The Board of Aldermen met for its rescheduled regular meeting via videoconference on December 21st. Under New Business, the Grain Valley Fair was at the top of the agenda, with Mayor Johnston requesting a motion from the board to request financial records from the Grain Valley Fair board for all years the Fair received funds from the City. Johnston outlined several accusations related to the Fair Board, including misrepresentation of who actually serves on the Fair board and misuse of funds. Johnston stated current City Administrator Ken Murphy is listed as a board member, but Murphy was not aware he was a board member and had not attended meetings.
Johnston accused Mike Todd, Fair board member and former mayor, of misuse of Fair funds, including diversion of fair funds for personal use. Additionally, Johnston questioned whether the Fair board was authorized to use funds received by the City in 2020 for food trucks that participated in the modified September 2020 Fair.
Alderman Knox stated if money was used for food trucks in 2020, “they were doing what they could to salvage what they could do for the fair”.
Pressed to disclose the source accusing Todd of misusing funds for personal use, Johnston stated former City Administrator Ryan Hunt shared the accusation with him during the mayoral campaign.
The Grain Valley Fair received $5,000 in 2020. Due to the cancellation of the majority of the Fair due to COVID-19, funds received in 2020 will be used for the 2021 fair. Murphy indicated a new contract needed to be completed to outline this understanding for 2021. Alderman Cleaver asked how long the Fair has received funds from the City. The Fair began receiving annual $5,000 allotments in 2016, for a total of $20,000 through 2020.
Johnston suggested the City request records for each year the Fair board has received funding. Johnston stated the City Attorney felt there was precedent to request financials related to the 2020 contract, but questioned whether the Board had a right to request records for all years the Fair received funds from the City. Murphy added Todd sent a monthly reconciliation report in spreadsheet form for 2020.
Alderman Stratton referenced ongoing disagreements between Johnston and Todd and asked if the request for a motion was related to the “ongoing spat between you and the Grain Valley Board president”.
“How much is coming from personal (issues) and how much is really there,” Stratton asked.
“I feel we have definite grounds to question,” Johnston said.
Once again, Johnston outlined his concerns regarding the confusion regarding who actually serves on the board versus the board listing provided on reports to the State of Missouri.
“We have a duty to see what the money is going for,” Johnston said.
Reached for comment during the meeting, Todd shared his response to the accusations.
“As for the food trucks, there were expenditures for Food Truck Friday Nights from the Fair bank account. The thing is, no city money was spent on the food trucks. We had some sponsors for the food trucks and that money came from there and from other Fair Sponsors. The Fair doesn't depend on just the City money, so we do raise other money as well. To say we were in violation of a contract with the City because we spend some money on food trucks is stretching it. Under that thought, any money spent by the Fair could be micromanaged by the Mayor,” Todd said.
“As for the board members, we have always had the City Administrator as a board member since there was a donation from the City. It must have been a verbal agreement back when we started this, because after looking into it further, it doesn't say it is a requirement from the City's contract. If the city doesn't require a rep on the board, that is totally fine, and I will make that change or see if an elected official wants the spot.”
“As for the accusations of stealing money from the Fair, I'm completely blown away. I gave the board our reconciliation form for the year and have the bank statements ready for their review as well, so they can see everything matches up if they want. To accuse me of being a thief in a public meeting based on hearsay from a former employee who was unhappy with me is borderline slander, if not slander. This ‘info’ was apparently given to him to use against me in an election that was supposed to occur last April. I really don't know what more to say about it. I'm pretty upset about it,” Todd added.
“The bottom line is that I feel this is political retaliation on his (Johnston’s) part. It's no secret this isn't his first time going after me for something.”
Johnston asked for a motion to request financial records from the Fair committee and was answered with silence from the Board. Hearing no motion, Johnston stated he was “disappointed that you don’t feel that we should review city spending and contracts,” and moved on to the next agenda item.
In other business, the Board approved several resolutions and ordinances, including:
Eagles Push Hard In Defeat Against Pirates
by John Unrein
The Grain Valley Eagles boys’ basketball team could not capitalize on opening the first and second quarters with 4-0 and 7-0 runs, respectively against the Platte County Pirates on December 11th. The Pirates leaned on accurate shooting and attacking the basket in transition to secure the outcome by a score of 60-47.
A rotation between full court press and the 2-3 zone defense is what the Eagles would rely on to try and stymy the Pirate attack led by Jarett Mueller. The junior guard would lead the Pirates with 22 points scored. The physical game on the court saw both teams make several trips to free throw line. The White (Grain Valley) and Blue (Platte County) Division Suburban Conference rivalry continues to grow between the two schools.
