The second half of 2016 featured the end of some long-running storylines, while others were to be continued in 2017.
Platte County treasurer Rob Willard personally paid back tax money lost in a fraudulent wire transaction he initiated earlier in the year. The Mid-Continent Public Library’s tax proposal made it to the ballot after months of contention and then overwhelmingly passed.
Not all stories came to the desired conclusion.
The community mourned the death of 4-year-old Landon Jaros after he lost his inspirational fight with cancer in October. Grayden Denham received a trial date after being charged with murdering four family members in a grisly tragedy at the start of the year in Edgerton, Mo.
But 2016 continued to feature achievement: a new statue in English Landing Park, a new fire station in Camden Point, Chandler Peterson’s record soccer season and the expansion of a tennis court project for the Platte County R-3 School District and City of Platte City.
Take a look back at the final six months of 2016 with the second half of The Citizen’s year in review.
Artist carves eagle in Parkville park
Local artist TJ Jenkins crafted a human-sized bald eagle from a dead tree in English Landing Park in Parkville, Mo. near the Missouri River, finishing the project mid-summer. With a chainsaw as his brush and the cottonwood as his canvas, Jenkins said that the process was a bit “tricky,” even for someone with so much experience in the craft.
The bird stands more than 7 feet tall and weighs about 4,000 pounds.
In 2015, the City of Parkville discovered that the existing tree needed to be removed. After a recommendation from Parkville parks superintendent Tom Barnard, the city instead voted to turn a 15-foot section of the tree into a symbol that represented the park.
The parks board decided to conduct a public poll with choices of an eagle, a grizzly bear and a Lewis and Clark silhouette. The vote overwhelmingly went to the eagle.
Proposed subdivision in Platte City springs back to life
Developers hope to add a 177 single-family homes through a new development, one that started five years ago but eventually went dormant in a downtrodden economy. Known as Windmill Creek, the nearly 80-acre plot sits east of Interstate 29 and south of Highway 92 on land voluntarily annexed into the city.
Previously, the Platte City Planning and Zoning Commission approved development plans for Windmill Creek in 2011, but developers failed to submitted finalized plans by 2013, nullifying the agreement altogether. The city once again took step one in the process of reapproving Windmill Creek — holding a public hearing — during the planning and zoning commission meeting Tuesday, July 5 with a new developer in place.
The designs Gustin presented show that the main entry to the land would extend from Highway 92 just east of the Bank of Weston location.
New fire station opened in Camden Point
An open house on Saturday, July 16 at the newly-constructed fire and ambulance station in Camden Point, Mo. showed the community what a $3-million-dollar donation from a 1-in-176 million chance can do.
After winning half of the then-largest lottery in U.S. history back in 2012, Camden Point residents Mark and Cindy Hill donated funding for the a new station. The energy-efficient building located at 19959 Interurban Road boasts 12,800 square feet on the main level, housing both the Camden Point Fire Protection District (CPFPD) as well as the Northland Regional Ambulance District (NRAD).
The CPFPD started work on its new facility in early 2014. NRAD moved one of its three ambulances there to share space in hopes of allowing it to be utilized more often.
City buys Rising Star from R-3
In mid-July, the Platte City Board of Aldermen’s economic development subcommittee favorably recommended a memorandum of understanding to purchase Rising Star Elementary and the accompanying 6.9 acres of land.
Talks of expediting and expanding a proposed Platte County R-3 tennis facility (more on that in a bit) helped further talks about the sale. The city agreed to pay $82,500 for the Rising Star site with that money going toward tennis court construction.
City officials said the school site, located adjacent to Zed Martin Street on the north, is optimal for continued public use.
Originally called Platte City Elementary, the building opened in 1954 and slowly underwent a series of changes eventually becoming Rising Star — the district’s kindergarten only facility for the past 14 years. Rising Star sits on the south side of Highway 92 and sits adjacent to current city property that houses municipal court and the parks and recreation offices.
The site has been mentioned as a possible future location of a new water park in Platte City, which closed its municipal pool last summer.
