With just 23% of City of Grain Valley voters showing up at the polls, Chuck Johnston was elected Mayor, beating incumbent Michael Todd 48% to 39%. A third candidate, Jeff Craney, received 12% of the vote.
Reached for comment following his win, Johnston struck a more conciliatory tone than communications made via social media throughout the campaign.
“I would like to thank everyone that put their faith in me to serve as your Mayor. I will do my best to live up to your expectations,” Johnston said.
“I don't take this job lightly. I know I have to develop a working relationship with the Board of Aldermen and City staff to achieve the goals I have set. I would also like to congratulate all the others that won their campaign. I look forward to working with all of you. I want to thank those that ran and didn't win for offering their services to the City by running for office. We need those that are willing to work for the betterment of the City, if this City is going to grow and prosper.”
Voters soundly defeated Questions 1 and 2, which requested more than $38 million in bonds to develop a community campus on the former Sni-A-Bar Farms site. In Ward 1, incumbent Alderman Jayci Stratton ran unopposed and received 97.39% of the vote; Bob Headley also ran unopposed in Ward 3, winning 97.78% of the vote. Rick Knox was elected as Alderman in Ward 2, receiving 69.81% of the vote.
Grain Valley Schools received strong support for its bond issue to add additional fine arts space at the high school. The question passed with 66.71% of the vote.
In a statement, Dr. Marc Snow, Superintendent of Grain Valley Schools, thanked voters for their support and outlined construction projects to begin immediately.
“Construction at the high school will begin within the next two weeks. There will be interruptions to the drive off Eagles Parkway this summer as crews relocate the main north/south drive towards the back of the school to make room for the addition. Also this summer, new parking will be added to the east side of the school to replace a staff parking area where the addition will be. Walls for the new instructional spaces should start to go in by September. Students will be walking the hallways of phase 5 in August 2021,” Snow said.
Three incumbent school board members retained their seats. Jeff Coleman, Tisha Homfeld, and Jan Reding were each reelected, with first time candidate Jeff Wolff as a close contender.
Voters next head to the polls on August 4th for a primary election. The deadline to register for the August election is July 8th.
With just 23% of City of Grain Valley voters showing up at the polls, Chuck Johnston was elected Mayor, beating incumbent Michael Todd 48% to 39%. Voters soundly defeated Questions 1 and 2, requesting more than $38 million in bonds to develop a community campus on the former Sni-A-Bar Farms site. In Ward 1, incumbent Alderman Jayci Stratton ran unopposed and received 97.39% of the vote; Bob Headley also ran unopposed in Ward 3, winning 97.78% of the vote. Rick Knox was elected as Alderman in Ward 2, receiving 69.81% of the vote.
Grain Valley Schools received strong support for its bond issue to add additional fine arts space at the high school. The question passed with 66.71% of the vote. Incumbent school board members Jeff Coleman, Tisha Homfeld, and Jan Reding were each reelected, with first time candidate Jeff Wolff as a close contender.
See Thursday’s edition of Grain Valley News for the full story.
The municipal election originally scheduled for April 7th will take place Tuesday, June 2nd and Grain Valley voters will have a full slate of issues to decide on. Three candidates vie for Mayor, and aldermen seats are open in each of the City’s three districts.
Jeff Craney, Chuck Johnston, and Michael Todd are running for Grain Valley Mayor. District 1 Alderman Jayci Stratton is running unopposed, as is District 3 Alderman Bob Headley. In District 2, Joey Burgett and Rick Knox are running for one open seat.
Grain Valley Schools has placed a $14.5 million no tax increase bond issue on the ballot to fund the addition of instructional spaces primarily dedicated to performing arts, including the addition of a band room, percussion room, instrument storage, practice rooms, black box theater, storage and stagecraft area, and a new choir room.
Voters will also select three school board members from a slate of five candidates. Candidates for school board include incumbents Jeff Coleman, Tisha Holmfeld, and Janis (Jan) Reding, and candidates Jeff Wolff and Justin Wulff.
