For 26 years, Truman Heartland Community Foundation has recognized the volunteer and philanthropic spirit in communities throughout Eastern Jackson County at the annual Toast to Our Towns Gala. This special event is a formal celebration of local philanthropy—an opportunity to recognize those individuals and businesses who go above and beyond to make our towns better places to live, work, and serve.
We invite all those living in the area to join us on September 25 at the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center for this extraordinary celebration of community service. Presented by Blue Ridge Bank and Trust Company and benefiting Truman Heartland Community Foundation, the Toast of our Towns Gala will be an evening to remember.
The night begins at 6:00pm with a cocktail reception hosted by TruckMovers, followed by dinner. There will be a short awards program to recognize the remarkable impact of those individuals and businesses who have given so freely of their time, talent, and resources.
Following the program, guests will continue to celebrate our honored guests at a lively Mix, Mingle, and Music after-party, hosted by GEHA. Jim and Mary Stilley of Lee's Summit will be presented with the Heartland Humanitarians of the Year award for their steadfast dedication and advocacy for youth and adult education programs, cutting-edge medical technologies, issues of diversity and inclusion, and the science of climate change.
Continental Siding will receive the Heartland Service Award for outstanding philanthropy to both the Independence community and their close-knit family of employees, ensuring at least some stability during a very unstable year. Local Mayors of will honor their Citizens of the Year at the event, describing how each has made a positive change in the region: Blue Springs will recognize Cindy Miller and Dale Carter, Grain Valley will recognize David Ward, Independence will recognize Karen Downey, Lake Tapawingo will recognize Tom Goddard, Lee's Summit will recognize Bob & Candy White, Oak Grove will recognize Maeghan Timothy, Raytown will recognize Stan Sagehorn, and Sugar Creek will recognize Allan Thompson.
And finally, we will recognize the outstanding leadership of local healthcare heroes from six local hospitals who worked selflessly and tirelessly in their hospitals throughout the pandemic to keep the rest of us safe and healthy. Those being honored are Dr. Lorraine Duncan with Centerpoint Medical Center, Laura Peckham with Truman Medical Center-Lakewood, Angela Haley with St. Mary's Hospital, Dr. John Ireland with Lee's Summit Medical Center, Susie Krug with Saint Luke's East Hospital, and Amy Latimer with Children's Mercy Hospital East.
We hope you will join us for this celebration as we honor these individuals who have made a significant difference in our community. Although their areas of impact are quite varied, they are united by a common goal, improving and enriching their local communities.
Truman Heartland Community Foundation is delighted to bring this in-person event back to our supporters in 2021. Like everyone else, THCF had to pivot to digital last year due to COVID. So, the opportunity to gather once again and celebrate our local communities and these very special people holds even more meaning.
The 2021 Toast of our Towns Gala will not be a socially distanced event, and guests are advised to follow all applicable laws, regulations, and guidelines to ensure the health and safety of all our guests.
You can learn more about the Truman Heartland Community Foundation honorees, event sponsorship opportunities, and individual tickets sales at www.THCF.org/Gala or by calling 816.836.8189.
The August Partnership luncheon will be held August 3rd from 11:30am—1:00pm at Aquaint Gathering, 512 Capelle ST. This month’s topic, presented by Metropolitan Community Colleges, will be “Tapping Local Talent on a Budget”.
To register for the luncheon, visit www.growgrainvalley.org.
A new campaign will recognize Missouri workplaces that are leading the fight against COVID-19. The COVID Stops Here campaign celebrates Missouri employers that have achieved widespread vaccination among their staff members.
Organizations that have achieved at least a 70% vaccination rate are eligible to receive a COVID Stops Here designation. The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry developed the campaign as a way to highlight workplaces that are leading the fight to stop COVID-19 — and to encourage more organizations to join their ranks.
Missouri employers can visit mochamber.com/CovidStopsHere to apply for a designation. Employers with at least 70% of their staff members fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be approved for a designation and will receive materials to help celebrate their vaccination status. The website also includes resources for employers that are still working to achieve widespread vaccination among their staff members.
