Board of Aldermen meeting recap
by Jake Hipsher, Grain Valley News Intern
Grain Valley’s Board of Aldermen met for a regularly scheduled meeting on June 27th, with the presentation of the annual audit a part of a busy agenda.
The Board approved a series of 2022-2023 liquor license renewals, and approved a temporary catering liquor license for MO Country to operate a beer garden at the Grain Valley Fair. The beer garden will be located under the pavilion area behind the Grain Valley Community Center.
“MO Country graciously volunteered to do that for us [host the beer garden]. We’ve had a really good working relationship with the current owners,” Mayor Mike Todd said.
Butch Beeman, Managing Partner of Troutt Beeman & Co., presented a review of the recently completed audit.
“I will tell you that from our perspective, it was a very clean audit, it went well,” said Beeman.
Under resolutions, the Board authorized the City Administrator to submit an application for an ARPA grant, with the respective funds going towards replacing the box culvert on Duncan Rd, just east of Rust Rd.
The Board also approved the City's Capital Improvements Plan. Richard Tuttle, the city engineer, presented the features included in the plan. It includes significant improvements to roadways, trails, and other various points of infrastructure. It also detailed the addition of new vehicles, machinery, and equipment towards Grain Valley Public Works, Parks and Recreation, and the police department.
Reached for comment regarding the Capital Improvements Plan following the meeting, Todd said he was excited to review the completed plan.
"A lot of the projects on there are ones that I talked about before the election and they really resonated with our residents. Especially sidewalks and trails along Eagles Parkway and Buckner Tarsney and of course the Duncan Road/Buckner Tarsney intersection as well. All of these projects dramatically improve quality of life and safety of our residents and in some instances make it a lot easier for them to even get into town. Such a thing as the crosswalk improvements on Ryan Road leading to South Middle School/Stoney Point might not seem as big as some of the others, but that is still a much needed improvement. I’m extremely proud of city staff for moving forward with the plans for all of these needed items."
The Board also approved a resolution to enter into a 48 month lease agreement with GFI Digital for all printing and copying needs.
“Over the next five years, it should actually save $18,000. We’ve been testing it out for the past three weeks to a month probably, to make sure that it did everything we needed it to. The results have been good with that, so we’d like to move forward with that agreement at this time,” City Administrator Ken Murphy said.
Additional resolutions approved addressed the replacement of fencing at three of Grain Valley’s water stations, located at Sni A Bar Pkwy, Royer Ln, and Cross Creek Dr. , and a resolution authorizing an agreement with McCown Gordon Construction to complete the new design and construction of the future police facility.
“We ended up interviewing three firms. After going through their RFQ submittals, the interview, and the cost side of it, we made the decision to go with McCown Gordon for that project,” said Murphy.
During staff reports, Tuttle went on to highlight the Public Works event that took place on June 23rd.
“I want to thank everybody for coming out and the sponsors. The weather was great, we had approximately 160 people come to the event. Papa Murphys [of Grain Valley] provided 56 pizzas to feed the folks who showed up,” said Tuttle.
Todd gave more praise to the event by saying, “It was a nice turnout, everyone enjoyed the evening. The kids loved honking the horns on the equipment. I think I heard horns in my sleep for two nights afterwards.”
Todd also discussed recent meetings with local developers to determine what Grain Valley can do best to contribute to the growth of the community.
“The developer who does a lot of work in other cities did say that ‘Grain Valley was the easiest city to work with,’” Todd said.
The next Board of Alderman meeting is scheduled for July 11th at 7:00pm, located in the Council Chambers of the Grain Valley City Hall.
School Board Meeting Recap
by Ezra Whitaker, Grain Valley News Intern
The Grain Valley School Board met June 23rd, approving the district's 22-23 budget and recognizing Dr. Marc Snow during his last board meeting before his retirement as superintendent.
During patron comments, several community members addressed concerns regarding the recent directive to remove "safe space" signage at the high school, bullying, racial issues, and a lack of mental health support.
