Raymore Candidate Forum

With the election now just days away, it is important for voters to know all they can about candidates and where they stand on the issues. Last Wednesday, Raymore hosted a candidate forum for the City Council candidates as well as the Raymore-Peculiar School Board candidates. Brent Ewert was the moderator and Robin Noe was the time keeper. Below you will find the questions that were posed to each candidate and a brief synopsis of their responses. To see the entire forum, go to the City’s YouTube channel. Please practice your right and privilege as an American citizen and vote on April 7th.
City Council Candidates
Raymore is currently experiencing significant growth. What are some of the biggest challenges for Raymore during this time and what can the Council do to address the issues?
Kevin Kellogg (Ward 1): While he dislikes TIFs, he supports them in a prudent manner. He wants to find a balance and knows that incentives are part of what draws companies into the area. He would like to see no more than a 50% TIF.
Joseph W. Burke, III (Ward 2): He feels that most if not all of the growth issues are out of the Council’s hands. It is Gene Thompson’s job to sell the city. The Council’s job is to grow housing so that as businesses come in there are homes for workers to purchase.
Thomas Circo (Ward 2): Economic development, City Council, and business owners need to work together. Businesses come here because they can grow and make money.
Kevin Barber (Ward 3): He believes that North Cass Parkway is the next boom in Raymore.
Charlene Hubach (Ward 4): She wants to focus on infrastructure like roads. She does not believe in throwing money at a problem until the cost and benefits are known. She says its just common sense.
John P. Berendzen (Ward 4): He wants anchor tenant stores. He also believes the community should be involved. Traffic flow and connectivity are also things he would address.
What types of businesses and employers would you like to see come to Raymore and how would you attract them?
Kevin Kellogg (Ward 1): He wants to see light industry, information technology, and major retail.
Joseph W. Burke, III (Ward 2): He wants to see a business park with hotels.
Thomas Circo (Ward 2): He wants to see a business park and retail.
Kevin Barber (Ward 3): He wants to see unique and different types of shopping.
Charlene Hubach (Ward 4): She wants to see light industry, technology, and the kinds of places that will offer people a living wage.
John P. Berendzen (Ward 4): He wants to see light industry, shopping, and restaurants.
With the Civic Center planning process underway, what is your vision for the type of center, if any, that Raymore needs and could be successful?
Kevin Kellogg (Ward 1): He wants it to be a rental and meeting space.
Joseph W. Burke, III (Ward 2): He would like it to offer a variety of opportunities including a stage for performances, meeting rooms, and a kitchen for things like adult education opportunities.
Thomas Circo (Ward 2): He sees something more along the lines of a convention center.
Kevin Barber (Ward 3): He supports the Civic Center but does not want a duplicate of Belton’s High Blue Wellness.
Charlene Hubach (Ward 4): She is not a supporter of the Civic Center as it has been presented, but may be more inclined to support something like a convention center.
John P. Berendzen (Ward 4): He also does not want it to be a duplicate of what Belton has. He also does not think it all has to be under one roof and should be built one step at a time.
If elected, how will you personally communicate and be accountable with your constituents so that you will act with their best interests in mind on the Council?
Kevin Kellogg (Ward 1): He wants to be approachable but recognizes that most people do not call unless there is a problem. He does not like using social media as a way to communicate.
Joseph W. Burke, III (Ward 2): He would use electronic communication.
Thomas Circo (Ward 2): Communicating with people is what he does on a daily basis as an active member of the community as well as a business man.
Kevin Barber (Ward 3): He likes to have personal communication and believes that it has to go both ways with people reaching out to him and he staying in touch with his constituents.
Charlene Hubach (Ward 4): She likes to talk and feels that she is approachable. She is concerned about the effectiveness of channel 7 because of its poor quality.
John P. Berendzen (Ward 4): He appreciates the small town feel that Raymore has where everybody talks to everybody. He also would utilize social media.
School Board Candidates
As time passes, Raymore-Peculiar continues to grow. What do you see for the future of the Raymore-Peculiar School District?
Maria Connova Davis: There will be a building situation which is why the long range facility planning is important.
Dana Hille: There will be building issues particularly with the high school and the early education.
Melinda Houdyshell: Two things will become an issue, buildings and standard reference reporting.
Tonya Long: Thinks that its time to take a stand on issues so that they are not mandated by someone else.
Michael Schwartzman: Believes that there is an incoming influx of people from Kansas and the district needs to be ready to handle that.
Ryan Wescoat: There needs to be an evaluation of the utilization of space.
Media presents bullying and drug use as somewhat of an epidemic in schools in general. Do you believe this is the case in Raymore-Peculiar and, if so, how should it be addressed?
Maria Connova Davis: Does not believe that it is an issue but the few instances that she is aware of have been taken very seriously.
Dana Hille: Does not believe either is an issue.
Melinda Houdyshell: Does not believe it is a serious issue but that there is always room for improvement.
Tonya Long: Does not believe it is a serious issue but knows that policies are in place to handle those situations that arise.
Michael Schwartzman: The chain of command is such that the School Board rarely hears about any issues, but he believes that these are serious issues for the district.
Ryan Wescoat: He believes it is an issue and that bullying continues after school is out through social media.
Studies have begun to address and prioritize the district’s capital and facility needs. What is your vision for capital and facility investment the district must undertake in the next decade?
Maria Connova Davis: She believes that there will be a bonding issue that will need to be addressed. She also thinks that they should look into re-purposing the old high school building.
Dana Hille: She believes that all the focus should not be on building new buildings, but repairing the ones we already have.
Melinda Houdyshell: She believes there needs to be a bonding capacity, a new high school and that modulars should be utilized.
Tonya Long: She believes that rather than building something to meet current needs, the district needs to plan out ten years before building.
Michael Schwartzman: He believes that there should be a second story addition built onto the south building.
Ryan Wescoat: He believes that the old high school should be re-purposed and that mobile classrooms should be utilized.
Are you concerned about what has been perceived as a gradual loss of control of education issues at the local level, or do you feel the fears have been overblown? Explain your position.
Maria Connova Davis: All for local control. The district has a curriculum committee that writes the curriculum for the district.
Dana Hille: Does not believe that Common Core is as big an issue as it once was. As long as the district maintains control of the curriculum, she is not worried about losing local control of the district. She thinks the fears are overblown.
Melinda Houdyshell: She thinks it is crucial to keep as much control as possible and that common core should be removed from the schools. She does believe that the district does have some control and it needs to hold onto what it has.
Tonya Long: She believes that the district has lost control at a slow rate.
Michael Schwartzman: As long as the district retains control of the curriculum, he believes it will be fine.
Ryan Wescoat: He believes that control is being lost incrementally and that implementing policies of others and using canned curriculum means losing control.
The districts administrative team has undergone several changes over the past two years. How would you evaluate the direction this team has taken in Raymore-Peculiar?
Maria Connova Davis: Hiring Dr. Monsees is the best decision the Board has made in a long time.
Dana Hille: There have been huge positive changes which have led to a change in morale.
Melinda Houdyshell: She is seriously concerned with the implementation of Standard Reference Reporting.
Tonya Long: She thinks that Dr. Monsees is good for the district and likes the addition of Dr. Volker as well.
Michael Schwartzman: He believes that too much emphasis is placed on athletics and that there should be more examination funding.
Ryan Wescoat: He thinks the jury is still out on the changes.

