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Lenexa council unanimously approves Yocham as new city manager

The Irene French Center.
The Irene French Center. Courtesy photo

Lenexa names new city manager

Community Development Director Beccy Yocham will move up to succeed Eric Wade as Lenexa’s city manager, starting May 1. Wade will serve in an advisory role until he retires June 21.

After recruiting nationally, the City Council unanimously approved Yocham’s contract on April 16. She will be the city’s fourth manager.

“One of the clear messages we heard during our recent Vision 2040 process is that Lenexans think we are on the right path and want us to continue delivering high-quality services and programs,” said Mayor Michael Boehm. “We have great confidence in Beccy and the continuity she will provide for the organization. She has outstanding relationships throughout the community, is a proven leader and is dedicated to serving all of Lenexa.”

Yocham as been the director of community development since 2011, overseeing planning, engineering, building and construction services, right-of-way management and community standards. She also worked in the the city’s legal department, including a stint as deputy city attorney. She earned her law degree at the University of Kansas.

Before going to Lenexa, she was assistant general counsel for the League of Kansas Municipalities in Topeka.

‘Forever Plaid’ offers 1950s-style harmonies

Four local high school students star in “Forever Plaid,” a Theatre in the Park Indoors production that continues the next two weekends in Johnson County.

“Forever Plaid” tells the story of four guys who share a love for 1950s music, rehearse in a basement but can perform together only in the afterlife.

The musical revue will be presented in the Black Box Theatre of the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center, 8788 Metcalf Ave. in Overland Park. Remaining performances are at 7:30 p.m. April 26-27 and May 2-4, and at 2 p.m. April 28 and May 4-5.

The performers are Fisher Stewart, a home-schooled student from Kansas City; Jaren Muller from Blue Valley North High School; Lee’s Summit resident Jacob Jackson, who attends Blue Valley High School, and Jordan Haas from Blue Springs South High School.

Ticket prices vary. Buy them at theatreinthepark.org.

JCCC to dedicate new arts building

Johnson County Community College, which is marking its 50th anniversary this year, will dedicate its new Fine Arts & Design Studios on April 26.

The new structure is close to the Carlsen Center – home to music and drama performances – and bordered by the Wylie Hospitality and Culinary Academy and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art.

The Fine Arts & Design Studios building will house all of the college’s fine arts programs, graphic design and the new film and media studies program. It will include hallway gallery spaces, a covered outdoor courtyard, a high-bay studio and multi-story classrooms.

The ribbon-cutting and dedication will take place at 1:15 p.m. on April 26, followed by an open house and building tours from 2 to 4 p.m. A tree will be planted nearby at 3 p.m., and an alumni exhibition and reception will run from 4 to 7 p.m.

The arts facility is the first new building to emerge as part of a “campus transformation,” approved in 2016, which also will include a new Career and Technical Education Center. Other projects will enhance the college’s front entrance, create an outdoor sports complex, consolidate five academic resource centers into the Billington Library and renovate existing facilities.

Get rid of unwanted medicine

April 27 is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, and some cities are making special arrangements for residents to get rid of old medicines in a safe way.

By disposing of unneeded or expired drugs, residents can reduce the chance of prescription abuse or theft.

Overland Park police, for example, will accept pills and patches from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at several locations: the Myron E. Scafe Police Station at 8500 Antioch Road; the Sanders Justice Center at 12400 Foster St.; Johnson County Community College at 12345 College Blvd.;, the Price Chopper stores at 7000 W. 75th St., 7418 W. 119th St., 11700 W. 135th St. and 7201 W. 151st St.; and the Hen House store at 6900 W. 135th St.

Liquids and needles will not be accepted.

Also from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Leawood police will accept pills and patches at the Leawood Justice Center, 4201 Town Center Drive.

Roeland Park’s event will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Price Chopper at 4950 Roe Blvd., and Merriam police be at Walgreens Pharmacy, 8701 Johnson Drive.

Some police departments, including Merriam and Overland Park, routinely accept unneeded medicine at their headquarters.

Parade of Homes opens this weekend

The Spring Parade of Homes will begin April 27, allowing potential home buyers and others to tour 403 new homes constructed by 128 builders throughout the Kansas City area. A large number are in Johnson County.

