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Observer Corps Report

Eileen Marshall | Published on 8/3/2021

Johnson County Board of County Commissioners

Meeting dates: June 17, 2021 through July 1, 2021 (most recent appears first)

Observers: Lenore Rowe, Joan Gilson, Jerry Gilson, Kathleen Morrow, Karen Wiederaenders, Rebecca James

July 1, 2021

The Board now meets in person with limited seating in the meeting room. People may sign up the day of the meeting by 9:30 AM to make public comments. 

Go to, to see meetings. COVID-19 questions? Call 913-715-CV19 (2819) Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. or go to For weekly COVID-19 updates sign up here:  

The Board voted to authorize the Mental Health Center to add two full-time Clinician positions and four full-time Case Manager positions in the amount of $226,000, and an addendum for the FY2021 budget.

Dr. Areola reported that 49.2% of Johnson County residents are fully vaccinated. He also reported on the new Johnson County Health and Environment mobile unit, acquired through the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. The mobile unit will enable the Health Department to attain a wider presence in the community for all kinds of vaccinations and health education. The County continues to experience COVID-19 outbreaks (213 in the last two weeks) among the unvaccinated and a few breakthrough cases. 

Commissioner Hanzlick congratulated Darrell Reese, recent undersheriff appointee, noting his long dedication to the mitigation of domestic violence in the County. 

The Board will meet for a study session on the County Climate Action Plan. Annual precipitation has increased from 38.8” to 44.6” this year; average temperatures from 56.5 to 64.4 degrees. Fifty five percent of county facilities operate on wind power. Report available here. BOCC SS CAP presentation 7.1.21 for publishing.pptx

June 24, 2021

The County Economic Research Institute (CERI) report indicates that as of April 21 the unemployment rate in Johnson County is 2.7%. The real (inflation adjusted) change in home prices is up 13.2%, year to date. Taxable retail sales are up 13.4%.


Commissioner Eilert noted issues with potential conflict of interest concerning public comments made on Planning Commission items which may later arise before the Board, specifically with regard to the environmental impact of the planned solar farm on the Johnson/Douglas county border. 

The Board of County Commissioners establishes the following four priorities for the period 2021-2022 and acknowledges there are core functions and responsibilities that continue to be priorities of Johnson County Government.

  1. Assess, advance and implement strategic capital planning and resulting major projects with efficiency and effectiveness. 

  2. Develop a forward-thinking transit approach that connects the community and serves vulnerable populations.

  3. Strengthen and finance the appropriate level of service to meet the needs of the county’s vulnerable populations and create conditions that promote community health.

  4. Provide an ongoing focus to develop innovative initiatives and policies, across the organization and community, that enhance operational effectiveness and efficiency, levels of customer service, and stewardship.

June 17, 2021

The Board approved Resolution No. 042-21, a capital project for hazardous material abatement and razing for the Kuhlman Diecasting property near 164th and Mission Rd not to exceed $725,000 in cost. 

The Board approved the publication of the proposed budget for fiscal year 2022 in the amount of $1,448,443,368, which will exceed the revenue neutral rate. A public hearing will be held Aug. 23, 6 PM in the Board chambers. Chairperson Eilert noted that sales tax revenue is currently 3% over plan. 


The new chief counsel for the county is Peggy Trent.

Johnson County 2021 Charter Commission

June 14, 2021

Submitted by Alleen VanBebber and Eileen Marshall

Meeting was held via Zoom and is viewable by the public via Facebook. 21 members were present at roll call. The Commission will be meeting at the KU Edwards Campus beginning on June 23rd. 

Chairman Musil called attention to the tentative schedule of subjects for future meetings. “County Government 101” presentations will continue through August 25, with the first possible public forum on September 13. Again, this is a tentative schedule.

Presentations on the following county departments were given:

  • Planning/Housing/Community Development – Jay Leipzig

  • Corrections – Robert Sullivan

  • Emergency Management – Ellen Wernicke

  • Med-Act – Paul Davis

Upon questioning, these managers brought no charter issues to the group. The following non-charter issues were raised:

  • Affordable housing

  • Public transit – its future and sustainability in the county

  • Strong correlation between drug use and crime in the county

  • Housing insecurity among formerly incarcerated persons

  • Challenges hiring enough EMS personnel 

June 23, 2021

Submitted by Alleen VanBebber and Eileen Marshall

Meeting was held in person at the KU Edwards campus, with some members attending via Zoom, and was viewable by the public via Facebook. Twenty-four members were present at roll call.

Presentations on the following county departments were given:

  • Library – Sean Casserly

  • Parks & Recreation – Jeff Stewart

  • Appraiser – Beau Boisvert

Upon questioning, these managers brought no charter issues to the group. However, Mr. Hutchins questioned the Appraiser closely about being an appointed official instead of an elected one.

To access any of the Charter Commission documents, click here.

Johnson County Parks and Recreation Board

June 16, 2021

Submitted by Diane Pickett

A JoCo resident expressed displeasure at a gathering that was recently held at Shawnee Mission Park, stating that the American flag was displayed with other flags with disrespectful messages/connotations. He questioned if that was permitted. Attorneys for the board stated that this was a protected First Amendment right and was allowed. Park personnel were aware of it and stated that this group did not exceed the noise ordinance.

Financial results for the Parks were presented, and due to COVID, YTD 2021 figures were compared to 2019. Revenues for the first 5 months of 2021 are slightly lagging 2019, while expenses are significantly higher in 2021 compared to the same time period in 2019. 

Matt Garrett, Field Biologist for the JCPRD, presented a natural resource plan update. JCPRD operates and maintains over 10,000 acres of land in parks, golf courses and recreation facilities that are visited by millions of people each year. Invasive plant removal is occurring at Ernie Miller and Shawnee Mission Parks. Native seed is being purchased for the Parks, two new prairie areas are being developed at Shawnee Mission Park, and inter-seeding is being done at Big Bull Creek.

The first 4.4 miles of single-track trails at Cedar Niles Park opened for public use Memorial Day weekend. Access is available at 127th and Clare Rd.

Theater in the Park launched the 2021 season with Mama Mia on June 4th

Mary MacMurray, Ph.D., Director of the Johnson County Museum, announced a recent national award for the Museum and reported on the exhibits and camps that have been held at the Museum. 

To read more, click here.


Johnson County Library Board

July 8, 2021

Submitted by Karen Wulfkuhle


The Johnson County Library Board and the Sheriff’s Office approved a memorandum of understanding

whereby the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office will provide physical security services. 


Library Construction Update

Central – A major remodeling is underway at Central Library.  Limited service continues; however a temporary closure is slated for August 2-15 for electrical work.  Anticipated reopening is 1st quarter 2022.


Antioch – The design phase has started for the Antioch replacement.  Public input is being collected. The existing Antioch facility will close 2nd quarter 2023 and the new library is set to open the following quarter.


Blue Valley – The Capital Library Master plans timeline shows replacement of Blue Valley 2023-2026. 

Corinth – Replacement of Corinth Library is on the plan for 2026-2029.


To read more, click here.

Shawnee Mission School Board

June 14, 2021 [Workshop]

Submitted by Lisa Bonds

The administration reviewed the district’s five strategies, which are two years old: 

  • Develop personalized learning opportunities  

  • Create an equitable and inclusive culture

  • Cultivate quality educators 

  • Design systems to support mission and beliefs 

  • Focus resources on state of the art facilities to accomplish the mission and objectives 

The board also discussed the use of YouTube to broadcast the board meetings. YouTube removed the May meeting because the public comments did not meet the platform’s community standards. If the district’s content fails this standard again it will be blocked from using the platform. The board is considering using a different platform for the public comments only and continuing to use YouTube for the rest of the meeting. Or they could use a different platform for both the public comments and the rest of the meeting. Some board members stated that the public comments would not have to be broadcast at all. Some of the reasons to continue to use YouTube are that it is free, it can broadcast live, it is available to most people, and it has automatic closed captioning. On the other hand it limits the speech of some commenters. 


