The local stories that made headlines in 2021
Maybe not quite as crazy as 2020, which saw the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. But it was close.
That’s one way to summarize the year that was in local news in 2021.
It’s time for The Landmark’s annual review of the previous 12 months, using headlines ripped from the pages of this newspaper throughout the year.
The multi-part series begins this week with a look at the first four months of 2021.
By an eyewitness account, it appears to be a $20 drug deal with horrible consequences. A woman is in custody in the Platte County Jail with charges associated with a drug-related shooting at a Riverside park, while a case against the alleged shooter, a teen who according to court documents is believed to be her son, is being handLed by the Platte County Juvenile Office. The adult facing charges is Carlotta E. Palmer, age 45, of Kansas City in Platte County. The victim is identified as a 17-year-old girl who was reported to be in critical condition following the shooting.
Kids and adults alike were having a good time with sleds on the large hill near the Platte City Civic Center over the weekend. A New Year’s Day weather event brought 2-3 inches of snow to Platte City on top of a layer of ice.
Dr. Teresa Hills, a dentist, has resigned from the Platte County Health Department Board of Trustees due to a relocation of her residence and dental practice out of this area. A temporary replacement to fill Hills’ seat on the five member board was named by the Platte County Commission. Commissioners appointed Dr. Jeffrey Kingsley, MD to fill the vacancy.
The snow and ice that occurred on New Year’s Day caused a few traffic crashes in the area, including at least two on I-29 that were investigated by the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Less than a year after she was ruled guilty of four counts of violating Missouri ethics laws pertaining to campaign finance, Parkville Mayor Nan Johnston’s campaign committee is under investigation again. The latest topic being investigated pertains to Johnston failing to report contributions or expenditures associated with legal services performed for Johnston and the committee.
The newly-appointed executive director of the Platte City Chamber of Commerce already has a lifetime of contacts. Stephanie McKinley was named last week to replace Angie Mutti, who left the position after nearly eight years as head of the organization. McKinley met many Platte City business owners during the past year when she served as assistant director under Mutti.
Gov. Mike Parson appointed the Honorable W. Ann Hansbrough as circuit judge for the Sixth Judicial Circuit in Platte County. She will fill the circuit judge vacancy created by the term expiration of the Honorable James W. Van Amburg.
A man charged with arson and murder in a fatal house fire at Weston told authorities he set the fire then after the house was nearly fully engulfed he fled the residence and barricaded himself in the woods about a mile away, court documents indicate. Anthony C. Fleming, 24, who resided in the house, is charged with setting the blaze that killed Timothy Darby, age 60, also a resident at the home.
At a special meeting on Friday, the Platte County Health Department’s Board of Trustees adopted a new public health order allowing restaurants, taverns, and other food and drink venues to remain open until 12 midnight. This is a change from the previous health order, which required such venues to close at 10 p.m.
An attorney representing the City of Parkville in a civil suit told a judge in the case Monday that he would provide certain requested communications between city officials “if that information is there to be provided.” The disclaimer occurred during a hearing in a case in which Jason Maki is suing the city for allegedly improperly withholding documents he requested under the state’s Sunshine Law.
The space formerly known as Town Square at Zona Rosa is getting a major makeover. Town Square has been the spot for a splash fountain and the area in which concerts and other events have been held. The updates will include a new children’s play area, a ‘pop up fountain,’ a main stage for concerts and events, shaded swings, outdoor seating and more.
A former fire captain in the Kansas City Fire Department was sentenced in federal court recently for illegally selling dozens of firearms over a five year period, and of selling firearms to convicted felons.
Insulation fibers getting into the air seems to be the cause of health issues raised by employees in the prosecutor’s office and this week the county has approved action it hopes will solve the problems. The measures will include replacing the ductwork in the third floor offices of the Platte County Courthouse and also replacing the current old-style insulation in the courthouse attic.
A COVID-19 vaccination event was underway Wednesday morning. Local health officials say there is a huge demand but limited supply of the vaccine to this point but they are keeping the public aware of updates through their social media pages.
Authorities say two Platte County Sheriff’s deputies were fired at from a passing vehicle while conducting a traffic stop on Sunday. The incident occurred on southbound I-29 just north of Waukomis Drive. The deputies and individual they stopped were not injured.
