Anyone who has had the pleasure of setting up a new computer or smart TV in their home can appreciate what a hassle it can be to unbox, install, connect to Wi-Fi, and run endless software updates on these devices. Multiply that experience by 130 and you have some sense of the task completed by Dave Feagens, a Low Voltage Technician with Grain Valley Schools and his crew in late June and early July.
The district purchased new Promethean touchscreen boards to be installed over the summer. With the shutdowns this spring and delayed start of summer school, the installation of the boards became more complicated than expected. Nick Gooch, Assistant Superintendent of Support Services, explained the logistics of installing the boards was one of two big issues.
“We had a company quote us to unbox and remove the old Promethean boards and install new boards. The total cost was $40,000 to complete this task. And none of it would have been done prior to summer school. Dave grabbed a couple summer staff and was able to start the process early. This allowed the summer school staff to get the boards early, and him doing this for us saved the district the $40,000,” Gooch said.
In his report to the Grain Valley School Board during their July 16th meeting, Gooch took a moment to give a shout out to Feagens.
“Feagens and his crew did a 1/3 of the work in a matter of five days. I couldn’t believe he was able to get that work done that quickly. I was thoroughly impressed. They worked really hard, really quickly to get our teachers the equipment they needed,” Gooch said.
As Low Voltage Technician, Feagens installs and administers all the security cameras in the district, which stands at around 297 cameras by his count. Feagens is also responsible for handling network drops and technology such as the Promethean boards. As Feagens described it, the labor side of IT.
Feagens, who has been with the district for 9 years, emphasized his co-workers made the task of installing the new touchscreens possible.
“This year has been a little messed up. We had the shutdown, and then we came back and start into our regular pace, and then the IT department asked us to come have a meeting and that is when this started.”
Feagens and his crew got to work, unboxing, building the stands for each screen, setting up and installing firmware, and connecting each to Wi-Fi.
The 75-inch touchscreens weigh in at 140 pounds a piece, and bring a new level of flexibility in the classroom. The boards are mounted on mobile carts, so teachers can easily change the arrangement of their classroom as needed. Teachers can sync their laptops to the boards to share lessons or utilize one of the self-supporting programs. The screens are also significantly larger than the prior version, so students can spread out further from the screen, which is particularly important in the age of COVID-19.
COVID-19 has not changed the work of the custodial and maintenance staff, but it does add an extra level of awareness, Feagens explained.
“As maintenance staff, our main focus will be to be even more aware of our self as well as our environment in terms of what we touch in the space we work in.”
As the public continues to debate how to safely return students and teachers to the classroom in the fall, a quiet crew of professionals plans stepped-up efforts to ensure they can do so.
“Especially during this time, we often lose sight of the people who actually come in and do that work. Most of the time people don’t see the custodians and operations staff and how important the work they do is to keep students and staff safe, and resolve issues quickly so the class doesn’t have to be interrupted,” Feagens said.
The Jackson County Health Department will hold back-to-school vaccination clinics on July 28th—29th at Grain Valley North Middle School from 8:30am—6:00pm for students entering 8th or 12th grade. Appointments are required.
To register, visit www.jacohd.org/events.
Baseball fans rejoiced June 23rd following Major League Baseball’s announcement of a deal reached to begin the season July 23rd or 24th. Players are expected to report July 1st for training.
“Major League Baseball is thrilled to announce that the 2020 season is on the horizon. We have provided the Players Association with a schedule to play 60 games and are excited to provide our great fans with Baseball again soon,” Commissioner of Baseball Robert D. Manfred, Jr. said in a statement released June 23rd.
The proposed schedule will largely feature divisional play, with the remaining portion of each Club’s games against their opposite league’s corresponding geographical division (i.e., East vs. East, Central vs. Central and West vs. West), in order to mitigate travel. The vast majority of Major League Clubs are expected to conduct training at the ballparks in their primary home cities.
