Bird electric scooters are coming to Prairie Village on a one-year trial basis, but only because Mayor Eric Mikkelson broke a 6-6 tie on the City Council earlier this month.
On Sept. 7, Mikkelson cast the deciding vote to approve an agreement with Bird Rides Inc., whereby the company will deploy a minimum of 50 scooters that can be operated between 4 a.m. and midnight daily. Operators must be at least 18 years old, have a driver’s license and generally follow the traffic rules that apply to bicycles..
Either the city or the company can end the agreement with 30 days’ notice.
In previous discussions, critics of the scooters expressed concern about clutter and safety before the City Council directed the staff to draft a proposed agreement. But several council members said they had received more negative feedback since then.
“How are we going to keep them out of our shopping centers?” Jori Nelson asked. “I’ve heard from several business owners in Corinth and Village Shops who don’t want them dumped in front of their stores and on their sidewalks and in their parking lots. How do we know that they’re going to be left in places that are going to be safe?”
A Bird Rides representative said that businesses elsewhere generally welcome scooters, but that the company could program them so the scooters won’t operate in designated areas, such as shopping centers, if that’s what the city wants.
Council member Ian Graves said he previously voted to advance the scooter idea but has since struggled to justify the scooters “in the face of feedback that’s either largely indifferent or pretty opposed to it.”
Inga Selders said she hadn’t talked to a single constituent who favors scooters and said they don’t mesh with the character of Prairie Village. She also worries about young people or drunk adults riding them.
“I’m not seeing any pros, and my list of cons is a mile long,” she said.
On the other side, council member Tucker Poling said he’s open to trying non-vehicular modes of transportation and the issue won’t go away if the city does nothing. The agreement, he said, offers Prairie Village a controlled way to evaluate the scooters.
“If we decide as a community this is not working for us, we can cancel with only 30 days notice.”
Mikkelson offered similar reasoning before breaking the tie.
Two ways to dispose of surplus items
If unwanted stuff is crowding your closet, basement, garage or home office, you may be able to dispose of it at two community events on Sept. 25:
▪ The Recycling Extravaganza, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Black & Veatch corporate headquarters, 11401 Lamar Ave. in Overland Park.
Fees apply for mattresses, box springs and some TVs and electronics, but there’s no charge for smaller electronics, clothing, furniture, pet supplies, medicines, musical instruments, eyeglasses, construction materials and other items.
Paper will not be accepted for shredding. COVID protocols may alter the event. Get details by searching for the event at opkansas.org.
▪ Paper shredding and electronics recycling event, from 9 a.m. to noon at 4350 Shawnee Mission Parkway. Participants must prove they live in Fairway, Mission, Mission Hills, Mission Woods, Roeland Park, Westwood or Westwood Hills. Paper must be removed from three-ring binders.
Mental health help for educators
The Johnson County Mental Health Center has launched an online mental health platform that can be used by any educator in Johnson County.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced schools into remote learning and highlighted the issue of educator mental health.
“Educators play such an important role in our community,” said Katherine Melton, community prevention coordinator at the mental health center. “So as a community, it’s important that we’re providing these educators with the support they need to maintain their mental health. This is one of several ways we can say ‘We see you. We’re here for you. You are not alone.’”
The program, “Elevate for Educators” is being made available at no cost to school districts or teachers, through the mental health center’s relationship with EVERFI Inc., an education technology company.
To get started, visit jocogov.org/dept/mental-health/home and scroll down to “Resources related to the coronavirus and mental health.”
Olathe has PE Teacher of the Year
Becky Keely, who teaches physical education at Meadow Lane Elementary School in Olathe, is the 2021 Physical Education Teacher of the Year for Kansas.
The award came from the Kansas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.
Job fair for drivers
Johnson County Community College will host a free job fair for commercial vehicle drivers on Sept. 30.
The event, featuring companies looking for drivers, is scheduled from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the Capitol Federal Conference Center in the Regnier Center on the campus at College Boulevard and Quivira Road. No registration is required.
JCCC offers weekday and weekend CDL classes for would-be drivers. To learn more about them, call 913-469-3836.
Public works goes green
Prairie Village has opened its new public works building at 3535 Somerset Drive, which eventually will house the Building Permits & Inspections Department as well as public works functions. “Green” elements in the $10 million project include electric vehicle charging stations for the public, native plants that don’t need irrigation, a rainwater collection system for flushing toilets plus roof solar panels that are expected to supply just over half of the building’s power needs.
National archery champ
Kylie Hayes, a student at Gardner Edgerton High School, is a national archery champion.
In July, Hayes represented Kansas in the National Field Archery Association’s Outdoor National Field Championships, the NFAA Outdoor National Target Championships and the First Dakota Classic National Championships.
She won gold medals in her division at the field championships and the First Dakota Classic. She earned a silver medal at the target championships.
A total of 277 archers representing 38 states and five foreign countries participated in the five-day event.
Coats, diapers sought in Lenexa
Lenexa residents have two opportunities this fall to help the needy with diapers and coats.
Diapers, in unopened or opened packages, and wipes are being accepted from Sept. 20 to Oct. 1, and the coat drive is scheduled Oct. 18-29. Coats should be clean working zippers and buttons.
Items for both drives can be taken to City Hall or the Rec Center on 87th Street Parkway west of Penrose Lane in the City Center area, the police department at 12500 W. 87th St. Parkway, the senior center at 13425 Walnut St., the community center at 13420 Oak St., the fire station at 9620 Pflumm Road and the municipal services building at 7700 Cottonwood St.
OP Fall Festival is back
The Overland Park Fall Festival will return to the city’s downtown on Sept. 25.
Besides the usual Saturday Farmers’ Market, the event will offer an artisan fair from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., shopping, live music and children’s entertainment. Among the performers will be the KC Latin Jazz Orchestra, Mr. Stinky Feet and the StoneLion Puppet Theatre.
New this year will be a preview event the previous Friday night, which includes a concert, entertainment venues and early access to the artisan fair.
No parade is scheduled this year so people won’t crowd together and increase the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Olathe extends Wednesday farmers’ markets
The Olathe Farmers’ Market has extended its two Wednesday markets, at Stagecoach Park and Black Bob Park, through Sept. 29.
“Originally scheduled to end Sept. 15, the Wednesday market has become increasingly popular amongst residents this season,” the city said in a news release.
Both locations will remain open on Saturdays through Oct. 24. The markets are open from 7:30 a.m. until items are sold.