Mayor Sly James

For many Kansas City residents, fall is a great time to hit the refresh button. The kids have returned to school, the weather cools down and the fall sports season kicks off.

We have celebrated some big victories lately. In August, we finished another successful Mayor’s Nights program, with some 2,774 youth participating in Club KC, our summer program designed to give youth safe and fun alternatives.

Kansas City residents also saw the fruits of their affirmative vote last year on Question 1. Resurfacing projects covering 220 lane miles of Kansas City are now underway. Previously, the City resurfaced about 30 lane miles per year.

We continue to focus on our biggest economic development initiative, Turn the Page KC. We are seeing more volunteers signing up to help, and most importantly, we are seeing more Kansas City kids reading at grade-level.

I am more optimistic than ever, Kansas City. We are doing some very big things. We are ready for whatever comes our way, and we know Kansas City will always step up to the plate. And when we do, more victories will continue to come our way.

Sylvester "Sly" James

Ericka Williams-Davis and Lola Coleman

Lola Coleman and Ericka Williams-Davis, 311 Call Center employees, pictured in front of the public art piece Prairie Logic by Janet Zweig & el dorado architects, inc. which was named one of the top 50 pieces of public art in the nation in 2012 in the Americans for the Arts/Public Art Network annual “Year in Review”.

311 Call Center

“I don’t know if you can help me with all this,” begins a caller as he proceeds to ask a series of questions ranging from a missed trash pickup to a Municipal Court ticket to a codes violation. “Yes, you’re in the right place,” Ericka Williams-Davis assures him.

That place is the 311 Call Center at City Hall, where staff begin their day by powering up an array of tools—monitors, websites, maps, work reports and a new intranet site that lists hundreds of topics. Then the phones start ringing. “Thank you for calling 311,” they say. “How can I help you?”

Williams-Davis and co-worker Lola Coleman are part of a 25-member customer service crew that handles 1,500 calls a day. Their broad knowledge of how local government works provides a streamlined way for residents to interact with the City.

Without the Call Center, residents would face much confusion. “It would be disastrous,” says Coleman. Nodding her head in agreement, Williams-Davis echoes that thought. “Chaotic,” she adds. “But when people call us, we all give the same message so they don’t have to guess which department to contact.”

Sometimes the calls have nothing to do with City business. People ask about the post office, Social Security, restraining orders or evictions. Still, the 311 staff usually direct them to the proper resource. “That’s the most interesting part of the job to me,” says Coleman. “If you can’t assist a citizen one way, you find another way to help.”

Some callers are pleasant, while others are irate. She’s learned not to take it personally. “I use reverse psychology. If they start yelling, I just get nicer.”

Williams-Davis also enjoys the diversity of calls. “You never know what to expect,” she says. One day it’s a woman who wanted her “personal belongings” from a towed car, including the tires and car radio. Another day it’s a man who says birds are preventing him from mowing his grass. Usually it’s about high weeds, court questions and trash. Staff use the time between calls to process the follow-up letters mailed out to everyone who has been assigned a case number for a request or complaint.

“Not that many cities nationwide use a service like 311,” Williams-Davis says. “We’re lucky to be one of them.”

Bobby Hill and Andre Bell

Bobby Hill and Andre Bell, Public works employees

Working Together to beautify Kansas City

You won’t see it painted across the streets or sidewalks, but Andre Bell and Bobby Hill can tell you about the line they see every day in their jobs with the City’s Solid Waste Services. The line they talk about is the one between communities with strong neighborhood associations and those without.

“You can tell the communities that work together to keep things clean, because they stay on it,” says Hill, an equipment operator. Otherwise, trash builds up as weedy lots and vacant houses attract illegal dumpers.

Hill and Bell, a maintenance worker/driver, were among the crew who took part in a Safe School Zone cleanup around Vineyard Resource Center on June 22. They hauled away more than 8 tons of trash and 2 tons of yard waste after neighborhood volunteers collected litter and smaller items.

“We picked up beds, box springs, entertainment centers, sofas and old tires,” Bell says. “It was everything you could think of from a house,” Hill added, “including the kitchen sink.”

