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 ( 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         

Jeffrey Stevens          (816) 322-0884         


Ward 2

Derek Moorhead       (816) 304-4220         

Joseph Burke, III        (816) 272-8782         


Ward 3

Jason Boehner            (816) 398-2756         

Jay Holman                   (816) 331-0949         


Ward 4

Sonja Abdelgawad    (816) 786-2209         

Charlene Hubach       (816) 331-6628         

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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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
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,
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 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.”