Want to know more about Roeland Park’s history, character? Check out this mural

·6 min read

On a 311-foot-long retaining wall at the northern edge of Roeland Park, eight artists have completed a multi-faceted mural that depicts the city’s history and character. It will be dedicated at 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 23.

The city’s first public mural, at 47th Street and Roe Lane, was conceived by the Roeland Park Arts Advisory Committee. The supervising artist was Roeland Park resident Brittany Noriega, and seven other artists were responsible for specific themes:

Pre-history: Rodrigo Alvarez

History: Emily Alvarez

Community and business: Jessica Rogers

Families and pets: Isaac Tapia

Giving back: Sol Anzorena

Art: Allison Bowman

Uniquely rooted tree: Alex Eickhoff

“Uniquely rooted” — the city’s tagline — was adopted in 2018.

This $36,000 project was funded by the city with the help of grant support from the Kansas Creative Arts Industry Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. The public is invited to the Oct. 23 ceremony at the mural site.

Olathe saves errant tortoise

What was a gopher tortoise, usually seen in the southeast United States, doing in Olathe?

No one knows for sure. But thanks to an observant resident and the city’s animal control operation, the creature has been saved from certain death in the upcoming Kansas winter.

The saga began Aug. 31 when Olathe resident Jo Patrick was walking her dog and noticed what looked like a turtle at Water Works Park, the city said. It didn’t look like other turtles, though, so Patrick sent photos to Operation Wildlife in Linwood, Kansas, which said the animal wouldn’t survive the winter and suggested she contact Olathe Animal Care and Control.

That she did, and Officer Justin French responded. He saw the differences, too, and took the animal back to headquarters. Then the detective work began, and it became clear that this was no ordinary Kansas-area turtle.

“For me, a tortoise just looks different,” Animal Care and Control Supervisor Vickie Hudson said in a news release. “This one has scales on its legs and it’s bigger than a normal turtle. A tortoise head looks different, and its shell is very ornate.”

She eventually identified the creature as a gopher tortoise and learned that a couple of them had been found in Abilene, Kansas, a year ago.

“I knew they were protected,” Hudson said. “But what do you do with one?”

She called officials in Abilene and was referred to the Aiken Gopher Tortoise Heritage Preserve in South Carolina, where she found the tortoise a forever home.

Patrick is delighted by the outcome.

“I was just really glad that the tortoise wasn’t going to be euthanized, which would’ve been the easy answer,” Patrick said in the release. “I’m thrilled that I called and that it’s going to go home.”

Lenexa to replace skate park

Prairie Village recently opened its new skate park, and Lenexa is planning a new one, too.

Lenexa’s latest capital improvements plan includes $1 million to replace the skate park in Sar-Ko-Par trails park, at 87th Street Parkway and Lackman Road.

“The skate park has deteriorated significantly, and parking is both poorly configured and limited in space,” the city said on its website. The project also will provide better pedestrian access.

Officials decided they could save money and minimize disruption by replacing the skate park while upgrading the Indian Trails Aquatic Center, which is in the same park. Indian Trails will close for construction after the 2022 swimming season and is expected to reopen for summer 2024.

Expanded museum store

The Johnson County Museum has expanded its museum store in the commons area of the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center, at 8788 Metcalf Ave. in Overland Park.

Before now, products were displayed on a single wall with shelving, with some on the information counter. Now the enclosed store carries a larger array of merchandise selling for less than a dollar and all the way up to $100. Included are retro Kit-Cat Klocks and mid-century inspired housewares, as well as Kansas-made clothing, books and gifts that relate to local history.

“Like the museum’s award-winning exhibits, these locally made items connect us to our local history and culture,” Sarah Vacik, the museum’s visitor services coordinator, said in a news release.

The store opened Oct. 6.

Get your flu shot

Seasonal flu shots are being offered for anyone 6 months and older at the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment’s walk-in clinic in Olathe, 11875 S. Sunset Drive.

Those seeking a shot can visit the clinic without an appointment from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and 8 a.m. to noon Fridays. People who need a first, second or booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine can get one along with their flu shot.

Most insurance plans cover the full cost of the vaccine. Those without insurance will pay $40 for the seasonal (quadrivalent) flu shot and $80 for the high dose or FLUBLOK vaccine. The high-dose shot is reserved for adults over age 65.

Flu shots also are available at doctor’s offices, pharmacies and other locations, but patients are advised to check on availability ahead of time.

Chiefs program promotes diversity

Two Johnson County elementary schools are among a dozen participating in the United Kingdom Program, which gives students four books during the year that promote diversity and inclusion.

They are Spring Hill Elementary School and Wolf Springs Elementary in the Blue Valley School District. Wolf Springs was one of five schools that piloted the program last year.

According to a news release from the Spring Hill District, the books — discussed monthly during the Chiefs season from September to December — focus on kindness and respect, female empowerment, ability and racial diversity.

The program provides age-appropriate books for each grade level, along with discussion questions and activities for teachers. Educators are encouraged to spend at least 30 minutes a month discussing the topics. Students can keep the books after the program ends.

Charter commission sets hearing

The Johnson County Charter Commission, which reviews county government and identifies potential ways to improve it, has scheduled a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 27 at the Olathe Embassy Suites by Hilton, 10401 S. Ridgeview Road.

People can offer opinions in person, virtually or through written comments. Visit charter.jocogov.org to learn how to participate.

The county’s home rule charter requires that a charter commission be convened every 10 years. Its work two decades ago led to the expansion of the county commission, nonpartisan elections for commissioners and the conversion of three county offices — treasurer, clerk and register of deeds — from elective to appointive positions. All were approved by voters.

In September, the commission stopped a hearing after some audience members refused to wear masks and abide by social distancing rules. Another hearing was scheduled for Oct. 11.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting