by Michael Smith
Six girls represented Grain Valley in the Class 5 Missouri State High School Girls Track and Field Championships this past weekend.
And in the end, all six came home with something to show for their efforts.
The Eagles earned All-State honors in three events as every girls competitor earned a medal at Adkins Stadium in Jefferson City.
At the end of the state meet, the 4x400 relay team of Avery Huffman, Emma Jane Ogle, Raegan Fisher and Madison Rogers had an emotional final race as a foursome, taking fifth place with a time of 4:02.39.
“We broke the school record twice in the last 24 hours,” Grain Valley girls coach Brian Winckler said. “It’s very, very exciting stuff for them. The girls ran well. Every girl we brought down here left with a medal. I am excited for all of them.”
It was the last meet for Huffman, a senior, who was teary-eyed after she and her teammates received their medals. She gave her three teammates hugs as she will be moving on to the University of Kansas City-Missouri to play softball next year.
“We have run together a lot, I love these girls so much,” Ogle said. “We are going to miss Avery so much. She is a huge part of this team. We just have fun and go out there and compete no matter what."
Fisher expressed similar feelings toward her teammates.
“I had a lot of fun. This is my first all-state medal,” Fisher said. “I am excited, but I am sad that Avery is going to be leaving. I love these girls. They are all my really good friends and I love running with them.”
Huffman admitted she will miss running with her teammates.
“All my senior emotions came out. I am happy I got to run with these girls one last time,” Huffman said.
For Rogers, it was a season to remember.
“I wouldn’t want to run with anyone else,” Rogers said. “It’s honestly really motivating to get to run with them to the finish line. I don’t think the season could have gone better.”
Joining those four in getting a medal was sophomore McKenah Sears, who was ranked in the top 10 national all season in the javelin event, finished third with a throw of 143 feet, 11 inches. It was the sophomore’s second all-state honor in as many years.
“I am really excited (to be all-state) again,” Sears said. “I give all credit to God for giving me this ability. It was a lot of fun to earn the medal.”
Sears admitted that her first throw is always her best one and this was the case when she competed on Friday.
“My adrenaline is pumping on the first one,” Sears said, “so the first throw always comes natural.”
Sears wasn’t the only thrower to shine over the weekend. Senior Jory Huber ended her career with her first all-state medal in the discus with a throw of 121 feet, finishing seventh.
“I am super excited and really grateful,” Huber said. “I think the steps were good and that helped me finish seventh. I really put it together there at the end.”
Grain Valley senior Avery Huffman races forward teammate Reagan Fisher to hand off the baton during the 4x400 relay. Photo credit: Michael Smith
Grain Valley junior Raegan Fisher runs toward Madison Rogers to hand off the baton during the 4x400 relay. Photo credit: Michael Smith
Grain Valley sophomore Emma Jane Ogle races toward the finish line during the girls 4x400 relay. Photo credit: Michael Smith
The 4x400 team of, from left, Emma Jane Ogle, Raegan Fisher, Madison Rogers and Avery Huffman earned all-state honors by taking fifth with a time of 4:02.39. Photo credit: Michael Smith
by Michael Smith
A lot of track and field events are individual based.
In most events, it’s one person who determines how many team points their team earns in any given meet. The one style of race that does not apply to are the relay races.
That happened to be what the Grain Valley boys track team thrived in all season long. This past weekend, the Eagles earned all-state honors in the 4x200 and 4x400 relay races at Adkins Stadium in Jefferson City. Not only that, but senior Mason McCain went out with a bang, getting a medal in the 800-meter run.
“It was really nice to see all three boys events that we brought get all-state,” head boys track coach Erik Stone said. “Everyone who came down here went home with a medal which is very exciting.”
The 4x400 team of Mason McCain, Logan Pratt, Jace Weems and Keagan Hart closed a strong state meet for the Eagles as they took eighth with a time of 3:26.73.
“We ended our season with a medal, so it shows all the hard work that we put in this year,” McCain said.
Added Weems: “We gave it our all. (Pratt and McCain) are going to college and we got this next year. We (Hart and himself) are going to come back and work hard.”
All four had competed in one event earlier in the day.
“We had a big break in between the 4x200 and 4x400 so I felt pretty good,” Hart said. “There wasn’t really any fatigue. “
Weems, Pratt and Hart joined Caleb Larson on the 4x200 team that took seventh with a time of 1:30.45, giving Weems, Pratt and Hart two medals on the day.
“It feels good (to be All-State),” Larson said. “We worked hard all off season and we came out every day in practice even when days were tough. We have a great group of guys here. We weren’t together all year, but we came together toward the end of the season.”