Harrisonville Candidate Forum

It was standing room only as candidates for the Harrisonville School Board, Board of Aldermen, and the office of Mayor answered questions at the candidate forum Monday night. The event was moderated by Don Peters, Executive Director of the Cass County Historical Society. The questions, some of which had been prepared before hand and some of which those in attendance wrote, were read by Obie Carl, Executive Director of the Harrisonville Chamber of Commerce and LynnDa Roberts, Director of Member Services for the Harrisonville Chamber of Commerce. The time keeper for the event was Harrisonville’s Public Information Officer, Sheryl Stanley. The first group to take the stage was candidates for the School Board.
Due to the recent actions of the School Board and the turmoil that has been created by the board, the board has lost much of the public trust and confidence. What needs to be done to restore this trust, confidence and dignity to the board?
Kathy Dains: We need to work together and open the lines of communication. The school board needs to find a way to work with the community and not against it.
Dallas Register: What has been going on has been sensationalized rather than understanding what really happened. We need to get involved and step up and support the board.
R.J. Knox: Establishing an open line of communication with the community will be essential to rebuilding that trust.
Tiffany Klassen: Lines of communication seems to be the biggest issue. The community needs to feel that they can talk to the board and receive answers. * Tiffany had to leave due to a prior commitment.
If you could select only one thing, what do you think is the most important responsibility of the school board?
Kathy Dains: Long term goals, direction, and vision of the school. The students need to be college ready when they graduate.
Dallas Register: The children are first. There needs to be community involvement in running the district.
R.J. Knox: The children are first. Also to help support the people they hire to run the day-to-day operations of the school while looking out for the long range benefit of the district.
Public information shows it cost the School Board approximately $174,620.75 to sever Dr. McDonald’s contract. Do you think the money should have been used more wisely, such as educating our children?
Kathy Dains: Yes the money could have been used for students but she did not feel qualified to answer that without further information.
Dallas Register: Yes the money could have been used for students but felt like he is not in a position to make a judgment one way or the other.
R.J. Knox: Yes the money could have been used for other educational purposes. Why would you pay someone past their resignation point?
If elected, how will you strengthen your background knowledge of school finance, school law, testing requirements and benchmarks, and any other initiatives you will be faced with overseeing?
Kathy Dains: Her background as a school secretary gives her a good foundation and she would pull from others knowledge and use them as resources.
Dallas Register: Online resources and School Board School.
R.J. Knox: Required training as well as training offered by the Missouri School Board Association. He would also pull from his business background as well as the knowledge of other board members.
How do you feel about the School Board going around the Superintendent to change contracts and assignments of faculty and staff?
Kathy Dains: It is the School Board’s responsibility to hire and fire employees, but without the information that the board had she did not feel like she could give an adequate answer to the question.
Dallas Register: It is never to good for an organization to go outside the chain of authority.
R.J. Knox: Do not know what kind of conversations went on behind close doors. The board is supposed to hire a Superintendent to handle those kind of situations.
As a board member, what steps will you take to make sure you are accessible to the community?
Kathy Dains: Email and social media as well as staying active in the community.
Dallas Register: Email but if you present a problem, please present at least one solution as well.
R.J. Knox: Stay active in the community and whatever means are necessary.
There have been several articles in the Kansas City Star and the local newspaper questioning board procedure. How would you ensure that board procedures are followed with ethics and integrity?
Kathy Dains: Training and practice that training as well as relying on the school board secretary.
Dallas Register: Its impossible for anybody to follow all the regulations placed on the School Board.
R.J. Knox: Just doing what is right and following the intent of the law as well as utilizing the knowledge of the School Board secretary.
What is your vision for our school district in preparing students to enter the technical world in which we live?
Kathy Dains: Give them a basic knowledge and teach them how to adapt with the changing technology.
Dallas Register: Technology has drained kids of creativity. There has to be a balance between technology and basic skills for creativity.
R.J. Knox: One-to-One program and doing the best we can to help them learn and adapt.

Next the two candidates for Mayor took the floor.
Running for public office can be a grueling experience that few people engage in on a whim. Who first approached and supported your run and who has financially supported your run?
Brian Hasek: Friends told him he would make a good mayor. Friends and family as well as personal finances.
Doug Meyer: Felt he needed to give back to the community. Friends and family as well as personal finances.
Please take a moment and tell us how your leadership as the Mayor will differ from the previous years of Mayor Wood’s leadership.
Brian Hasek: Will get out into the community and engage with businesses.
Doug Meyer: Shocked and saddened that we have not done as good a job of communication and will knock on doors on a regular basis.
Whether deserved or not deserved, Harrisonville has a reputation as being hard to build and start ‘mom and pop’ businesses. What will you do to rectify this?
Brian Hasek: Codes need to be looked at again. Look at the issues that businesses face when they first open and give that list to new businesses so they can address them before hand.
Doug Meyer: Only 11 of 25 permits have been used. Ask realtors what needs to happen.
What do you believe is Harrisonville’s greatest asset and how would you work to sustain and improve that asset?
Brian Hasek: Water. Getting out from under Kansas City will allow us to set our own rates based on our needs.
Doug Meyer: Citizens. Citizens Action Group needs to get engaged again and find the next 50 objectives.
Reading the paper and social media, I have seen vague accusations and rumors. What I have not seen from candidates is what they intend to do in office. Be specific and exact. Please state what ordinances and policies you would initiate or change and how.
Brian Hasek: Housing drives our economy. We need to meet with builders and contractors and ask why they are not building in Harrisonville.
Doug Meyer: Industry needs must be addressed. Realtors need to give an inventory of places for sale. Activities and recreation need to be addressed, but the community will have to get involved with that.
As mayor, from whom will you seek advice or input when making key decisions for the city?
Brian Hasek: The aldermen, city staff, city administrator, and people of the city.
Doug Meyer: Citizens and aldermen.
Do you support the current efforts to revitalize the downtown square?
Brian Hasek: Yes. Would like to see tours of the square. Need to make sure that there are not road blocks being put up for investors.
Doug Meyer: Yes. Would love to city activity again. Momentum is going in the right direction.
What do you want the city of Harrisonville to look like in five years? What projects would you support to see your dream come true?
Brian Hasek: Must increase the number of homes available in a variety of price ranges. Need to help current businesses stay in business. Would request a third party to do a state audit of the city.
Doug Meyer: Need new businesses but really need community involvement and participation. Would also like to see a more recreation friendly city.