Grain Valley’s offensive output would be led by guard Jayden Yung and forward Cole Keller. Yung’s stat line would include 17 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 steal. Keller matched his counterparts support by producing 25 points, 14 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 5 blocks. Keller has delivered a double-double in his first two outings of the season for the Eagles.
Yung was more aggressive in seeking to score points this time around compared to his first game. Keller, on the other hand, picked up where he left off previously in being Grain Valley’s leading scorer and force in the post both offensively and defensively. Both Grain Valley seniors reflected on their individual efforts and what the focus will be moving forward in their postgame comments.
“This was a tough opponent tonight and I felt that I needed to step up after playing a little timid in our first game. It’s my senior year and I got to play some varsity basketball last year. That should help me transition to being more than just a role player this season,” Yung said.
“I feel more confident going into competition this season. I want to help this young team grow and push our potential.”
Keller added, “We continue to adjust to the speed of the game and improving our decision making. This is only the second varsity basketball game for some of our team. Every practice we are improving.”
“This was a fast paced game tonight. We may take our lumps early on (this season), but that will smooth out over time.”
Eagles head basketball coach Andy Herbert was pleased with how his team pushed the ball in transition and looked for scoring opportunities inside. This allowed Grain Valley to encounter some easy shots on basket.
Defensively, Herbert acknowledged the Eagles had to communicate and switch frequently with how they guarded Platte County. A duration of strong defense by Grain Valley during Pirate offensive possessions would occasionally see a breakdown late in the sequence that led to Platte County scoring opportunities. Furthermore, Herbert was glad his team got to face a high caliber of competition against the Pirates this early in the season.
“Sometimes it is a young player defensively having to learn to stay aware for that long or being out of position that can lead to the other team scoring. That being said, I thought we did a lot of good things in the first three quarters before our youth showed itself later in the game,” Herbert said.
“Jayden (Yung) did a good job tonight. He was in foul trouble our first game and didn’t have the chance to get going in an offensive rhythm. Tonight, he was what we needed him to be. He is strong, skilled, and smart on the court. We tell him all the time, ‘two feet and two hands,’ and when he plays with balance on the basketball court, he is really good. I was happy to see him attack and find success.”
“We will move on and learn from tonight. This game was a good experience for us.”
Herbert finished, “Cole (Keller) is a stud. He is going to be guarded physically and he kept his composure and focus on what matters. He showed by example tonight how to conduct yourself on the floor.”
“We look forward to working through the rocky parts that occur in a season (like this game) to get back to the happiness that comes from winning. This group is willing to learn and our team fought tonight against good competition. That’s part of the process of understanding how to win.”
Grain Valley will host the Truman Patriots at 7:00 pm on December 18th.
Sports coverage is provided by Captain's Sports Lounge, opening January in Grain Valley!
by John Unrein
The Grain Valley Lady Eagles Basketball team used defensive pressure and the point scoring trio of Grace Slaughter, Gabbi Keim, and Ella Clyman to defeat the Kearney Bulldogs by a score of 47-31 on December 14th.
Thievery was on display by the Lady Eagles as full court pressure and trapping the basketball led to 17 steals for the contest. Grain Valley guard Malia Gutierrez compiled 2 of her 4 steals for the game within the first 4 minutes of the 1st quarter. The Lady Eagles would secure a 13-9 lead by the end of the first quarter that they would not relinquish.
Grain Valley head basketball coach Randy Draper acknowledged that ratcheting up the defensive pressure was by design in an effort to get some easy baskets. It also made shooting looks for Kearney more difficult in forcing the Bulldogs to pick up their pace of offense.
“Our opponent shoots the ball well. The defensive pressure we applied prevented them from not being open exceptionally long. We were also able to score some baskets that we didn’t have to work too hard to get,” Draper said.
Kearney was able to keep the game within 4 points at halftime due to the accuracy of their three point shooting. Senior guard Kenzi Hoffman was the Bulldogs leading scorer with 9 points.
Slaughter for the Eagles led all scorers with 21 points. The sophomore point guard was effective in finding angles in driving to the basket to score for the Lady Eagles. Slaughter’s determination in getting to the rim also landed her on the charity stripe four times, of which she sank 6 of 8 free throw opportunities.
The stat sheet was rounded out by Slaughter with 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 5 steals. Slaughter confirmed that her legs are starting to get back underneath her and that she is becoming more comfortable on the floor offensively.
“We knew tonight that our defense was what we needed to pick up after the Belton game. It was a team effort to get the turnovers we created tonight,” Slaughter said.
“Yes, my legs were more there tonight. We wanted to move the ball better against a 2-3 zone after the Belton game. Our team was able to get that accomplished. Practice has proven that if we pass and I cut, then we can find post openings or an open outside shot.”
Grain Valley showed new offensive sets against Kearney and the 2-3 zone defense they deployed. A dribble weave around the top of the arc was among the new looks installed by Draper that got the ball more in the hands of Keim and Clyman in the post.
