The County Manager's Office is responsible to the Board of County Commissioners and the residents of Johnson County for the effective and efficient delivery of programs and services, using sound management and financial principles while emphasizing high ethical values, innovation, and continuous improvement.
Johnson County celebrates milestone in courthouse construction
August 14, 2019
The structure has been completed for the new Johnson County Courthouse under construction in downtown Olathe.
On Tuesday, Aug. 13, a “topping out” ceremony at the construction site raised the last steel beam 228 feet to the courthouse’s highest point in its structural framing. The time-honored tradition signals the completion of a high-rise building’s structural framing.
The event was attended by officials from Johnson County Government; city of Olathe; JE Dunn Construction, builder of the new seven-story courthouse; and other dignitaries.
“It’s hard to believe that just 13 months ago this construction site was not much more than a large hole in the ground,” Ed Eilert, chairman of the Johnson County Board of Commissioners, said. A groundbreaking ceremony at the construction site took place July 12, 2018.
In keeping with a “topping out” tradition, the final 12-foot, 240-pound beam had a small evergreen tree, known as the construction “Christmas tree,” at one end and an American flag at the opposite end. The tree signifies the safe completion of the framing of the structure, and a wish for continued good luck for the future of the building project. In addition, the event allows an opportunity to publicly thank the more than 200 construction workers for their hard work.
The milestone beam, which was painted white, featured scores of signatures, including elected leaders, county management, community leaders and other dignitaries along with the project design team and many of the construction workers.
“This ceremony is just that – a symbolic ceremony – but it’s a significant milestone in building the county’s new courthouse,” Chairman Eilert said. “It’s also very important to again thank Johnson County voters. They are the ones who approved the public safety sales tax to provide the funding for construction of this much-needed courthouse.”
Other speakers at the celebration included Olathe Mayor Michael Copeland and Ben Vanderau and Dan Kanzler representing JE Dunn Construction.
A barbecue lunch for attendees and construction workers along with short tours of the construction site ended the “topping out” event.
When it opens in early 2021, the new courthouse, with 28 courtrooms and approximately 350,000 square feet of space, is expected to address the county’s criminal justice needs for the next 75 years as Johnson County continues to grow.
“Placing the final steel beam also confirms Johnson County’s commitment to keeping this vital project on schedule and on budget,” Chairman Eilert said. “The new courthouse will not only be highly functional, accessible, safe and secure. It will become a stunning new Johnson County landmark to serve as a beacon of justice for generations to come.”
Keep kids healthy as they head back to school, JoCo on the Go
August 13, 2019
During our second JoCo on the Go podcast episode, we’re taking a closer look at how to keep children healthy, both mentally and physically, throughout the school year. Episode guests include Johnson County Health and Environment (DHE) WIC Program Manager Laura Grimmett, DHE Health Services Division Director Nancy Tausz and Mental Health Team Leader Renee Van Meter. They provide valuable information for parents about helping children eat nutritious meals and snacks on a budget. They also share the very latest on new vaccination requirements. You’ll learn about anxiety in children and hear from an area student about the importance of building a strong peer support system.
JoCo on the Go is now available on Apple and Google Play. Just search for the podcast by name and subscribe. Learn more about this new podcast and get a complete transcript of each episode at jocogov.org/podcast.
Johnson County adopts FY 2020 Budget with constant mill levy
August 18, 2019
On August 8, 2019, the Johnson County Board of Commissioners (BOCC) adopted a $1.26 billion budget for next year with a constant mill levy.
The BOCC approved the county’s FY 2020 Budget with an estimated mill levy of 26.013 mills, the same as the existing mill levy. This includes an estimated mill levy of 19.024 for the County Taxing District, 3.901 mills for the Johnson County Library taxing district and 3.088 mills for the Johnson County Park & Recreation District taxing district. One mill equals $1 on every $1,000 of a homeowner’s assessed valuation.
The calculations are only for Johnson County Government and do not include other taxing entities, such as the state of Kansas, cities/townships, school districts or special assessments/special districts. The County Taxing District portion of an annual tax bill is approximately 15%.
The final setting of the mill levy for the next fiscal year will be established by the end of October with the final property valuations by the Johnson County Department of Records and Tax Administration.
On average, residential property owners will pay $987 in county property taxes for 2020— about $82 per month, based on the average home value in the county, approximately $330,000.
A new Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) begins in September with an outreach focusing on Johnson County’s Deaf community.
