Posts tagged with Johnson County

Johnson County Sunflower contest approaching

Think you might have grown the biggest sunflower in the county?

The Johnson County K-State Research and Extension Sunflower Growing Contest is almost here, and horticulturists are offering last-minute tips.

When the plant’s leaves turn brown and the flower heads droop, the plant has reached its full maturity. You can either pull up the plant and store it until the contest or leave it in the ground, although birds or the elements could damage it outdoors. It’s OK if the plant and head are dry at the time of judging.

To enter, bring sunflowers to the Extension booth at the Overland Park Fall Festival in Santa Fe Commons Park, 8045 Santa Fe Drive in Overland Park, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Sept. 24. Winners will be announced at 2 p.m.

Cash prizes totaling $550 will be awarded for first, second and third place for both the tallest plant and the largest seed-head. For complete contest rules, visit


Team travels across country picking up, recycling trash

Moving mile by mile, the team of volunteers at Pick Up America have seen much as they gathered trash along the country’s roadways.

In Maryland, they found a chicken duct taped to a shoe box. One spot along the Ohio River, the receded waters left behind a contour of plastic bottles so thick it took a single day to move just over a half-mile.

And in Missouri, the team picked up enough aluminium beer cans to joke that their trip is partially sponsored by the drunk drivers of the Show Me State.

But mostly the team has discovered heaps of wasted natural resources thoughtlessly tossed out of car windows. It’s an image they want to share with the rest of us.

“All the things we view as trash, what ends up on the side of the road and things we throw away every day, are not necessarily trash. They are a natural resource that we are making a decision to stuff in a landfill. And that does no one any good,” Jeff Chen.

Chen, a 25-year-old University of Maryland alumni, is cofounder of the nonprofit Pick Up America. The idea come from a dream to walk across the country and was combined by an experience he had as a student conservation volunteer at Yosemite National Park. The trail to one of the park’s most popular attractions, Half Dome, was covered in litter.

“We are just idealistic kids. When we dream up something weird and ridiculous we just try to do it,” Chen said.

A year ago in March, the team launched from the coast of Maryland and by November had made it to Ohio, where they stopped for the winter. Their work resumed last March in Ohio and the goal is to make it to Denver by November. By November 2012, they hope to reach the San Francisco Bay.

So far, they’ve collected more than 125,000 pounds of trash. But, the group’s mission isn’t just about picking up the country’s litter. Chen said they want to spread a message of zero waste.

As they move across the country, the team has discovered that much of what they collect can’t be recycle because the nearby communities don’t have the facilities to accept the different kinds of plastics.

“I would say that 20 percent of the things that are picked up are actually recyclable. When you get to a bigger city, you are able to recycle a lot more. You try to do what you can. But the system isn’t working in our favor,” Chen said.

Chen and his group are still looking for volunteers for the Midwest Litter Fest, a Sept. 24 event which will have teams helping pick up trash on a 45-mile route from Johnson County to Lawrence. It’s one event that Chen hopes will inspire others to keep their roadways clean and reduce their consumption.

“We want to get people out there to see trash with us, to see what is on the side of the road. Once they see it, maybe they will get hooked and maybe make a commitment to reducing the plastic in their life,” Chen said.

Details of events:

Pick Up America along with the Blue River Watershed Association and Cans for the Community is hosting the Midwest Litter Fest on Sept. 24. The event will tackle a 45-mile stretch of road from Roeland Park to Lawrence.

The organizers are looking for 20 to 25 teams of between four and 10 people to help collect litter along a two-mile section of the proposed route. Volunteers will meet a 8 a.m. at Shelter No. 12 in Shawnee Mission Park for breakfast and a safety briefing. Teams will help pick-up litter from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and return back to the shelter for a victory photo.

All participants can receive a T-shirt. To register or find out more information go to

By Christine Metz


Group hayrides coming to Shawnee Mission Park

Johnson County Park and Recreation District is offering its annual hayrides at Shawnee Mission Park, 7900 Renner Road, which groups may schedule any day between Sept. 17 and Nov. 20.

The hour-long tractor-drawn rides are capped by an hour-long campfire with warm apple cider and marshmallows. The cost is $6 per person, with a minimum of $65 required to schedule a ride. There is a 25-person maximum per wagon, and one adult for every 10 children is required.

Reservations must be made at least two weeks in advance of the ride by calling (816) 831-3359.

For those who don’t want to organize a group to take a ride, the park district is offering public hayrides at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 6. Preregistration is required by calling the number above.


County reports cases of contagious disease

Johnson County Health Department officials announced on Friday that multiple county residents have been diagnosed with the contagious disease Cryptosporidiosis.

Symptoms of the disease, commonly called Crypto, include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, nausea and vomiting. Crypto is spread by contact with the stool of infected people or animals, by consumption of contaminated food or water, and by person-to-person or animal-to-animal contact.

Symptoms usually develop two to 10 days after exposure and may last from one to two weeks. Crypto can be spread for two weeks after symptoms have subsided, so those with diarrhea should not swim during that time. Crypto can live for days in chlorine treated water.

The best prevention measure is careful handwashing with soap and warm water, according to the health department. Residents with symptoms or questions should contact a healthcare provider.


Kansas Bioscience Authority may invest in animal health products company seeking to relocate to Lenexa

The Kansas Bioscience Authority’s investment committee recommended new investments on Monday that would seek to bring jobs to the state and improve a company’s animal health products.

All investments must be approved by the KBA’s full board of directors before becoming official.

The committee approved an expansion and attraction grant that would give $550,000 to Ceva Animal Health LLC to relocate its North American headquarters to Lenexa.

Company representatives said the funds would allow them to keep 10 high-paying jobs in Lenexa while attracting 20 more to the state.

The jobs would have a payroll of more than $3 million in total.

Also on Monday, the committee recommended that Manhattan-based MegaStarter LLC receive a $205,000 research and development voucher that would be matched by the company in order to make improvements to an animal health product.

David Vranicar, KBA interim president and CEO, said the committee also heard a proposal from GreenTree Technology Partners to develop software that would assist clinical research organizations.

After hearing the proposal, Vranicar said the committee took no official action, but may move forward in the future with a smaller request for funding.

The investment committee also recommended a change in the way the KBA reviews its candidates for its Eminent Scholars program, frequently used by the KU Cancer Center to attract new recruits.

Candidates who are members of the National Academy of Sciences are also required to undergo a review of their credentials by a third party.

Bill Sanford, chairman of the investment committee, said it was the committee’s feeling that membership in the National Academy of Sciences was sufficient to determine if a candidate was qualified for the program.

By Andy Hyland


Weekend road work planned for metro highways

The Kansas Department of Transportation is reminding drivers that the summer road work season isn't over yet. Drivers are warned to expect delays due to the following weekend projects:

  • Interstate 35 will be reduced to one lane in both directions from 135th Street to 119th Street, beginning tonight at 10 p.m. and re-opening at 5:30 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 22.
  • United States Highway 69 will be reduced to one lane, both north and southbound, from Interstate 435 to College Boulevard, beginning tonight at 8 p.m. and re-opening at 5 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 22.
  • The ramp from westbound I-435 to southbound US-69 will be closed.
  • The ramp from eastbound I-435 to southbound US-69 will be closed.
  • The ramp from southbound US-69 to College Boulevard will be closed.

All projects are expected to be completed on Monday, Aug. 22.


K-10 panel to recommend higher fines, tougher enforcement

A committee studying the safety of Kansas Highway 10 from Lawrence east to Interstate 435 agreed Tuesday night to ask the Kansas Legislature to designate the four-lane highway as a “highway safety corridor” to increase fines for traffic infractions and allow for additional enforcement on the busy commuter road.

Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, attended the meeting in Eudora and indicated he would begin working on a bill to propose for the 2012 legislative session.

“It’s my understanding this would mean enhanced enforcement and increased fines so that we make people aware that we have a safety issue here, and we’re serious” about drivers obeying the speed limit and traffic laws, said Rick Walker, a De Soto city council member.

It was the first concrete recommendation from the committee formed in the wake of the April 16 cross-median crash near Eudora that killed two of the city’s residents, including 5-year-old Cainan Shutt.

Gov. Sam Brownback has ordered the Kansas Department of Transportation to work with Douglas County and Johnson County residents and officials to study KDOT’s policy for placing cable median barriers on K-10 and make other safety recommendations.

Clay Adams, KDOT’s northeast Kansas district engineer who is co-chairman of the committee with Eudora Mayor Scott Hopson, said other states have targeted dangerous stretches of highways with higher fines and tougher enforcement. Hopson said after the meeting he also planned to ask the Eudora Police Department to patrol for speeding drivers more on the portion of K-10 that is in the city limits.

