Posts tagged with Johnson County

KDOT warns drivers to expect weekend delays

Drivers can expect multiple delays this weekend as several highways in the metro area undergo continued repair work, according to a traffic alert from the Kansas Department of Transportation.

Drivers should plan alternate routes or be prepared for lengthy delays. The following closures will take place, beginning at 7 p.m. tonight and reopening at 5:30 a.m. Monday:

  • Northbound Interstate 35 from 119th Street to 135th Street will have two closed lanes;
  • Southbound I-35 from 95th Street to College Boulevard will have two closed lanes;
  • All ramps from westbound Interstate 435 to I-35;
  • Northbound and southbound I-435 will be reduced to one lane.
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County issues call for artists

The deadline is approaching for artists to enter the Johnson County Park and Recreation District’s Art Fest 2011 exhibit.

The show will be displayed from Oct. 30 to Nov. 20 at the Ernie Miller Nature Center in Olathe. The entry deadline is Aug. 4.

Art Fest is open to Johnson County residents who are at least 21 years old. The exhibit is limited to original, wall-mounted art executed within the past two years. Last year’s Art Fest attracted 246 entries, and 40 artists were exhibited.

For a single entry fee of $25, artists may submit up to three pieces of art for consideration. Only one piece per artist may be selected for the exhibition.

Entry information and forms are available at the district’s website at jcprd.com or by calling (913) 894-3324.

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County issues call for artists

The deadline is approaching for artists to enter the Johnson County Park and Recreation District’s Art Fest 2011 exhibit.

The show will be displayed from Oct. 30 to Nov. 20 at the Ernie Miller Nature Center in Olathe. The entry deadline is Aug. 4.

Art Fest is open to Johnson County residents who are at least 21 years old. The exhibit is limited to original, wall-mounted art executed within the past two years. Last year’s Art Fest attracted 246 entries, and 40 artists were exhibited.

For a single entry fee of $25, artists may submit up to three pieces of art for consideration. Only one piece per artist may be selected for the exhibition.

Entry information and forms are available at the district’s website at jcprd.com or by calling (913) 894-3324.

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Adoption finds platform in pageants

Julie Schoemehl of Shawnee will represent Kansas at the Mrs. International pageant this weekend in Chicago. She hopes to spread the word about foster and adoptive parenting, which led her to adopt four children of her own, including Walter (left), 10, Jacob, 8, and Sierra, 4. Schoemehl’s husband, Kenny Hartman, and oldest child, Isaiah, 12, are not pictured.

Julie Schoemehl of Shawnee will represent Kansas at the Mrs. International pageant this weekend in Chicago. She hopes to spread the word about foster and adoptive parenting, which led her to adopt four children of her own, including Walter (left), 10, Jacob, 8, and Sierra, 4. Schoemehl’s husband, Kenny Hartman, and oldest child, Isaiah, 12, are not pictured. by Sara Shepherd

Julie Schoemehl’s five-bedroom Shawnee home is stocked with 14 beds, where she and her husband have housed more than 100 foster children through the years.

They’ve had as many as nine under their roof at one time, and permanently adopted four of their own.

But Schoemehl is no frumpy soccer mom.

This week Schoemehl, the reigning Mrs. Kansas International, will take her high heels and sparkling tiara to Chicago to compete for the title of Mrs. International. Her goal in entering the pageant, she said, was to find a platform to educate others about foster care and adoption.

In particular, Schoemehl said, older foster children or those with special needs can have the hardest time finding permanent families.

“These are the forgotten kids,” she said. “These kids come into this world, and they sign a blank check. They pay whatever price their parents have chosen.”

Of the estimated 424,000 children who have been separated from their birth families and placed in foster care, about 114,500 can never return to their original homes, according to the North American Council on Adoptable Children, nacac.org. Special needs adoption helps many of them find the nurturing and support of a permanent family.

The council defines special needs children as those who have a more difficult time finding families willing to adopt them. Some have physical or mental conditions that require special treatment; others may have emotional problems stemming from abuse or neglect.

That was the case for the children that Schoemehl and her husband, Kenny Hartman, adopted — Isaiah, 12, Walter, 10, Jacob, 8, and Sierra, 4.

