Year in Review, Part II: Revved up to start the new year

Roger Hill of Platte City reacts after his run in the Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League competition Saturday, July 25 at the Grandstand inside the Platte County Fairgrounds in Tracy, Mo. While the construction along Interstate 29 ceased in the second half of 2015, many of the events later in the year set the stage for more orange barrels in the county, especially for residents of Platte City. Big changes are coming to Kentucky Avenue and Highway 92, thanks to the advancement of various projects.

In addition, the area lost more influential individuals with the deaths of local attorney and politician Jim Farley and World War II veteran Ralph Shackelford. Long-standing facilities were either closed (the Platte City Pool) or headed toward major changes (KCI Airport).

As 2016 arrives, changes aplenty are coming to Platte County. Take a look back at the past six months as you ring in the new year.

Firm takes over management of Shiloh Springs golf course

KemperSports Management took charge of the program management of the county-owned Shiloh Springs Golf Course on July 1 under a unanimously approved management and scope of services agreement. Previously, Platte County Parks and Recreation handled the facility, located just east of Platte City.

The county will continue to handle facility and course maintenance. The contract length is 3½ years with options to extend or terminate based upon performance and satisfaction.

Platte City sets anchor at 175th anniversary celebration

Almost a year in the making, the celebration of the 175th anniversary of Platte City’s founding turned into a well-attended success, featuring live music, pomp and moving addresses.

More than a hundred guests were on hand Saturday, July 4 to help honor that event while also celebrating Independence Day and the dedication of an anchor from a U.S. Navy ship that bore the name of the Platte River (USS Platte (AO-186)), set to be permanently on display in Platte City. Held underneath the shelter at Settler’s Crossing Park, the hour-long ceremony took place with the waters of that very river lapping by in the background.

Platte City mayor Frank Offutt hoped the combined celebration involving citizens helped “set the anchor for the next 175 years.”

Weston honors fallen son with traveling war memorial

With a little help from the City of Weston, Patrick Farnan had a week-long opportunity to display the legacy of Spc. Colby Farnan, his son who was killed Feb. 25, 2005 at the age of 22 in Taji, Iraq while serving in U.S. Army. Running from Monday, July 13 through Sunday, July 19, Weston housed the traveling “Remembering Our Fallen” display at the Masonic Lodge on Main Street.

In conjunction, the Weston Chamber of Commerce had a display dedicated to Colby Farnan at its office with photos, awards, medals and even artwork dedicated to his memory.

“I felt it was time to share,” Patrick Farnan said. “We’ve kept it all but at the same time we have a few of the guys and friends of Colby’s and friends of ours that have seen the stuff. But not everyone has.”

Matt starts tenure as North Platte superintendent

Karl Matt presided over his first session as North Platte’s superintendent in July after Dr. Jeff Sumy’s retirement became official on June 30. Matt was named as the new superintendent in December of 2014 following Sumy’s retirement announcement in November.

KCPD begins work on North Patrol headquarters

The Kansas City (Mo.) Police Department held a groundbreaking for its North Patrol headquarters Friday, July 15. This marked a ceremonial step toward the construction of the new facility on NW Prairie View Road near KCI Airport, officially numbering the days of the division’s current home in Clay County — affectionately known as the “bumblebee station” due to its yellow and black striped paint job.

Officials project the completion of the new 25,000-square-foot headquarters in the spring of 2017.

KCI Airport study moves toward single terminal rebuild

With a broad estimated cost of “less than a billion dollars,” an advisory group recommended building a new terminal at KCI Airport in Platte County, tabling talk of major renovations moving forward during a July 21 Kansas City City Council meeting.

A study completed later in the year confirmed that a new terminal would be cheaper than major renovations to the current three terminal facility. A final resolution would be expected to go before city leaders by May of 2016.

Funding for the improvements would not come from city or state taxes. The advisory group reminded citizens that airlines and travelers pay for operations, maintenance and capital projects, and federal law prohibits diverting airport fees and charges to other city purposes.