Following patron comments, incoming superintendent Dr. Brad Welle announced the Grain Valley Education Foundation has reached a $1 million milestone.
“Nearly all that money goes either directly to students in scholarships when they graduate, or goes into teacher grants and other student activities,” Welle said.
Welle also mentioned the free breakfast and lunch program has ended, and parents needing assistance will need to apply for free or reduced meals. Breakfast prices for 2022-23 are $1.80 at the elementary level, $1.90 for middle school and high school students. Lunch prices are $2.70 for elementary students and $3.00 for middle school and high school students.
The Board approved its 2022-23 budget, which includes a $1,000 increase to the base for certified salary schedule, a $1.00 increase for non-certified staff, 5 teacher positions, a counselor position, and a $2.00 increase for Valley Kids leads.
The board then discussed new business, including the possibility of a School/City committee. Board member Jeff Porter was contacted by Grain Valley Alderman Ryan Skinner to reevaluate safety measures and the city’s role within the school district.
The board voted to cancel its July Workshop but will meet for its regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday, July 21st.
22-23 Budget approved during the Board's June 23rd meeting.
Fireworks in Grain Valley may be set off between 9:00am - 11:00pm on July 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. Those seeking fireworks can find the supplies they need and support local organizations at the same time.
The Grain Valley Partnership and the Grain Valley Boy Scouts have partnered on a fireworks tent at the intersection of Eagles Parkway and Buckner Tarsney Road. Grain Valley Bands is also hosting a fireworks tent in the parking lot of the Grain Valley Price Chopper from 8am - 10am through July 4th.
“You know, it’s funny,” Dr. Brad Welle remarks with a chuckle before taking a sip of coffee, “I’m always so focused on hearing and telling other people’s stories that I don’t really tell mine.” That is a nod to Dr. Welle’s commitment to a balanced relationship with the community through regular engagement throughout his years in the Grain Valley School District.
Starting on July 1, Welle will become the Superintendent of Schools for Grain Valley Schools. Welle says that the transition has been smooth up to this point and he owes that in part to Dr. Snow.
“Dr. Snow and I have always worked so closely together; he has always been a great mentor and coach to me. He’s always valued my reaction and input on things,” Dr. Welle says, “through Dr. Snow’s mentorship, it’s really been informal training and has prepared me to become superintendent.”
As for challenges facing the district, Welle says one of the top challenges in upcoming years will be retaining current staff and acquiring new staff members. This is not a Grain Valley problem but a nationwide problem as the number of teachers leaving the profession is growing steadily while the demand for teachers is also growing.
Welle notes that Grain Valley Schools has been somewhat “immune” to the teaching shortages although they have noticed applicant numbers declining for the open positions in the district.
He also says in comparison of the larger suburban schools in the area, “they have very different budgets, and we cannot out pay them but we can’t lose ground and we are staying competitive.” He says that the federal funding money that has come over the last few years has helped with that.
Welle says that one of his plans to help deal with these challenges is “over the next 12 months we will take a deep dive into our state funding, which makes up about half of our overall funding, and we need to make predictions moving forward with our district and staff’s needs and growth in mind.” He also wants to share everything with the community and be transparent along the way.
Speaking to retaining the teaching staff in the district, Welle notes that teachers come to and stay in Grain Valley, “not because of the pay, but to be in a community where education is valued, they are appreciated for what they do, and the engagement within the community… all of our teachers are part of a team where they have a support structure and an administration that will be there to back them up.”
Welle says the district focuses so much on the behind-the-scenes things that make the district a great place to work for staff because if Grain Valley is a great place to work and the staff is excited to be there, it will in turn be a great place to be a kid and to learn.
Another goal of Welle’s in the short term is to make parents and grandparents welcome in the schools again, something that was a negative outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the pandemic, parents and grandparents have not been able to come to the schools as often as they once could.
“We have a responsibility to get them back in our schools,” Welle says, “the elementary kids want their parents or their grandparents to be able to come up to the school and have lunch with them, we want people to feel welcomed visiting our schools and volunteering in our schools, and that’s something that has been missing.”