At home in Grain Valley, an opportunity to train the next generation of players will be offered through an Instructional T-Ball program hosted by Grain Valley Parks & Recreation.
The program begins Saturday, July 11th and runs for 6 weeks. The program is open to boys and girls 3 to 5 years of age, and focuses on skill development and fun. Participants will rotate through stations that focus on major skills of the game. Non-competitive games will be played the last three sessions of the program. A $45 fee covers the 6 week session and includes a t-shirt and medal for each player.
To register for the Instructional T-Ball program, call 816-847-6230 ext. 9, stop by the Community Center, 713 S. Main, or register online at grainvalley.recdesk.com.
Mid-Continent Public Library (MCPL) resumed select in-branch services on Tuesday, June 16th. The first hour of in-branch service will be reserved for customers ages 60+ and other members of populations vulnerable to COVID-19. Curbside service, launched on May 18th, will continue to be available for customers to pick up items they have put on hold.
During this next phase of Library service, customers will be allowed inside MCPL branches for no more than 90 minutes per day. Limited public computers will be available for use as well as printing, copying, and faxing services and indoor use of Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi continues to be available outside of each of the Library’s branches 24-hours a day.
Customers are asked to maintain social distance while utilizing all available library services and are encouraged to wear masks inside the branches. Customers without masks may be asked to put on a library-provided mask if they need staff assistance while using a public computer.
Services that are still not available include: browsing shelves, meeting room usage, gathering in large groups, and using children’s computers. Prizes for the Summer Reading program will be mailed rather than picked up at the branch, and in-person library events are postponed. Virtual events are available on MCPL’s social media pages.
Library services will end one hour prior to each branch’s normal closing time to allow for additional cleaning.
All returns must continue to be placed in the outdoor book drops. Returned items will be retrieved from the book drops and quarantined for at least 72 hours before being checked back into the Library’s collection. This time will not count against due dates and fines will not be assessed until July 1st.
The Grain Valley Fair and Grain Valley Partnership have teamed up to present Food Truck Friday Nights at the northwest corner of Walnut and Main beginning June 19th.
Mayor Michael Todd said the idea came to him watching the excitement around food trucks visiting the Rosewood Hills subdivision during the stay-at-home orders.
“Having a larger selection of places to eat is something we have heard for years. The city has worked really hard on getting new places, but unfortunately with COVID-19, I think we are going to see a lot of those expansion plans for restaurants slow down. I saw this is a way to get some already established places (food trucks) to come to town,” Todd said.
Trucks scheduled for June 19th include The Tasty Unicorn, Rolling in the Dough, and Hero’s New York Griddle. For updated information, visit the Grain Valley Fair’s website at www.grainvalleyfair.com.
“My hope is they see how great business can be in Grain Valley and then they decide to come and set up more often in other places around town. A lot of restaurants start off as food trucks now, so maybe if one of these trucks decides to open a brick and mortar store, they will consider Grain Valley,” Todd said.
Randi Prichard, 5th grade student at Stony Point Elementary was presented with the Safe Rider of the Year Award for the 2019-20 school year. Prichard is pictured with her bus driver, Mrs. Connie Azcona. Photo credit: Grain Valley Schools
Randi Prichard, 5th grade student at Stony Point Elementary, was recently awarded the Grain Valley Schools Safe Rider of the Year award for the 2019-20 school year. The award came with a $100 prize. The award is usually presented at a year-end school assembly, but this year Prichard’s bus driver, Connie Azcona, delivered the award to Prichard’s home by school bus.
Shawn Brady, Director of Transportation for Grain Valley Schools, explains Prichard represents the “best of the best”.
“Each month during the school year, the elementary bus drivers select a student on their bus to be recognized for excellence in Safety and Citizenship on the bus. At the end of the year, each driver reviews their winners and nominate who they felt was their 'best of the best',” Brady said.
