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After battling cancer, McLaughlin is new chief of Merriam Police Department

Darren McLaughlin
Darren McLaughlin

Merriam names new police chief

With his lymphoma in remission after several months of treatment, Darren McLaughlin is now chief of the 37-member Merriam Police Department.

The 30-year veteran, who was diagnosed with cancer in January, was named to the post on Sept. 23. He had returned to work earlier in the month.

“It was very hard to be away for seven months,” McLaughlin said in a news release. “The illness happened so fast, and I really had no time to prepare myself for the journey I was about to take.

“One day I’m at work, the next day I’m gone. The hard part was that I didn’t know for so long if I would make it back or not.”

The city’s previous chief, Michael Daniels, retired April 1. Todd Allen was acting chief until McLaughlin took over.

“Everyone in the police department missed him and is excited to have him back,” Allen said of McLaughlin. “His leadership and vision will be a huge asset ... moving forward.”

JoCo acquires first all-electric car

For the first time, Johnson County Government has an all-electric vehicle in its fleet. It’s a Nissan Leaf that will be used mostly by Mike Boothe, the Department of Health and Environment’s air quality compliance specialist.

This is the latest in a series of “cleaner” cars that Boothe has used. The Leaf replaces a 2004 hybrid car, and before that, Boothe converted a 1990 Ford Explorer to run on propane, which burns cleaner than gasoline.

“I conduct inspections at various manufacturing companies and facilities within Johnson County that are subject to the Clean Air Act,” Boothe said in a news release. “I believe that we should lead by example, to not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk.”

New building for community college

Johnson County Community College will dedicate its newest building at 1:15 p.m. Oct. 10, with a ribbon-cutting and open house ending at 3:30 p.m.

The Hugh L. Libby Career and Technical Education Center brings together the college’s current automotive, engineering and electrical technology programs with a curriculum designed to meet industry needs.

The building contains 69,000 square feet of classroom and learning areas, including 14 labs. Exposed pipes and electrical systems will reinforce the students’ knowledge of infrastructure.

Blue Ribbon schools chosen

Six Kansas schools have been designated 2019 National Blue Ribbon Schools, and four of them serve students from Johnson County:

Clear Creek Elementary School in the De Soto district.

Corinth Elementary School in the Shawnee MIssion district.

Lakewood Elementary School in the Blue Valley district.

Holy Rosary-Wea Catholic School in Bucyrus.

The award is based on a school’s overall academic excellence or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.

Community can weigh in on college president search

As Johnson County Community College searches for a new president, it has scheduled two community meetings on Oct. 10 where participants can identify future opportunities and challenges for the college and give their thoughts about the ideal candidate.

The new president will replace Joe Sopcich, who will retire July 1, 2020.

Consultants from the AGB Search firm will facilitate the meetings at these times in the CoLab of the Office and Classroom Building (OCB) on the campus at College Boulevard and Quivira Road:

7 to 8 p.m. for the community and alumni.

8 to 9 p.m., an open forum.

Information gathered at the meetings will help the firm develop a search profile and advertisements. For those unable to attend, a survey will be posted Oct. 11-20 at

Census office opens in Overland Park

The U.S. Census Bureau has opened an area office at 7700 W. 119th St. in Overland Park. It opened on Oct. 1, six months before the count begins on April 1.

According to a U.S. Census Bureau media advisory, “the office will serve as the operational hub for the constitutionally mandated decennial census and will begin hiring thousands of staff across Kansas in the next several months.”

Close bedroom doors at night, fire department says

For safety, the Lenexa Fire Department is urging citizens to close their bedroom doors before going to sleep at night..

“This simple act can keep a fire from spreading, limit damage, keep temperatures and carbon monoxide levels down and even save your life,” the department said.

Namesakes tentatively chosen for park projects

The Johnson County park board wants to honor two couples by naming a new park and an observation tower after them.

In mid-September, the board tentatively chose the Russell and Helen Means Observation Tower as the name for a 45-foot-high structure being built at Kill Creek Park in Olathe.

And the future 11-acre park — at 167th and Flint streets — is being named for Arthur and Betty Verhaeghe.

Both proposals honor former owners of the respective properties who donated land and/or money toward the projects, which are expected to open later this year.

A public comment period on the names has begun, and citizens have until Oct. 18 to give their opinion or suggest alternatives. Comments can be sent via email to or by letter to: Board Chair, JCPRD Administration Building, 7900 Renner Road, Shawnee Mission, KS 66219.

‘Sweet Charity’ runs Oct. 11-27

Theater buffs can see the Bob Fosse/Neil Simon play “Sweet Charity” this month as Theatre in the Park takes its next production indoors.

The run begins at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 11 in the Black Box Theatre at the Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center, 8788 Metcalf Ave. in Overland Park. Subsequent performances are at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 12, 18, 19, 24, 25 and 26 and at 2 p.m Oct. 13, 20, 26 and 27.

The protagonist, Charity Hope Valentine, works as a dance hall hostess and searches for love with little success. No setback, though, can kill her innate optimism. The play, which premiered in 1966 on Broadway, features the songs “Big Spender,” “If My Friends Could See Me Now” and “Rhythm of Life.”

Tickets are available at or at the Arts and Heritage Center. Prices vary.

FosterAdopt Connect relocates to Lenexa

FosterAdopt Connect will celebrate the grand opening of its Lenexa office with a ribbon cutting and light refreshments at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 10. The location, at 8336 Nieman Road, replaces a space in Olathe that the organization had outgrown.

FosterAdopt Connect specializes in solving problems for children and families involved in and affected by the child welfare system. It had established its east Kansas office in 2014.

Olathe will take household hazardous waste

Residents from across Johnson County can dispose of old paint cans, gas and oil, chemicals, pesticides and other household hazardous waste at Olathe’s drop-off location, which is open the second Saturday of each month.

The next free event will be from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 12 at 1420 S. Robinson Drive. No appointment is necessary, but people should bring a photo ID and label items not in their original containers.

For a full list of acceptable items, go to