The three youngest joined Schoemehl Friday for a visit to the park, where they were obedient, polite and active. But Schoemehl said that hadn’t always been the case, for them or their brother Isaiah.

Isaiah was a “failure to thrive” baby, Schoemehl said.

He was born with medical problems that included underdeveloped lungs, but his biological mother took him out of the hospital early against doctors’ recommendations. When Schoemehl took him in, at 14 months old, he weighed 12 pounds.

“He was really sick when we got him, really sick,” Schoemehl said. “After that first year he kind of turned the corner.”

The first week Walter, then 3, spent in Schoemehl’s home, he tore off all the wallpaper and only slept a couple hours a night.

Walter was later diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and oppositional defiance disorder, which medications have helped control. Although, Schoemehl said, he still only requires about four hours of sleep a night.

Jacob arrived at age 2 with yet another new challenge.

Schoemehl said Jacob was diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder, which happens when children aren’t held as infants, perhaps instead being left in car seats or cribs all the time. After a certain amount of time with their needs going unmet, the infants quit crying altogether, making it difficult for a new parent to tell when they need something.

Schoemehl picked up Sierra when she was just 3 days old.

Sierra was born with spina bifida, oxygen deprivation and cysts on either side of her brain. They anticipated she would end up in a wheelchair.

Her first three months, Sierra ate every hour and a half and was a frequent visitor to Children’s Mercy Hospital — “I thought I was going to lose my mind,” Schoemehl said. But by 1, the hole in Sierra’s spine closed and her cysts went away. Now, she walks, talks and plays like other kids.

Schoemehl said many of the past foster children stay in touch, sometimes when they need something or just to let them know how they’re doing.

“We still have foster kids that come and go in our lives, but they ebb and flow,” Schoemehl said.

Walter said at times it was “kind of annoying” to have so many other kids around at once, but on the other hand there’s always someone to play with.

He was too little to remember it clearly, but he knows he was having “a lot of problems” at his first house. Now, he said, he’s in a place where he knows his mom loves him a lot.

“She treats me nice on my birthday and stuff like that,” Walter said. “She lets us, like, go to fun places like the lake.”

There was a point early in college where Schoemehl considered social work, but bypassed the idea to earn her bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in marketing.

After college, she moved to Shawnee and worked as marketing director of a law firm. Now she works varying hours as the owner of a property management company, and trains for fitness competitions. Her husband owns an engineering firm. They have a nanny to help with the kids.

When Schoemehl, who said she could not have children, and her husband went to their first adoption seminar, they were overwhelmed by how long the process would take and how much it would cost.

Hartman asked if they should consider adopting outside their race, and “it just clicked,” Schoemehl said.

Schoemehl said she wouldn’t change that decision.

“I have loved every one,” she said of the children they have taken in. “I have learned so much. I have loved every challenge that has come up.”

By Sara Shepard

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Johnson County commissioners propose project to install K-10 cable-median barriers

Members of the Johnson County Commission on Thursday proposed a pilot project to install cable-median barriers along Kansas Highway 10 in two spots between Lawrence east to Lenexa.

Commissioner Jim Allen, of Shawnee, said the proposal includes the state installing two miles of cable near K-10 and Kansas Highway 7 in Johnson County and for a one-mile stretch near Eudora, after two residents, including 5-year-old Cainan Shutt, were killed in an April 16 cross-median crash there.

“Our residents are concerned about this and want us to come up with some type of solution,” said Allen, who is also a member of an area group studying K-10’s safety with the Kansas Department of Transportation in the wake of the April crash.

The Johnson County proposal estimates the two-mile stretch of cable in Johnson County would cost $250,000 and $125,000 in Douglas County. Allen said Johnson County would seek to provide the state 20 percent of the funds for the Johnson County stretch.

Gov. Sam Brownback ordered KDOT officials to work with Johnson County and Douglas County residents and officials to study whether to install cable-median barriers on K-10, although KDOT would make the final decision. KDOT said in a 2008 study that K-10 did not meet a threshold to install cable-median barriers based on traffic counts and the highway’s median width.

