Joco Diversions

Property tax payments due this month

Barb McEver and Dean Askeland
Barb McEver and Dean Askeland Courtesy photo

Dec. 20 is the deadline for Johnson County residents to pay the first of half the real estate and personal property taxes listed on statements mailed to taxpayers late last month.

The county said it mailed 204,736 real estate and 18,942 personal property tax statements. If the taxes are paid by a mortgage company, the statement will say “THIS IS NOT A TAX BILL” at the bottom. For those who pay their taxes directly, there will be a return payment stub at the bottom of the statement.

Roeland Park to discuss traffic light removal

Roeland Park has scheduled a meeting on Dec. 19 to discuss the removal of the traffic signal at 52nd Street and Roe Boulevard as part of the Roe Blvd 2020 project.

The meeting, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at City Hall, will outline existing traffic volumes and conditions at that location, the criteria that determine whether a signal is warranted and the dangers caused by unwarranted signals. The design process also will be discussed.

UCS awards

United Community Services of Johnson County has honored three individuals and two programs for their positive contributions to the quality of life in the county:

▪ Barb McEver and Dean Askeland have been named Citizens of the Year for establishing overnight shelters for homeless adults without children. After learning that the county lacked shelters for childless adults, the two began a project four years ago to provide overnight shelter when the temperature dips below 21 degrees. The shelter has been operating from a church, but McEver and Askeland are working to move the program to a building their organization has acquired.

▪ Johnson County District Judge Timothy McCarthy received the Distinguished Public Service Award for his efforts to create the Veterans Treatment Court, which was launched in January 2016. As an alternative to incarceration, the court offers drug and alcohol testing, treatment, recovery support meetings and mentorship to veterans to who agree to be part of the program. Besides the district court, the effort involves the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, the Johnson County Mental Health Center, the Johnson County Justice Information Management System and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

▪ Excellence in Community Service Awards went to two programs with roots in the Shawnee Mission and Olathe school districts.

Impact Olathe, launched in 2016 by the Olathe Public Schools, aims to help meet the needs of families who are struggling financially. The district works with nine social service agencies to help the families with housing, employment, health care, childcare, transportation and food.

“While the district focuses on student success in the classroom, it takes a community approach to meet the needs of our families facing economic challenges,” Heather Schoonover, the Olathe district's community liaison, said in a news release.

Project HOME (Housing Opportunities Move Everyone) serves the Shawnee Mission area, where an estimated 400 students typically meet the criteria for homelessness. Now in its third year, Project HOME convenes twice-monthly meetings with representatives of agencies that help move families into permanent housing. It identifies eligible families and takes a holistic approach to getting them back on their feet.

Roesland School earns national honor

Roesland Elementary is among 100 schools across the country to be recognized by the National Association of Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) State Program Administrators as a National ESEA Distinguished School.

The designation honors qualifying schools for outstanding academic achievements. Roesland is being recognized in the category of closing the achievement gap between student groups.

The school is at 4900 Parish Drive in Roeland Park.

Winter Solstice celebration

Along with Christmas season comes the Winter Solstice on Dec. 21. It’s the shortest day of the year, when this part of the Earth is tilted the farthest from the sun.

A celebration of the solstice will take place from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 22, at the Ernie Miller Nature Center, 909 N. Kansas 7. Visitors can drop in anytime after 4:30 to hike luminary-lit trails, learn how animals survive the long winter, enjoy hot chocolate and marshmallows by a fire and hear ancient stories about the solstice.

If paid in advance, the cost is $6 for Johnson County residents or $7 for nonresidents. Admission at the door is $8, and space is not guaranteed.

To register, call 913-831-3359 or go to, click on “Register for Activities” and search for course ID 11946.

New assistant city administrator for Spring Hill

Jose Leon began work Dec. 3 as assistant city administrator in Spring Hill. He previously was public works director in Roeland Park.

In his new post, Leon will oversee public works, community development and the physical plant. Leon replaces Jim Hendershot, who was promoted to city administrator in June.