celebrates their Class 3 tournament win.
Photo credit: John Overstreet
Defender Sophie Broockerd stops the charge of the Platte County Pirates.
Photo credit: John Overstreet
Midfielder Raena Childers pushes the soccer ball into the Platte County zone.
Photo credit: John Overstreet
Kylie Barnett gains possession of the soccer ball.
Photo credit: John Overstreet
Midfielder Emma Thiessen wins the contested possession of the soccer ball.
Photo credit: John Overstreet
Goalkeeper Camihle Williams keeps the shutout intact for Grain Valley with her save.
Photo credit: John Overstreet
A short meeting of the Board of Aldermen on Monday, May 24th was punctuated by a brief but tense denial of two resolutions requesting the Board’s approval of two nominees to the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Mayor Chuck Johnston nominated residents Dale Arnold and Joey Burgett to fill two seats on the Commission, currently occupied by Scott Shafer and Justin Tyson. Johnston’s nominations were unanimously defeated by the six aldermen.
Both Shafer and Tyson’s terms have expired, and both expressed their desire and willingness to continue to serve to City staff and the Board of Aldermen. According to the City, Scott Shafer’s term expired February 25th and Justin Tyson’s term expired May 14, 2020. Both have continued serving on the commission in the interim.
Johnston had been asked in prior board meetings by Alderman Knox and Alderman Stratton regarding the reappointment of Shafer and Tyson based on the desire of both to continue to serve, with Johnston indicating he would reach out to the two commission members.
Reached for comment, Shafer and Tyson stated Johnston had not reached out to them regarding their desire to continue serving or his intentions in filling the positions.
The aldermen reached for comment stated the unanimous vote against Johnston’s nominees was in response to a lack of communication from the Mayor, and that there was no justification for not reappointing two willing and capable volunteers who expressed a desire to continue to serve.
“Near as I can find out, we have never not reappointed someone who was willing to serve, and I see no reason to remove them at a whim,” Alderman Rick Knox said.
“I believe the Mayor needs to learn to reach out to each one of us and explain his ideas. It’s a lot easier to go to us rather than just shove it at us. I don’t have a vendetta against either of the gentlemen nominated by the Mayor, and I’m in nobody’s pocket. But when you start removing people sitting on a board ‘just because’, why would others be willing to serve,” Knox said.
“I understand there is bad blood between these two and the Mayor. They campaigned against him. We have to let bygones be bygones and move the City forward. It’s about the taxpayer,” Knox said.
“They (Shafer and Tyson) are active, eager participating members. It didn’t sit right with me to appoint others when they expressed to all of us they were willing to serve,” Alderman Jayci Stratton said.
Alderman Tom Cleaver expressed a similar sentiment.
“Nobody has said otherwise that they are not doing a good job. I don’t see fit to take someone off the board if they are qualified and willing to serve,” Cleaver said.
“We have approved several of the Mayor’s prior appointments, including Mike Switzer to the Park Board at this meeting,” Alderman Bob Headley said.
“I understand why he’s doing it. I don’t believe the mayor and these two individuals get along very well. I get that, but we all have to play in the sandbox with folks that you don’t particularly like all the time. For me, if they had done something wrong or done something to make the city look bad then you appoint different people. One of the individuals has been in construction his entire working life and the other is an active business owner in town. Shafer has served on the Board of Aldermen in the past as well and understands what it takes to get things done,” Alderman Bob Headley said.
Alderman Darren Mills also pointed to the fact that the Board has approved other nominations in the past, but that the lack of communication to Shafer, Tyson, and the Aldermen was the reason behind the nay votes.
“Both individuals that had served their term showed interest and desire to continue on with another term. This was brought up to the Mayor and as stated in the meeting, he chose not to discuss it with the Board or the 2 individuals. I had no issue reappointing Mike Switzer to the Grain Valley Parks Board for a 3 year term,” Mills said.
Shafer and Tyson both feel Johnston’s attempt to replace them with other appointees is based solely on personal grievances.