The foursome wasn’t together all season due to Weems and Hart splitting time between the track and field and baseball teams. That didn’t seem to affect their chemistry, but didn’t come without challenges.
“I am feeling it now,” Weems said of the body aches and fatigue from playing two sports in the same season. “We had a tough loss against Blue Springs in baseball (to end the season), so it was good to come out here and run and get our mind off baseball.”
Hart echoed similar sentiments.
“It does affect your body when you just go, go, go,” Hart said. “It’s really hard to balance those two. I have felt my body recover a lot better lately when I get to concentrate on just one sport.”
That’s what McCain was able to do as his lone focus was track. Not only did he earn a medal in the 4x400, he was also all-state in the 800 with a time of 1:57.63.
“It felt pretty good, I came out pretty fast,” McCain said of his individual performance. “I was able to just hold on. It was a good race overall.
“I got very tired at the end. I knew the finish would be strong, so I set myself up in a good position in the final 200 meters.”
Grain Valley senior Logan Pratt looks to complete the third leg of the 4x400 race.
Photo credit: Michael Smith
Grain Valley senior Mason McCain heads toward the finish line in the 4x400 relay.
Photo credit: Michael Smith
Grain Valley junior Jace Weems hustles to hand off the baton to Keagan Hart during the 4x400 relay. Photo credit: Michael Smith
Grain Valley junior Keagan Hart heads toward Logan Pratt to hand off the baton in the 4x400 relay. Photo credit: Michael Smith
The 4x400 team, from left, Jace Weems, Keagan Hart, Logan Pratt and Mason McCain earned All-State honors, taking eighth place with 3:26.73. Photo credit: Michael Smith
The Board of Aldermen met May 23rd, approving a full slate of resolutions and ordinances. Under resolutions, the Board approved the purchase of new security surveillance cameras, the lease of a skid steer for Public Works, and the purchase of a new compressor at the Grain Valley Community Center to replace one that has failed.
The Board also approved a resolution and related ordinance to amend the budget to rebuild SW Tisha Lane from SW August Lane to SW Gateway Court. Superior Bowen, who was completing milling on SW Tisha Lane, found that the remaining asphalt had completely failed, and according to the City report, dirt and mud could be easily seen. As a result, the street needed a total reconstruction. The cost of the project is budgeted at $35,000.
The Board approved the second reading of an ordinance, allowing for the sale of the property known as the Nichols Building at 513 and 517 Gregg Street to Scottish Investments LLC.
In other business, the Board approved the appointment of Shawn Brady and the reappointment of Brain Bray and Norm Combs to the Grain Valley Parks and Recreation Board for three-year terms.
The Board will next meet at City Hall on May 31st at 6:00pm for a workshop requested by Mayor Todd to discuss goals for the next few years.
Grain Valley Schools has announced a community listening session to be held on Wednesday, June 1st from 6:30pm - 8:00pm in the Library Media Center at Grain Valley High School. The listening session is part of a process initiated by the district following the recent blowback following a board directive to remove "safe space" signage from classrooms at the high school.
The Board approved an $11,600 contract with CESO Communications during their business meeting last Thursday. CESO Communications has been engaged to survey middle and high school students, facilitate conversations with groups of students and staff, and facilitate the community listening session on June 1st, with the goal of helping "inform decisions related to a positive and welcoming school climate at each of our schools, consistent with the goals of our district’s school improvement plan", according to Deputy Superintendent Dr. Brad Welle.
Participants must live or work in the Grain Valley community and register ahead of time. To register, visit Ensuring a Welcoming School Community where Everyone Belongs (google.com).
Small table discussions, moderated by trained table leaders, will be the format of the June 1st meeting. CESO Communications will evaluate input gathered from student surveys, staff and student groups, and the community listening session to present a report approximately three weeks after the conclusion of these activities.
"School and district leaders will use the input to inform recommendations to impact school climate. Any recommendations will be shared with the Board for their review and consideration for approval as needed," Welle said.
Grain Valley High School Track and Field athletes will be boarding buses Friday afternoon for State competition following an impressive showing at Sectionals last weekend in Mexico, Missouri. Among the highlights:
Senior Mason McCain set the school record in the 800m run with a time of 1:56.21, breaking the previous record set by Dalton Miller in 2017 of 1:56.93. This record adds to McCain's collection of school records. McCain now holds 4 school records, 2 individual records in the 800 and 1600, and and two records as a part of a relay (4x8 and mile medley).
McCain and 4x400m team members Pratt, Hart and Weems also qualified for State with a third place finish at Sectionals.
