No event created a stir quite like the total solar eclipse that passed through the area in late August.
The year of 2017 might truly be remembered for totality, a word many heard for the first time while discussing the unique celestial event that ended up obscured for most in the area due to weather. Hat tip to Citizen columnist Bill Graham for associating totality with the year that was in Platte County.
The second half of 2017 also featured exciting new projects underway in the area.
While some businesses in Platte City received needed updates, the North Platte and Park Hill school districts broke ground on new building sites. Highway 45 opened up a new four-lane section of roadway in Parkville.
The new year started with many big changes also on the horizon. The Platte County Commission hopes to finalize the sale of Shiloh Springs Golf Course, while the Village of Ferrelview hopes to finally sort out its finances to provide a clear vision for the future.
There were also a number of new records, accomplishments and awards in local high school athletics, completing a big year for the area sports scene. While you enjoy the start of 2018, take a look back with us on the biggest stories to shape the second half of 2017 in Platte County.
Local businesses start upgrades
After purchasing the old Apple Market location on Branch Street in Platte City late in 2016, Wells Bank received approval from the planning and zoning commission in July to drastically update the building’s façade and add decorative changes to the parking lot. The inside of the building will include an open front lobby with a water feature, 16 office spaces and community and conference rooms.
Currently, Wells Bank operates properties on Main Street and at 1098 Branch Street, which sits next to the under-construction headquarters with three drive-thru banking lanes separating the two. The work continues with the opening planned this year.
The commission also approved a site plan in July for McDonald’s. The brick building topped with the red roof was updated on the exterior with a more neutral brown tone, while an expansion on the east side of the building will add tables, additional restrooms and a “PlayPlace” area for kids.
The renovations were recently completed.
Northmoor police chief shoots fleeing suspect
A bad check at a pawn shop led to a stolen police car and shots fired on July 17 in Northmoor, Mo.
In addition to suffering a minor gunshot wound to his arm, Scott Brown faced one felony count each of escape from custody while under arrest for a felony, resisting arrest, tampering with a motor vehicle and fleeing the scene of an accident. Northmoor Police Department officials responded to the call of a man attempting to pass a bad check at a pawn shop in a strip mall that stretches through Riverside and Northmoor.
The suspect, later identified as Brown, was arrested, handcuffed and placed into a patrol car.
After being secured into the car, the suspect allegedly found a way to move his hands, still cuffed, to the front of his body, exit the vehicle and get in the driver’s side door. He then attempted to flee the scene in the patrol car.
First, the suspect allegedly drove toward the police chief, who then allegedly shot at the suspect inside the car. The suspect then left the scene before crashing the car near the intersection of Vivion Road and NW Waukomis Drive near the edge of the Platte/Clay county line. He was later apprehended after a search.
Livestock shows return to Platte County Fair
After a 10-year hiatus, the junior livestock shows were held at the livestock barn on the Platte County Fairgrounds over a three-day period of the 154th annual Platte County Fair. In total, more than 200 entries and more than 100 exhibitors, including sheep, goats, pigs, cattle and other small animals, were shown to good-sized crowds Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings.
Previously an annual event at the Platte County Fair, the livestock shows quietly went away after 2007.
The establishment of the Platte County Livestock Boosters along with work from dedicated volunteers and fundraisers helped revive the tradition. The local chapters of the Future Farmers of America at North Platte and West Platte high schools and Northland Career Center in Platte City and the Platte County meat judging teams provided support.
West Platte board discontinues drug testing
Random student drug testing in the West Platte R-2 School District was repealed during a special meeting of the West Platte Board of Education in late July. With only board member Donald Wilson voting no, the board repealed the random drug testing policy enforced on students who participate in competitive activities since 2012.
The board tasked West Platte superintendent John Rinehart with writing up a new comprehensive drug and alcohol education and prevention program, starting at the grade school level. The program could include another version of a random drug testing policy.
North Platte demolishes junior high school building
Demolition work began on the North Platte Junior High building Monday, July 24 with nearly the entire structure taken down in one day.