Airport revenue bonds are secured based on fees, charges and grants.

McDonald’s manager busted for stealing, drugs

A former employee at the McDonald’s in Platte City faces a pair of felony charges after she allegedly

Amanda Hancock

skimmed money from the business and was then found with crystal methamphetamine on her while being arrested on suspicion of the theft in late July.

According to court documents, the Platte City Police Department arrested Amanda Hancock, 39, of Platte City at the request of her employer on Friday, July 31 after she had been terminated on suspicions she stole $1,600 while working there. Authorities then found a clear plastic bag with a white substance that field tested positive for meth along with a glass pipe in her purse.

McDonald’s management contacted the police on Thursday, July 30 and provided video evidence indicating Hancock took money on two different occasions.

Platte City Pool closes for final time

After 50 years in operation, the Platte City Pool closed for good with one final free admission day on Sunday, Aug. 9. The Platte City Pool once served as one of summer’s most popular spots in Platte City, but the simple L-shaped facility became outdated and eventually became functionally and operationally obsolete.

ROSS MARTIN/Citizen photo Lifeguards at the Platte City Pool have a longstanding tradition of leaving their names on the inside of the small gazebo at the facility’s entrance. The good-natured graffitti currently dates back a decade or so but will not have any new names after this year. The pool closed down for good on Sunday, Aug. 9 after 50 years of operation.

With infrastructure failing, City of Platte City officials made the decision to reopen the pool one last time this summer. Putting more money into the facility for renovations was no longer feasible, and there will be no public pool during the coming years.

Just how long Platte City goes without a public pool remains uncertain.

Currently, no funding exists to build a new facility, and although about 70 percent of citizens surveyed favor a pool, many of those have expressed hesitancy to pay for its construction. Platte City city administrator DJ Gehrt believes a new facility, which would likely include more amenities than just a pool, would require about two years to complete from the moment funding and a project were approved.

The pool opened for business on Aug. 1, 1965 with two diving boards into the 8½-foot deep end and a curved slide into the shallow end. There were no benches or chairs, and members often brought their own. The parking lot was added after the close of the first season. Eventually, fencing, chairs and benches were added.

R-3 grad fighting cancer meets up with Chiefs’ Berry

Very recently diagnosed with large b-cell lymphoma, Alyssa Crabtree, 24, a 2009 graduate of Platte County High School met Kansas City Chiefs star safety Eric Berry following a training camp practice in early August in St. Joseph, Mo.

With a little help from her brother and social media, the chance came about for her to draw inspiration from an athlete who fought a similar fight with cancer to return to the field. The two met up again during a game later in the season with Crabtree cancer free after treatments and Berry turning in a Pro Bowl season.

Platte City police officer’s act of kindness goes viral

Contributed photo Platte City Police Department officer Andy Servaes poses with Thomas Palmer, 9, and Logan Trucke, 5, of Iowa outside of the Arby’s restaurant in Platte City on Friday, Aug. 7. The photo, posted to Facebook, went viral after Servaes spent his dinner break that night answering the boys’ questions and showing them his patrol vehicle.

Thanks to a note on Facebook, Andy Servaes, a Platte City Police Department officer, received plenty of thanks and recognition for what he considered a small act of kindness. A chance encounter with a family from Dunlap, Iowa on Friday, Aug. 7 led to a viral social media post that caught Servaes off guard.

Smith and 12 others were returning from a family vacation in Branson, Mo. when they stopped at Arby’s that night, the oldest on the trip 99 years of age and the smallest at nine months.

Servaes and his partner were inside the restaurant when one of the family members, still five hours away from their final destination, noticed their police cruiser’s headlights were still on. When Servaes went to shut them off, Thomas Palmer, 9, and Logan Trucke, 5, — both nephews of Smith — were showing interest in the patrol car.

According to Servaes, he noticed and asked if they wanted to come and look inside.

At 8:58 p.m. that night, Smith posted the picture on the Platte City Missouri Police Chaplaincy’s Facebook page with a note thanking Servaes for his time. Eventually, that post led to almost 1,000 likes, nearly 300 shares and 59 comments.

