Wonderscope Breaks Ground March 19

Wonderscope’s Plan.

South KC Perspective

A ceremonial groundbreaking at 10 a.m. Monday, March 19, will kick off preparations for construction of the new Wonderscope Children’s Museum of Kansas City at the Red Bridge Shopping Center.

The groundbreaking will be in the northwest part of the shopping center in the lot next to LaPetite Academy which will be adjacent to the Museum on its north side.  Major construction should start this summer with a tentative move-in date expected during the spring or summer of 2019. Kansas City based McCownGordon Construction will be the general contractor for the project.

At the Museum’s 2nd annual Rise and Shine fundraising breakfast I attended on February 27, Roxane Hill, Wonderscope executive director, said the museum has surpassed 40 per cent of its $12 million goal to fund its new facility.   

She said about 80,000 people visited the Museum in 2017 at its current location in a repurposed elementary school in Shawnee, Kan.  She explained that represented about a 20% increase from the previous year.

Hill has earlier projected the Museum will draw 100,000 to 200,000 visitors in its first full year of operation at Red Bridge due to improved and expanded exhibits and facilities, plus much better highway access.

Founded in 1989, Wonderscope’s mission is to spark a lifelong love of learning through the power of play.  It provides hands-on exhibits and programs designed especially for children 10 years of age and younger that integrate art, science, literature and music.

I-435 Construction

Construction work has begun on the $75 million project to widen and improve I-435 between State Line Rd. and where the highway now narrows west of the Three Trails Crossing.

Work now underway includes clearing brush along the highway, installing erosion control measures and moving utility lines, according to Perry Allen, Jr., project director for the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Allen said about mid-March the islands on Holmes Rd. will be removed and then the on-ramp entrances will be reconstructed to allow the Holmes/I-435 interchange to function as a full diamond interchange.  The current off-ramps will not be reconfigured, but the loop on-ramps in the northeast and southwest quadrants will be closed as soon as new on-ramp entrances are reconstructed to allow left turns onto the ramps.

The project will include replacing the bridges over Wornall and Holmes Roads.  Allen said the new bridges will be about 50 feet apart, rather than just inches apart as they are currently.  He said the westbound bridges will be moved about 25 feet north, and the eastbound bridges will be moved about 25 feet south.  The bridges will have five lanes of traffic in each direction with 10-foot inside and outside shoulders.

Allen said the 104th St. bridge will be completely renovated and widened to the south so it has five lanes in each direction with 10-foot inside and outside shoulders.  He said the Blue River bridge will undergo minor renovation and also will be widened to the south so it has five lanes in each direction. The eastbound bridge will have 10-foot inside and outside shoulders, he said, and the westbound bridge will have a 10-foot outside shoulder but only a 6-foot inside shoulder.

The highway itself, he said, will have five lanes in each direction for the length of the project, with a 12-foot inside shoulder instead of the current 6-foot shoulder and a taller and more crash-resistant barrier wall between the eastbound and westbound lanes.

Substantial completion of the project is expected by December 2019.

KCMO and federal officials broke ground Friday, March 2, on a $12.8 million project to finally finish the flood control system designed to protect the Dodson Industrial District around 85th St from U.S. 71 Highway west to Prospect by constructing an earthen levee on the north side of the Blue River expected to be completed in 2020. Shown here are (from left) City Councilman Kevin McManus; Colonel Douglas Guttormsen, commander of the Kansas City District of the U.S. Corps of Engineers; U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver, II; Councilwoman Alissia Canady; Councilman Scott Taylor and City Manager Troy Schulte.

Blue River Road

A study for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has identified 13 areas where the ground under Blue River Rd. (now closed from north of Red Bridge Rd. to south of Bannister Rd.) has slid or is beginning to slide into the Blue River, KCMO Assistant City Engineer Chad Thompson said at a February 21 meeting of the Southern Communities Coalition.

The Corps is paying 65 percent of the cost of the study on how to best stabilize the road’s base and is expected to pay the same percentage of the cost for actually stabilizing it, with KCMO paying the 35 percent local match and all of the cost of reconstructing the road itself.

Thompson said completion of the design work will take about a year, and a required acquisition study by the Corps will take about another year, so hopefully reconstruction could start about three years from now if federal funding can be secured in a timely manner.  He told me city officials were meeting with federal officials at press time to try to identify a source of funds.