Advocates for the cable say K-10 has become dangerous for the number of cross-median crashes at high speeds. In May, KDOT officials said K-10 had 11 fatalities resulting from 10 cross-median crashes since 2000, compared with 104 fatalities from 89 cross-median crashes on all Kansas four-lane highways.

Dean Sicking, a University of Nebraska civil engineering professor who conducted the 2008 study, said cable-median barriers are “not a panacea” and still can cause deaths and injuries. He urged the committee to study the two spots targeted for the pilot project proposal.

“It has to be based on reality and based on engineering principles,” said Sicking, who spoke to the study group Thursday, “so that we can be reasonably sure that when we do go out and spend money to make the highway safer, we do make it safer. That’s the ultimate goal.”

Allen said the two sections identified as part of the pilot study do warrant a cable-median barrier because more than one cross-median fatality accident have occurred in those two spots since 2000.

“We want to see something happen immediately, and to me at least to do something incrementally and address at least where we know we have a high-impact fatality area,” Allen said.

The study group will meet again next month.

By George Diepenbrock

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Dogs may be dirty, but mobile wash is ‘clean ‘n’ green’

Ben Toombs, 13, of Shawnee washes a collie-beagle mix named Thumper in the Bubbles 2 KC Mobile Dog Wash. Ben’s mother, Linda Toombs, purchased the eco-friendly dog wash unit this spring and uses it to wash dogs at the Shawnee Mission Park Dog Off-Leash Area as well as at special events.

Ben Toombs, 13, of Shawnee washes a collie-beagle mix named Thumper in the Bubbles 2 KC Mobile Dog Wash. Ben’s mother, Linda Toombs, purchased the eco-friendly dog wash unit this spring and uses it to wash dogs at the Shawnee Mission Park Dog Off-Leash Area as well as at special events. by Sara Shepherd

For dogs, freedom often comes with a price.

Mud. Lake water. Unidentified slime — that smells suspiciously like a dead opossum.

For pet owners who don’t want those dog-park remnants clambering into their car and coming home with them, Shawnee resident and entrepreneur Linda Toombs has an eco-friendly solution.

Toombs recently hit the streets with Bubbles 2 KC Mobile Dog Wash, a self-contained, solar-assisted dog washing station.

Most days, Toombs sets up shop for a couple of hours at the 53-acre Shawnee Mission Park Dog Off-Leash Area. She also tows the unit to special events around the Kansas City metropolitan area.

Unleashed dogs love to roll in the dirt and “other disgusting things,” Toombs said. “We like to get rid of that smell and give them a clean smell to go home with.”

Toombs, who formerly worked in landscape design, started Go, Dog…! Pet Care Services about three years ago. She purchased her dog-washing unit this spring.

As a business owner, Toombs wanted an income source to fill time gaps between dog walking and pet sitting appointments. As a dog owner, she wanted to provide a service she knew other people like her could use.

“I’m always looking for ways to make pet ownership easier,” Toombs said.

Toombs’ Bubbles 2 KC is only the second Bubbles Mobile Dog Wash unit in the country, hence the name. Floridian Larry Kelly invented and built the first unit, and is using it to wash dogs in Sarasota.

“I anticipate many more, and hope these clean ’n’ green systems will be a standard for dog parks in every state,” Kelly said.

Toombs said she liked what he was doing and called him to ask if he could build another one for her.

Her unit, which she tows behind her SUV, has one dog-washing station on each side. Ramps and canopies unfold to usher dogs up to the bays and shade them during their baths.

The water is self-contained — tanks inside the trailer bring in fresh water and cart out dirty water. Solar panels on top of the unit warm the clean water, when needed, and power a generator, which runs the pumps that pressurize clean water and drain used water.

During a recent special event for S.A.S.S.Y. — Saving Animals by Supportive Seniors and Others Young-at-heart — Toombs set up shop outside Whole Foods Market, 7401 W. 91st St. in Overland Park.

It wasn’t long after Thumper, a 4-year-old collie-beagle mix from Mission Hills, walked up the Bubbles 2 KC ramp that fresh botanical scents overpowered her wet-dog smell.

Toombs uses all-natural, phosphate- and alcohol-free soap and conditioner, made with oatmeal and jojoba oil for cleansing and cucumber and yucca extract for conditioning.