The post read in part: “You made their night!!!! Thank You!! We could use more officers like you!!!”

Improved E Highway finally reopens in Camden Point

Government officials, workers on the project and most importantly citizens turned out Friday, Aug. 14 for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to commemorate the reopening of Highway E, shut down for about 45 days to create a safer intersection at a dangerous spot just outside of Camden Point, Mo. The nearly $300,000 project, a cooperative effort of Platte County and the Missouri Department of Transportation, leveled off a hill to eliminate a blind spot, removing about 5,600 cubic yards of material from the site.

Crypto cases linked to Northland pools

The Kansas City and Platte County health departments issued notices in early September, warning Northland residents about a recent bout of Cryptosporidiosis cases in the area.

The Platte County Health Department said it’s working with operators to take cautionary measures for treatment of swimming pools known to have contact with infected individuals. That includes the Park Hill District Aquatic Center in Kansas City, Mo.

The Park Hill and Park Hill South swim teams experienced a rash of sick individuals, possibly related to the protozoan Cryptosporidium parvum.

Fire destroys historic church near Rushville

Contributed photo Flames burst out of Short Creek Baptist Church on Saturday, Sept. 12 near Rushville, Mo. A fire reported early that morning ended up completely destroying the 120-year-old building, located in rural northwestern Platte County.

For 120 years, Short Creek Baptist Church sat in the shadow of the Missouri River bluffs along Highway 45 in northwestern Platte County.

Turn off on Cogan Road and wind back until coming to Brown Road. There you could see the simple white building with the year of its completion printed prominently above the front door: 1895.

Almost nothing remains of the historic church outside of Rushville, Mo. after a fire this past September resulted in its total destruction.

Multiple fire departments responded to a call at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 12 but were unable to control a fire that destroyed the Short Creek Baptist Church, located along Highway 45 in rural northwestern Platte County near Rushville, Mo. Eventually, firefighters managed to contain the blaze to the building but were forced to return Sunday morning to put out some minor hot spots.

No one was injured, but the 10 to 20 parishioners lost their church, which was built in 1895.

PCR-3 names new building Compass Elementary

The Platte County R-3 Board of Education voted 4-2 in favor of Compass Elementary for the under-construction Platte City facility during its September meeting, going along with the school name committee’s top pick, and the name then received unanimous approval.

Compass and Compass Point were given to the board as a joint option, and those won out over Tina Zubeck Elementary and North Star Elementary. The split vote came when trying to separate the two similar options, which the naming committee tabbed as the first and fourth choice.

QuikTrip to build new store with Kentucky extension

The City of Platte City finally received confirmation from QuikTrip that will green light the long-anticipated extension of Kentucky Avenue in September.

This means the current three-way intersection at Highway 92 and Kentucky will become a four-way intersection, providing a second access point to McDonald’s and QuikTrip. Kentucky will then run through and connect with NW Prairie View Road. In conjunction with the Kentucky Avenue extension in the opposite direction to accommodate the Platte County R-3 School District’s new elementary school, the road becomes a mostly four-lane corridor connecting Fourth Street on the west with NW Prairie View Road on the east.

Construction on the phase with QuikTrip, which plans to build a new store at its Platte City location, will likely start in the spring or summer of 2016 with the full extension finished in the fall or winter.

Platte City completes sidewalk project

Representatives from the City of Platte City, Missouri Department of Transportation and area businesses held a ceremony in early October to acknowledge the completion of a new sidewalk running along Highway 92 in Platte City. Julius Kaaz Construction finished about 10 weeks of work on a $239,735.11 project on the west side of the roadway, running from the U.S. Post Office at Marshall Drive to the eastern edge of the Platte County R-3 School District’s campus.

The city paid for about $60,000 worth of the work, while grant money made up the rest of the cost to complete a long talked-about project in Platte City.

Platte County’s Dorman goes into wrestling hall of fame

Recently retired after 19 seasons in charge at Platte County, Platte County wrestling coach Phil Dorman was inducted into the Missouri Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, which is based in Stillwater, Okla. The ceremony took place Oct. 25 in Columbia, Mo.

In his 19 seasons, Platte County went 156-35-3 in duals and won 11 conference and nine district championships. The Pirates went from a solid small-school program to a seven-time Missouri State Wrestling Championships team champion — three at the smallest level and four more as the Pirates grew into a Class 2 profile. They also won four other state trophies for top-four finishes.

During that span, Dorman coached 31 individual state champions and 76 other medalists (top-six finishers).

R-3 teacher battling cancer receives Royals playoff tickets

ROSS MARTIN/Citizen photo Stephanie Jermain — pictured at right, a first grade teacher at Siegrist Elementary in the Platte County R-3 School District — receives four free tickets ahead of Game 6 of the American League Championship Series between the Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays. Amy Acock (left), a represenative with Academy Sports+Outdoors and a North Platte graduate, made the presentation. The company heard about Jermain’s inspirational fight with an aggressive form of breast cancer and decided to donate the tickets to recognize her dedication to raising awareness for the need of regular self exams to help detect cancer early.

Stephanie Jermain, a first grade teacher at Platte County R-3’s Siegrist Elementary, decided to stop hiding her battle with cancer and had a serious talk with her students about the disease in October. She took off her wig and revealed her bald head to them — showing them the real-life effects of eight rounds worth of chemotherapy.

Ever energetic, Jermain went with her new look and kept her head decorated with baseball stitching, a Kansas City Royals’ logo and a pink breast cancer awareness ribbon until the Royals won the World Series a few weeks later.

On Friday, Oct. 23, representatives with Academy Sports+Outdoors surprised Jermain in her classroom with four tickets to Game 6 of the American League Championship between the Royals and Blue Jays, which ended with the Royals winning 4-3 in dramatic fashion.

Paden sentenced for sex crimes

A Dearborn, Mo. man who sexually abused a girl over the period of a decade received 50 years in prison during a sentencing hearing Oct. 30 in Platte County court.

Darren Paden

With lengthy testimony during the proceedings, Darren L. Paden learned his fate after pleading guilty to two counts of first degree statutory sodomy in August. Platte County prosecuting attorney Eric Zahnd found the case deeply troubling because of the number of community members who continued to disbelieve the young girl, even though the defendant admitted his guilt within the first couple of hours of his police interview and before pleading guilty more than two years after the investigation began.

Those who wrote letters of support for Paden following his guilty plea included a North Platte Board of Education member, former and current North Platte employees, a former public official and multiple former and current members of the business community.

Study of Highway 92 corridor gets under way

Although any changes could be years away, the City of Platte City, the Mid-American Regional Council (MARC) and the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) began their Highway 92 Corridor Study with a project advisory committee meeting and a public open house held Oct. 30. The study will involve the portion of Highway 92 from Bethel Road on the east to Highway 273 on the west.

The area includes all land within a quarter mile of either side of the roadway. Currently, no funding source exists to alter Highway 92, according to Gehrt, so all of the planning will be long-range.

Mid-Continent Library celebrates 50th birthday

On Tuesday, Nov. 10, the Mid-Continent Public Library system celebrated its 50th anniversary. The Mid-Continent system started in 1965, and Platte City, Dearborn, Camden Point, Edgerton, Parkville, Weston and Riverside were a part of the 24 branches in existence in 1978. The Boardwalk branch (1994) and Library-to-Go facilities in Platte County joined in 1994 and 2011, respectively.

The Mid-Continent Public Library system — the largest geographical library system in the 48 contiguous states — now contains 32 locations.

Platte City loses pillar of business community

J. Wells Hull, one of the most influential businessmen in Platte City history, died in late November. He was 85.

A pillar of the community for decades, Hull worked at Wells Bank for more than three decades, including a stint as president for 12 years that lasted until his retirement in 1989. He stayed on as a consultant in later years and remained a very visible Platte County citizen.