Offered by the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment (JCDHE), the program is unusual in two ways: Not only will the classes, spanning one year and starting after Labor Day, be taught in American Sign Language (ASL), but the instructor, Kelly Selznick, is deaf. Robin Olson, co-facilitator, who is hearing, also is fluent in ASL.
It is believed the class is a first in the Kansas City metropolitan region, state of Kansas and perhaps the nation to solely use ASL to teach DPP to local deaf and hard-of-hearing residents.
“Johnson County’s deaf population has higher obesity rates and worse cardiovascular health outcomes than the hearing population. Being overweight and having high blood pressure increases an individual’s risk for developing type 2 diabetes. DPP helps participants make positive lifestyle changes which improve health,” Megan Foreman, program manager for the department, said.
The main challenge is to bridge the language gap in trying to provide health-related services and information to the Deaf community since a deaf resident’s primary language is ASL and few healthcare providers are fluent in sign language.
“Communication is the primary barrier to providing healthcare outreach to the Deaf community. Cultural competency is also a barrier,” Selznick noted in an email regarding her involvement in the upcoming program. “There is some mistrust between the Deaf and medical communities for several reasons that have to do with a lack of cultural competency within the medical community. Taking the steps to provide an accessible health program will help build that trust.”
DPP classes in ASL and for the general public begin in September. To learn more or sign up, email DPP@jocogov.org.
More than 30 million Americans have diabetes. One in three Americans have prediabetes. Are you among them? A two minute quiz to find out if you are at risk is accessible at preventdiabeteskc.com.
Inclusion efforts across the county
Inclusion of the Deaf community and residents with special needs goes further than access to public services and new programs. It also requires making sure residents of all ages and all physical abilities have equal access to Johnson County’s public buildings, parks and other physical accommodations.
Another inclusive playground in Shawnee Mission Park opened at the start of July, a month that also celebrates the 29th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990. A similar playground was added to the Stilwell Community Park last year. Both projects enable all children to play together without physical or social barriers.
An inclusive theater camp took place in mid-June at the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center, giving children of all abilities the chance to live out their dreams of being in show business.
The new Johnson County Courthouse being constructed in downtown Olathe will also enhance accessibility to public services and facilities. The courthouse will be fully ADA compliant when it’s completed and operational in early 2021.
Area counterparts come to the rescue in a flood emergency
August 18, 2019
In early August 2019, several Johnson County employees answered the call for help from Franklin County and the city of Ottawa who requested emergency resources following 6-8 inches of rain. The deluge in addition to rivers which were already running high, resulted in significant flooding.
County officials joined WaterOne in lending assistance. The effort was coordinated through Johnson County Emergency Management to support the city of Ottawa.
Johnson County Wastewater - Two 4” Pumps
JCW employees who traveled to Ottawa to pump water are pictured here.
Johnson County Public Works - One 4” Pump
WaterOne - One 6” Pump
Everyone’s swift work was very much appreciated.
Johnson County launches podcast, JoCo on the Go
August 6, 2019
Johnson County Government is proud to announce the launch of its new podcast, JoCo on the Go. The initial episode, released on Tuesday, Aug. 6, features guests Jill Geller, Park and Recreation District executive director, and Bill Maasen, superintendent of Johnson County parks and golf courses. The Johnson County staff members discuss the county’s inclusive playgrounds, the best places to get kids involved in golf, the new electric bicycle pilot and Geller’s recent decision to move on from the county The podcast is hosted by Johnson County resident and employee Theresa Freed.
“There’s a growing audience for podcasts,” says Jody Hanson, Johnson County Government director of public affairs and communications. “We’re excited to offer residents a new way to learn about county news and Board of County Commissioners policy decisions that affect them, as well as services and programs from which they can benefit.”
JoCo on the Go will feature in-depth conversations with county leaders and experts, community partners and residents.
According to Edison Research Infinite Dial and Nielson, more than 30% of the U.S. population listens to podcasts monthly. Nearly 70% listen with a smart phone in their homes, vehicles or while exercising.
Each JoCo on the Go episode is around 20 minutes in length and is available with a full transcript and promotional video on jocogov.org/podcast. Episodes are currently scheduled for weekly release and will soon also be available where you regularly listen to podcasts.
Upcoming episodes will include topics such as keeping families healthy during the school year and the importance of 2020 Census participation.
You can also enjoy Johnson County Library’s podcast Did you hear? In the latest episode, released yesterday, Aug. 5, host Dave Carson sits down with Monticello librarians to talk about the branch’s one-year anniversary.