by John Unrein
Fourteen days of quarantine were erased with the Grain Valley Eagles Boys Basketball team completing their warmup by breaking down with the phrase “together.” Time was not wasted as the group hit the floor running on November 24th. A sense of urgency was apparent by the team under the direction of Eagles Boys Head Basketball Coach Andy Herbert, who was excited to work on building the foundation of fundamentals that has been delayed.
“Time the pass; it’s a big key to spacing. Don’t cheat your footwork, drive with the initial step, if you are guarded, then jab and cross over (as you approach from the wing),” Herbert said.
“Pivot towards me, reverse and then finish by making the basket,” Herbert would direct as his voice filled the gym encouraging his players.
The Eagles would start practice working on floor spacing, wing approach, transition off the inbound pass, and offensive sets from the top of the key with an emphasis on screens. Red faces and hands on knees did not find an abundance of comfort as score was kept on most timed drills done in practice to emphasize competition. Thus, the necessity of shaking off rust and getting into basketball shape.
Grain Valley’s first scheduled game of the season that was to take place in the Marshall Basketball Tournament on November 30th has been cancelled. Instead, the Eagles will see their first action on December 8th as they host the Pleasant Hill Roosters.
Expectations for metro area scholastic basketball teams are all over the place as a cloud of uncertainty during the current pandemic loom over the potential season.
“Expectations, your guess is as good as mine for a lot of obvious reasons. You look at the schedule and every day is like a snow day and you have the anticipation of whether the next game will happen,” Herbert said.
“As far as our roster goes, we have a lot of new faces that include guys who have been through this (a varsity season before). Trying to get them up to speed during a pandemic has it challenges.”
“The first tournament of the season being cancelled gives us some breathing room. The success of football and soccer as well with their seasons being lengthened has lessened the do overs that usually take place with the kids who have been here and those that arrive after the completion of their fall season.”
Herbert concluded, “Some players got some rest due to quarantine and if you look at it with rose colored glasses, things have worked out as good as can be expected. It’s like cramming for a final, you have to throw fundamentals at the kids and see how many of them stick through repetition. Shooting the basketball will be in the back seat for a while.”
This season will witness the Eagles varsity roster not being littered with players who were returning multiple year starters as the likes of Caden Matlon and Josh Kilpatrick have graduated. Current seniors Grain Valley will rely on include Keeton Maxon, John Haywood, Cole Keller, and Jayden Yung. Haywood will be manning the point guard position for the Eagles as the trio of Maxon, Keller, and Yung will be doing their work on the wing and in the paint.
“The last fourteen days have been boring. I am excited to be here and get to see everyone again,” Maxon said.
Haywood agreed. “I agree with Keeton, it has been boring. I have spent a lot of time outside at my goal shooting the basketball.”
Both Maxon and Haywood are focused on using the condensed time they have in practice to improve their collective games for the upcoming season.
“Rebounding is an area I want to improve in. It starts for me with boxing out and then being aggressive attacking the rim after I grab an offensive board,” Maxon said.
“I need to work on ball fakes and touch on my passes to my teammates in the post. I want to time my shots better to eliminate the chance of it being blocked.” Haywood said.
Grain Valley has posted back to back 16-11 winning records during the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 seasons. A boost for the team will no doubt be the return of a healthy Keller down low. The 6’ 5” 205 pound starting quarterback for the Eagles football team showed zero ill effects of the knee injury that ended his 2019 season on the gridiron. That has the potential for Keller returning to his aggressive ways on the board and finding ways to score in the post.
The quartet of Eagles seniors knows the task at hand and accepts the challenge that lies ahead. Herbert and his squad are eager to the get the season started.
Meeting virtually via Zoom, the Board voted during its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, November 23rd to amend the 2020 budget to account for changes due to CARES Act funding and refinancing of bonds, as well as account for expenditures related to additional street overlay projects.
In addition, the Board approved the 2021 fiscal year budget, compensation plan, and comprehensive fee schedule for the City.
The Board also approved an ordinance giving notice of the annual municipal election on April 6, 2021. One alderman seat in each of the City’s three wards will be up for election.
The first day for candidates to file for the General Municipal Election will be Tuesday, December 15th beginning at 8:00am. The last day for candidacy filing will be Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 5:00pm. Candidates will be listed in the order of filing.
In other news, the Board voted to approve a liquor license for Captain’s Pub LLC.
The next meeting of the Board of Aldermen will be held Monday, December 14th at 7:00pm via Zoom.
Grain Valley Police officer Shawnda Hayes-Dunnell received acknowledgement for her work with the youth of Grain Valley through her work as a School Resource Officer and mentor during the annual Eastern Jackson County Youth Court graduation on Thursday, November 19th in Blue Springs..
