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Observer Corp Report

Eileen Marshall | Published on 8/31/2021

Johnson County Board of County Commissioners

Meeting dates: July 22, 2021 through Aug. 5, 2021 (most recent appears first)

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


The Board now meets in person with limited seating in the meeting room. Go to, to see meetings.  COVID questions? Call  913-715-CV19 (2819) Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. or go to weekly  COVID-19 updates sign up here:  People may sign up the day of the meeting by 9:30 AM to make public comments, and speakers will go in order of virtual, previously registered, and finally, registered day of the meeting.


August 5, 2021

The Board approved Health Order No. 001-21, mandating masks in all school buildings and buses for adults and grades up to and including grade 6.


July 29, 2021            

The new website for Aging and Human services is up. This improved resource offers information and 24/7 access to services, featuring a prominent on-line intake button that allows clients and family members to easily begin the process of obtaining assistance for aging family and friends. Click here to view.


The vote canvass for the Aug. 3 primary is Monday, August 9, 2021, at 9 AM.


Dr. Areola reported that COVID19 infections are increasing in younger people, ages 0-29, along with rates of hospitalization.


July 22, 2021

Chairperson Eilert signed an agreement with Kansas for a procurement plan for a nutrition program for the Johnson County Juvenile Detention Center.  CERI Report Unemployment is at 3.0%; inflation adjusted housing cost are up 19.3% for the year. Go tohttps://CERIReportfor the full report.

Johnson County 2021 Charter Commission

July 12, 2021

Submitted by Alleen VanBebber and Eileen Marshall

Meeting was held in person at the county administration building in Olathe, with some members attending via Zoom, and was viewable by the public via Facebook Live.

Presentations on the following county departments were given:

  • Developmental Supports – Chad VonAhnen

  • Aging and Human Services – Deborah Collins

  • Mental Health – Tim DeWeese

  • Health & Environment – Sanmi Areola

Upon questioning, these managers brought no charter issues to the group. All said that there is nothing in the charter or current management structure that impedes their ability to fulfill their mission.

July 28, 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 Live.

First public forum is scheduled for September 13. See the full meeting schedule.

Presentations on the following county departments were given:

  • Budget and Financial Planning  - Scott Neufeld

  • Election office – Fred Sherman

  • Financial Management & Administration – Brent Christensen

  • Treasury, Taxation & Vehicles (TTV)– Thomas Franzen, County Treasurer

Budget and Financial Planning – Mr. Neufeld brought up one minor and very technical potential charter change. The current charter specifies that the Budget department shall present a plan for the capital improvement and financing program to county commissioners (BOCC) by May 1 every year. Although they have been abiding by this rule, these items are part of the regular budget process, and a presentation by May 1 is often redundant. Mr. Neufeld suggested this specific requirement is not needed and could be eliminated to make the overall budget process more efficient. 

TTV – Treasurer Thomas Franzen reminded the commission that the adoption of the Charter in 2000 changed the following positions from elected officials to appointees of the County Manager:

  • Treasurer

  • County Clerk

  • Register of Deeds

Mr. Franzen asserted that this change, plus the combination of the three areas into one department, has enabled more efficient and effective operations. No charter issues.

To learn more, check out the Charter Commission’s website here.

Olathe School Board

July 15, 2021

Submitted by Cindy Hicks

The Olathe School Board met for its first meeting of the new school year. The Board approved the positions of Board President, Vice President and Clerk for the 21-22 school year. The Olathe School District’s new Superintendent, Dr. Brent Yeager, confirmed for the board that critical race theory has not been and is not a part of the curriculum. 

August 5, 2021

Submitted by Cindy Hicks

The Olathe School Board met on August 5 for its regular monthly meeting. For the first 2 ½ hours the topic of masks was discussed, first by public comments, a presentation from the Johnson County health department and then the board. The board passed the following motion: “the Olathe Public School District extend Johnson County Health Order No. 001-21 to include Grades 9-12 and that the extension be subject to review at the regularly scheduled October Board of Education meeting”. Also presented at the meeting was an update on Early Childhood Learning, the School Administration’s revised strategic goals and the proposed school district budget. The public hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled for September 2, 2021.