He explained that the city will be proceeding with the design of the roadway itself once the fiscal year 2018-19 city budget is approved March 22 which includes $300,000 to pay for the design work split evenly between the 5th and 6th City Council Districts as recommended by the Public Improvements Advisory Committee I serve on and 5th and 6th District Council members.  He said some additional funding will need to be secured to complete the design work and acquire needed right-of-way to make the project “shovel ready”.

Speaking at the same meeting, City Manager Troy Schulte said he is “pretty confident” that reconstruction of the failed and failing portions of the road can get started in three years.

Hurts Donut Co.

Ward Parkway Shopping Center has announced that specialty donut shop Hurts Donut Co. will open its first Kansas City area location in its restaurant pavilion at the south end of the shopping center in May.

Hurts Donut Co. was founded in Springfield, Mo., in 1973 and now has 16 locations, including shops in Springfield, Joplin and Branson.  Its website advertises its shops feature over 70 varieties of oversized specialty donuts that it says “have serious personality,” as well as related items such as cinnamon rolls and maple bacon bars.  It claims when its Tulsa, Okla., shop opened it sold 24,000 donuts opening day. (That’s not a typo.)

The company is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, although its website boasts its shops are open 25 hours a day, eight days a week.  Its website also notes it uses a fleet of 19 converted ambulances for major deliveries and to cater large events.

The Ward Parkway location will be about 3,500 square feet at 8807 State Line Rd.

Center Fundraising

For the second year in a row, the Center Education Foundation raised over $50,000 for grants to teachers for special projects to assist district students at its annual Autos & Auctions Gala February 24 at the Armacost Auto Museum in Grandview attended by about 230 persons.

Distinguished Alumni Awards were presented to Stephen Smalley, MD, Center High School class of 1973, and to Steve Currall, PhD, class of 1977.

Smalley is a renowned radiation oncologist who is a clinical professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center.  Currall is the provost and vice president for academic affairs at Southern Methodist University.

Both recipients shared personal stories that I thought were very inspirational about how district teachers had a profound impact on their later accomplishments and successful careers.

Candidate Forum

The League of Women Voters of Kansas City and the South Kansas City Alliance will host a forum for candidates for the Hickman Mills School Board from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 13, in the Little Theater of Smith-Hale Middle School which is now located at 9010 A Old Santa Fe Rd. in the former Hickman Mills High School building along with the Hickman Mills Freshman Center.

There are four candidates in the April 3 election for two positions on the Board that will serve three-year terms – incumbents Alvin Brooks and Carol Graves and challengers Sandra Sexton and William Young.  Incumbent Luther Chandler is unopposed for a one-year term on the Board.

All the candidates have agreed to participate in the forum except Young who declined.

Town Hall Breakfast

State Representative DaRon McGee whose district includes much of south KCMO is hosting a free town hall breakfast from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, March 24, at Villa Ventura senior living community, 12100 Wornall Rd.

The public is invited, and those planning to attend are asked to RSVP by calling Linda Spence at 573-751-9469 or emailing her at linda.spence@house.mo.gov.

McGee said the event is to update south Kansas City residents on the status of important legislation being considered by the 2018 session of the Missouri General Assembly that adjourns May 18 and to hear their priorities for our state government.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker will be a special guest at the event.

Pet Vaccinations

Spay and Neuter Kansas City and the city of KCMO are offering free rabies vaccinations and microchipping with the purchase of a $10 city pet license from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, March 24, at Hillcrest Community Center, 10401 Hillcrest Rd.

Pet owners must be KCMO residents and bring proof of residency to qualify for the free services, but non-residents may participate for fees ranging from $15 to $35.

Persons may call Spay and Neuter Kansas City at 816-353-0940 for more information.

Spring Break Camp

Hillcrest Community Center, 10401 Hillcrest Rd., is offering a week-long day camp for children from 6 through 13 years old from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday, March 26, through Friday, March 30, for $40 per child.

Children attending will play team-building games, engage in enrichment activities, work on art projects and go on field trips.  Children may just attend on certain days for a daily fee of $10 per child, but must pay additional fees for any field trips.

Snacks will be provided, but campers must bring their lunch.  

Persons may register online at kcparks.org or call 816-513-8560 for more information.

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