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July 11 ceremony proclaimed De Soto ‘the fastest town in Kansas’ for internet

Shawnee Mission instructor Justin Hoffman (center) taught two winners of the SkillsUSA culinary national competition: Reis Miller (left) and Nora Engelken.
Shawnee Mission instructor Justin Hoffman (center) taught two winners of the SkillsUSA culinary national competition: Reis Miller (left) and Nora Engelken.

De Soto: ‘fastest town in Kansas’

De Soto is seeing the fruits of its quest to bolster internet service, after being years behind the rest of the Kansas City area.

In fact, an invitation to a July 11 ceremony proclaimed De Soto “the fastest town in Kansas.” The occasion marked some early milestones in a venture that has brought 10-gigabit fiber service to the city, where some areas have had no land-based service at all.

The ceremony celebrated the first customer connections, as well as service to City Hall, a project that includes free internet for city government, a new phone system for the administrative offices and free Wi-Fi in the community center gym, the senior center and the aquatic center, said City Administrator Mike Brungardt.

Last fall, the city contracted with Baldwin City-based RG Fiber to bring 1-gigabit internet service to De Soto, agreeing to pay $500,000 to connect the south part of town, where residents were relying on Wi-Fi hot spots and the like. It will eventually serve the entire city and is even providing infrastructure that competitors can use.

But RG Fiber said that technological advances have enabled the company to bring 10-gigabit capacity to De Soto.

Tyler Baker, director of business operations and finance for RG Fiber, called the City Hall service “a critical first step in providing the underserved areas of De Soto with fiber internet.”

Within the next 60 days, he said, the company expects to complete construction to the unserved areas off 95th street, as well as to downtown and two parks. Service already is in place to the sheriff’s office and the De Soto Chamber of Commerce, he said.

The city has been connected with the 1-gig speed it requested, but more bandwidth is available. A 10-gig residential package costs $299.95 a month.

At this point, Baker said, few residents need the extra bandwidth that 10-gigabit capacity can provide, but anyone operating a business that requires a lot of photo editing or video work will see faster uploads and downloads of critical files.

“They can accomplish more in less time, scale as needed, and know their network is fast and reliable,” he said. “What I believe the advantage of 10-gig in De Soto is that they will have a network that is built not just for their needs today, but for the future.”

As technology evolves, he said, 10-gigabit residential service will be needed in the near future.

“When that time comes, De Soto is ready for it.”

Mental Health Center reaches milestone

The Johnson County Mental Health Center has earned a three-year accreditation from CARF International for several of its programs, indicating that it’s guided by internationally recognized service standards and best practices. The accreditation applies to:

Case management for children, adolescents and adults.

Crisis stabilization for adults.

Mental health outpatient treatment for children, adolescents and adults.

Residential alcohol and other drug treatment at the Adolescent Center for Treatment.

“We’re very excited about this accreditation,” said Tim DeWeese, director of the mental health center. “This demonstrates that we’ve made a specific commitment to put the needs of our residents at the center of everything we do.”

JoCo takes top 6 spots Kansas best cities ranking

Johnson County was well represented in a new ranking of the best cities to live in Kansas.

Leawood led the list compiled by chamberofcommerce.org, which describes itself as the “go-to digital resource” to help entrepreneurs run a successful business.

Following right behind, in order, were five other Johnson County communities: Mission, Lenexa, Overland Park, Olathe and Shawnee. Lawrence came next, at No. 7, with Derby, Salina and Dodge City rounding out the top 10.

The organization said it ranked cities across the nation on employment, housing, quality of life, education and health/obesity ratios.

It noted that it looked at cities with populations above 25,000, but describes No. 2 Mission as the first suburb of Kansas City, with a population just under 10,000, that “retains its ‘small Midwestern city’ vibe with modern 21st-century amenities.”

So how did such a small city come to be part of the rankings? Rob Lora, media outreach manager for chamberofcommerce.org, said the website arrived at its numbers by aggregating corresponding postal ZIP codes.

“This allowed certain cities that are typically not included to be considered in our rankings.”

Lee Boulevard closed from 95th to 103rd

Leawood is undertaking a major upgrade on Lee Boulevard, which is now closed to all but local traffic in the construction area between 95th and 103rd streets. The closing is expected to last through late October, weather permitting.

Among other things, the city is widening the roadway by 2 feet as well as installing curbs, LED street lights and marked bike lanes.

The road will be accessible only to the Leawood Fire Department and residents who live along Lee Boulevard, Lee Circle, Lee Court and 97th Terrace. Other motorists should use State Line and Mission roads.

Data company moving to Shawnee

DataFile Technologies, a healthcare information data and management company, will join Tevis Architects, SpiraCare and Kiene Dental Group in the Stag’s Creek office building in Shawnee, which is now fully leased.

The Shawnee Economic Development Council described the building, at 10820 Shawnee Mission Parkway, as one of the anchors for the redevelopment of the Nieman Road Corridor and downtown Shawnee.

DataFile Technologies, a healthcare information data and management company, will move its headquarters in August, bringing at least 90 high-wage jobs to Shawnee. The company is now located in the Northland’s Briarcliff area, according to its website.

Street closures in downtown Overland Park

It’s getting a little tougher to navigate downtown Overland Park.

A portion of 80th Street west of Marty Street is closed until early August to accommodate a crane needed to construct an office building and parking structure as part of the Edison District.

Businesses along 80th Street will remain open.

In addition, 81st Street will be closed from Marty west to Overland Park Drive, also until early August.

Broadmoor Bistro students shine

Two young people schooled at the Shawnee Mission district’s Broadmoor Bistro took top honors in the SkillsUSA national culinary arts championships in June.

Reis Miller, a Shawnee Mission Northwest junior and Culinary Arts Signature Program student, won the competition for high school students.

Nora Engelken, a 2017 Shawnee Mission East graduate, won at the college level. She graduated this year from the Culinary Art Institute (CIA) in New York.

“All the chefs at Broadmoor helped me at the beginning and taught me everything I know about this profession,” Engelken said in a news release. “There’s not another program for high school students like this and it gave me a jump start at the CIA.”

Chef Justin Hoffman, culinary arts and hospitality instructor for the Signature Program, taught both students.

County signs on to wind farm deal

Add Johnson County Government to the list of public entities participating in Kansas City Power & Light’s Renewables Direct program. KCP&L provides about 55 percent of the county’s energy needs.

Under a 20-year agreement, Johnson County can offset 100 percent of its KCP&L purchases with energy from a new wind farm that might be up and running by 2021. The arrangement allows the county to lock in a fuel price that could save taxpayers $1.5 million over the lifetime of the agreement, according to a county news release.

July 21 concert by women’s vocal group

The Jubilee Singers, a Kansas City area women’s ensemble directed by composer/conductor John Leavitt, will present a summer concert at 3:30 p.m. July 21 at Atonement Lutheran Church, 9948 Metcalf Ave. in Overland Park.

The eclectic musical lineup includes psalms, hymns and spirituals, as well as popular and Broadway tunes. Tickets are $5 and available at the door.

Congestion likely on 67th Street

Drivers who use 67th Street should be prepared for traffic delays until Christmas, as Merriam undertakes an overhaul of the roadway west of Antioch Road.

The project includes repaving the road as well as installing new curbs, sidewalks, streetlights and ADA-compliant ramps from Antioch to the west city boundary at Switzer Road.

Partial road closures will occur throughout the project, although 67th will never be shut down completely. Construction is beginning in the westbound lane west of the BNSF tracks. The expected completion date is Dec. 24, weather permitting.

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