Youth Court is a youth diversion program operating under the jurisdiction of the Jackson County Family Court. In addition to her work with the Youth Court program, Hayes-Dunnell assisted in the development and implementation of the department’s Camp FOCUS, and recently developed a new Life Skills program for at-risk juveniles in collaboration with the Youth Court.
Residents in the nine-county Kansas City metropolitan area in need of a COVID-19 test can now find comprehensive testing location information on PrepareMetroKC.org, the region’s resource for emergency planning.
The Greater Kansas City COVID-19 Testing Calendar is available at PrepareMetroKC.org/Testing. It compiles information from multiple agencies and organizations in the region, including health clinics, public health departments, hospitals and free community events.
Guidance about minimum age, cost and pre-registration for each testing location are included on the calendar, when possible. Information about commercial testing locations is also available.
“There are many opportunities for COVID-19 testing in the region. This calendar aims to help Kansas City residents easily find information on where to go,” Marlene Nagel, director of community development at the Mid-America Regional Council, which supports PrepareMetroKC.org, said.
“Getting tested for COVID-19 is critical because it’s the only way to know for sure who has the virus and who doesn’t. If you have the virus but don’t know it, you could unintentionally spread it to loved ones and across your community.”
COVID-19 testing is safe and secure. Here are frequently asked questions about testing:
Is it safe to get tested? Testing locations follow Centers for Disease Control guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including implementing social distancing, mask-wearing and cleanliness.
When should someone get tested? If you have coronavirus symptoms, such as a fever, cough or shortness of breath, you need to get tested. If you’ve been in close contact with someone who has the virus, you need to get tested — even if you don’t have symptoms.
Should I get tested before the holidays? Local public health officials emphasize that no gathering is safe. If you plan to see family and friends, get a COVID-19 test so you don’t unintentionally spread the virus. If you test positive or have symptoms, stay home.
Are test results private? Yes. Only health care providers and local or state public health departments will have information about test results. They will not share names or contact information with any other agencies.
by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
The names of roads can provide an understanding of the local history of any town. That is certainly the case for roads in Grain Valley and the surrounding area. Almost without exception, the older roads were named for the people who had land and a home on the road. Often, country roads lead to the only house, or at least the first house built along the road. City street also took their names from people living along the street. Today, streets in subdivisions are often family names, or share a common theme.
It is my belief that McQuerry Road probably got its name in the late 1890s when Reuben Pond McQuerry, his wife Myrtle Ann (Harding) McQuerry and their family lived on the road about one mile northeast of Grain Valley. McQuerry Road stretches from Buckner Tarsney on the west end to Lefoltz Road on the east end.
Reuben was born on March 9, 1860 in Brandy Springs, Kentucky, and was still living there in 1880 according to the U. S. Census. But he came to this area prior to 1890 when he married Myrtle Ann Harding of Oak Grove, MO. They had thirteen children between 1891 and 1911.
Most of the children remained in Eastern Jackson County. Annie Laura 1892-1975) married Otis Williams. I’ve written about Otis and his family in this column. (Williams brickyard, slaughter house, ice house and grocery store).
James Francis married Kay Herrington. Their son, Reuben Clay “RC” (1930-2017) lived in Buckner and was well known as the “best piano tuner” in Eastern Jackson County.
Ruby Elizabeth (1900-1971) married Elmer Duncan (Duncan Road). They operated the family farm on Duncan Road for many years.
Fred McQuerry (1902-1980) married Mary Withers. One of their daughters, Mary Vivian (1925-2018) married Robert Blackburn. She was in the laundry business for 55 years before her retirement in 2015. Mary owned and operated 40 & 7 Laundry in Blue Springs up until age 90.
Robert Lester (1903-1974) married Mary M. Kelly. Robert owned a barber shop in Grain Valley for many years and “Miss Mary” was a teacher and elementary principal in Grain Valley through much of the 30s, 40s and 50s.
Among the “treasures” left to the Historical Society was a photograph of the old family home. I have reached out on Facebook to try and learn more about the home. While many “old-timers” have visited with me about their recollections, I’m still seeking information about the exact location of the home and its’ fate. If you know anything about the McQuerry, I would love to hear from you!
Santa and his crew are loading up the bus and hitting the streets of Grain Valley beginning Saturday, November 28th. This annual tradition will be modified due to COVID-19.
This year, children will greet Santa outside the bus, and Santa and his helpers will tossing stuffed toys and gifts to visiting children. Pictures with Santa will be allowed with social distancing in mind. Residents are asked to not gather in groups of more than 10 people.