The building’s history dates to 1930, and originally, it served as Dearborn High School and then the original North Platte High School. The 1930 portion of the building became North Platte Junior High after the current high school addition was built on the campus.
However, structural issues were evident, and district officials marked the structure for demolition when deciding to place a no-tax increase proposal on the April ballot.
In April, voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 2, allowing the district to plan for about $6.2 million worth of capital projects with the first priority to replace the junior high school.
Trex Mart burglarized again
The Trex Mart in Camden Point, Mo. became the site of a burglary investigation for the second time in a span of six months.
According to the company’s Facebook post, an unknown number of people broke through the glass door entryway at about 11 p.m. on Wednesday, July 26 using unknown methods to enter the building. Once inside, the suspects apparently did thousands of dollars of damage to the front counter area and shelving throughout the store.
Trex Mart also said the thieves made away with the ATM inside. Photos from the scene show large amounts of broken glass, twisted metal in the entryway and a large area ransacked during the crime. There was also visible damage to computers and other items.
Commissioners put Shiloh Springs up for sale
Platte County commissioners Ron Schieber, Dagmar Wood and John Elliott voted at the Monday, Aug. 7 administrative session to issue a request for proposals (RFP) for buyers interested in Shiloh Springs Golf Course, which the county valued at about $5.2 million.
Platte County director of parks Daniel Erickson said the county hoped to identify a viable — preferably local — buyer and ensure the county receives a fair return on its investment. The county received three bids and eventually agreed to enter into discussions with one party later in the year.
The sale has not been finalized as of yet.
Ferrelview receives official notice of audit
A representative of the Missouri State Auditor’s Office witnessed the dysfunction in the Village of Ferrelview firsthand when the August board of trustees meeting devolved into chaos.
With Todd Schuler, Kansas City area state audit manager, in attendance, the board first addressed several routine and bizarre agenda items, including department reports, the failing budget, the renaming of an alleyway that had previously been unnamed and an accusation of falsification of documents by city officials.
When it was his turn to speak, Schuler outlined the state’s audit process, noting that the village would be responsible for the $20,000 to $30,000 price tag for the performance audit. While the city hasn’t yet undergone a financial audit for 2016, Schuler said the state’s audit would focus on the village’s internal processes and its compliance with its own and state ordinances.
The state audit was authorized due to a petition effort led by Theresa Wilson in 2016 before she was voted onto the board of trustees, currently serving as board chairperson.
Second suspect charged in 2014 homicide
The Platte County Prosecutor’s Office filed charges in August against a second man in connection with the 2014 homicide of Francisco Vargas III in Platte County.
Kevin Hardin, 30, of Kansas City, Kan. faces one felony count of second-degree murder and one felony count of armed criminal action, accused of acting alone or with others in shooting Vargas to death at his home on Twin Springs Road near Parkville, Mo. Zak Mergy faced first-degree murder and armed criminal action charges in the case before being found guilty in his jury trial held in September.
Clouds hamper solar eclipse
Cloud cover and even rain in some areas left most of Platte County without a clear view of the much-anticipated total solar eclipse.
Thousands of visitors did pass through the region hoping to catch a glimpse of the rare celestial event during totality — the brief period when the moon completely blocks out the sun. However, some likely left disappointed due to the weather.
On the afternoon of Monday, Aug. 21, a total solar eclipse occurred in the United States for the first time since 1979 — the first one to span the entire continent in 99 years. The approximate 70-mile wide path of totality ran from Oregon to South Carolina.
According to NASA, 12.2 million Americans live in the path of the total eclipse, including all of Platte County.
Park celebrates growth
A record number of first-time freshmen began classes at Park University on Monday, Aug. 14. The school’s fall enrollment totaled 9,510 students, a 5.2 percent increase since last year.
Enrollment on Park’s historic Parkville, Mo. campus increased 12.3 percent, from 1,295 to 1,455. The number of first-time freshmen in Parkville also set a record for the school’s 142-year history at 293. The previous high was 257 in 2008.
Park Hill’s Maples tosses 9 TDs in 1 game
Park Hill just kept throwing, and when the night finished, the Trojans were left to enjoy a big victory that produced some record-setting performances.