With record unemployment in Missouri due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many families are facing financial stress and food insecurity. The Grain Valley Assistance Council (GVAC) continues to meet their needs of their current clients and is providing drive-thru delivery of food assistance to anyone in need.
“We have seen a small increase in the numbers we serve in Grain Valley. The new families we are seeing have been laid off and have no income. They have tried filing for unemployment and are applying for food stamps,” Donna Compton, Site Director for GVAC said.
The organization remains open on Wednesdays from 9:00am – 12:00pm and 1:00pm – 4:00pm, with a few changes to maintain volunteer and client safety.
“At this time, we are using a drive-thru delivery method and not allowing anyone inside our building, except for volunteers. I have limited the number of volunteers also. We have no more than six in our building on Wednesdays,” Compton said.
GVAC has suspended residency requirements to request food assistance at this time.
“Since it is a drive-thru delivery method, we ask that everyone in the car, stays in their car. We will ask you to have your trunk open, so we can walk out and place the food in your trunk. If your trunk is not available, we will place your food away from our building, so you can drive up further and load your food into your car.”
Donations are always needed to maintain the food pantry and provide utility assistance for clients in need. Compton anticipates that the numbers of families requesting utility assistance and food assistance will increase in the coming months.
“Right now, any monetary or food donation is appreciated. We have a food barrel available inside the Grain Valley Price Chopper. We would ask that if you have a donation you want to bring to the office, please bring it in the Wednesday we are open. You can leave it outside the door. Please do not bring items any other day as the office is closed.”
“The only donations we are accepting at this time are food, hygiene products, and monetary donations. We are in need of jelly (plastic containers), syrup, pancake mix, canned meats, boxed dinners (hamburger helper) and canned pasta sauce (in cans, not jars, please). Since our clothes closet is not opened, we are not taking any other donations at this time,” Compton said.
The community continues to step up to assist GVAC in their efforts. Recently, GVAC received a grant from Sam’s Club for $1,500, a grant from Shelter Insurance for $1,000, and $500 in in-kind hygiene product donations from the Church of Latter Day Saints. Grain Valley Chiropractic recently completed a fundraiser for the organization, raising over $3,000.
A parade for graduating Grain Valley High School seniors will be held Sunday,
May 17th at 4:00pm. Line-up for participants begins at 2:30pm. Participants should enter and check-in at the west entrance of Sni-A-Bar Elementary, 701 SW Eagles Parkway.
The parade route will begin at Grain Valley High School, head east on SW Eagles Pkwy, north on Main Street, west on Walnut, and south on EE Kirby back to the high school.
The public is encouraged to attend and cheer on the graduates. Please keep social distancing recommendations in mind at all times.
The 2020 graduating class has certainly missed out on its fair share of senior year celebrations due to the stay at home orders related to COVID-19. To help bring some pomp to this unusual graduation season, Grain Valley Schools delivered yard signs to seniors this week, and parents and community members have come up with several ways to honor graduates during this unusual time.
One such effort is a parade for Grain Valley High School seniors, planned for Sunday, May 17th at 4:00pm.
Stacey Perry, a parent of a 2020 graduate, explains that she and other parents were looking for an looking for a fun way to acknowledge their students’ hard work.
“Several people saw the parade idea on Facebook and after discussing it, decided to do it over the weekend (as opposed to the original May 19th graduation date) so that more people could participate,” Perry said.
The parade route will begin at Grain Valley High School, head east on SW Eagles Pkwy, turn south on Buckner Tarsney, west on SW Sni-A-Bar Blvd, and then turn east onto SW Eagles Pkwy/AA back to the high school. The public is encouraged to attend and cheer on the graduates. Additionally, individuals with convertibles, Jeeps, or parade-worthy cars willing to participate should contact Stacey Perry at 816-847-6856 or Stacey@PurplePeaceFoundation.org or Anita Aubuchon at 816-810-8226 or Auby27@gmail.com.
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