The Santa bus will visit neighborhoods in Grain Valley each weekend beginning November 28th. A full schedule and maps of Santa’s route can be found at www.gvsanta.com and on the GV Santa group on Facebook.
Upcoming routes for the Santa Bus include:
November 28th, 9:00am—approximately 7:00pm:
Grayleigh Park, Rosewood, Whispering Park, and Woodbury Sub-Divisions
November 29th, 11:00am—approximately 7:00pm
Everything North of I-70 other than Grayleigh Park, Rosewood Whispering Park, and Woodbury Sub-Divisions
December 5th, 11:00am—approximately 7:00pm
Everything between 40 Hwy and I-70
December 6th, 9:00am—approximately 7:00pm Everything between 40Hwy and Eagles Pkwy including Cypress St & Broadway East of Buckner-Tarsney, and Winding Creek Subdivision
Unprecedented may be the most overused word of the year, but there is no denying its accuracy in describing 2020. As our community braces itself for another coronavirus surge, this year continues to throw us more curve balls than any of us desire. But in the spirit of Thanksgiving, your Community Foundation is reflecting on all that we have to be grateful for this year and the exceptional response we have seen from our community.
With more than 700 charitable funds, Truman Heartland fundholders are setting new records for giving. So far this year, fundholders have provided $4.8 million in grants to nonprofits, surpassing last year’s grant total. Based on these trends, we are on track to hit $5 million in grants by the end of the year, a new record for your Community Foundation.
Most of these grants are from Truman Heartland donor advised funds. Donor advised funds play a critical role during times of crisis. When the COVID-19 shutdown began in March, we stepped up our communication with our fundholders about the needs of nonprofits working to help those most impacted by the crisis. They responded generously with over $240,000 in COVID-19 response grants, accelerating our progress toward the $5 million mark in grants we’re likely to see this year.
Like a charitable giving savings account, a donor advised fund helps generous individuals be strategic with their giving. Donor advised funds allow investments to grow tax-free when the returns are strong, resulting in more money available to support charitable causes when there are immediate needs.
The remarkable response we have seen from our donors this year has been aided by a strategy referred to as “charitable bunching.” For the past few years, we have been working with donors, financial advisors and partners to encourage charitable individuals to start bunching their charitable giving with a donor advised fund.
With the newly increased standard deduction, many people may not be able to itemize their charitable contributions and receive the tax benefits from itemization. With a charitable bunching strategy, you put two- or three-years’ worth of charitable contributions into your donor advised fund at one time. This strategy allows you to exceed the standard deduction and provides additional tax savings.
Then, in the following years, you take the standard deduction and continue to support your favorite charities by making grants from your donor advised fund. This year, those easily accessible “rainy-day” funds are helping people maintain and, in many cases, increase their giving as the crisis continues to impact our community.
The holiday season is usually a critical time of the year for charitable giving for many nonprofits. Although there is nothing usual about 2020, I am confident we will continue to see significant charitable giving this season.
In October, a study commissioned by the Nonprofit Alliance and RKD Group reported some very encouraging news. While 77 percent of donors said they had already given as much or more this year than all of last year, 36 percent said they plan to give more in December 2020 than they did in December 2019, and 44 percent said they plan to give the same amount. The generosity of the American people is truly something we should be thankful for during this holiday season.
Truman Heartland continues to work across the region to share information on our website about nonprofits in Eastern Jackson County that are working hard to address the changing needs of our community. I encourage you to visit www.thcf.org/covid-19 to learn more about their work and how you can help.
These are unprecedented times, but as we have seen this year, our ability to help others and focus on our hopes for the future can inspire us to accomplish the exceptional.
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.
Lauryn Smith, Grain Valley, was recently initiated into the Missouri- Beta Chapter of Kappa Mu Epsilon, a national mathematics society at the University of Central Missouri (UCM).
Smith, daughter of Kathryn Engel, Grain Valley and Aaron Smith, Odessa, is a junior mathematics major at UCM and a 2018 graduate of Center Place Restoration School.
The primary purpose of KME is to join together in common fellowship those individuals who are serious students of mathematics. A candidate for membership in the KME-Missouri-Beta Chapter must be a regularly enrolled student at UCM, have completed at least three semesters of college coursework, and rank in the upper 35 percent of his or her class. He or she must also have completed at least three college mathematics courses with an overall B average, including one semester of calculus and at least two mathematics courses at UCM.
The chapter meets monthly during the academic school year to hear a discussion about topics in mathematics of mutual interest. Other activities include volunteer work in the campus math clinic and math relays and numerous social events.
A unique walk-through experience can be found now through January 3rd at Powell Gardens.
