by John Unrein
Father and son combinations filled the stands at Valley Speedway on June 20th. The opportunity to take in a sun drenched afternoon of All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) racing and Demolition Derby heats were a big draw in Grain Valley.
Michael Clemons and his son, Brandon Michael Clemons were among the Eastern Jackson County residents to share the experience together.
“This is a good thing for my son and I to do. We come out here to watch Monster Truck competitions as well. What better thing could you ask for then to be at a place like this with your baby boy. Hopefully, the rain holds off,” the senior Clemons said.
“The bus is my favorite. It’s here for the monster trucks. This is my first demolition derby,” said the younger Clemons.
The jacked up yellow school bus that Clemons is referring to sits to the right of the entrance as fans make their way into Valley Speedway. The graphics and text that adorn the bus celebrate teachers and monster trucks. Two things that contribute to the education and imagination of children. The bus also makes an indelible mark in the memory of young fans who visit Valley Speedway.
Valley Speedway owner Dennis Shrout and his promotion of a family friendly environment included getting to meet drivers and taking a look at their vehicles on the track prior to the kickoff of racing. Public address announcer Greg Clemons walked the track interviewing families and drivers alike.
Drivers explained the different charities they race for as well as the satisfaction that comes from getting to compete by crashing their vehicle into someone else. Fans mentioned the strategy they pick at the outset of a race for determining who they think will win.
Matt Harrill is a driver who participated in a demolition derby heat. The combine mechanic at Heritage Tractor enjoys the weekend hobby he learned from his dad and his two uncles.
“The adrenaline rush from competition and trying to make it to the end is the goal. Sometimes it’s all worth it when you have to put the car back together afterwards. This takes many hours to get everything set up right,” Harrill said.
Harrill also provided insight to a driver’s mindset and how they select the vehicles they choose to run. There is strategy involved and having a mechanical aptitude helps to promote success.
“Frame strength of the car is important. We are starting to run 1998 to 2002 Ford Crown Victorias because they have double frames that make them solid. Those frames are also straighter than the older model Crown Victorias you come across. Up front is reinforced, and they have internal hump plates that strengthen out the car quite a bit.”
Harrill continued, “It would be nice if we could get even more people out here doing this (demolition derby driving). Seeing the sport grow through fans showing their appreciation by attending events like this is definitely appreciated and a welcomed site.”
The next event at Valley Speedway is C.A.R.B. point series racing on June 27th.
Here are the results of racing at Valley Speedway for June 20th.
6/20/2020 at Valley Speedway
ATV Open Amateur
A Feature 1 (6 Laps): 1. 24-Samantha LaRae; 2. 2-Danny Pliler; 3. 04-Hunter Post; 4. 88-Gaven Nave; 5. 13-Stephen Stadler; 6. (DNS) 616-Alex Hann; 7. (DNS) 43-Josh Smith
Heat 1 (5 Laps): 1. 2-Danny Pliler; 2. 24-Samantha LaRae; 3. 04-Hunter Post; 4. 88-Gaven Nave; 5. 13-Stephen Stadler; 6. (DNF) 43-Josh Smith; 7. (DNF) 616-Alex Hann
ATV Open Money
A Feature 1 (7 Laps): 1. 337-Mark Lee; 2. 420-Mathew Eppenauer; 3. 19-Garrett Feller; 4. 5-Brody Hibdon; 5. 98-Luke Drenon; 6. 00-Jonathan Roberts; 7. 11-Chris Stout; 8. 303-James Harrison; 9. 21K-Jordon Krusemann; 10. (DNS) 9115-Chris Shelton
Heat 1 (5 Laps): 1. 337-Mark Lee; 2. 19-Garrett Feller; 3. 5-Brody Hibdon; 4. 21K-Jordon Krusemann; 5. 11-Chris Stout; 6. 420-Mathew Eppenauer; 7. 00-Jonathan Roberts; 8. 98-Luke Drenon; 9. 303-James Harrison; 10. (DNS) 9115-Chris Shelton
Baseball fans rejoiced June 23rd following Major League Baseball’s announcement of a deal reached to begin the season July 23rd or 24th. Players are expected to report July 1st for training.
“Major League Baseball is thrilled to announce that the 2020 season is on the horizon. We have provided the Players Association with a schedule to play 60 games and are excited to provide our great fans with Baseball again soon,” Commissioner of Baseball Robert D. Manfred, Jr. said in a statement released June 23rd.
