Sunday, August 16, 2015

RAYTOWN'S LEADING NEWS SOURCE


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BY GREG WALTERS
Time to Face Reality 
on Super Splash
French author Anatole France (1844 - 1924) once wrote "When a thing has been said and said well, have no scruple. Take it and copy it." A blog we received earlier this week meets the definition of something being said well.  A writer who identifies herself as Marilyn sent the following:

“When I was a kid, my folks took us to Cool Crest once or twice a summer. The cost of maintenance and insurance became prohibitive, so the owners filled in the pool, sold the slides and turned it into miniature golf.

Since the city can no longer afford to keep Super Splash open, they should find alternative uses for the property. Parks and Recreation owns the land. One of the aldermen last week suggested we could have an activity Saturday evenings in the park. Why not there? The slides could be sold, the holes filled, and the area turned into a nice facility for the residents. There’s already parking. They could show movies, have concerts, and would be an excellent site for the Raytown Round-Up Festival.

Another idea for Super Splash is to sell the slides, fill the holes and create a recycling center that can become the best in the metropolitan area.

I’m sure there are a lot of other ideas people have so we can put the land to good use without dumping $300,000 or more a year into an idea whose time is past.”

Marilyn has some very good ideas. More importantly, they look forward rather than into the past for a solution. Before those ideas can be explored, the reality of a failed water park in Raytown has to realized by those who hold the purse strings at City Hall.

Most people who read this site also read the other newspapers in town. They may even read the Kansas City Star (even if they have to hold their nose while doing so!).

All of those newspapers have had stories about the aging population in different part of the metropolitan area. Raytown is almost always cited as a community with an aging population. You cannot argue with facts. They are stubborn and do not change no matter how you try to twist their meaning. The graying of Raytown is a simple reality that will only change as a new generation slowly replaces the older generation.

You can build new water slides, but you cannot make a 55 year old go down the water slide.* Raytown Super Splash had its heyday back in the 1980’s. Those days may come back in the future, but not anytime soon. (*According to census data, Raytown's median age is 55).

The lack of young people is not the only reason.

In the 1980’s Super Splash was literally the only game in town (except for Oceans of Fun).
Now there is competition from newer and larger water parks. Coco Keys, only a few miles away offers night time activities for families. Lee’s Summit has a water park, which also offers miniature golf for entertainment. Even Oceans of Fun has adjusted its product due to competition. When Worlds of Fun opened up it was two different parks, one for the rides, one for the water. An admission ticket now gives you entry to both venues, not just one.

Financially speaking, Super Splash is a drain on the city’s tax base. The Park Board and Raytown City Council have tried for a number of years to rejuvenate the park. It feels like they are on year five of a three year program to make it work. But the simple fact is nothing has worked because the reality is the odds of a small, outdated water park, faced with overwhelming competition, that is pretty much ignored by the local population will not succeed.

Here is a quotation for the Park Board and City Council to ponder on they prepare next year’s city budget. The quote comes from Albert Einstein.

“INSANITY: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”


Late News at a Glance . . .  
POLICE MOVING TO TEMPORARY LOCATION
Ward 2 Alderman Jason Greene tells us the Raytown Police Department is in the process of moving its headquarters to 7001 Blue Ridge Boulevard. The vacant building, located just north of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, will be the temporary headquarters of the Police Department while its headquarters at City Hall are renovated.

The negotiations for rental of the building took an interesting path to finalization. The Board of Aldermen originally rejected the contract offered by the building’s owner, Block Realtors, because it contained a clause requiring the city to pay pro-rated property taxes on the building. Then the owner claimed the building had been sold and was unavailable. The Board finally approved a new contract in which payment of the pro-rated taxes had been removed.

The police are expected to make use of the temporary location for the next three months.

BY GREG WALTERS
Please Read Paul’s 
Excellent Report!
About a month ago the City of Raytown conducted a goal setting session in which the City Administrator had his Department Heads explain their plans for Raytown’s future. The Board of Aldermen were pretty much spectators at the event.

A year ago that would have been the end of the “goal setting” for the next year.

But now we have a new Board of Aldermen with a new majority in charge. They see things differently. So they called their own Goal Setting Session and invited City Staff to receive instructions as to the direction for a new Raytown.