The Boys 4x200 relay team of Hart, Pratt, Larson and Weems capture the Sectional Championship with a time of 1:29.62.
McKenah Sears continues her impressive season in the Javelin, winning the Sectional Championship with a throw of 42.90m to qualify for State.
The Girls 4x400m team of Ogle, Fisher, Rogers and Huffman finish fourth with a time of 4:03.86, and head to State competition as well.
A police escort is planned on Thursday afternoon as the team leaves the high school to head to State competition.
(Correction: police escort date was corrected from Friday to Thursday 4:26pm 5/26/2022)
Mid-Continent Public Library will host its fifth-annual LitUp Festival, a free literature and arts festival created by teens for teens, on Saturday, June 4, at its North Independence Branch (317 W. 24 Hwy., Independence, MO 64050) from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. This year’s festival will feature keynote presentations by New York Times bestselling authors Christina Hammonds Reed and Neal Shusterman, as well as presentations and workshops led by a variety of other writers and creators.
“LitUp is all about fostering creativity and building community among teens,” said MCPL Special Events Coordinator Sara Peterson-Davis. “This annual event gives kids the opportunity to gain inspiration from some of their favorite writers and creators and also learn how they can hone their own skills. Plus, they can spend time with new and old friends and enjoy free food and prizes!”
The day-long event will offer attendees the opportunity to participate in creative activities, enjoy free snacks and lunch (while supplies last), and score some free books to take home. Plus, the first 200 attendees to register will receive a free, limited-edition LitUp swag bag! More information about LitUp and registration is available at mymcpl.org/LitUp.
2022 LitUp Schedule of Events:
More information about LitUp, including program descriptions, presenter information, and registration is available at mymcpl.org/LitUp.
by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
The completion of the Chicago & Alton Railroad to Kansas City brought many “temporary” residents Grain Valley. By 1881, the business directory of the town included three doctors; G.U. Keener, James H. Daniels and J. W. Starnes.
Others on the directory included J. H. Cannon, Justice of the Peace; owner of a general store and Postmaster J. A. Porter; Notary Public John Graves; general store owner Frank Gregg; general store owner William Morrow; depot agent J. A. Spindle; blacksmith George Kreigel; shoe repair shop owner H. A. Hamilton; painter Joseph Wright; carpenter and Joseph Keshlear; as well as a livery stable.
Dr. George U. Keener and his wife Lucretia had 10 children, the youngest born in 1876 in Richmond, Missouri. So, I’m thinking that like many of the town’s early residents, he sought an opportunity for success near the railroad. Dr. Keener was listed four times on the directory as follows: Physician, Minister, Drug Store, and Hotel. I learned that in 1872 he had been appointed as a bishop for the Methodist Episcopal Church for the Boonville District. The family did not remain in Grain Valley for a very long time. From research on Ancestry I learned he was gored by a bull and died in Allenton, St Louis County, Missouri on October 4, 1889.
Killed by a Mad Bull
Last Friday evening George W. Schweich received a telegram from Allenton, St. Louis county, informing him that his father-in-law, Rev. Dr. G. U. Keener, had been fatally injured, and to come at once. Himself and wife left on the first train that evening arriving in Allenton that next morning at 9:15 o’clock, not however, in time to see the doctor alive, death having approached at 8:30 o’clock the same morning. Dr. Keener went to a sale Friday for the purpose of purchasing a bull, and before going, and after arriving at the sale, was warned and advised not to purchase the bull, as it was a vicious and dangerous animal, he finally concluded to make the purchase and take the chances, thinking that by kind treatment he could tame the animal. After the sale he took the bull home, and turned him loose in the lot, and afterwards went out to catch him. He had taken hold of the rope that was hanging loose from the bull’s head, and was trying to get hold of a stick fastened to the nose for the purpose of holding him off, but before he could get hold of it the bull made a lunge at him and threw him over his head. At that moment a negro man who was working in the field near by, discovered what was going on and ran to relieve the doctor, at the same time giving the alarm. Mrs. Keener heard him and ran to the lot to drive the bull away, and after he had plunged his horns into the doctor inflicting a mortal wound he turned upon Mrs. Keener and would have killed her had it not been for the negro man and a faithful dog, the first having a shot gun and the latter holding the bull by the head with its teeth. A shot from the gun ran the bull away, but he made a second attack and was again driven away. The doctor was then picked up out of a gully into which he had been thrown, and taken to the house. Upon arriving at the house his wounds were examined and it was found that the bull’s horn had entered and terribly lacerated his left lung, and seriously effected the nerves of his heart, and that his injuries were necessarily fatal. The deceased was a practicing physician and a local preacher of the M. E. church, and owned a splendid farm near Allenton, upon which he lived, and was highly respected by the community.
