Olathe News Briefs

This Edition of E-News - February 28, 2011:
• Olathe Maintaining Liquid Assets
• Mahaffie Presents Youth Volunteer Award
• Mahaffie Offering Spring Break and Summer Camps
• 2011 Free Summer Concert Series Schedule Set
• Severe Weather Awareness Week Begins March 6

City Council Agenda
The Olathe City Council will meet Tuesday, March 1, at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber at City Hall for a regular session. Regular sessions are broadcast live on OGTN (Comcast channel 7, AT&T channel 99 and on the City’s website). To see the complete agenda for this meeting, visit the City’s website at www.OlatheKs.org.

 


Olathe Maintaining Liquid Assets
Released February 28, 2011
The City of Olathe will soon begin its second liquid asset project for 2011, ensuring outstanding water quality for its customers. Routine maintenance on the large water tower at Black Bob Park, located at 151st Street and Black Bob Road, will begin in early March. Maintenance on the five million gallon tank includes sand blasting, priming, and recoating the outside perimeter of the tank, and inspecting, cleaning and disinfecting the inside of the tank.

The water tower will be taken “offline” during this routine maintenance. The City will operate various valves in the distribution system to maintain pressure and water demands while the tank is getting a makeover.

The first liquid asset project, completed in January 2011, included the cleaning, inspection and disinfection of the one million gallon finished water tank at the Olathe Water Plant.

Maintenance on the Black Bob water tower is scheduled for completion by late May, in time for the higher water system demands.

 


Mahaffie Presents Youth Volunteer Award
Released February 28, 2011
Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm recognized two local youth for their volunteer service to the historic site at the annual Mahaffie volunteer appreciation event held February 25. Every year the historic site recognizes a youth volunteer or group of youth volunteers who have made a measureable contribution to the site while setting a positive example for peers and exhibiting leadership, reliability and a love of learning and history.

The award is named posthumously in honor of Carrie Newson, daughter of Mike and Lynette Newson of Olathe. Carrie was a volunteer in 1996 who gave tours of the Mahaffie house and assisted in the gift shop. She was tragically killed in a car accident in March of 1998.

The 2011 award was presented to Hannah and Claire Fuhlhage, daughters of Emmie and Dwayne Fuhlhage. Hannah began volunteering with Mahaffie in 2009 as part of her Girl Scout Troop and continues to volunteer independently. She is trained to work in many areas of the site including the historic cookstove. Claire assists the site with children’s games and lends a hand on the cookstove. Both girls are students in Olathe and active in school and community activities.

 


Mahaffie Offering Spring Break and Summer Camps
Released February 28, 2011
Spring break is approaching. Sign-up now to treat your child to a unique camp experience at the Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop Spring Break Camp. Mahaffie’s Spring Break Camp features a variety of hands-on history-related indoor and outdoor activities with two snacks daily. Extended hours are available 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with structured activities from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Spring Break Camp is available for youth in grades K-6 and will be held March 14-18 at a cost of $50/day or $200/week. A discount is available for additional siblings. Please register at least one week prior to the start of camp at (913) 971-5111 or contact Mahaffie.

Mahaffie also offers a series of Summer History Camps including:

  • Welcome to the Old West (Grades 2 & 3), June 6-10 or July 11-15
  • Civil War (Grades 4 & 5), June 13-17 or July 18-22
  • 19th Century Inventors Workshop (Grades 5 & 6), June 27-July 1 or July 25-29

 


2011 Summer Concert Schedule Released
Released February 28, 2011
The 2011 Olathe FREE Summer Concert Series begins on Friday June 3 with the first show featuring Mingo Fishtrap and special guests Funk Syndicate. Mingo Fishtrap features a contemporary vibe inspired by the group’s musical roots. Funk Syndicate is a Kansas City-based dance, variety and show band specializing in music from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

On Friday, June 10, families won’t want to miss Grammy nominated Trout Fishing in America, as it performs its popular folk/pop show. Trout Fishing in America is joined by popular local musician Jim Cosgrove, a.k.a. “Mr. Stinky Feet”, an award-winning children’s singer-songwriter. The series continues on Friday, July 1 with Bluegrass legend Sam Bush with special guests Brewer & Shipley, an American folk rock music duo.

The following Friday, July 15, Olathe welcomes singer-songwriter, guitarist and three time Grammy winner Keb’ Mo’ joined by roots R&B singer/song writer/piano player Kelley Hunt. The series concludes with what has been a very popular show, the Beatles Tribute band Liverpool, on July 29.