“It’s really good for their skin, and their fur gets so soft,” Toombs said. “I call it cuddle-ready.”

Toombs said she’s washed dogs of all shapes and sizes in the unit, even a Great Dane. The occasional ramp-fearing or physically disabled dog can still get a bath on the ground, thanks to the unit’s flexible water and soap hoses.

Toombs charges $15 for a wash, or $10 for people to wash their own dogs.

At Shawnee Mission Park, Toombs operates under a vendor agreement with the Johnson County Park and Recreation District.

Bill Maasen, superintendent of parks and golf courses, said Toombs found a unique niche.

“We thought it was a good community service,” he said. “I think it’s a service that’s needed.”

Maasen said the unit’s self-contained water source and solar panels also appealed to the park board.

“There’s a lot of green things about it that were very attractive,” he said.

Contact Bubbles 2 KC Mobile Dog Wash at (913) 378-8857 or online at bubbles2kcmobiledogwash.com.

By Sara Shepard

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KDOT to host open house regarding I-435/US-69 interchange project

The Kansas Department of Transportation is hosting a public open house for the US Highway 69 and Interstate 435 Interchange Area Improvement Project from 4:30-6:30 p.m. today, July 7, at the DoubleTree Hotel located at 10100 College Boulevard, Overland Park.

Those who attend the open house can learn more about the construction phasing, traffic impacts, noise wall installation and watch a video simulation highlighting new traffic movements in the interchange area. KDOT staff and project members will be available to answer questions but no formal presentations will be made at this event.

Planned improvements on this project will add auxiliary lanes to I-435 between US-69 and Quivira Road. It will also continue improvements on US-69 from 103rd Street to 119th Street to address congestion at the I-435 and US-69 interchange. This phase of the US-69 and I-435 improvements in Johnson County is part of KDOT’s T-WORKS program and the selection of this improvement project was announced in February 2011.

Additional information about this project, construction schedules and traffic impacts will be available online after the public open house at http://www.ksdot.org/kcMetro.

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Informational foster care meeting to take place in Olathe

Youthville, a child welfare agency, is hosting an informational meeting about foster care at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 12 at their offices at 405 S. Clairborne St., Suite 2, in Olathe.

The meeting will focus on how interested parties can become foster parents with emphasis on foster regulations and licensing requirements. The event is free, though registration by phone, 800-593-1950, ext. 8118, or email, info@youthville.org is requested. More information on foster care and the need in Johnson County can be found at Youthville's website.

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WaterOne service area under boil water advisory

Johnson County Water One service area.

Johnson County Water One service area.

Johnson County's primary water provider, which serves a small portion of far-eastern De Soto, announced Friday that a boil water advisory is in effect until 5 p.m. Saturday.

De Soto city officials stress that the majority of De Soto's residents, all those hooked up to the city's water service, are exempt from this boil order.

WaterOne called the advisory a precautionary measure for all homes and businesses within its Johnson County service area.

A water main break caused a significant drop in pressure, according to a press release. Because of this, the company said it cannot assure water safety for the area until testing is completed, which takes at least 18 hours.

All residential and commercial customers are advised to boil water for at least two minutes before consuming or drink bottle water until the advisory passes.

Unboiled water is safe for bathing.

WaterOne customers may call (913) 599-9911 for updates on the advisory.

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Pair charged with attempted murder in jewelry store heist

Authorities yesterday charged a man and woman with attempted murder in last week’s shooting and robbery at a jewelry store in Lenexa.

Vergal L. Clemmons IV, 22, and Crystal D. Slaughter, 24, are charged with attempted first-degree murder and aggravated robbery. Clemmons also is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to an announcement from Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe.

About 3 p.m. June 23, police were called to the Jewelry Shoppe, 7753 Quivira Road, on a reported shooting and robbery. The 71-year-old store owner, who had been shot, was taken to a hospital in stable condition.

Howe said the charges resulted from investigation by Lenexa police and the Johnson County Crime Lab.

Lenexa police arrested Clemmons, Kansas City, Kan., and Slaughter, Lenexa, Tuesday afternoon, according to Johnson County Sheriff’s Office reports. Clemmons’ bond was set at $500,000. Slaughter’s was set at $250,000.

By Sara Shepard

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