This is a post that I try to update MONTHLY as I gain new info that I think will be helpful to my PV neighbors. As I add to it, I’ll bold the new items, so followers who receive my weekly email updates can quickly find the newest items. 🙂
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Did You Know?
Being a sitting member of the Prairie Village City Council has afforded me the opportunity to participate in many meetings, presentations, and casual discussions where I have learned lots of little, but helpful, tidbits that I didn’t know before. I also notice things now that I didn’t before that could affect our residents; things about living in Prairie Village, Johnson County, the greater KC metro, and Kansas. So many of these are things that I wish I’d known before I decided to run for Council, when I was simply a citizen. So, I want to share them with you!
Here they are:
Art in the City
- The large terracotta-colored statue at Mission & Tomahawk has an interesting story! It’s called The Homesteaders, and it was designed by a young, local, St. Joseph woman attending Kansas City Art Institute in the 1950s. Read more on the Prairie Village Arts Council Blog!
- EACH MONTH you are allowed to set out ONE BULKY ITEM during the first full week of the month. Monthly bulky items must be smaller items such as rugs, countertop appliances, or small furniture. The item cannot be larger than 2′ by 2′ and should weigh less than 45 pounds.
- Hazardous waste (paint, motor oil, etc.) may be taken to the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment at 5901 Jim Bills Road, Mission, KS. The hazardous waste site is open on an appointment-only basis. An appointment may be made online here or by calling 913-715-6907
- If you and your neighbors live in a flood-prone zone and have recurring sewage backup problems in your basement, you may be eligible for Johnson County’s BUPP which provides funding to eligible homeowners so they may install a backup prevention device or make plumbing modifications on their property.
- Republic will pick up twelve (12) yard waste items per week. For example: 12 paper leaf bags. We (my family) just recently came back to dealing with our own yard waste instead of contracting that service out. So, in my recollection, the city pickup service maximums were graduated up to peak leaf fall and back out, but that must have been an old Deffenbaugh schedule, because Republic, who PV has used for the past few years, has a 12 items per week maximum no matter the time of year. Here, too, is the Solid Waste Collection 2020 Calendar for your reference.
- Did you know that Johnson County has Charter that is updated every 10 years?
- What You Need to Know About the Charter Commission
What is the Home Rule Charter?
Kansas is a “home rule” state. County Commissioners govern their counties as they see fit, unless their decisions conflict with the Constitution (Kansas or federal) or a Kansas statute. Home rule applies to all counties, but the State Legislature has declared that two, Johnson and Sedgwick, are “urban areas” that may choose to have a written Charter with certain authorities and limits (KSA 19-2654 and KSA 19-2680). A Home Rule Charter is a legislative document that defines the structure, powers, purpose, and functions of a county government. The Johnson County Home Rule Charter was enacted by public vote during the November 2000 general election.
What is the Charter Commission?
The Johnson County Home Rule Charter requires that a group of 25 Johnson County citizens, called the Charter Commission, review the charter every 10 years. The members are appointed by various authorities specified in the Home Rule Charter. The 2000 Charter was not amended in 2011.
What are the powers of the Charter Commission?
The Charter Commission does not have any independent authority to make changes to the Charter. It can only make administrative recommendations approved by a majority vote of its members and amendment proposals approved by a vote of four-fifths of its members (Charter Article 5 and Article 6, Sections 6.01 and 6.04), in the form of a final report presented to the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners.
What is the process for changing the Charter?
The Board must consider whether any of the Charter Commission’s administrative recommendations should be implemented. The Board has authority to decide whether it will make the recommended changes (Charter Article 7, Section 7.07). But the Board must send each lawful amendment proposal to the voters at the next available general election for a decision on whether to accept it or reject it.
Who decides whether local positions are appointed or elected?
The general election statute is KSA 25-101. Subsections (10) and (11) require election of certain county officials: at each election when an incumbent commissioner’s term has expired; and at alternate elections, a county clerk, a county treasurer, a register of deeds, a county or district attorney, and a sheriff in each county.
County governmental bodies do not have the power to change state statutes. Any statutory changes would have to be made by the state legislature. Counties are not permitted to opt out of statutes that apply uniformly to all counties (KSA 19-101a). However, the state legislature’s declaration of the two “Charter Counties” eliminated the uniformity of KSA 25-101(10) and (11). That allowed Johnson County voters in 2000 to “charter out” of electing the clerk, treasurer, and register of deeds and provide for their appointments by the County Commissioners (Charter Article 5, Section 5.05). The district attorney of Johnson County is specifically required by statute to be an elected judicial district officer, not a county officer (KSA 22a-101).