Presented by Olathe Parks and Recreation and underwritten by Farmers Insurance Group, the summer concert is series is in its twelfth year of incredible free music for fans of all ages. All concerts are held in Olathe’s Frontier Park, 15501 Indian Creek Parkway, and begin at 7:00 p.m. The concerts are free, and guests are encouraged to bring a blanket and/or lawn chair to enjoy the show. To download a complete summer concert series schedule, visit http://www.olatheks.org/ParksRec/Events/SummerConcerts.

 


Severe Weather Awareness Week Begins March 6
Released February 28, 2011
Severe Weather Awareness Week, March 6-12, is designed to prepare residents for severe weather that often strikes in Kansas and throughout the Midwest.

The National Weather Service will issue a simulated tornado watch and warning at 1:30 p.m., March 8. Residents and businesses are encouraged to practice severe weather plans and go to safe areas during the test on March 8. The NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather radio system will be activated and local emergency management agencies will sound the Outdoor Warning System. The City of Olathe provides and maintains 34 warning sirens within the city.

Olathe residents are encouraged to stay prepared for the threat of severe weather. Weather alert radios are one of the most effective means for early storm warning. For information on how to get a weather radio, see Project Community Alert information at www.marc.org/emergency/pca.htm. Olathe residents who follow www.Twitter.com/OlatheFire or like www.Facebook.com/OlatheFire can also receive National Weather Service alerts.

Additional preparedness information can be found in Olathe’s Safe Neighborhood Workbook: www.OlatheKs.org/Fire/Forms. Click on SAFE Neighborhood under Preparedness. The workbook is available in English, large print English and Spanish. Residents can also call 913-971-7900 for more information.

 


This Edition of E-News - February 21, 2011:
• Citizen Survey Says…Olathe Setting the Standard
• Mahaffie Named Community Travel Information Center
• Experience Winter on the Farm at Mahaffie
• Mahaffie Offering Spring Break and Summer Camps
• City Offices Closed for Presidents Day: Trash Collection Not Impacted

City Council
The Olathe City Council will next meet on March 1 for a regular session meeting.


Citizen Survey Says…Olathe Setting the Standard
Released February 21, 2011
The results of Olathe’s most recent citizen survey were presented at the City Council on February 15, showing Olathe as one of the top performing cities in the metropolitan area in terms of resident satisfaction, continuing its streak of dramatic improvement.

The survey, DirectionFinder®, is conducted by ETC Institute and included responses from over 1,200 Olathe residents collected in October of 2010. The survey has a +/-2.8% margin of error. Olathe is one of over 500 cities and counties in the United States using DirectionFinder to gauge citizen satisfaction and priorities.

The survey results showed Olathe’s overall satisfaction at a record level, up four points from 2009. Since 2000, Olathe’s composite satisfaction index has increased from a baseline of 100 to 130 for 2010. In contrast, the metropolitan area’s composite index fell from 100 in 2000 to 92 in 2010.

According to Chris Tatham, ETC Institute Vice President, Olathe continues to set the standard for the delivery of city services. “Olathe’s relative improvement over the past ten years is the best of any city in ETC Institute’s database,” he said. Tatham noted that the City had climbed from being just average when the survey started in 2000 to a metropolitan and national leader in citizen satisfaction. He said, “Of all the cities we survey, none have come close to seeing the type of improvement as Olathe.” Tatham attributed Olathe’s success to several factors including being open and transparent with City finances, making strategic cuts while focusing limited revenue on resident priorities, and consistently innovating and finding better ways to work and engage residents. Tatham also noted that the economy has had a negative impact on perception of local governments, but Olathe stands in sharp contrast.

Olathe ranks at the top in the Kansas City metropolitan area in seven of the major categories surveyed, including the overall quality of city services. Tatham noted Olathe’s dedicated focus on citizen priorities and resident engagement. “Olathe has made painstaking efforts to be transparent with its budget and involve residents in decision making,” he said. While Olathe saw marked improvements across the board, Tatham singled out two significant increases – quality of city services and value for tax dollars and fees. Tatham said it shows residents feel tax dollars are being invested wisely and responsibly, especially given the significant budget and staffing cuts the City has made. He said, “Residents expectations have been met during the economic challenge, and there is an overwhelmingly positive feeling about the City.”

Traffic flow and congestion management continue to be a top priority for the future along with maintenance of city streets, buildings, and facilities.

