by Michael Smith
Every day in practice, Grain Valley veteran girls basketball coach Randy Draper said he likes to have his players go at a fast pace most of the time.
That’s because he will sometimes need his team to play fast during games and the Eagles showed they could do just that in Monday’s season opener against St. Joseph Lafayette.
Utilizing a zone press and a motion offense that involved a lot of off-ball movement, Grain Valley cruised to a 61-30 victory against the Fighting Irish in the first round of the Winnetonka Invitational.
The Eagles advance to play Raymore Peculiar in the semifinals at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Winnetonka High School.
“I think our skill level and our athletic ability will allow us to go,” Draper said. “We moved a lot in the second half and played with a lot more focus on offense in the second half.”
“We practice fast. Because you don’t want to go to the game and do something new. We don’t always press that much but we needed to get it going.”
After Grain Valley took a 17-11 lead after one period, the team utilized a zone press that gave Lafayette fits and helped create 11 turnovers and 14 fast-break points. The Eagles won the quarter 18-5 and took a commanding 35-16 lead into halftime.
“It’s something that really gets our legs going,” Grain Valley junior Grace Slaughter said. “If we realize we need to fall back into a zone, we can defend on how they’re handling the ball. We get ready to try and get some traps, some steals, and easy buckets.
Added sophomore Finley LaForge: “When we get a couple of steals back to back, it gets us super pumped up. On offense, we are pushing the ball and it helps us play better.”
In the second half, the Eagles didn’t use the press as much and went to a more motion heavy offense in the halfcourt and saw all four players who didn’t have the ball of their hands, moving constantly trying to get open and cutting to the basket.
Junior Grace Slaughter and sophomore Annabelle Totta scored four points each on open layups received on backdoor cuts in the second half. Their team took a 45-18 lead into the fourth period and cruised to a 16-12 fourth quarter edge against the Fighting Irish.
“When we are all moving and know we need to cut, we might get a couple of easy baskets when they are playing heavy on the ball side,” Slaughter said. “When Finley and I are on the same side, that backdoor is going to be open.”
Added LaForge: “When we are moving off the ball like that, we are at our best.”
Slaughter led the Eagles with a game-high 32 points, including 21 points in the first half and including a trio of three-pointers, all coming from the corner spots. Sophomore McKenah Sears added eight points.
Grain Valley junior Grace Slaughter gets tied up by a St. Joseph Lafayette defender while driving to the basket. Photo credit: Michael Smith
Grain Valley sophomore McKenah Sears prepares to shoot a free throw. Photo credit: Michael Smith
Grain Valley junior Ella Clyman drives to the basket. Photo credit: Michael Smith
Grain Valley sophomore Finley LaForge tosses up a shot on the fast break. Photo credit: Michael Smith
A standing room only crowd was on hand at the beginning of the Grain Valley Schools board meeting on November 18th, as recognitions of the district’s Cross Country, Girls Tennis, Girls Golf, and Boys Swim and Dive topped the agenda. Each team was recognized for successful seasons and respective visits to State competitions.
Assistant Superintendent of Academic Services Dr. Beth Mulvey reported both in-person and virtual options for parent-teacher conferences were offered, with a participation rate of over 90% across the district. In addition, Mulvey mentioned a meeting with Metropolitan Community Colleges to discuss dual credit and dual enrollment options for high school students, anticipating new options for students arriving this fall.
Assistant Superintendent of Support Services Dr. Nick Gooch noted the recent addition of a fourth technician for the technology department has increased the department’s ability to more quickly address student Chromebooks in need of repair.
Deputy Superintendent of Student and Community Services Dr. Brad Welle reviewed enrollment growth, ultimately
Welle reported elementary enrollment has been relatively flat, citing that K-5 enrollment as of October 1st sat at 1,941 students. This is the exact number of K-5 enrollment eight years ago.
“Now, if you live in the Prairie Branch attendance area, that is probably the most foreign number to you. Because, as it turns out, all the growth we are experiencing in our district is all at Prairie Branch, which is offsetting declines at the other three elementary schools combined,” Welle said.
Prairie Branch is at 91% capacity with 578 students this year, returning them to pre-2019 boundary adjustment levels. Welle shared with the board that the recommendation is to look at another boundary adjustment prior to start of 2023-24 school year.
The board will meet in Executive Session on December 2nd and for its regular board meeting on December 16, 2021.
