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A new study finds Johnson County to be the healthiest county in Kansas

The kids will be back at Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead in Overland Park.
The kids will be back at Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead in Overland Park. File photo

Johnson County deemed healthiest in state

A new study finds Johnson County to be the healthiest county in Kansas, ranking first in outcomes such as a low number of deaths before age 75.

The county also ranked number one for health factors such as access to medical and dental care, exercise opportunities and a healthy food environment, according to the 10th annual “County Health Rankings & Roadmaps” from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

The rankings make it clear that good health is influenced by many factors beyond medical care, county officials said.

“When our homes are near quality schools and good jobs, it’s easier to get a quality education and earn living wages,” said Lougene Marsh, director of the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment. “When people live near grocery stores where nutritious food is available and affordable, eating healthy is easier. Green spaces and parks encourage active lifestyles.”

But when families spend more than half their income on housing, she said, they have little left for other essentials that influence health.

Health risk factors, the county said, include obesity, excessive drinking and smoking in adults. The report also found that 85 percent of the workforce drives alone to work and that reducing that number could promote active living, improve air quality and reduce the number of traffic accidents.

Lackman library branch to close April 24

The Johnson County Library will close its Lackman branch at 8 p.m. April 24, so staffers can begin moving operations to the new Lenexa City Center location which will open on June 2.

The Lackman branch, at 15345 W. 87th St. Parkway in Lenexa, opened in 1997. Library officials said 250,000 patrons have visited on average and checked out roughly 425,000 items per year.

The library’s 2015 master plan called for expansion or relocation of the branch to serve a growing population. In 2016, the library system accepted the city’s invitation to be part of the Lenexa Civic Campus on West 87th near Interstate 435.

Patrons will be able to use most services at the Lackman branch until it closes, but room reservations won’t be available beyond April 1. The last day to place new holds will be April 4, and April 13 will be the final day to pick up held material at Lackman.

The library system’s governing board has not designated how the Lackman location will be used after the move.

New Brookwood School opens after spring break

Classes began March 19 at the new Brookwood Elementary in school in Leawood. It is one of several elementary schools that the Shawnee Mission School District has replaced in recent years.

Students and staff got a peek inside the new building during a tour before spring break. Features include collaborative learning spaces, a gymnasium and a separate cafeteria with a full-service kitchen.

Sixth-graders arrived first and formed a tunnel, joined by the Brookwood mascot, to welcome fellow students with high-fives and cheers.

“We have been given such a beautiful environment that will allow us to cooperate and collaborate with others,” Lori Ingram, sixth-grade teacher, said. “It’s full of light and wonderful collaboration spaces. We are so excited to live in it and learn in it.”

Brookwood, at 3411 W. 103rd St., will host a dedication ceremony at 4:30 p.m. April 25. There will be an open house and tours with remarks at 6 p.m.

Deanna Rose Farmstead opens next week

The Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead will open for the season at 9 a.m. April 1, with 50 new baby goats and more than 200 other animals and birds.

The city of Overland Park operates the farmstead, which is named an Overland Park police officer killed in the line of duty.

The petting zoo, at 13800 Switzer Road, also has a pond, a one-room schoolhouse, a 1900s parlor at Alex and Emily’s Ice Cream store, birthday party facilities and other amenities.

Car burglaries on rise

Lenexa police say they’ve seen an increase in car break-ins lately, especially at fitness centers, public parks and daycares. Most commonly stolen are women’s purses and the cash, credit cards and checks they contain.

“We have found that these burglaries occur in a matter of seconds, with the burglar usually smashing a car window and reaching in to take the items,” the city said in a news release. “These burglars do not appear deterred by daylight, since most are occurring during the day, nor by the presence of others since these parking lots usually have people coming and going.”

Police advise drivers to take purses and wallets with them upon leaving their cars. If the items must be locked in the trunk, motorists should do so before arriving at their destination to avoid being seen by a would-be burglar.

Available for adoption: Leawood trails

Leawood is asking families, businesses, churches and civic organizations to help spruce up its recreational trails and alert the city to hazards like fallen trees or invasive plants like honeysuckle.

Under the new program, each organization can adopt a half-mile of trail. The cleanups would be done once in early spring and once in late fall. Extra help may be requested after flooding.

The groups also could work with the city on ideas to enhance their section of trail.

The Parks & Recreation Department will provide gloves, trash bags and plant identification materials, and staffers will pick up the trash bags once the volunteers finish. Children may participate with minor restrictions.

A training session will be held for each new group. If interested, call Scott Gamerl at 913-696-7771.

Spring Hill names police chief

Cindy Henson will begin work April 8 as police chief in Spring Hill. She’s currently a major in the Overland Park Police Department, where she’s worked for 27 years.

Henson was chosen from more than 15 applicants. The City Council approved the mayor’s appointment on March 15.

She succeeds Richard Mann, who was fired for unknown reasons in May. Lance Wipf has been acting chief.

Healthy Yards Expo is April 6

The experts say it’s possible to cultivate gorgeous lawns and landscaping in an environmentally responsible way. You can find out how at the 10th annual Healthy Yards Expo, scheduled from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 6 at the Shawnee Civic Centre, 13817 Johnson Drive.

The free event offers tutorials and seminars, free soil sample tests, a native plant sale, door prizes and free kids’ activities.

Get details at johnson.k-state.edu.

Lenexa Dumpster Days coming up

Lenexa residents can get rid of old furniture, appliances and other large items during the city’s annual Dumpster Days event April 6-7.

From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days, people can bring items to the Lenexa Municipal Services Service Center at 7700 Cottonwood St. They must show proof of Lenexa residency. A fee will be charged for each entering vehicle as well as for certain items.

On April 6 only, Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore will accept gently used furniture and other items for free.

Learn more about fees and what’s accepted at lenexa.com.

Para-pickleball, anyone?

Johnson County parks officials want to gauge the potential demand for an indoor para-pickleball program, and has scheduled a free event on April 9 to introduce the sport to people who use wheelchairs.

Pickleball is a cross between tennis, badminton and table tennis. It’s played on a court with two players per side who use a wiffle ball and paddles.

The Open Play Day will take place from 10 a.m. to noon April 9 at the New Century Fieldhouse, 551 New Century Parkway near Gardner. Officials will provide an overview of the sport and its rules, and there will be time for model play and individual practice.

“If there are any para-athletes out there who are interested in starting a para-pickleball program with us, we’d like to know,” said Lisa Scharnak, 50 Plus coordinator for the Johnson County Park and Recreation District. “If there are only a few people interested, we may start a mixed program to get them involved.”

The program is intended primarily for ages 50 and over. For more information, call 913-826-3161.

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