One of the main things Welle wants parents and the community to know during this time of transition is that his door is always open. “I’m available, if you want to call, if you want to email, if you want to meet, if you are curious in any way, you can reach out to me directly and I will be available."
Welle states that it will give him a chance to know what people are feeling, where they see the district going, and it is always very helpful in determining plans for the next school year.
Overall, Welle says he is looking forward to the school year ahead. Right now, his message to students and staff is “get your rest, take a break, take care of yourself, come back and let’s get to work!”
Dr. Brad Welle begins his tenure as Superintendent of Grain Valley Schools on July 1st.
Photo credit: Grain Valley Schools
Looking Back: Friends of Youth
by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
Over the years many organizations have found a home in Grain Valley. Early groups like the Royal Neighbors or America, the Order of Eastern Star, and the Modern Woodman were national organizations with community service as a goal. In the 1950s a group of men started the first Lions Club International in our town. The Lions tried a comeback in early 2000, but it was unfortunately short lived.
Currently, FOCUS (Finding Opportunities and Creating Unique Solutions) is the only community club of which I am aware. (Please contact me if I am wrong.) While there are organizations for specific group such as Youth Sports and the Grain Valley Assistance Council, I am unaware of any other general groups.
FOCUS was originally Optimist International. It was started in our town when the high school principal, Dan Jones, organized a group of 25 citizens to support the schools. With a motto, “Friends of Youth,” Mr. Jones became the first president in 1993.
By 1997, the group had doubled in numbers. The president that year was Chip Hall and his quote in The Examiner probably said it best. “What the optimist club is about is building character and community spirit in the people of this city, especially the youth.”
What Grain Valley child did not participate in an optimist event during the 1990s and early 2000s? The Optimist Club had at least one or two events monthly. Each year they sponsored the Easter Egg Hunt, the Santa House, the Grain Valley Basketball Little League, the Bike Safety Rodeos and car maintenance and safety clinics. They provided scholarships for up to three sophomores attending the Hugh O’Brian Youth Foundation, as well as two annual scholarships for graduating seniors. They also sponsored an oratorical contest, an essay contest and a poster contest for third graders with a theme to fight drugs.
In the community, they sponsored Respect for Law Day, took treats to the fire department, as provided volunteers and goods to the Grain Valley Assistance Council.
These activities were supported by chili suppers, pancake breakfast (with Santa) popcorn, candy and nut sales, trivia nights and booths and bingo at Grain Valley Fair Days.
A few years ago, the group decided to discontinue their affiliation with Optimist International. Dues to the state and national organization had greatly increased and attendance at their quarterly meetings was waning.
Locally, FOCUS has replaced the Optimists. A very small group of loyal supporters continues to “do good” for our community. Much of their work goes unnoticed by the citizens as they continue to be a friend to youth in a more private way. They currently support four programs. Originally called Pairing with Optimists, FOCUS provides $50 toward the purchase of shoes for nearly 100 students each year. The also maintain an emergency clothes closet in the elementary schools, buy eye glasses for needy students, and furnish the lice kits to all of the school health rooms.
Oh yes, let’s not forget the $1000 scholarships they award yearly to two graduating seniors! While Optimist International is HISTORY in Grain Valley, it’s not too late to join FOCUS.
by Michael Smith
Grain Valley boys and girls soccer coach Brett Lewis is getting an early look at what his teams will look like during the fall and spring.
This week, he is running the annual boys and girls soccer camps which gives him a chance to evaluate incoming freshmen and the teams as a whole.
The boys soccer season will begin in August, while the girls won’t see high school action until March.
So far, through three days Lewis has been pleased with the turnout at camp and he said the increased numbers should help improve the depth both teams were lacking during the 2022 season.
“Last season, I felt like we only had a couple girls subs that could step in and play at the varsity level,” Lewis said. “Next season, I think we are going to have six, seven or eight subs that can play at the varsity level, which will be really, really helpful for us.”