The Board of Aldermen met November 22nd, approving the first reading of the 2022 budget. Aldermen Knox asked if the two additional police officer positions discussed in the last board workshop were included in the 2022 budget, and City Administrator Ken Murphy confirmed the addition had been made. The board approved the budget’s first reading, to be approved during the next meeting on December 13th.
In other business, the board approved a resolution stating the statutory authority of the Grain Valley Park Board. The resolution essentially outlines the Park Board’s authority to be more involved with the future of designated park land and the funding sources for such land.
The citizen study group of representatives from each Grain Valley’s three wards met again on November 23rd to debrief after a tour of several area police stations. The tour included stops in Lawrence, Merriam, and Kansas City, KS, to gather ideas for a proposed police station in Grain Valley.
The group discussed material options and amenities that may work well for Grain Valley, and will continue to develop a plan over additional sessions, culminating in a public open house on December 14th from 6-8pm (location TBA).
One of Grain Valley’s beloved holiday traditions, the Santa Bus, begins its tour this Saturday. Below is this year’s schedule.
Santa would like to remind parents of babies or those with special needs who may not be able to wait outside or travel to the bus, to please let Santa’s helpers know. Santa will be glad to come inside for a visit. For more information, visit www.gvsanta.com.
(Yellow) Nov. 27th | 9:00 AM until approx. 7 PM (First Saturday after Thanksgiving )
Grayleigh Park, Rosewood, Whispering Park, and Woodbury subdivisions
(Green) Nov 28th 10 AM until appox 7 PM (First Sunday after Thanksgiving)
Everything North of I-70 other than Grayleigh Park, Rosewood Whispering Park, and Woodbury subdivisions
(Orange) Dec. 4th | 9 AM until approx. 7 PM (Second Saturday after Thanksgiving)
Everything between 40 Hwy and I-70
(Purple) Dec. 5th | 10:00 AM until approx. 7 PM (Second Sunday after Thanksgiving)
Everything between 40Hwy and Eagles Pkwy including Cypress St & Broadway East of Buckner-Tarsney, and Winding Creek subdivision
(Blue) Dec 11th | 9 AM until approx. 7 PM (Third Saturday after Thanksgiving)
Everything bordered by Buckner Tarsney on the east, Sni A Bar on the north, and Cross Creek Dr on the west.
(No Color) Dec. 12th | 10:00 AM until approx. 7 PM (Third Sunday after Thanksgiving )
Everything bordered by Buckner Tarsney on the east, by Sni A Bar on the south and west, and Eagles Pkwy (AA) on the north.
(Red) Dec. 18th | 9:00 AM until approx. 7 PM (Last Saturday before Christmas)
Everything bordered by Cross Creek Dr on the east, Sni A Bar on the northeast, and Eagles Pkwy (AA) on the north
Dec. 19th | 10 AM until approx. 7 PM (Last Sunday before Christmas) *if needed*
Any areas that were missed due to time constraints or weather.
by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
Today is Thanksgiving and while it is a day to be with family and remember all for which we are thankful, it is also the official start of the Christmas season. In Grain Valley that includes many traditions both old and new.
“The holiday season from Thanksgiving through New Year’s produces some of life’s favorite memories.” This quote comes from an insert in The Pointe published on December 15, 2004. It was part of an article written by Ray Gurney, the minister at Cross Creek Baptist Mission.
Titled “A Grain Valley Christmas,” the insert included a letter from the North Pole, letters from city officials, photographs of the annual tree lighting ceremony, the historical society homes tour, and the Santa Bus.
It was the center page of the insert that I found most entertaining. “Letters to Santa were shared from 3rd and 4th graders at Matthews Elementary. Today these young students would be at least 25 years old. I wonder if they got their wish?
(I apologize in advance if the misspelled words embarrass any of the former students! They are shared with you as written.)
I’m glade that you are coming to my house because you are going to deliver presents. I hope you have a great tripe. Are you taking care of your reindeer.
For Christmas I want a puppy, a fold out chair, a nutcracker, tokeo brat, CD’s, regaler brat, earrings, PJ’s, books, boots and shoes, and an American gurl doll.
Love Alissa Spradley
I’v been wanting a dog all my life. I wanted to know if you could bring one for me. If not, could you bring me some ideas. I would also like a hamster, mine died. I would like a black bear hamster. I would like a lot of stuff but my room is clean, so not that much.
How is Rudolph? How many presents do you give to children? What does the North Pole look like? How many houses do you have to go to? How is Mrs. Claus? Do you get cold up there? It snowed a little here to. I’m from Missouri.
I have been good this year. I have been great and I did what they asked me to do. I think of others first. Santa, all I want for Christmas is my family and a white Christmas.
I will conclude with a quote from an article in the same insert written by David Hackett, former minister at Faith United Methodist Church, “Christmas is a time for dreaming and for children.”
The Grain Valley Partnership has launched a new campaign—Local First Grain Valley—to promote local businesses to residents.
The year-round campaign will kick off during the holiday season with a 12 Days of Christmas event from November 29th—December 10th, including a shopping passport program, raffle tickets for every $10 spent at participating businesses, and a window decorating contest for local businesses.
Follow Local First Grain Valley on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter: @localfirstgv.
by Madison Johnson of Raymore Peculiar High School
Lunch counter mornings and coffee shop nights will never be boring after Grain Valley's production of CURTAINS. A whodunit musical comedy awaits, perfect to make the whole family laugh.
CURTAINS was originally produced in 2006, going to Broadway the year after. The narrative follows the plot of a murder happening of a musical's lead actress. The cast and crew get stuck in the theater as Lieutenant Frank Cioffi does his best to not only solve the murder, and soon to be murders, but also fix the show with his own little theater loving experience.
With Frank Cioffi (Maddux Hughes), Carmen Bernstein (Harper Allie), Aaron Fox (Trae Selemaea), and Georgia Hendricks (Mak Robinson) all bringing exceptionally strong vocals, along with the chorus, pulling the show together and tying it with a bow. The harmonies in, "What Kind of Man?" stands out, and the completeness of, "Thataway!" makes the singing that much better.
The combination of comedy and mystery work extremely well with this cast. Johnny Harmon (Katie Hobbs) is well memorable as a comedian throughout the show. Oscar Shapiro (Josh Poblete) also holds a comedic value special to this cast. Even the characters the audience isn't necessarily supposed to enjoy, such as Sidney Bernstein (Luke Gniotczynski), who holds his stage presence well and is immediately memorable, and Daryl Grady (Forest Kruse) who makes their limited time on the stage worthwhile.
The set and costuming is phenomenal. The transitions from one set to another are smooth and reminiscent of that of an actual musical rehearsal. The costumes are accurate to not only the western show the cast is performing in their show, but also accurate to the 1950's era the characters reside in. It is easy to hear the cast the entire show, even with the small mic troubles, the cast projects extremely well and is able to be heard all the way in the back of the theater. Select choreography (lead by Mak Robinson and Bailey Jinkens) is creative, balanced, and keeps both the cast and audience engaged in the song the entire time. The meta-humor of incorporating aspects of the tech, such as the light crew head, Gracie Havard, into the show makes it that much more enjoyable to watch.
The never ending chemistry between characters, both good and bad, makes CURTAINS hilarious and beautiful. This company really is "a special kind of people, show people!"
As we celebrate our National Day of Thanksgiving this week, I am grateful that Congress was able to come together to pass a generational bipartisan infrastructure bill for the American people.
Last week, I watched from the White House lawn as President Biden officially signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law. Not only am I proud to have supported this long overdue investment in our national infrastructure—the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Eisenhower administration—but I am overjoyed knowing that Missouri and the heartland will benefit tremendously from the public projects, quality services, and good-paying jobs it will provide.
I have said it many times before and the notion still rings true—the needs and challenges facing our rural communities are not intrinsically different from those of their urban and suburban counterparts. No matter where you come from, every American wants a quality job that keeps a roof over their head and food on the table, a safe community that everyone can take pride in, and a future filled with opportunity for their children to achieve the American Dream like so many have before us.
The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act not only recognizes this but contains key provisions that will help make that a reality in every community throughout the Show Me State.
This public works bill will create tens of thousands of jobs across Missouri and provide valuable opportunities to countless students, families, and small businesses. For example, as technology advances and the digital divide widens, I frequently hear from constituents in Odessa, Richmond, Marshall, and other towns in my district about the lack of access to quality, high-speed internet.
To address this divide, the bipartisan infrastructure bill will provide a minimum of $100 million to ensure 330,000 Missourians who currently lack internet service are able to access this critical infrastructure. Entrepreneurs and families will be able to grow their small businesses, stay connected to information, and be part of a growing workforce. Seniors will be able to utilize tele-health services that save time and money. Students will have access to online classes that were previously unavailable.
However, to make quality internet fully accessible, it has to be affordable. That’s why Congress included the new Affordability Connectivity Benefit, aimed at helping 1.6 million low-income families in Missouri afford internet service. Just like the interstate highway system was needed to transport people and goods, online networks act as a vehicle to transport information and allow communities to grow and flourish—and that’s precisely what we’re hoping to see once this investment in broadband starts making its way back home.