Board of Alderman Questions and Responses
Running for public office can be a grueling experience that few people engage in on a whim. Who first approached you and supported your run and who has financially supported your run?
Brad Bockelman (Ward 1): Has been a resident for more than 40 years and felt he needed to get involved at the last minute; personally financed.
Judy Bowman (Ward 1): Personal decision to get involved and mostly personally financed.
Marcia Milner (Ward 2): Life long resident and was appointed to the Board to fill Donna Pfaustch’s position; personally financed.
Cindy Tompkins (Ward 2): Was approached by several people and encouraged to run; personally financed.
Gary Kidd (Ward 3): Feels like he has more to offer; personally financed.
Bret Reece (Ward 3): Looking to continue to do good work for the City; personally financed.
Josh Stafford (Ward 4): Approached by a group of parents concerned by what was happening on the School Board and encouraged to run; personally financed.
Kara Wilson (Ward 4): A life long resident who decided to do it on her own to help Harrisonville be what it once was; personally financed.
What personality qualities and traits do you have that will make you an effective alderman?
Brad Bockelman (Ward 1): He is an avid researcher. Tries to find the right answer for every issue he researches.
Judy Bowman (Ward 1): A compassionate, empathetic listener who is also comfortable with conflict.
Marcia Milner (Ward 2): Active in the community, very opinionated, but willing to listen to staff.
Cindy Tompkins (Ward 2): It’s not about her opinion; will bring freshness to the ward.
Gary Kidd (Ward 3): He knows how to work with people.
Bret Reece (Ward 3): Honest. Don’t trust anyone who says they can fix all the problems.
Josh Stafford (Ward 4): Strive to communicate well and use background to market the city.
Kara Wilson (Ward 4): Eager to be more active and involved.
If elected do you come in with a personal agenda that would prevent you from giving proper consideration to matters related to the city as a whole?
Brad Bockelman (Ward 1): Wants to work towards financial responsibility for the city.
Judy Bowman (Ward 1): No higher political aspirations and no personal agenda. It’s about what’s important to the city.
Marcia Milner (Ward 2): Everyone has an agenda. She wants to see revitalization take place.
Cindy Tompkins (Ward 2): Will work for the concerns of the citizens of ward 2 and then the other citizens of Harrisonville. Will work with other aldermen as a team.
Gary Kidd (Ward 3): He has more vision for the city.
Bret Reece (Ward 3): He has an agenda to make Harrisonville into the great town it was when he grew up.
Josh Stafford (Ward 4): He does have an agenda to make Harrisonville the type of place where generations will want to grow up.
Kara Wilson (Ward 4): No personal agenda, but the needs and wants of her constituents.
As an alderman, from whom will you seek advice or input when making key decisions for the city?
Brad Bockelman (Ward 1): People in the community that are knowledgeable on the subject.
Judy Bowman (Ward 1): Citizens of the ward, aldermen team, and mayor.
Marcia Milner (Ward 2): Utilize the survey results and input from the entire community.
Cindy Tompkins (Ward 2): School district, citizens of her ward, aldermen, and mayor.
Gary Kidd (Ward 3): People, city staff, and community leaders.
Bret Reece (Ward 3): Citizen’s satisfaction survey, aldermen, mayor and city staff.
Josh Stafford (Ward 4): Constituents, aldermen, mayor, city staff, and cities to the north of us in Cass County.
Kara Wilson (Ward 4): Citizens, aldermen, mayor, and city employees.
The city is on track to enact a 44% water rate increase in the next 13 months for the water treatment plant upgrades. Do you believe that this should have been handled in a different manner than such a drastic rate increase?
Brad Bockelman (Ward 1): He would research until he knows the answer, but probably yes it could have been handled differently.
Judy Bowman (Ward 1): Being out from under KC water is the best thing we ever did.
Marcia Milner (Ward 2): Knows a lot of thought process went into the decision and she knows that the aging facility was an issue.
Cindy Tompkins (Ward 2): She would have looked at all aspects of it before a decision was made.
Gary Kidd (Ward 3): The second rate increase is not needed.
Bret Reece (Ward 3): Has been working on it for the past 6 years. He supported getting rid of KC contract and though up front it’s pricey, it will be cheaper in the long run.
Josh Stafford (Ward 4): Was not educated enough on the issue to give an adequate answer.
Kara Wilson (Ward 4): Did know enough to give an answer to that.
As an alderman, can you or should you support a board decision that passed even though you opposed it?
Brad Bockelman (Ward 1): All eight have individual ideas but the group as a whole would make a decision that he could support.
Judy Bowman (Ward 1): Dialogue is good. For the unity and harmony of the board it’s important for the good of the citizens that we come together and support decisions.
Marcia Milner (Ward 2): You have to do the research and listen; the board is not always going to agree.
Cindy Tompkins (Ward 2): She wants to be a team player, but will still have opposing decisions at times.
Gary Kidd (Ward 3): He could not support something that is not good for the citizens.
Bret Reece (Ward 3): He supports the democratic process.
Josh Stafford (Ward 4): Do not blindly follow; educate citizens on why a decision is made.
Kara Wilson (Ward 4): You can’t please everybody everyday, but it is a team effort.
What needs to be changed to stimulate growth in Harrisonville and what would your approach be?
Brad Bockelman (Ward 1): Change codes.
Judy Bowman (Ward 1): Keep enrollment up in school and to do that you need more houses and to do that you need to have more jobs.
Marcia Milner (Ward 2): Infrastructure needs to expand to handle more businesses.
Cindy Tompkins (Ward 2): Find out what is keeping the square from growing.
Gary Kidd (Ward 3): At 9.46%, Harrisonville has a much lower later growth rate than other neighboring cities. Why? Change starts at the top and works its way down.
Bret Reece (Ward 3): We need measured growth and higher paying jobs in Harrisonville.
Josh Stafford (Ward 4): We need more housing and commercial business; develop a ‘gateway’ idea for the city.
Kara Wilson (Ward 4): Codes need to be revamped to make it easier to build in Harrisonville.
What do you want the City of Harrisonville to look like in five years? What projects would you support to see your dream come true?
Brad Bockelman (Ward 1): Construction needs to happen. The city leaders need to be financially responsible and restore trust in our city government.
Judy Bowman (Ward 1): Citizens need a renewed hope that will give them pride that will translate to better care of property.
Marcia Milner (Ward 2): Wants the charming town of Harrisonville of the 1970’s back.
Cindy Tompkins (Ward 2): Time to move forward. Would look into broadband fiber loop and creative ideas for the square.
Gary Kidd (Ward 3): Harrisonville used to be the place to come. We need to get back to the roots and increase our population.
Bret Reece (Ward 3): We need a safe, vibrant, healthy community and continue growth at the right level.
Josh Stafford (Ward 4): Get the square back up and going. Remodel old homes. We want Mayberry with a lot more businesses
Kara Wilson (Ward 4): Square needs to get back to the way it was. Get back to basics and revitalize the city as a whole.