Added senior Lexie Nicholson: “We have a lot more here than the past couple of years. We used to have the boys and girls together, but this year the boys and girls did separate camps because of the big turnout.”
One of the benefits to that will be having fresh players to come in during games, allowing Lewis to consider using more of an aggressive, high-press style of soccer.
“If we have the legs, it makes things so much easier,” Lewis said. “Our outside backs can press a little higher. Formation and tactics wise, we may look to add another midfielder in there. When you have more players that can play at the varsity level, it allows you to play multiple different formations and players can play different roles. There will be more options for us this year.”
And that depth will be enhanced by a talented freshman group coming in for the girls side.
“Reana’s little sister Radley is coming up, and she’s good, too. She will help us out a lot. And Lexie’s sister Taylor is a good, little player. We have several good freshmen. It’s exciting for us as a program.”
Lewis noted the depth should improve for the boys team, as well.
“Guys who didn’t get a lot of playing time last year, will get a lot of playing time this year,” Lewis said. “We have some younger players coming up for the boys, too. We have a really good freshman coming in (Cohen Hackworth), who broke his fibula in May. He’s technically out right now. He will be back on the field in August."
“We will have some sophomores who will find themselves in starting spots like Alex Furman, David Roberson and junior Campbell Childers. They are all guys who didn’t start last year and will now be key, good starters for us.”
During the camp, the players have been working on possession and passing drills and having fun in 11-on-11 scrimmages.
Later in the camp, Lewis will divide the players into teams to compete in intrasquad scrimmages called the World Cup tournament in which the teams pick what country they represent.
The camps and the tournament will be especially beneficial for the boys, whose season will start in a month in a half.
“The boys use the camps as a preseason to the preseason,” Lewis said. “It’s competitive and we play a lot of small games. By the time tryouts start in August, we already know a ton about the players.”
For the girls, the camps are all about building chemistry with each other.
“We want to have open arms for the underclassmen,” Sophie Giuliano said. “The camps are good for team bonding and we get to know everyone and we try to get a feel for the season coming up.”
Junior Sophia Giuliano, left, and senior Lexie Nicholson are among the players who participated in Grain Valley's summer soccer camp this week. Photo credit: Michael Smith
Berry Blast this 4th of July!
Hip, hip, hooray! We are coming up on Independence Day! This means fun, summer celebrations with friends and families. The summer season also brings with it great fresh produce, including many flavorful and colorful berries like strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. Berries offer many health benefits to the body and can be used in a variety of recipes. All of your favorite berries are great sources of antioxidants, which help the body fight cellular damage. Berries also offer a good amount of fiber to aid in digestion and blood sugar control. Other nutrients that berries offer are vitamin C, manganese and vitamin K. The nutrient density of berries makes them a great fruit group to include in your daily diet!
Berries can be enjoyed in either fresh or frozen form, as both offer the same nutrient punch. In addition, the colors that berries offer will fit in well with your red, white and blue 4th of July bash. Here are a few tips that your Hy-Vee dietitians have to brighten up your 4th of July celebration, while keeping your health in mind.
For another fun and tasty way to include a blast of berries into your next summer bash, try this recipe for Angel Food Cake with Berries and Agave Cream Sauce.
Angel Food Cake with Berries and Agave Cream Sauce
All you need:
All you do:
For more party tips and recipe ideas, connect with your local Hy-Vee dietitian today!
The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.
Breaking Records. Changing Lives.
by Phil Hanson, President and CEO, Truman Heartland Community Foundation
For 40 years, Truman Heartland Community Foundation (THCF) has been assisting the generous people of Eastern Jackson County in enriching the lives of students throughout the region. A scholarship fund is a simple yet powerful way to celebrate someone special, honor the memory of a loved one, or participate in corporate giving. Nearly 200 donors have created scholarship funds at THCF, and thanks to their generosity, we have awarded more than $5.82 million in scholarships since 1982.
