Merriam residents living near three railroad crossings should notice a significant reduction in train noise after the BNSF Railway activates new horns that focus sound toward drivers who need to hear warning of an approaching train.
The installation of wayside horns should reduce the amount of noise that reaches homes in surrounding neighborhoods.
According to a city news release, the railroad is expected to activate the new wayside horns on Dec. 6 at crossings on Carter and 67th streets.
Federal law requires horns to blast sound at least 20 seconds before a train approaches a public road and through the crossing, the city said. Wayside horns sound like a train horn, but are mounted on 14-foot poles at each crossing and are pointed down the streets toward traffic. The sound is condensed to a more localized area.
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A signal lets engineers know not to blow the train’s horn, but they have discretion to blow the horn should they feel it’s necessary.
Wayside horns at the Johnson Drive crossing won’t be activated until next year because additional testing is needed.
Mission seeks volunteer for its planning commission
Mission is seeking a resident of Ward I interested in serving on the city’s planning commission.
The commission holds public hearings for proposed development plans, rezoning, and permits and also makes recommendations on those issues to the Mission City Council. The group meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Monday of the month.
Ward I is in the northeast part of town. Anyone interested should submit a letter of interest to City Clerk Martha Sumrall by Dec. 1 via email to email@example.com.
Free trees in exchange for helping Johnson County parks
Residents can help remove invasive red cedars from Johnson County park property and take them home for holiday decor again this year.
This year’s event will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Dec. 2 at Mildale Farm, 35250 W. 199th St. in Edgerton. A minimum donation of $15 is being suggested for the trees, which range from the petite to behemoths. They are leafier than pine Christmas trees.
Proceeds will benefit future conservation efforts throughout Greater Kansas City.
The effort is being coordinated by Kansas City WildLands, a conservation coalition initiated in 2001. The county parks system is a charter member of the group.
Participants should bring hand saws, rope, sturdy boots, and work gloves, but chainsaws and axes are not permitted. KC WildLands volunteers will assist with loading trees. A bonfire, hot cider, and cookies will be available.
Removal of eastern red cedar trees is part of a prairie restoration project at Mildale Farm. Although it’s a native species, the eastern red cedar is considered invasive in prairies and old fields because it proliferates and provides too much shade for other prairie plants.
For more information or to volunteer at the event, contact Linda Lehrbaum at 816-561-1061, extension 116 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A shopping spot, just for kids
Christmas is more fun when kids give presents they’ve picked out themselves, so the county has created an opportunity Dec. 2 for children to shop on their own with money they’ve earned or been given by their parents.
The fifth annual Holiday Marketplace, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Roeland Park Community Center, 4850 Rosewood Drive, will offer an array of gifts priced at $10 or less.
There is no age restriction, but the event is geared toward children ages 2 to 9 years old. Volunteers will help shoppers make smart decisions, and there will be a free gift-wrapping station.
Santa also will make an appearance. Lunch and gingerbread house-making will be available at the event for a nominal fee.
Oxford Schoolhouse hosts old-time Christmas
Visitors to the Oxford Schoolhouse, a historic one-room schoolhouse at Leawood’s Ironwoods Park, on Dec. 2 can experience what holidays were like around here at the turn of the 20th century.
Costumed Oxford School docents will host “Holiday Traditions on the Prairie at the Historic Oxford Schoolhouse” — a free event, from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., that will refreshments, games, an old-time sing-a-long, and old-fashioned Christmas decorations.
Musician Scott Klamm will play traditional American instruments, including the mountain dulcimer, Appalachian mouth bow, auto harp, guitar, and mandolin.
The event complements Breakfast with Santa at the Lodge in Ironwoods Park and an open house at the Prairie Oak Nature Center, which also are scheduled for Dec. 2. Breakfast times are 8:30 to 10 a.m. or 10:30 a.m. to noon. Register at leawood.org/parks.
Ironwoods Park is at 14701 Mission Road.
Olathe school staffer publishes picture book
Roberta Roelfs, a library clerk at Countryside Elementary School in Olathe, has written and published a book, “Ana and the Sea Star,” which is available through many online retailers.
The picture book follows a girl who finds a starfish on the beach and has to make a choice about whether to take it home or let it go back to the sea.
“It’s been a long process, and I’m so excited to see it all come together,” Roelfs said in a news release. “I hope readers will enjoy experiencing Ana’s story as much as I enjoyed creating it.”
Blue Valley honors four as Friends of Education
The Blue Valley School District honored four individuals and organizations as 2017 Friends of Education award recipients. They are:
▪ Shelley Etzenhouser, a longtime volunteer in the district;
▪ Samantha Hammontree, president-elect of the Blue Valley Educational Foundation and a one-on-one mentor at the district’s Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) among other contributions;
▪ Children’s Mercy Hospital, which teamed up with the district to promote healthy lifestyles in school and better support the emotional health of students;
▪ The Confucius Institute of the University of Kansas, which has helped Blue Valley with its Chinese Immersion program.
Tree-lighting Dec. 1 in Olathe
Olathe Mayor Michael Copeland will light the Mayor’s Christmas Tree in kicking off a holiday celebration from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 1 at the Olathe Community Center, 1205 E. Kansas City Road.
Afterward, residents can enjoy music, face-painting, free activities, and a visit with Santa. Food trucks will sell refreshments and a free shuttle will be offered from Olathe North High School, 600 E. Prairie St.
Family donates Shawnee Mayor’s Christmas Tree
The Joe and Sarah Durham family donated the tree that will be lighted Dec. 2 as the Shawnee Mayor’s Christmas Tree.
This fall, the city alerted residents on social media that it was looking for a tree, and Marrs Tree Service removed it Nov. 20 for free. The city offers the free removal, stump-grinding, and mulching in exchange for the tree.
The lighting will cap the Shawnee Christkindlmarkt, which is scheduled for 2 to 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 2 at City Hall, 11110 Johnson Drive.
The free event features a Sister Cities Christkindlmarkt, crafts for kids, fruit-cake races, and a visit from Santa. A trolley will take visitors downtown for food trucks, carol sing-alongs, face-painting, balloon artists, and live reindeer. The tree-lighting is set for 5 p.m. at Shawnee City Hall.
Mahaffie schedules holiday open house
The Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop & Farm, 1200 E. Kansas City Road in Olathe, will host a Christmas open house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec. 2.
The free admission includes crafts and music by the Shady Grove String Band from 10 a.m. to noon and Christmas carols with the Mahaffie Youth Volunteers from 1 to 3 p.m.
Visitors can see what’s cooking in Mrs. Mahaffie’s kitchen and help with winter farm chores. Horse-powered threshing demonstrations will take place at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., weather permitting. Santa will talk to children from 1 to 3 p.m.
Fees will be charged for decorating a graham-cracker gingerbread house ($4), stagecoach rides ($3 for ages 3 and up, weather permitting), and pictures with Santa ($5).
Mission hosts holiday frolic Dec. 1
Look for Santa, songs from local school choirs, carriage rides, balloon artists, and more from 5 to 8 p.m. on Dec. 1 as Mission’s Sylvester Powell Community Center hosts host its annual Holiday Lights and Festive Sights event
With the help of Santa and Mrs. Claus, Mission Mayor Steve Schowengerdt will light the city’s Christmas tree around 5:15 p.m. An array of indoor and outdoor activities will follow during the free event, including a showing of “The Polar Express” at 6 p.m.
The community center is located at 6200 Martway St.
Compiled by Elaine Adams, Special to The Star