I will stop here and let the reader dive into Paul’s Report. I am certain you will agree we have a new Board that is taking their job seriously. Take a moment and read what they have to say.
Paul and I will share our thoughts at the end of The Paul Livius Report.


BY PAUL LIVIUS
The Paul Livius Report
Raytown Board of Aldermen Goal Setting Meeting
August 11, 2015

The Mayor and Board of Aldermen held a round table meeting to discuss future goals for the City of Raytown.

Josh Greene said he believes the city should put speed bumps in certain high traffic residential roads.  He said there are streets in Ward 1 which are particularly bad.  He believes the city should be very cautious when making decisions concerning Super Splash.  If the park is closed for even one season, it will never open again.  He believes it would be a shame to lose the park.  He said the 83rd Street bridge must be replaced, and soon.  It is in extremely poor condition.  He suggested Coleman and Kenagy parks be locked and gated at night.  Both are unsafe, so much so that a murder was committed at Coleman Park.

Karen Black said she did some research and discovered the Parks and Storm Water sales tax was not being allocated correctly.  She said 100% was going to the Parks department and none was going for storm water.  She thought that might explain why there is no money budgeted for storm water.  She is proposing 60% of the sales tax dollars go for storm water control and 40% to the Parks department this year and next year the dollars be split 50/50 as it was intended.  She said RNR Tires has done a fantastic job of installing curbs and sidewalks on their property, as they agreed to do when talking with the Board of Aldermen.  They spent $50,000 to complete the project.  Now, the city is telling them they have to wait 5 years for the curbs and sidewalks on Lane Avenue to be complete.  They are bringing in sales tax revenues and it is wrong to make them wait.  She said Ong Lake at 75th and Hunter is used by the city as storm water retention and is in need of major repairs.

Jim Aziere said we should work to reduce the crime rate and raise property values.    Cerner will be bringing hundreds of jobs to the area.  The State purchased the old GE building and will also be adding more jobs.  People will want affordable homes close to these businesses.  We need a new marketing plan to attract young families.  We don’t have to pay a lot of money for this.  We already have the staff who can do it.  They just need direction from the Board.  He believes the city should go to Jefferson City and ask the legislature to update the state law to give Raytown more autonomy in dealing with absentee property owners.  He said the city should advertise the school district’s accomplishments, all the new businesses, and the availability of homes as an inducement to new families.

Jason Greene said he agrees with Karen Black.  The Park/Storm Water maintenance fund is not correct.  People need the storm water systems improved to eliminate the flooding problems.  Raytown used to have a community clean-up day and he believes the program should be re-started.

Janet Emerson said we need more sidewalks in Ward 3, especially on Sterling Avenue.  There is a huge need for more street lights in Ward 3.  She pointed out the LED light bulbs are cheaper to operate than conventional bulbs.  She would like to see a small park for Raytown residents on the library side of the green space.  There are grants to cover the costs.  She sees a need for the recycling center to be re-opened.  At one time, the city picked up brush and debris from storm damage at no cost to the residents.  She would like this program returned.  She believes there should be more attention paid to the eyesores rather than driving around finding small violations.  She thinks John Benson and Tom Cole are doing a great job of getting and retaining businesses.  She hopes they can continue.  She would like to see the tax window re-opened.  Customers complained because Raytown residents automatically went to the front of the line, regardless of how long non-residents had been in line.  She thinks if there were two windows, one for residents, and one for non-residents, it would solve the problem.

Mark Moore would like to see a Reader Board sign at City Hall on 59th Street that can be used for city business.  He thinks local businesses can advertise on it, offsetting the costs.  He would like to start a solar street light system, even if it’s just one light, it would be a beginning.  He believes the public works and or the codes departments are not doing their jobs properly.


There has been carpet on the sidewalk at 63rd and Raytown Road for several weeks now.  He has seen mattress and box springs on Blue Ridge, close to Price Chopper.  There is trash in the Crescent Creek.  No one from the city has either picked up the trash, or sited the property owner to pick it up.  It just lays there.  He urged the staff to look into the Public Banking initiative.  He thinks it could save the city thousands of dollars each year.