“I think it’s real apparent that Chuck (Johnston) doesn’t like myself and Mr. Tyson. Whether you like someone or not, you need to do what is best for the City. When I was on the Board, we had trouble filling these seats. The people he (Johnston) put forward are being used as pawns in my opinion. There’s an opening currently on the Park Board. He can appoint one of these individuals to that seat. I would like to thank the Board for recognizing this childish act,” Shafer said.
Shafer said that he and Tyson are active participants on the Commission and should have received the courtesy of a phone call from the Mayor to let them know he intended to nominate others to their seats.
“We didn’t even get a courtesy phone call. That’s just sad, and that is not what a Mayor is supposed to do.”
“If there’s issues we (Shafer and Tyson) don’t understand, we go out and put a visual on things. We make sure we have our ducks in a row and put a lot of time and effort in our service,” Shafer said.
“It’s an honor to serve, and an honor to work with Mark Trosen (Community Development Director) and City Engineer Dick Tuttle. I’m learning a lot from them as well,” Tyson said.
Tyson pointed to a recent issue before the Board impacting homeowners, stating he and Shafer went out to inspect the area in question and talk to homeowners about their concerns.
“The homeowners were grateful that we took an interest, and that people would actually show up and care,” Tyson said.
“This is the level of care that Scott and I have put into the position, and I think that removing people because a sitting mayor has an issue with them or has a personal agenda is a slippery precedent. I am glad the Board did what they did.”
Johnston points to his mandate from the voters as his reasoning behind the appointments.
“I believe I was elected because of two major factors. First, people had confidence in my stances and willingness to follow through on issues facing the City. Second, some were tired of the old ways of doing things and wanted change. When I appoint citizens to boards, I’m going to do my best to see that they will represent the interests of the majority of the community and will assist me in carrying out why I was elected,” Johnston said.
When asked why he believed the Board voted against his nominations, Johnston stated “You will have to ask the Aldermen why they took the position they did”.
“I knew when I took this job, I had an uphill battle with this Board of Aldermen. We have made some good progress in the past year on several major issues. I am not a quitter and will continue to attempt to work with the Aldermen on issues before the City. I would like to see more support from the Aldermen on some issues but that is up to them. I’m not going to change what I need to do to meet the promises I made,” Johnston said.
Each of the aldermen reached for comment expressed confidence that the Board could continue to work effectively with the Mayor.
“We have worked with Chuck on a number of occasions, and even though we do not always agree on the direction we were going, there are degrees where every one of us can adjust our thinking and there’s a compromise that can be reached. I’m willing to work with the Mayor. I think we just ask that we do it a little more diplomatically,” Headley said.
In other business, the board approved a resolution authorizing the City Administrator to repair 80 linear feet of 36” CMP storm water drainage on Golfview Drive, and approved an ordinance rezoning 3.15 acres to multi-family residential allowing for the development of Creekside Villas, to include 26 multi-family units. Additionally, the rezoning of 5.5 acres from agricultural to multi-family residential was approved, allowing for 35 units known as Creekside Commons to be developed.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Aldermen will be held Monday, June 14th at 7:00pm.
Grain Valley High School (GVHS) celebrated its 320 graduates during a commencement ceremony at Cable Dahmer Arena in Independence on May 26th.
The school’s 113th commencement was another demonstration of life returning to normal following a school year impacted by COVID-19. The class of 2021 endured continual change due to the pandemic, from virtual and hybrid schedules to the return of full in-person instruction, to canceled and then modified events and activities, not to mention the daily impact of social distancing, mask mandates, and quarantines.
Student commencement speaker Hannah Lytle quoted writer Anthony J. D’Angelo in the opening lines of her speech to students:
“Become a student of change. It is the only thing that will remain constant.”
Lytle noted that her class had become “pretty great students of change”, and that the transition they were making together that evening meant a change in the paths each graduate would be taking.
“Our paths up to this point have been paved for us. None of us are going down the same path. We all share this experience, but today, we get to use this experience differently,” Lytle said.
GVHS teacher and coach Pete Carpino was elected by the student body to address the graduating class. Carpino is retiring from education after 32 years, the last 7 in Grain Valley.