I have not had an original thought in approximately 15 years. If I was a scientific researcher, this would worry me. But as a busy person who likes to get things done, I am pretty happy that somebody already thought about it and likely posted some of their pretty good ideas for me to use.
I recently hosted a diaper shower brunch for one of my favorite families ever, one who will soon welcome their second, no doubt fabulous, child. It was a joyous day that I enjoyed planning and preparing for. Or maybe I should say borrowed ideas for.
One quick trip to Pinterest gave me the idea to have everybody bring the diapers and wipes, enough to keep that precious baby’s bottom covered and dry for quite a while.
Pinterest guided me though everything else, too, from what food to serve, to writing funny messages to the parents for early morning changing times right on the diapers. I am no original.
Sometimes I think I have thought up something brand new, only to have someone tell me they saw it on Tik Tok or a creative blog.
For example, before there were 5,763 pins about repurposing pallets for furniture, I thought I was really on to something. After determining pallets from work were just being junked, I asked permission to snag some.
With the help of my trusty, albeit somewhat reticent helper husband, we pried away some boards, added others, figured and reconfigured until we had some rough-hewn patio furniture, which I showed off to a friend.
She was impressed with our work and told me I should check out a blogger who had basically redone her whole home using pallets for everything from wall art to storage cabinets, and who not only had constructed patio furniture, but had also used the pallets to lay a wooden walkway all around her garden.
Are you kidding me? I didn’t have an original idea?
Several other cases in point of my non-original ideas include: combining assortments of odd refrigerator leftovers into tasty dishes, only to find someone served the same thing just last week; Valentine boxes during elementary years for my daughter, only to send her to school and have a classmate have a matching (generally better looking) box; and creative hairstyles when I am growing out my bangs, only to find out I am already a part of an online stylist’s look book.
I am in awe of people who just randomly come up with the next new, completely original idea. I want to meet the lady who was looking at a strawberry one day and thought, “I bet a drinking straw would make the perfect tool to remove that center. Here, Grandma, hold the baby and let me try it.”
I need to hang out with the genius who created the first bath bomb. I figure she was looking at a laundry detergent pod (in a carefully locked container so her not so bright teenager wouldn’t eat it) and thought, “Dang. I wish they made these to use to get people clean. Here, Sheila, hold the Shout wipes, and let me think this through.”
Better yet, maybe I want to meet the first hot chocolate bomb maker who was just thought it was too dang hard to add chocolate syrup and sprinkles and marshmallows all separately to the cup. “Here, Harvey, hold the hot scalded milk while I form a chunk of this stuff.”
I am sure I would quake with excitement to meet the gal who had the idea of a ponytail hat for women. She was probably on day three hair, was headed out to a happy hour, and grabbed her boyfriend’s ball cap on a whim, only to realize it was the fitted type.
After trying for a minute to wedge her thick, healthy ponytail under the edge, she needed a better solution.
“Here, Sandy. Hold my beer. I am gonna’ cut the crap outta Justin’s favorite hat to make room for my ponytail” then dug out a pair of rusty old nail scissors from the bottom of her purse and went to work. Get it, girl!
I might be a little jealous of the patent holder of sticky notes or of those corrugated sleeves for hot coffee, since about 60 million of each of those are used in a single day, but for the most part, I am a cheerleader for those with bright ideas. “Hooray for you,” I think. “Now I don’t have to think about it.”
I do think special ‘props’ should go to people who had the ideas for over the top things like clothing that changes color based on the wearer’s mood and self-driving cars. I mean those are really big ideas. Not good ideas, but big ones, right?
And perhaps this is the place to let people know I am currently willing to pay a hefty price to anybody who has a good idea or two about how to communicate with teenage girls or a husband with selective hearing. I am out of original ideas on those fronts, for sure.
I have to admit; this is my favorite article to write each year. It’s not that I don’t thoroughly enjoy writing articles about tax-smart giving and donor advised funds because I actually do. But May is the month where I get to introduce you to Truman Heartland Community Foundation’s Toast to Our Towns Honorees and share their inspiring stories of philanthropy with you.
It truly is a challenge for our Board of Directors to choose a small handful from among so many deserving nominees. Our community is made up of some truly thoughtful, generous, and caring individuals and companies. This year’s honorees are no exception. They have each gone above and beyond to create positive change in communities throughout the region. And they have compounded their efforts by inspiring those around them to do the same.