“The COVID-19 vaccine is Missouri’s pathway to recovery and employers are truly on the front lines of the push to vaccinate our state. We are excited to recognize workplaces across Missouri that are leading on vaccination. Any workplace that has achieved widespread vaccination should be recognized and that’s our goal with the COVID Stops Here campaign,” Daniel P. Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber said.
The Grain Valley Partnership recently welcomed the following new partners:
Nelson Brothers Construction
Kansas City Cannabis
WPL Mortgage Solutions
Country Oak Village
Rising Construction Services
Matthew Gass Law
No Borders Real Estate
For more information on the Grain Valley Partnership and its business partners, visit www.growgrainvalley.org.
With the initial wave of COVID-19-related layoffs now more than a year in the past, the six-figure over-the-year job losses that had characterized the Missouri labor market for the last nine months of 2020 and the first three months of 2021 were replaced with an increase of more than 130,000 jobs from June 2020 to June 2021. Missouri non-farm payroll employment increased from May 2021 to June 2021, but the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate also increased by a tenth of a percentage point.
Employment, seasonally adjusted, increased by 4,200 jobs over the month, with job gains in both goods-producing and service-providing industries.
The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.3 percent in June 2021, up from 4.2 percent in May 2021. Short-term shortages of semiconductor chips may hold down employment in manufacturing in the next few months.
Missouri’s smoothed seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased by a tenth of a percentage point in June 2021, rising to 4.3 percent from the May 2021 rate of 4.2 percent. With the start of the COVID-19 pandemic now more than a year in the past, the June 2021 rate was 3.8 percentage points lower than the June 2020 rate. The rate had reached a low of 3.1 percent starting in July 2018, before gradually edging up to 3.5 percent by the end of 2019, and then to 3.7 percent in March 2020. The COVID-19 effect hit in April 2020, spiking the rate to 12.5 percent for that month.
The rate decreased monthly for the rest of 2020, reaching 4.4 percent in December, and continued gradually downward through the first four months of 2021. The increase of two-tenths of a percentage point over the last two months appears to be related to a temporary shortage in the supply of semiconductor chips, which caused production slowdowns in some manufacturing industries.
Due to benchmark revisions, Missouri’s unemployment rate rose a tenth of a percentage point higher than the national rate in January and February of 2020, but has been below the national rate for every month since February 2020. The national unemployment rate increased from 5.8 percent in May 2021 to 5.9 percent in June 2021. The estimated number of unemployed Missourians was 133,380 in June 2021, up by 4,343 from May’s 129,037.
The state’s not-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate also increased in June 2021, rising by four-tenths of a percentage point to 5.1 percent from the May 2021 not-seasonally-adjusted rate of 4.7 percent. The shortage of semiconductor chips was a factor in the increase. The corresponding not-seasonally-adjusted national rate for June 2021 was 6.1 percent.
A year ago, the state’s seasonally adjusted rate was 8.1 percent, and the not-adjusted rate was also 8.1 percent.
Missouri’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment was 2,823,400 in June 2021, up by 4,200 from the revised May 2021 figure. However, the May 2021 total was revised upward by 1,200 from the preliminary estimate, producing a revised increase of 7,200 jobs from April 2021 to May 2021 and a revised increase of 196,100 jobs from May 2020 to May 2021.
Goods-producing industries gained 200 jobs over the month, in construction and manufacturing, with gains in non-durable goods and electronics manufacturing. These gains were enough to offset an employment loss in motor vehicle manufacturing, which was hampered by a shortage of semiconductor chips for on-board computers.
Meanwhile, service-providing industries gained 4,000 jobs between May and June 2021, with increases in professional & business services (+2,700 jobs) and leisure & hospitality (+1,600 jobs) at least partially attributable to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. However, not every major industry group shared in the increase, with educational and health service losing 900 jobs over the month. Government employment showed an increase of 1,600 jobs over the month.