Residents will also decide on a proposed community campus project to be funded through a no tax increase general obligation bond. The last time voters were asked by the City to issue bonds was April 2011.
Plans for the site include a new civic facility which will house the City Hall, police department, and municipal court. The facility will also include common space and community meeting spaces. The approximate square footage of the civic offices is 31,000 square feet. The size of the current City Hall, Police Department, and Municipal Court is a combined 16,000 square feet.
Additionally, the proposed campus includes a new community center to include an indoor pool. The proposed center will be approximately 45,000 square feet.
Plans also outline areas for a play structure, splash pad, and some degree of trail completion at the site.
Two separate questions on the ballot addressing the proposed campus will require super majority approval. Question One calls for a $23.5 million bond, and Question Two calls for a bond in the amount of $15,350,000. Cities may only issue general obligation bonds after obtaining approval of four-sevenths (57.!%) of the qualified voters of the municipality voting on a question.
The Jackson County Election Board is asking voters to check their polling location before heading to the polls on June 2nd. Registered voters in eastern Jackson County should have received a letter from the Jackson County Election Board which replaced the traditional “poll notification card” postcard. The letter includes the voter’s polling place information, address, directions, and other information about the upcoming election. The Board sent more detailed information as many polling locations changed for this election.
Voters who will be unable to get to their poll on Election Day may vote absentee at the Jackson County Election Board office at 215 N. Liberty, Independence from 8:30am until 5:00pm Monday – Friday. The office will also be open on Saturday, May 30 from 8:30am until 12:30pm for absentee voting.
The Jackson County Election Board has taken measures to protect both the voters and poll workers on Election Day. Poll workers will wear masks and gloves. Poll workers and voters will have easy access to hand sanitizer, surfaces will be disinfected regularly, distancing will be enforced, and voters will be given a pen/stylus to use and keep instead of an “I VOTED” sticker. In addition, voters may choose to vote “curbside” instead of coming inside to vote. Polls will be open 6:00am – 7:00pm.
During its May 27th meeting, held via video conference, the Grain Valley Board of Aldermen voted to approve a conditional use permit for Missouri Made Marijuana LLC to operate a medical marijuana cultivation facility on approximately 6 acres located at the east end of South Outer Belt Road on the south side of Interstate 70 and north of the Penny’s Concrete facility. The project’s engineer indicated construction on the facility, which will include three separate buildings, will begin immediately.
The Board also approved a change of zoning on approximately 3.1 acres from District C-2 (General Business) to District M-1 (Light Industrial to allow for the a custom manufacturing business, AvidAir, to occupy the located north of R.D. Mize at 1206 Pavilion Drive. AvidAir, currently based in Lee’s Summit, overhauls and repairs compressor case assemblies in aircraft helicopters.
The final development plan for the Lofts at Old Towne Market Place was unanimously approved. The development, located at Garden Street and SW Eagles Parkway, will include 154 rental units and a mixed-use indoor amenity center. In other business, the Board approved a resolution reappointing Mike Switzer and Justin Tyson to the Industrial Development Authority Corporation of the City for six-year terms. The Board also approved the reappointment of Becky Gray, Charles Harris, and Jared English to the Grain Valley Parks and Recreation Board for three year terms.
In staff reports, it was announced the annual Community Development event, scheduled for June 18th, has been canceled. The City’s annual clean-up event has been postponed to Saturday, September 26th, with the Senior curbside pickup scheduled for September 24th—25th.
The next Board of Aldermen meeting will be held via video conference on June 8th at 7:00pm.
Residents hoping to kick off the summer season this Memorial Day weekend with a dip in the pool will have to wait a few weeks longer. Grain Valley Parks and Recreation announced the opening of the pool will be delayed until June, contingent on the restrictions provided in Phase 2 of Jackson County’s Recovery Plan for outdoor aquatic facilities. Aquatic programs, including swim lessons, are contingent upon Phase 2 restrictions.
