Joco 913

Gardner Edgerton takes bold step for mental health

13 tips for mental health wellness

Good mental health isn’t the absence of mental health struggles. Physical and emotional stress can trigger chemical changes in the brain. Coping skills help reduce stress and promote good mental health.
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Good mental health isn’t the absence of mental health struggles. Physical and emotional stress can trigger chemical changes in the brain. Coping skills help reduce stress and promote good mental health.

Gardner Edgerton District adding mental health responder

The Gardner Edgerton School District has agreed to embed a full-time mental health co-responder in the school system during the upcoming academic year, providing immediate help to students during crisis situations.

Clinical co-responders already are available to most police agencies in the county, but Gardner Edgerton is the first school district to adopt the program. The co-responder will work in the school district, but will be a full-time employee of Johnson County Mental Health Center.

Johnson County has agreed to fund the remaining cost of the co-responder for 2019-20. The program will be evaluated during one year trial period, with the potential to expand to other school districts in Johnson County.

“We are pleased to be able to partner with a school district in this way,” said Johnson County Mental Health Center Director Tim DeWeese, “It takes the community working together to end the stigma and start the necessary conversations about mental health in teens and adolescents.”

After an uptick in teen suicide, the county’s six school superintendents have been brainstorming ways to meet the emotional needs of students. One result was an awareness campaign launched last fall called “Zero Reasons Why.”

“We are excited to be able to offer this support and service to our students and their families and our staff members,” said Gardner Edgerton Superintendent Pam Stranathan. We are thankful for the relationship that has been developed between USD 231 and Johnson County Mental Health Center. By partnering together, we are better able to meet the needs of our community.”

The co-responder program began in 2011 as a pilot with the Olathe Police Department.

Blue Valley produces both Presidential Scholars from Kansas

Only two Kansas students were named 2019 U.S. Presidential Scholars, and both hail from the Blue Valley School District.

They are Ritvik Illindala from Blue Valley West High School and Praneeta Nalluri from Blue Valley North High School. The designation is one of the most prestigious given to graduating seniors.

The program names one male and female student from each state as Presidential Scholars, as well as 15 chosen at-large, 20 Scholars in the Arts and 20 Scholars in Career and Technical Education.

How satisfied are you with JoCo?

Quality of life? Wonderful, say residents who completed Johnson County’s latest citizen satisfaction survey.

But property appraisals and value for taxes? Not so wonderful.

The survey, conducted in March and April by ETC Institute of Olathe, found that:

97 percent of those surveyed are satisfied with the county as a place to live, and 95 percent view it satisfactory as a place to raise children.

92 percent feel safe.

89 percent are satisfied with the county as a place to work, and 69 percent see it as a decent place to retire.

However, the county saw a decline in satisfaction with the value received for tax dollars – 51 percent in 2019 compared to 64 percent last year.

“The decline correlated with an approval drop on a question about the fairness in property appraisals from a 32 percent approval in 2019 compared to 43 percent in 2018,” the county said in a news release.

But even on value received for taxes paid, Johnson County came in 19 percentage points above the national average for large communities. Overall satisfaction with county services rated 36 percentage points higher, while public safety services rated 24 percentage points above large communities nationwide.

“Johnson County continues to set the standard of service delivery compared to other large communities,” said Chris Tatham, president and chief executive officer of ETC, said.

Meadowbrook Park opens soon in Prairie Village

A June 1 grand opening has been set for the new, 80-acre Meadowbrook Park and Clubhouse at 9101 Nall Ave. in Prairie Village.

The event will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., with a ribbon-cutting at 10:30 a.m.

The park is located primarily on the northern part of the former Meadowbrook Country Club. Private development is continuing on the southern portion.

The park will include eight pickleball courts, three miles of paved trails, a destination playground called the Treeline Adventure; a large shelter for up to 160 people; three smaller picnic shelters; a separate play and picnic area in a grove of oak trees, and an area containing low-impact outdoor fitness equipment.

In addition, crews have created Meadowbrook Hill with surplus soil from enlarging lakes on the golf course property. The hill can be used for snow sledding and other exercise pursuits.

The clubhouse includes an event space for about 200 people and a multipurpose room, kitchen, deck overlooking the park and a Natureplay Preschool with an outdoor playground.

Overland Park tops heartworm list

Overland Park consistently ranks high on lists of best places to live, but there’s a danger lurking for pets.

The city ranked first in the nation this spring in the growth of positive heartworm tests in dogs and cats, according to the Companion Animal Parasite Council. San Francisco was second.

The Companion Animal Parasite Council has launched a monthly reporting initiative to alert communities that are experiencing the highest increase in heartworms, which is transmitted by mosquitoes. Overland Park topped the list issued in mid-April, which reflected tests completed in March.

The council recommends monthly heartworm treatment and yearly tests for the disease.

“It takes just one heartworm-infected dog in an area to become a reservoir of infection, increasing the number of infected mosquitoes and ultimately spreading the heartworm parasite to unprotected dogs and cats,” said Michael Yabsley, a council board member and University of Georgia professor.

Shawnee police earn national accreditation

The Shawnee Police Department has earned national accreditation, a distinction achieved by only about 5 percent of police agencies nationwide, the city said.

The designation came on May 4 from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies after the city embarked on a three-year process to improve policies, crime prevention, personnel practices and other activities.

“Our agency has raised standards, allowing us to provide better service which leads to our ultimate mission of creating a safer community,” said Police Chief Rob Moser.

Shawnee is the 10th Kansas agency to achieve accreditation. Overland Park is the only other Johnson County agency on the list.

Overland Park to try multi-family recycling

On a trial basis, Overland Park is launching a one-year recycling program for apartments and other multi-family complexes that will cost the city an estimated $31,000.

Residents of 15 multi-family sites will be able to recycle glass and cardboard. Participating complexes must complete an application, communicate with residents about the service and meet other requirements, the city said.

Residents of single-family homes already receive curbside trash, recycling and yard waste services from private trash haulers.

Turkey Creek Festival is May 18

The Turkey Creek Festival returns to Merriam on May 18 with free activities for children, live music, arts and crafts, a pancake breakfast and more.

It happens at Antioch Park, 6501 Antioch Road.

The free Kid Zone, open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., will offer pony rides, a petting zoo, bounce houses, a trackless train, a drum safari, wood projects and a giant Candy Lane game among other activities.

Free concerts feature Micah Burdick at 11 a.m., Middle Theory at 12:30 p.m. and the ROAMies at 2 p.m.

There’s a pancake breakfast in the morning, too. A free shuttle will run every 10 minutes from the Lee Apparel parking lot, 9001 W. 76th St.

Neighborhood Ring

Merriam has signed on to the Neighbors by Ring app, joining other cities in the area to provide timely alerts to crime and safety.

Ring is known for making video doorbells. The app, which does not require the user to have a Ring doorbell, lets people view and share videos of of suspicious neighborhood activity. The free app also allows users to upload crime videos to the police department.

The app can be downloaded on iPhones or Android devices. Smartphone owners also can text “StaySafe” to 555888.