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by Ivan Foley
Landmark editor

One veteran city administrator was fired. Another area city administrator resigned. A high density housing proposal east of Platte City drew the ire of neighbors and sparked a long and somewhat contentious battle. A springtime election cleaned out a veteran mayoral incumbent.

That--and so much more--happened in the initial months of what turned out to be another extremely busy news year in Platte County. What follows is the first of a two-part series featuring a week-by-week look at some of the headlines from another wild and woolly news scene, as brought to you by The Landmark.

JAN.2: Road salt has become a precious commodity among many public entities, after several winter weather events hit the region at a consistent pace in the month of December.

An airplane, battling foggy conditions, made a wrong turn on the runway at KCI and ended up stuck in the mud. The pilot turned into a small service road instead of the taxiway. The 182 people on board, including the six crew members, had to be evacuated and boarded busses to get back to the terminal before waiting for another flight to Denver. There were no injuries.

Candidate filings for local office had begun trickling in, including Frank Offutt filing against incumbent Dave Brooks for mayor of Platte City.

JAN. 9: Salary increase is approved for Parkville officials. The mayor’s salary is increased to $14,400 per year. Aldermen’s pay is increased to $5,400 per year.

Robbery of the Quik Trip on Barry Road forced a lockdown of nearby Park Hill schools including Renner Elementary, Congress Middle School, Park Hill High School and the district’s office.

Weston collector, Lori Cogan, 30, faces stealing charge for allegedly taking money from water bill payments.

Home foreclosures are up 23% in Platte County. There were 246 in 2007, up from 200 in 2006.

JAN. 16: Sheriff’s department gets $800,000 boost in annual budget approved by county commission.

At Park Hill, some parents are objecting to a school year starting date of Aug. 13.

North Platte fills the position of junior high principal without posting the opening. “We didn’t advertise the job,” said Francis Moran, superintendent. “There was no need to open it.” The job went to Karl Matt, who had applied for the high school principal position but was interviewed for the junior position instead.

Ground is broken for a Price Chopper grocery store in Platte City.

The City of Weston’s budgeted expenses top its budgeted revenues.

JAN 23: The Landmark exclusively reports the Platte City Board of Aldermen has voted to fire Keith Moody, city administrator. Voting in favor of the firing were Aaron Jung, Andy Stanton, Ron Stone and Kenneth Brown. Opposing the firing were Marsha Clark and Todd Sloan.

Platte Valley Bank at Dearborn was robbed about 11:30 a.m. The suspect is described as a white male between the ages of 20 and 40 with dark hair and dark complexion. The man is about 5’3” tall with a slight build and a stubby beard.

A development of 600 homes on a little more than 300 acres is proposed east of Platte City on Hwy. 92 near Winan Road. The proposal would be known as Lake at Tomahawke Ridge. Neighbors are pledging to fight the proposal. Partners in the project include local realtor Tim Dougherty and landowner Hal Swaney.

Deb Hammond, administrative assistant at the City of Parkville, denies that she has been fired. Sources tell The Landmark that the lock on Hammond’s office door has been changed and her access card to the premises was deactivated. City officials recently hired an Overland Park firm specializing in human resources to investigate claims of falsified time sheets.

Jan. 30: Three days after a roll call vote in an executive session resulted in his firing, Platte City’s Board of Aldermen on Friday night struck a deal with Keith Moody, city administrator, on terms of a severance package. Moody could be working at city hall for up to an additional six months, per the agreement. The pact calls for Moody to continue to work for the city until July 31, 2008 or until 30 days after the starting date of his replacement; 2. Moody’s acceptance of a full time job with another employer. Per the agreement, if Moody is still on the job as of July 31, the city must pay him an additional six months of salary and insurance benefits. His annual salary is nearly $73,000, so six months of salary would be roughly $36,500.

Deb Hammond’s future at Parkville could be decided at Feb. 5 meeting, with reports this week she is on paid administrative leave pending completion of an investigation into alleged falsified time sheets.

FEB. 6: Sunshine Law issue nearly bites Platte County R-3 School Board. A problem with proper notification about a meeting for the board created a difficult situation on Thursday. Notice of the meeting went out to the media less than the required 24 hours prior to the meeting start time. An R-3 board member became aware of the situation after being notified by The Landmark of the potential legal problem Thursday afternoon.

Deb Hammond’s fate remains up in the air at the City of Parkville. She remains on paid administrative leave pending further “fact finding.” There have been allegations Hammond had falsified time sheets. Mayor Kathy Dusenbery says the city is no longer working with the firm and declined to elaborate on results of the investigation. Hammond has been seen recently at city hall with an attorney accompanying her.