The proposed schedule will largely feature divisional play, with the remaining portion of each Club’s games against their opposite league’s corresponding geographical division (i.e., East vs. East, Central vs. Central and West vs. West), in order to mitigate travel. The vast majority of Major League Clubs are expected to conduct training at the ballparks in their primary home cities.
At home in Grain Valley, an opportunity to train the next generation of players will be offered through an Instructional T-Ball program hosted by Grain Valley Parks & Recreation.
The program begins Saturday, July 11th and runs for 6 weeks. The program is open to boys and girls 3 to 5 years of age, and focuses on skill development and fun. Participants will rotate through stations that focus on major skills of the game. Non-competitive games will be played the last three sessions of the program. A $45 fee covers the 6 week session and includes a t-shirt and medal for each player.
To register for the Instructional T-Ball program, call 816-847-6230 ext. 9, stop by the Community Center, 713 S. Main, or register online at grainvalley.recdesk.com.
Mayor Chuck Johnston and recently elected Board of Aldermen took the oath of office Monday, June 22nd at City Hall, the first in-person meeting held in several months due to Stay-at-Home orders related to COVID-19.
Ward 1 Alderman Jayci Stratton, Ward 2 Alderman Rick Knox, and Ward 3 Alderman Bob Headley also took the oath of office during the meeting. Ward 2 Alderman Yolanda West who did not run for re-election was recognized for her 9 years of service on the board.
In his first report as Mayor, Johnston outlined his two immediate priorities. First, Johnston stated the most common complaint he hears from residents concerns the condition of City roads.
“What we have budgeted now, I don’t even think we can start to make a dent, and with that kind of budget we can never catch up,” Johnston said.
Johnston also stated he is “well aware that we have problems here at City Hall with space for staff and the police department, and I am looking for some recommendations for what we can do in this area to make the changes we need at a more reasonable cost than what was projected”, referring to the recently rejected bond issue to develop a community campus on the site of the former Sni-A-Bar Farms.
In other business, the Board reviewed a liquor license requested by B&B Theatres to add a bar at the location, and an ordinance to gain final plat approval for the 10th plat of the Rosewood Hills subdivision. The final plat contains 42 lots with 10.5 acres designated for common area for water detention purposes and setback from a creek in the area.
The next Board of Aldermen meeting is scheduled for July 13th at 7:00pm at City Hall.
In a June 22nd email to parents and community members, Grain Valley Schools announced a state budget shortfall of $1,086,997 for the district for the budget year ending June 30th. The shortfall in revenue is attributed to the impact of the stay at home orders instituted due to COVID-19.
The district stated it anticipates continued cuts in funding in the “foreseeable future”, and will take steps to review spending, including not filling some open staff positions in the coming school year.
by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
For the past two weeks I have written about some of the theatrical events that brought “culture” to our town. From the files at the Historical Society, I found additional photographs of the Spring Festival, which was a yearly event until at least 1947-48. That was the last picture I found.
In addition to the festival, I found advertisements, programs and photographs from a variety of “cultural” events enjoyed by the citizens of Grain Valley. A couple of play scripts and some photos are proof of the plays performed at the Royal Playhouse during the 1920s.
Over the years, many groups did “community” theater, such as the womanless wedding. Although no year is found on the advertisement, Noel Wilkerson, “the Bride,” was the high school principal from 1929-1938, so I believe this particular event probably occurred around 1936.
Old yearbooks, dating back to the 1940s, contain pictures from band and choir concerts. The Junior and Senior Class plays were performed each year until the late 1960s when these twice-yearly productions became all school plays.
When the auditorium was built at the high school in 1996, a musical replaced one of the shows. And for a couple of years, the community could purchase a season ticket for Sunday afternoon musical performances by groups ranging from the Independence Symphony Orchestra to military bands and ensembles.
Over the years, there have also been other “cultural” events. Father Daughter Dances and Mother and Daughter Banquets have been around forever. They have been sponsored by various churches, civic groups such as the Lions Club and even the City of Grain Valley has been doing a yearly Father Daughter Event (until the recent pandemic!).
Whether to raise money or merely to provide entertainment, Grain Valley has been a mecca of culture and great fun!
Visit the Historical Society any Wednesday from 10 AM to 3 PM and see photos and memorabilia from these events from the past!