R-3 moves ahead with tennis facility project
Already slated to build four tennis courts, the Platte County R-3 board of education voted to expand the project to eight courts during its July meeting.
A donation from the Platte City Parks and Recreation Department coupled with the sale of Rising Star Elementary helped fund the addition. The courts were originally slated to be completed in the fall but remain under construction.
Officials hope to have them completed late winter to early spring.
Platte County started its boys and girls tennis programs for the 2008-2009 school year as it moved from the Midland Empire Conference to the Suburban Conference but has never hosted a home match. Grant funding, private donations and donated work/materials from contractors on site working on other projects allowed the district to announce the construction of the original four tennis courts, south of Siegrist Elementary.
Wood, Elliott win commission primaries
John Elliott cruised to victory in a Republican primary election Tuesday, Aug. 2, while Dagmar Wood ended up needing to wait for the final votes to come in before securing her spot on the November ballot.
In the First District Platte County Commissioner race, Wood received 2,031 votes compared to incumbent Beverlee Roper’s 1,936 votes. In the second district, Elliott earned 2,482 votes to challenger Jason Buckley’s 1,024 votes. The two winners went on to win the November election, bringing two new Republican voices to the three-seat commission.
Both Elliott and Wood campaigned on lower taxes, including a proposed restructuring of the county’s one-half cent sales tax for parks, recreation and stormwater abatement.
Bozenhardt charged with stealing county funds
A Platte County official lost his job after an investigation revealed a series of questionable purchases using county funds during the previous 15 months.
In early August, Platte County prosecutor Eric Zahnd filed a felony stealing charge against Kenneth M. Bozenhardt, 54, of Platte City after he allegedly admitted making personal purchases with the county’s credit card and business account. Bozenhardt, Platte County’s director of facilities, allegedly spent more than $1,000 on various items, including those used to construct and decorate a beer garden at his home.
Other details in court documents reveal an unreceipted credit card purchase at a local gas station that he originally told county officials was for “doughnuts for the men” that turned out to be a bottle of Sailor Jerry brand spiced rum.
Denham’s trial date set
A jury trial has been set for this summer for Grayden Denham, who stands accused of the murder of four of his relatives and the arson of the family home in Edgerton, Mo.
Denham, 24, made an appearance Aug. 4 in Platte County court before Judge James Van Amburg, who will preside over the trial set to start June 19, 2017. Originally charged only with car theft following the Feb. 19 murders, a total of 12 charges were later levied against Denham as the result of a June 24 grand jury indictment.
The charges against Denham include four counts of first degree murder and four counts of armed criminal action in the homicides of his sister Heather Ager, 32, his three-month-old nephew Mason Schiavoni, his grandmother, Shirley Denham, 81, and his grandfather, Russell Denham, 82. Denham is also charged with felony arson for destruction of the family home, a felony for tampering with evidence for using the fire to try and conceal evidence and a misdemeanor for animal abuse. The felony charge of stealing his grandparents’ vehicle also remained on the indictment.
No determination has been made yet on whether the state will seek the death penalty in the case.
West Platte, PCR-3 debut new facilities for new year
Platte County R-3’s Compass Elementary was the centerpiece of a $29 million growth management capital improvement project. Starting with this school year, Compass and Siegrist Elementary accommodate kindergarten through fifth grades, helping absorb the students due to two major changes.
In addition to the Platte City changes, Pathfinder Elementary in the southern portion of the district also will debut major changes.
About $4 million went into renovation plus an addition to the building. This project expands the current kindergarten through second grade facility by adding 14 classrooms, a multipurpose room and additional parking to increase the student capacity by 280 students.
This will help Pathfinder transition to a K-4 facility and help relieve overcrowding at nearby Barry School, which will go from a third through eighth grade setup to fifth through eighth.
School started at West Platte on Wednesday, Aug. 17 with construction work ongoing not only on the district’s buildings but also at a major intersection near the school. The district’s project started in June of 2015.