An agreement between Platte City and Platte County for the use of Platte Ridge Park will have to wait to be approved after the Platte City Parks Board could not hold a meeting on Monday night due to lack of quorum.

FEB. 13: Roads and traffic flow are the concerns among county residents, according to the Platte County Profile survey.

Deb Hammond’s position at Parkville is eliminated and the parties agree to a separation.

Residents get organized and question the traffic study done by developers in regard to the proposed Lake at Tomahawke high density housing proposal east of Platte City.

A 25-year-old man briefly barricaded himself inside of a home at Timber Park Drive just south of Platte City. Officers from the Platte County Sheriff’s Department, including a crisis negotiation team, arrived on the scene and talked the man into leaving his house after about 10 minutes. The man was later taken to a hospital with a gunshot wound to his ear.

FEB. 20: Four of 34 applicants will get initial telephone interviews as the City of Platte City gets rolling in the process to replace recently-fired City Administrator Keith Moody.

A Platte City man has been arrested and charged with possessing child pornography and deviate sexual assault. Robin S. Roggenbuck, 55, is accused of the crimes after a victim spoke with Platte City police officers on Feb. 11 and Feb. 13. Platte City and Platte County authorities are searching for more possible victims of Roggenbuck.

Miss Missouri 2007, Lindsay Casmaier, was in Platte City for the Miss Greater Kansas City Pageant at Platte County R-3 High School over the weekend.

FEB. 27: A local man, A. Blair Stover, is accused of promoting tax schemes.

Commercial dumpster service in Platte City may be a thing of the past as of the end of April. The board of aldermen voted Tuesday night 4-2 to approve an ordinance confirming their desire to privatize the dumpster service for the city, which will eventually eliminate positions for two public works employees.

Width of Winan Road could pose a problem for the proposed Lake at Tomahawke subdivision east of Platte City. The City of Kansas City has expressed concern over whether the road is wide enough to handle the increased traffic.

Platte County R-3 opposes a tax abatement proposal at KCI.

South Platte Ambulance Board agrees to hire an off-duty sheriff’s deputy at each meeting, costing at least $600 per year.

MARCH 5: Employee cell phone policy is being reviewed at the City of Riverside. The driving force behind the new policy is IRS regulation. In the past few years the IRS has been auditing local governments to ensure they are in compliance and fully reporting all income.

The Village of Farley, with a population of around 250, will pay $600 per year to have an off-duty sheriff’s deputy to sit in on the village’s trustee meetings.

On Monday, Tracy Police Chief Frank Thurman checked the depth of the Platte River at the Hwy. 92 bridge. The depth has risen to 23.85 ft. and the river is already flooding many low lying fields and some roads in the county.

MARCH 12: A rash of burglaries has hit rural Platte County.

Missouri Department of Transportation says it wants an additional 100 ft. Of right-of-way on the north side of Hwy. 92 adjacent to the proposed Lake at Tomahawke Ridge development. Tomahawke Ridge is a proposed 680 home development on roughly 300 acres near Hwy. 92 and Winan Road.

It’s the law: Weston dogs must now defecate in their own yard.

A five vehicle crash on I-29 north of Dearborn stopped southbound traffic for more than 45 minutes and backed up traffic for more than four miles.

MARCH 19: The new R-3 Pathfinder Elementary School continues to be behind its construction schedule and will not be ready at the beginning of the 2008-09 school year.

Platte City teen, Devin James Leeper, age 18, was found dead Saturday in a vehicle at his friend’s house in Weston.

A new trash ordinance was approved by the Platte City Board of Aldermen. Commercial businesses in the city limits must provide proof they have a contract with a trash hauler.

MARCH 26: Incumbent Tom Pryor has pulled out of a race for reelection to the county commission. Pryor said he is dropping out to focus more on his family and business. He is a real estate appraiser.

Joe Turner has resigned as city administrator for Parkville. He said he resigned to accept a position as city manager at Fort Scott, Ks.

Police rate high, communication is rated low on a survey of Platte City residents in how they evaluate city hall.

Tornado sirens are on the way to county rural areas. The county has budgeted $200,000 for the purchase of sirens and another $200,000 is coming from the building permit fees for the second Kansas City Power and Light Iatan plant.

Tracy Alderman Larry Hill suggested to fellow board members and the mayor that all of them should give up their pay for the rest of 2008. But city attorney Lisa Rehard said the compensation is law and can’t be refused, though it could be donated. The majority of the board rejected Hill’s proposal.