Keim continues to display footwork that enables her to attack with a left shoulder turn down low in the paint. The persistence by the senior forward led to 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 1 assist.
Clyman added 8 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals as well. An improved confidence in taking the open jump shot by Clyman was on exhibit by the sophomore forward. The benefit being for Grain Valley that their opponent had to stretch the interior wings of the 2-3 zone, opening further post positioning for the Lady Eagles.
“Our ball rotation with the new offensive sets we put in helped tonight. I have enjoyed seeing our progress from game to game as a team. We are unselfish with the basketball and that helps me in the post,” Keim said.
Draper was pleased with progress shown by his team during their win. A head coach is rarely satisfied, even after a win, knowing what they want to address moving forward to help the team improve.
“We are getting it fixed, but our movement hasn’t been good enough at times offensively. Avoiding being stagnant was one of the reasons we incorporated the dribble weave (on offense). It also helped us shoot better, as shooting the basketball is a rhythm game,” Draper said.
“We have encouraged Ella (Clyman) to shoot more. She has worked ridiculously hard to become a better shooter and we spoke to her tonight before the game about not being shy in taking advantage of her open looks.”
Draper concluded, “Boy, if we can get that from Clyman and Gabbi (Keim) continues, along with Grace (Slaughter), we are going to be able to hit you several different ways from outside in and vice versa.”
“Fouls typically happen at the basket and the offensive rebounding provided by Clyman and Keim helps us. Our opponent has to reach to recover and it gets us the free throw line.”
Grain Valley (1-2) will next host the Truman Patriots (1-3) at 7:00 pm on December 17th.
Sports coverage provided by Captain's Sports Lounge, opening in January in Grain Valley!
Good News: Take A Hike In The New Year
Wash off the stench of 2020 with a nature hike in one of Missouri’s state parks. This is a great way to spend the holiday weekend, start a new tradition, take advantage of physical exercise and enjoy the great outdoors.
Celebrate the beginning of 2021 by taking the First Day Hikes Challenge at a Missouri state park or historic site from Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020 to Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021.
Participants are challenged to embark on a self-guided hike at a nearby state park or historic site.
Hikers can participate in the challenge by capturing their adventures with a selfie or photo at the trailhead and posting their photos or videos on social media using #MOFirstDayHikes. Once the hike is complete, participants should visit mostateparks.com/FirstDayHikes and enter for a chance to win a $25 Missouri State Parks gift card.
For more information and to view self-guided hiking opportunities at a nearby park or historic site, visit mostateparks.com/FirstDayHikes.
Board Of Aldermen Meeting Postponed; Conditional Use Permit For MO Made Marijuana, Grain Valley Fair On Agenda
The regularly scheduled Board of Aldermen meeting on December 14, 2020 had to be postponed as the call-in number for the public to access the virtual meeting was incorrect. The meeting has been rescheduled for the following Monday, December 21, 2020 at 7:00pm. The meeting will be held virtually, and call-in information for public can be found on the City’s website, www.cityofgrainvalley.org.
The Board had a full slate of items to discuss, including a public hearing and first reading of an ordinance to approve a conditional use permit for a medical marijuana infused products manufacturing facility. Missouri Made Marijuana LLC is requesting approval to operate a manufacturing facility on approximately 6 acres which had previously been approved to operate a medical marijuana cultivation facility. The 6 acres is located at the east end of South Outer Belt Road on the south side of Interstate 70 and north of Penny’s Concrete.
The Board will also consider a resolution to continue an agreement with the Oak Grove Animal Clinic to provide animal care, boarding and related services for animals taken into custody by Grain Valley Animal Control.
Funding to continue contracting with Grain Valley Assistance Council for the home delivered meals program, and a contract with Grain Valley Schools to provide meals for monthly senior luncheons is included on the agenda, as is a resolution to write off uncollectible utility account balances.
Under New Business, the Grain Valley Fair appears as an agenda item, which Grain Valley Fair committee member Mike Todd stated he was surprised to learn. In an email to Mayor Johnston and Board members, Todd stated, “This came as a surprise to us as we were not informed of any type of discussion regarding the Fair. We would have hoped that common courtesy would have included reaching out to any organization that discussion was going to occur regarding in a public meeting.”
Reached for comment on the purpose of the agenda item, City Administrator Ken Murphy stated, “The GV Fair is on the agenda under New Business for Board of Aldermen discussion.”
Mayor Chuck Johnston, reached for comment, stated “it is not something that required discussion with Mr. Todd, nor anything that I can bring up before its presented to the Board. Sorry, but you’ll have to wait ‘til next Monday.”
Candidate filing for the April 6, 2021 election has started, with openings on the Board of Aldermen and Grain Valley School Board.
In Ward I, Tom Cleaver’s seat is up for election. In Ward II, Nancy Totton’s seat is open, and Shea Bass’s seat is open in Ward III. Each aldermen position is a two-year term.
Candidates for City offices may file during normal business hours (8:00am—5:00pm, Monday—Friday, excluding the hours of Noon—1:00pm, starting December 15th and ending at 5:00pm on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 in the Office of the City Clerk, 711 Main ST. The filing fee is $5.00.
Qualifications and instructions for filing procedures are available in the office of the City Clerk.
Two seats, currently occupied by Jared English and Eddie Saffell, are up for election on the Grain Valley School Board this spring. According to Brad Welle, Deputy Superintendent of Student and Community Services, both are expected to file for another term. The school does not plan for a ballot measure this year.
Filing a declaration of candidacy may be done in the District Offices located at 31606 E. Pink Hill Road, during regular office hours. The district offices will be closed on December 23rd—January 1st and January 18th. Therefore, the district will not be accepting candidate filing on those dates. The district office will be closed, and filing will not occur on days that the school district is closed due to inclement weather and filing will not occur on days that the school district is closed due to a COVID related event.
Registration will be by appointment only and made by contacting the board secretary at 816-847-5006 x1026. Two positions with a (3) three-year term will be subject to election. Candidates will be placed on the ballot according to the order of filing and must wear masks and observe district infection control rules in force at the time of filing.
Police Blotter: December 17, 2020
The following information is derived from the Grain Valley Police Department daily calls for service log for the week of December 2—8, 2020.
It is probably no wonder that gift wrap as we know it started in Kansas City, Missouri. On January 10, 1910, a teenager from Nebraska stepped off a train in KC with little more than big dreams and two shoeboxes of picture postcards. From those inauspicious beginnings an iconic brand was born.
The first foray into other product lines came in 1917 when the Hall brothers “invented” modern gift wrap. During the peak Christmas season, their stationery store ran out of solid-colored gift dressing, which in those days was plain tissue paper.
The brothers improvised by selling fancy decorated French envelope linings. Those sold out so quickly that they decided to begin printing their own gift wrap. The teenager was Joyce Hall, and as they say, "...the rest is history."
From a December 27, 1995 article by Forrest Martin in the Examiner:
“Grain Valley planners soon will look into changing some ordinances to reflect the city’s recent growth.
City administrator Tim Ryan said the city’s population has grown from 1,898 as shown in the 1990 US Census to an estimated 2,650 today.
‘By the year 2000, the population is expected to be 4,402, and by 2005, it is projected to be 7,225,’ Ryan said.”
The article details efforts by Ron Eilers, the city’s building inspector and code enforcement officer, and the Planning Commission, to undergo the first major revision to the city’s zoning ordinance since 1989.
Updates included mandating paved commercial parking lots, rather than chipped and sealed lots.
“Proposed too, are several new zoning districts. These would include ‘non-retail business’ and ‘controlled business’.
“These would both be appropriate between retail and residential areas,” Eiler said. “They would allow office uses, day-care centers, small restaurants, all better as a buffer than having something like a grocery store backing up to a neighborhood.”
The article continues, “Several steps would be taken to get public opinion on the topic. After the Planning Commission reviews it, builders and engineers would get to comment. The commission would then refine the proposal and have a public hearing on the final draft.”
“At the same time the city is working on coming up with these new rules, it hopes to complete work on a comprehensive plan for the whole city that would include some of these new zoning districts.
‘We hope to have the city adopt the new regulations and the comprehensive plan about the same time,’ Eiler said.”
“It will allow us to get a handle on and plan our growth over the next 15 to 20 years,” he said.
DED Releases November Missouri Jobs Report
The Missouri labor market showed further improvement in November 2020. Employment, seasonally adjusted, increased by 17,400 jobs over the month. The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased by 0.2 percentage points from October 2020 to November 2020, and the civilian labor force increased more than 23,000.
However, the labor market still showed substantial losses from 2019 levels, and a third wave of COVID-19 infections pose a threat of renewed economic challenges in the coming months.
Missouri’s smoothed seasonally adjusted unemployment rate went down by 0.2 percentage points in November 2020, decreasing to 4.4 percent from the October 2020 rate of 4.6 percent.
Missouri’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has now been either below or equal to the national rate for 68 consecutive months. The national unemployment rate was 6.7 percent in November 2020, also down 0.2 percentage points from 6.9 percent in October 2020.
The estimated number of unemployed Missourians was 131,215 in November 2020, down by 4,766 from October’s 135,981.
Due to lingering layoffs from COVID-19 impacts, the state’s November 2020 rate was still 1 percentage point higher than the November 2019 rate.
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