Should Raymore Spend $130,000 More on the Roundabout?

roundabout 090Monday night the Raymore City Council voted on the first reading of a bill that would begin the process of putting in a center art feature in the Lucy Webb roundabout. While the design is decent (http://www.raymore.com/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/2417 pages 231 & 232), the cost is atrocious! I, like many other citizens who used Lucy Webb on a regular basis, absolutely detest it. It is ineffective in my opinion. I have been involved in a dozen close calls from people who don’t yield or from people who stop in the middle of the roundabout because they are afraid of people not yielding. Before I never even had a close call in that intersection, so I respectfully have to disagree with some of the city officials and law enforcement officials who say that it is a safer intersection now. Maybe accidents are down because there are other people like me who have boycotted it and choose to leave town by other roads.

Some argued Monday night that they are not fans of it either, but since it is here we might as well do something about it. I have never heard a more ridiculous argument. Since its here we should just go and drop another $130k on it? Another argument that was put forth was that since the Council didn’t “bat an eye” at spending $500k on curb maintenance in the city, they shouldn’t be causing such a fuss over the money for the ‘feature.’ Ok, so I stand corrected, I have heard a more ridiculous argument.  That is like me telling my husband, “You didn’t have a problem with me spending $200 on groceries last week, why are you having a fit about me spending $175 on make-up?” One item is necessary for the maintenance of our household, the other is a luxury. Some people on the council seem to have a problem differentiating those two things.

Like I said before, I hate the roundabout. I hate it even more knowing that it cost us taxpayers half a million dollars! I pretty sure two more stop signs would have been well under 1% of that figure. That decision was ignored and the roundabout was shoved down our throats. Now some on the Council are trying to shove another decision involving a ‘design feature’ down our throats as well. Some think we need more culture and that a fancy ‘design feature’ will do this for our community. It is supposed to make a statement, something that will welcome people into Raymore. The roundabout is not located at an entrance to Raymore, it is located at the entrance to a dozen or more subdivisions. If you want something that will make a statement and attract people to Raymore, put it at the entrance of either our current business district (Dean & 58) or our future business district (I49 and North Cass Parkway).

So what should be done with the roundabout? My first response is dynamite it, but I doubt it will be removed anytime soon. My second suggestion is to make it a garden feature and that is it. It will need constant maintenance 3/4 of the year, but maybe the Raymore Garden Club would be willing to help with it like they do with the entrance to the Post Office. Flowers, shrubs, and maybe even a tree would be much more natural to the area and easier to replace when it gets runover. It is something that maybe even the neighborhoods would bet behind to help maintain. But a huge brick tower with a metal design on top of it and maybe a couple lights? No thank you.

If you are against this concept or have another idea for what should be located in the roundabout, contact your ward representative. Let them know what you want, after all they do work for us! The Council will vote on the second reading on March 23. Let your voice be heard.

Ward 1

Kevin Kellogg               (913) 314-2546                   kkellogg@raymore.com

Jeffrey Stevens          (816) 322-0884                   Novichok7@sbcglobal.net

 

Ward 2

Derek Moorhead       (816) 304-4220                   derekmoorhead@msn.com

Joseph Burke, III        (816) 272-8782                   jburke@raymore.com

 

Ward 3

Jason Boehner            (816) 398-2756                   jboehner@raymore.com

Jay Holman                   (816) 331-0949                   jayholman1915@yahoo.com

 

Ward 4

Sonja Abdelgawad    (816) 786-2209                   sabdelgawad@raymore.com

Charlene Hubach       (816) 331-6628                   chhubach77@comcast.net

Supporting Ella Joe and her Community

So by now you all have probably heard if not seen the local news report about how the big bad HOA of Stonegate is crushing the dreams of a sick little girl. At least that is how the media is spinning it. We are doing our own investigation here at the Raymore Journal, so the story is not over yet. But I wanted to make a few things clear from the start about what awful reporting this was.

First, Stonegate has been extremely supportive of Ella. They had a welcome home parade for her, they decorated their entrance sign for her, and there are green bows all over the neighborhood to show support for her. All of this was done BEFORE any Make-A-Wish was granted. The City of Raymore even had Ella as the guest of honor to light the city’s Christmas tree back in December. Our Community has shown love and support for Ella and her family since Ella first became ill last summer. Where was the fancy media then?

Second, as to the HOA, there are rules and regulations in place that one person cannot overturn. As with any decision that has to be made by a group, this can take some time. I also recognize, time is very precious when it comes to a sick child. Please remember that the members of the HOA are the same neighbors who have loved Ella and her family throughout this illness. They are not bad people. Let’s give them a couple of weeks to review their policy and see if there is a way that they can make an exception while still holding to the essence of their bylaws and covenants.

Of course JE Dunn and Make-A-Wish should be completely applauded for their willingness to help this sweet little girl. I really hope that they are able to work it out with the HOA. But let’s reserve judgment of the HOA and their president until we get all the facts, advice the Kansas City news media would do well to heed.

