City of Olathe news

Olathe:

This Edition of E-News
• Downtown Redevelopment
• Developing Employees
• Job Seeking and Unemployment Benefit Help at the Library
• Renovations Underway at Historic Mahaffie Barn
• Olathe Residents Encouraged to Participate in National Historic Planning
• Olathe Reads Receives Grant

City Council Agenda

The Olathe City Council will meet Tuesday, February 17 at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber at City Hall for a regular session meeting. Regular session meetings are broadcast live on Comcast channel 7, AT&T channel 99 and on the City’s website. To see the complete agenda for this meeting, click here or visit the City’s website at www.olatheks.org.

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City Working on Prospects for Downtown Redevelopment
Released 2/17/09

Creating new development and employment in downtown Olathe remains an important goal for the City Council. Recently, the City initiated a process gauging private sector interest in downtown development by issuing a request for proposals (RFP) to area developers.

The RFP identified several downtown locations for potential private redevelopment with potential private/public partnerships. Each site is owned by the City and does not generate tax revenue.

Three proposals were received expressing interest in several downtown sites. The potential redevelopment sites include: the southwest corner of Santa Fe and Chestnut (parking lot), the northwest corner of Santa Fe and Kansas Ave. (parking lot and Parks and Recreation building), the downtown library site as well as the former post office and current home to police investigations at 126 S. Cherry. Redevelopment of the library site would include accommodates and financial partnering for a new downtown library, and any redevelopment would need to supplement lost parking spaces.

Redevelopment proposals were received from: Coldwell Banker Commercial/Fishman & Co., Garrison Development Company, and Lane 4 Property Group.

A City committee will review the proposals in the coming weeks and present recommendations to the Council for consideration. For additional information about downtown Olathe, click here or look under Development Services on the City’s website.

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Developing City Employees Key to Meeting Economic Challenge
Released 2/17/09

With fewer and fewer resources, the City of Olathe has made “working smarter” a priority. Over the last several years, the City has developed a number of programs to help provide employees the tools and skill to do their jobs better. The programs are administered internally to save costs on outside training. Once such program, the Supervisory Certification Program is designed to provide current and prospective supervisors with the necessary skills, training and professional knowledge to perform as effective supervisors for the City of Olathe.

Recently, 27 employees completed the 38-hour certification process, and an additional 88 employees are currently pursuing the certification. All courses are run through Olathe University, the City’s “one-stop-shop” for training and employee development. Courses are offered in-house and facilitated primarily by City staff. The Employee Development Committee, comprised of city staff from all departments, created the Supervisor Certification concept and oversees the content of the program.

According to City Manager Michael Wilkes, these types of opportunities are critical to the City’s success. He said, “Clearly the economic conditions have had a major impact on our resources, but we are completely committed to continue providing the quality services Olathe residents expect and deserve.” “Granted, we can no longer afford to provide all the services we once did, but our employees continue focusing on making sure the services most important to residents are top notch, and that is clearly evident in the continued high customer satisfaction noted in our most recent citizen survey,” he said.

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Help Preparing for a Job or Seeking Unemployment Available at the Olathe Library
Released 2/17/09

Recognizing today’s challenging economy, the Olathe Public Library is offering programs to assist customers who have recently lost a job and/or are looking for employment. Two programs are in place and available during library hours at the main downtown library.

Library staff will be available to assist customers who have recently become unemployed by assisting with filing unemployment claims online. Customers are asked to bring dates of last employment and the former employer’s address. Those interested are asked to reserve a time (one hour) with staff by calling (913) 971-6888.

The main library will offer an open computer lab for customers interested in finding a job or updating resumes on February 17 from 10:00 a.m. to noon, March 6 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and April 14 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Staff will be available to provide assistance and answer questions. Customers need to bring employment and other pertinent information as well as a CD or flash drive to save resumes. Customers can register for the lab by calling (913) 971-6888.

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Partnership Leads to Preservation of Historic Barn at Mahaffie
Released 2/17/09

Work is underway on one of, if not the, oldest structure at the historic Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm site. Though it cannot be determined with certainty, the site’s original barn is believed to be the farm’s first structure built in 1858. It is one of three structures at the site listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The barn was originally used to store hay and wheat. Currently, it not only stores crops but historic farm implements for the public to view. In addition, it houses woodworking demonstration and program space for school children and visitors.

Sometime during the early 20th Century, the barn’s original support beams were removed to make room for at tractor and other equipment. As a result, several beams have deteriorated to the point of weakening, and preservation work is required. Based in the barn’s historical significance, the restoration will carefully address structural issues while preserving the historical elements.

