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Bus service to OP expands Saturdays

Overland Park trying Saturday microtransit to downtown

The Overland Park Farmers Market continues to be a popular destination on Saturdays, but parking can be dicey – especially with all the redevelopment that’s occurring in the city’s downtown area.

But starting with the first weekend in July, some customers will be able to hail a ride to the market and other downtown businesses on Saturdays and pay only $1.50 each way. The service is being offered during a six-month test period to see if a Saturday “microtransit” service makes sense for downtown Overland Park.

Overland Park has agreed to pay up to $37,500 for the Saturday expansion of microtransit service already offered by Johnson County. The city will subsidize trips to and from downtown each Saturday from July through December.

“Overland Park’s willingness to support the microtransit pilot program is a win-win partnership,” Johnson County Commission Chairman Ed Eilert said in a news release. “It provides a downtown Overland Park transit option for local residents and allows the county to further study demands for public transportation and determine future needs in our transit system.”

Meanwhile, the county agreed to extend its own microtransit experiment until the end of the year.

To accommodate Overland Park’s needs, the microtransit service area is being expanded eastward to the State Line Road on Saturdays only. The current eastern boundary is Metcalf Avenue between 119th Street and 63rd Street/Shawnee Mission Parkway. Service hours on Saturdays will match the weekday service, which is 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Microtransit trips must begin and end within the service area. After riders download a Microtransit app provided by TransLoc, they can use the app to order a ride.

The county contracts with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority for regional transit services. For complete instructions, go to ridekc.org/microtransit.

Johnson County to open second inclusive playground

The Johnson County parks system will cut the ribbon July 6 on its new inclusive playground in Shawnee Mission Park, 7900 Renner Road.

Inclusive playgrounds are designed to enable all children to play together regardless of disability. This one includes swings, a double-wide slide, climbing elements, an area with musical instruments, a shade structure with mist and a rolling slide table that children pull themselves along. A Sway Fun Glider can accommodate a wheelchair.

The county opened its first inclusive playground last fall at Stilwell Community Park, 6402 W. 207th St. A major goal for both parks was to make them fun for everyone, whether they have special needs or not.

“There are some common elements between the two, but we did try to make them different enough that you might want to take your family to one on one weekend and …. go to the other the next weekend,” said Cliff Middleton, planning and development manager for the Johnson County Park and Recreation District.

The ribbon-cutting event – which includes giveaways and a free hot dog lunch – is scheduled from 10:30 a.m.to 1 p.m. July 6.

Forbes ranks Garmin as best Kansas employer

A recent state-by-state ranking by Forbes magazine named Olathe navigational device manufacturer Garmin as the Kansas workplace best liked by employees.

Garmin, listed by Forbes as having 13,000 workers, came in at No. 5 on Forbes’ national list of America’s Best Large Employers for 2019, right behind Costco and just ahead of Google. Trader Joe’s was the top-ranked large employer.

On the Kansas list, BNSF Railway was No. 2 followed, in order, by the University of Kansas Health System, Children’s Mercy-Kansas City, Security Benefit, Wichita Public Schools, Johnson County Community College, Blue Valley Schools, Sedgwick County (in the Wichita area) and Westar Energy.

The Shawnee Mission School District ranked 21st.

Forbes collaborated with market research firm Statista to compile the rankings. It said Statista anonymously surveyed 80,000 Americans working for businesses with at least 500 employees. The workers were asked to rate, on a scale of zero to 10, how likely were to recommend their employer to others. The company then asked respondents to nominate organizations in industries outside their own.

Open house July 4 at PV fire station

The fire district that serves northeast Johnson County invites the public to see its newest fire station on the morning of July 4.

The open house is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon at the new station, 7810 Mission Road near the Prairie Village City Hall. Those attending the city’s VillageFest celebration will already be in the area.

Consolidated Fire District No. 2 completed the $6.5 million station earlier this year on land purchased from the Mission Road Bible Church. Fire crews moved there from 9011 Roe Ave.

Fire Chief Tony Lopez told The Star previously that the new station puts firefighters closer to where most of the calls come from, now that the district no longer serves a section of Overland Park between 95th Street and College Boulevard.

Register by July 16 for August primary

July 16 is the last day to register for the Aug. 6 primary election, which is countywide this year.

Because of the large number of candidates who filed for certain positions, primary elections are being held in Lenexa, Merriam, Olathe, Overland Park, Shawnee and the Blue Valley School District, as well as for the Johnson County Community College Board of Trustees.

Voters across Johnson County will narrow the field of candidates for the college board, whose members are elected at large.

Visit jocoelection.org for registration information, a candidate list and to learn which specific seats will be on the Aug. 6 ballot.

Leawood to present ‘Kiss Me Kate’

The Leawood Stage Company will offer seven free performances of the Broadway musical “Kiss Me Kate” in July at the amphitheatre at Ironwoods Park, 14701 Mission Road.

Curtain times are 8 p.m. July 11-14 and July 18-20.

Written in 1948 and enjoying a current revival on Broadway, “Kiss Me Kate” earned the first Tony award for best musical, according to a city news release. It’s a comedy about relationships told through the off-stage drama of cast members who are putting on a musical version of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.”

Some seating is available at the amphitheater, but spectators are encouraged to bring a blanket and/or lawn chairs.

JoCo playwrights in limelight July 7

Plays written by two Johnson County women are among four to be featured July 7 at the First Sunday Play Reading in Kansas City.

Glendora Davis of Merriam wrote “Going to Bakersfield,” about a family struggling for survival in the 1930s Dust Bowl. Prairie Village resident Annie Newcomer’s play is “The Intervention,” about a family’s attempt to get through to an adult child who has lived in his parents’ basement for two decades.

Admission is $5 for the 90-minute performance, scheduled for 3 p.m. at the Yoga Patch, 7235 Central St. It’s organized by Potluck Productions, which produces scripts written by local women.

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