June 28, 2021

Submitted by Lisa Bonds


The public comment period opened the meeting; as in past meetings anti-mask and anti-vaccination dominated the comments with CRT [Critical Race Theory] mentioned for the first time. The speaker wanted the district’s mission statement changed since it encourages inclusion. 

The board approved a $600 bonus for each staff member who will be returning for the 2021-2022 school year and they agreed to a 1.45% increase for administrators’ salaries. The members also agreed to allow the district to exceed the mill levy. The board was informed that both property and cyber insurance premiums are increasing, and approved the increased cost. Superintendent Fulton said the agreement with the city of Shawnee for School Resource Officers was routine; however board member Hembree voiced concerns and voted against the agreement. She asked for more data. 

To read more, click here.

Lenexa City Council

June 15, 2021

Submitted by Ellen Miller

Grassroots group saves Lenexa swimming pool

Lenexa City Council’s unanimous vote on June 15 to keep Ad Astra swimming pool open was a response to citizen appeals. A consultant study had called for its closure in 2023, citing access to Indian Trails pool (1.1 miles away in Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park) and the ongoing costs of Ad Astra’s decades-long structural problems (located at 82nd and Maurer). 

The Ad Astra Pool Coalition acted. Their message?  The pool is a neighborhood crown jewel. A dozen neighbors told the City Council of its use by all ages and families. Kids regularly bike or walk to the pool. Its importance as a social gathering spot, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, was emphasized. 

In the future, three factors will affect Lenexa’s three swimming pools:

  1. Indian Trails, a centrally located pool, will become Lenexa’s top aquatic facility.

  2. It will take staff time and new funds to identify Ad Astra’s next phase.

  3. All plans must fit into Lenexa’s Vision 2040 --

July 6, 2021

Submitted by Ellen Miller

Lenexans, mark your calendars for the August 24 public hearing on the city’s 2022 budget. State law requires a public hearing when the proposed property tax rate would result in a budget that is not “revenue neutral”. For 2022, the estimated new property tax rate would exceed the allowable 27.232 “revenue neutral” rate by 1.710 mills. The proposed total would be 28.942 mills. However, that’s 0.3 mills lower than for the 2021 budget. The public hearing is at 7:00 p.m. at Lenexa City Hall, 17101 W. 87th St. Parkway, 66219. 

To read more, click here.

Prairie Village City Council

June 21, 2021

Submitted by Nancy Kalikow Maxwell

The Council met virtually. Several council members and the mayor reported on the successful Prairie Village Art Walk and Juneteenth Celebrations held over the weekend. Following a presentation from the Bird Scooter Company, the Council directed staff to prepare a Memo of Understanding for their consideration to possibly implement a pilot scooter program. The City Administrator announced that upcoming Council agenda items and presentations will include: July 6, marijuana enforcement; July 19, affordable housing; and August 1, Climate Action KC. 


July 6, 2021

Submitted by Eileen Marshall

The Council met via Zoom, with public viewing via Facebook.

A public hearing will be held during the regular council meeting on September 7, 2021 to discuss the City’s intent to exceed the “revenue-neutral rate” for the coming year. The public hearing is a new requirement due to a new state law. The City will be exceeding the revenue-neutral rate because property values have risen and the mil levy has not changed.

The council discussed a legal review requested earlier and prepared by the City Attorney regarding decriminalizing marijuana in Prairie Village. To summarize a long discussion, the City cannot do very much within the context of current state law. The Diversity Committee will take up this subject, and it could be added to the legislative priority list.

Council approved revised HR policies for paid parental leave, increases to military leave, and the designation of Juneteenth and Christmas Eve as paid holidays.

To read more, click here.

Shawnee City Council

June 28, 2021

Submitted by Rose Reicherts

Council voted to add a part-time staff person to assist in the operation of Shawnee Storm, which is a group of 55 athletes from special populations. It provides adaptive recreation and assists with the Special Olympics of Kansas. Thirty-two of the athletes are from Shawnee, with the remainder from other Johnson County cities.

To read more, click here.