APRIL 2: More than 60% of survey respondents say they have never attended the annual Harley Owners Group (HOG) rally in Platte City.

Tomahawke’s compatibility questioned by KCI Airport officials, as the proposed high density housing development continues to face opposition.

Frank Offutt is poised to challenge Dave Brooks for mayor of Platte City while Tom Hutsler will square off against Gerry Richardson.

The Platte County Commission on Thursday approved a new court cost surcharge for developing a biometric verification system. The court surcharge of $2 from criminal cases will be used to pay for the initial cost of the system as well as the continued maintenance and operation of the devices.

APRIL 9: Patricia Stinnett finished well ahead of the pack in her bid for a second term on the Platte County R-3 School Board and the district’s bond issue was also a winner at Tuesday’s election. Other winners of open spots on the board were newcomer Sharon Sherwood and incumbent Dave Holland.

Frank Offutt crushed incumbent Dave Brooks for mayor of Platte City, 430 votes to 241. Gerry Richardson handily defeated Tom Hutsler for mayor of Parkville, 630 to 332.

Jason Brown, 30th District state representative, blasted Jason Grill, 32nd District state rep, at a meeting of the Platte County Pachyderm Club. “He’s not a good person,” Brown said, holding up a copy of a newspaper detailing a rape allegation against Grill, a Democrat, about 18 months ago. No charges were ever filed in the case.

APRIL 16: Outgoing Parkville mayor Kathy Dusenbery is accused in an ethics compliant. Emails sent by winning candidate Gerry Richardson and by the outgoing mayor who endorsed him have been targeted as potential ethics violations by supporters of Tom Hutsler, who was handily defeated by Richardson in last week’s election.

Gordon Cook, an accountant, has begun to express several concerns about financial matters at the City of Parkville.

Parkville begins its search for a new city administrator. Sean Ackerson, currently the community development director, will serve as interim city administrator.

A suspicious device was discovered in the dumpster at the Trex Mart convenience store in Tracy on Monday around 9 a.m. The Kansas City Bomb and Arson Squad retrieved the item with a robot and it was later detonated.

APRIL 23: An appeal by the developer of the Beverly Plaza proposal was denied by the Platte County Commission on Thursday with a vote of 2-1. The developer, Dudley Alexander, had appealed the decision of the planning and zoning commission after the commission had voted 7-1 against approving the preliminary plat. The development would be located at the intersection of Hwy. 92 and Hwy. 45 not far from Weston.

Lori Cogan, 30, of Weston, pled guilty last week to stealing $761 in water bill payments to the City of Weston. She had served as the city collector.

Rita Rhoads has been sworn in as the new mayor of Tracy. Rhoads won a write-in effort over incumbent Brenda Ferguson, 27-22.

APRIL 30: Sarah Steelman, Republican candidate for governor, campaigned in Platte County on Tuesday afternoon, speaking for a short time to a gathering in the Platte County Administration Building.

Parkville’s Ethics Commission on Tuesday night voted 4-0 to pursue an investigation regarding the ethics complaint against former mayor Kathy Dusenbery.

The Platte County R-3 School Board reached a preliminary agreement with the City of Kansas City in regards to proposed legislation which would abate taxes on property owned by KCI. The new agreement would mean the school district would be paid nine cents per square foot of a building’s footprint instead of the initially offered eight cents from the city.

MAY 7: The Landmark reports former Parkville mayor Kathy Dusenbery, now the target of an ethics compliant, supported the move toward the city’s current ethics ordinance in 2005.
Platte City mayor looks for volunteers to serve on the park board.

Parkville hires David Olson as interim city administrator, and creates a new position of assistant city administrator and selects Sean Ackerson to fill that spot.

Mark Funkhouser, mayor of Kansas City, speaks to the Platte County Pachyderm Club, hitting on a variety of topics, including light rail.

MAY 14: Tom Wooddell quits as building inspector for Platte City. Wooddell has resigned to take a position with the City of Riverside.

Platte County pays $1.25 million for 128 acres near English Landing Park in Parkville. The purchase will allow the county parks department to extend the Missouri Riverfront Trail west of the park.

Ex-mayor Brenda Ferguson is leading a drive for a state audit to be conducted on the city of Tracy.

After several hours of testimony before the Platte County Commission, the application for Brentwood Parc was denied on Thursday with a unanimous vote. The action by the county commission upholds recent action by the county’s planning and zoning commission, which recommended the application be denied. The proposal by James Owens was to rezone about 78 acres of property east of Weatherby Lake and north of Shelter Haven to planned residential district.

MAY 21: A rural Platte City man finds himself in the middle of a federal investigation into alleged price fixing of milk. Gary Hanman, who lives along Hwy. N at Humphrey’s Road, is the former chief executive officer of the Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), a cooperative with headquarters in Platte County along I-29 near KCI Airport. Hanman retired from DFA in 2006 at the age of 71.

New homes and a truck stop may be on the way to Tracy.

A brief scare occurred at the Platte City Middle School on Wednesday morning after a bomb threat note was found in a female student’s backpack. Officials said the school was not locked down when the threat was discovered and officers quickly realized it was only a note.

County’s goals are outlined in Platte Profile after community volunteers provide input.

Parkville’s Ethics Commisison finds that Kathy Dusenbery violated the city’s ethics ordinance by forwarding a political email with her mayor’s signature attached, but the commission recommended no penalty be assessed against Dusenbery.

MAY 28: A Liberty Public School District teacher has been charged in Platte County with forging a prescription for pain medication. Kerri L. Wisniewski, 34, of Liberty, is accused of fraudulently obtaining a prescription for Ultram, a non-narcotic pain reliever.

A 23-year-old Iraq war veteran died on Friday at the Iatan power plant when a large crane toppled in an accident. Terry Eugene Stimpson, of Peculiar, was killed in the accident that occurred around 7:30 a.m. Friday. Three other workers at the construction site were also injured and taken to area hospitals.

An attorney for developer Dudley Alexander has filed lawsuits against the Platte County Commisison and the Platte County Planning and Zoning Commission, claiming his preliminary plat application should have been approved because it met all requirements set forth by the county’s planning and zoning department.

Paul Kelly, assistant superintendent at Park Hill, recommends the school board consider increasing the district’s tax levy rate from $4.6467 to $4.6827.

JUNE 4: Lake at Tomahawke Ridge proposal dropped by developers, who indicate they will return with something similar in the future. Withdrawal came just a few days after developers had learned the county’s planning and zoning staff would be recommending denial of the plan. The plan had been met with stiff opposition from neighboring property owners, who for months had organized themselves, held meetings, circulated yard signs and petitions, and retained legal counsel.

Platte County commissioners say they are skeptical of the light rail plan put forth by KC Mayor Mark Funkhouser. The plan only offers buses as part of the mass transit system in Platte County.

The South Platte Ambulance District board ponders a tax hike.

Narrower lanes are established on Platte City’s Main Street to allow for more parking spots in the downtown area.

Platte County’s public works department is seeking bids to do routine maintenance on about 30 asphalt and chip-seal roads in the county.

JUNE 11: Cell tower is okayed to go in at Harrel Ferrel Park at Fourth and Hwy. 92 in Platte City.

A Nebraska man turns down the job as Platte City’s next city administrator. Joe Johnson of David City, Neb. had been offered the position after a closed meeting of the board on Friday. On Monday, the city learned that Johnson had refused the offer.

Trash rates at Weston could rise by 67% after only one bid for service was received.

Two Platte City residents have been charged in an incident which occurred last Monday outside of the Running Horse Ranch and Home store in Platte City. Jayson Lee Brightwell, 28, and Sarah E. Muntean, 18, both residing at 321 Main Street, were charged.

JUNE 18: Four applicants are back in the running to be the next city administrator for Platte City.

Elementary boundaries may change in the Park Hill School District. The change would affect the Hawthorn and Renner Elementary Schools. The proposed change affects property south of Tiffany Springs Road and north of 152 Hwy. and also between Congress Ave. And Childress Rd. The change is being presented because of a new development called Riverstone, which is being built on property along Congress Ave.

A plan by the Park Hill School District to install a sewer line connecting Union Chapel Elementary School is in the beginning stage while school officials attempt to negotiate with neighboring property owners.

Parkville’s aldermen have voted to hire Organization Consultants headed by Robert Saunders to help the city find a new city administrator to replace Joe Turner.

JUNE 25: Little public input is given to R-3 school board as they solicit comments from patrons during a public forum about the board’s search for a new superintendent for the 2009-2010 school year. Only three members of the public made comments at the forum, and two of those had to be prompted to do so by the board president.

The 75th anniversary of the 1933 gunfight in Platte County between lawmen and Bonnie and Clyde and the Barrow gang will be celebrated with a July 19 event in Platte County and Platte City.

South Platte Ambulance District has received a report that its past three months of response times show an on time-response rate of 88%.

(Next week: The months July through December, 2008 will be reviewed.)



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