The Festival of Lights returns to Powell Gardens for its fourth year. Attendees walk a mile-long path spread over 25 acres through the Gardens featuring a variety of immersive light displays.
Santa will make an appearance on Fridays and Saturdays between November 27th and December 19th in the Children’s Garden area. Children may deliver their wish lists to Santa and pose for photos.
On Saturday, November 28th, three of Santa’s reindeer will visit the Children’s Garden corral. Visitors will be able to pet the reindeer and pose for photos with them.
Photo opportunities are plentiful throughout the experience, and the view from the top of the Silo allows visitors to gaze out over the gardens.
In addition to the Holly Jolly Rest Stop at the Missouri Barn, where hot drinks, cookies and snacks can be found, adults can stop at either the Enchanted Tiki Bar or Winter Wine Bar for a cocktail or glass of wine.
Poinsettias and other gifts can be procured at the Visitor Center, and crafters of all ages can visit the Creation Station to make a pinecone ornament.
The festival runs Thursday—Sundays from 4:00pm—10:00pm through January 3rd, and December 23-23 and December 28-30. Festival of Lights will be closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
The path is ADA compliant, and shorter options are available. Tram rides from the Missouri Barn area to the Visitor Center are available from 5:00pm—10:00pm.
Due to COVID-19 concerns, attendees must wear masks as mandated by Johnson County, MO, and maintain social distancing.
Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, $5 for children ages 5-12. Children under 4 are free. Parking passes are $5.
Members of Powell Gardens do not need to purchase festival admission or parking passes.
Visitors can upgrade their experience with a $10 festival pack, which includes one non-alcoholic beverage, one holiday cookie, and a pair of holiday light 3-D specs.
Powell Gardens is located approximately 10 minutes east of Grain Valley on US Highway 50. The front entrance can be seen on the north side of 50 Highway, just past the Z Highway exit.
For more information and to purchase tickets for the Festival of Lights, visit www.powellgardens.org.
by Denise Sullivan, Field Specialist, Nutrition and Health, University of Missouri Extension
Sweet potatoes or yams…which one lands on your holiday menu? Wait…aren’t they the same thing? Though the names are often used interchangeably, the plants are most definitely different. Yams, a member of the lily family, are monocots, and are native to Africa and Asia.
Sweet potatoes, a member of the morning glory family, are dicots and are native to Central and South America. It also bears mentioning that sweet potatoes are not related to Irish potatoes either, which belong to the nightshade family.
Yams grow as a vine, which produces an underground tuber with a tough, hairy/scaly skin and flesh that ranges from white to bright yellow to purple or pink. Yams can range from the size of a normal potato to weighing over 100 pounds!
Yams are also much starchier and drier than most varieties of sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes produce a root that has a smooth, thin skin with flesh that ranges in color from white to orange, red, purple, or brown. Sweet potatoes tend to be more ‘normal’ in size, though I have seen friends brag on 10 pound-ers at harvest!z
Sweet potato varieties are classified as either ‘firm’ or ‘soft’. Firm sweet potatoes remain firm when cooked and are dry and crumbly, much like a standard baking potato. Soft varieties become more soft, moist, and sweet upon cooking.
Freshly harvested sweet potatoes are often referred to as “green” potatoes and are best to go through a curing process to allow the starches to break down into sugar. Curing happens by holding them for about 10 days at 80-85 degrees F with 85-90 percent humidity with good air circulation, or at lower temperatures of 65-75 degrees F for two to three weeks.
Both firm and soft varieties are a rich source of Vitamin A, potassium, magnesium and fiber, all of which are beneficial for heart health and blood pressure management.
So, why the naming dilemma? According to the Library of Congress and the Louisiana State University Ag Center, the confusion came with the introduction of soft varieties. Southern growers would call the softer potatoes ‘yams’ to differentiate from the firm potatoes, and the term has been used interchangeably ever since. Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires labels with the term ‘yam’ to be accompanied by the term ‘sweet potato.’ Unless you specifically search for yams, which are typically found in international markets, you are probably eating sweet potatoes!
When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, sweet potatoes are a common element of the traditional holiday meal. I must admit though, I wasn’t a fan until I was well into adulthood, primarily because how they were presented to me as a child.
Though I typically enjoy sweet things, a squishy vegetable doused in brown sugar and marshmallows wasn’t at the top of my list of favorites. Then, while at a conference in North Carolina (producer of about half of the sweet potatoes in the United States) I had my first baked sweet potato.
This was the defining moment when I totally changed my mind about this nutrient powerhouse of a vegetable! If you ‘think’ you don’t like sweet potatoes, consider the recipe below as a compromise on your holiday table. You might just change your mind too!