t’s early Wednesday morning. Did you get a storm at your place overnight? I haven’t received any info on a rainfall total, but the noise I heard between 4:30 and 5 a.m. south of Platte City sounded like an old-fashioned gully washer. A real toad strangler, if you will.
When I was a kid, after an overnight rain like that in the morning I’d often go out to look for worms. I had no interest in finding bait for fishing, I was just fascinated to see so many worms out of the ground. Sure, it sounds weird, but don’t judge. My parents never took me to the zoo. Had to get cheap nature thrills any way possible.
Why do so many worms come out of the ground after a hard rain anyway?
I’m glad you asked. Here comes a teaching moment. Don’t thank me, thank Google. And the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“Oxygen from air or water passes directly from a worm’s outer cuticle into their blood vessels. Normally, soil has a mix of air and water – about 50 percent of the pore space in soil is air, the rest is water. Oxygen diffuses easily through air, and the soil stays aerobic because oxygen comes in from the surface. But after a rain, the soil pores and the worm burrows fill with water. Oxygen diffuses about a thousand times slower through water than through air. The worms can’t get enough oxygen when the soil is flooded, so they come to the surface to breathe.”
Uh, oh. Remember that much ballyhooed $43 million Northland Soccer Complex that was approved by the Kansas City council in late April? The one that is supposed to go in Platte County near the intersection of N. Platte Purchase Drive and Hwy. 152?
According to a report by KCUR, the National Public Radio affiliate in Kansas City, that project is now in some doubt due to Kansas City budget concerns brought on by the coronavirus. Last week, without going into much detail, KCUR referred to the soccer complex as a project that “may be on the chopping block.”
The project was approved despite objections from some city council members concerned about the economic uncertainty created by COVID-19. The city council voted 9-3 to approve a plan to pay for the 12-field soccer park, which will be operated by Sporting KC, which also operates the city’s Swope Soccer Village. Supporters have said that the Northland lacks enough youth soccer fields and that families have to drive long distances to Swope or Johnson County. And supporters claim building the fields will help spark further development in the area.
KCUR’s report, entitled “Pandemic may force Kansas City to change expensive ways,” was an in-depth look at the city’s budget challenges. In their report, the future of the soccer complex was reported this way:
“Even as the economy was slowing amid stay-at-home orders that closed stores and businesses, the city council was moving forward with large spending projects. The council approved a plan to finance a $43 million Northland sports complex, which would be owned by Kansas City and operated by Sporting Kansas City, at the end of April.
“That’s the same month, incidentally, that the national unemployment rate shot to its highest level since the Great Depression.
“While that project may now be on the chopping block, developers have already invested heavily in the area, bringing in tidy subdivisions full of new homes and a big shopping center complete with a Costco and Target. But so has the city: it spent some $40 million to build 10.5 miles of sewers in the area, which was largely rolling hills and woods before.
“It’s the kind of endeavor opposed by a small group of community leaders who say city officials must rethink their approach to growth. It’s difficult enough keeping up with the significant web of sewers, roads and water lines already installed, they say, let alone adding more pipes and roads to serve new development.”
Stay tuned. Things could get interesting on this.
Speaking of KCUR-FM 89.3, Steve Kraske hosts a daily show on the station called Up to Date. Kraske in a newsletter early this week named his choice as “newsmaker of these first six months of 2020.” Kraske said he defines newsmaker as “the person who’s had the most impact on the place we call home.” His choice? Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas.
It’s tough to argue his pick. In fact, it seems an obvious choice.
“Lucas is a runaway winner. He’s simply dominated the news. What strikes me is how quickly he moves. The protests on the Plaza were barely over when the mayor proposed police reforms that include outside reviews of cases that involve officer-involved shootings. Another example: Parks Board Commissioner Chris Goode proposed removing J.C. Nichols name from the fountain at the gateway to the Plaza. Lucas didn’t wait. He was in the news endoring the idea. Protests. Pandemic. A massive budget crunch. Lucas is juggling it all. He is seemingly everywhere at once, leading, cajoling, tweeting, walking with protestors,” Kraske says.
I noticed Phil Wassmer, an alderman at the City of Parkville, had an interesting observation on Facebook this week. In a somewhat defensive response in a discussion with a nearby resident about the lack of fast pitch softball facilities at a new baseball complex at Parkville, Wassmer wrote to this to a commenter:
“Why don’t you lean on Platte County with all your spare time? They are a basket case of bad decisions and wrong headed direction for the county.”
Overly defensive, perhaps. But is he totally wrong? I don’t think so.
It was entertaining, and somewhat enlightening, to hear an elected official from another public body make that observation out loud.