Who decides whether local races are partisan or nonpartisan?
Elections for county office are partisan, except for voting on judicial retention. Johnson County has opted for nonpartisan election of County Commissioners. Written by Alleen VanBebber for LWV JoCO
- What You Need to Know About the Charter Commission
- During this time of COVID-19 and voluntary isolation, kids and neighbors can feel isolated and stir crazy, so PVPD has created a special process (similar to a block party but easier) to close off a portion of your street so kids can play together in a socially distanced way without regular street traffic. All you’ll need to do is fill out a form with Sgt. Gray and leave a copy on the affected neighbors’ doors. PVPD will drop off barriers on the day of the gathering.
- You can also get a regular block party permit by just filling out the Permit Application form HERE.
- You can find updates and schedules for all of the current Construction Projects right HERE!
- Noise ordinance #11-201 dictates that loud noise is prohibited:
- before 7:00 a.m. and after 10:00 p.m. on weekdays, and
- before 8:00 a.m. and after midnight on weekends.
- To report a Disturbing the Peace violation, please contact the Prairie Village Police Department – 913-642-6868 or 913-642-5151.
- The Phase 2 Neighborhood Design Standards are in effect. If you are doing an addition of 200+ square feet or a new build, learn the basics about these Standards HERE.
- Did you know that house fires can be started by the prism effect? We’ve all done the experiments with a magnifying glass to see if we can get paper or dry twigs to catch fire, but Ward 3 resident, Rita R., shared with me that she set out a jug of sun tea on her deck early in the summer and she went out a little while later and caught a small fire growing on her deck. I checked in with Fire Chief Tony Lopez of Consolidated Fire District No. 2, and here’s what he shared, “Last year we ran a small fire in Westwood that was caused by a prism effect from the sun shining through a water jar, so it does happen. We think there are many factors that need to come together for this to happen, but it can happen.” He did add that the Fire Marshal shared that, statistically, this type of fire cause is very, very low, but still something for us all to be aware of. Especially if we like sun tea, which I do. ☺️
Health & Wellness
- Mental Health is a Community Issue. Would you like to learn how to spot signs that a person in your family or community may be experiencing a mental health-related crisis or problem such as anxiety, depression, psychosis, or addictions? Johnson County Mental Health offers training for anyone over 18. Many of the trainings are funded, in part, by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in partnership with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, as well as Johnson County Department of Health and Environment.
- You can get tested for COVID-19 for FREE. Visit JoCoGov and/or PrepareMetroKC for more information.
- Did you know that the City of Prairie Village has participated in the Kansas Housing Assistance Program since 1995? This program enables low and moderate-income home buyers the ability to purchase homes with either reduced interest rates, down payment assistance, or both. This program is the only program of its type in the State of Kansas. Find a list of eligible lenders HERE.
- Renters have rights as outlined in the Kansas Residential Landlord & Tenant Act including a right to request an interior inspection of the property by the City if he/she/they feel that the landlord isn’t complying with the requirements of applicable building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety. The City is considering a formal process for this request, but until then, just call City Hall for your request.
- If you need or want help with the maintenance required for your home by City Ordinance, there are several resources available to you found HERE.
The Kansas Eviction Prevention Program (KEPP) is designed to decrease evictions and increase housing stability by assisting landlords and tenants experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID pandemic. Landlords and tenants apply via a joint online process. Applications must be received by November 30, 2020, and program funds must be expended by December 30. If you or someone you know in Kansas could use help on rent, please read more HERE for how to get started.I believe this has expired. Johnson County CARES Act Rent & Utility Assistance – The Johnson County Commission created an eviction prevention fund to assist Johnson County residents at risk of losing their housing during the COVID-19 crisis. The fund provides rent, mortgage and utility assistance to eligible households, with the goal of preventing the loss of housing and the resulting risk of increased spread of COVID-19. United Way of Greater Kansas City is administering the fund in partnership with social service providers in the county. Johnson County residents may submit an application for assistance, which will then be reviewed by a case worker, who will contact the applicant for additional documentation. Apply HERE. I believe this has expired.
- You should remove your window screens in the winter? I had no idea! In addition to other added benefits, “as much as 30% more natural light and heat can enter your” spaces, and removing your screens “can lower your energy bills thanks to the increase in natural light and solar heat”. See HERE and HERE.
