Basketball rivals unite for a cause
Gardner Edgerton High School brought a suicide prevention effort to the basketball court on Feb. 5 when team members, cheerleaders and many fans wore “Zero Reasons Why” T-shirts for the varsity boys and girls games against Shawnee Mission West High School.
The Zero Reasons Why campaign, launched by the six Johnson County school superintendents in response to an increase in teen suicides, promotes mental health awareness.
Gardner Edgerton Superintendent Pam Stranathan wanted to put a Zero Reasons Why shirt in the hands of each high school student and staffer as a reminder that there are Zero Reasons Why suicide is an option. More than 1,000 shirts were distributed, and students wore them to the games on Feb. 5.
Gardner Edgerton cheerleaders passed out Zero Reasons Why bracelets to everyone in attendance and gave T-shirts to their Shawnee Mission West counterparts to wear during the event. Before each contest, the host teams presented a bracelet to each player, coach and manager from Shawnee Mission West.
County adds mental health co-responders
The Johnson County Commission has agreed to increase — by two — the number of mental health co-responders who work with police departments to handle emergency calls involving someone with a mental illness.
Prairie Village, Leawood and Mission Hills will share one new full-time position, and the other person will be assigned to Lenexa.
The co-responders will be county employees, but the cities will pay all expenses except for county-issued uniforms, computer equipment and training. By being embedded with police departments, the co-responders can quickly evaluate the situation and recommend the best course of action.
“The level of care provided by a co-responder is more appropriate for the client, and more cost-effective for the county and our community partners,” Tim DeWeese, executive director of the Johnson County Mental Health Center, said in a news release. “This program … has resulted in decreased jail admission as well as reductions in hospitalizations.”
The Mental Health Center piloted the co-responder program in 2011 with the Olathe Police Department, and it now covers most communities in Johnson County. With the two new positions, a total of 10 co-responders will be assigned to police departments and the sheriff’s office.
The new position authorized for Lenexa will give that city two full-time co-responders. With the addition of a co-responder for Leawood, Prairie Village and Mission Hills, those cities will no longer be part of a group of northeast Johnson County cities that have shared the cost of one responder up to now.
It’s ‘Wassmer Park’ in PV
The new park at 67th Street and Roe Avenue will be named Wassmer Park after former Prairie Village Mayor Laura Wassmer.
The park is on property once occupied by Faith Lutheran Church. Wassmer left office earlier this year after deciding not to run for re-election in November.
Income tax help
Johnson County K-State Research and Extension is partnering again this year with El Centro and NextStepKC to host the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site at the county-owned Sunset Drive Office Building.
All VITA volunteers at the site are certified to complete federal returns and returns from any state. Taxpayers are assisted on a first come-first served basis, no appointment is needed. Those needing help with previous years’ returns can receive it after April 15.
The office buildings is at 11811 S. Sunset Drive in Olathe.
Police add digital crime-fighting tool
Several Johnson County police agencies are encouraging residents to download the free Neighbors app by Ring as a crime-fighting tool.
It works by providing the community with real-time crime and safety information, and enabling citizens to quickly share videos or photos of criminal activity.
After downloading the Neighbors app, residents can join their neighborhood and use the app to monitor neighborhood activity; share crime- and safety-related videos, photos and text-based posts; and receive real-time safety alerts from neighbors, the police and the Ring team.
“Citizens will also be able to directly share video related to incidents in the neighborhood directly with the Overland Park Police Department for investigative purposes,” stated a news release from Overland Park police.
Overland Park said that for every 20 new residents who join the Ring Neighbors app, Ring will give the police department one Ring doorbell security device to deploy in the community.
Ring markets security devices. Its doorbells come with video cameras, and residents can use mobile devices to see who’s at the door even when they’re not home.
Shawnee, Lenexa and Olathe also have joined the effort.
“The Shawnee Police Department recognizes the importance of working in partnership with the community to effect new and innovative strategies aimed at reducing crime,” Police Chief Rob Moser said in a statement. “This includes the use of technological advances through increased video surveillance.
“We hope citizens see the benefit of these opportunities and team up with us to help keep Shawnee safe.”
The app can be downloaded online or by text. You don’t need a Ring doorbell to use the app.
Spelling champ headed to state bee
Rebecca Xue, a seventh-grader from Lakewood Middle School in the Blue Valley School District, won the 2019 Johnson County Spelling Bee — and the right to compete in the state bee next month.
She correctly spelled “umbilical” in the final round of the competition, hosted by the Shawnee Mission School District. The bee brought together 75 of the top spellers in the county.
Krrish Madduru from Pleasant Ridge Middle School, also in Blue Valley, is the runner-up and state bee alternate. Ishya Bhavsar from Briarwood Elementary in Shawnee Mission was the third-place speller.
Urgent care clinic relocates in south Overland Park
HCA Midwest Health has moved one of its CareNow Urgent Care clinics to the Corbin Park Development in Overland Park.
The address of the new clinic, which began seeing patients on Feb. 4, is 13761 Metcalf Ave. The clinic previously operated on 151st Street near U.S. 69.
“This new location will provide our patients expanded parking and increased clinical space and allow CareNow physicians and staff to provide enhanced and improved access to patients,” said M.L. Lagarde III, president of HCA Midwest Health.
HCA Midwest Health has seven other CareNow Urgent Care locations in the area: Blue Springs, Independence, Leawood, Lee’s Summit, northern Overland Park, Raytown and south Kansas City.
All locations are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Indoor Triathlon in Overland Park
The Jewish Community Center will host its annual Indoor Triathlon starting at 7 a.m. on Feb. 24 at 5801 W. 115th St. in Overland Park. The triathlon includes swimming, biking on Keiser Bikes and a run.
Participants must be at least 14 years old, and registration must be completed by Feb. 21 at thejkc.org/indoortri.
There are two divisions for the event:
▪ Sprint: Swim 750 yards, bike the equivalent of 12.4 miles and run 3.1 miles. This race is capped at 24 participants and 12 team entries.
▪ Super Sprint: Swim 400 yards, bike the equivalent of eight miles and run two miles.