Home prices range from $210,000 to nearly $3 million. Among the dwellings are 54 homes in maintenance-provided communities.

The Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City sponsors the twice-yearly Parade of Homes each spring and fall.

All homes will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through May 12, and admission is free. Free guides will be available at any of the parade entries and at the HBA offices at Interstate 435 and Holmes Road in Kansas City. More information can be found at KCParadeofHomes.com.

Additionally, the Home Builders Association will collaborate with Harvesters for the “Hammer Out Hunger” drive during the spring parade. HBA will accept non-perishable food items at its headquarters. Cash be given at harvesters.org/Parade-Of-Homes.

Merriam seeks ideas on old community center

As Merriam gets going on a new community center in Vavra Park, it’s seeking the community’s ideas on what do with the Irene B. French Community Center property after that facility is vacated in 2020.

The city has scheduled a public meeting at 7 p.m. April 29 at the French community center, 5701 Merriam Drive, where residents can provide ideas, participate in surveys, and learn about what other cities are doing. A nine-member 5701 Merriam Drive Steering Committee has been appointed to guide the work.

Residents can return at 7 p.m. June 26 to learn about the suggestions and what happens next. Find details at merriam.org/5701.

PV wants photo of historic elm tree

Last year, Prairie Village had to cut down an American elm tree in Bennett Park that stood more than 100 feet tall and was thought to be at least 200 years old. Its canopy had hollowed out, so the tree was removed for safety reasons.

Only a stump, more than 5 feet across, remains in the park at 77th Street and Rosewood Drive.

Now the Prairie Village Tree Board is seeking a photo of the tree as it works to create a commemorative plaque next to the stump, which will tell the story of the huge elm. If you have a photo to share, email a digital copy to afreburg@pvkansas.com. Direct questions to Tree Board member Mark Morgan at mcmprairie@aol.com.

Filmmaker to help wrap up 1920s exhibit

The Johnson County Museum concludes its “Turbulent Twenties” exhibit on May 11 and will host 2019 Academy Award winner Kevin Willmott on May 9 for the last of eight programs tied to the exhibit.

“An Evening with Kevin Willmott” will start at 7 p.m. at the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center, 8788 Metcalf Ave. in Overland Park. The University of Kansas professor and documentary filmmaker will show his one-hour biopic, “William Allen White: What’s the Matter with Kansas?” with a discussion afterward.

Willmott’s film ties into a part of the exhibit devoted to nationalism and nativism in the 1920s.

The $5 cost includes admission to the museum, which will remain open until 7 p.m. for paid ticket holders. To register, call 913-831-3359 or go to www.jcprd.com, click on Register for Activities and search for Course ID 18886.

Willmott received an Oscar for best adapted screenplay for his work with Spike Lee and others on “BlacKkKlansman.”

Arts scholarships announced

The Arts Council of Johnson County has awarded 18 scholarships to local high school seniors who have demonstrated talent for the visual, literary and performing arts.

Receiving $1,400 first-place scholarships were Alice Wu, Blue Valley North High School, literature; Elianna Oliver, Blue Valley Southwest High School, photography; Emily Martin, Olathe North High School, production and design; Jordan Proctor, Gardner Edgerton High School, strings; Jordan DeLeon, Olathe South High School, theater performance; Kysn Paepke, Olathe Northwest High School, three-dimensional art; Allison Park, Blue Valley Northwest High School, two-dimensional art; Sarah Slightom, Olathe North High School, voice classical; and Nicholas Velicer, Shawnee Mission South High School, winds and percussion.

Earning $700 second-place scholarships were Mellenie Redick, Maranatha Academy, literature; Abigail Roberts, Shawnee Mission Northwest High School, photography; Bryanna Conde, Shawnee Mission North High School, production and design; Catherine Steinacker, Shawnee Mission Northwest High School, strings; Devyn Trondson, Shawnee Mission Northwest High School, theater performance; Rylee Jorgensen, Olathe West High School, three-dimensional art; Bennett Junkins, Olathe South High School, two-dimensional art; Ryan Henn, Olathe Northwest High School, voice classical; and Evan Kappelman, Olathe East High School, winds and percussion.

To be eligible, the students had to be nominated by an arts faculty member at their school and complete an application. Teachers who nominated the first-place winners received $350 honorariums.

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