Bill Van Buskirk said the Board should work together and stop setting goals for personal gain, retaliating and holding grudges.  The Board members should show more respect for the city staff and employees.  The city should promote economic growth so we can increase revenues and attract more young families.  The existing codes should be enforced to improve the city’s image.  The city should start maintaining and improving the infra-structure.  The curbs, sidewalks, bridges, streetlights, etc. need a lot of work.  We have quality parks, and they should be maintained.  The city needs to fill vacant staff positions with the highest quality employees the city can afford.

Steve Meyers said he agreed the city needs a marketing plan.  He said the first thing we need to do is get rid of “Reaching for Tomorrow.”  He said, “We’ve been reaching for 8 years now” and apparently he is tired of reaching.  He believes the city must work to retain the small businesses already in the community.  “Operation Handshake” is a way to meet and thank businesses for being and staying here.  The Board of Aldermen and city staff should go out and meet the business owners.  If the first time a business owner meets city staff is when a code violation is dropped on their door, it will leave a bad impression and the owner might not want to stay in Raytown.  He said years ago, there was a program in the Raytown schools that allowed the middle school students to hold elections for Student Mayor and Aldermen.  The elected students would then come to help govern the city for a day.  He believes this program should be reinstated.  He has looked at the City’s Comprehensive Master Plan.  The Master Plan lays out the visions and goals for the community.  It guides land use, environmental concerns, economic impacts, and housing enjoyed by the community.  The current Master Plan is 20 years old.  It is time to update it and bring it current.  He said the Board has been good stewards so far.  He pointed out Alderman Teeman’s efforts to rent the Deere skid loader instead of buying on, saving the city thousands of dollars.  He said he just found out the police department will not be moving into the trailers after all.  The lease has been signed for the building on Blue Ridge and the police department will have their temporary housing there.  This will also save the city thousands of dollars.

Steve Mock was unable to attend, but he sent his goals and asked Alderman Teeman to read them.  He believes the city should finish the study on Super Splash, and possibly close the facility.  Cerner has started construction and their employees will need housing.  There are a lot of vacant houses in Raytown, and we should make them real estate ready.  The 83rd Street Bridge absolutely must be replaced.  He also said there should be more unity and less sniping between the Board and city staff.

Eric Teeman said he agreed with several of the Aldermen and the 83rd Street Bridge needs to be replaced.  He said it was in bad shape when he was in High School and it’s worse now.  He said years ago, the city had the Annual Clean Up Days.  Residents could bring trash and yard waste from their homes, sheds and garages that needed disposal.  We should do that again.  He believes it would go a long way to clean up our neighborhoods.  He said we need to make some hard decisions about Super Splash.  He understands parks are supposed to cost the city money, just not as much as this one.  He suggested the slides could be removed and just the pools kept open.  Perhaps that would cut the costs enough to make keeping the facility open more feasible.

Mayor McDonough said a representative from KCPL came to his office to talk about street lights.  It’s not going to be easy to get more street lights.  There’s more to it than just buying a light and putting it on a pole.  Raytown could buy the light, but the pole belongs to KCPL.  It’s up to them where the poles are placed.  He has future meetings set up to get more information.


Paul’s Rant BY PAUL LIVIUS AND GREG WALTERS
We were both impressed with the Goal Setting Session set by the Board of Aldermen last Tuesday night.

To begin with, they held it in a public forum. That is a huge step in the right direction. The simple action of holding such a meeting in a public forum tells the people of Raytown we are in this together.

Shout-outs are deserved here . . . to Alderman Karen Black for exposing the misappropriation of sales tax dollars. Black showed the voters were promised storm sewer improvements. Instead the money had been entirely shifted to the Park Department in this year’s budget. It is important to note the 2014/2015 budget (which does not end until October 31, 2015) was put in place under Mayor David Bower’s administration. Ms. Black is correct in bringing it up at this time to set the correct appropriations for the 2015/2016 budget.

To Alderman Mark Moore for having the guts to say it is wrong for the City to ignore mattresses discarded and used carpet abandoned on public street corners. His call for using solar powered street lights on new street lights has merit and deserves consideration as well.

Alderman Eric Teeman has called for re-instituting Raytown Clean Up Days. Not just once, but twice a year. Teeman made an interesting comment regarding Super Splash. He told those present that “parks cost money, but this one (Super Splash) is costing too much”. Teeman’s honest appraisal of the situation is refreshing. There has been too much ringing of hands over a water park whose time is past.

