Joco 913

Events, exhibit in JoCo commemorate life of MLK

David White
David White

JoCo events to honor Martin Luther King Jr.

At least two events and an exhibit commemorating the life of Martin Luther King Jr. have been scheduled in Johnson County in conjunction with the birthday holiday of the slain civil rights leader. The official federal holiday is Monday, Jan. 21.

▪  Alveda King, a niece of Martin Luther King Jr., will be the keynote speaker at a free event beginning at 5 p.m. Jan. 19 in Polsky Hall at Johnson County Community College’s Carlsen Center.

The program is titled “Building the Beloved Community: Love is the Only Way.”

The 2019 theme highlights an excerpt from a sermon that King delivered in 1957 at Dexter Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala.: “We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world, for love is the only way.”

Other participants include the Kansas City Boys and Girls Choirs; LyLena Estabine, author of “On the Bridge” and winner of Olathe’s Martin Luther King Jr. Essay Contest; and Darryl Burton, founder of Miracle of Innocence.

▪ Another free event, the afternoon of Jan. 20, will take place at MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe.

Speakers include Sunayana Dumala, founder of the Forever Welcome Facebook community, and Wyandotte County District Attorney Marc Dupree. Dumala was widowed several years ago in a shooting at Austins Bar & Grill that was determined to be a hate crime.

The observance will be from 3 to 5 p.m. at the university’s Bell Cultural Arts Center, 2030 E. College Way, with a public reception featuring Olathe students’ artwork and music beginning at 2:30 p.m.

Performing will be the KC Friends of Alvin Ailey, harpist Celia Albon and the Olathe North High School choir. Student art contest winners will also be announced.

▪ Gardner will host an educational exhibit on King’s life and legacy from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 18 and 21 in the City Hall Council Chambers, 120 E. Main St.

The exhibit also includes a children’s work station where youngsters can read age-appropriate materials and complete worksheets to understand why King is commemorated each year. An interactive quiz will test their understanding.

Visitors will receive a Martin Luther King Jr. keepsake.

Shawnee to brief residents on community center plans

Shawnee residents can get an update Jan. 16 on the city’s exploration of a potential new community center in the western part of the city.

The second of two meetings this week takes place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Jan. 16 at Monticello Trails Middle School, 6100 Monticello Road. A similar meeting was scheduled at the same time period on Jan. 15 at Shawnee Mission Northwest High School, 12701 W. 67th St.

Those attending can see design concepts and ideas for programming. Officials will be there to answer questions and get feedback.

Back in 2005, the city bought 26 acres just east of 61st Street and Woodland Drive, with the idea of placing a community center there someday. The City Council will decide on Feb. 11 whether to put a property tax proposal on the ballot to finance the community center.

Jan 24 is deadline to apply for JoCo Citizens Academy

If you’ve ever wondered about the inner workings of county government, or have an itch to serve the community but don’t know how, the Johnson County Citizens Academy can provide help with both.

The next academy will begin Feb. 11 and meet from 6 to 9 p.m., each Monday evening until April 15. Applications are due Jan. 24.

During the sessions, participants hear presentations from staff, perform hands-on activities and take tours of various county departments and agencies, including Public Works, Human Services, the Library, Developmental Supports, Park and Recreation and the Sheriff’s Office. Dinner is provided.

Enrollment is free. Visit for more information and to apply. Questions can be directed to Johnny McFarland at 913-715-0729.

Corrections chief named to pretrial detention panel

Robert Sullivan, director of the Johnson County Department of Corrections has been chosen by the Kansas Supreme Court to serve on an ad hoc task force that will examine pretrial detention practices in Kansas district courts. He is the only representative from Johnson County.

The 15-member task force was created by a Nov. 7 Supreme Court order signed by Chief Justice Lawton Nuss. Task force membership includes judges, defense attorneys, prosecutors and court services and community corrections officers.

The group was asked to report its findings and recommendations within 18 months. It will examine current practices on pretrial detention, as well as alternatives that would protect public safety and encourage defendants to show up for court.

Roeland Park election is Feb. 26

Jan Faidley and Courtney Craig have filed for the Roeland Park City Council seat vacated by Becky Fast, who is now a Johnson County commissioner.

The election will be Feb. 26, and voters must be registered by Feb. 5. Advanced voting by mail starts Feb. 6 and in-person advance voting begins Feb. 18.

Shawnee official named to national panel

Shawnee City Council member Lindsey Constance, has been appointed to the National League of Cities 2019 Energy, Environment and Natural Resources federal advocacy committee.

Committee members help develop and advocate for the organization’s policy positions on air and water quality, energy, wetlands, noise control and waste management.

“One of my passions is seeking opportunities to increase energy efficiency, preserve our natural landscape and enhance quality of life in Shawnee,” said Constance, who has served on the committee before.

White to retire from Overland Park council

Overland Park City Council member David White says he will not seek re-election this year to his Ward 3 seat. having held the position since 2005.

He’s been on the council since 2005 and previously served more than five years on the city Planning Commission.

According to a city news release, White was one of the proponents of the private-public redevelopment at 95th Street and Antioch Road and the Scheel’s Overland Park Soccer Complex.

“I believe in the last 14 years that we have not only maintained the quality of life in Overland Park, but have also added to it in exciting and measurable ways,” he said.

Lenexa to replace tennis courts

Lenexa is rebuilding the aging tennis courts at two city parks so they will accommodate not only tennis but also pickleball, futsal and roller hockey.

The courts at Bois D’Arc and Sar-Ko-Par Trails parks are expected to reopen in summer of 2019.

Event to benefit Quindaro townsite

A Feb. 9 event at Johnson County Community College will raise money for walking trails and signage in the historic Quindaro townsite in Kansas City, Kan.

Co-hosted by Western University Association of the AME Church and the college’s Kansas Studies Institute, the event will be held from 6 to 9 p.m., with food, live music, a silent auction and speakers who will discuss regional history.

Tickets are $50 each or $600 for a table of 10. Register through the events calendar at Limited tickets may be available at the door. All proceeds will support “Paths through Quindaro: Explore, Remember, Experience.”

Quindaro was a settlement established by abolitionists in the 1850s with a mission to help secure Kansas as a free territory. Its residents helped slaves escape from Missouri and linked them to the Underground Railroad. Archaeologists have uncovered a number of the town’s structures.

Summer Camp Guide coming soon

By the end of the day on Jan. 21, the Johnson County park system’s Summer Camp Guide will be online at, a week before registration begins on Jan. 28.

Printed copies of the guide will be available the week of Jan. 28 at Johnson County libraries and county park facilities.