Members of the Johnson County Commission last month proposed a pilot project to install a cable median barrier along two portions of K-10 where more than one cross-median fatality crash occurred since 2000 — a two-mile stretch near K-10 and Kansas Highway 7 in Johnson County estimated to cost $250,000 and the one-mile portion in Eudora near the April 16 accident estimated at $125,000. Johnson County as part of the plan would provide the state with 20 percent of the funds for the Johnson County stretch.

Adams also said Tuesday KDOT has asked Dean Sicking, a University of Nebraska civil engineering professor, to study one-mile stretches of the state’s four-lane roads and identify dangerous “hot spots” that might be candidates for a cable median barrier due to the number of accidents and other factors like speed.

Cainan Shutt’s grandmother Carie Lawrence, a committee member, said hundreds of people have signed a petition asking the state to install cable median barriers because they believe K-10 is an unsafe highway. KDOT officials have said cable median barriers won’t stop all injuries and deaths.

“I’m not here to say we don’t want to put cable median barriers up on K-10,” Adams said. “We just want to make sure that if we do we don’t create a problem worse than what we have out there now.”

Adams also told committee members KDOT has awarded a $4.3 million bid to Hamm Co. of Perry to begin work on expanding shoulders on K-10 in Douglas County and installing rumble strips on the inside shoulder meant to alert drivers who veer onto it. The project, scheduled to begin in September and end Nov. 4, also includes milling and repaving of the driving lanes.

By George Diepenbrock


Alcohol believed to be a factor in Saturday morning K-10 fatality

The Kansas Highway Patrol has identified the fatality victim in a Saturday early morning K-10 accident as 23-year-old Ezequiel Gallardo-Moncalla of Kansas City.

Gallardo-Moncalla died after his Mazda 626, driving the wrong way in the westbound lanes on K-10 just west of Interstate 435, struck a Ford F150, driven by 28-year-old Olathe man Brian Ingalls.

According to Kansas Highway Patrol captain Dek Kruger, initial reports indicated Gallardo-Moncalla turned off of South Ridgeview Road onto the highway going the wrong direction and officers where unable to provide assistance before the crash occurred. Kruger said alcohol was believed to be a factor in the incident.

Ingalls was transported to Overland Park Regional Hospital. A hospital spokesperson said that Ingalls was in stable condition as of 1:15 p.m. Sunday, but could not release any other information.

By Shaun Hittle and Nick Nelson


County Board of Commissioners issues burn ban

The Johnson County Board of Commissioners has issued a burn ban for all unincorporated areas of the county effective until further notice. This ban comes on top of the ban issued by the Northwest Consolidated Fire District last week.

"Dry weather and high winds have combined to produce conditions that make open burning in the unincorporated area a threat to public health and safety," says the press release posted to the Johnson County government website.

The release also states that the last time a county-wide burn ban was issued was 2002. Anyone caught in violation of the ban could be fined up to $500 and sentenced to up to 30 days in jail.


Ozone alert in effect Tuesday in metro KC

The prospect of unhealthy levels of smog Tuesday has prompted officials to issue an orange Ozone Alert for the entire metropolitan Kansas City area.

The alert was issued Monday by the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) Air Quality Program.

This alert indicates that an unhealthy level of ground-level ozone, also known as smog, is expected in the Kansas City region.

The two most important actions residents should take on Ozone Alert days are:

Protect your health

Ozone pollution can cause a variety of problems in healthy adults, including chest pains, coughing, nausea, throat irritation and difficulty breathing. People who are sensitive to air pollution—children, seniors and people with breathing or heart problems—should limit their exposure to outdoor air between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Everyone should consider scheduling outdoor activities before 10 a.m. or after 7 p.m.

Reduce pollution

More than half of all emissions that lead to ozone pollution is caused by doing yard work, driving, grilling and other everyday activities. Residents can help reduce pollution by carpooling, taking the bus, postponing mowing and postponing refueling vehicles. On Ozone Alert days, fares for regular bus routes are only 75 cents.

Emissions from vehicles, lawn and garden equipment and other sources react in heat and sunlight to form ozone pollution. Other environmental factors—such as warm, sunny weather, low wind speeds and lack of rain—increase the likelihood of poor air quality.

Some amount of ozone pollution is common during typical summers in Greater Kansas City, but high concentrations of ground-level ozone result in violations of the national air quality standards set by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.