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2007: The year that was...

By Alan McArthur
Landmark reporter

Lawsuits and disagreements helped shape the local news scene in Platte County over the past 12 months.

In 2007, one of the recurring headlines dealt with a disagreement between the city of Platte City and Platte County about Platte Ridge Park. The city and county had signed an agreement for the city to make improvements to the park and to be able to use the facilities for youth programs.

However, the county alleged the city failed to uphold its portion of the agreement and neglected maintenance and security improvements to the park. The county gave the city several ultimatums to clean up the problems or else the agreement would be cancelled.

Problems continued with an unauthorized burn of building materials for which the city was cited by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and a theft by copper thieves of materials from a snack station and park lights.

According to Brian Nowotny, Platte County parks director, the city failed to fix the problems and the agreement was cancelled in April and the city was given until the beginning of June to vacate the premises.

The county has recently mounted several volunteer improvement projects at the park and has even offered the city an opportunity to use the park for sports programs.

Other headlines from 2007:

Jan. 3 The Platte County Commission approved a cost of living adjustment, COLA, for elected officials. The approval came on the last possible time for the Commission to meet.

The COLA was approved by a vote of 1-1, with Presiding Commissioner Betty Knight casting the tie-breaking vote. Commissioner Jim Plunkett was on a planned vacation during the meeting and Commissioner Tom Pryor voted against the measure.

A Parkville business owner announced the dismantling of a visual landmark from 1918, the Power Plant smokestack in downtown Parkville.

Jan. 10 Platte County alleged problems with the maintenance of Platte Ridge Park by Platte City. The two entities had signed an agreement a few years ago for the city to make improvements at the park and also be able to use the park for sports teams.

However, the county described deficiencies with maintenance and security of materials and gave the city 90 days to reconcile the problems.

Opposition to Platte City's annexation spent $107,000 in fighting the proposed annexation by the end of 2006. Expenses include billboards, signs, a consulting firm, and printing costs.

Jan. 17 The issue of maintenance at Platte Ridge Park was raised again, this time after a pile of discarded building materials were burned at the park. More problems arose for the Platte City Parks Department after questions were raised about materials also at Riverview Park in Platte City.

At the city park, fencing and other materials were being stored in the open near a basketball facility.

Parkville's city clerk of 25 years, Barbara Lance, stepped down and took a new position at the city of Records and Special Projects Administrator. Claudia Willhite took over the job of city clerk after being Lance's assistant for three years.

Jan. 24 Problems continue with Platte Ridge Park as Platte City is hit with a citation by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, DNR, for the burning of building materials.

In response to problems alleged problems at the park by county officials, the city decided it should hire a contractor to finish the construction work at the park and to secure materials and increase security.

Lawsuits began against Platte City for a proposed involuntary annexation. One lawsuit alleges the city failed to notify an affected property owner about a November hearing. Another lawsuit says Platte City's Board of Aldermen violated Missouri's open meetings law by discussing annexation boundaries in closed session.

Jan. 31 Platte City won the lawsuit about notifying a property owner of annexation. Judge Abe Shafer said the city made a 'good faith effort' to contact the owners.

The Southern Platte Ambulance District signed an agreement with Metropolitan Ambulance Services Trust, MAST, to provide ambulance services for the district. The contract for $228,080 was approved and then took affect on March 1. Board member Kurt Breininger abstained from the vote after a complaint to the Missouri Ethic Commission.

Breininger is a full time paramedic and his wife is also a full time paramedic and employee of MAST.

Feb. 7 Platte County Circuit Court Judge Lee Hull found Platte City of violating Missouri's Sunshine Law with a closed session in 2006. The judge ruled that the annexation ordinances are null and void and the city may not proceed with annexation.

The city was ordered to pay the attorney fees of the plaintiff, which amounted to $11,850 to attorney Bob Shaw.

Parkville's Board of Aldermen received notice from BNSF railroad that a proposal to move the train track south of a current development in Parkville was denied. The plan brought by local business owner Tom Hutsler would have placed the current line and a proposed second line south of the Farmer's Market and English Landing Development removing a portion of English Landing Park.

Feb. 14 Riverside demolished the Skyline Inn along Gateway Drive to make way for a new retail and housing development. The Skyline had been in operation in Riverside since the mid-1950s and will be replaced with row houses, paired houses, two condo mansions and single-family houses.

The project will cost the city of Riverside $2.5 million in infrastructure, which will be paid back through a TIF agreement.

Platte City teenager, Sean M. Amos, 18, was convicted of negligently making a terroristic threat. Amos and another defendant told classmates at Platte County High School they planned to carry out an attack on the anniversary of the Columbine High School attack.

Amos was convicted of the misdemeanor after testimony from fellow students stating Amos and Trevor Fattig stated to the students they planned to carry out the attack using guns and explosives. Amos was also found guilty of possession of a controlled substance.

Feb. 21 Platte County Pirates won a third consecutive State Title in wrestling. The Pirates won the Class 2 state championship trophy with a total of 164 points. The next closest team was Odessa with 117.5 points.