To learn more, click here.

Shawnee Mission School Board

July 26th, 2021

Submitted by Lisa Bonds 

For the last time the meeting started with public comments; the wearing of masks again dominated this part of the meeting with the majority of comments against required masks. The board’s first decision addressed the mask issue. Two options were put before the board; they approved 6-1 to require masks for elementary students instead of only recommending unvaccinated people wearing masks. Vaccinated staff at the elementary schools may work without masks, but all outside visitors to elementary schools must wear masks. All bus riders will be required to wear masks, but masks will not be required outdoors. Brad Statton voted against the policy. Elementary schools will continue to social distance. [Editor’s note: the Board of County Commissioners now requires masks to be worn by everyone in school buildings attended by students up to and including sixth grade, unless a person has an approved medical exemption.]

Then the board turned to the issue of public comments potentially getting the school district kicked off of YouTube. The board decided that the public comment portion of meetings will be separate from the regular board meeting; therefore these comments will not be broadcast over YouTube. The board discussed lengthening the comment period from thirty to sixty minutes, but it failed to pass. Jamie Borgman and Jessica Hembree both voted against these changes. 

To learn more, click here.

Lenexa City Council

July 20, 2021

Submitted by Ellen Miller

After 3+ years of public input, needs assessments and financial review, Lenexa City Council has authorized design work for the new Justice Center. The public safety facility will be located on city-owned land in the city’s geographic center at Prairie Star Parkway and Britton.

The $70 million multipurpose Justice Center’s architecture would complement the new Civic Center complex. Features include:

  • Police and Fire departmental headquarters, training facilities, a communications unit, Municipal Court and a firing range.

  • Community meeting room

  • 115,000 square feet 

  • 40-year life expectancy

Special emphasis will be placed on environmental and employee well-being. It is envisioned as a community gathering place. Lenexa’s City Council oversaw a thoughtful step-by-step planning process that will culminate in a major community service center for decades to come. 

To learn more, click here.

Overland Park City Council

July 12, 2021

Submitted by Nancy Allen

The OP City council met virtually on Monday July 12, 2021. Mayor Gerlach and Councilman Thompson were not in attendance. There will be a public hearing on the 2022 budget at the City Council Chamber September 13, 2021. Farmers’ Market is having a record year!

July 26, 2021

Submitted by Nancy Allen

The OP City council met virtually on Monday July 26, 2021. Mayor Gerlach was absent. The Mid-America Regional Council Annual Report has been published

To learn more, click here.

Prairie Village City Council 

July 19, 2021

Submitted by Nancy Kalikow Maxwell

The Prairie Village City Council met virtually on Monday, July 19, 2021. Julie Brewer from United Community Services presented the results of their recent housing study demonstrating the need for additional affordable housing in Johnson County. (The average home sale price in the county is currently $394,000.) The Mayor announced that an Ad Hoc Housing Committee will be formed to make housing recommendations. It was also reported that the city’s Diversity Committee will be investigating the housing issue and that the Mid-America Regional Council will be looking at the issue from a bi-state perspective. 

August 2, 2021

Submitted by Nancy Kalikow Maxwell

The Prairie Village City Council met virtually on Monday, August 2, 2021. The Mayor updated the Council on the formation of a Housing Committee to be led by Council member Ian Graves. He further reported that the Covid vaccination rate in the city continues to rise and that masks are now required for employees in City Hall. Following extensive discussion, the Council voted 8-2 to direct staff to draft an ordinance by the next meeting that would put in place a Prairie Village mask mandate for indoor spaces. The Council further voted 9-1 to urge individuals and businesses to follow CDC Guidelines for masking.   

To learn more, click here.