Up to the minute information on the COVID-19 vaccine, the vaccination process and local supply levels of the vaccine will be discussed on this week’s episode of Landmark Live with Mary Jo Vernon, director of the Platte County Health Department.
The long range plan for the current City Hall in Platte City is to use the structure as a multi-purpose community building. A renovation of the facility is planned in 2023. The city has purchased property on Marshall Road for the construction of a combined new police station/City Hall. The city anticipates moving into its new facility in the summer of 2022.
A target date for a potential mass COVID-19 vaccination event in Platte County was announced by Mary Jo Vernon, director of the Platte County Health Department, on Landmark Live. Vernon said the goal is to have a mass vaccination opportunity in Platte County around the first week of March. The planned location is in the Horizons Industrial Park in Riverside.
Parkville police are investigating a shooting incident in which two men were killed, apparently in a dispute over a firewood transaction. The incident took place near Hwy. 9 and Coffey Road about 6:30 p.m. last Wednesday. One male died at the scene and the second male, who was a passenger, was pronounced dead at an area hospital around 7:20 p.m.
Resident input on the city’s future plan for recycling will be the topic of a public hearing scheduled for March 1 in Platte City.
Parkville Mayor Nan Johnston will serve two years on probation after pleading guilty to a charge of driving while intoxicated. Johnston, age 60, was also ordered to serve 40 hours of community service.
Parkville city officials notified an area resident who is suing the city for not releasing information under the Sunshine Law that they have discovered about 2,300 records that were inadvertently never released due to a “copying error.”
A slightly trimmed proposed soccer complex in the Northland will be built by the City of Kansas City. The Kansas City council on a split vote last week approved the proposal, which will go in at Platte Purchase Drive and Hwy. 152 just inside the Platte County line. The council voted 8-4 in favor of a contract with Sporting KC to bring a 10-field $35 million competitive soccer complex.
Judge James Van Amburg in a hearing on Monday determined that the City of Parkville has waived its attorney client privileges related to its discussions regarding Jason Maki’s Sunshine requests. In doing so, the judge ordered the City of Parkville to produce all of the documents sought under the discovery process that have been withheld from Maki.
Total crimes were up in the City of Parkville for the year 2020, but there’s no need for residents to believe the city is unsafe in any way. Total crimes in Parkville rose to 177 in 2020, up from 152 in 2019. That’s an increase of 16 percent.
Eight people have applied for the open judgeship spot created when Judge Ann Hansbrough was named to replace the retiring James Van Amburg. One of those applying is newly-elected county commissioner Joe Vanover.
Though the ballot language does not state it, there is a question at the April 6 election with the Platte County R-3 School District that will bring a tax increase if approved. Metropolitan Community College has placed a levy issue on the ballot, seeking to annex the R-3 district into its “in-district” boundaries. The move would mean a 21 cent tax increase for R-3 property owners.
Last week, Platte County government paid out $227,969 to the Platte County Health Department as part of the CARES program.
Water enthusiasts take note: A splash pad is scheduled to open in Platte City in June. And a 100 ft. long zip line–which is dependent upon receiving a county park grant–and two shelter houses are eventually planned for the site as well. The splash pad is going in at now city-owned property that is the former site of the Rising Star Elementary School, 1009 Second Street in Platte City.
A 52-year-old Platte County man was killed in a two vehicle crash Sunday evening. Authorities identified the man as John Stielow, 52, of northeastern Platte County. The crash occurred at the intersection of Hwy. 92 and Interurban Road.
Almost a year to the day after his first appearance on the show, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas will make a return appearance on Landmark Live with Landmark hosts Ivan Foley and Chris Kamler.
A 13-year-old Weston boy has died from injuries he sustained when he was struck by a vehicle on Hwy. 45 in Weston near the intersection with Fifth Street Saturday night. The boy was identified as Chase Archambault.
The voices of Parkville residents who were concerned about how possible ballfield lighting at a city park near a wetlands habitat would interfere with wildlife and impact neighborhoods were heard. The Parkville Board of Aldermen unanimously voted to revise an application for a $1 million Platte County grant to upgrade city-owned Platte Landing Park. The revision includes several items but most importantly to the residents who spoke, strikes language about electrical conduit to ostensibly provide lighting for nighttime play at baseball fields in the park.
