Overland Park is doing some serious planning for the area around College Boulevard and Metcalf Avenue — exploring development strategies and how to improve the area with different kinds of transportation and a better environment for pedestrians.
The exercise is a way to build on private and corporate growth as well as the city’s investment in the Overland Park Convention Center.
The planning process began during the fall. One of the next steps is to two hold public meetings Jan. 9 to share concept plans and get feedback from the public.
Both meetings will be at the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce’s office, 9001 W. 110th St., Suite 150. There will be a 4 p.m. meeting for business representatives followed by a 6 p.m. meeting for the general public.
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The planning team will use the public input as it finalizes the plan, a process that should be finished early next year.
Kids with autism can learn through Shakespeare
Shakespeare can be challenging even for college English majors, yet his works have been used to improve the social and communication skills of children on the autistic spectrum.
This month, 30 local children from ages 9 to 16 years old will be able to reap the benefits of the Shakespearean approach, which was developed two decades ago in Great Britain.
Kelly Hunter, who worked with autistic children during her tenure at the Royal Shakespeare Company, developed the Hunter Heartbeat Method. It uses the iambic pentameter rhythm in Shakespeare’s plays to help release communicative blocks in children with autism, including those who are non-verbal.
Hunter, now the artistic director of the Flute Theatre in the United Kingdom, will lead workshops Jan. 7 and 8 at the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival offices in midtown Kansas City followed on Jan. 9 by two performances of “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” featuring participants from the intensive workshops.
This is the first time that the program will be presented in the United States.
Applications for the 30 tuition-free spots are being taken at kcshakes.org. Click on Learn, then Flute Theatre Intensive.
Participating children must be able to be left with another adult for the two-hour sessions and be able to engage in the program’s activities.
Substantial gift will help single parents at JCCC
The Johnson County Community College Foundation has received a $125,000 gift from the M.R. and Evelyn Hudson Foundation to support students who are single parents.
Murdock R. Hudson and his family were owners Hudson Oil Co., founded in 1932, the college said. After the company was sold, Hudson formed Fisca Oil Co. Inc., which operated service stations and convenience stores in 125 locations nationwide.
The foundation was established in 1991, and M.R. Hudson died in 1999.
The couple established the M.R. & Evelyn Hudson Foundation Scholarship endowment at JCCC in 1993 to help single parents increase their marketable skills through studies in business, computers, journalism, art, and technology.
The endowment has provided scholarships for up to 13 students annually.
“Being a JCCC alumna, I am well aware of the impact the college can make on the individual,” said foundation president M.K. Larson, who is M.R. Hudson’s granddaughter. “The Hudson Foundation is interested in investments that plant positive seeds and have a long-term impact on individuals and families.”
Leawood State of City address set for month’s end
Leawood Mayor Peggy Dunn will give the annual state State of the City Address on Jan. 31.
The event, which includes lunch, will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Church of the Resurrection Student Center, 13720 Roe Ave.
It will be followed by a tour of the church’s new sanctuary.
The public is invited, but $20 tickets must be reserved by Jan. 23. Call 913-663-9150 to make a reservation.
SM South teacher receives environmental education award
P.J. Born, a science teacher at Shawnee Mission South High School, has earned the Teaching Environmental Stewardship Award from the Kansas City Environmental Education Network.
The award is given each year to a teacher who provides exceptional environmental education.
In addition to his teaching duties, Born manages the SM Environmental Science Laboratory outside the school. He also trains students to provide environmental education to preschool and elementary students.
Born’s students regularly finish well in the state’s Eco-Meet.
Civil rights expert to speak at King commemoration
Ryan M. Jones, a historian with the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, will speak Jan. 7 at Johnson County Community College at an event marking the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
“Commemorating the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” will be presented from 3 to 5 p.m. in Yardley Hall. Other guests and performances include the Storling Dance Theatre, the William Baker Festival Singers and educational consultant Cynthia “Mama J” Johnson.
Shawnee collecting blankets
The city of Shawnee will conclude its blanket drive on Jan. 15.
New and gently used blankets can be donated at City Hall, 11110 Johnson Drive; fire department headquarters, 6501 Quivira Road; or the fire station at 5840 Renner Road.
The donations will be distributed to the needy via Hands to Hearts KC.
Local realtors raise money for Veteran’s Community Project
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate (BHGRE) Kansas City Homes announced recently that it exceeded its goal of $30,000 to build a second tiny home for the Veteran’s Community Project.
Eight area BHGRE Kansas City Homes offices, including the College Boulevard, Prairie Village/State Line, Blue Valley, Leawood, Plaza/Kansas City, Liberty, Northland, and Lee’s Summit real estate offices, created unique fundraisers to reach the $30,000 goal.
To date, Veteran’s Community Project has built 10 tiny homes, and veterans will start moving in early 2018.
Local realtor wins regional honor
Two local realtors with Better Homes and Gardens Realty Kansas City Homes won Industry Achievement Awards from the Kansas City Regional Association of Realtors (KCRAR).
Alex Goering, from Better Homes KC’s Blue Valley office, was chosen as the 2017 Salesperson of the Year and Kristi Ferrara, a broker in the Northland office, was chosen as the 2017 Realtor of the Year.
“Everything I do, both as a managing broker of my office and as an industry advocate, is for my agents,” Ferrara said in a release. “Helping them succeed is my fuel. As much as I love it, this kind of work takes time and energy away from the office and my family.
“So for me, this award means that the sacrifices I make, the sacrifices made by my agents, my family, and all real estate professionals, mean something. This award encourages me to keep doing what I love.”
Compiled by Elaine Adams, Special to The Star