Billy Maples, a third-year starter, threw for eight touchdowns in the first half and nine total in a 66-35 destruction of Lee’s Summit on Friday, Aug. 25 at Park Hill District Stadium. He tossed four each in the first half to seniors Ronnie Bell and DJ Johnson, who also enjoyed career nights.
But Maples played the star, tying a national record for touchdown passes in a half and tying a state record — at the time — with nine in one game.
Fight in stands stops Park Hill-South football game
A fight in the crowd brought a premature end to the annual rivalry football matchup between Park Hill South and Park Hill high schools Friday, Sept. 1.
Early in the fourth quarter, officials paused the game at Park Hill District Stadium while uniformed officers responded to an area on the concourse. Because of the matchup, the stands were packed with standing room only areas next to the visitor’s bleachers filled with Park Hill fans.
At about 9:15 p.m., an announcement was made that police were asking anyone not in the seats to leave the stadium. The game was stopped with 9 minutes, 44 seconds remaining and Park Hill leading 42-0.
Man’s body recovered in airport parking lot
A body was discovered inside a car in a parking lot at Kansas City International Airport late on Tuesday, Sept. 12.
Officers from the Kansas City International Airport Police Department made the discovery shortly before 8 p.m. after receiving a call about a foul order emitting from the vehicle located in Economy Lot B. The man was later identified as Randy Potter, 53, from Lenexa, Kan.
Potter had been reported missing in January of this year.
Parkville purchases Platte Landing Park
The City of Parkville added a new park to its system with the final approval of a land transfer between the city and Platte County.
At its Tuesday, Sept. 19 meeting, the Parkville Board of Aldermen approved the second reading of an agreement turning over ownership of the 131-acre Platte Landing Park. The city will “purchase” the park from Platte County at the cost of $1.
Earlier this year, Platte County Commissioners approached City of Parkville officials with a proposal to hand over Platte Landing, which is located adjacent to English Landing Park at the foot of Main Street at the Missouri River. Consolidating ownership of the entire two-park area created a nearly 200-acre riverfront park, featuring walking trails, dog park, boat ramp, fields and other amenities.
Rivals pause to remember Danneman
Not only did North Platte retain control of The Tobacco Stick traveling trophy with a win over West Platte on Friday, Sept. 15, players and coaches took the opportunity to honor the memory of their biggest rival’s former coach. Prior to the game, West Platte cheerleaders presented a plaque to the North Platte cheerleaders, thanking the school for the support in wake of Nate Danneman’s death this past spring.
North Platte also presented Tabitha Danneman — Nate’s widow — with an honorary Tobacco Stick. A moment of silence followed for Nate Danneman, killed at the age of 37 in a tragic multi-vehicle accident on Interstate 29.
North Platte (2-3) won a second straight in the annual series between KCI Conference rivals for the first time since taking six in a row from 1995-200.
Tractor-trailer destroys Tracy park bathroom
A tractor-trailer failed to stop at a major roadway intersection Thursday, Oct. 19, careening into Tracy City Park and destroying an outbuilding in what looked like a wild ride for the driver and passenger.
At about 5:30 p.m., Platte City Police Department officers, Platte County Sheriff’s Office deputies and a Northland Regional Ambulance District crew responded to the scene. The tractor-trailer entered the area traveling eastbound on Highway 92 coming from the direction of Leavenworth, Kan.
According to a male passenger, the driver was unable to stop at the T-intersection signal and traveled across Branch Street into the grassy area. The tractor-trailer clipped the edge of an outbuilding containing toilets before just missing a large public gazebo.
Track marks showed the driver made a sharp right-hand turn, hitting the concrete pad underneath the wooden gazebo. Two rims were severely bent and two tires flattened, helping the truck come to a stop just before crossing First Street and heading toward the wooded area bordering the Platte River.
The driver was taken from the scene by ambulance to an area hospital for treatment of injuries.
Platte County’s Peterson sets state goal record
A loss to Smithville in the Class 3 District 16 title game brought an end to Platte County’s season at 18-7 and to the storied career of senior star Chandler Peterson. In four years, he scored 177 goals — a career total that ranks second in Missouri history — but went scoreless in his final game, finishing his senior campaign with a state single season record of 76.
