Raymore and Belton are neighboring towns that share a storied rivalry. The cause is not perfectly clear, but both mayors agree the time has come to move on.
One rumored cause of the rivalry is rooted in athletics. On a hot day years ago, the high schools of Raymore-Peculiar and Belton competed in a softball game. The Ray-Pec team forgot to bring water to the field. According to the tale, Belton brought water but refused to share with the opposition.
Charlene Hubach of Raymore suggested a cause that goes back further in history. Raymore, in its beginning stages, wanted to create a township by taking land from two current townships, Mount Pleasant and Big Creek. Belton, a part of the Mount Pleasant Township, protested, but the County overruled. Belton’s land area is smaller to this day because some of its land was given to Raymore.
Lastly, another suggested cause is that a portion of Belton’s land belongs to the Raymore-Peculiar School District. Thus, some Belton residents are paying taxes to and attending school in the opposing district.
Ms. Hubach is a long-time resident and former postmaster of Raymore. She now serves on the city council. Hubach remembers hearing of two Raymore boys who would always wear their “fighting clothes” when they went to Belton for sporting events. No one ever saw the clothes, according to Hubach, so no one knew what the “fighting clothes” actually were.
To her, the story simply demonstrates the presence of a rivalry that has existed for generations.
Hubach compared the relationship of Belton and Raymore to that of a sibling rivalry. The towns are closer to each other than to other towns, and they will defend each other. However, a rivalry still exists.
Belton’s current mayor, Jeff Davis, was elected to office in April after serving as a council member for several years. Part of his platform included a plan to improve the relationship between Belton and Raymore.
“I think we have to work on that, an image that the groups do get along; that it’s not, you know, a war zone,” Davis said. “I think that will at least be the foundation. I think that’s a great starting point.”
Davis’s plan is to create a “practical partnership” among Belton, Raymore, and Peculiar. He hopes the towns’ leadership can set an example of cooperation for the constituents, while seeking the best for the community as a whole.
Mayor Davis has 37 years of coaching experience, and he draws heavily on that personal history in his new position. He calls his method the “coach approach.” Davis explained that the towns must work as a team and borrow good ideas from each other.
Mayor Peter Kerckhoff of Raymore agrees. “When somebody’s already invented the wheel—okay, I’m going to borrow it.”
Belton and Raymore are now similar in population. Belton was incorporated first, and its population expanded first. In recent years, though, the scales have nearly balanced. According to the US Census Bureau, Belton’s population estimate for 2011 was 23,251. Raymore was close behind with 19,318.
Where population is similar, other demographics vary. For example, the homeownership rate for…
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