Couple visiting parents in Grain Valley find themselves at center of shooting incident at Scenic and Sawgrass
Update 10/20/22, 3:00pm: In a press release, the City of Grain Valley provided additional details beyond their initial statement via Facebook the afternoon of 10/19/2019:
"Officers discovered a 24-year-old male with gunshot wounds - who was later pronounced deceased at the scene. Firearms were located at the scene and three subjects were detained for questioning. Grain Valley Police Department detectives, with assistance from detectives from the Oak Grove Police Department, Jackson County Sheriff’s Department and Kansas City Police Department Crime Scene Unit processed the scene and interviews were conducted. It was determined that all persons involved knew each other and were staying in the residence where an argument preceded the shooting. This investigation is ongoing and once complete will be presented to the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office."
As reported the afternoon of October 19th, Grain Valley Police Department reported at approximately 1:00pm on Wednesday, October 19th that police were dispatched to a shooting on Scenic and Sawgrass that left one person deceased.
In a Facebook post at approximately 2:30pm on October 19th, Grain Valley Police reported officers were currently at the scene of the shooting. The statement said the investigation continues, but police are not searching for a subject and there is no threat to the public at this time.
While new details have yet to be released, Grain Valley News spoke with a couple who found themselves at the center of the tragedy yesterday.
Courtney Smith and James Smith, residents in the Truman Lake area, were in Grain Valley on business and to visit Courtney’s parents, who live in a neighboring duplex where the shooting took place.
The couple were outside visiting with Courtney’s mother and a friend, when they witnessed a white truck arrive on the scene and a verbal altercation begin. The Smiths said the truck then left, but they had a sense that there would be further trouble.
“There were loud arguments going on and the truck left, but it was obvious it would return given the threatening things being said,” Courtney Smith said.
They called to another neighbor whose children were in a vehicle to get the children inside.
The Smiths report a vehicle returned to the scene minutes later, where the apparent victim entered the home where the verbal altercation had just taken place. The Smiths then heard shooting from within the house.
Both of the Smiths heard hollering from the home and sprang into action. James Smith had a handgun and entered the home in an what he described as an attempt to help stop or disarm the individual shooting inside the home.
James described that he then saw Courtney, a nurse, run past him toward the basement where the shooting victim, identified by the Smiths as a young man in his 20s who had returned in the vehicle and enter the home, was located. Courtney Smith began administering CPR until police and paramedics arrived and ordered her aside.
According to Courtney Smith, the victim was not transported for care as he was deceased shortly after their arrival.
James Smith reported seeing two young men, appearing to be in their 20s, run from the scene following the shooting, with Smith calling to them to return. The men reportedly returned to the scene, one of the men referred to as the shooter of the man who entered the home and was shot in the basement, according to Smith. According to the Smiths, the young man who reportedly shot the individual who entered the home was placed under arrest.
James Smith was ordered to the ground by police and dropped his weapon while the scene was secured. The couple were later individually questioned and released by police. Courtney Smith had to relinquish the clothes she had been wearing to police as evidence, as they were bloodied following her attempts to administer CPR to the victim.
According to the Smiths, those at the scene as well as family members they later encountered stated the altercation was related to an intimate relationship between the victim and a woman associated with the home. Police remained on the scene late afternoon on October 19th as the Smiths, stating they were still in shock, left to return home.
“The neighborhood is pretty quiet. It’s scary to think that would happen near to my mom and dad. We were just outside, talking with a friend, and this happens. And today was very sad,” Courtney Smith said, her voice breaking. “The fact is that two young men lost their life today. One was shot and lost his life, and another arrested and his life is changed forever.”
The shooting incident took place the afternoon of October 19th in the area of NW Sawgrass Drive and NW Scenic Drive.
Construction began this week as crews began moving dirt at the location of a new fire station to be located at the corner of Duncan Road and Dillingham Road.
Tim Anderson, Deputy Chief of Operations for Central Jackson County Fire Protection District, said the process, which began with the approval of a tax levy increase and bond approval in early 2021, moved to the construction phase following the approval of bids at the end of August. "We decided on a design/build process to construct the station and McCown Gordon Construction was chosen in this process. We wrapped up the design phase of the project in early June of this year, and McCown Gordon sent the specifications out for bidding purposes for the construction of the station. They received the bids, and those bids were approved by our Board of Directors on August 30th, 2022. Construction mobilization began earlier this week with dirt being moved," Anderson said.
"We anticipate that construction will be completed by late September to early October of 2023 and anticipate being in the station in late October weather permitting. We will be staffing an engine and an ambulance out of the station, with storage for reserve apparatus and other ancillary equipment."
