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Every Picture Tells a Story
You don't have to go far to find idyllic scenery in the Kansas City area. The two pictures above are of the Little Blue Trace bicycle trail. The 15 mile trail follows the course of the Little Blue Trace river in Eastern Jackson County.
ALDI'S REVIEW by Paul Livius
I had occasion to stop at the new Aldi’s store in Raytown. I’ve talked with people who were excited about Aldi’s coming to Raytown. They were tired of driving to the Independence store. They kept telling me how wonderful Aldi’s was and how they don’t shop anywhere else. I was looking forward to going.
The first thing I noticed when I walked into the store was a puddle of dirty water about 100 feet inside the front door. As I looked around, I saw dirty floors throughout the store. I’m not talking about shoe scuffs; I’m talking about bits of paper, clumps of dirt, and some sort of grit on the floor. A broom at mid-day would have solved this problem.
The prices are definitely lower than other grocery stores, but there isn’t a brand name in the place. Everything they sell is generic, off-brand items. If you compare the prices of the items at Aldi’s to the off-brand items at the other grocery stores, you might save 1% at Aldi’s. But, if you’re looking for Pepsi or Purina Dog Chow, you’ll be out of luck. If you don’t care about brands, you’re in the right place.
I checked out the produce section. They sell the usual – tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, carrots, etc. Most items are prepackaged. If you want potatoes, you buy the bag, not one or two. I found a few items sold separately, cantaloupe, lettuce, and plums. If you live alone, or have a small family, you may not be able to eat a whole package. I also found a package of very green bananas. It’ll take a week for them to ripen.
Other grocery stores in the area are brighter, have better lighting, and are much cleaner. Aldi’s has low price off-brand items. Some will like Aldi’s and some will not.
The big question is: The City of Raytown loaned Aldi’s $650,000. The store hasn’t started drawing a lot of customers. Can they make it in Raytown, or will they pull up stakes and leave the city holding the bag again?*
* Editor's Note: In the 1970's there was an Aldi's located in Raytown. It was in a strip mall that included a Spartan Atlantic Store. Neither store lasted very long at the location. The Raytown School District purchased the property and converted it to a vocational/technical school. The location is now home to Walmart on 350 Highway.The Paul Livius Report by Paul Livius
Work Session October 4, 2011
Mahesh Sharma, City Administrator, and Jeremy Willmoth, Finance Director, presented an overview of the 2011-2012 Budget. Mr. Willmoth said that when asked how big a town Raytown is, he tells them Raytown has 214.81 full time employees, a population of about 30,000 people and a budget of $30 million.
- Raytown has been able to balance the budget in the past three years because of the settlement from Telecom
- They explained how the budget was developed and budgeting strategy.
- They explained Raytown’s demographics
· Population decreased from 30,388 to 29,526
· Per Capita income increased from $21,634 to 24,817
· Average age decreased from 39.8 years to 36.1 years
· High School graduation rate decreased from 87.3% of the students to 86.8%
· School enrollment increased from 8,367 students to 8,837
· Unemployment rate sky-rocketed from 1.6% to 9.1%
· Raytown is 67.8% white, 25.1% African-American, 5.1% Hispanic and 2% other
- This year’s budget allows for a 2% pay increase for the full time employees
For more information on Raytown’s budget go to the following website: Power Point Presentation of Raytown's Budget
This is the PowerPoint presentation given to the Aldermen.
Raytown Board of Aldermen Meeting – October 4, 2011
The Invocation was given by Stephen King, of the Ivanhoe United Church in Christ.
- Mayor Bower proclaimed October to be Breast Cancer Awareness Month
- Mayor Bower proclaimed the week of October 9 through October 15 to be Fire Prevention Week
- Chief Lynch presented a check in the amount of $9,000 to REAP from the Golf Tournament.
During public comments, Michael Downing said while he and his wife were out of town, there was a fire at his home in April, 2009. He said the pet-sitter discovered the fire and called 911. The fire department went into the burning house and saved his cats. According to city ordinance, the cats were taken to the city animal shelter, Raytown Animal Hospital. The Downing’s immediately flew back to Raytown, and the next day he went to get his cats. He said they were still covered with soot and grime. When he asked the veterinarian why the cats weren’t checked, cleaned up, or treated, he was told the cats received the care that was in the contract with the city. Mr. Downing asked that this loophole in the law be closed. He pointed out that if a person was in a fire and transported to a hospital, that person would be checked out and given appropriate treatment. Animals should be no different and he urged the city to require the Animal Hospital to treat animals taken there from accidents or fires.
Martha Cockral, with Three Trails Kiwanis and Cave Spring Nature Park invited everyone to attend the second annual Pumpkins on Parade. It is free and will be held on Saturday, October 22 from 4:30 to 9:00 pm. The trail will be lit with lanterns and there will games for the children, as well as food vendors.
Pam Clark, with the Main Street Association, reminded the Board of Aldermen to put $1,260 in the budget for the snowflake lights that will be put on the 63rd Street Bridge during the Holiday season.
Kendra Albert told the Board that Raytown has a euthanasia rate of 50% for animals taken to the animal shelter. She said the shelter could use other alternatives to euthanasia, such as pet adoptions, using Pet Finders, seeking local pet adoptions, or contacting rescue groups. The euthanasia rate is too high.
Andy Whiteman said October is Fire Prevention month. He said there are many people living in rental houses and apartments. He asked if the landlord is required to put in smoke detectors. He said he thought this should be the property owners’ responsibility, not the tenants’. He went on to say that the Raytown Times reported that 148 animals were euthanized in Raytown. He thinks this violates the animals’ civil rights. There is an adoption center across the street from Raytown Animal Hospital. He asked why the animals aren’t being adopted out, instead of murdered. Raytown should be a “no-kill” city. He said that last month residents from the Wildwood Home Owners Association came to the meeting to address the Board. He objected to the rude and disorderly manner in which they left. There was a resident addressing the Board when the residents from Wildwood walked out, and he couldn’t hear what the man was saying because they were so loud. He objected to the work sessions being held at 6:00. It is too early for residents to get to City Hall. He has heard allegations that the meetings are held early so the Department heads who don’t live in Raytown won’t have to wait two hours for the Board of Aldermen meetings. This could be resolved if the Department heads lived in Raytown.
Rachel Sloan told the Board she has some ideas to reduce the euthanasia rate in Raytown. Currently, she said, residents are allowed to have four pets per household. She said if the ordinance was changed to allow a resident to have four permanent pets and foster four pets on a temporary basis that would reduce the kill-rate. The city could require the resident to obtain permissions from neighbors, put a time limit on fostering, require fostered pets to be spayed or neutered, and be current on their shots. If she can think of these ideas, why can’t the Board?
Mayor Bower said the Ribbon Cutting was held at the new Raytown IHOP on October 5. Sutherland Lumber is making progress on the building. On October 15, the annual Run for Excellence will be held. This supports the Raytown schools. He also reported that many of the Aldermen went to Branson, MO for MPR to learn about the city’s insurance.
- Alderman Mock reported the Raytown Council on Aging and Shepherds Center will be hosting an AARP community conversation on Social Security and Medicare. There is no charge for this event. It will be help October 14 at the Raytown City Hall from 10:30 am to Noon. He asked anyone interested to RSVP by October 6 by calling 816-356-9000.
- Mahesh Sharma asked the Board to make a motion to amend the budget in order to allocate $1,260 to purchase snow flake lights for the Main Street Association. All Aldermen, except White, voted yes.
- The Mayor opened the floor to allow the Aldermen to ask questions about the 2011-2012 budget. Alderman Ertz commented that the city needs to do a better job of informing the homeowners of the assistance available if their sanitary sewers back up.
- A resolution came before the Board concerning certain property owned by the City Parks Department and was considered surplus. This property needs to be disposed of by auction on Purple Wave. Kevin Boji reported the Park Board replaced a 2001 Dodge Dakota with 80,000 miles and a 1996 Ford Ranger with 70,400 miles. Alderman Ertz asked if there was a minimum bid on Purple Wave. Mr. Boji said there was not. Alderman VanBuskirk asked why these vehicles are being sold when they have such low mileage. Mr. Boji said the Dakota carried a 1,500 pound water tank. The brakes and power steering need replaced. They consider these vehicles to be at the end of their service life. Alderman Mock asked if employees could have an opportunity to purchase the vehicles before putting them on Purple Wave. Mr. Boji said anyone can bid on vehicles through Purple Wave. The motion passed.