West Platte unveiled the new $1.7 million Rudolph Eskridge Stadium and Joe Collison Field ahead of the first scheduled football game on Friday, Aug. 19 — a ceremony that finished up just before a weather delay.
Riverside officer honored for character
Riverside (Mo.) Police Department K9 officer Andrew Marr received the 2016 Enoch B. Morelock Award in announcement made in August.
The Enoch B. Morelock Award is an annual recognition of outstanding moral character, service to law enforcement and service to the community. Marr was recognized for his life-saving actions and display of compassion that occurred on May 23, 2016. Shortly after 10 p.m., Marr (newly appointed K9 officer) arrived to back up another officer who had stopped behind what appeared to be a stalled vehicle on the Interstate 635 bridge over the Missouri River.
Marr helped save a distraught male from a suicide attempt.
Local churches come together on 9/11
Several hundred people showed up on a pleasantly warm Sunday morning, brought together by a shared desire to worship while also honoring those who serve on the anniversary of one of the nation’s greatest tragedies.
With an American flag draped out off of a bucket at the top of an extended Central Platte Fire Protection District truck ladder as a backdrop, a large congregation gathered Sunday, Sept. 11 on the lawn of the Platte County Courthouse. More than a half dozen churches participated in the unique event that featured music, prayer, scripture and plenty of self-reflection.
Dr. Rusty Savage, senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Platte City and one of the service’s main organizers, called it one of the most unifying events for the local faith community in Platte City’s history. It occurred during the normal Sunday service time for the churches involved.
Palmer resigns in Parkville
In late September, the City of Parkville announced the resignation of city administrator Lauren Palmer, who started work in 2013. She finished her tenure in October before moving to a new position as assistant city manager of Independence, Mo.
As city administrator, Palmer oversaw day-to-day operations for Parkville’s city services including police, community development, sanitary sewer, streets, parks and internal services.
Road rage homicide reported along Interstate 29
An apparent incident of road rage turned violent late Friday, Oct. 14 in Kansas City, Mo., leaving one out-of-state man dead and another in custody on murder charges.
The Platte County Prosecutor’s Office filed one count of second-degree murder against Bobby Crumpton, 22, of Wichita, Kan. in connection with the death of 35-year-old Clinton Alsobrook of Charlotte, Texas. According to court documents, the vehicles the two men were driving collided with each other at about 10 p.m. as they exited eastbound Highway 152 onto northbound Interstate 29.
A confrontation ensued, and Crumpton allegedly fired multiple shots into Alsobrook’s vehicle, striking him once in the leg and once in the head near the left temple. Alsobrook and a passenger in his maroon SUV were not armed, according to court documents.
According to court documents, Crumpton left the scene of the shooting and called 9-1-1 from the Phillips 66 convenience store at 4411 NW Barry Rd. near the intersection with Green Hills Road. He was taken into custody there.
R-3 helps make donation to Hudler’s charity
This year, Platte County’s Future Business Leaders of America and Interact clubs organized the fundraising efforts. In all, $6,850 went to Team Up for Down Syndrome, which helps kids with special needs.
The home team picks the benefited charity each year, and Platte County chose Hudler’s foundation.
Commemorative T-shirts were presold and sold at the game in addition to a 50/50 raffle. The Price Chopper grocery stores in each town also collected donations leading up to the game.
All of the money went Team Up for Down Syndrome, which will funnel the money back into local communities.
Community mourns death of Landon Jaros
Landon Jaros died Tuesday, Oct. 18 due to complications from cancer treatment, and days later, hundreds showed up to a celebration of life ceremony held in Smithville, Mo., honoring the short but full life of a special 4-year-old boy.
Diagnosed with T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia in late March, Jaros showed signs of progress before a sudden turn left him fighting for his life. He lost that fight at 3:55 p.m. on a Tuesday, leaving family, friends and a community grieving.
Jaros is the son of Platte County High School graduates Todd Jaros and Megan (Nichols) Jaros.
Apple Market closes; Wells Bank expanding
An agreement between two Platte City businesses has one leaving town and another expanding into the vacated space.
