By Tyler Schneider
The event was widely attended by public figures such as Jackson County Executive Frank White, Independence Mayor Rory Rowland, Sugar Creek Mayor Mike Larson, Blue Springs Mayor Carson Ross, Raytown Mayor Mike McDonough, Jackson County Legislator DaRon McGee, and Grandview’s own State Rep. Anthony Ealy, as well as the sitting members of the city and school boards.
“This is my ninth year as mayor of Grandview, and serving our community is truly one of the greatest blessings that I have been blessed with,” Mayor Leonard Jones Jr. said in his opening remarks.
“No one can tear down what is built up strong—and we did it right. Grandview’s finances are strong. The Board of Aldermen and I continue to be committed to the city’s long term financial stability by preparing the city for the future,” Jones told the crowd in an echo of one of the city’s new slogans: “Building a community for the future.”
Jones went on to reference a familiar March 2022 Kansas City Business Journal story that touted “the Grandview Miracle.” In response, though wholly appreciative of the recognition, Jones said: “I wish it were as easy as a miracle.”
The truth of the matter, as the mayor explained, was that the city’s economic turnaround has been the product of years of behind the scenes work by the city’s officials and employees. Since 2018, Jones says the city’s budget has nearly doubled while it has retained its AA- credit rating.
Jones stepped aside for several minutes as the traditional annual Grandview hype video, titled “Grow With Grandview,” offered recent recaps and highlights of what the city had accomplished in areas such as infrastructure and business development over the past year. Among those at the top of the stack was the completion of the I-49 two-way outer road conversion, which finished work in November as the city’s largest infrastructure project in its history—with Grandview responsible for just $3 million out of the $15 million total price tag.
“Building Up Grandview,” last year’s voter-approved bond package, brought in a number of additional street surface repairs, bridge maintenance, and other necessary additions like a new city fire-truck, city facility improvements. Included among the benefits of that approved bond package is $1 million set of improvements for Main Street, plus $7 million for other road improvements throughout the city. Grandview Public Works Director Doug Wesselschmidt described these infrastructure projects as, essentially, “14 years worth of street resurfacing” in one go.
Jones came back to the podium with a related announcement that the first phase of the Kansas City Southern Bridge is expected to begin by the end of the year. Additionally, several renovations have been made to the Truman Family Farm to get the historic location ready for a spring and summer’s worth of visitors, he said.
The quest to attract a second grocery store into town is also still ongoing, with David Carranza, Grandview’s Economic Development Director now spearheading the effort to lock in potential grocery store suitors.
For the many educators, parents, and particularly active citizens in attendance, Jones pointed out that a similar “State of Grandview Education” presentation would be delivered by Grandview School District Superintendent Dr. Kenny Rodrequez on March 30, with more information to be released ahead of the outing.
Another new program, a free five-week course known as the Grandview Citizens Academy, will launch its first session in City Hall on Thursday, March 16, at 6 p.m.
“Any resident or business owner who is interested in learning more about local government can sign up for our brand new session,” Jones said of this latest addition to the city’s citizen-oriented services.
Jones more or less closed the speech with a reminder about the upcoming April 4 vote on adding a three-percent city tax on recreational, adult-use marijuana. Jones said the money from these sales would be put directly back into the city’s general fund, and would thus be worth the effort to show up at the polls. Grandview has at least one recreational cannabis shop within city limits in ReLeaf Resources.
As has become a tradition in recent years, a second delivery of the address took place at 6 p.m. that same evening at the Mid-Continent Public Library. A video of the speech is also available via Grandview’s Facebook page.