Ground will soon be broken on the south end of town for Mid-Continent Public Library's (MCPL) new branch. On Thursday, November 10, at 9:00am, Mid-Continent Public Library staff and local leaders will break ground on the new Grain Valley Branch at 400 SW Buckner Tarsney Road, The brand-new building will be located approximately a mile south of the current Grain Valley Branch at 101 SW Eagles Pkwy., which it will replace when it opens in late fall 2023.
The current Grain Valley Branch, located in a local storefront MCPL has leased since 2014, will remain open for services until construction of the new building is complete. As well as 4,000 additional square feet, the new building will offer customers a variety of upgraded amenities, including:
Also under construction, the new central office building for Grain Valley Schools is on schedule for a March 2023 opening. The new building is being constructed just south of the district's Dr. Amanda Allen, Deputy Superintendent, School and Community Services, reports the roof should be completed by the end of October, and exterior walls (brick and stone) are scheduled to be completed by the end of November.
Dirt began being moved this week at the site of a future fire station at the corner of Dillingham and Duncan roads in Grain Valley. Photo credit: Grain Valley News staff
The Board of Aldermen met briefly on Monday, October 10th, voting to approve the first reading of an ordinance which would adjust the city's three ward boundaries to account for population changes identified in the most recent census.
Alderman Arnold argued boundary changes should consider population based on registered voters. Federal law dictates wards must have substantial equality of population, which is generally interpreted as less than 10% deviation between the largest and small ward or district based on Census population data of all residents.
The board approved the first reading, with Arnold voting against the ordinance.
The board will meet for its next regularly scheduled board meeting on Monday, October 24th at 7:00pm.
The ladies of Xi Iota Phi, Chapter of Beta Sigma Phi, enjoyed our summer activities and meetings. The theme for Beta Sigma Phi, for this year, is Friends at Your Fingertips. Each month, members hosting our meetings, will give a talk on what this theme means to them.
We started the summer with our annual June weekend trip to the lake home of Linda and Jim Ebert. As always, it was a weekend filled with fun, food, lake activities and laughter.
Our June meeting was hosted by Linda Ebert and she talked about friends she’s had over the years and still has. July brought us to Cathy Talley’s home and she told us about 40 year friendships and special friends from yesterday and today. Our August meeting was at the home of Chris Smith who shared memories of nurse friends as well as many others. September took us to the home of Karen Lajaunie who told us about her childhood friends, work friends, and many others. We had a surprise “Grandma Baby Shower” for Lisa Addington who will soon become a grandma for the first time. Also, in September, we tested our pottery painting skills at the Pottery Palace in Grain Valley. It was a fun night and we all brought home a treasured piece.
Karen Sutton, our Woman of the Year, chose Eyes Right Here, a non-profit benefitting educators in the autism classes, as her charity donation.
We look forward to many more outings this Fall.
This month's Unsung Hero is Stephanie Kallas, whose work to bring therapy dogs into Grain Valley Schools and four dogs in outside districts, provided an avenue to honor her brother Michael.
When Kallas began working to bring therapy dogs into schools, she was the Behavior Interventionalist at North Middle School.
"I worked with students who were struggling with a lot of issues, but mainly it was working with students to help them when their emotions were big. A lot of times, I found myself thinking 'Gosh, if I could have a dog here to work with them', because I'd seen the power of that with my own kids."
For four years, Kallas worked with building and district administration, working through many hurdles in order to be able to begin training the first dog, Bruce, to work in the school. Bruce is a Woodle, a combination of a Wheaton Terrier and Poodle, both hypoallergenic breeds due to their lack of shedding.
Just as Kallas had completed training with Bruce and was preparing to start the school year, her older brother Michael passed away.
"He struggled with mental health his entire life, and the one time I ever saw him comfortable in his own skin was when he was with a dog."
The way to honor her brother's memory became clear when she began thinking about the lengthy path she endured to get Bruce into the school.
"There's got to be some way I can help teachers get a therapy dog, because it was a really long, hard journey. You don't know what you don't know until you start getting into it."
So Kallas began Michaels Peaceful Paws to help other teachers with the training, insurance, supplies, and medical costs involved in taking on a therapy dog. The nonprofit organization has assisted in the training and placement of therapy dogs at each of Grain Valley's schools, and each dog's name honors Kallas's brother in some way.
Bruce is named after Bruce Springsteen, one of Michael's favorite artists, and Norah at the Early Childhood Center is named for another favorite artist, Norah Jones. Harold, at Grain Valley High School, is named after their grandfather.
When Kallas first introduced Bruce, she thought he'd be working with "the 2-5% of students that really struggle with mental health issues".