According to City Manager Michael Wilkes, the survey provides instant feedback from residents that helps guide decision making and spending. The tool also gives employees a sense of pride. Wilkes said, “Knowing their services are viewed by our customers as the best in the area and one of the best in the country is a source of pride, and they will continue working incredibly hard to maintain that status.” Wilkes noted several examples from this month’s winter storm. “Just this month we saw plow drivers voluntarily come in the night before a major snow to sleep on cots, so they could be available and on time to clear streets, and solid waste drivers completing routes during the most significant snow storm in recent memory,” he said.

Key findings from Tatham’s presentation include:

  • Olathe is at or near the top nearly every category in the metropolitan area.
  • Olathe measured first in overall quality of city services (91% compared to 56% in KC metro and 57% U.S. average) along with six other major categories.
  • Olathe is moving in the right direction while other cities struggle to meet citizen expectations.
  • Olathe improved in 104 of 115 categories despite the fact that the City reduced its workforce by 20% and has drastically reduced its operating budget.

Complete survey results are available in the Accountable Government section of the City’s website, www.OlatheKs.org.


Mahaffie Named Community Travel Information Center
Released February 21, 2011
Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm Historic Site has received the Community Travel Information Center (C-TIC) designation from the Kansas Travel & Tourism office. This designation brings many benefits to Mahaffie and Olathe.

Olathe becomes the sixteenth Kansas community with a travel information center. Community Travel Information Centers assist the two Kansas Travel Information Centers with promoting the destination experiences within the state. According to the state tourism office, travelers stopping at the information centers will often increase their stay in the state by one day and increase their spending by an average of $150 per vehicle.

Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Corbett says the partnership will enhance the visibility of the Mahaffie historic site and promote Olathe as a great place to live, work, and play. “We are all excited about this opportunity to serve travelers and continue to strengthen the Mahaffie and Olathe brands,” Corbett said.


Experience Winter on the Farm at Mahaffie Saturday
Released February 21, 2011
Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm, 1200 Kansas City Rd., will host its annual Winter on the Farm event Saturday, February 26, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Visitors can discover and help with winter farm chores and also learn first-hand the process of butchering and processing a hog. Activities include soap making, sewing and wood cutting. Staff members will make sausage, cook on the cookstove and blacksmith. Stagecoach rides are available if weather and ground conditions permit.

All activities are included with regular daily admission of $6/adults, $4/kids ages 5-11. Olathe residents receive $1 off admission with proof of residency. For more information call (913) 971-5111 or email Mahaffie.


Mahaffie Offering Spring Break and Summer Camps
Released February 21, 2011
Treat your children to a unique experience with Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop Spring Break Camp and Summer Camp. Both camps feature a variety of hands-on, history-related activities centered around a theme, and include inside and outside activities and two snacks daily. Extended hours are available from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with structured activities from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Spring Break Camp is available for youth in grades K-6 and is scheduled March 14-18 at a cost of $50/day or $200/week. A discount is available for additional siblings.

Six sessions of Summer History Camp are available for youth in grades 2-6 at a cost of $150/week. A discount is available for additional siblings. Summer History Camp sessions include:

• Welcome to the Old West (Grades 2 & 3), June 6-10 or July 11-15
• Civil War (Grades 4 & 5), June 13-17 or July 18-22
• 19th Century Inventors Workshop (Grades 5 & 6), June 27-July 1 or July 25-29

Please register at least one week prior to the start of camp at (913) 971-5111 or contact Mahaffie.


City Offices Closed Monday, February 21
Released February 21, 2011
City of Olathe offices are closed today for the Presidents Day holiday. The City’s trash and recycling collection schedule is NOT impacted.


This Edition of E-News - February 14, 2011:
• Downtown Quiet Zone One Step Closer to Reality
• Olathe Police Explorers Program Seeking Applicants
• Safer Family Carbon Monoxide Detection Program

City Council Agenda
The Olathe City Council will meet Tuesday, February 15, at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber at City Hall for a regular session. Regular sessions are broadcast live on OGTN (Comcast channel 7, AT&T channel 99 and on the City’s website). To see the complete agenda for this meeting, visit the City’s website at www.OlatheKs.org.


Downtown Quiet Zone One Step Closer to Reality
Released February 14, 2011
It could get much quieter in downtown Olathe this March. On February 9, the City of Olathe received notification from the Federal Railroad Administration that quiet zone safety improvements can move forward. The next step is the submission of a Notice of Establishment (NOE) to the various railroad operators and other agencies. The NOE prompts a 21 day waiting period before the quiet zone is enacted. Once the waiting period expires, the railroads are authorized to stop sounding horns under normal circumstances.