- A resolution authorizing the City Administrator to enter into an agreement with the Raytown Animal Hospital for veterinary services associated with animal control came before the Board. John Benson said bids were sent to several veterinary clinics, and the only reply was from Raytown Animal Hospital. Alderman VanBuskirk asked how much was spent last year. Mr. Benson said $30,000. Alderman Creamer asked what the city can do to reduce the euthanasia rate. Mr. Benson said they try to get the animals back to the owners. They have to look at the cost to the city if they owner refuses to claim the animal. He said the number of animals abandoned to the city has increased. In some cases, it was because the owner simply didn’t have the money to pay the fine. Also, some animals can’t be adopted out because they are vicious or they bite. That would be a liability issue for the city. Alderman Creamer said an organization called “Chain of Hope” will take the animals instead of allowing them to be euthanized. Alderman Aziere said there is a difference between an animal shelter and a veterinary clinic. The shelter works from donations, and the veterinary clinic charges fees to the owners. Dr. Rose, owner of the Raytown Animal Hospital said the rate of animals returned to owners far exceeds the number of animals euthanized. Alderman Hamilton asked if the prices quoted on the bid from the Raytown Animal Hospital is comparable to what is charged other cities. Mr. Benson said he didn’t know what other cities paid for animal control, but this was the only bid returned. Alderman White said the city should not dictate what care is given to the animals taken to the shelter. That should be up to the veterinarian to determine. The resolution passed.
- The resolution amending the Sanitary Sewer budget as related to the Sanitary Sewer capital improvement project budget was passed.
- The Aldermen heard the first reading for an ordinance granting an amendment approving conditional use permit to operate an auto sales business at 11900 E. 350 Highway. John Benson said the Board had three options: approve the amendment for a specific period of time; rescind the requirement for the construction of curbs, shoulders and landscaping and make no improvements to the highway; or require the improvements be made before issuing a business license. Alderman Lightfoot asked if the islands and landscaping had been done. Mr. Benson said the islands were completed, but the landscaping was not done. Alderman Ertz asked if the Board required a surety bond, would that cover the cost of the curb construction three years from now. Mr. Noll said the city could require the owner to provide a surety and performance bond. He recommended the city take that action before allowing the business to open. Mayor Bower reminded the Board this is the first reading, not the second. The next meeting is October 18. If it takes ten days to get both bonds, and the owner starts the landscaping at that time, he will be putting in the landscaping around November 1. He said the next request from the owner will be can I wait until spring to start landscaping? He said the requirements for this project by the city have not changed, but nothing has happened. Alderman Mock said he went by the property and they have not started the dirt work. They can’t do the landscaping until the ground is leveled out. He is not in favor of a three year extension. He thought one year was more appropriate. Alderman Hamilton asked if the extension is given, and the owner sells the property, would the same requirements be made of the new owner. Mr. Benson said the requirements belong to the property, not the owner. He was unsure if the bonds would transfer from one owner to another. Alderman Lightfoot recommended an extension of one year instead of three. He asked how many cars the lot would hold. He was told the lot will hold 96 cars. Alderman White suggested an extension of 18 months. Alderman Lightfoot moved the extension be changed from three years to 18 months and require the owner to provide both surety and performance bonds. He also asked the board to suspend the rules and vote that night. Mayor Bower opened the floor to public comments. Andy Whiteman said the conversations were going back and forth. The Mayor said that no conditions have been met. Why should anyone put money into a project without an agreement from the city? He said he drove by the property. The whole area is run down. There is no curbing there. Why should this owner put in curbs when no one else has curbs? The Mayor said other businesses are required to put in curbs if ownership changes. Alderman Ertz stated that 18 months is enough time, especially since this is the second extension requested by this owner for this properly.
- The Board heard the first reading of an ordinance authorizing a Memo of Understanding between Jackson County, MO Storm Commission and the City of Raytown.
The meeting was adjourned.
Bits and Pieces by Greg Walters
An unusually hectic agenda filled the Board of Aldermen’s plate at last Tuesday’s meeting. An analysis of the meeting and the facts it exposed follow:
BUDGET CRISIS ON THE HORIZON? The revelation by Finance Director Jeremy Wilmoth that the city has been able to balance its budget the last three years on the strength of a settlement with Telecom speaks of tough financial decisions in Raytown’s future. The settlement with Telecom was a one-time deal that will not be repeatedThe David Bower administration has built a house of cards based on tax incentives to large corporations that is not increasing the bottom line at Raytown City Hall. More plainly stated, the lucrative development packages given to Walmart, Aldi’s and other large footprint stores in Raytown has actually cut the revenue stream to city hall.