"What I really saw was kids were really motivated to work because they got the reward of getting to work with him. Kids felt more regulated. Kids who struggled to get to school were getting to school because they were motivated to get to see him, and help make sure he had water in the morning. Kids who were home sick would email me and say, 'Please let Bruce know that I am home sick, and I'll see him tomorrow.'. It just shocked me how much of a difference he makes," Kallas said.
"There have been a few instances where kids had to receive bad news, and Bruce was able to be there with them."
Kallas, who receives 10-12 inquires a week from other teachers and districts interested in having their own therapy dogs, is now focused on creating resources for teachers and districts interested in bringing therapy dogs to their schools. In addition, Kallas is also interested in developing a certification program for therapy dogs to ensure the handlers understand what it takes to advocate and care for the dog.
"A dog can't say, 'I'm exhausted'. And they absorb all of emotions they're taking in during the day. I worry that it gets to be such a fad, that there are not the standards and protections needed for the dogs."
Kallas emphasizes that therapy dogs are not service dogs, who are highly trained to complete a set of tasks for one person. "Therapy dogs are simply pets who are trained to help a lot of people make their day better."
To learn more about Michaels Peaceful Paws and follow along with Bruce's adventures, follow Kallas and Bruce on Facebook at Michaels Peaceful Paws.
Stephanie Kallas with her therapy dog Bruce relax at the end of a school day at Grain Valley North Middle School. Photo credit: Valley News staff
Community Blood Center (CBC) is the primary provider of blood and blood components to 70 plus hospitals and medical centers in the Greater Kansas City region. CBC will conduct a life-saving blood drive on Friday, September 23rd at Grain Valley High School.
“When individuals normally think of essential community services, they often think about fire and police departments.” Patsy Shipley, Executive Director of Community Blood Center said. “Community Blood Center and its donors are very similar to police officers and fire fighters. We make up a life-saving team that is here to meet the needs of local patients. Our volunteer donors roll up their sleeves and do so without hesitation.”
Grain Valley individuals can help by donating blood at the blood drive on Friday, September 23rd from 7:30am to 12:30pm. The drive will be held at Grain Valley High School, 551 SW Eagles Parkway. Donors are encouraged to make an appointment by visiting savealifenow.org/group and using Group Code: KCR8. For additional details, contact Dawn Eblen at (816) 352-2342.
In the Greater Kansas City area, one in three people will need blood at some point in their life and nearly one in seven hospital admissions requires a blood transfusion. This means, nearly 600 donations are needed every day to meet hospital demand, and with a limited shelf life, supplies must be continually replenished.
For more information regarding our donor centers and mobile blood drives or how to set up your own drive, visit www.savealifenow.org or call 1-877-468-6844.
The River City Players are calling all actors with or without experience. We will hold auditions for its Fortieth Anniversary Season fall mystery, The Pen is Deadlier by Fred Carmichael on Wednesday, September 7th from 6:00pm to 8:00pm; Thursday, September 8th from 6:00pm to 8:00pm and Monday, September 12th, 2022 from 6:30pm to 8:00pm.
Auditions will be held at the Trails Regional Library in their meeting room downstairs. Please enter through the backdoor for auditions. The library is located at 1008 Main Street, Lexington, MO 64067. Note: For more info, please visit our website: www.rcplayers.org or call or text Sharon at (816) 877-7114.
Audition nights also provide an opportunity to come out, meet the director, and express your interest in helping out backstage, be it in the role of a stage manager, lights & sound operator, concessions, or whatever else you might like to do.
Overview of the play:
This exciting mystery contains two murders with ever mounting excitement and explores the fascinating psychological overtones and undertones that impel the murder to the crime. Atop one of the fashionable Hollywood Hills, Clair Clarendon, top gossip columnist, reigns supreme over her helpless targets. Their lives and loves are ruled by her pen and it is not surprising that all of them could wish her dead. Ideal for college and little theatre groups, as it provides superb acting assignments for the whole cast. Audiences attending this play's premiere performances at the Dorset Playhouse, Vermont, were loud and long in their applause.
Horton, a young man in his late twenties, incisive and with a sharp sense of humor.
Mrs. Griggs, a middle-aged housekeeper.
Clair Clarendon, a sharp brittle and brilliant woman, knows what she wants and gets it.
Phyllis, early twenties, attractive, but somehow shy.
Virginia Marrow, young and extremely beautiful.
George O. Grenoff, an aging director with a sarcastic sense of humor born of his lack of great success.
Isabel Ilsley, no longer a leading lady, but still extremely beautiful in a hardened way.
Wilma Hood, a former ingenue but now with the lines and bulges of middle age.
