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Observer Corps Report

Eileen Marshall | Published on 1/31/2023

Johnson County Board of Commissioners

Dec. 15, 2022 through Jan. 12, 2023 (most recent listed first)

Observers: Rebecca James, Lenore Rowe, Jerry Gilson, Joan Gilson


To access information about our BOCC meetings including live broadcasts, the calendar and how to contact commissioners, visit the BOCC meetings page.


Change in Public Comment Live-Streaming:  For detailed information on registering for public comments, submitting written public comments and our speaking guidelines, go to the BOCC public comment page. Public comments are now accepted in person or in writing, but as of Jan. 12 comments will no longer be live streamed, accepted on Zoom or recorded, which has resulted in a more decorous, less repetitive meeting. Public comments will still be live streamed and recorded on action agenda items.


Jan. 12, 2023


Newly elected Chairperson Mike Kelly presided.


Volunteers Needed:  The Homeless Point in Time Project, Jan 25-27, needs volunteers to assist with the count of those struggling with homelessness. Sign up at the United Community Services website.


Jan. 16, 2023 was proclaimed as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.


Commissioner Ashcraft offered a motion to change the new rule about Public Comments. Kelly ruled it out of order; Ashcraft offered a motion to override the ruling, which was voted down. O’Hara threatened to bring the matter before Attorney General Kobach.


Chair Kelly noted that Commissioners’ comments and discussion will be held after the motion is seconded, rather than before or during as was previous practice. This additional change to procedure seems to avoid repetitive comments and posturing by a minority of commissioners, providing a more efficient platform for communication and action on County matters.


The 2023 Johnson County Citizens’ Academy, a highly worthwhile introduction to County departments and processes, is now accepting applications; the deadline is Feb 15. The application is on the County website.  


Republicans still hold a supermajority in both chambers of the state legislature. Dan Hawkins is the new Speaker of the House, Chris Croft is the majority leader. The State of the State Address has been postponed to Jan. 24th because of the Governor’s COVID-19. The Governor and the legislature agree on speeding up the reduction of grocery sales tax. Talk is circulating to increase the cap on state tax on social security benefits.


Commissioner O’Hara attempted to read aloud the names of all public commenters into the record, but the livestream paused. Commissioner Allenbrand noted that broadband and financial assistance for that service for older Johnson Countians are now available in Spring Hill. Chairperson Kelly thanked the management staff for bringing him up to speed and noted that the Committee of the Whole will meet to discuss the rules for meeting procedures, reminding the Board and the public that taxpayers are funding all staff time taken up by public comments. The state legislature and the County only accept comments on items on the agenda; there are no open comment sessions. The Chair and the Board will take phone calls, emails, and visits from residents on all matters pertinent to County functioning.


 Jan. 5, 2023


Chairperson Eilert Retires:  In appreciation of Chairperson Eilert’s service, a number of notable Johnson Countians spoke, including attorney Len Michelson, newspaper publisher Steve Rose, Robert Regnier, DA Steve Howe and Fred Logan, and the Board declared Jan. 5 as Ed Eilert Appreciation Day. Other public commenters asked that the Mission Health Dept. Office be reopened and gave false information about COVID-19 vaccines


Affordable Housing:  Peg Trent, County Council, provided information on the tax implications for the Wiswell Farms Rural Housing Incentive District in Spring Hill, 387 attainable single-family homes and possibly 180 units of multi-family housing. Studies indicate that the project will result in no adverse impact to school districts. For more information go to .


The Board approved the following appointments:

  • Jennifer Day – First District Representative to the Museum Advisory Council

  • Sheila Albers – First District Representative to the Juvenile Corrections Advisory Board

  • Lesa Patterson-Kinsey – First District Representative to the Consolidated Fire District No. 2

The Board approved the following items:

  • The development plan for outdoor storage for Lawn & Landscape Solution at 20924 Floyd Street

  • Gardner’s application for a final development plan and for rezoning for Santa Fe Self Storage near Santa Fe Street and Cedar Niles Road, within a mile of New Century AirCenter.

  • The final plat for 23 residential lots, Blue Valley at Loch Lloyd, at 175th Street and Kenneth Road

  • A planned single-family infill (underutilized land) residential district, for Mills Villas development at the corners of 167th Street and Quivira Road, Overland Park within one mile of the Johnson County Executive Airport.

  • Agreements between Johnson County and De Soto for law enforcement services in 2023 by the Sheriff’s Office (it is too late this year for the salary increases, but they will be applied next year). The discussion covered the possibility of these cities creating their own police departments, actually with assigned Sheriff’s deputies, but these local governments do not have the tax revenue to do so now.

  • An agreement with Gardner School District No. 231, allowing the Emergency Medical Director to assist the school district by training personnel to administer opioid antagonists. Also, the Director of the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment was authorized to make similar agreements with other public or private school districts or local governments.

  • Johnson County Mental Health Center’s acceptance of the Kansas 988 Operational grant from the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) for $1,200,000 to provide 24-hour coverage for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

  • A service agreement between the Johnson County Mental Health Center and Overflow Storytelling Lab, LLC to provide a story campaign and community mobilization efforts for Phase 5 of the #ZeroReasonsWhy campaign (the total program also funded by the school districts).

  • An agreement with Atmos Energy to relocate gas utilities necessary for the 199th Street Shoulder Safety and Structural Improvement Project between Clare Road and US-169 Highway.

  • A Construction Inspection Services Contract for the Data Acquisition Project with George Butler Associates.

CERI:  County Economic Research Institute indicators for December provided the following information: The unemployment rate for October 2022 was 2.4%, compared to 2.1% in October, 2021, a 0.3% increase. The number of single-family homes sold in October 2022 was 784, compared to 961 in October 2021, a 18.4% decrease.