- The CDC eviction moratorium was set to expire July 31st but has been extended through October 3rd . The Kansas Housing Resources Corporation (KHRC) recently announced a new program to assist Kansans struggling to pay rent and utilities. The new KERA program covers up to 12 months of past due or current rent and can also be used to pay for up to three months of prospective rent at a time. It can also be applied for past due utility bills, home energy costs (including electric, gas, water, sewer, and trash), as well as internet expenses. For eligibility requirements and application instructions, visit KHRC’s website: https://kshousingcorp.org/emergency-rental-assistance/.
Parks & Recreation
- The fountains at Franklin and Wassmer Parks are freeze-resistant, so they’re open all winter!
- MARC has an interactive Regional Trails & Bikeways Map app o locate trails and bikeways all across the metro including all-around Prairie Village!
- ALL 3 National Historic trails came through Prairie Village on the “Westport Southern Branch” route out of Westport from 1840 to ~1880: the California, Oregon, and Santa Fe trails! Now, a group of Prairie Village residents is working with Public Works and the Kansas City Area Historic Trails Association to develop appropriate, and historically balanced, marking/signing for residents to see and interact with on their walking/cycling/driving excursions through the city. Watch for signage and/or more info in 2021.
- ALWAYS call the police department if you think something is off or your gut is telling you something is wrong. PVPD would much rather go on a hundred calls for “nothing” than miss even one “something”.
- If you’re not comfortable calling 9-1-1, then dial 913-642-5151. This number goes direct to Dispatch as urgent, but not as an emergency. **Calling 9-1-1 when there is NOT a Fire, Medical or Crime EMERGENCY causes unnecessary waste of time and distraction for dispatchers when real emergencies are taking place.
- Do you have a camera doorbell (like Nest Hello or Ring) or other cameras on your property? Then, if you’re interested, you can join the Village Video Cooperative. Click HERE for more info.
- Prairie Village Police Department holds a Citizens’ Police Academy every Fall. The 10-week program covers: Traffic Enforcement, Kansas law, Officer Safety Tactics, Crime Scene, Shoot/Don’t Shoot, Processing Records, Communications, and more. You can apply HERE.
- Prairie Village Police Officers and/or VIPS (Volunteers in Police Service) will monitor your house while you’re out of town! Just fill out the House Watch Request Form!
- Remember C.Y.M.B.A.L. when observing a crime in progress involving a vehicle:
- Body Style (2-door, 4-door, hatchback, etc.)
- Additional Observed Descriptors
- License Plate
- Don’t rely solely on the emergency sirens. It’s one of many tools you should be using to alert you to disaster. Sign up for NotifyJoCo.org.
- #9pmRoutine: The PVPD started this program to educate and remind residents to do five things every night:
- Remove valuables from your vehicles
- Lock your car door
- Close your garage
- Turn on your porch light
- Activate your video doorbell (if you have one)
- Bonus – if you see your neighbors’ doors open, let them know! 🙂
- On average 7lbs. of trash per person per day goes to the landfill. Got large items you want to get rid of, but aren’t sure if it can be recycled? The RecycleSpot.org can help you find out. Always contact locations first to verify information and services.
- Household recycling is provided via Republic Services, and you can learn more about what you can and can NOT recycle at www.recyclingsimplified.com.
- YES! You CAN recycle those business envelopes with the clear cellophane address windows. 🙂
- Glass Bandit & Compost Collective each serve the Prairie Village area if you are looking to recycle glass or compost curbside.
- As a matter of fact, PV residents now have negotiated rates with two new services in PV should they choose to sign up for one of these services on their own. The City is not paying for these services, nor do they administer or service your contract. Please contact Compost Collective KC or Food Cycle KC directly to sign up.
- The Johnson County Landfill has a Free Recycling Site at their entrance (facilitated by Waste Management) at 17955 Holliday Dr, Shawnee, KS 66217. The site is accessible during regular business hours.
- Have an old mattress to get rid of? Here are two options:
- If the mattress is in good shape, contact Sleepyhead Beds, and they will pick up your mattress for a donation of $40. Your bed will help a child have a place to sleep within one month of pickup.
- If your mattress isn’t in good shape, Avenue of Life will charge individuals $5 to drop off a mattress or will pick one up for $10. Their workers will take the mattresses and box springs, reduce them to their components — cotton, foam rubber, wood, and metal — bale those pieces up, and sell them as commodities. The commodities do not generate a high return, but they break even, make a huge impact on the environment, and seven people have a job. Win-win!
- There is a service that will drop off locally sourced wood chip mulch to your driveway for FREE! It’s called Chip Drop, and you have to be in need of a LOT of wood chip mulch, but it’s a great source to RE-USE material from local tree trimmings! “ChipDrop matches people who want free wood chip mulch with arborists and tree companies who are trying to get rid of it.”