Parkville started work on its Rush Creek bank stabilization project. United States Congressman Sam Graves, helped the city obtain the $776,000 in federal funding to install rocks along the banks to prevent further erosion through English Landing Park.

Erosion problems were first noticed in 2002 and had continued to worsen. The total cost of the project came to around $2 million.

Feb. 28 Parkville Mayor Kathy Dusenbery announced she would run in the Republican primary for the first district Platte County Commissioner seat against incumbent Tom Pryor. The contested seat now includes Democratic candidate former Parkville mayor Bill Quitmeier.

The Republican primary is set for August of 2008, with the general election in November.

Platte City began discussing the creation of a Community Improvement District, CID, in the Platte Valley Plaza area. The proposed Platte City Market Center would collect a 5/8-cent sales tax to be used to generate funds for parking and driveway improvements for a proposed grocery store in the area.

The developer for the proposed grocery store is Associate Wholesale Grocers.

Mar. 7 Parkville's downtown smokestack began to be dismantled. The 120 foot tall tower was dismantled at night while police and work crews closed downtown streets to all traffic.

An effort mounted by some Parkville residents to save the tower failed as crews began to cut the rebar frame and demolish the brick and concrete structure.

Platte City officials considered appealing the verdict against the city from the Sunshine Law violation, but did not make a firm decision on the issue. Several Board of Aldermen members expressed frustration with the ruling at a special meeting to discuss the ruling. The board ended up not pursuing the appeal before the deadline.

Mar. 14 During a public hearing about a proposed Community Improvement District, CID, in Platte City some citizens expressed their opposition to the plan. The district would be for a proposed Price Chopper grocery store to be built in the Platte Valley Plaza area.

Some residents and local business owners expressed concern that the new grocery store would put them out of business. The proposed sales tax would pay for parking lot and roadway improvements around the grocery store.

Mar. 21 Kansas City Missouri School District teacher Webber Gilmer, 54, of Kansas City, was charged with the murder of one of his tenants. Gilmer warned police in advance of the crime telling them, “I'm getting ready to kill someone.”

Gilmer was charged in the shooting death of Brian S. Harrell, 28, after an alleged dispute between Gilmer and Harrell over back rent. Gilmer owns the apartment complex where Harrell was living.

A proposed bond question to build a new elementary for the Platte County R-3 School District moved forward with approval by the Board of Education. The bond question gave the district permission to borrow $13 million to pay for the new school at the Barry School campus and an addition to the Siegrist building.

Mar. 28 Several candidates filed for elected positions at several locations. In the Platte County R-3 School district, three persons filed for two open seats on the School Board. The candidates were Mary Temperelli, Bob Shaw and David Edwards.

In the North Platte District there were four candidates for two open seats. The candidates were Kevin Cook, LeAnn Jones, Bill Matney, and Patty Bennett.

For the Southern Platte Ambulance District, three candidates filed for two open terms. The candidates were Richard Cull, Kurt Breininger, and Kenneth Scott Ritchey.

A vote by the Platte City Board of Aldermen on the proposed tax district for a new Price Chopper was delayed so the board could speak with a local housing division near the site.

April 4 The Platte City Board of Aldermen received three new faces after a vote to elect Ron Stone, Andy Stanton, and Todd Sloan ousted incumbents Lee Roy Van Lew, George McClintock, and Jim Palmer.

The Platte City Parks Board turned down an offer from the County Parks Board to extend the deadline to clean up Platte Ridge Park and continue an agreement with the County allowing the city to continue using the park. The new agreement would include restrictions on the city, including having to receive approval from the county for any maintenance or capital improvements at the park and the city would have to provide an annual safety audit for the park.

April 11 Parkville officials considered a proposal to place a new casino in the city near Interstate 435 and River Road. The last proposed casino effort was in 1993 when the proposal was to place the casino in downtown.

The new proposal was brought to the city by prospective developers and had not even been brought before the Board of Aldermen.

Platte City's Mayor Dave Brooks discussed a proposed new agreement between Platte City and the County concerning maintenance of Platte Ridge Park.

“What we're supposed to do is in the eyes of the beholder,” said Brooks. “The last so-called letter from the county was ridiculous and we're back where we started now. The county made a promise. Dannie (Stamper) and his men are already working long hours fixing the issues, over and above the norm. There are hundreds of hours of labor that have been done out there, too much to keep track of. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent. But that doesn't seem to make any difference to the county. It's like the city can't do enough in the county's eyes.”

April 18 Platte County ended an agreement between the county and Platte City for use and maintenance of Platte Ridge Park. The Platte County Commissioners voted to end the agreement after limited to no progress was seen in efforts to clean up the park.

Platte County R-3 Board member Bob Shaw was voted president of the board. The vote was split 4-3 in favor of Shaw over previous president Dick Modin.

In North Platte, LeAnn Jones won a tiebreaker in the election for a new school board member. Jones tied in votes with candidate Bill Matney and the two decided to draw marbles for the spot rather than hold a special election. Jones won the drawing at the district office in Dearborn.