Ward 4 Alderman Steve Meyers made some very interesting comments about the image of Raytown. He said the “Reaching for Tomorrow” slogan used on the city’s web page is 1980’s sloganeering and that he is “tired of reaching”. He suggested what he called “Operation Handshake”, in which city personnel, Chamber of Commerce personnel and elected officials to create a partnership with local business owners in an effort to work together to make Raytown a better place. The upcoming sponsorship of the Brewer and Shipley concert in two weeks is just such an event. Its main sponsors are two local businesses, Dick Smith Ford and the Raytown Brooking Eagle. His plan to update the city’s Master Plan for infrastructure is over 20 years old and completely ignored by the previous administration.

Alderman Josh Greene’s idea of gating Coleman and Kenagy Parks at night as a safety  issue has merit. It is a plan that is working in other communities. There is no reason why it will not work here. Point in fact, Jackson County gates and locks ALL of its parks, including the Harry S. Truman Sports Complex and Cave Springs Park. Many private businesses and churches also gate their parking lots at night, particularly along Blue Ridge Cutoff from Interstate 70 to Grandview, Missouri.

The old guard at City Hall had its say as well. Aldermen Bill Van Buskirk and Steve Mock, both made comments about a need for unity on the Board. Which sounds good on the face of it but is really out of place in a goal setting session . . . more constructive use would be to try to find support for projects that need support on the Board. Accusing others of being sniping, is, in itself, divisive.

Finally, Mayor Michael McDonough’s comment regarding the placement of street lights and street light poles is accurate. For that matter, the power companies have always had the final say on the subject. But they usually follow the city’s lead and fulfill the requests.
The issue here is if the city will decide to spend the $50,000 set aside for street lights in this year’s budget.

The lights are needed. The last administration made it very clear through their inaction that they had no intention of installing street lights in neighborhoods.
City staff has shown how quickly they can upgrade city hall. Now it is time to show the other 30,000 people in Raytown that they are as important as the 100 (plus) individuals employed by City Hall.

It is heartening to read in Paul’s Report that the Mayor is at least weighing his options. We remain hopeful the Mayor and Board of Aldermen will address the important issue of street lights in the near future.


BY DANIELLE
Popcorn!
THREE WAYS TO MAKE IT GOURMET
The “favorite food” question during summer camp ice-breakers and middle school questionnaires was easy for me. Hands down, it was good ol’ potato chips — out of all the culinary delights under the sun. (I’m not exactly allowed to mark that as my choice today, even if I wanted to — ya know, now working at a food magazine and all.) READ MORE




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27 comments:

Peggy Sue said...

So - Karen Black found where the storm sewer tax dollars are being misappropriated. What else is city hall misappropriating? Why didn't the previous Board figure that out? Maybe the "Open government" isn't as open as they want us to think? Is the city administrator and finance director doing their jobs? Maybe the new Board should clean house and start over again.

Anonymous said...

I remember the time we voted for the tax for storm sewer work. We were promised the money would be used to fix storm sewer problems. i wonder how much of those tax dollars are really being used to keep super splash open. It seems so much of our taxes go to everything butthe basics. It has been over 10 years since my street was properly repaired. In those ten years I have not used the public swimming pool once. But I do drive on my street every day. I hope the city council can figure out which is more important. Shoring up a swimming pool most people do not use for a very short three months of the year, or taking care of our streets that we use 24/7 a year!

Anonymous said...

I thought the police had rented mobile units to be behind the police station??

Anonymous said...

I don't recall a murder in Coleman park, I can't find it anywhere online.. when and exactly where did this happen?

Anonymous said...

I don't remember a murder either. I know there was guy who claimed he got shot there. And across the street a guy was shot and killed trying to steal a pick up truck. Plenty examples of vandalisme and strong arm robbery. It looks like there are plenty of problems at our park.

Come to think of it. There was a young man who was shot and killed at Kenagy Park. I think it was a drug deal gone bad.

Anonymous said...


Bill Van Buskirk said the Board should work together and stop setting goals for personal gain, retaliating and holding grudges. The Board members should show more respect for the city staff and employees. I just love reading how the new board should inter react with the STAFF . Maybe the monies were transferred from one fund into the General Fund so that Bower could end up using it to help pay for any shortfall in the amount owed for the Walmart building etc..