The average cost for one year of college in Missouri is somewhere upwards of $10,000. Add in room and board, books, and all the other things a young person needs to live on their own, and the cost of higher education can become an insurmountable barrier. With the cost of everything rising, from food and fuel to utilities and healthcare, more and more students are looking to their local Community Foundation for help.
Last year, Truman Heartland received 782 scholarship applications, which is a sizeable amount for the Scholarship Committee volunteers to wade through. This year, that number almost doubled to 1,402. More than 350 volunteers spent countless hours pouring over each application, scoring them based on criteria set forth by the donors. We are proud to announce that 279 local students received more than $696,000 in scholarships this year, a new record for the Foundation and a 32 percent increase over 2021. Whether students have their sights set on university, community college, or a certified trade school, their scholarship award will undoubtedly make a difference.
The types of scholarships THCF holds are as varied and diverse as the students who seek them out. Some are open to just about anyone seeking higher education, while others are based on financial need, specific areas of interest, fields of study, or geographic requirements. With a starting contribution of $25,000, donors can set their own scholarship criteria. The establishing gift is placed into an endowment and invested over time. The earnings from the fund are then used to award scholarships each year. This type of giving will impact generations of students and helps elevate the economic standing of entire families. It’s a powerful form of philanthropy.
In June, for the first time since the pandemic, students and scholarship fundholders were brought together for a very special celebration. At this event, unique to this Community Foundation, donors and students were invited to share a bowl of ice cream, meet each other, talk about goals, and share their dreams for the future. Nearly 200 students, their families, and donors attended. The determination and resolve of these young people give me hope for our community’s future.
A very special Thank You needs to go out to each of the 2022 THCF Scholarship Committee members for their steadfast dedication to area students throughout this rigorous process: Stan Salva - Chair, Linda Gerding, Dr. Tom Meyer, Dr. Jason Snodgrass, Christine Johnson, Cindy Miller, Marty Napier, Eddie Saffell, Jeff Smith, Dr. Ryan Crider, Chuck Mikulich, Dr. Robert Cordell, Damon Hodges, Trisha Drape, Todd Haynes, Dr. John Ruddy, John Ryan, Brian DeMoss, Linda Roberts, Janice Phelan, Amanda Robinson, Beth Savidge, Ginger Williams, and Dr. Mike Watkins.
Pictured left to right: Lee’s Summit West grad, Alivia Tolbert, recipient of the Hurt Scholarship, with Stacy Hurt. Sawyer Jackson with his scholarship donor Harvey House. Sarah Vaughan, Grain Valley student and winner of multiple awards, Claire Hawkins, with Jerry Vaughan, Grain Valley Education Foundation Executive Director.
As a kid of the 60’s and 70’s, I became a candy connoisseur. I am a fan of everything from Necco Wafers to Zero bars to the original Willy Wonka gold bars, and I have rarely met a piece of chocolate I didn’t enjoy. My waistline has suffered, and my dentist has profited from my bad candy habits.
June is National Candy Month and truly never has anything deserved its own full month as much as candy, perhaps discounting National Coffee Month, which of course pairs very well with candy and is a life-blood type fuel for me.
I am not sure what you have to do to get your own month. I mean having your own day is one thing, but it seems that a whole month is big stuff. I have seen National Red-Head Month, which is totally unfair. If your genetics just handed you a month, that seems too easy, and it excludes us bottle brown and blonde folks.
I saw National Math Teacher month advertised recently, and I am for sure okay with that one. Anybody who A. understands math, and then B. has the guts to teach it to the rest of us deserves a month for sure. But I digress.
I blame both sets of my grandparents for my entry into Candy Land. At Grammy and Grandy’s house, there was a beautiful dish on the mantle, containing butterscotch hard candy in cellophane wrappers, and if my sister and I so much as glanced that direction we got to have a piece. Or three pieces.
I can remember rolling my tongue over that sweet butterscotch and trying so hard not to bite down on it. I would eventually give in and have the sweet sticky mess stuck to every molar in my mouth.