Jeff Oxford, early thirties and very attractive in a “pretty boy” way.
Lieutenant Maples, a detective.
With fall just around the corner, plans for the Grain Valley Fair are coming together. The Fair will be held on the grounds behind Armstrong Park and the Community Center on Friday, September 9th and Saturday, September 10th. The Grain Valley Fair Community Parade will begin at 2:00pm on Saturday, September 10th.
Joe's Old Fashioned Family Fun Carnival will return again this year, and plans to bring two new rides, including a ferris wheel. The carnival also plans to include photo booths, and will be able to accept credit/debit cards along with cash for carnival tickets.
MO Country will be running the Beer Garden and plan to expand on the selection offered in the past.
According to Fair board member Mike Todd, there will be plenty of food options for fair goers. "Food Truck Alley will be full of some of our favorite trucks from Food Truck Friday, plus Burger Barn from Crossroads Church, and Joeshmoes will be partnering with First Baptist Church to bring some goodies.
In addition to a variety of crafts and vendors, a full weekend of entertainment is planned.
"We have a great music selection both Friday and Saturday including bringing back music all day long on Saturday this year. Great local bands including Grindstone and Dan Strack and the Pro Pickers. Plus, top regional acts The Steve Miller Experience, Poison Overdose, and Almost Kiss in full makeup," Todd said.
For more information on the Grain Valley Fair, visit http://www.grainvalleyfair.org or follow the Fair on Facebook (@grainvalleyfair).
Pastor Shawna Meierarend was appointed July 1st to serve at Faith United Methodist Church (UMC) at 1950 SW Eagles Parkway. Meierarend brings her experience working as a hospital chaplain at both Centerpoint and Research Medical Center. Meierarend also served as the Director of Congregational Life at Faith, providing congregational care, guiding the children’s ministry, and raising up new leaders in the church.
Meierarend is married to Wally Meierarend, and they have four grown children and four grandchildren.
“Our vision at Faith UMC is to create a place, a purpose, and a passion for all people. Pastor Shawna is a witness to this vision in so many ways,” Senior Pastor MIke Cassidy said.
“A longtime member of Faith, Pastor Shawna started volunteering in care ministry a few years ago. Because Faith had a place for her to experience a sense of purpose, she discovered her passion for caring for others in Christ’s name. The opportunity to preach followed soon after, with Pastor Shawna proving her unique perspective on scripture and a life in faith. We are thrilled to have a woman in the pulpit again in our community. It has been 20 years since Cheryl Bernard served at Faith. Pastor Shawna is an example to so many that there is a place for them as pastoral leaders in Christian ministry. She brings heart, passion, and a deep faith not only to our congregation, but also to the Grain Valley community.”
Faith UMC has been a part of Grain Valley since 1889. You can find Faith UMC online at valleyfaith.church.
Pastor Shawna Meierarend was appointed July 1st to serve at Faith United Methodist Church at 1950 SW Eagles Parkway. Photo courtesy: Faith UMC/Shawna Meierarend
Truman Heartland Community Foundation (THCF) has announced this year's Citizen of the Year honorees, selected by area mayors. Grain Valley Mayor Michael Todd has selected Robert (Bob) Headley as the 2022 Citizen of the Year.
Todd's nomination of Headley emphasized his impact on the City through his service as Alderman for eight terms:
"Robert (Bob) Headley selflessly served the City of Grain Valley in many volunteer capacities over his sixteen years as an elected official. His time as an Alderman for Ward 3 consisted of eight terms ending in April 2022. He was part of the board that steered and provided input that pushed the I-70 interchange project to completion, including securing funding for nearly $20 million in improvements. In 2022, before his final term expired, a $14 million bond issue for a new Police Station was approved, which was ultimately approved by voters. Bob believed in growth and preparing the city for future needs. Bob has been a big proponent of Parks and Recreation and has served as the Parks Board liaison for the Board of Aldermen for numerous years. Bob's presence and thoughtful decisions will forever be a part of Grain Valley's story."
The recipients will be recognized at the 27th Annual Toast to Our Towns Gala, presented by Blue Ridge Bank and Trust Company, on Saturday, September 24, 2022, beginning at 6:00 p.m. at the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center.
Area mayors chose these local philanthropists and volunteers because they lend their time, talents, and position to promote their communities. Although their areas of impact are varied, all of the Citizens of the Year honorees are united by a common goal, improving and enriching their local communities.
For more information about Toast to Our Towns Gala sponsorship opportunities, table reservations, tickets, or those being honored, please visit https://www.thcf.org/Toast-to-Our-Towns-Gala/2022-Sponsorship-Opportunities or call 816.836.8189.