Joco 913

New Century AirCenter road named in honor of the late astronaut John Glenn

An Australian shepherd trotted up and over a steep incline during the 4-H dog agility competition at the Johnson County Fair several years ago. The agility contest is still a crowd favorite.
An Australian shepherd trotted up and over a steep incline during the 4-H dog agility competition at the Johnson County Fair several years ago. The agility contest is still a crowd favorite. Kansas City Star

Airport road named for astronaut

Johnson County has named a street at the New Century AirCenter in honor of the late astronaut John Glenn, who trained there in 1942 when the property was home to the Olathe Naval AIr Station.

The county said that Glenn, as a member of the air station’s first training class, earned his military wings by flying a two-seater Stearman plane.

According to Wikipedia, Glenn described the air station this way: “It was a sea of mud and we made our way from building to building on wooden ‘duck boards.’ ”

Now, however, the property now contains a public airport and an industrial complex.

The unveiling of the street sign took place on July 16, with a blue and yellow two-seater Stearman as a backdrop. The aircraft, similar to the one Glenn used, was provided by the Heart of America Wing of the Commemorative Air Force.

In 1962, two decades after his stint in Johnson County, Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth, circling the planet three times.

Later in life, Glenn was elected to the U.S. Senate from Ohio in 1974 and served until 1999. He died in 2016 at the age of 95.

The sign honoring Glenn was installed at the intersection just east of Prairie Village Drive and Moonlight Road. The street, now called John Glenn Way, had previously gone unnamed.

A case for a better U.S. 69

Overland Park officials continue to push for upgrades to U.S. 69 south of 103rd Street. The highway was widened about 10 years ago between 75th and 103rd streets.

The city said that on July 13, local, state and business officials met with three members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, including chairman Peter DeFazio of Oregon, to discuss the issue and take a tour of U.S. 69. The others were U.S. Reps. Rick Larsen of Washington and Sharice Davids of Kansas.

Overland Park wants to widen and make other improvements to U.S. 69 from 103rd south to 167th Street, a segment it describes as the busiest four-lane highway in Kansas even when interstates are included. The city recently applied for $2 million in federal money for more planning and design work.

“It’s the transportation spine of Overland Park and a major economic corridor in the Kansas City region,” Mayor Carl Gerlach said in a letter sent to federal transportation officials earlier this month.

Advance voting location added in Gardner

Starting with the upcoming August primary, the Johnson County Election Office is adding a seventh advance voting location to serve people who live or in Gardner, Edgerton, Spring Hill and the surrounding area.

Advance voting in person begins July 29 for the Aug. 6 primary, which will be countywide this year.

“This addition is a big deal for the southwest part of our county,” Johnson County Election Commissioner Ronnie Metsker said in a news release. “Not only is the population growing, the workforce in the area will also benefit.”

The new polling place will be at the New Century Fieldhouse, 551 New Century Parkway in Gardner. Other advance voting locations:

Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center, 8788 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park.

Hilltop Conference Center, 7700 W. 143rd St., Overland Park.

Johnson County Election Office, 2101 E. Kansas City Road, Olathe.

Johnson County Northeast Offices, 6000 Lamar Ave., Mission.

Johnson County Sunset Office Building, 11811 S. Sunset Drive, Olathe.

Monticello Trails Middle School, 6100 Monticello Road, Shawnee.

In the early days of advance voting, through Aug. 2, the election office in Olathe will open at 8 a.m., two hours before the other locations. Visit jocoelection.org for full details on voting hours.

Online petition on Lenexa’s Ad Astra pool

Lenexa has decided to permanently close its Ad Astra pool at the end of this summer’s swimming season, to the dismay of some city residents.

An online petition, urging the city to keep the pool open, had gathered more than 1,200 signature as of July 20 at change.org.

The closure was recommended by an aquatics facilities study recently conducted by Waters Edge Aquatic Design. The pool, constructed in 1988 at 83rd Street and Mauer Road, is large and expensive to operate, the city said, but suffers from physical deterioration, accessibility issues, limited amenities and the lowest attendance of any city pool.

As early as last winter, Lenexa officials had said that 2019 likely would be the last season for Ad Astra, but opposition surfaced this month after the closure was formally announced. The petition noted that many nearby subdivisions lack pools of their own and that neighborhood children can reach Ad Astra without crossing a busy street. The petition suggested that attendance issues could be addressed if the pool were renovated.

“Many of our neighborhoods are turning over and more young families are moving in,” the petition stated. “Over the years Ad Astra has lost a few of its appealing amenities, such as the high dive and baby pool.”

