Can’t hear it at home? Here’s how Lenexa is warning motorists of approaching trains

Can you hear it? What?

Silence, or something close to it.

That’s the kind of dialogue that might be heard in Old Town Lenexa, because passing trains don’t routinely sound their horns anymore.

Since 2018, the city has worked with the BNSF Railway to reduce train noise in the Old Town area with the installation of wayside horns at two locations: the railroad crossings at Pflumm and Noland roads

The stationary wayside horns target their warning sounds onto the roadways where motorists need to know that a train is coming. By contrast, train horns send their sound waves everywhere, even into nearby businesses and bedroom windows.

The new horns were in place by mid-July 2021, but both kinds of horns had to be sounded during a testing period. Then the city set Dec. 1 as the date that passing trains should stop sounding their horns and the wayside horns were activated permanently.

The traditional train horns may still sound occasionally, however, if there is a safety concern such as workers in the area.

Sculpture chosen for Meadowbrook Park

A huge sunflower is coming to Johnson County’s Meadowbrook Park early next year, and it will glow both night and day.

It’s an art installation called “Gateway,” the first piece of permanent art to be installed under the county park system’s new public art program.

In April, the Johnson County Park and Recreation District asked artists from across the nation to submit proposals with a cost ceiling of $95,000. The district received 146 submissions, and a committee chose “Gateway,” by Amie Jacobsen Art and Design, as the winner. The JCPRD’s governing board approved the selection last month.

The sculpture, nearly 12 feet tall and based on the Kansas sunflower, features petals made of cast glass and steel. It will glow in the sunlight and be lighted at night. The center of the flower creates an archway where visitors can see illustrated panels representing the history of Meadowbrook Park and Prairie Village, where the park is located.

“Behind and above the illustrated panels, the rest of the archway will be covered with mirror polished stainless steel that will reflect the visitors below,” the county said in a news release. “This represents the present and future of the community, reflecting back at the viewer.”

The sculpture will be installed next spring at the park, at Nall Avenue and Somerset Drive. A reception and artist meet-and-greet are planned for early June.

From her studio in Independence, Jacobsen works with three assistants to produce sculptures, artisan furniture and public art pieces.

Statewide honor for county manager

Johnson County Manager Penny Postoak Ferguson has received the Leadership Award from the Kansas Association of City/County Management.

The award, established in 2021, is presented to an association member who has led an organization or community through a difficult time while upholding the group’s code of ethics.

Students design science exhibits

Johnson County school districts account for a third of the 20 finalists in this year’s Burns & McDonnell Battle of the Brains competition, where students design potential exhibits for Science City at Union Station.

The 750 submissions were ranked on specific criteria, such as creativity, inspiration and how engaging the proposed exhibit could be for Science City visitors.

All finalists will receive grant money for STEM education at their schools. The grand-prize winner will receive a $50,000 grant and the opportunity to work with STEM professionals to bring their idea to life. The Johnson County finalists, their school district and exhibit titles:

Harmony Elementary School, Blue Valley, “Sports of All Sorts.”

Mill Creek Middle School, De Soto, “Fantastic Forensics.”

Olathe North High School, Olathe, “Inside the Immune System!”

Oxford Middle School, Blue Valley, “Laughter for Life.”

Oxford Middle School, Blue Valley, “Visible Vibrations.”

Shawnee Mission School District Northwest Enhanced Learning Program, Shawnee Mission, “Green Idea — A Pollution Solution!”

Wolf Springs Elementary School, Blue Valley, “Mission: Mars.”

Votes from the public account for 30% of the final selection criteria. Voting will continue through Dec. 17 at, where details of each proposal are posted. The grand-prize winner will be announced in January.

Toys for Tots needs help

Saying they were more than 20,000 toys short in December, the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation and the Overland Park Convention Center are asking community members to bring new, unwrapped toys to the convention center by Dec. 16.

Particularly needed were toys for children 2 and under and 11 and up. The organization hopes to serve 56,000 Kansas City area children in need.

“It’s been an extremely tough year for everyone, but we know it will be even harder for the families who rely on Toys for Tots to bring joy to their holiday season,” said Brett C. Mitchell, general manager of the Overland Park Convention Center, said in a news release.

The convention center, at 6000 College Blvd., is open for donations from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Bring the gifts to the center’s east side off Woodson Road.

Pastry prowess at Olathe East

Olathe East High School senior Leane Delerue received a $50,000 full-tuition scholarship to Sullivan University for a first-place finish this fall in a pastry arts technical decorating skills contest sponsored by the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA).

Olathe East Sophomore Zoe Swade also won a first-place award.

In the contest, students demonstrate their ability to produce cake decorations using pastry arts equipment and techniques.

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