TO THE DOGS: Local political gadfly and self anointed political kingmaker Michael Downing is angry. Two years ago his house caught on fire. His two pet cats were rescued by the Raytown Fire Department. The fire department turned the cats over to Raytown Animal Hospital. The animal hospital, which holds the contract pertaining to stray animals with the city, kept his pets warm, dry and fed until Downing returned. Downing is upset because he feels the animals were not cleaned up properly for his return. He has waited two years for the contract to be renewed to make his complaint public!
The city attorney summed up this tempest in a teapot by pointing out that the animal hospital had followed the agreement to the letter. In fact, he told Board members, that had the hospital gone beyond the measures they took, they could be held legally liable for going beyond the scope of their contract with the city and the animal owner.
I checked with my puppy dog, Wickett (pictured at left), for her feedback.
“Wickett told me that even though she suspects that Downing’s two cats are distantly related to her mortal enemy, El Gato (aka; Smokey, one of the neighborhood cats), she is pleased that the fire department saved Mr. Downing’s pets.
Wickett is glad that the Raytown Animal Hospital took care of the cats for the 24 hours it took Mr. Downing to return from his trip to recover them.
She has never had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Rose, the owner of Raytown Animal Hospital, but her friends tell her that he is an outstanding doctor who runs a top-notch operation.”
By the way, the Board of Aldermen renewed the city’s contract with the Raytown Animal Hospital later the same evening.
THREE YEARS!?! Some vacant commercial property located at 11900 East 350 Highway has been vacant for many years. A new Raytown business owner has been working with the city to open a car dealership at the location. the dealership has space for 96 vehicles on its lot. The city is requiring certain improvements in the way curbs, traffic islands and landscaping before granting a business license.
There ensued a lengthy debate on whether or not to allow the business to open its doors and begin operation before the improvements were completed. To best understand the debate, I suggest you re-read the Paul Livius Report.
The three year window is the part that caught my attention. Why? Because it is the same length of time the Mayor and Board of Aldermen have given City Administrator Mahesh Sharma to locate his home in Raytown. In fact, they have given him the extension twice for a total of six years!
The city’s code of ordinances requires that the City Administrator live in the City of Raytown.
The Mayor and Board have chosen to ignore that requirement for Mr. Mahesh. Why not extend the same deal to a potential business owner? Why the double standard?
Controversy Shrouds “Memo of Understanding”
A “memo of understanding” between the City of Raytown and the Raytown Park Board of Directors has stirred up a hornet’s nest of reaction. The fallout is significant. Long time President of the Raytown Park Board, Bob Smith, has resigned his positions. Other Park Board members are reluctant to speak on the issue.
When asked for a copy of the “memo of understanding” being proposed by the city Park Board Director, Kevin Boji, effectively dodged the issue by turning the request over to City Hall.
It is important to note that the “memo of understanding” is a communication between the City of Raytown and the Raytown Park Board. It is a public document. So far, requests for a copy of the document have been met with stonewalling and discussions that left this writer wondering why the apprehension by individuals contacted regarding the memo.
So far, the following has been made clear from discussions with representatives of city hall and the Park Board.
- The discussions that led to the memo of understanding began last July.
- The driving force behind the discussions is not at all clear. When directly asked who was behind the memo, this writer was told to ask the Mayor. Another individual opined that it may very well be city staff. Aldermen contacted regarding the memo pleaded ignorance to its content.
- It is clear that the memo would affect the autonomous role of the Park Board. To what extent, will not be known until the memo is released.
What is most disconcerting about the issue is the “behind closed doors” manner in which City Hall is conducting the city’s business. Not unlike the recent Wildwood Lakes debacle it is becoming clear that there have been many discussions, out of view with the public, on a matter that should be held in public session.
The Raytown Board of Aldermen, whether they are participants to the discussions or not, have a responsibility for the city to clean up its act.
Stop the secret meetings. Open up the discussions to public debate.
How to Overcome Binge Eating: One Reader's Experience
Guest Editorial from Fit Bottomed Girls
FBG’s second-annual Guest Bloggers’ Week may have come and gone, but this guest post and reader success story was good enough that we just had to share. Tina Reale, who blogs at Faith Fitness Fun, candidly shares her struggle with binge eating. A stay-at-home mother of two, she shares her life in order to show a balanced, healthy... Continue reading
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