The Jackson County Health Department will host traveling immunization clinics throughout Eastern Jackson County in an effort to make required school immunizations more accessible for families and students during COVID-19.
From July 7th through August 19th, Jackson County Health Department nurses will travel to different cities each week and provide immunizations to students. The clinics will be open Tuesday through Friday from 8:30am to 6:00pm.
A separate clinic for kindergarten students will be available at the Jackson County Health Department in Independence from July 7th through August 21st, Tuesday through Friday, 8:00am—6:30pm.
Missouri law requires students to be up-to-date on immunizations. The state of Missouri does not plan to waive this requirement to provide extra time to get vaccinated as of June 10th. If immunizations or waivers are not completed before the start of the school year, students cannot attend school until the requirements are met.
“As we navigate COVID-19, it remains essential for families to stay up-to-date on school immunizations,” Jackson County Health Department Director Bridgette Shaffer said.
“Although immunization clinics will look different this year, our staff is committed to providing resources to help students and families.”
For both kindergarten and traveling clinics, registration must be completed at least one week before the scheduled visit. Walk-ins will not be taken. The health department can’t guarantee a second appointment if the first is missed.
To ensure the safety of staff and patients, early arrivals will not be permitted to wait in the clinic. It is recommended that parents and students show up no more than five minutes before their appointment and wear a mask or cloth covering. Students may only be accompanied by one parent or guardian.
These will be the only clinics provided by the health department for the back-to-school season. Parents are encouraged to sign up as soon as possible to secure their desired date and time. The full schedule and registration links can be found at jacohd.org/events.
Stay up-to-date on back-to-school immunization schedules and sign-ups by following the Jackson County Health Department social media accounts (@jacksoncountyhd) or signing up for updates on their website (jacohd.org).
by Stacey Perry, Community Outreach Coordinator, Purple Peace Foundation
After great consideration for our participants, spectators, and volunteers, Purple Peace Foundation has made the decision to cancel the 6th Annual “Cruise for Consciousness” Car Show scheduled for August 2nd.
Many factors played into this decision, including, but not limited to:
1. VOLUNTEERS- Many of our Purple Peace Family Members would not be able to volunteer or attend because the risks are too great. At our core, we are a health awareness organization and, as such, many of our consistent supporters are high risk to not only contract the virus, but to have serious complications/co-morbidities if they were to do so.
2. NUMBERS- Covid-19 case numbers are rising in Missouri and it is impossible to know what the situation will look like in six weeks. With the amount of work, time, and expense that goes into putting on a quality show, we don’t feel we can gamble with having to cancel at the last minute, nor do we want to inconvenience our car show community and sponsors any more than necessary by doing such.
3. IMPACT- The repercussions of having even one person expose others to the virus is too great.
The responsibility for the community’s health as well as the logistics of trying to notify people on the chance they were to be exposed is more than we are willing to take on. To inadvertently cause people illness and/or the need to quarantine for 10 or more days and to possibly miss work, appointments, classes etc., because they got exposed at the car show is an unnecessary gamble.
If you’ll allow me a couple more minutes of your time, I’d like to share my thoughts on this straight from my heart, hopefully, to yours.
This car show has become so much more than an event or a fundraiser. I know this is very disappointing and frustrating. Trust me... this is my baby. This is what Dad and I "do" together all spring and summer each year; it's become our thing.
I love my car guys and gals! I love visiting with them as I pass out flyers. I love having them show me what they’ve done to their cars since we last saw each other and getting swept up in their enthusiasm. And I love plopping down in their chairs and sharing about Purple Peace and our work.
These participants look forward to this particular show and plan for it; we have built relationships over the years. I've gone to the visitation of a gentleman that I didn't know his name, but he was one of my favorites cuz we would sit and give each other such cra, er, a hard time at every show we saw each other at leading up to the event. I can point out a couple of our regulars who diabetic and request sugar-free pies. And I always look forward to seeing the gentleman who comes each year in honor of his adult daughter who deals with seizures and proudly displays pictures of her brain scans on his vehicle.
And they love me! They ask about the kids. Many noticed when I cut my hair off. They ached with me when we lost our mutual car friend and Purple Peace family member, Jason, last year. They constantly ask how I'm feeling, about my shock collar (Vagal Nerve Stimulator) etc. Not out of any sense of obligation or social etiquette, but because they truly want to know. And they wrap their arms around me and tell me it’s good to see me again… and mean it!
And the day of our show? I LOVE watching months of work come together for one great cause. A cause that makes a difference in so many people’s lives. And definitely in mine.
So, I hurt.
Yes, our “Cruise for Consciousness” is much more than a fundraiser.
It is a family reunion.
I, WE, look forward to being reunited on August 1, 2021.
With GREAT love and appreciation; a little sadness; and clean hands,
Purple Peace Foundation
Community Outreach Coordinator
Car Show Lover
Following a successful first week, the Food Truck Fridays event hosted by the Grain Valley Fair and Grain Valley Partnership at the corner of Main and Walnut looks to expand its food truck offerings in future weeks.
Grain Valley Partnership Executive Director Tasha Lindsey said they have learned from the first week, noting that long lines at each food truck quickly illustrated the need for additional trucks to meet demand.
During the public comment session of the June 22nd Board of Aldermen meeting, Lindsey said the purpose behind the event has proven successful.
“It’s bringing people into Grain Valley, it’s bringing people downtown.”
Lindsey requested police barricades to block off Walnut from Main Street until the parking lot at the Grain Valley Post Office to accommodate additional trucks and seating for attendees.
Food Truck Fridays continues June 26th from 4:30pm—8:00pm. Information regarding scheduled food trucks can be found on the Grain Valley Fair and Grain Valley Partnership’s Facebook pages.
by Phil Hanson, President and CEO, Truman Heartland Community Foundation
Like many events, the Community Foundation’s annual scholarships program was cancelled due to the coronavirus safety concerns. While we may not be able to celebrate in person this year at our traditional ice cream social, support for our students reached an all-time high. For 2020, Truman Heartland Community Foundation is awarding $470,435 in scholarships to students in the community.
Our scholarship program is a community undertaking. With the help of 374 dedicated scholarship reviewers, the scholarships committee reviewed 926 applications for the 124 scholarship funds held at the Foundation. We are grateful for the hours they spent reviewing applications and thrilled to award 326 scholarships this year to 235 deserving students.
Throughout the last 38 years, Truman Heartland has partnered with many generous individuals and organization to create scholarship funds with the Community Foundation. Individuals like Mary Katherine (Bush) Axtell. Mary was the daughter of a Saline County cattleman and farmer. In 2019, Blue Ridge Bank and Trust Co., which administered Mary’s charitable will and trust, organized a scholarship fund through the Community Foundation to provide perpetual support for students of Ray and Carroll County. This year, the Mary K. Axtell Scholarship is awarding $65,000 in scholarships to 13 students.
In addition to support this year, the Axtell Scholarship and many others at the Community Foundation are renewable. Many schools and universities offer single-year scholarships and financial aid packages that cover expenses during a student’s freshman year, but higher-education is a multi-year investment. Renewable scholarships provide the support students need to help with the financial aid gap and continue to pursue their educational dreams.
The Community Foundation’s annual Scholarship Ice Cream Social has been one of my favorite events of the year, and we really regret that we had to cancel it this year. It is not only an opportunity to celebrate new scholarship students, but also a chance to reconnect with students whose scholarships are being renewed. It is really inspiring to witness the gratitude from students and their families and the relationship between donors and students, some that are just starting and others that have grown stronger over the years.
Since they won’t be meeting at the event, we adjusted our communication with scholarship recipients and donors to help make sure these connections still happen. Like the parents, teachers and coaches who have guided their high school years, these caring scholarship fundholders will be there to support and celebrate their accomplishments during college and as they make plans for the future. Thanks to program sponsor Stewardship Capital, each donor will receive a special packet with an ice cream voucher and information their scholarship recipient has provided to help them connect and possibly host their own ice cream social over Zoom.
Scholarships are an important asset to our students and our community. If you are interested in supporting the education of students in our region, we would be pleased to work with you to create a scholarship fund that fits your values and has the potential to make an impact for generations to come.
Phil Hanson is the President and CEO of Truman Heartland Community Foundation. Truman Heartland Community Foundation (THCF) is a 501(c)(3) public charity committed to improving the communities in and around Eastern Jackson County through cooperation with community members and donors. THCF serves the region with assets of more than $50 million and annual grants surpassing $4.8 million. For more information on charitable giving, visit www.thcf.org or call Truman Heartland at 816.836.8189
The following information is derived from the Grain Valley Police Department daily calls for service log for the week of June 12-16, 2020.