 

Jennifer Reed

One Job I Never Want

Getting to know our local government leaders has been and continues to be a great exercise for me as an interviewer, a writer, and a voter. I’m only about 1/3 of the way through the whole process, and I’m learning so much. I hope that you all as readers are too. Each person comes to their position with a different background, different life experiences, and different personalities, so it is not surprising when there are occasional fireworks. What I am coming to appreciate is that for the most part people who choose to serve on a council or board are doing so because they really have their communities best interests in mind.

When we think of politicians we often think of the unsavory characters in Washington D.C. who are out for their own best interest whether it be ego or money or both. I know that I have a very jaded view of our federal and even to some extent our state government and with good reason I would argue. But these local councilmen, aldermen, mayors and yes even the city staffs are passionate about their communities. They live here too. They have to abide by the decisions they make. Certainly some have abused their positions of power and there will be those in the future that do as well, but by and large our representatives at the local level have very little compensation for the hours of work they put in reading proposed bills and resolutions, reports from special commissions, and doing the leg work to evaluate issues and that’s on top of giving up one night every week to work on and vote on the issues. That is a lot of time from their families and their hobbies. If someone is doing this job right, they are committing many hours to serve their community with little pay.

It is not an easy job either. When someone does contact them it is usually with a complaint or problem, rarely with a ‘good job’ and pat on the back. Its like working customer service at an airline phone bank. You only get to talk to people who have something going wrong for them. That wears on a person. I’m sure the members of our local governments would very much enjoy talking with a constituent about what is going right once in a while. Maybe if it wasn’t too much trouble, we could all reach out to someone from our local government that we do think is doing a fine job and just let them know that they are appreciated. After almost of year of covering council meetings I can tell you that talking about wastewater treatments, city code ordinances, and right-of-ways is not all that exciting, but this is what they do. And they do it for me and for you and for our children who will inherit this community. I for one am glad that others step up to do this job so I don’t have too.

 

Jennifer Reed

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Local Hero Keeping Us Safe Half a World Away

before the navy

Mathew before the Navy.

50 cal shoot

As the ship traveled at nearly full speed, Vogel practices shooting a 50cal at a training target put in the water.

after

Vogel after joining the Navy, with his wife, Brandy.

21 gun salute

Vogel (far left) taking part in a 21-gun salute for a ceremony honoring the memory of the USS Cole bombing victims.

unrep

This is a picture of Vogel (first one visible on the line) and his shipmates during an underway replenishment. They pulled a fuel line over that hooks up to the black hose in the back of the photo. They then run the line through heavy duty pulleys giving them more room to pull to complete the task.

Somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea, a young man, who calls Belton, MO home, operates a 5in/54caliber gun on the front of the USS Cole. How exactly did a kid from land-locked Missouri end up in the United States Navy? Fire controlman 2nd Class Mathew Vogel took some time from his busy schedule to talk about his journey.
He is the son of two retired members of the Marine Corps who settled in Belton. Vogel attended Scott, Mill Creek, Yoekum, the 9th Grade Center and Belton High School where he graduated in 2011. The youngest of five children, he was the only one to choose to serve in the military. “For a while my parents thought they wouldn’t have any child join the navy, I was the last one out of five and then I broke it to them senior year, that was a sight to see. In all honesty I thought they would recommend me to the Marine Corps. They didn’t however, they talked with me about the air force and navy, because they were so proud I wanted to serve, but they wanted me to gain more skills I could use when I got out. I debated it for a month or so and decided the navy would be more of a challenge for me, and I didn’t want to take the easy route, and well, it definitely wasn’t,” said Vogel.
On November 9th, 2011, Matthew Vogel began his service in the Navy. In boot camp he specialized in the advanced electronics/computer field. From there he received orders to become a Fire Controlman. He completed Apprentice Technical Training, then FC “A” school where he learned more about computers, radar, and gunnery. After “A” school he was able to choose a position on a “C” school and he picked to be a 5in gunner on the USS Cole. While waiting to get to the USS Cole, Vogel completed basic firefighting and as well as basic and advances security reaction force training. Once he was on boarded the ship he became part of the main security detail both at port and afloat and has been trained to use “everything from a 50-caliber M2HB machine gun and an M240B 7.62 Machine gun to just an M16 and M9.”
“Since then I have learned and have been trained in many other things but my main job on board is Operating the 5in/54caliber gun on the front of the ship for whatever the country needs me to do,” stated Vogel.
When asked what he liked best about being in the Navy, he gave a very typical guy answer – shooting. “The gun shoots and our shooting practice out to sea. It’s exhilarating to shoot 50 cal’s out to sea but nothing beats shooting 5 inch. Launching a 70lb projectile at the horizon hitting a training target you almost cant see even with a camera zoomed in and it’s moving. The feeling it gives when the explosives go off sending that round down range is unlike any other. No matter what happens I’ll miss that when I get out.”
He also talked about all the places he has been able to visit while being in the Navy.
“I’ve been to Chicago, Norfolk, Key west, and New York. But that’s just what I’ve been to in the States. I’ve been to England, Scotland, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Romania, and I was in Israel for Christmas,” exclaimed Vogel
Anyone who has served or has a loved one who has served knows how hard the long separations can be. Vogel, who is almost 22, will be celebrating his third wedding anniversary next month. “Its hard though. REALLY hard. Being apart this long from both my family and my wife has been the hardest thing I’ve done my entire life. What helps are the emails and then sometimes I can get a phone call out here and there, about once a week. I myself dream of being home almost every day with my wife, my dog, and two cats, seeing my mother and father and siblings, all nine of my nieces and nephews, and my one great nephew. Not a single day goes by that I don’t think of them. I’ve spent months out to sea in the open ocean working harder than I ever have in my life, day and night, spending all night awake to protect the ship many nights. I’m still not sure if I’m going to make this a careen yet. I still have three years of my six year contract left. I am probably going to re-enlist for another four years because me and my wife want to start a family and if I get shore duty that would make transitioning into a civilian again much easier,” explained Vogel.
While it is certainly an honor to serve on any ship and each one has a special place in history, the USS Cole is extraordinary as the sight of one of the earliest al-Qaeda attacks that claimed American lives. On October 12, 2000, suicide terrorists exploded a small boat alongside the USS Cole as it was refueling in the Yemeni port of Aden. The blast ripped a 40-foot-wide hole near the waterline of the Cole, killing 17 American sailors and injuring 39 others. The blast hit the ship’s galley, where crew were lining up for lunch. For three days the crew fought flooding in the engineering spaces before gaining control of the damage.
“Its history just makes us more determined to never let that happen to anyone ever again. The Mess Decks (where we eat) and the Chow line are dedicated to those lost in the bombing. There are 17 Brass stars on the deck in the chow line in remembrance to those who died in the line of duty. And our mess decks have been named the Hero café. There are 3 Shadow boxes, 1 with the flag from the bombing, one that was draped over the ashes of those returned to sea, and one from the day the Cole returned to Aden Yemen after being repaired and flew its flag high as everyone sang the national anthem loudly in protest to those who would strike them down. It definitely humbles us,” said Vogel reverently.
While there are many who are very patriotic and recognize the sacrifices made by our military personnel, for many there is still ambivalence towards what it means to serve this country on a daily basis. Having just finished with all of the festivities of the holidays, Vogel’s words are all the more poignant.
“Serving out here, doing the things we do. You never realize they matter so much. I never realized until I was over here that Americas’ Navy is not only the largest in the world but the most versatile and robust. We do everything from community relations in foreign allies’ countries, painting schoolhouses and doing small repair work, to patrolling the Mediterranean and Black Seas for pirates. But that’s not all we do. In my time in we have watched the skies and hostile countries for ballistic missile launches. That’s why we’re here, to protect the skies as well as the seas. Once we see one we plan out quickly and send missiles up to intercept it to stop it and possibly save the lives of countless people. But we have also received a distress call from a small ship outside of Virginia and saved the lives of three people, with the help of the Coast Guard, from a ship stuck out to sea in a storm and taking on water. We stand this watch so those at home can sleep well at night knowing we’re here to protect them from afar, keeping a presence out here so no one tries to harm those we love back home. A world of peace sounds perfect, but we all know it’s not, so we are here doing our job day and night, with no holidays when deployed, to make sure everyone back home is ok.”
Recognition of their service can take on a variety of appearances. Vogel suggests that those who want to support military personnel should contact their local Veterans Association to find out where and how they can help.
“Be involved in communities like Operation Gratitude who send care packages to those deployed (you have no idea how much these mean to us). If you know someone in the military, talk with them, support them in any way you can, because though we may not show it, many of us get beaten down and tired with the work we do. Something as simple as a handshake and a thank you can lift our spirits instantly,” recommends Vogel.
The last thing he wanted to leave with those back home is just how much every service member gives to his or her job in order to protect those he or she loves.
“Don’t think a day goes by that any sailor, soldier, marine, or guard doesn’t think about you back home. Dreaming of a nice hot meal and a quite night with the family with land under their feet in the safety of their own homes. We carry this burden with us everywhere we go. You may agree with the politics going around the United States, you may not. But please no matter what, support us. We definitely need it. My family and friends are what have gotten my through this as well as I have. Thank you to everyone. Happy new years from the Mediterranean sea!”