Entertainment on the courthouse square in downtown Platte City would be a sign that things are slowly getting back to the way they were pre-pandemic. The Platte City Board of Aldermen this week approved a special event permit to allow the annual Summer Concert Series sponsored by the Platte City Friends of the Arts.
A Parkville area resident who is suing the city for not producing documents under the state’s open meetings law continues to argue in court that he has not received requested information via the discovery process while the city contends it has produced the requested documents. Jason Maki told Judge James Van Amburg that he has still not received discovery documents the city had agreed to provide in an earlier hearing.
An entry monument to Platte City has seen brighter days and the City of Platte City is forming a group of three or four community members to assist in the design process for a new monument at this location. The sign is at the Main Street entrance to the city at Exit 19 off I-29 built on the side of the hill next to Platte Rental Supply (the old KC Bobcat building). There is another monument along Hwy. 92 as motorists enter from Tracy, but the improvement project will start by focusing on this sign at Exit 19.
The judge in an ongoing open records lawsuit has ordered the City of Parkville to produce documents sought by the plaintiff as part of the discovery process. Judge James Van Amburg ordered the city to produce all documents responsive to area resident Jason Maki’s open records request previously considered to be closed or confidential under Missouri’s Sunshine Law. These documents may include previously withheld communications between city officials and the developers of the Creekside development.
Zoning change to allow a 57-lot major subdivision was approved by the Platte County Commission Monday. The subdivision is planned by developer Brian Mertz of PC Homes LLC. The neighborhood is planned to go in at 12500 NW Crooked Road, north to NW Porter Road, not far from NW Hampton Road and not far from Parkville.
Thanks to a financial partnership between the City of Platte City and the Missouri Department of Transportation, a section of Hwy. 92 in Platte City that has resembled a mine field of potholes will soon get a milling and overlay.
Major additions and changes are planned at the Zona Rosa location of 54th Street Grill & Bar, with an addition taking the space of what is now a courtyard area between 54th Street grill and the Cold Stone Creamery. Pickleball courts and golf simulators are some of the items being planned by 54th Street Grill & Bar.
A proposal to raise sewer rates for residents who use the Parkville sewer system failed during a board of aldermen meeting last Tuesday. The measure, which called for raising rates by six percent, followed a two-hour board discussion during the meeting.
In a hearing in which the plaintiff accused the city’s attorneys of “gamesmanship” when it comes to producing discovery, the Platte County judge in a Sunshine lawsuit once again ordered an attorney representing the City of Parkville to produce documents. Judge James Van Amburg told the city’s law firm to “put the case on the front burner.”
Downtown Parkville seems to be in the midst of a business boom. Small downtown businesses operated by locals, including individual owners and families, either already are opened or are slated to open soon, according to interviews with the owners of several, but not all, of the new businesses.
The idea of a use tax is being proposed at Parkville. If approved by voters, the use tax would apply to out-of-state and online purchases “and is only collected when the local sales taxes are not,” Joe Parente, city administrator, says in a report to the Parkville Board of Aldermen.
COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy is being driven by various factors including vaccine information, demographics, conservative versus liberal worldview and insurance status. Age partisanship and education status are the primary indicators of whether or not a Missourian has been vaccinated.
Segments of the heavily traveled streets of Platte Falls Road and Kentucky Avenue in Platte City were given a fresh asphalt overlay.
A national coffee shop chain will soon be opening a location in Platte City. Josh and Jill Nelson of Platte City will own and operate a Pj’s Coffee in the former Bank Liberty/Central Bank building located at Hwy. 92 and Bello Mondo Drive.
A new program being established by the Platte County Prosecutor’s Office gives an additional treatment court option for certain offenders. The new program will offer first time, non-violent misdemeanor or felony offenders the opportunity to avoid a criminal record if they admit their wrongdoing, perform community service, remain crime-free and drug-free, and work or continue their education. Goals of the program are to reduce court caseload and decrease jail population.
Businesses within the City of Kansas City will no longer have COVID-19 capacity limitations under new guidelines announced by the city this week.