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County Manager's Office

Phone: 913-715-0725

111 S. Cherry St., Suite 3300, Olathe, KS 66061

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county manager's office

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.

Department News

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The Best Times focuses on 20th anniversary of 9/11 attacks and a family’s loss
August 26, 2021

The September-October issue of The Best Times magazine is on its way in the mail. The cover story features a local family whose son, a Navy petty officer, was killed in the Pentagon attack 20 years ago. He was 37 and the father of two young children.

A related article details a special Johnson County Remembers event on Sept. 9 with 2,977 flags in honor of the lives lost that day and in observance of the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001. 

Other articles include:

  • The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment provides the latest advice on vaccinations against COVID-19.
  • The 50 Plus Department of Johnson County Park and Recreation District is having a virtual Live Well Age Well event and a Fund the Fun event in celebration of its 50th anniversary. 
  • Johnson County Area Agency on Aging launches a website with information about aging services.
  • The razing of the old Johnson County Courthouse paves the way for a new Johnson County Square in downtown Olathe.
  • Kansas Legal Services offers free advice to eligible residents 60 and older.
  • A program at Johnson County Developmental Services shreds documents to protect private information and avoid identity theft.

Read the online edition of the magazine or download a copy.

Demolition of old Johnson County Courthouse completed
August 26, 2021

Going, going, gone … the last walls of the old Johnson County Courthouse were toppled overnight by early morning on Wednesday, Aug. 25, paving the way for the future development of the new Johnson County Square in downtown Olathe by the end of the year.

Demolition of the empty courthouse, which opened in 1952 and closed at the end of 2020, began in April. Weather permitting, most of the debris from razing the building will be off the site by the first part of September.

Work to backfill the old courthouse foundation will follow and is expected to be completed by mid-September. Approximately 15,000 cubic yards of dirt removed for digging the foundation of the new Johnson County Courthouse, located across Santa Fe Street and north of the old courthouse, was saved and stored at the New Century AirCenter.

Kyle Heltne, project manager at Johnson County Facilities Management, estimates the recycled dirt weighs approximately 33 million pounds (about 16,500 tons). It now will be used to fill the foundation hole from the old courthouse and creation of the new Johnson County Square.

In addition, much of the demolition debris from the old courthouse also is being diverted from landfills. And that’s a lot of material. According JE Dunn, leader of the design/build team for the project, including demolition, an estimated 5,500 tons (11 million pounds) of bricks, concrete, metals and other debris were amassed in the razing of the courthouse. Approximately 75% of the materials are being recycled in various ways.

“These are both earth-friendly and cost-saving green practices,” Heltne said.

The vacant plot of the old courthouse has also been redesigned with a green space concept, referenced as the intermediate option, for development of the Johnson County Square. The project has been authorized with funding approval by the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) in its role as the Public Building Commission (PBC).

The plan was recommended to the BOCC by county staff and an 11-member steering committee with public input gathered from pop up meetings, open houses, a focus group and two online surveys.

The intermediate option creates the Johnson County Square. The project features a large open, public community green area with a curved and widened walkway from the corner of Santa Fe and Cherry streets as the main entry to the square. The walkway leads to the Children of the Trails sculpture and fountain located north of the county’s Administration Building.

The intermediate option includes site lighting; landscaping with shrubs, perennials, ornamental grass and sod; installing an irrigation system; and adding a tree grove at the northeast corner. A crosswalk with pedestrian signals is located at Santa Fe Street and access to the new courthouse.

The Johnson County Square encompasses the Children of the Trails sculpture and fountain dedicated in 2000.

The old courthouse was replaced with the opening in January of new seven-story courthouse with 28 courtrooms after more than two years of construction. It is the fourth courthouse in the 166-year history of Johnson County.

Funding for the new courthouse and the county’s new Medical Examiner Facility, which opened last year, is from a 10-year, quarter-cent public safety sales tax approved by Johnson County voters in 2016. The J.E. Dunn design-build contract includes demolition of the old courthouse and creation of the redesigned downtown square. The project is expected to be finished in November.

A master plan option for future development of the downtown square proposes the addition of a Memorial Plaza with educational and historical information near the fountain, an open multi-use platform with stage, an art garden play area and iconic public art near the main entry.

The PBC has not authorized or funded a future option for the Johnson County Square.

New Century military hangar dedicated
August 26, 2021

The World War II era Olathe Naval Air Station hangar, which now is home to a squad of Chinook helicopters piloted and maintained by Army Reservists, was renamed in memory of Chief Warrant Officer Bryan Nichols. 