Ward 2 Councilman Interview

While the Raymore City Council appointed Joseph Burke to fill the vacancy for the next few months, it will be up to the voters in April to decide who fills seat for two years. To help voters make an informed decision, we are sharing the interview process that the council conducted with the three applicants – Joseph Burke, Tom Circo, and Joseph Sarsfield.

What do you think is the role of a city council member?
Sarsfield – He is used to listening to people and working well with all types of people.
Burke – He put emphasis on communication and working together and providing direction and growth for the city.
Circo – He would approach it like he has his business and be an intermediate between the people and the government.

If you are appointed, what do you hope to accomplish in the next three and a half months?
Sarsfield – He would work to do the best for the citizens.
Burke – He would provide seamless change through listing to those more experienced.
Circo – He would have a running start, working with Moorhead for Ward 2 and working with the business culture to grow the city.

If you are the deciding vote on a divisive issue do you go with the majority of constituents or what you think is right?
Burke – He would do what is best to use the taxes the best way.
Circo – He would listen to the people but also be transparent to the people of the ward and would vote for the good of the many over the few.
Sarsfield – His first responsibility is to the citizens of Raymore and rather his was the first or last vote, it would be based upon information.

How do you handle it when a vote that goes against something your passionate about?
Circo – He would accept the responsibility of the vote.
Sarsfield – He said that it is not about him, but what is best for the city and its citizens.
Burke – He has had the experience on the Planning and Zoning Commission and was okay being the only one to vote one way and he believes that consensus is what drives decision making.

How do you plan to help the city fulfill its mission statement?
Sarsfield – He said that safety is the key because when people feel secure they are happy.
Burke – He said that the people are the greatest quality of this city.
Circo – He listed his volunteer work in the community and said that is what he would continue to do.

Do you feel that there is a city problem that is unaddressed? If so how would you fix it?
Burke – He felt that housing needs to increase. He also felt that too many people were working outside of Raymore and that the city needs to develop careers in Raymore. He would like to see a business park. He said that one question should drive the economic decisions – how do we increase our community economically faster than anyone else?
Circo – He believed that the effort needs to be made to bring more businesses in to alleviate the tax burden on the citizens.
Sarsfield – He said the city needs more businesses and specifically mentioned heavy industry and corporations.

If not appointed to fill the vacancy would you volunteer on other boards? If so which ones?
Circo – He named Parks & Rec but said that he was open to anything that will help grow the city.
Sarsfield – He named the Mayors Committee or Planning & Zoning and added that he would like to be in the start up of something.
Burke – He said he would continue on Planning & Zoning but would be willing to work on anything.

Do you intend to run in April for a full two year term?
Sarsfield – yes
Burke – yes
Circo – yes
In what capacities are you currently involved in within Raymore?
Burke – He has worked with Troop 32 Boy Scouts, coached in youth and high school sports and is a member of the optimist club.
Circo – Has been the President of the Chamber of Commerce, involved in the Ray-Pec Basketball Program, DECA, Booster Clubs, and the Youth Chamber of Commerce.
Sarsfield – Noted that having only lived here six years, his resume of activities is not as long as the others but that he had been active in registering voters, was a leader at his church’s men’s Bible study, and has been actively growing his business.

What experiences have you had as a citizen of Raymore that motivated you to file for the council position?
Circo – He has worked with many council members over the years as well as working with the Chamber of Commerce.
Sarsfield – He read the city newsletter and decided to get involved because he felt at this stage in his life it was time to give something back.
Burke – He said that being on the Planning & Zoning Commission and being involved in the school district made him want to volunteer to do more work.