However, the city’s proposed budget for 2020, to be considered by the City Council on Aug. 6, contains no money to operate the pool next year.

City officials say it doesn’t make financial sense to repair or replace the pool, which was built on fill material and has been plagued by structural problems ever since, despite major renovations in 2002 and 2012. Yearly mudjacking has been required, the city said, but cracking, settling and pipe failures continue to occur.

“In 2017, settling caused the complete failure of the wading pool,” the city said in an online posting.

The Waters Edge study outlined several scenarios for upgrading Lenexa’s aquatics facilities in the future, but no decisions have been made beyond closing Ad Astra. The City Council accepted the report on July 16.

City spokeswoman Denise Rendina said official will seek feedback from residents — first on what recreational amenities should replace the Ad Astra pool and then on how to reshape the aquatics program overall.

“Lenexa City Council members and our staff are committed to listening to our residents — and it is obvious from this petition people are passionate about this topic,” she said.

Meanwhile, Lenexa has scheduled several events to mark Ad Astra’s last days:

Free admission for Lenexa residents July 29 through Aug. 4, the last day of the season.

Dive-in movie at 9 p.m. Aug. 3, with a screening of “The Goonies.”

Pool party, noon to 6 p.m. Aug. 4, with yard games and free food.

All events are free for Lenexa residents, but others must pay the daily admission fee.

JoCo fair starts July 28 in Gardner

Sheep, goats and horses. Carnival rides, barrel races and greased pigs. Flat track races and a demolition derby.

Visitors will find those and more at the Johnson County Fair, which opens July 28 and continues through Aug. 3 at the county fairgrounds in Gardner.

Admission to the fairgrounds is free, as is the nightly entertainment on the midway stage. Fees vary each night for admission to the main event arena. Highlights:

5 p.m. July 29: Agility dog show.

6 p.m. July 30: Hot dogs and ice cream to celebrate the fair’s 80th anniversary. Afterward: muttin’ bustin, greased pig contest and a concert by Phil Vandel.

8 p.m. July 31: Barrel races.

6 p.m. Aug. 1: Hot laps begin for two- and four-wheel amateur flat track races.

7 p.m. Aug. 2: Outlaw truck and tractor pull.

10 a.m. Aug. 3: Parade in downtown Gardner.

7 p.m. Aug. 3: Demolition derby.

The fairgrounds are at 136 E. Washington St. Find the full schedule is at jocokansasfair.com.

Monticello library to bury time capsule

The Monticello Library in Shawnee is turning a year old, and will mark the occasion on Aug. 4 by burying a time capsule on the plaza outside the library.

All ages are welcome to witness the burial and partake of light refreshments from 1 to 3 p.m. at 22435 W. 66th St.

A national champion in Braille

Audrey Bethay, who will be a ninth-grader this fall at Shawnee Mission East High School, won first place in the National Braille Challenge Junior Varsity Division this summer.

She has qualified for national competition during her eight years as a Braille competitor. She and the other competitors are tested in spelling, proofreading, reading comprehension, speed and accuracy, and reading charts and graphs.

“Audrey is a gifted student and Braille reader,” Jeri Hile, Shawnee Mission vision instructor, said in a news release. “But beyond that, she is a hard worker who puts in the time to study and prepare for the competition.”

Shawnee court offers unusual deal

From July 22 through Aug. 2, the Shawnee Municipal Court is reducing outstanding fines and warrant fees if defendants pay part of what they owe in school supplies.

The deal is being offered for any offense except DUI, and offenders can take advantage of it only once.

Defendants should bring in new school supplies, still in their original packaging, along with a receipt to show the amount paid. The court will then reduce the fine by twice the cost of the school supplies, up to a maximum reduction of $50.

For example, if someone who owes $120 brings in the maximum $25 worth of school supplies, the court will give credit for the money spent on supplies, plus another $25. The remaining $70 must be paid at that time, unless the offender is on a payment plan.

Go to cityofshawnee.org for details and a list of acceptable supplies. Direct remaining questions to the court at 913-742-6003.

Free sailboat rides

On July 27, members of the Johnson County Sailing Society will offer free rides on their boats to people 18 and older at Shawnee Mission Park Lake.

“Come Sail With Us” begins at noon at the marina on the north side of the lake, which can be reached from the park entrance at 7900 Renner Road. The sailors will take part in water activities such as mock races or a sailing scavenger hunt.

The event will last as long is takes to serve all who are interested.

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