Total payroll employment increased by 133,800 jobs from June 2020 to June 2021, reflecting the recovery from the job cuts brought on by the initial wave of COVID-19 restrictions. All but one of the major private-sector industry groups shared in the increases, with the largest gain in leisure & hospitality (+48,400 jobs), followed by educational & health services (+22,300 jobs), professional and business services (+21,500 jobs), and trade, transportation & utilities (+12,900 jobs).
The sole private-sector exception was financial activities, which lost 3,400 jobs. Government employment also increased over the year, with a gain of 18,100 jobs concentrated in state and local government.
A 2015 survey by HealthyWomen and Working Mother magazine revealed what most women already know —women put themselves, and their health and physical fitness, at the end of the list of priorities in terms of health care. According to the survey, women spent more time managing their children, pets, elder relatives, spouse or significant other’s health before their own.
The list of barriers for women to focus on their own care is lengthy, and Casey Haase, certified trainer and owner of Beyond Fitness, has built a business around helping women make their physical health a priority.
As a mother of two and small business owner, Haase is intimately aware of the demands on women and the importance of maintaining one’s own health in order to keep up with a busy household.
Haase has been in business for three years, quickly outgrowing two previous spaces and moving to a new facility in late June of this year.
Nine certified trainers, including Haase, offer a full lineup of classes as well as personal training sessions for women of all ages and fitness levels. Classes can be accessed through monthly memberships or purchased by the class, with easy online registration through their website or the MindBody app.
Classes are limited to 15 participants, which ensures trainers can focus on each attendee’s needs.
“We want our members to have the personal training experience without the personal training price point. Capping our classes at a max of 15 attendees ensures everyone receives the attention they need,” Haase said.
The gym offers boot camp classes, cross training, dance, TRX (utilizing TRX Suspension Trainers), yoga flow, as well as access to cardio and weight equipment.
Class participants are welcome to bring their children to play in the dedicated play area while they focus on their workout.
Haase focuses heavily on relationships and connecting women with resources they need, even if those resources are located outside of her business. She regularly refers members to other fitness opportunities and instructors who may best fit a specific need.
“While yes, I have a gym, my business model is really focused on what is good for you,” Haase said.
Small class sizes also ensure that participants at all fitness levels can work out at their own pace and work toward their own fitness goals.
Haase is quick to point out that it is the people involved in her business that make it successful.
“These trainers make the space what it is and without them, I wouldn't be able to be a mom and a small biz owner. They allow me to have a nice balance, and I'm just so grateful for them,” Haase said.
Beyond Fitness recently moved to a new space at 1102 NW Casey Blvd., Suite F, in Grain Valley. In addition to the variety of equipment offered indoors, an outdoor space is accessible for trainers to utilize the hills and outdoor features outside the gym into their workouts.
A variety of workout gear is also available at the gym, featuring brands such as Athleta and Zyia Active.
For more information on Beyond Fitness, visit www.beyondfitnesskc.com or call 816-204-6296.
David Ward, president of Ward Development and Investment Company, has been named Grain Valley Citizen of the Year and will be honored during the Truman Heartland Community Foundation’s Toast of the Towns gala on September 25, 2021, at the Sheraton Kansas City at Crown Center.
At the event, individuals, businesses, and organizations will be recognized for making a significant philanthropic impact in Eastern Jackson County and surrounding communities.
In nominating Ward, Mayor Chuck Johnston pointed to Ward’s integral part in the growth of Grain Valley. His contributions include several residential, industrial, and commercial developments. He began building and developing in Grain Valley in 1990, owning and operating several businesses, including a hardware store, a grocery store, a storage facility, and The Old Towne Marketplace multi-use project.
Ward Development has added approximately 1,750 homes to Grain Valley, including the development of six residential subdivisions.
Ward is also active in the community and supports several organizations, including the Grain Valley Assistance Council, Boy Scouts, Grain Valley High School Booster Club, Grain Valley Youth Sports League, and the Grain Valley Santa Bus.
“Grain Valley is years a head of where we would have been if it hadn’t been for David’s hard work and commitment to this city. Grain Valley owes a very large debt of gratitude to David Ward for all that he has done for Grain Valley in bring in new businesses and all the commercial development he has made available. This award is just a small showing of what is actually owed,” Johnston said.