In a press release issued Monday, Oct. 31, Heath Martin of Martin Midwest Real Estate Services announced the intention of Wells Bank to move its long-time headquarters on 301 Main Street to 1100 Branch Street. Wells Bank opened its second location at 1098 Branch Street in 2007 and will now expand into the current location of Apple Market grocery store.
Sharp’s Market Inc. operated the Apple Market vacated the building prior to Thanksgiving.
Wells Bank officials said the move will allow consolidation of its two Platte City locations in one larger facility. The plans include extensive remodeling aimed at adding modern features and providing more convenience for customers, allowing for the expansion of bank operations.
There are no definitive plans at this point for the Main Street building.
Chiefs players deliver to local military families
On Sunday, Nov. 6, Kansas City Chiefs players wore a custom-made hooded sweatshirt with the name of his assigned veteran stitched onto the front right chest. The gesture coincided with the beginning of the National Football League’s “Salute to Service” initiative, which runs throughout November.
Little did second-year wide receiver Chris Conley and veteran fullback Anthony Sherman know they would have the opportunity to meet the families of the men they honored before the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. On Monday, Nov. 7, each one took a trip into Platte County — Conley to Park Hill School District’s Plaza Middle School in Kansas City and Sherman to rural Weston, Mo. — to make emotional presentations.
Conley presented his to Gage Unger, son of Cpl. David Unger (U.S. Army, killed serving in Iraq in 2006), in a morning ceremony at Plaza Middle School, while Conley visited Patrick and Dee Dee Farnan, parents of Spc. Colby Farnan (U.S. Army, killed in Iraq in 2005), at their home in Weston.
Voters approve library tax
After a tumultuous path to the Tuesday, Nov. 8 election, the Mid-Continent Public Library (MCPL) scored an overwhelming victory for its system.
Proposition L passed by a wide margin in Clay, Platte and Jackson counties after the measure encountered challenges just to reach the ballot. The MCPL’s board voted to place the initiative on the ballot during a meeting in late June by a 9-1 margin, but the Platte County Commission questioned the validity of the language.
The levy goes up from 32 cents to 40 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.
Plans for the increased funding include the construction of six new buildings and renovation of 28 others, expansion of access to library services and increased investment of materials — physical and digital books and other multimedia items.
Willard pays back taxpayers
Platte County recovered the remainder of money lost in a fraudulent wire transfer initiated back in May when treasurer Rob Willard paid back about $20,000 in lost tax money in addition to about $5,000 in legal fees encountered because of the transaction in late October.
On May 27, Willard wired $48,220 to a Florida bank account. A series of emails to Willard from an account spoofing Schieber’s county email account requested the money be immediately wired to pay for a tax consultant. About $28,000 was quickly recovered from the receiving bank in Florida.
An investigation into potential criminal negligence also occurred, although no charges have been filed against Willard.
Platte County’s DeLay makes swimming program history
Platte County junior Caden DeLay became the second in program history to qualify for a final at the Missouri State Swimming and Diving Championships with a record effort in the 100-yard breaststroke preliminaries. He was the final qualifier for the consolation final and went on to place 16th on Saturday, Nov. 5 at Rec-Plex in St. Peters, Mo., becoming the second all-state swimmer ever for the Pirates.
In the process, DeLay broke the oldest standing school record on the books late in the season, bettering Josh Hulett’s mark from 1996. Hulett was the only other all-state swimmer in Pirates history.
Platte City dedicates anchor monument
Dozens turned out on a warm morning Friday, Nov. 11 to celebrate Veterans Day with the dedication of the Platte City Veterans Memorial Monument at Settler’s Crossing Park. The recently completed landmark served as an appropriately looming backdrop to a 20-minute ceremony which started at the top of the 11th hour of the 11th day and 11th month of 2016 — nod to the anniversary of the World War armistice, which went into effect at the same time on the same day in 1918.
The monument features a USS Naval anchor in a concrete and granite cradle in the middle with a circular pedestrian walkway around it. A bench wall contains bronze medallions for each of the five branches of the United States military — Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard — and for the ceremony, flags for each branch flew high and flapped in the wind above the corresponding medallion.
