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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

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Former Raymore City Judge Moves to Cass County Circuit Court

On Tuesday, December 30, Raymore’s judge, Stacy Lett was officially sworn in as Associate Circuit Judge Division III. Friends spoke on her behalf, telling stories about how they came to meet.

Mr. Fordyce, a longtime friend of Judge Lett started the ceremony on a more serious note. He’s known her since she was only 17 when they worked together at Western Auto and he could see then what a hard worker she was and her determination to succeed. As Mr. Fordyce pointed to Lett’s parents he stated, “There are some wonderful, hardworking people with huge open hearts. People can work hard. People have good hearts, but to put that combination together is something not everybody has.” Referencing the cliché, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, he said, “Stacy is definitely proof of that.”

As her friend and colleague, Shayla Taulbee stood at the podium. Her opening remarks were, “I am glad to be here on such a special day for her.” She continued to embellish on all of Judge Lett’s accomplishments, “Graduating college in three years, the police academy, law school and then she made partner at a law firm at 27, and that firm grew because of her efforts to where she needed a second location down south before she was even 30.” She closed with, “Some people who don’t know her may look at her and just think, oh, just a young, beautiful woman. Which she is, but there’s so much more. And she is a force to be reckoned with and to be taken seriously and I think, honestly, you taught me you can be both.”

Stacy’s husband, Chris Gough said, “She enjoyed her time in Raymore tremendously. She’s sad to leave Raymore.” However, it was time to take the next step and begin a new chapter of their life. “This is an incredible day in the history of our family. It’s been a whirlwind of events since I met Stacy in 2006. When I first met her I was overwhelmed by how much passion, drive and determination this girl has,” he said.

She said, “I’m honored and privileged to be here and I’m here because of all of you.” She also wanted to recognize her late grandfather, Joe, who held a very special place in her heart. She said, “I couldn’t be here without him. He knew the passion and ambition and drive I had since I was eight years old.” She continued to tell a story regarding a tragedy that she was involved in when she was 16 years old with a friend who did not make it and she did and how it was very ironic that her sister presented her with a letter last year that had been written by her grandfather in 1995 but was never given to her. He wrote, “You have an opportunity to make the most of your narrowly spared life by seeking it to maximum fulfillment and your responsibilities to live it with such a sense of service.” She said, “I am so proud today that I feel like at least to this point I’ve served life with a service through being a part of the Eastern Jackson County Youth Court when I was a kid all the way through helping build the Cass County Youth Program through being a Judge in the City of Raymore and now I’m granted the greatest opportunity, to serve Cass County.”

“I teach the number one thing at Cass County Youth Court to all my kids is to serve justice no matter what role you’re in; prosecutor, defense attorney or the judge. I can make a devout promise that I will do everything I can to serve justice.”

As she motioned over to the other judges in the room, she said, “I can’t wait to work with them and learn from them.”

With her husband, Chris and their son, Grayson by her side she was sworn in.

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Ross Nigro Sworn in as Raymore City Judge

With the election of Judge Stacy Lett to the Cass County Associate Circuit Court, Raymore was left to fill her vacancy before the New Year. Attorney Ross Nigro rose to the top of the list of candidates.
“My uncle was a judge and watching him work really got my interest peaked. Even in high school I wanted to be a lawyer,” Nigro said about his decision to go into law.
Mr. Nigro completed his undergrad at KU and his law degree from the UMKC School of Law where he now sits on the Law Foundation Board and is President of the Alumni Board.
Nigro has practiced law for more than 20 years in Jackson County on both the prosecution and defense side of the law, which gives him a well-rounded view of the law as a judge. He has served as prosecutor in Raytown where he was also the judge pro tem. As a defense lawyer, he has been involved in cases throughout the Kansas City metro area on both sides of the state line. He currently practices municipal criminal law.
“I go to 2-3 courts a day all over [the metro]. I get to see how those are run; how those judges act; how those court staffs interact with the citizens,” explained Nigro when asked about how he has prepared for his first time in the judges’ seat. He says he will also draw on the experience of both Judge Steven Sakoulas of Peculiar and Judge Charles Curry of Belton, both of whom Nigro knows well.
What Mr. Nigro wants the people of Raymore to know is, “I am fair-minded, reasonable, and wanting to do what is best for the City of Raymore. It is a great city and I will do my part to keep it a great city.”

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Lady Panthers Win One and Lose One

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Toni Martin takes control of the tip-off against Lee’s Summit.

In the match-up against the Lee’s Summit Tigers, rp girls varsity 3 Ray-Pec hosted a girls basketball dual in the south gymnasium. The junior varsity squad started things off by taking the win with a score of 45-32. But the varsity game would not go in favor of the Panthers as they handed the Tigers a win with the final score of 59-46.

In the varsity game, it took Lee’s Summit a while to get revved up. Even though Ray-Pec won the tip-off they could not get anything done offensively. Defense stayed tough on both teams and they passed possession back-and-forth where it was nearly 2 minutes into the game before either side scored. It was the Panthers drawing first blood, but it only acted to stir up their opponents. Somewhere in the second quarter, then, the Tigers started hitting their stride because at halftime the score stood at 31-14 in their favor. Returning from the locker room more focused and determined, and led by the efforts of Taylor Koper who scored 14 points in the game, Ray-Pec outscored their opponents 32-28 in the second half. Unfortunately, the damage had been done in the first half and the Panthers were unable to recover from an initial 17 point deficit.