There are exceptions to the quiet zone regulations. For safety reasons, train engineers are responsible for sounding horns, even within the quiet zone, when workers are within 25 feet of the tracks or when other hazardous situations are observed including the presence of persons, animals, or vehicles.

The Downtown Quiet Zone Project began in 2008 and is budgeted at nearly $6,000,000. The project involved constructing safety modifications at 11 at-grade crossings from Woodland Ave. to Dennis St. An average of 120 trains travel though the city daily, and as a result, train horns are blowing in Olathe about 2,760 times every day. The 11 crossings on the western tracks running through downtown generate about five hours of whistle noise each day alone.

For more information about this project, visit the Public Works section of the City’s website, www.OlatheKs.org.


Olathe Police Explorers Program Seeking Applicants
Released February 14, 2011
Young people interested in a career in law enforcement now have the opportunity to gain hands on experience in the career field thanks to the reestablishment of the Police Explorers Unit within the Olathe Police Department. The program is designed to provide practical application, information and training to young people while connecting them to their community in a positive way. Participants perform numerous police officer tasks and are exposed to the reality of a career in law enforcement without being placed in dangerous law enforcement situations.

The Unit meets twice monthly to discuss topics of modern day law enforcement such as the criminal investigation process, DNA and evidence collection, traffic enforcement, firearms safety, and crime prevention. Other activities include assisting with DUI checklanes and patrol officer ride-alongs.

Interested applicants must be between the ages of 14 and 20 and have completed the eighth grade. Applicants must pass a criminal background and driving record check. Olathe residency is not required. For more information, contact the Olathe Police Department at 971-7500.


Safer Family Carbon Monoxide Detection Program
Released February 14, 2011
Twenty-two Olathe households are now safer thanks to a grant and partnership between the Olathe Fire Department and the Junior League of Wyandotte and Johnson Counties.

The $1,000 gift from the Junior League allowed for the establishment of the Safer Family Carbon Monoxide Detection Program, benefiting Olathe Head Start staff and client families. The program allowed for staff and client family training as well as the distribution of carbon monoxide detectors to participating families. In total, the program served 110 Head Start household members including 58 children under the age of 17.

Visit www.OlatheKs.org/Fire to learn more about carbon monoxide detection.


This Edition of E-News - February 7, 2011:
• City, Library Enjoy Volunteer Growth
• Automated Water Meter System Weathers the Storm
• Celebrate 150 Years of Kansas with Preschool Storytimes at Mahaffie
• Mahaffie to Host 250 Girl Scouts for Sold Out Teddy Bear Tea
• Chuckwagon Dinner Shows Offer Unique Family Experience
• Sweetheart of a Deal Book Sale

City Council
The Olathe City Council will next meet on Tuesday, February 15, 2011.


City, Library Enjoy Volunteer Growth
Released February 7, 2011
When it snows in Olathe, volunteers are there to lend a hand to elderly and disabled residents. Over 70 Snow Brigade volunteers brave the elements to shovel the driveways and sidewalks of residents who need assistance. The Snow Brigade program is one of several ways volunteers are utilized throughout the City.

In 2010, City of Olathe volunteers contributed 15,022 hours of service, a 27% increase over 2009. In addition, 246 new volunteer applications were processed; bringing the total number of individual and group volunteers to almost 1,400.

Volunteers are utilized in a number of capacities throughout various City departments. Area Scout Troops, for example, complete a variety of projects throughout the year including planting flowers, mowing lawns, performing minor painting projects and related activities that benefit the Adopt-a-Park and Adopt-a-Street programs. Operation Lifeline Police Department volunteers place phone calls to participating elderly and disabled residents to check on their well-being. The program has proven beneficial to qualifying residents who don’t have family members in the area.

Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm enjoyed a 50% increase in the number of volunteer hours logged in 2010. Over 100 volunteers contributed 6000 hours of service. According to volunteer coordinator Alice Snider, volunteer efforts allow Mahaffie to enhance and expand its living history.

“Our volunteers play a critical role in ensuring our visitors have a memorable experience when they visit Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm. Volunteers are utilized with school programs and living history activities like chopping wood, stagecoach rides, and children’s games,” Snider said.