Closing Statements
Circo –He said that he has always been an advocate of education, and that life experience itself is the biggest education you will ever get. He told the council that building a business from scratch is not easy, but that is exactly what he did.
Sarsfield – He told the council that in the long run, your yeses have to be yes and your nos have to be no and people have to trust you. He said that he would hope that people who did not agree with his point of view would go away disappointed rather than mad after explaining his position to them.
Burke – He said that he cannot profit from this appointment unless it profits all the people of Raymore. He was volunteering to be a problem solver for their community and noted that challenges are fun to him.

To see a full video of the interview process go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrtKsmf8AL4.

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Raising Awareness About a Silent Killer

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Toby Hurst, Mark’s son, accepting the check from the Ray-Pec soccer team.

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Mark Hurst evaluating a put at the Dad’s Drivers Gold Tournament

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. In preparation for that, a local family has been raising money for the Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Network (PanCAN). Mark and Martha Hurst and their family and friends have been organizing and hosting various fundraisers in the area including a golf tournament and charity game with the Ray-Pec soccer team. The golf tournament was held back in September at Adams Pointe Golf Course and raised over $6,000. Last month in cooperation with the Ray-Pec Soccer team, through raffles and donations, $1,000 was raised for PanCAN.
Since his story ran in the Raymore Journal from September 11-25 (see below for complete articles), the family says they have received much support and encouragement from the community. It also facilitated at least one current cancer patient reaching out to Mark for mentoring during this difficult time.
On October 27, the Raymore City Council presented a proclamation to Animal Control Officer Sharon McKinny and her brother Robert in honor of their mother who passed away from this terrible disease in June of this year. “From the bottom of our hearts we would like to thank everyone who is responsible for this proclamation,” said Mr. McKinny.
Martha Hurst also challenged the Council to wear purple on November 14 in participation of Purple for a Purpose. “Let’s support the citizens of Raymore who are actually now fighting Pancreatic Cancer.”
For information on how to get involved with PanCAN go to http://www.pancan.org.
September 11, 2014

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Sharon and Robert McKinny accepted the Mayor’s proclamation of November being declared Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.

This year over 46,000 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the United States. Of that number only about 6,000 will survive. The reason the death rate is so high with this type of cancer is because it is so hard to detect it before it spreads. A local family that was hit by this deadly disease opened up about their journey through tpancan logoheir fight with pancreatic cancer in hopes of spreading awareness and raise funding for research for a cure.
In July of 2012 Martha Hurst noticed something different about her husband. His skin on his forehead appeared blotchy. He had low energy. He had lower back pain that he attributed to a bike ride. He had a loss of appetite.
Mark Hurst went to the doctor when his back did not heal and the doctor made a note in his chart that he thought his gallbladder might be inflamed but that his back may simply be a pulled muscle. The doctor told Mark that if his back did not improve in a couple of days to come back for some more tests. After two weeks, one of Mark’s co-workers asked Mark if he felt alright and pointed out that his eyes did not look right. They had a yellow hue to them. He was jaundice.“I was lucky I got that. It is one of the signs of pancreatic cancer. Had I not gotten it, I could have gone a long time. I’ve heard of people who have dealt with what they thought was stomach issues for over a year before they catch it and by that time, there in stage 4 and there is really no help.”
“I had to go back to the doctor. They had to do all kinds of tests on me. They found that I had a blocked bile duct. They did a CAT scan and found a tumor wrapped around it,” recalled Mark. He had lost 15 pounds in two weeks. He was in stage 2 pancreatic cancer.
“They diagnosed me and within two days I was getting a stint put in to relieve some of the issues [with the blocked bile duct] and that the cancer was also close to a major blood vessel.”
Within less than two weeks he had met with a team of doctors, determined a course of action, had a port put in, and began chemotherapy.
Continue following Mark’s story in the next edition of The Raymore Journal.

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Mark Hurst endured six rounds of four different types of chemotherapy called the “Chemo Cocktail.” He also took 28 rounds of radiation with the day before Thanksgiving being his last treatment. “Then they gave me a month off,” said Mark with grin. The tumor had shrunk, so the aggressive treatment was looking promising. In December he went in for surgery. The doctors told him and his family that there was a very small window of opportunity for surgery to be successful and they needed to act quickly.
The pancreas is shaped like a flattened fish. Mark’s tumor was wrapped around the superior mesenteric artery that passes behind the “neck” of the pancreas. If the tumor spread and wrapped fully around the artery there would be nothing they could do. The life expectancy of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer is less than 5 years.
Mark underwent a surgery known as the Whipple Procedure. Dr. Jafri of the Menorah Medical Center was the surgeon in charge of Mark’s case. The Whipple procedure can only be done on a patient whose tumor has not spread beyond the pancreas and does not involve major blood vessels. The head of the pancreas, the gallbladder, the duodenum, a small portion of the stomach, and the lymph nodes near the head of the pancreas are removed. The remaining section of the pancreas and digestive organs are reconnected allowing pancreatic enzymes, bile, and stomach contents to flow into the small intestine.
“That day when they took me back, I’d turned it all over to God at that point. If I was going to go, I was going to go. I was really at peace. As a matter of fact I was singing ‘I Surrender’ by Hillsong in my mind as I was being wheeled into the operating room.” After the surgery, Mark had to have a feeding tube and go through 12 more rounds of chemo. The surgery was a success. The cancer was confined to the area they removed and as of today he is cancer free. “I’ll probably never accept that fact. I live on a day to day basis.”
Look for the conclusion of the story in next week’s Raymore Journal.

September 25, 2014

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Jorge Rodriguez, Mark Hurst, Millard Fillmore, and Brad Harris took part in the tournament.

After undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, and extensive surgery, Mark is currently cancer free. His battle forever changed his life and that of his family. It refocused his priorities. “Now I live a day to day kind of thing. It was a long hard road. The perspective for going out and makinHomecoming 560g lots of money isn’t there. I want to work and keep my hands busy, but to go out to get better off, not so much. The little things just don’t matter as much anymore. I try not to be so head strong. It’s the family things. It’s seeing my grand-kids, my kids, and doing things with her [Martha] now.”
“When this happens, your total perspective of life changes entirely, because it’s not about ‘I got to beat the next person’ or ‘I want this, this, and this.’ It was hard for everybody, the entire family. It was a struggle at first because he [Mark] was angry,” added his wife Martha.
Having little information about this type of cancer when his journey began, his wife, Martha, collected a massive three-ringed binder of information about his doctors, his treatments, and his prognosis. After his health improved he and his family decided they needed to do something to promote awareness of this deadly disease. Mark is doing his part by helping others who are just beginning their treatments. “I have chances now to talk to people, to witness to people. He has written articles for “Purple Light,” a publication from the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN). The Network also has a group called Pals comprised of people who have been diagnosed with the disease who can talk to each other about what they are going through. “I was a speaker to a group of people, most of whom lost loved ones [to pancreatic cancer]. I’d be more than willing to talk to anybody about what they are going through.” To that end, Mark wants his email to be accessible to anyone who wants to talk about pancreatic cancer, mhurst53@att.net.
His wife has become active in raising funds for PanCAN. “I think our passion right now is to bring awareness out because within the last two years we know five families in Raymore that has been affected by this,” said Martha. “Three of those families have already lost their loved ones.”
The Hurst family know that Mark is not out of the woods yet. With only 6% of those diagnosed surviving more than five years, they know each day is precious. Their mission now is to raise awareness and funds. Only 2% of the research for a cure is funded by the government, the rest is from donations. All of the money raised by Dad’s Drivers Golf Tournament will go to PanCAN for research and awareness.

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REFUGE for teens opens in Peculiar

The Ray-Pec Community Alliance held an open house at their new youth center called the REFUGE. Kids 7th-12th grade are welcome to hangout, play games, have snacks and drinks, and just chill with friends in a safe, positive environment. Many community leaders were on hand to tour the facility at 13201 E 216th Street in Peculiar, including Peculiar Mayor Holly Stark, Senator Ed Emery, Raymore City Councilwoman Sonja Abdelgawad, Superintendent Dr. Kari Monsees, as well as members of the Ray-Pec school board and Raymore police department.
The youth center started out as a vision of repeating what had worked in the past. Allison Scott, the main force behind this project, wanted to have somewhere for her kids to hangout with their friends like she had where she grew up.
“I started about two years ago sending out letters and knocking on church doors. Then I heard about the Alliance and joined forces with them.”
The REFUGE is staffed completely by volunteers. “We have applications on our website. It does require a background check just like any other organization that works with kids these days,” explained Scott.
The cost of running such a program is substantial and it relies mostly on donations.
“There is a small grant that we’re writing and hoping to get from the state from the Department of Behavioral Health. The Alliance has gotten the grant the last two years and used it for other projects. This year if we get it we are going to use it for this project,” said Scott excitedly.
The selection of the spot to house the REFUGE was no easy task.
Scott described the process of how the facility became the home of the REFUGE, “Gretchen (Roth, a co-founder of the REFUGE) attends church at Heart of Life and heard about this building not being used as much and approached them and asked the question. They said ‘Absolutely. That’s what we’d love to use the building for.’ They have been very accommodating and even foot the bill for the utilities. That is a huge component to being able to operate on a dime.”
When asked what the ultimate goal for the REFUGE is, Scott replied, “Gretchen and I would love to first and foremost to meet what the kids want it to look like. We would love to have it open possibly every day after school for tutoring or a place to do homework. In the summertime, we’d like to offer lots of different programming aside from just a safe place for them to hangout. We are going to respond to what the kids say they want and what community support we get also.”
The REFUGE will host two events in September. The first will be on the 19th from 7-10pm and the second will be the 26th after the football game. There will be music, games, and snacks (for purchase).
For more information about the Ray-Pec Community Alliance, The REFUGE, volunteer opportunities, upcoming events, or how to donate, go to http://www.rpcarefuge.com.RPCA Refuge 002 RPCA Refuge 004 RPCA Refuge 008 RPCA Refuge 012 RPCA Refuge 014 RPCA Refuge 019 RPCA Refuge 021

A Privilege Taken for Granted

Less than 10%. That is how many people voted yesterday in Cass County. Less than 10% of the registered voters took time to invoke that precious privilege. That just makes me sad and angry at the same time. Angry because less than 10% of the population is making the decisions by which we all have to live and sad that millions of service men and women have sacrificed their lives to protect that privilege that so few take seriously. Many shrugged off yesterday’s election saying it wasn’t a ‘major election.’ We were voting on people and issues that most affect our daily lives – our local government.

Have we become that complacent as a society that our basic freedoms don’t deserve 10 or 15 minutes out of our day to preserve? In countries in Africa and the Middle East people who choose to vote often have to wait hours in line to do so. HOURS! And not in some nice air conditioned church or bank, but outside in the hot sun. Some voters in those countries even risk bodily harm or even death in order to participate in voting. The longest I’ve ever had to wait to vote was 30 minutes and the most harm that has ever come to me is a paper cut from the ballot! Both a very small price to pay for being able to participate in my government.

Most people understand that if you don’t use a muscle it weakens. The same is true of your liberties. If you don’t exercise them, they will be taken from you. Maybe not ripped away all at once, but just a little here and a little there. But to just sit back and give them away because you don’t care? I just have to wonder if the service and sacrifice that has gone into creating and maintaining those liberties was really worth it.

My daddy always said that those who aren’t willing to help solve a problem have no right to gripe about the problem. That applies to government as well. If you can’t get involved by running for an office, the least you can do is participate in putting people in place who closest represent your views and beliefs. In Raymore, the two significant issues are the Civic Center and the round-about. Lots of people in Raymore like to complain about those two things and the cost involved, but only 1,200 people voted yesterday in Raymore. If you were one of those 1,200, thank you! If not then maybe you should take my daddy’s advice. He’s a pretty smart guy.

Just a Follow Up

As I predicted, Ella got her playhouse! All the hoopla that the tv media stirred up was for naught although I’m sure they claimed they got it for her. It wasn’t that the HOA didn’t want her to have it. They just had to work on getting it for her within the covenants they had. And that’s exactly what they did.

I really appreciated all the feedback my editorial got. I approved nearly all the comments whether I agreed or disagreed with them. That is the beauty of living in a free society – we can speak our minds.

Unfortunately there was some damage done to the reputation of the Stonegate community that was completely unnecessary because of a quick rush to judgement by a lot of well meaning people. Hopefully some of those who were the harshest critics will also show the most character and learn from this situation and get all the facts before stirring up a hornets nest.