Grammy and Grandy also kept Russell Stover Chocolate boxes on their big piano. Grandy was an accessory to the crime of sticking our fingers into the bottom of a chocolate to see if we could grab a caramel or a strawberry cream instead of a gross nougat. Sometimes we had to poke lots of holes before we settled on one I could enjoy.
At Nannie and Pa’s house, the candy sometimes came right off Nannie’s stove, as she whipped up divinity and peanut butter candy. As an adult, no matter how many times I try to recreate her holiday treats, they never taste quite the same. But I persevere, testing batch after batch in the name of preserving history.
We also were the recipients of Life Saver story books at their house each Christmas. It was such a thrill to know that all the candy was just mine, and the tattered wax paper under the colorful sleeves was evidence of the fact that when it came to Wild Cherry, I had no willpower to resist.
As I became a wage earner, pulling down that $1 an hour for babysitting neighborhood terrors, some of my first purchases were candy. The jaw breakers from Wheeler’s Drug Store were fully worth the Huffy bike ride up there, and I am guessing I never donned my skates with pom poms on any Friday night without having a Hershey bar and blowing huge bubbles from chewing that grape flavored Bazooka.
I became proficient at dismantling Easter bunnies ears and tails first, and I even enjoyed the eggs with the shellacked outer shells and the marshmallow center, trading away jelly beans to my sister to get them. I remember when there were two shades of brown M&M’s, and the blue ones were just a thing of fantasy, much less any M&M that had a filling other than milk chocolate.
As a college student, Reese’s became my go to pick me up. If you would have tapped my veins in those days, I would only have bled out Reese’s, those dry orange crackers with the peanut butter centers, and Mountain Dew. Gross.
As a beginning teacher, I upped my game and grabbed an occasional Snickers, convincing myself the peanuts would fill the void of the lunch I had missed as I made copies for my next class. I sometimes wonder how those school vending machine guys are enjoying their retirement in the Bahamas or another lovely place, because they sure made some bank off us hungry teachers in those days.
I recently received an email with a website containing candies of old. They used names like nostalgic and retro, making me feel ancient. I could have had my share of Bit O Honey’s, wax pop bottles, giant Sweet Tarts, black licorice, Mounds, Almond Joys, Wacky Wafers, Tart ‘n Tinies, Banana Bites, Astro Pops, cherry sours, Fruit Stripe Gum, Chiclets, Marathon bars, Pixy Stix, even candy cigarettes.
I resisted the temptation to just order a whole bunch, using as an excuse that I wanted to show my daughter what I had growing up. But two things finally made their way into my cart, and I don’t regret purchasing either one of them at all.
I order a whole pound of Brach’s chewy candy, the kind that used to live with no expiration date in bins in the supermarket, where you could fill your own bag and weigh it. The caramel goodness wrapped around fake raspberry, vanilla, and orange flavors had my mouth watering.
I knew I risked the chance of ending up with some root beer barrels or even one of the white nougats with jelly like fruit pieces in it mixed in the assortment, but I didn’t care. The last of them are riding around in my purse today, collecting fuzz, before I act like my great Aunt Pauline and hand one off to some unsuspecting kid in church.
The other was a less conventional choice, one some scientist is still earning royalties from, based on that one day in his lab when he thought, “What kind of candy could I make that would basically explode in someone’s mouth?” And thus was born Zotz. I scarfed down a sleeve of blue raspberry flavor the day they arrived, the only telltale clue a blue stained tongue that I could not explain away.
I saw a meme the other day that said, “Okay, hear me out. An old-fashioned candy necklace, but with Tums and ibuprofen.” I’d be down for it! Happy Candy Month!
The Public Works Department is putting on a party for the community this Thursday, June 23rd from 5-7pm at Armstrong Park. The annual event features free food, live demonstrations, tours of Public Works equipment, raffles, and family-friendly fun.
The event is free and all are welcome to attend.
Grain Valley News
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Grain Valley MO 64029