The Fitness Center inside the Grain Valley Community Center reopened on Monday, May 18th. The gymnasium and all other common meeting space have remained closed, with just the Fitness Center open to the public.
“We are thrilled to once again see members of our community coming in to exercise. Even though we are not ‘completely’ open yet, the Fitness Center is a step in the right direction to once again provide opportunities for health and wellness to our residents,” Shannon Davies, Grain Valley Parks and Recreation Director said.
The Center will be open 8:00am – 5:00pm Monday – Friday through at least May 25th, and will not be open on Memorial Day.
“We hope to reopen the building in its entirety soon and resume our normal hours of operation, 7 days a week. This will be contingent on Phase 2 of Jackson County’s Recovery Plan, which we have been told will be issued between now and May 25th,” Davies said.
The Center is open to current members and those wanting to purchase a membership or day pass.
Davies explained the Community Center has implemented several safety measures in response to COVID-19, including:
Limiting the # of patrons in the Fitness Center at one time. Patrons are encouraged to call the Community Center (816-847-6203) before arriving to see if there will be a wait.
Certain pieces of cardio equipment and weight machines are “out-of-service” to ensure that the 6-feet of distance between individuals is adhered to.
Patrons must sign-in when they arrive, and sign-out when they leave. This includes name and contact information. This allows for tracing by the Jackson County Health Department should the need arise.
Patrons are not allowed to use the Fitness Center if they are showing any signs of illness.
Patrons are required to wash their hands before entering the Fitness Center and required to wash their hands before leaving the facility.
Patrons are required to wipe down any fitness equipment immediately after they are done using it with anti-bacterial/alcohol wipes provided at the center.
Center staff is required to wear facemasks when interacting with patrons who come to exercise. Staff are to not come to work if they are exhibiting any signs of illness.
Facemasks for patrons are recommended when visiting, but it is not required.
Center staff sanitizes commonly used areas each day before opening and more frequently depending on volume.
Grain Valley’s aquatic facility will not reopen on Memorial Day weekend due to
Jackson County’s stay-at-home order. The opening of the pool will be delayed until June, contingent on the restrictions provided in Phase 2 of Jackson County’s Recovery Plan for outdoor aquatic facilities. Aquatic programs, including swim lessons, are contingent upon Phase 2 restrictions.
Photo credit: City of Grain Valley
by Mayor Mike Todd, City of Grain Valley
Hello Grain Valley! I know that these last several weeks have been a time of uncertainty and stress for everyone. However, there has been much positivity with neighbors helping each other by picking up necessities, countless birthday “drive-bys,” sidewalk chalk art, signs in some of your yards and teddy bears in windows to lift the spirits of a passersby. Our homes have become classrooms and offices. Families have spent more time together than they typically do, bringing many great moments with new memories made. We have faced challenges as well trying to keep children occupied and interested in their schoolwork, while many of us work from home.
As a special education teacher for the Blue Springs School District, I know that our students have missed out on many of their typical spring school experiences, but I am amazed at the manner in which the Grain Valley School District and community have shown support to both students and teachers. Thank you to the Grain Valley School District for their quick response to the Stay-at-Home order when it was first put in place in March. They’ve provided nearly 450 meals daily (Monday-Friday) for students over the last several weeks and will continue a similar program through the end of June. Students were engaged with a variety of resources available to them from the school district and even some fun social media challenges.
Congratulations to the graduating class of 2020! I wish each and every one of you the best as you move into your future. I know that this has not been the graduation season that you dreamt of, but this community is so proud of you as evidenced by the great support shown with yard signs, special gifts and the graduate parade.
Our City staff has been working diligently to keep you informed of precautions and changes in County restrictions. Jackson County recently released Phase 1 of the Recovery Plan which will be evaluated for the appropriate next steps, sometime in the last week of May. It is unknown at this time when we will be able to proceed to the next phase.
