Olathe & Southwest Joco

Police chief tapped for top role in Gardner

Students feel the drumbeat in the Olathe district’s Briarwood Elementary School.
Students feel the drumbeat in the Olathe district’s Briarwood Elementary School. Courtesy photo

Pruetting promoted to chief administrator

The city of Gardner has promoted its police chief, Jim Pruetting, to the post of city administrator, effective April 29.

Before going to work for Gardner in 2015, Pruetting had retired from the Kansas City Police Department after 31 years of service that included a number of high-level positions.

He will replace Interim City Administrator Laura Gourley after she retires on April 26. Gourley had stepped in for Cheryl Harrison-Lee, who resigned in September after being placed on administrative leave for unknown reasons.

“Jim’s strong leadership skills, comprehensive knowledge of municipal services and positive community relationships made him a top candidate for the position,” Mayor Steve Shute said in a statement. “But what distinguished him the most from the other finalists was the overall support for Jim from the community and city leadership staff.”

The city hired the League of Kansas Municipalities to facilitate the candidate search and accepted more than 40 applications. Pruetting and two other finalists participated in public meet-and-greet and also met department heads and managers.

“Jim is an incredible talent with proven success in every role he has worked in,” Shute said. “We are confident in Jim’s ability to move the community forward while maintaining an organizational culture of teamwork, trust and transparency.”

Pruetting holds a master’s degree in management and has worked in management roles for 25 years, the city said. Gardner Police Capt. Jay Belcher will serve as interim police chief.

Drums carry a message

When Briarwood Elementary School students saw dozens of drums forming a neat wall in the gymnasium, they knew that music would be part of their upcoming assembly.

But along with rhythm, the father-son team of Johnny and Adam Pierce brought messages of self-expression, inclusiveness and communication to the children.

“One of our music standards is to expose kids to different types of music professions, and they were able to see performers in action in a very active environment,” music teacher Jill Owens-Ebmeier said in a news release. “Music is a wonderful tool to promote and highlight diversity in our school and community. It can help you express some of the simplest differences in each other but still promote cooperation.”

With drums of various sizes, tambourines, colorful rattles and drum sticks, the presenters involved the students as both leaders and followers. They had the crowd listening for music cues, following the lead of a single student, and moving to the music.

“It’s important that our kids be exposed to different opportunities and see these instruments,” said Sarah Sorrel, president of the school PTA, which funded the event through a fund-raiser held earlier in the year.

Olathe Farmers’ Market opens this weekend

The Olathe Farmers’ Market opens for the season at 7:30 a.m. April 20 at two locations:

▪ Stagecoach Park at 1205 E. Kansas City Road.

▪ Black Bob Park at 14500 W. 151st St.

The market will continue to be open every Saturday, from 7:30 a.m. until items are sold out, through Oct. 12.

Wednesday market days will be added from May 1 through Aug. 28, also opening at 7:30 a.m.

Olathe libraries to close for Easter

Both Olathe libraries will be closed on April 21 for the Easter holiday. The locations are downtown at 201 E. Park St. in downtown Olathe and 13511 S. Mur-Len Road in the eastern part of the city.

Olathe School District makes Forbes list of best employers

Olathe Public Schools has been named as one of America’s Best Midsize Employers by Forbes magazine. The school district ranked 115th on a list that also included the Kansas City engineering firm HNTB, which came in at No. 5.

In collaboration with analytics from Statista, Forbes selects America’s Best Employers based on an independent survey from a sample of more than 50,000 U.S. employees for companies employing at least 1,000 people in their U.S. operations. Mid-size employers have up to 5,000 workers, and Olathe employs more than 4,500.

“To be recognized by Forbes as one of the best midsize employers in America is a great accomplishment,” said John Allison, superintendent of Olathe Public Schools. “This honor is reflective of the work of our incredible staff members as they strive to provide for students in Olathe.”

The district serves more than 30,000 students from Olathe, Lenexa, Overland Park and Shawnee.

Guardianship is topic for special-needs families

Guardianship and its alternatives will be discussed at a free seminar on April 25 for Olathe School District parents whose students have special needs.

Elizabeth Moran, founder and managing attorney for Midwest Advocacy for Disability Rights, will discuss her support of community inclusion and the self-advocacy movement. The session will start at 6:30 p.m. in the Instructional Resource Center, 14090 Black Bob Road.

Sign language and Spanish interpreters can be requested by calling Sally Boyd at 913-780-8170 at least three days before the seminar. No other RSVP is required.

Math Wings winners announced

The final 2018-19 Olathe Elementary Math Wings competition took place earlier this month.

The fourth-grade division was won by Regency Place Elementary School. Team members Mahi Kohli, Anjali Krishnakumar and Riya Mazumdar were coached by Staci Andersen and Katy Auld.

The fifth-grade division ended in a three-way tie among the Cedar Creek Elementary, Prairie Center Elementary and Regency Place Elementary teams.

Cedar Creek team members Hayden Renoux, Jason Yan and Cade Zimmerman were coached by Andi Fyffe. Prairie Center team members Sylvia Flannery, Aiden Johnson and Ashlyn Warren were coached by Jill DeGroot and Pamela Griffing. Anderson and Auld coached Regency Place team members Nicholas Hammond, Jack Kennedy and Grady Waddell.

Girl’s poster chosen for national contest

A Gardner School District fifth-grader is advancing to the national competition in the Americanism Elementary School Poster Contest sponsored by the Sons of the American Revolution.

Paige Noth, who attends Pioneer Ridge Middle School, won the state competition and received a cash prize. Her poster will go to the national competition July 5-10 in Costa Mesa, Calilf