The lady Panthers now stand at 4-5. Their next action is a conference match-up against the Lee’s Summit North Broncos on January 15 in the south gym.

Latreace Hawthorne was welcomed to Raymore by Mayor Kerckhoff and Chamber of Commerce President Tom Circo

New Businesses Open in Cass County

Planet Fitness

Belton’s Economic Development Director Jay Leipzig welcomed Planet Fitness owner Greg Henson to the community.

Planet Fitness held its grand opening ribbon-cutting on Thursday, November 13. The owner of Planet Fitness, Greg Henson, was on hand for the ceremony.
“I’m very encouraged by all the community support,” said Henson about his goals for the gym’s future. Belton Mayor Jeff Davis also participated in the festivities and had high praise for the facility.
“This place is really top-notch and I just love the colors. They really pop,” said Davis about Planet Fitness’ purple and yellow color scheme.
The gym has row upon row of treadmills, stationary bikes, stair climbers, and ellipticals. They also have free weights and weight machines as well as circuit workout rooms complete with timed lights to let members know when to switch machines. Planet Fitness offers affordable gym memberships starting at only $10 a month.

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Leti’s Accessories offers boutique style shopping at affordable prices.

The City of Raymore and the Raymore Chamber of Commerce held a grand opening ribbon-cutting ceremony for Leti’s Accessories, located in the Willowind Shopping Center, on Friday, November 14.
Leti’s Accessories officially opened for business following the ceremony, and is presently stocked with an eclectic mix of necklaces, rings, bracelets, scarves, purses, belts, sunglasses, wool hats and cardigans in a boutique setting.
“I love accessories and pretty much anything beauty,” said Latreace “Leti” Hawthorne, who co-owns the boutique with her husband Ted. “I just like for a lady to look really, really pretty.”
While this new boutique is her first brick-and-mortar shop, Leti – a recent Texas transplant – has previously sold stylish accessories online. Finding local availability of the fashion accessories she enjoyed scarce, Hawthorne convinced her husband that, instead of continuing to drive out of the area to Overland Park or Lee’s Summit to shop, they should help fill that local void by opening their own business closer to home.
Whether it’s designer labels like Calvin Klein or Michael Kors, or labels not as widely known, Leti Hawthorne aims to keep her boutique’s “fashionable and trendy” merchandise priced right for her customers.
“I want everything in here to be affordable to keep customers coming back,” said Hawthorne who presently has all of her accessories priced between $3 and $40 each. “My target is not to go over $60 on any item because I want to keep everything affordable.”
Drawing inspiration from TV and magazines like Glamour and Lucky, Hawthorne aims to keep her boutique’s stock fresh and in-touch with current fashion trends.
“I’m not going to keep carrying the same things,” said Hawthorne who places new inventory orders weekly. “It’s going to be something different every time a customer comes into the store, once all of this current inventory is gone.”
Hawthorne added that she’s also able to place special orders for customers seeking fashion items not currently on her store’s shelves.
“If someone brings in a picture of something they’re looking for, I can research it and find it for them,” said Hawthorne. “To get the customer what they need is one of my goals.”
Mayor Peter Kerckhoff welcomed Leti’s Accessories to the community.
“On behalf of the City and citizens of Raymore, I welcome the Hawthornes and their new business venture to Raymore,” said Kerckhoff. “I’m sure women throughout Raymore will find the affordable accessories offered by Leti’s Accessories a welcome addition. Best wishes for success in your business.”
Tom Circo, Chamber of Commerce president, added his congratulations to the Hawthornes on the opening of their new shop.
“On behalf of the Raymore Chamber of Commerce, its board of directors and general membership, we would like to thank you for bringing your business to the city of Raymore, and we wish you a long and successful partnership within our community,” said Circo.
Located at 1262 W. Foxwood Drive, Leti’s Accessories is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, call 816-322-3002.

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The “Man of La Mancha” Opens Tonight

By: Jennifer Reed

Last night I was privileged to attend the final dress rehearsal for the Ray-Pec Theater Department’s presentation of the Man of La Mancha. I have never seen this play performed before, but honestly I can’t imagine it could be done any better than what I witnessed last night. It is a two-act play, each lasting approximately an hour. The music is engaging, the staging very detailed, and the costumes are top notch. The lighting is spot on and the few sound issues were addressed at the end of the performance and all will be ready to go for opening night tonight.
The cast is simply incredible. They are flawless in both line delivery and facial expressions. The leads are Sawyer Bletscher as Miguel De Cervantes/Don Quixote, Ian Fleming as Sancho Panza, and Ali Gillespi as Aldonza. All three give stellar performances that are completely enthralling and entertaining. The supporting cast is incredible as well, from the two memorable “horses,” to the inquisition guards, to the mule runners – all are comfortable with their roles and that translates to the audience as authentic. The music and songs are moving and performed so well that listeners will be transported to 16th century Spain.
I read an excerpt of Don Quixote in high school, but after seeing this play, I want to read the entire book. That is how well these students perform this classic. This is a “must see” play. It is very professionally done and audiences will love the characters and songs. I was certainly humming “The Impossible Dream” for the rest of the evening.
“The Man of La Mancha” opens tonight at the RPHS Academy Theater at 7:30 pm. They will also perform on Friday and Saturday night also at 7:30 and Sunday afternoon at 2:30. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students. I promise this performance is well worth the time and money. You won’t be disappointed.