The County will rely on many factors, including results of mobile testing sites, which they (along with Truman Medical Centers) have made more available over the last two weeks. We hosted one in the Community Center parking lot a couple of weeks ago. There have been several additional testing sites throughout the area, with one scheduled at Delta Woods Middle School in Lee’s Summit, Friday, May 22nd from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. This testing is free to all Jackson County residents. Please, if you are experiencing any symptoms such as fever, coughing, shortness of breath or any other flu-like symptoms in nature, call 816-404-CARE to register for testing.
We know that these last several weeks have been challenging for many of our local businesses. I encourage you to support them as often as you can and please be patient, as they are limited by social distancing guidelines as to how many customers are allowed inside each establishment.
I am hopeful that the lengths and sacrifices made since March have helped to flatten the curve, but I implore you to please continue moving forward with precaution. Please practice social distancing at all times and wash/ sanitize your hands frequently.
Visit cityofgrainvalley.org or our City of Grain Valley Facebook page to stay up to date regarding COVID-19 response, testing and information about moving forward as we proceed over the next several weeks. Jackson County Health Department (jacohd.org) is a great resource as well with tips on how to keep your family safe.
The Planning and Zoning Commission approved final plans for two developments and approved a site plan for a Burger King restaurant during its May 13th meeting, held via video conference.
The Commission unanimously approved the final plat for a medical marijuana cultivation facility located on approximately 6.5 acres at the east end of South Outer Belt Road on the south side of Interstate 70.
Randy Black with Missouri Made Marijuana LLC thanked the Commission and stated he looked forward to “being a good neighbor” in Grain Valley.
The Commission also approved the final development plan/final plat for the Lofts at Old Towne Marketplace. The development will consist of 154 rental units and a mixed-use indoor amenity center in four buildings, located at Garden Street and SW Eagles Parkway.
Finally, the Commission approved a site plan for a Burger King to be located in the Mercado Plaza development located at the NW corner of Buckner Tarsney Road and Jefferson Road. The developer is still in discussion with MODOT regarding the placement of two left hand turn lanes, one at Buckner Tarsney Road and one at Jefferson Road.
The site plan was approved with the understanding that the building may move slightly to the north to accommodate additional right of way needed for the left hand turns.
Following a lengthy discussion regarding the proposed site’s parking and drive thru layout, the plan was approved with committee member Elijah Greene the lone ‘no’ vote.
The next meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission will be held June 10th at 6:30pm.
With many traditional entertainment options closed due to stay-at-home orders related to COVID-19, families have taken advantage of the limited outdoor recreation spaces open during this time. Their options will expand in the coming weeks as Grain Valley Parks and Recreation pushes forward with plans for the summer, including the opening of the Grain Valley Aquatic Center in late May.
The Grain Valley Aquatic Center will open for the season on Saturday, May 23rd. Pool season passes can be purchased once the Grain Valley Community Center resumes normal operational hours. Registration for group and private swimming lessons as well as water aerobics is now open on the City’s website. Residents may also register for Parks and Recreation programming by calling the Community Center, 816-847-6230 ext. 9 from 8:00am – 5:00pm Monday – Friday.
Shannon Davies, Parks and Recreation Director, is not yet certain what changes in terms of capacity will need to be implemented at the pool. “We will know more once Jackson County provides their recovery plan,” Davies said.
Residents should expect some changes when utilizing parks facilities and participating in programming.
“As our parks and recreation facilities start to open back up to the public, initially there will be changes with regard to limiting the number of registrants, maintaining social distancing, and the PPE’s utilized by staff. We should be getting guidance from Jackson County this week on what this will look like. Some facilities will open sooner than others but the ‘gathering’ restrictions the County provides will dictate what programs we can still offer and what programs we will have to cancel or postpone. Of those programs that we can still provide, we will have to limit the registration count to maximize social distancing,” Davies said.
The Parks and Recreation Department will offer a Youth Tennis program and Pre-K Instructional T-Ball program this summer, as well as popular programs such as Popsicles in the Park and Movies in the Park.
The first Movie in the Park program will be held Friday, June 5th at the Armstrong Park Pavilion. The June 5th event will feature the movie Abominable and will begin at dusk (approximately 8:30pm).