Carpino encouraged the graduates to “take care of the little things” in life, as those “little things add up to big things in critical situations”.
“Your life will be a roller coaster…the ups and downs of your life will be so much smoother if the little things are taken care of,” Carpino said.
GVHS Principal Dr. Jeremy Plowman highlighted the accomplishments of the 320 graduates, which included 18 Bright Flight scholars, 69 National Honor Society members, 157 A+ graduates, 32 students receiving athletic scholarships, and first year scholarships totaling $4.11 million. Plowman recognized students graduating with honors and 7 students entering the armed forces after graduation.
Reached for comment before the graduation ceremony, Plowman reflected on this year’s graduating class.
“This class will always be near and dear to my heart. Their junior and senior years were dominated by a pandemic. Yet, they persevered in so many ways. In athletics and activities, Grain Valley moved into the Suburban Conference with some of the most successful schools in the State and have had unprecedented success. Academically, this senior class had National Merit Scholars, a plethora of Bright Flight scholars and some very prestigious scholarships. Their school spirit remained strong when it would have been easy to let it wane,” Plowman said.
The Grain Valley Aquatic Center opens for the season on Saturday, May 29th with normal operating procedures returning in 2021. Gone are the distanced “family pods” on the deck, and loungers are once again available so families do not have to bring their own chairs. Masks are not required for patrons.
Open swim hours are Monday—Sunday from Noon—6:00pm. Hours are subject to change once Grain Valley Schools return for the new school year in mid-August. The last swim of the year will be on Labor Day from Noon—4:00pm.
Call the community center or visit their website (816-847-6230 or https://bit.ly/3ovc6SE) for more information and to get signed up for swimming lessons, water aerobics, season pool passes, and private pool rentals.
The following information is derived from the Grain Valley Police Department daily calls for service log for the week of May 12-18, 2021.
by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
The upgrading of cattle was the vision of William Rockhill Nelson. While the idea behind this 10 year “experiment” was in his mind before he purchased the farms, the actual experiment was not begun until just prior to Nelson’s death in 1915.
As I have stated in previous articles, Mr. Nelson purchased the first 200 cows from the Kansas City Stockyard in 1915. He did not live to see the results of the first cross, let alone succeeding crosses. The results from the first cross, breeding grade cows to registered Shorthorn bulls, did not produce calves until 1916. The annual demonstration days began in 1922. It was after the fourth cross.
By viewing the cattle in each of the pens in the foreground, breeders could see the results of the experiment. Each pen held examples of the grade cows, the registered Shorthorn bulls and their offspring from the first cross thru successive crosses.
From the USDA publication, “The Upgrading of Beef Cattle,” and other articles written about the experiment I believe that the greatest improvements were shown by the fourth cross, meaning additional cross did not yield noticeable improvements or a higher rate of gain on meat quality or price.
I chose this photo because I am always amazed to realize that upwards of 10,000 people came to Grain Valley, Missouri, each year in October to study the results of the breeding program at Sni-A-Bar. Although, my grandmother Napier would tell you they came for the free beef and pork dinners provide at no cost by Muehlbach & Sons Grocery in Kansas City.
What is the original plant-based meat substitute? The mighty mushroom! We have been enjoying mushrooms for over a century as they make repeat appearances in a variety of dishes like our favorite pizza or pasta dish. But mushrooms are making a comeback by being the star of show in many recipes.
Mushrooms have a slightly earthy flavor and delicate texture, giving them the ability to absorb flavors they are cooked with. They blend so well into foods that it is even a trend!
“The Blend” is a cooking technique that combines chopped mushrooms with ground meat to make meals more delicious, nutritious and sustainable. To experience The Blend in your own kitchen, try adding mushrooms to dishes like burgers, tacos, meatloaf and more.
Meet the Mighty Mushrooms:
Button: The same species as baby bellas, button mushrooms are versatile and have small, smooth white capes and a mild flavor.
Baby Bella: Also called cremini mushrooms, baby bellas are brown, firm and have a deeper flavor than button mushrooms.
Portabella: With a meaty flavor and caps up to 6 inches across, portabellas can be stuffed, grilled or roasted.
Shiitake: Loved for their strong, earthy flavor, spot shiitake mushrooms by their broad, umbrella-shaped caps.
Dried: With their concentrated flavor, varieties of dried mushrooms work well in risotto, soups and sauces.
Power Up with Mushrooms
Mushrooms are naturally low in calories, fat and cholesterol. They’re a good source of B vitamins, which provide energy by helping support protein, carbohydrate and fat metabolism.
Mushrooms also contain potassium, which helps control blood pressure and promotes a healthy heart.
Mushrooms are one of the few food sources of vitamin D, which plays a role in having a healthy immune system.
Mushrooms should have a smooth, firm texture and an earthy scent. Do not purchase those that look shriveled, wet or dried out, or those that smell musty.
Keep fresh mushrooms in the refrigerator (unwashed) in their original packaging or a loosely closed paper bag. Use within one week. Store dried mushrooms at room temperature.
To prep, wipe mushrooms clean with a damp paper towel just before using. Do not wash or soak fresh mushrooms in water until just before consuming. (They soak up water like a sponge, diluting their flavor in recipes).
The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.
It is great to see things returning to some semblance of normal as we emerge from the COVID fog. We see our communities coming back to life as more people are vaccinated.
Businesses all over town are dusting off the 2020 grime, opening their doors, and looking forward to a busy and profitable summer season. But for many families, it may not be an easy adjustment to get back to life as it was pre-COVID.
Low-income families faced many additional hardships during the pandemic, which took its toll. According to a recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, low-income families suffered higher job loss, food insecurity, and psychological distress during the pandemic than higher-income families. It's no wonder people are looking to create a better, more stable future for themselves and their children.
That is where the Job Skills for New Careers program comes into play, to fill the educational gap and offer a pathway to a career. A collaborative program between Truman Heartland Community Foundation, Community Services League, Mid-Continent Public Library, KC Scholars, and the University of Central Missouri, Job Skills for New Careers offers low-income adults the opportunity to learn a new skill in a high-paying, in-demand field at no charge.
We currently provide six training opportunities: Medical Coding & Billing, Welding, Certified Nurse Assistant, Phlebotomy, Construction, and Materials Handling. So in just a few short weeks or months, adult learners can be fully trained and ready to start work. In addition to learning skills in their future profession, all trainees receive one-on-one coaching in personal finance, workplace relations, and problem-solving, setting them up for professional and personal success.
Plans are already underway to add additional training tracks to build the program and meet the community's needs. They say it takes a village ... In this case, it took 44 fund holders at Truman Heartland Community Foundation. Understanding the impact such a comprehensive program could have, these donors chose to pool their giving, totaling $125,000, to support the Job Skills for New Careers program.
This generous funding will support the current program efforts and help expand the program to encompass a more diverse array of career field opportunities. This program works.
We launched it at the start of the pandemic, and despite this headwind in 2020, the program's graduation rate was 78 percent, well above the industry standard for workforce development programs. Just imagine what the classes in 2021 will achieve!
If you or someone you know is interested in getting out of a dead-end job and into a career with a real future, or if you are an employer looking for well-trained candidates to fill your open positions, contact Debby at the Career Services department at Community Services League at 816.912.4487 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Together, with thoughtful donors from eastern Jackson County and the surrounding communities, we will improve the economic status of individuals and families and provide businesses the qualified candidates they need to succeed.
Phil Hanson is the president and CEO of Truman Heartland Community Foundation. Truman Heartland Community Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity committed to improving the communities in and around Eastern Jackson County through partnerships with donors and community members.
For more information on charitable giving, visit www.thcf.org or call Truman Heartland at 816-836-8189.
The Chicago & Alton railroad was complete through the area which would become Grain Valley in 1878. During that same time period the Chicago & Alton Railroad bridge, erected across the Missouri River at Glasgow (1878-79), became the world's first railway bridge to be constructed entirely of steel.