Summer is here, and with it, comes summer day trips and extended vacations. If you're like me, your gadgets are a part of your everyday life, which means if you travel, you're bound to take devices like smartphones, laptops, digital cameras, tablets, and e-readers with you.
Every year, thousands of devices are stolen, lost, or damaged while people are vacationing. Want to keep your devices safe during those summer vacation months? Here are some quick and easy tips you can use to protect your electronics and tech.
1. Back Up Your Devices.
You should have automatic backups of all of your devices, but in case you're one of those people who doesn't, set it up for your mobile devices now. You know anything can happen to your devices, what you don't want to experience is losing all of those precious pictures, documents, and videos. Both Apple and Google devices have the ability to backup your important data to the cloud. If you have a Wi-Fi enabled camera, configure it to save that information to the cloud as well. If you have a Windows or Apple laptop, your best bet is to use cloud backup services like Carbonite (www.carbonite.com) or cloud storage services like Google Drive, OneDrive or DropBox (www.dropbox.com) to store your data in the cloud.
2. Password Protect Your Mobile Devices.
Did you know that about a third of people around the world don't use passwords to protect their tech? Well, passwords are the first line of defense to protect your information if your devices are lost or stolen. If your devices have the ability, use biometric identification like face ID or a fingerprint to keep your device more secure.
When you take steps to protect your data, you reduce the risks of ID theft and other cyber threats and increases your chances of recovering your device because most criminals will discard it once they realize they can't get access to the device.
If you're traveling with a laptop, take the extra step to encrypt your devices. Encryption is the act of scrambling the data of your devices so the only way to access them is the person trying to access the device a key. Smartphones and tablets encrypt themselves when you put a password on them. Computers do not. If you have a Windows 10 computer, you can encrypt your computer with Bitlocker, which is included with computers running Windows 10 Professional. If you're a Macintosh user, you have access to File Vault, which is included on all Macintosh computers.
3. Protect Your Devices in the Summer Heat.
Heat is the enemy of all tech devices. Don’t leave any devices in direct sunlight as direct sunlight can ruin the screen and cause your device to overheat and ruin it. Be careful not to let your smartphone and other devices get too hot during the summer because it can damage the battery life. If you are at the pool, make sure your phone is stored somewhere cool, or at least out of direct sunlight. If your device does happen to overheat, simply store it somewhere with lower temperatures and let your device cool down before using it again. Don't force it to get cool by holding it in front of a fan or air conditioning; let it cool naturally. Never leave tech your gadgets in vehicles. If you absolutely have to leave your technology in the car, be sure to park in the shade and crack the car windows.
4. Track Your Tech Devices.
You should never leave your device unattended, but accidents and negligence happen. Most modern, computers, smartphones, and tablets have the ability to be tracked built into the devices. Tech theft is big business domestically and internationally and tourists are a big target. You might be tempted to use a device like a Tile, but you need to use the built-in tracking software on your device as it uses GPS rather than Tile which uses Bluetooth which has a limited range.
5. Get a Case For Your Devices.
Do you know anyone who hasn't dropped their phone? When you're near home, you can easily replace your devices. When you're traveling, it's extremely difficult. Keep those devices safe by getting protective cases for everything you plan to take on the road with you.
I hope you have fun this summer in your travels with family and friends. You know you will take some form of technology with you when you go. Make sure you follow the above tips to keep all of your devices safe and to make sure they all come home with you.
Want to ask me a tech question? Send it to email@example.com. I love technology. I've read all of the manuals and I'm serious about making technology fun and easy to use for everyone.
Need computer or technology help? If you need on-site or remote tech support for your Windows\Macintosh, computers, laptops, Android/Apple smartphone, tablets, printers, routers, smart home devices, and anything that connects to the Internet, please feel free to contact my team at Integral. Our team of friendly tech experts organization can help you with any IT needs you might have. Reach out to us a www.callintegralnow.com or phone at 888.256.0829.
by Michael Smith
Growing up in the town he was raised in, life-long Grain Valley resident Jason Fenstermaker had a dream of becoming a head football coach.