Heartland Humanitarians of the Year: Joan and Steve Israelite
Both Joan and Steve are positive, energetic, insightful, and selfless in their lifelong goal of bettering the community. Whether it be the impact of art, urban revitalization, empowerment through education, or Jewish heritage, Steve and Joan are dedicated to helping others by giving of themselves. Promoting Englewood Arts is their current project and they have introduced countless people in their extensive network to Englewood Arts and its vision of “a diverse and sustainable community in harmony with the arts”.
Heartland Corporate Citizen of the Year: Summit Homes
Summit Homes is the largest new home builder in Kansas City. They are a Berkshire-Hathaway-backed team that has built more than 2,000 beautiful homes since opening in 2002. The Summit Homes team has won more than 120 awards for industry excellence, but the company’s real heart lies in its commitment to building and supporting strong and healthy children and communities. Summit Homes is a key supporter of Drumm Farm Center for Children, Boys and Girls Clubs of Kansas City, Wayside Waifs, and Harvesters to name a few.
Dr. Paul M. Thomson Professional Advisor of the Year Award: Clint Anderson
Clint Anderson is the First Vice President of Investments at Stifel Financial Corp. Over the past four years, he has proven to be a truly exceptional advocate for Truman Heartland Community Foundation, referring his philanthropic clients to us to establish charitable funds. He is deeply committed to assisting his clients in giving back to the causes they are most passionate about while managing overall investment and retirement goals.
It will be the Foundation’s honor to recognize Joan and Steve Israelite, Summit Homes, and Clint Anderson at the 2022 Toast of Our Towns Gala on September 24 at the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center. In addition, area Mayors will present their citizens of the Year, individuals from their city who lend their time and talents to promote the community. You will hear about the Citizens in a future column. It will be a very special night for everyone as we celebrate 40 years of private giving for the public good.
I want to thank our long-time partner, Blue Ridge Bank and Trust Co., for being the Presenting Sponsor of the 2022 Toast to Our Towns Gala again this year. Truckmovers is also back with us as our pre-gala Cocktail Reception Sponsor, and Centerpoint will again be our Citizens’ Reception Sponsor. Community America Credit Union has joined us as a major sponsor this year and will sponsor our ever-popular Mix, Mingle and Music, after-party event providing cool jazz and hot coffee to wrap up the evening.
Visit www.thcf.org/gala for more information about our 2022 honorees, available sponsorships, and past award winners.
(StatePoint) Driving fatalities in the United States are at the highest point since 2008, yet new research reveals that many are unaware of the enhanced risk and are actively making choices that increase the danger on our roads.
According to a new survey from Travelers, 57% of people think roadway safety is unchanged since before the pandemic. At the same time, over a third of drivers have experienced a near-miss because they were distracted while driving.
Our devices are a large part of the problem. One-third of respondents believe it is acceptable to use technology while driving and even more admit to doing so -- 79% say they have made or received a phone call while driving, 74% have looked at map directions on a cell phone and 56% have read a text message or email. A growing number of drivers are also taking to social media, with 29% admitting to recording videos or taking photos using their smartphone, a number that’s increased since 2019 along with the rise of TikTok and other social media platforms.
“When you’re behind the wheel, every second matters, and anything that occupies your mind or vision is a distraction,” says Chris Hayes, assistant vice president of Transportation and Risk Control at Travelers. “While it’s tempting to use your phone, especially when it’s alerting you to texts and calls, doing so is dangerous to you, your passengers and others on the road.”
To help put a stop to distracted driving, Travelers is offering the following tips:
• Turn off notifications: Setting your phone to “do not disturb” before you begin driving is a good idea, as it can help prevent you from being tempted to check your phone for new notifications.
• Prepare beforehand: Check directions or set your GPS before you begin driving. Put your favorite playlist or radio station on before you hit the road.
• Let it wait: Do not make calls, text or otherwise manipulate your phone while driving. Even hands-free calls can pull your focus from the road. If you need to text, email, make a call, or use your phone for any other reason, pull over first.
• Recruit a passenger: Rely on your passengers to handle technology-related tasks, such as checking GPS, changing the music or radio station, and answering calls or texts.
• Speak up: Consider asking a distracted driver to put down their device. Eighty-seven percent of consumers who use a phone while driving say they would be less likely to do so if a passenger spoke up.
• Beware of other distractions: It’s important to make driving your number one priority when you’re on the road, and keep in mind that not all distractions are tech-related. For example, don’t wait until your commute to eat, brush your hair, or apply makeup. Take care of such tasks before you start the car.
For more tips and resources, including compelling stories about real-world victims of crashes due to distracted driving, visit travelers.com.
“There are more distractions than ever on today’s roadways. Ultimately, making a concerted effort to change behaviors will help prevent injuries and save lives,” says Hayes.