When it comes to the nation’s other physical infrastructure, much of it was designed in the 1950’s. Since then, our population has almost doubled as our roads and bridges, many of which have reached or far-exceeded their lifespan, continue to be overstretched. As a result, the average driver in Missouri pays $742 per year alone in transportation repairs.
To lower costs, increase economic activity, and create quality jobs, the bipartisan infrastructure bill will send more than $7 billion to pave brand-new roads, construct new and replace failing bridges, and make improvements to rail and port infrastructure that are critical to Missouri’s agriculture industry. This will allow economically significant bridges to be repaired and our ports expanded so that farmers, ranchers, and small businesses can deliver and receive their goods at lower costs.
Last but certainly not least, Missouri currently has the 6th most lead service pipes still in use in the country. No parent should have to worry about their child drinking lead-contaminated water that can cause serious health problems and hinder brain development in kids. The infrastructure package will provide Missouri with enough federal dollars to remove every lead pipe in the state and replace outdated drinking water systems so that every household and public school has clean drinking water, keeping our kids safe and their future bright.
America is at its best when we pull together to take on monumental challenges—and that’s when we make truly remarkable progress. President Biden has proven that we can still accomplish great things when we’re willing to set differences aside and focus on the common challenges before our great nation. The process of getting the bipartisan infrastructure bill to the president’s desk was messy. However, messy progress is still progress, nonetheless. Now, let us come together to leverage this federal funding for the betterment of every community across the Show Me State.
Emanuel Cleaver, II is the U.S. Representative for Missouri's Fifth Congressional District, which includes Kansas City, Independence, Lee's Summit, Raytown, Grandview, Sugar Creek, Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Oak Grove, North Kansas City, Gladstone, Claycomo, and all of Ray, Lafayette, and Saline Counties. He is a member of the exclusive House Financial Services Committee; Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development, and Insurance; member of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress; member of the Committee on Homeland Security; and a Senior Whip of the Democratic Caucus.
by Jason Hancock, Missouri Independent
Cole County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Green on Tuesday ruled that health orders designed to stop the spread of COVID-19 that were issued by local health departments violated the Missouri Constitution.
At issue in the case were regulations issued by the Department of Health and Senior Services allowing directors of local health agencies to issue orders, such as closure of businesses.
In an 18-page order, Green wrote that DHSS unconstitutionally granted too much power to individual local health officials and directors. The state in effect bypassed the only entities under Missouri law granted the authority to issue these types of health orders, Green wrote, which includes county commissions, county councils and certain county health boards.
“Missouri law also provides for criminal punishment for violation of a public health law adopted by a county council or county commission,” Green wrote.
The case, Green wrote, was about whether DHSS regulations can “abolish representative government in the creation of public health laws, and whether it can authorize closure of a school or assembly based on the unfettered opinion of an unelected official.
“This court finds it cannot.”
Green said all existing health orders issued unilaterally by local health authorities are “null and void.”
A spokesman for Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, whose office defended DHSS in the lawsuit, said in an email to The Independent that “we’re aware of the court’s ruling and are prepared to enforce compliance with the court’s order across the state.”
Ben Brown, owner of a St. Louis County restaurant and candidate for state Senate, was involved in the lawsuit, which was filed last year. He issued a statement saying the it was time to “make masks optional, end needless quarantines of Missouri’s children and go back to living productive lives while allowing individuals the freedom to choose how and when they interact with others based on each person’s or family’s personal decisions.”
Mask requirements currently remain in place in St. Louis and St. Louis County. The Jackson County Legislature voted to end its requirement earlier this month, and the mandate in Kansas City ended Nov. 5 except for schools and school buses.
Green’s ruling comes at a time when COVID-19 cases in Missouri are beginning to tick upwards again after weeks of decline.
The state reported 1,900 COVID-19 cases Tuesday morning, with a seven-day average of 1,588 a day. That’s 12.6% higher than the previous week and 63% higher than one month ago. Missouri health officials have deemed 24 counties in Missouri as COVID-19 hot spots because of increasing numbers of people infected with the disease.
More than 15,000 Missourians have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
Jason Hancock has been writing about Missouri since 2011, most recently as lead political reporter for The Kansas City Star. He has spent nearly two decades covering politics and policy for news organizations across the Midwest, and has a track record of exposing government wrongdoing and holding elected officials accountable.