He was a three-sport athlete at Grain Valley High School and ended being a teacher there and an assistant coach for football and wrestling after he graduated from University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth, Kan.
Now he’s realizing an alternative dream as a co-owner of Iron Kettle Brewery along with fellow Grain Valley grads Brian Fenstermaker, Ben Call and James Nelson. It’s a Scottish-themed pub that opened on St. Patrick’s Day this year and is located at 508 Main St. in downtown Grain Valley.
That wasn’t originally his dream coming out of high school. When he was a young athlete, his dream was to become a professional football player.
“I wanted to be the next Derrick Thomas,” Fenstermaker said of wanting to be like the former Chiefs linebacker. “When everyone else started growing I realized that I wasn’t as big as I needed to be. My focus changed, but my love of sports didn’t.”
That’s when Fenstermaker chased his second dream of becoming a head football coach. He admitted the main reason he wanted to be an educator was so he could coach football.
He started out as an assistant coach at Grain Valley before becoming a running backs coach for the University of St. Mary. He decided he wanted to start a family so he left college coaching to become a head football and wrestling coach at the now defunct St. Mary’s High School in Independence.
“It’s really hard to have a family, and be a college football coach,” Fenstermaker said.
His last stop was at Lone Jack High School where he was the head football and wrestling coach along with being an activities director and principal. This school year was his last one as he will be focusing on growing his business full time and spending more time with his family.
“I am doing more with my degree now, then I have for the last 12 to 13 years being an educator,” Fenstermaker said.
During his time at Lone Jack, Fenstermaker and his co-owners opened the Iron Kettle. The idea to start the brewery began when Fenstermakers’ mother passed away In December 2019. She left behind an inheritance to her two sons, who have a brick on the building dedicated to honoring her. The money they received aided them in realizing their dream of opening up a pub in their hometown.
Fenstermaker wanted to introduce a new kind of beer to patrons of the city. Growing up he said that he was a Miller High Life or Miller Lite drinker and that many citizens in Grain Valley mostly drank domestic beers.
He’s now converted to a craft beer drinker.
“That’s like picking your favorite child,” Fenstermaker said when asked what his favorite beer is at the Iron Kettle. “If I had to choose it would be the Merlin’s amber ale. When my brother brewed it, I said, ‘This is it.’”
“I will put our Irish ale against any ale in Kansas City. We want to convert one domestic beer drinker at a time.”
He was converted to blonde ale and amber ale drinker by his brother Brian, who has been brewing beer for 12 years. In recent years, the Fenstermaker brothers are now closer than they were before. It was the brewery that helped them develop a stronger relationship and they now call themselves “The Brew Brothers.”
“Once I tasted his amber ale, I looked at him and said, ‘We can sell this.’” Fenstermaker said. “He’s the master of potions as we call him,” Fenstermaker said. “We also call him the kilted brewer because he wears a kilt while he’s brewing.
“Slowly over time, it became what we wanted to do. We actually weren’t close growing up. It wasn’t that we didn’t like each other, we just didn’t have anything in common. What brought us together was the love of beer and the love of brewing beer.”
So far, Fenstermaker said he likes the direction his business is going and is glad he made the decision to leave the education field.
“The business is doing well,” Fenstermaker said. “It can do better. That’s my job to make it do better. I put my career above my family my entire professional life. I made them sacrifice. I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to be there for them.
“Even if I have to work here at night, I can still be there in the morning to make my kids breakfast. I have never been able to do that before.”
The Grain Valley Partnership’s Kissick Classic, is an annual fundraising event to provide scholarships to Grain Valley High School graduates going into the engineering/ construction field. The tournament in named in memory of Jim Kissick, a longtime friend of the Partnership.
Two scholarships were awarded this year. Cody Hunter will attend Missouri S&T in the fall. Tre Rosales will be utilizing his A+ scholarship at MCC and then transferring to Missouri S&T after he completes his associate degree.
If you wish to be a part of the Kissick Classic, visit: