Joco 913

Shawnee holds grand opening at its newest fire station

Merriam Police Officer April Gebke (center) was recognized at the January City Council meeting.
Merriam Police Officer April Gebke (center) was recognized at the January City Council meeting.

New fire station open in Shawnee

Shawnee held a grand opening and open house Jan. 24 at its newest fire station.

Fire Station 74, the city’s fourth, is at 5300 Woodsonia Drive. Growth in northwest Shawnee has increased the demand for fire services, the city said on its website. It said a large coverage area and limited mutual aid options had created “longer than desirable” response times before the station was built.

A property tax increase funded the building, which was projected to cost $5.6 million but may come in under budget.

State honors four new teachers from Joco

The state of Kansas has recognized four novice teachers from Johnson County schools with the 2019 Kansas Horizon Award. Statewide, 32 novice educators are receiving the award.

All school districts in Kansas could nominate one elementary and one secondary teacher for the Horizon award. To be eligible, teachers must have completed their first year of teaching and distinguished themselves as outstanding. The local honorees:

Katey Foley, who teaches French at Gardner Edgerton High School.

Sarah Lenz of Wolf Creek Elementary School in the Spring Hill district.

Haley Poulter of Mize Elementary School in the De Soto district.

Danielle Winkler of Spring Hill Middle School.

Joco wants to make parks more accessible

The Johnson County parks system has been looking at the accessibility of its parks, services and other facilities, and will present the findings to the public on Feb. 11.

The Park and Recreation District has scheduled the open house from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Sunflower Room at the district’s administration building at 7900 Renner Road in Shawnee Mission Park.

The district hired Disability Access Consultants to help review and update the system’s ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) Transition Plan. The consultants and park officials will be at the meeting to get feedback from people with disabilities, from organizations that serve people with disabilities, and others who are interested. The opinions will help the district prioritize accessibility improvements.

Anyone who needs special accommodations should contact Jo Ann Courtney at 913-826-3405, by Kansas Relay at 711, or at

AdventHealth foundation hires director

Laurie McCormack, who had been a senior vice-president for the United Way of Greater Kansas City, is the new executive director of AdventHealth Foundation Shawnee Mission.

The foundation is the philanthropy organization for AdventHealth Shawnee Mission, formerly known as Shawnee Mission Medical Center, in Merriam. Earlier in her career, she worked for Park University and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Weather delays MLK observance until March

Because of expected bad weather on the original Jan. 19 date, Johnson County rescheduled its Martin Luther King Jr. celebration for March 9.

It will begin at 5 p.m. at Johnson County Community College, 12345 College Blvd. in Overland Park.

Merriam officer receives lifesaving award

The city of Merriam this month honored Police Officer Gebke with a lifesaving award in recognition of her efforts to save a motorist.

Gebke responded in early December to a single-vehicle accident in which the driver had suffered a major cardiac event. She removed the driver from the vehicle, began chest compressions and then administered several shocks with an automatic defibrillator.

Medical personnel arrived and re-established a pulse. The driver recovered fully.

Lenexa State of the City address

Lenexa Mayor Mike Boehm will give his 2019 State of the City Address at 12:15 p.m. Feb. 20 during a Lenexa Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

Networking begins at 11:30 a.m., followed by lunch at noon at the Hyatt Place & Lenexa Conference Center, 8741 Ryckert St.

Attendees must reserve tickets by calling the Chamber at 913-888-1414. It costs nothing to attend the speech but lunch is $25 for chamber members and $30 for non-members.

The speech will be carried live via Twitter or at afterward.

Songwriting, essay contests for young people

Young people ages 14 to 21 are invited to enter a songwriting contest that arose from a shooting in 2014 that killed three people at two Jewish facilities in Overland Park. A jury later convicted a southwest Missouri man with a history of anti-Semitism.

As part of SevenDays 2019, the Faith Love & Song competition awards three scholarships - $5,000, $2,500 and $1,000 - for compositions with lyrics that inspire acceptance of others regardless of racial, religious or cultural differences.

The compositions may be submitted individually or with a co-writer. The deadline is Feb. 8.

The competition is sponsored by two local foundations, Faith Always Wins and RRACE (Racial and Religious Acceptance and Cultural Equality), which were established after the shootings. It’s part of the SevenDays 2019-Make a Ripple, Change the World event scheduled for April 9-15.

Complete rules and details are at

Another SevenDays competition invites high school seniors to perform one project of kindness that makes a ripple, then write a 500- to 1,000-word essay on how their “ripple” affected others and changed their own community. Each of five winners will be receive a $1,000 scholarship.

Find the application is at

Chili cook-off at Indian Mission

The Shawnee Indian Mission Foundation has organized a chili cook-off from 5 to 8 p.m Feb. 9 at the historic Shawnee Indian Mission site in Fairway.

People of all ages are invited to the event, which costs $20 for adults and $5 for children under 16. Adults also may purchase bar tickets for $10 to cover all their beer and wine. There will be a raffle and children’s activities.

Registration information is at

Free course for families coping with mental illness

Jewish Family Services and NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) are collaborating to offer a free, 12-week course to help families who have a loved one with mental illness.

NAMI’s Family-to-Family Education Course will be held from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on consecutive Mondays beginning Feb. 25 at the Jewish Community Campus, 5801 W. 115th St. in Overland Park. Participants must commit to the entire 12 weeks of the course, which is for caregivers, not the person with mental illness.

Register by contacting NAMI representatives Michelle Reeves at or John Thompson, or call Thompson at 816-763-6169.

The course also is sponsored by the Greater Kansas City Mental Health Coalition.