Preliminary work on the monument began this past spring with the final touches put on just two days before the dedication.
Overall, the project cost about $75,000 with the city seeking out and receiving grant funding in addition to using Platte City Parks and Recreation Department and Platte City Public Works employees to do much of the work. In addition, others in the community donated time and service to help make the project a reality.
The city acquired the anchor from the USS Platte, like all Naval fleet oilers named for rivers, nearly two years earlier. The monument now sits in a park along one of the rivers from which the ship drew its name.
Platte County’s Peterson honored for record season
Platte County junior Chandler Peterson made the Class 3 Missouri State High School Soccer Coaches Association all-state first team list after a record-setting season. He scored a school-record 61 goals this past season, moving past Ian Malburg’s mark of 43.
Peterson goes into his senior season with 91, ranking only behind Malburg’s career total of 135.
With two goals in a Class 3 sectional loss, Peterson broke a tie with former Kickapoo star and current Major League Soccer player Jack Jewsbury for third in state history in a single season. He averaged 2.35 goals per game, a mark that ranks fourth in state history for a single season.
Large fire lights up rural Platte County
An explosion along a natural gas transmission line resulted in a huge fire ball visible for miles on the night of Tuesday, Nov. 29.
Multiple emergency agencies responded to calls at about 6:30 p.m. The fire occurred at 9600 Mellon’s Bridge Road in a rural part of eastern Platte County between Ridgely and Hoover.
According to a spokesman with the Platte County Sheriff’s Office, the fire did not affect any structure, and no injuries were reported. According to the Kansas City (Mo.) Fire Department, the line belongs to Enterprise Products — based in Houston, Texas — and was carrying ethane and propane. The company turned off the gas line in Kearney, Mo., quickly extinguishing the flames.
R-3 deals with threats of violence on social media
In late November, law enforcement officials responded to threats of gun violence on back-to-back days.
On Tuesday, Nov. 29, students reported SnapChat posts featuring a 13-year-old boy purportedly threatening gun violence at Platte City Middle School. The following day, a 17-year-old male was taken into custody after being found with a large knife on the campus of Northland Career Center in Platte City in a separate incident.
No guns were ever found to have been on the district’s campus.
Dearborn residents revive Christmas tradition
The Dearborn Community Betterment Association diligently worked to revive “Christmas in Dearborn,” a once annual tradition that fell by the wayside in recent years. According to Raymond Swanstone, the event started around 1989 but slowly faded away during the previous decade.
The city also continued its Cookies with Santa event in conjunction with Christmas in Dearborn. A donation also helped bring back the “Mayor’s Christmas Tree,” which was on display downtown for the holiday season.
Standoff at I-29 rest area disrupts holiday traffic
An early morning report on Friday, Dec. 23 of a man pointing or waving a gun at vehicles led to a standoff of more than four hours that eventually shut all lanes of traffic down from Camden Point, Mo. to Dearborn, Mo. Khrurshed Haydarov ended up surrendering to law enforcement shortly after 1 p.m. with no injuries reported.
The following day, the Platte County Prosecutor’s Office filed a felony charge of making a terroristic threat. Court documents show the suspect was found with a pellet gun that had the orange safety tip removed but no other weapons.
No injuries were reported and no shots were fired, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
North Platte looks to build new junior high
During a December meeting, North Platte R-1 Board of Education voted to approve a schedule for upcoming construction projects, a plan which includes a new junior high school building.
Representatives from Incite Design Studio presented two different schedules to the board. To help fund this project, the board is in the process of writing ballot language for the upcoming April general municipal election. The no-tax-increase proposition would ask for $6.2 million for the replacement of the junior high along with replacement of the roof on the elementary school in Camden Point, Mo. and other remodeling projects that are able to be completed with available funds.
The district began looking at potential renovations or replacement of the junior high school in Dearborn, Mo. earlier in the year. The junior high school is the oldest portion of the high school/junior high campus and the original high school.