Born Aug. 7, 1930, Hull lived most of his life in his historic home on Fourth Street in Platte City, which was built in 1893 and remains in the family to this day. He graduated from Platte City High School in 1948 and went on to attend Park College and the University of Missouri, obtaining a degree in agricultural economics.

Toddler drowns in pond near New Market, Mo.

A 3-year-old boy drowned in a pond at a family member’s home Nov. 23.

Emergency crews were called into swift action shortly after 11:30 a.m. after a report of a 3-year-old who had fallen into the water of a landscaping pond at a residence on County Road H. The boy was outside riding a tricycle and apparently rode into the pond while his grandfather briefly stepped inside, according to a spokesman with the Platte County Sheriff’s Office. The child was only out of sight for a few minutes.

Crews administered CPR in attempt to revive the boy before he was rushed to Mosaic Life Care in St. Joseph, Mo. by ambulance. He later died at the hospital.

Park picks Gunderson as 17th president

Park University selected Dr. Greg Gunderson as the school’s 17th president, ending a more than year-long search earlier this month. He begins his new duties Jan. 15, 2016 coinciding with the start of the spring 2016 semester.

EFL Associates Inc., an executive search firm based in Kansas City, Mo. led the search, while a search committee representing a diverse cross-section of university stakeholders, including trustees, alumni, faculty, staff and students. The board of trustees made the final appointment.

Cowherd officially tabbed as Park Hill superintendent

After eight months of service as interim superintendent, the Park Hill Board of Education chose Dr.

Jeanette Cowherd

Jeanette Cowherd as the new permanent leader of the district at a Dec. 10 meeting. The board voted unanimously to make Cowherd superintendent, and her tenure will begin in July.

The board chose Cowherd after a national search, which included feedback from more than 600 students, parents, staff and community members. Stakeholders weighed in on focus groups, filled out surveys and helped interview the three finalists.

Cowherd was selected to lead the district in April, after the surprise resignation of former superintendent Dr. Scott Springston. Citing health-related matters, Springston resigned just weeks after the board of education unanimously voted to extend his contract through 2018.

Parkville officer retires after 39 years on the force

Parkville police officer Edward Olson retired Dec. 14 after 39 years with the department. He had a reunion that day with fellow former officers, chiefs of police and law enforcement officials from all around the area, including childhood friends and training officers.

R-3 board approves adjusted boundaries for district

After four meetings of the district’s boundary adjustment committee and a public forum, the Platte County Board of Education reviewed the recommendation at its Thursday, Dec. 17 meeting. Members voted 6-0 with Gary Brown absent to finalize the new boundary, which sets up attendance centers for the district’s three elementary and two middle schools.

The district adjusted the boundary to accommodate the opening of Compass Elementary, currently under construction as part of a voter-approved $27-million capital improvement project. The building is scheduled to open next fall.

The adopted boundary moves the north-south line from NW 128th Street down to Interstate 435, meaning all students south of I-435 will go to Pathfinder and Barry while those north will now be a part of the Platte City attendance center.

In the north, the created line generally splits Platte City through a north-south line but doesn’t run directly along Fourth Street as originally planned, rather Interstate 29 is used as the main border on the east side. The west portion, which includes the Seven Bridges subdivision, would send students to Compass, while the east side, which includes Lakes at Oakmont and surrounding subdivisions, would be part of Siegrist Elementary.

Platte County’s Shackelford, World War II vet, dies at 97

One of the oldest World War II veterans in Missouri died earlier this month at the age of 97.

Ralph Shackelford, a lifelong resident of Platte County, served in the U.S. Army during World War II and survived a famous battle in which the Allies saved a key bridge that spanned the Rhine River. He later came back to live in Platte City and retired from TWA in 1981 after 31 years with the company as a metal mechanic.

A fixture at events honoring veterans in Platte City, Shackelford also spent decades teaching young people to ride horses in 4-H, and the livestock arena at the Platte County Fairgrounds in Tracy, Mo. is named in his honor.