The project is being made possible through the continued partnership with the Johnson County Heritage Trust Fund and the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners, the fund’s administrator.

The structural framework repair is anticipated to be completed in the next three weeks, and the complete restoration is expected to be finished in the next two months.

To learn more about the Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm, visit the City’s website at www.olatheks.org or simply click here.

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Olathe Residents Encouraged to Participate in National Planning
Released 2/17/09

Lawrence, Kan. – The public is encouraged to comment on the draft Executive Summary of the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area (FFNHA) Management Plan. Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area, consisting of 41 counties in western-Missouri and eastern-Kansas, is a grassroots effort to steward the cultural landscape and nationally significant stories about the struggle over freedom on the frontier.

The Executive Summary, the first of several sections in the plan, will be posted online at the www.ffnha-hosting.com. The public will have 30 days to comment.

The Executive Summary will acquaint readers to Freedom’s Frontier and give a brief overview of the management plan. Over the course of 2008 and early 2009, area volunteers worked with a consultant group to produce the Management Plan. Each section of the plan has been reviewed by committees and the organization’s Steering Committee before posting or the public. As a whole, the Management Plan will reveal insights and information gleaned during the planning process and will guide the heritage area’s activities for the next decade.

Over the next two months, the remaining six sections of the plan will be posted online for public comment. These sections include:
* Power of Place, exploring the natural history of the heritage area.
* Power of Story, relaying why this story is significant and how Freedom’s Frontier is committed to telling this story.
* Power of Action, offering tools for citizens and groups to manage the heritage area.
* Power of Partnership, offering recommendations for Freedom’s Frontier’s coordinating entity and its partners to shape the heritage area.
* Appendices, including acknowledgements and appendices about the planning process and background data.

The management plan will be submitted to the National Park Service for approval in the spring of 2009. Once the plan is approved, the heritage area will partner with the Park Service for technical assistance and will qualify for federal funding. Additional information about Freedom’s Frontier can be found online at www.freedomsfrontier.org.

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OLATHE PUBLIC LIBRARY AND MAYOR’S READING INITIATIVE RECEIVE
ADDITIONAL SUPPORT FROM COMCAST FOUNDATION
Released 2/17/09

OLATHE READS, a partnership formed by the City of Olathe, Olathe District Schools, and the Olathe Public Library to promote the value and importance of reading, has been awarded a $10,000 literacy grant by the Comcast Foundation. The grant will be used to fund the continued expansion and promotion of the Olathe Public Library’s Summer Reading Program for children; enhancement of the Library’s Teen Summer Reading Program; and books for “I Read With Mayor Mike,” Mayor Michael Copeland’s reading initiative in Olathe’s ten Title 1 elementary schools.

With Comcast Foundation grant funds allowing increased publicity, the Olathe Public Library continues to see growing numbers of children enrolled in its Summer Reading Program for elementary school students, designed to encourage reading during the summer. This is an important part of promoting reading in the Olathe community, as research shows there can be a significant drop in students’ reading ability over the summer months. To encourage teens to read during the summer, the Library has also established the Teen Summer Reading Club, recognizing that reading skills impact academic studies and future career opportunities for all youth.

OLATHE READS and the Comcast Foundation have received accolades at both the state and national levels with Friends of Education and Daily Points of Light Awards. In March of last year, Olathe was honored to host a visit by Former First Lady Laura Bush at Rolling Ridge Elementary School, a visit arranged through the office of U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, who selected Olathe in large part because of its OLATHE READS literacy initiatives.

“The accolades OLATHE READS has received are a clear reflection of our success and commitment to reaching Olathe children and families,” said Mayor Copeland. “With the Comcast Foundation as a strong literacy partner, we are making a positive difference in the lives of Olathe children by emphasizing the importance and life-long rewards of reading.” Mayor Copeland’s “I Read With Mayor Mike” program has focused on Olathe’s Title 1 elementary schools, where a significant impact can be made on literacy at the first-grade level.

OLATHE READS is now a three-time recipient of Comcast Foundation grant funds, receiving an $11,000 grant in 2007 and a $15,000 grant in 2006, the largest grants received by the program since its inception in 2005. For more information about the Comcast Foundation, contact Mary Beth Schubert, Vice President, Corporate Affairs Comcast at (651) 298-0855.

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For more up-to-date City of Olathe info. including Construction Alerts and Job Opportunities, visit the City website at www.olatheks.org.

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City of Olathe Communications Office

100 E. Santa Fe; Olathe, KS 66061

913-971-8700


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