- Big Brothers Big Sister of KC will PICK-UP your household and clothing donations. They deliver it to Savers and turn it into cash for their mission of serving the youth of KC, you save yourself a trip, AND you divert these items from the landfill! Click here to view a list of the items they are able to accept. **Due to COVID-19, they’re currently NOT picking up, but you can still drop-off at Savers or at a BlueBin. I’ll try to update this when they’re picking up again.
- Hazardous waste: See City/County Service #2 above.
- Free Firewood! Chip Drop ALSO will deliver free firewood logs to your driveway. My guess is you’ll have to chop them down into smaller pieces, but Hey!, Free! And reusing waste right from our region.
- If you see anything in the City that needs repairs (such as potholes, exposed wires on light poles, dangling limbs along streets, etc.), you can fill out the Public Works Service Request form.
- Prairie Village has an unfortunate racist past that we are still grappling with today some 80 years later. J.C. Nichols founded Prairie Village, and other local neighborhoods, on the idea of keeping out ethnic minorities and wrote “restrictive covenants” into the language of every home/homeowners association he created in this area effectively barring Black Americans and Jewish Americans from owning homes in Prairie Village. You can read more about it HERE, HERE, HERE, and more. You can also take the self-guided audio driving tour, Dividing Lines: A History of Segregation in Kansas City, that was put together by the JoCo Library and Race Project KC to drive through the very areas that were redlined and learn more.
- The Prairie Village Mayor established a Diversity Task Force this fall to develop a set of advisory recommendations for the governing body to attract and retain diverse residents in Prairie Village. The inaugural meeting was on September 22, 2020. Initially designed to last for only three meetings, the members and staff are now considering making it a standing city committee. Read more about the committee and watch the recorded meetings HERE. UPDATE: The “task force” is now a permanent standing committee! If you’re interested, you can apply to be a member during our annual volunteer drive in November and December. The application form will be HERE when it’s that time of year again.
- Critical Race Theory is NOT the same as Diversity Equity & Inclusion.
- Critical Race Theory (CRT): a grad-school level academic concept that is more than 40 years old. The core idea is that race is a social construct, and that racism is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies.
- Diversity Equity & Inclusion (DEI): programs and policies that encourage representation and participation of diverse groups of people, including people of different genders, races and ethnicities, abilities and disabilities, religions, cultures, ages, and sexual orientations and people with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and skills and expertise.
- For a deeper dive, watch this informative panel discussion from our local League of Women Voters chapter:
- The Johnson County Stormwater Management Program encourages individual homeowners and businesses to make improvements on their properties to improve stormwater quality. Contain the Rain in Johnson County is a reimbursement program for most JOCO residents who install sustainable landscape solutions that benefit stormwater. Each city administers the funding for its reimbursement program. You can learn more about Prairie Village’s process HERE.
- The Johnson County Landfill is slated to close in the year 2043. That seems like a long way away, but it’s not really, and it’s only a rough estimate at this point, and the way we deal with our trash and garbage can either shorten that time frame or extend it.
- Did you know that 40% of all food in America is wasted? Did you know that food waste makes up over 23% of the Johnson County Landfill? That’s several percentage points over the national average! If you’d like to know what you can do to reduce food waste, guesstimate amounts for large parties, how to store food (freeze or can) for future use, and much more, check out SAVE THE FOOD.COM.
- Johnson County Landfill contains an on-site gas recovery facility that converts landfill gas (methane & carbon dioxide), a natural by-product of waste decomposition, into natural gas that is then used to heat and cool more than 5,000 area homes every day thereby providing a locally created renewable source of energy.
- Bees are important to our survival on this planet, and you can help them by becoming a backyard beekeeper in Praire Village since about 2015. See City Code 2-142 for details.
- Our trees are an important part of our sustainable environment here in PV. Trees not only increase our property values by 13-21%, but their environmental benefits also include:
- Wind Protection
- Winter Heating
- Summer Cooling
- Filtering Dust
- Sound Buffers
- Producing Oxygen
- Reducing Wind and Water Erosion of Soil
- Wildlife Habitat
- Watch this video of recommended trees that do well in our area from the K-State Research & Extension Office.
- Or here’s a PDF handout version of a similar list.
- Planting NATIVE trees, foliage, and flowers is also important for our environment. Did you know that you can order online from Missouri Wildflowers Nursery in Jefferson City, MO, and they offer pick-up right in one of our own Prairie Village parks? You can go to their ‘Upcoming Events‘ page, and find several locations around the metro including Harmon Park.