The Olathe Public Library also experienced a record year for volunteers. Three hundred and forty volunteers worked 10,007 hours in 2010, marking the largest number of hours worked at the Olathe Public Library and the Indian Creek Branch. The previous record was set in 2004 when 9358 hours were worked. For Olathe Public Library volunteer information, visit http://www.olathelibrary.org/volunteer or contact Rita J. Patterson at 971-6879.

To learn more about volunteering with the City of Olathe, visit http://www.OlatheKs.org/Volunteers.


Automated Water Meter System Weathers the Storm
Released February 7, 2011
Last week’s record snowfall proved no match for the City’s new automated metering system. The City maintained contact with over 34,000 meters providing real-time data for single family resident usage. Prior to the automated read system, single family resident usage was estimated during winter months and adjusted, upward or downward, in the monthly bill as actual data became available.

According to Municipal Services Deputy Director Merv Gleason, the automated metering system is one way the City is leveraging technology to provide better customer service. “This is a time saver for the citizen and the customer service staff, and another example of how technology enhances the customer service experience even in the midst of a snow storm,” Gleason said.

Automated metering infrastructure (AMI) uses a radio unit attached to the meter to send usage reads to a tower based antenna. The antenna receives the signal through a base station computer at the tower and sends the information to the City. The new metering system allows the City of Olathe to track water usage and trends, reduce operational costs to mitigate future rate increases and improve customer service. The City of Olathe completed the eight-month water meter change out process in December 2010. For more information about the automated metering system, visit the Municipal Services section of the City’s website, wwwOlatheKs.org or call 971-9311.


Celebrate 150 Years of Kansas with Preschool Storytimes at Mahaffie
Released February 7, 2011
Cozy-up with your preschooler for the second in a series of fireside storytimes at Mahaffie. The Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm Historic Site is hosting Happy Birthday Kansas! celebrating Kansas’s 150th birthday. The remaining sessions are scheduled from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Fridays, February 18 and March 25. Each session will include a story, craft and activity based on a different Kansas theme. Admission is $3/child per session. Children must be accompanied by a caregiver. Register at least one week prior to the session by calling (913) 971-5111 or email Mahaffie. Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop is located at 1200 Kansas City Road in Olathe.


Mahaffie to Host 250 Girl Scouts for Sold Out Teddy Bear Tea
Released February 7, 2011
On Sunday, February 13, nearly 250 kindergarten to third grade girls will descend on Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm dressed in their best and accompanied by a stuffed animal or doll. The inaugural Teddy Bear Tea allows girls to learn about manners and etiquette while enjoying light refreshments and take-home crafts. Sessions begin at 1:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. For more information, visit www.mahaffie.org.


Chuckwagon Dinner Shows Offer Unique Family Experience
Released February 7, 2011
Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm, 1200 Kansas City Rd., will offer a unique dinner show experience for the whole family with two Chuckwagon Dinner Shows in February and March. The February 19 and March 19 events begin with dinner at 6:00 p.m. followed by live music provided by 3 Trails West at 6:45 p.m.

The band 3 Trails West is comprised of Kansas City musicians Roger Eilts, Leo Eilts, Garry Bury, Jeff Elsloo, and David Kaemmer. According to the band’s website: “Steeped in the cowboy tradition of singing songs about cattle drives and riding horses, pretty girls back home, nature’s splendor, and livin’ the life of a cowboy, the music of 3 Trails West reflects the romanticism of the western lifestyle and nostalgia of the silver screen cowboy.” The band was nominated for best new act at the Western Music Association Awards and recently launched their first self-titled CD.

Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for children. Reservations are required. Call Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop at (913) 971-5111. For more information about 3 Trails West visit www.3trailswest.com.


Sweetheart of a Deal Book Sale
Released February 7, 2011
Shop the Friends of the Olathe Public Library (OPL) book sale this weekend. The sale will run from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on February 11 and 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on February 12. The final day of the sale will feature the popular “Six Bucks A Sack” Sale from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. on February 13. On Sunday only, purchase a plastic sack at the door for $6 and fill with materials. Buy two bags, get two free.

A large variety of used and some new materials, sorted by category, will be for sale at very reasonable prices. Featured items at this sale are bound copies of Rolling Stone Magazine from the ‘80s, as well as collectible Little Golden Books and signed books for half-price.

All 2011 Friends of OPL will receive a coupon at the door to be used for a free item up to $2. Coupons cannot be used at the sack sale.

All sales are final and cash and checks are accepted. Strollers and book carts are not allowed in the sale. For further information, log-on to the library’s website, www.olathelibrary.org or call Rita J. Patterson at 913-971-6879.