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Jewish Community Center has broken ground on a substantial building expansion

The lobby area for the Jewish Community Center expansion will look something like this.
The lobby area for the Jewish Community Center expansion will look something like this.

Jewish Community Center breaks ground on project

After raising more than $10 million, the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City has broken ground on a substantial building expansion at its campus in Overland Park.

The Staenberg Family Recreation Complex, expected to open late next year, will include a new entrance to the center’s fitness and sports facilities, a new gymnasium, an indoor turf field, another art room, renovated Fitness Zone and babysitting area, dedicated dance studios and a yoga studio. The 32,000-square-foot expansion, on the west side of the campus, will allow for new programs including pickleball, volleyball and futsal, and would accommodate growth in camps and other programs.

Membership at the Jewish Community Center, commonly called The J, has increased 47 percent since 2007, when the fitness and sports facility was last renovated, officials said.

The name of the facility recognizes Michael Staenberg, a St. Louis philanthropist who initially gave $1.8 million to The J’s capital campaign and promised to donate $1.2 million more once $9.3 million had been raised from the community.

The fund-raising goal is $11.5 million, including a $2 million endowment for operations and upkeep. At least $10.35 million has been secured so far.

“We are much further along with our campaign than we expected to be at this point and we are thrilled to be so close to qualifying for this important milestone match,” said Jim Sluyter, The J’s president and CEO, said in a news release issued before the groundbreaking.

15 years on the job, and counting

To mark Stephen Rouse’s 15th work anniversary at Mission Med Vet, co-workers surprised him with a Weiner Wagon food truck for the celebration lunch on Aug. 30.

Nothing could have been better for a colleague nicknamed “Hot Dog” because he loves that food so much.

Rouse, who has Down syndrome, is a participant in The Mission Project, which enables adults with developmental disabilities, such as Down and autism, to live and work on their own. All current participants are employed, many in jobs they’ve kept for years.

Participants and their families work with job coaches, both to find employment and to manage employment issues. The Mission Project provides rides to and from work.

At Mission Med Vet – on Johnson Drive a few blocks from where he lives at the Mission Project – Rouse does laundry and tends to the kennels.

Merriam ‘tops out’ its new community center

The city of Merriam has reached a construction milestone this month at the $36.6 million community center it’s building in Vavra Park.

At a topping-out ceremony on Sept. 18, crews put the last steel beam in place, to complete the building’s frame. The community center is expected to open next summer.

Parade of Homes starts Sept. 28

The Fall Parade of Homes returns to Johnson County and the rest of the Kansas City area on Sept. 28, featuring 292 homes by 97 builders. The townhomes, villas and single-family residences range in price from $242,000 to $2.5 million.

All homes will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Oct. 13, and admission is free. Free parade guides can picked up at the Home Builders offices at Interstate 435 and Holmes Road starting the week before Sept. 28 and at all display homes during the event.

Consumers also can download a mobile app that maps a customized route to each home once parade-goers save their favorites.

SM district set school facility forums

The Shawnee Mission School District has set a series of community meetings next month for a discussion of future building construction in the district.

The forums are part of a strategic planning process that is looking, in part, at facilities. Discussions are likely to lead to a ballot issue. Students, parents and others will be briefed on the planning process, overall school school facility needs, a preliminary list of priorities and specific information related to each attendance area.

A preliminary recommendation suggests that Diemer, Rushton and Pawnee elementary schools should be the next to be replaced. Feedback will be considered as the bond proposal is finalized.

The meetings will be held from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on these dates:

Oct. 1: Shawnee Mission East High School, 7500 Mission Road in Prairie Village.

Oct. 8: Shawnee Mission Northwest High School , 12701 W. 67th St. in Shawnee.

Oct. 15: Shawnee Mission West High School, 8800 W. 85th St. in Overland Park.

Oct. 22: Shawnee Mission South High School, 5800 W. 107th St. in Overland Park.

Oct. 29: Shawnee Mission North High School, 7401 Johnson Drive in Overland Park.

Free concert and movie at SM Park

The Johnson County Park and Recreation District is treating the community to a free outdoor concert and movie at Shawnee Mission Park on Sept. 28.

“Evening in the Park” will include a 90-minute concert by the 1980s tribute band the M80s starting at 6 p.m., followed by the ‘80s movie “Back to the Future.”

It will take place at the Theatre in the Park, which has a separate entrance at 7710 Renner Road in Shawnee. The entrance will open at 5 p.m., and seating starts at 5:30 p.m.

Food, beer, wine and a signature fall drink will be offered for sale. Bring lawn chairs or blankets.

Overland Park Fall Festival is Sept. 28

Overland Park has planned a day of family fun Sept. 28 during its annual fall festival.

The event runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Overland Park Farmers Market, 7950 Marty St. and the surrounding area.

Activities include a parade at 10 a.m., arts and crafts booths, three stages for concerts and food for purchase. The farmers market will be open, too.

Musical headliners include Casi Joy at 8 a.m., the Kansas City Latin Jazz Orchestra at noon and Funk Syndicate at 3 p.m.

The free celebration is supported by the city, the Downtown Overland Park Partnership and Friends of the Overland Park Arts. Those who park at Shawnee Mission West High School, 8800 W. 85th St., can take a shuttle to the event.

Nominees sought for democracy award

The Johnson County League of Women Voters is accepting nominations for its 2019 Making Democracy Work Award, which was created in 2008 to recognize people who demonstrate visionary leadership that strengthens democracy. The deadline is Oct. 25.

An honoree’s work must be nonpartisan, innovative and unique, able to be replicated and encourage active, informed citizenship in the community.

Find nomination forms at Find the link under the “About Us” tab.

$4 million donated for Olathe hospital expansion

The Sunderland Foundation has pledged a lead gift of $4 million for Olathe Medical Center’s surgery suite and pharmacy expansion, which is part of a $7 million campaign to enhance patient care at the hospital.

The Sunderland funds will support the expansion of technology, procedures and facilities at Olathe Medical Center, including state-of-the-art surgical suites. Four new operating suites, equipped to accommodate the latest minimally invasive techniques, will be added, as well as a hybrid operating room. The hybrid room will enable the medical center to perform more advanced vascular and interventional cardiology procedures.

Foundation president Kent Sunderland said the foundation likes to support local organizations that take care of patients close to home.

“Independent, community hospitals that make it on their own are a rarity. Olathe Medical Center exemplifies this model,” he said in a news release.

“We have friends and family who have received great care at OMC, and we are pleased the new surgery suites will be able to accommodate even more patients needing a higher level of care.”

The two-story expansion, to be finished in the summer of 2020, will add 16,990 square feet to the south of the existing surgery space. The second story will include a modern pharmacy to replace the 32-year-old pharmacy that was part of the original Olathe Medical Center building. The pharmacy will accommodate new regulations for the preparation and handling of hazardous medications.

Other funds raised through the hospital’s From the Heart campaign will support the most needed services in the community, the hospital said, including the neonatal intensive care unit, Olathe Health Cancer Care and the Olathe Health Hospice House.

The Monte and Betty “Betsy” Tudor Trust has donated a lead gift of $100,000 for the NICU, and the Vicki Brubaker Memorial donated $100,000 for the cancer initiative.