The Board and Staff presented Eilert with a gavel. Commissioner Fast recognized the efforts of the Church of the Resurrection in bringing together community members who disagree with one another for amicable discussions.


Dec. 15, 2022


Public Comments:  A public commenter thanked the Board for establishing a mental health court. Another commenter continued to present false information about vaccines.


Appointments: The Board approved the reappointment of Christopher Leitch to the Public Art Commission and Annabeth Surbaugh, Pat Colloton, Michael McCulloch, Stephen Tatum, Mark Keating, Simon Happer, Julie Brewer, Lee Jost, and Erik Erazo as Chairperson’s Representatives to the Criminal Justice Advisory Council. The Board also approved the reappointments of Julie Brewer and Richard S. Kaiser, Jr. as Chairperson’s Representatives to the Community Corrections Advisory Board.


Board Actions:  

  • The Board canceled outstanding County-issued checks at least two years old and approved subscription renewals with SHI International Corporation (cybersecurity) for $181,630.85.


  • The Board authorized a contract with Mission Electronics, Inc. for Audio Visual Technology Upgrades at the Justice Annex building at 588 E. Santa Fe Street.


  • The Board prohibited truck traffic on certain roads in Gardner, Olathe and Spring Hill (Lone Elm, Hedge Lane and other roads). Additional consequences will be addressed.


  • The Board approved property and liability insurance policies for 2023, for $2,990,610. (The increased amount represents a national trend for higher claims.)


  • An enlargement to the Consolidated Main Sewer District at 18475 Mission Road, Overland Park Fire Station 411, was approved.


  • After a public hearing, the Board approved a loan application by the Wastewater General Manager from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) to partially finance the Nelson Wastewater Treatment Facility Improvements project. 


  • The Board declared certain real property at New Century AirCenter (once part of the Naval Air Station) as surplus and will request releases from the FAA and the Defense Department. They also approved a real estate contract with the State to buy about 17.67 acres, to transfer 10.097 acres, and to reimburse KDOT for $4 million to construct or move existing facilities. (The FAA has upgraded this airport to “National” status.)


  • A contract amendment with Burns and McDonnell for on-call airport engineering services was approved. A contract with Stanger Industries, Inc. for HVAC work at the Criminalistic Laboratory in Olathe was also approved.


  • The Mental Health Department will add 21 FTE positions for the Johnson County Mental Health Center. A member of the public commented on the value of mental health services and the need to support these assets. Chairperson Eilert noted that the County has 21 beds available for crisis stabilization services and that a staff of 75 is needed for 24/7 operation. These services must be fully staffed at all times.


  • Additional funds for the Johnson County Square Phase 2 project were approved. Olathe is providing 50% of the current funding. Commissioner Hanzlick asked that a committee be formed to work with private partners for funding these improvements.


  • Funds from Reserves were approved to cover increased employee payouts for vacation and sick leave, and to reimburse Overland Park for costs associated with their 911 system.


  • The Board approved the purchase of 350 Glock handguns, holsters, and related attachments from GT Distributors, Inc. using forfeiture funds. The seller will take back the weapons and provide a purchase discount. The weapons will probably be resold.


  • The Board approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the Northwest Consolidated Fire District for partially funding a fire station in the former Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant (Panasonic).


Mental Health Spotlight:  The Friends of Johnson County Developmental Services were spotlighted for their affordable housing fundraising efforts and for a design project in partnership with  J. E. Dunn and the Net Positive Studio (Kansas State University). Seventeen Architecture graduate students created designs for affordable housing in Overland Park and Merriam, and today 19 homes are operating, with plans for three more when funds are raised.


Community Survey:  The Community Survey was updated to include an item on rental vs ownership of homes.

Blue Valley School Board Meeting

Jan. 9, 2023

Observer: Ann Schuster

The meeting was called to order at 6:00 by President Patrick Hurley following a short musical presentation by the BV Southwest High School Quartet.

The sole Board Advisory Committee report given was by the Facilities Committee. Of note is that land is being purchased for a middle school near Wolf Springs Elementary and close to the Overland Park Arboretum.

Board President Hurley reminded those in attendance of the upcoming bond election. Ballots are to be sent out on Tuesday, Jan. 10 and returned by Jan. 31.

Proposals for several course additions to the Auto Maintenance curriculum at the Blue Valley Academy were then outlined in the New Business section of the meeting.

The board then voted to approve two resolutions, one to approve the dates of next year’s Board meetings and another to move the election of Board officers to June.

The meeting was adjourned at 6:45 p.m.

To learn more, click here.

Prairie Village City Council 

Dec. 19, 2022

Observer: Eileen Marshall

The Council met in person at 6:00 p.m., with public viewing in person or via Facebook Live. All members were present, with one attending via Zoom.

One resident spoke during the public comment period, urging the “saving” of the handball courts at the PV YMCA in the event the building is abandoned.  (There are no known plans to abandon the building at this time.)

A lengthy discussion regarding the possibility of building a community center in collaboration with the YMCA of Greater Kansas City (“the Y”) took up most of the meeting. The agenda item was simply to authorize a “re-run” of the survey taken in 2019 (before the pandemic) to re-assess the interest of the public in having and paying for such a facility. There appears to be significant opposition by some members to working with the Y even at this very early stage, but the motion to give the go-ahead for the survey passed 7-5.

The council approved an expansion of the exterior grant program, which affords residents a match on certain exterior projects. Council also approved the renewal of the sustainability grant program begun in 2022, which provides a match on certain projects that reduce a household’s carbon footprint.

To learn more, click here.