After scoring a school record 63 goals as a junior, Peterson passed Ian Malburg’s career record of 135 early. He broke his own single season school record late in the year and passed the Missouri state record of 72 Eric Ooton of St. Pius X set in 2005 with his four goals in the district semifinal win over Kearney.
Peterson finished his senior season with 3.04 goals per game — smashing the previous Missouri state record — and his 1.75 goals per game for his career ranks second.
West Platte girls win state XC title
While the boys extended a state record with an 18th straight district cross country title, West Platte’s girls formed a team late in the season that went on to win the first Class 1 Missouri State Cross Country Championships team title in program history. The Bluejays totaled 104 points and finished five points ahead of New Haven to become the first girls state championship team in school history for any sport.
West Platte ended up combining a sophomore transfer, three freshmen and three softball-players-first to form a championship team.
In the state race, sophomore Lexi Elmore — a transfer from Platte County — set a school record and finished 10th in 21 minutes, 25.09 seconds to earn all-state honors. Lea Moose, Rachel Heili, Lindsay Goodwin — all softball players before joining the team — plus freshmen Sophia Rush, Katy Tharp and Isabella Clark rounded out the seven-runner team.
Park Hill South’s girls, led by senior Emma Roth, also won the first state cross country team title in program history, taking the Class 4 championship.
Missouri Hall of Fame inducts Sherman
Chip Sherman accepted the biggest honor of his career Sunday, Nov. 12 with his induction into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in a ceremony at Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center. He went in for his 20 years as football coach at Platte County where he built a dynasty and won nearly 84 percent of the games he coached with the Pirates.
Sherman moved on from the school 10 years ago but still thinks about all of the accomplishments for Platte County, including three straight undefeated Class 3A state titles from 2000-2002. He retired following this past season after stints at three different Kansas high schools since his retirement in Missouri.
Platte County gave Sherman his first head coaching job in 1988, inheriting a program with just three winning seasons in the prior 15 years. He wouldn’t have a losing season during the next two decades, leaving after the 2007 season with a record of 191-37.
Platte City honors ‘hometown’ governor
John Dillingham, a local historian, heard of Missouri’s state’s funding to honor each past governor during an unrelated event. He made the correct contacts and arranged for the placement of the stone for Guy Brasfield Park at his gravesite in the Platte City Cemetery.
While the work was done last spring, the City of Platte City held a graveside ceremony Friday, Nov. 17 to officially dedicate the modest monument.
Park served as the 38th Missouri governor during his term from 1933-1937.
Ferrelview police chief suspended
In the fallout of another chaotic Ferrelview Board of Trustees meeting, the regular session adjourned early in November due to hostility between trustees and angered crowd members and among trustees themselves. The board reconvened later and suspended controversial police chief Daniel Clayton with pay and the city attorney resigned the following day.
A disagreement over enforcement of municipal codes eventually led to a somewhat chaotic scene inside city hall on Tuesday, Nov. 14.
This past summer, trustees voted to disband Ferrelview’s municipal court and then reduced the police force to just Clayton, who was also limited to part-time hours. He has since stopped initiating traffic stops because there is no real mechanism to write tickets for local violations.
According to a draft of minutes, trustees Theresa Wilson, Russell Wilson and Melvin Rhodes reconvened for an emergency meeting along with city clerk Patsy Murray at 8:28 p.m. The three trustees voted to go into closed session to discuss personnel matters, and Russell Wilson made a motion to indefinitely suspend Clayton with pay.
Platte County football reaches Class 4 semis
Platte County players and coaches were left hoping for one more play, coming up agonizingly short in a 21-18 loss to Webb City on Saturday, Nov. 18 in Webb City, Mo. The Pirates never led in the first Class 4 semifinal game in program history, unable to knock off dynastic Webb City, which went on to claim the 14th Class 4A/4 state championships since 1989.
Platte County (11-3) made the state semifinals for the sixth time in program history and the first time since 2005 when the Pirates were still in Class 3.