On the night of August 5, 2011, Nichols as a pilot and four other crew members of Extortion 17 were tasked to transport a platoon of U.S. Army Rangers into the Tangi Valley of Wardak Province in Afghanistan to neutralize a known Taliban leader. U.S. forces quickly became engaged with enemy forces shortly after the insertion. During the operation, a small group of insurgents was observed leaving the area. A SEAL Team Quick Reaction Force was dispatched to intercept the insurgents and determine whether the Taliban leader was among the group. Despite the high threat level and presence of enemy force, Nichols and his crew stepped forward to transport the Quick Reaction Force to the Tangi Valley. As Extortion 17 approached the landing zone, a series of rocket-propelled grenades were fired at the aircraft. One of the RPGs struck the aft rotor system, causing the Chinook helicopter to spin and crash in a dry riverbed. The aircraft exploded on impact, killing all 33 passengers and all five crew members, making it the single deadliest day of the loss of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. This was the same airframe on which Specialist Spencer Duncan lost his life. 

As referenced above, for nearly 10 years, Spencer Duncan’s family and many others have worked to organize a 5K event to both as a way to remember Spencer as well as raise funds for a number of efforts that support veteran needs. The Airport Commission has been a hosting partner of this event since its first race.

BOCC authorizes resolution to reduce stray gunfire
August 26, 2021

On Thursday, Aug. 26, the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners, authorized a resolution to regulate the discharge of a firearm across property boundaries in Johnson County, Kansas’ unincorporated area. Firearm discharge complaints will be investigated by the Sheriff’s Office with violations prosecuted in Johnson County District Court in the County Codes division. Fines will range from $500 to $1,000.

“Due to an increase of incidents involving stray bullets in the unincorporated areas of Johnson County, our Board, in collaboration with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, adopted a resolution last September officially urging and promoting the safe and responsible use and discharge of firearms in the unincorporated areas,” said Chairman Ed Eilert. “The Sheriff’s Office engaged in a safety and educational program to emphasize the importance of the safe discharge of firearms, but unfortunately, we did not see a significant decrease of incidents. This resolution is an important step in protecting the safety of people and property from stray gunfire.”

Johnson County Sheriff Calvin Hayden recommended that the BOCC exercise its home rule authority to regulate the discharge of firearms that results in gunfire leaving one property and entering another where permission or consent to do so has not been granted by a property owner, even if that gunfire does not strike a neighbor’s home, car, tree or other property.

“This new county code is narrowly tailored for instances when someone does not follow the rules for the safe discharge of a firearm, with the result being a bullet entering someone else’s property,” said Sheriff Hayden. “While my office will continue to educate on the proper safety precautions to take when firing a weapon, this will now allow us to cite individuals on a non-criminal basis when they are careless.” 

What the new resolution does NOT do:

  • Prohibit the use of firearms
  • Prohibit hunting, sport shooting or target shooting on one’s own property or on a property where permission has been granted
  • Replace existing state statute relating to criminal discharge of firearms
  • Create a code violation if stray gunfire occurs during the discharge of a firearm in lawful defense of life

More information is available in this briefing sheet, presentation with map and FAQ.

Johnson County celebrating its 166th birthday
August 25, 2021

Johnson County celebrated its 166th birthday on Wednesday, Aug. 25, as one of the first 33 counties in the Territory of Kansas.

Once part of the Shawnee Indian reservation, the county, along with the territory, were opened to settlement with the passing of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. Johnson County was created on Aug. 25, 1855 by the Kansas Territorial Legislature and named after the Reverend Thomas Johnson, founder of the Shawnee Methodist Mission.

Johnson County Government was organized on Sept. 7, 1857 with three county commissioners meeting in Gum Springs, now the city of Shawnee.

The county population in the 1860 Census was 4,364. The population in the Territory of Kansas was 107,206. A year later, Kansas became the 34th state in the Union on Jan. 29, 1861.

166 years later, with 609,863 residents, Johnson County remains the most populous county in Kansas. The county population increased 12.1% in the past decade and census data indicates one in five Kansans now call Johnson County home.

Johnson County Wastewater receives national recognition
August 25, 2021

Providing exemplary customer care while also ensuring the best quality wastewater service are central to Johnson County Wastewater’s (JCW) mission. The department’s hard work has been recognized by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA). The organization awarded 2021 Peak Performance Awards to JCW for the 2020 permit compliance year to the following:

  • Platinum Peak Performance Awards include Blue River Main, Douglas L. Smith Middle Basin and New Century Air Center  
  • Gold Peak Performance, for Mill Creek
  • Silver peak Performance, for Nelson

“Our staff members work hard everyday to promote efficient and effective methods of wastewater treatment,” JCW General Manager Susan Pekarek said. “We’re pleased to be recognized for our efforts and look forward to continuing to make a positive impact in our community. It takes everyone from our plant operators to the line folks, to our customer services folks, to the engineers to our finance and accounting staff. It all works together, and it’s why we continue to be recognized as leaders in wastewater.”

Platinum Awards recognized 100% compliance with permits over a consecutive five-year period. JCW received a 15-year Platinum award this year at its Blue River Main facility.

The awards were featured during a virtual awards ceremony on July 21. NACWA represents public wastewater and stormwater agencies of all sizes nationwide. The association ensures members have the tools necessary to provide affordable and sustainable clean water for all.

Learn more about Johnson County Wastewater.