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say "good job" to the BOA for standing their ground on getting a decent location for the RPD to work out of. Especially to those who turned down the first contract and insisted on a better deal for Raytown taxpayers. I wonder if the naysayers on the Board and in city staff are ready to admit they were wrong on this one. Best thing is that our police will NOT have to work out of trailers. Good job guys and gal. Keep holding your ground. You are doing a good job.

Anonymous said...

A vast majority will be working at the station during the construction. Just admin and detectives are going to the temporary location. The rest have to put up with the construction mess

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I am wrong. I thought working out of trailers for the police department during the remodel was the most expensive.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Mr. Aziere should review the latest test scores before we start bragging about our schools. 21.4% of Raytown students tested proficient in mathematics.

Anonymous said...

But - they sure can swim. Right, Jim?

Beth said...

You guys are funny.
Better check all the scores of the school district. And for all you wonderfully concerned citizens there is Ray Friends!!! Yes you too can help mentor or tutor students. It's a wonderful thing to do. Get involved help make a change in a child's life. Parents are often working a couple low paying jobs which means many students don't get the educational support they need at home.. Schools can't do it alone. Make a difference in your community.
Rather Than Curse The Darkness Turn On A Light!!!!

Anonymous said...


Aziere wants to keep the Super Splash open.
Now stick with me here taxpayers. Super Splash has cost
you more than a million and a half dollars since 2007.
That’s 1,500,000.00 maybe more! This is a man that knows
how to spend your money. The funny part is most users of the
pool aren’t even Raytown residents. That means you are
throwing your tax dollars in a hole for Kansas City residents.

Marilyn said...

When I was a kid, my folks took us to Cool Crest once or twice a summer. The cost of maintenance and insurance became prohibitive, so the owners filled in the pool, sold the slides and turned it into miniature golf.
Since the city can no longer afford to keep Super Splash open, they should find alternative uses for the property. Parks and Rec owns the land. One of the aldermen last week suggested we could have an activity Saturday evenings in the park. Why not there? The slides could be sold, the holes filled, and the area turned into a nice facility for the residents. There’s already parking. They could show movies, have concerts, and would be an excellent site for the Raytown Round-Up Festival.
Another idea for Super Splash is to sell the slides, fill the holes and create a recycling center that can become the best in the metropolitan area.
I’m sure there are a lot of other ideas people have so we can put the land to good use without dumping $300,000 or more a year into an idea whose time is past.

Anonymous said...

Marilyn you have a good idea to build on, but it does need to be closed and no more money going down the drain. When I say drain I really mean down the drain with taxpayers money. We may need this money to go against the Walmart building charge.

Marilyn said...

Anon 5:04 - The Park Board's budget is about to be reduced because money that rightfully belongs to storm water will start going there. I'm not sure Super Splash is bringing in enough money to support itself. If it would just bring in enough money to pay for the equipment repairs, I think most people would be happy. I truly wish Super Splash could stay open. Unfortunately, too much has been neglected and the cost of maintenance is too high. I hope the city doesn't let the property sit vacant and rot.

Anonymous said...

I lived in Raytown for 45 years and went to Super Splash once. It’s not really the pool that the problem it’s the same old game of robing Peter to pay Paul. It’s like the storm water repair money going to the parks! That did not just happen!
When I went to Raytown Schools they were great but guess what they are not any more. Why? Is it because the school board really does not have to pay any attention to the city board? That the parks board does not care what the school or fire boards do. Both of the fire houses were remodeled in the last 10 years and got bigger! Did the size of Raytown change? Year after year the charter gets voted down this last time the parks board was against it even, was it because it would have changed things and taken power away from the parks board YEP. Drive around town and you see little signs saying this area mowed by the parks department. Its city green space who, other than the parks department, would take care of it? Drive on the back side of the firehouse on the north end of town and the weeds are 30 inches tall.
Every few years there is talk about the EMS department becoming part of the fire department? The fire department does have the space, they have nice new buildings that Raytown TAXES paid for. But then there is also an EMS building that RAYTOWN TAXES PAID FOR. Just how much tax money is there to use to build duplicate buildings and pay duplicate staff?
I wonder if Supper Splash would have been making money, had the money spent on duplicate EMS/Fire buildings had been spent to rebuild it. Wait that can’t happen because they are really different entities, with different budgets, deferent tax levies, deferent boards and different goals.
You read through the years what this blog and before that the online paper Greg has done. And you see him say this over and over. And here we are 25, 30 years later with a dying little town that can’t buy its way out of a trash bag. But we have great fire department with nice buildings, a nice EMS building. We even have a new 2nd high school stadium, wonder if that money would have bought the old YMCA building and pool, but then it was need after 50 years of not having it , Some great parks in the day time, some that are not even in Raytown.
We also have streets and curbs that are crumbling, Key city employees that would not be caught dead living in the town that pays them. Can the new board and mayor fix’s this. They can try but it won’t change much they don’t have to power over the other boards to make the changes across the complete city of Raytown.