Platte County finally conquered its difficult district bracket after back-to-back runner-up showings then dismantled Moberly 42-14 in the quarterfinals. That set up the meeting with No. 1 Webb City (14-0), which advanced back to the title game for the seventh time in eight seasons while denying Platte County of its first Show-Me Bowl berth since the Pirates won three straight undefeated Class 3A titles from 2000-2002.
Platte County senior sets state scoring record
Platte County senior Deiondre Ragsdale turned an otherwise nondescript season-opener into a record-setting performance. He scored 30 points in the first quarter and put up a career-high 43 in what became an 89-55 runaway win for the Pirates in a Savannah Invitational pool play matchup with Savannah on Monday, Dec. 1 at Savannah High School.
Ragsdale’s 30 points in a quarter set a state record, according to the Missouri State High School Activities Association. He surpassed the 29 points Jamestown’s Josh Ennis scored against Higbee in the fourth quarter of a January 29, 2005 game — the previous mark listed in the state record book.
North Platte breaks ground on new junior high
North Platte officials made sure to thank voters — some of whom showed up Friday, Dec. 1 for a groundbreaking ceremony — for the pending construction project, which started in early December. A select group of students joined members of the administration and board of education to don hard hats and pick up special shovels on the flattened dirt site of the future junior high school.
North Platte’s Board of Education approved Universal Construction of Lenexa, Kan. for the project. Officials still expect the new building to be open in time for the start of the 2018-19 school year.
The new construction will measure 21,000 square feet, and there will be about 2,000 square feet of renovation. While there will be classroom space for core subjects, the school will also add a special education room, a computer technology classroom, a computer lab, therapy rooms and a new office.
Park Hill’s Bell wins Simone
Park Hill senior wide receiver Ronnie Bell became the 35th recipient of the Simone Award, an annual honor given to him in a special ceremony Tuesday, Dec. 5 at his school. He became the first player who didn’t line up at quarterback or running back to be given the large trophy honoring the top football player in the Kansas City metro area since Lee’s Summit West offensive lineman Evan Boehm and the first receiver since Raymore-Peculiar tight end Chase Coffman in 2004.
A third-year starter, Bell set career-highs and school-records with 89 catches for 1,605 yards and 21 touchdowns. He helped the Trojans to a 10-3 season, which included a brief stint as the No. 1-ranked team in Class 6 and the first playoff berth since moving up from Class 5.
After winning the award, Bell later decommitted from a basketball scholarship to Missouri State before signing to play football at the University of Michigan.
Airport plan delayed
In December, the Kansas City City Council rejected a memorandum of understanding with Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate, previously awarded the bid to design and construct a new single terminal facility on existing Kansas City Aviation Department land in Platte County. However, the lengthy meeting Thursday, Dec. 14 didn’t put an end to the relationship between the city and the originally preferred developer.
City representatives brought up concerns over a lack of specific financial framework, shortage of community benefits and an incentive for Edgemoor if the project was not completed.
In November, Kansas City voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot question to allow the city to work toward replacing the current three-terminal setup with an estimated $1-billion-plus construction project of a new single terminal aimed at increasing capacity for airlines. Discussions continue with Edgemoor on improving the proposal.
Two men charged in Dearborn robbery
Two men been charged in the robbery of Dearborn’s Trex Mart in late October when shots were fired outside of the gas station.
According to court documents, Dylan Cornett of St. Joseph, Mo. faces felony charges of robbery and armed criminal action while suspected accomplice as Brandon “Bud” Buckles of St. Joseph, Mo faces a felony robbery charge in the incident that occurred the night before Halloween. Cornett remains in custody in the Buchanan County Detention Center on charges in a similar crime that occurred earlier on Oct. 30 at Farris Truck Stop in Faucett, Mo.
According to court documents, Platte County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded on the night of Monday, Oct. 30 to the Dearborn Trex Mart. The two suspects allegedly stole a 30-pack of beer from the cooler, and Cornett allegedly fired gun shots into the air when an off-duty store employee confronted him in the parking lot.
Buckles is accused of attempting to distract employees before the two suspects fled the scene.