The past few weeks have proved to be an interesting challenge for Parks and Recreation staff, and helping families stay active while most parks facilities are closed has required creativity.
“We have tried to do more things through social media. For example, our “Boredom Busters” activity through Twitter. Each day, we post an activity that kids can do at home inside or out in their yards and ask that they post pictures of them in action or of their completed activity. With playgrounds, park shelters, and other park amenities being closed to the public, we have seen a huge increase in trail usage,” Davies said.
“With the warmer weather and people tired of being cooped-up at home, our trails have been a true asset for people to spend time outdoors and exercise. We have seen a marked increase in trail use at Armstrong Park and Butterfly Trail Park. Our new Blue Branch Creek Trail has been very popular over the past several months. We are also seeing people use our open greenspace areas to play on and picnic, which is really great to see.”
Grain Valley’s Board of Aldermen continue to conduct business during the stay at home order, utilizing video conferencing to meet virtually. The Board met April 27th via video conference. Recognizing the steps all governmental and business organizations are taking to continue business as close to normal, Alderman Bob Headley asked City Administrator Ken Murphy how City staff are managing during this time.
“I think everyone is kind of settling into the groove. It’s not ideal, but we’re making do,” Murphy said.
The Board approved a resolution authorizing the City Administrator to execute an agreement with Blue Nile Contractors, Inc. for the Dillingham water main and trail. The resolution allows for the construction of a water main loop serving the Rosewood Hills area and extend the existing trail on Dillingham Road from Persimmon Drive to Lindenwood Drive and connect existing trail segments completing this section to the northern city limits.
Additionally, the Board approved a resolution authorizing the city administrator to purchase equipment and materials for the installation of a fixed base meter reading system and computer software for the system. City staff currently drives the routes in town to collect the meter reads or physically reads the meters on site. The new system will be installed on current infrastructure and or sites to collect reads when needed for utility billing and customers.
Community Development Director Mark Trosen also reported City staff has completed the replacement of 400 meters this year.
In other business, Mayor Todd read aloud a letter of resignation from former City Administrator Ryan Hunt. As previously reported, the letter was a part of a settlement agreement between Hunt and the City, which stipulates that Hunt’s employment record be amended to reflect Hunt voluntarily resigned from the position and was not terminated by the City, stating he is eligible for re-employment.
Todd also reported a memorandum of understanding had been completed with City Administrator Ken Murphy, who had been serving as Interim City Administrator after Hunt’s departure. The Mayor requested the Board ratify the memorandum, which outlines the terms of Murphy’s employment. The Board unanimously voted to ratify the memorandum.
Todd also mentioned the upcoming bond issue for the proposed Community Campus on the June 2nd ballot, stating that there will be no active push to promote the issue.
“The timing could not be worse with everything going on. We will provide updated information on website, but you won’t see us actively out and pushing the bond issue,” Todd said.
While the true impact of the pandemic on City budgets is not yet known, Todd mentioned that Grain Valley seems better positioned than other local municipalities, due to Grain Valley’s lack of retail compared to other cities.
“This is one time not being reliant on sales tax is a plus,” Todd said.
The next Board of Aldermen meeting will be held virtually on Monday, May 11th at 7:00pm.
Each year, the Truman Heartland Community Foundation (THCF) asks local mayors to nominate a citizen from their city who lends their time, talents, and energy to better their community. This year, Mayor Todd has selected to bestow the honor posthumously to Christina “Kiki” Claphan.
Mayor Todd shared the news via video conference with Kiki’s family on April 29th.
“I can’t think of anyone more deserving of the honor. She represented what you look for in a Citizen of the Year. Not only for her work with the City, but the school district as well. Grain Valley was lucky to have her,” Mayor Todd said.
Claphan will be honored September 26th at the THCF’s Toast to Our Towns Gala.
Christina “Kiki” Claphan will be honored in September as Grain Valley’s Citizen of the Year.
Photo courtesy: City of Grain Valley