- The new Prairie Village Public Works building is set to achieve LEED Platinum status? You can learn more about how the design, construction, and operation processes all worked together on the “Path to Platinum” HERE.
- Prairie Village has the second LOWest sales tax rate when compared to other Johnson County cities. (Sales taxes provide about 23% of city revenue.)
- Kansas has the second HIGHest food sales tax in the country.
- Johnson County alone collects 27% of the entire state’s TOTAL SALES TAX REVENUE.
- You may be eligible for a Homestead Refund or the SAFESR (Selective Assistance for Effective Senior Relief) Property Tax Refund. Read THIS post for basic info on both, and/or here: Homestead Refund and SAFESR Property Tax Refund (pg.7).
- If you’re a Veteran, the KCATA and the Veterans Community Project partnered to provide free bus rides Monday through Friday. (But PV only has bus stops along 75th and 95th streets.)
- Effective Saturday, July 6, 2019, the Ride KC Micro Transit service expanded! Saturday service includes the whole of Prairie Village and more and also operates from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fares are $1.50 per trip.
- Prairie Village has 230 “Lane Miles” of streets to maintain. (Lane miles are calculated by multiplying the centerline mileage of a road by the number of lanes it has.)
- JoCo’s Catch-a-Ride program is available to older adults, people with disabilities, and other adults who have no other means of transportation.
- Are you, or is anyone you know, struggling to pay utility bills? The Johnson County Utility Assistance Program provides financial assistance to promote safety and avoid utility disconnection to qualifying Johnson County households. Help may be provided with electricity, water, propane, gas, wastewater, or wood bills. To apply, call 913-715-6653. Services are available by appointment only, but basic details HERE.
- Did you know that tap water must meet more regulatory requirements for water quality than bottled water? Bottled water is only required to meet basic FDA quality rules. Johnson County tap water meets or exceeds strict state and EPA quality regulations. Our water is tested by an accredited lab thousands of times a year. As a matter of fact, neither WaterOne nor The Sierra Club Kanza Group endorses or recommend any filters for your tap, because it’s just 👏 not 👏 necessary 👏. See www.ilovetap.org for more information about our high-quality H2O!
- Like a green lawn? Water any time of day for as long as you like! No restrictions. But if you’d like to be more “green” for the environment, try Smart Watering. If you live in an even number house, water Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. If you live in an odd number house, water Tuesday, Thursday, and the weekend. This uses less electricity and prolongs the life of the water system. It might even improve your water pressure!
- Prairie Village has TRIPLE the number of trees per mile of power poles as the average KC metro city. 😮
- Evergy has a Tree Trimming Program that says they will trim trees around power lines every 4-5 years, and they will spot trim as needed. If you see a potential issue with vegetation on the lines that run from pole to pole near your house, please let them know by filling out the online vegetation request or calling 888-471-5275. (Vegetation impacting the line that runs from a pole to your meter is the customer’s responsibility.)
- Because not ALL JoCo residents are served by JoCo Wastewater (JCW), none of our tax dollars go to it. JCW’s operating costs are funded on a fee-basis paid directly by residents.
- Free Firewood to warm your home?: See Recycling/Composting #11 above.
- The prettiest islands are in Ward 3. Traffic islands, that is. And they’re all cared for by volunteers! Residents Mark and Brenda Stiles and their fellow Prairie Hills Homes Association volunteers care for 15 islands including one designated as a Monarch Waystation Habitat. Read more about the Stileses and these gorgeous islands in the Shawnee Mission Post.
- That Christmas in October rehabilitates the homes of the elderly, disabled, and veterans in the Greater Kansas City Area throughout the year, not just in October? Learn more about volunteering HERE.
- If you’ve completed the PVPD Citizens’ Police Academy, you are eligible to apply for the VIPS program: Volunteers in Police Service. The primary tasks of the VIPS are to provide crime deterrence through high-visibility patrols, report on in-progress crimes, document suspicious persons or activities and/or unsafe conditions within an assigned patrol area. Apply HERE or contact the main administrative line to find out when the application will be available again.
- Did you find an injured or orphaned animal? Learn the signs to recognize a true orphan and how to transport them to Operation Wildlife in Linwood, KS in their Resource Library.
- All pets have to be licensed in Prairie Village to ensure they are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations. You can choose to license for one year or multiple years, and the City will send you renewal reminders. It costs the City tax dollars to track down pet-owners, so please renew on time.
- Backyard Chickens are now allowed in Prairie Village! See the special City page for rules and helpful information for safe housing: https://www.pvkansas.com/residents/animals/backyard-chickens.
- Beekeeping: See Sustainability #5 above.
That’s all for now! See you next time.
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