April 25 The Platte City Board of Aldermen approved a new Community Improvement District, CID, to fund a new Price Chopper grocery store in the Platte Valley Plaza area. Some residents still expressed concerns over the proposed development's impact on the surrounding neighborhoods.

Parkville's Board of Aldermen got into a heated exchange in discussing paving an alleyway between Fourth and Fifth Streets. The Board decided against paving the alleyway despite a resolution from 2005 stating the city would attempt to pave the alley.

May 2 A Parkville developer announced his plan to build a new classic movie theatre in downtown Parkville. The plan would bring a theatre to the area south of the railroad tracks. The new theatre would accommodate 100 people and play movies such as 'Ben Hur' and 'Gone with the Wind.’

Former Parkville mayor and Alderman Bill Quitmeier announced he would run for the Platte County Commissioner seat for District 1. His announcement pits him against current Parkville Mayor Kathy Dusenbery and incumbent Commissioner Tom Pryor.

May 9 The flood of 2007 struck Platte County backing up the Missouri River and Platte River and flooding many farms and parks in the county. English Landing Park in Parkville had to close and Parkville began evacuating merchants from the businesses in English Landing Center.

Missouri Governor Matt Blunt declared a state of emergency because of the flooding along the Missouri River and in Platte County.

Platte City's Board of Aldermen stopped appointments to various committees proposed by Mayor Dave Brooks. The mayor praised the work of former alderman Lee Roy Van Lew before the resolution to appoint him to the planning and zoning committee was defeated by the aldermen. Also defeated was a measure to appoint Brooks and Keith Moody, city administrator, to the CID Board overseeing the grocery store development.

Platte City was given until June 1 to vacate the premises of Platte Ridge Park and remove their materials from the park.

May 16 Platte City Alderman Bill Knighton resigned from the board and Mayor Dave Brooks attempted to immediately appoint Marsha Clark to fill the open position. The board however, decided to table the discussion until they could have a chance to meet Clark in person.

The Platte County Director of Public Works Greg Sager, expressed concern about unaccounted for public funds totaling almost $2.5 million. Sager asked the County Auditor Siobhann Williams to conduct an audit of the account and find where the missing money went.

May 23 Platte County requested another special audit by an outside firm to look over the county's bookkeeping of funds dealing with the roads funds. The cost of the outside audit will total $7,500 to find almost $2.5 million in unaccounted for funds.

In a related story, County Auditor Siobhann Williams initiated an audit of all county roads tax funds since their inception. The audit of funds was requested by Sager in January of 2007 and was begun after a story ran in The Landmark.

May 30 Platte City began actively seeking a solution to required traffic improvements in the Platte Valley Plaza. The improvements were scheduled to be made by developer Bill Mann; however he said the city should pay for a portion of the costs. The improvements involve the intersection of Highway 92, Running Horse Road and Kentucky Avenue.

The City of Parkville opened its new city hall in the Parkville Commons near the intersection of Missouri 45 and 9 Highways. The new headquarters nearly doubles the available office space for city employees and features new security measures and room for expanded growth.

June 6 Parkville began a struggle to fight a proposed increase in water rates by Missouri-American Water Company, MAWC. The city's attorney Jeremiah Finnegan sought additional funds from the city and local entities to pay for the legal battle to fight the increase.

A mold problem discovered in the upper floors of the Platte County Courthouse will cost the county almost $44,000 to clean up. Steamatic of Kansas City removed the mold by removing insulation and drywall and checking each of the offices on the upper floor for mold.

National Trails Day was celebrated by Platte County at Riverside's E.H. Young Park. Platte County explained a proposed plan for a trail system in the county connecting to the rest of the Kansas City Metropolitan area.

June 13 Platte City's Board of Aldermen discussed the creation of a Transportation Development District to help pay for proposed roadway improvements in the Platte Valley Plaza area. The improvements have been the source of a dispute between the city and developer Bill Mann.

A Tracy woman went missing and was discovered the next day after falling into the Platte River and drowning. Nearly 25 volunteers searched the Tracy area for Esther Simmons, 75, before she was found in the river.

June 20 Riverside began discussions to limit the number of fireworks vendors in its city. Many vendors were unhappy with the proposal and expressed their concern to the Board of Aldermen. The proposed ordinance would require vendors to receive a license from the city, however only a few licenses would be given each year, limiting the number of approved vendors for the city.

Parkville's RiverJam festival brought several thousand people to English Landing Park to listen to performers from around the world and browse through works by painters, photographers and crafters.

June 27 Platte County R-3 School District's improvements to Siegrist Elementary and the new elementary at the Barry School were behind schedule. Construction at Siegrist was delayed by nearly two weeks and ground had not even been broken for the new elementary. Superintendent Mark Harpst expressed his frustration with the builders.

Work at Siegrist was delayed because brick walls were not lining up correctly. Construction at the new elementary was delayed because of permit problems from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.




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