Andy Whiteman said...

Super Splash should be considered a business run by the city. Usually when a business drains money, it closes due to lack of money to keep it open. The City acts like a cash cow feeding a dying horse. This is ridiculous. I agree with Marilyn that Super Splash should be repurposed.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

I'm glad the work is being done on the YMCA and it will soon be put to good use again. The old YMCA on 75th street was smaller but always busy.

Pat Casady said...

Well friends, it’s time for me to retire.
I have been in business in Raytown the town I have
loved for over fifty years. I grew up in the Ruskin Heights
area, but, when I came of age to buy my own home I always
looked in Raytown first. I also always knew if I opened a
business it would be in this town.
I opened C&C Starters forty three years ago. We were located
next door to the Western Auto store on 50 hwy. Then twenty
three years ago we bought the building at 6235 Raytown Rd.
and have been here ever since.
I can truly say I have added hundreds of friends to my life
while in Raytown. I am sixty seven years old and my health isn’t
what it used to be, so my wife and I thought it was time to
let go of our business.
I want to thank all my great customers for standing with us
through thick and thin. I would also like to thank my close friends
on the Police Department and elected officials.
With the exception of a couple of board members this town
has finally elected a great bunch of officials. I almost wish
I could stay around to see the great things this town is
headed for. I have watched this town go downhill for many
years but, I think we have the right people running it now.
So, to quote Mr. Hope, “Thanks for the memories!”

Peggy Sue said...

Congratulations, Pat. I wish you many years to enjoy your retirement. You've worked hard and have earned this.

GADSDEN said...

Pat, I have never met you but do enjoy all the information that you have given us.

Thanks

Greg Walters said...

Congratulations Pat. I know you care deeply for Raytown and hope you stay involved in the Raytown community. Rest up, enjoy your retirement but please stay active.

Anonymous said...

I've lived in Raytown 59 yrs. when I was a kid I went to Raytown Beach/ Raytown swim club. Along with Bel air country club and sunny shores beach and a few times to Turners. My children took swim lessons at super splash and when my Grandkids were little they went to super splash. What has changed??? We the baby boomers are grown, our children are grown, grandchildren are teenagers. Where is all these pools I mention??? Gone. Why?? The need is not there to support them. It's evolution and age.
Most new subdivisions now a days are built with a small nieghborhood pool. Worlds of fun/ oceans of fun and coco key are mainly tourist attractions built as such.

Joel said...

My wife and I decided to have a "staycation" this year. I suggested to my kids, ages 9 - 13 that we go to Super Splash. I had a season pass there when I was a boy. They weren't really interested in going. Why? Because they would rather spend their time playing computer games. I took the games away, we went to Super Splash anyway, and the kids had fun.


My point is, if the kids of working parents are like my kids, they spend their days with a computer or smart phone instead out being out having fun. I think that may be a big factor why attendance is down at Super Splash.

Andy Whiteman said...

Congratulations Pat, I wish you the best in retirement. Your comments written as a Raytown businessman will be missed.

Andy Whiteman

Elisa Breitenbach said...

Pat Casady I wish you the very best of everything!!! You will be so missed by many of us in Raytown. I sure hope we see you blogging on this because you are my favorite blogger!!! You are the history guy for me and I want to thank you for that! Take care of that Beautiful Wife & Your Beautiful Heart!!! xox