The Vineyard event was one of several “clean sweeps” the City organized to help targeted neighborhoods last summer in addition to the normal weekday runs, when each Solid Waste truck usually collects 35,000 pounds or more of trash along a single route. A typical day starts when the men (and a few women, too) clock in at 6:30 a.m. at the Municipal Service Center in the East Bottoms. They check with the supervisor to find out their route, their truck and who they’re working with. Then they head out to all areas of the City, often skipping lunch. “Once you get a rhythm going, you don’t want to stop,” Hill said.

They wish residents would pay more attention to the 40-pound weight limit for one trash bag. “If you have to drag it to the curb, it’s probably over the limit,” Bell said. And they appreciate those who follow recycling rules by not throwing Styrofoam and glass bottles into the blue and black bins, as well as courteous drivers who keep a safe distance from the back of trucks where workers are riding.

The best part of the job is at the maintenance building when the day winds down. “Most people don’t realize how much fun we have,” Bell says. “It’s loud and noisy and we’re always joking around. There are so many different personalities around here, we could have our own reality show, ‘Inside Solid Waste.’”

Well, if Hollywood ever calls, it’s a perennial topic—the never-ending task of keeping the City bright and clean, with the help of responsible residents.

Detective Tiffany Gillespie

Detective Tiffany Gillespie in front of the public art piece Ambit by Gordon Huether.

KC NoVA: Your Chance, Your Choice

Gathering 1,000 people for a rally against violence, speaking to a church congregation and getting to know residents of urban-core neighborhoods are all in a day’s work for KCPD Detective Tiffany Gillespie, who is assigned to Kansas City No Violence Alliance (KC NoVA).

Detective Gillespie is NoVA’s community liaison. NoVA is a focused deterrence crime-fighting model that police, prosecutors and the Probation and Parole Office implemented in Kansas City last year. It focuses on individuals who are likely to be a victim or perpetrator of violence. Those who are central players in this group of violent criminals are targeted for arrest and prosecution. Those on the periphery are offered services to turn away from a life of crime.

Police have identified more than 2,100 people in Kansas City who are part of a criminal network connected to homicides and aggravated assaults. At least 21 of them – a full 1 percent – have been murdered in the past year.

But the bad guys are only one half of the NoVA equation. The community plays a vital role, and that’s where Detective Gillespie comes in.

“My job is to corral the community behind NoVA,” she says. “When focused-deterrence models have been implemented in some other places, they failed because they weren’t able to get the support of the community.”

So Detective Gillespie spreads the news of NoVA wherever she can – neighborhood meetings, churches, on the street. She brought together a board of neighborhood leaders, pastors, neighborhood prosecutors, community organizers and more to advise NoVA. The goal is to ensure urban-core neighborhoods stop tolerating violence.

“When a violent act takes place, our job is to rally the neighborhood,” Detective Gillespie says. “We want them to take ownership and all come together and say, ‘We’re not going to stand for this.’”

Detective Gillespie is a 13-year KCPD veteran, serving in patrol, as a Community Action Network Center officer, the Gang Squad and Property Crimes. She said she’s honored to be a part of KC NoVA, especially their innovative work in offering social services to people who might otherwise turn to crime.

“Our slogan is, ‘Your Chance, Your Choice,’” she says.

Kay Sloan

Kay Sloan pictured on the terrazo art piece Polarities by Kristin Jones and Andrew Ginzel.

Working Together to beautify Kansas City

Kay Sloan’s first encounter with flying nearly scared her to death. She was four years old and climbed in her father’s small, private plane for a ride. “I thought I was going off the end of the world,” she says. She didn’t fly again for 20 more years. Now she’s an experienced traveler who has visited a dozen countries. She also volunteers every Wednesday at the Kansas City International Airport.

Dressed in her brick-red KCI Ambassador blazer, Sloan greets visitors and points them toward the correct baggage claim. She scans the crowd for those “with a lost-at-sea look on their face,” then walks up to ask, “Can I help you with something?”

Common questions she fields include: Am I in Kansas or Missouri? How do I get to the rental cars? Where are the taxis? How do I meet my party at another terminal? What is there to do in Kansas City? She likes to answer the last inquiry best, noting, “It’s always fun to share your city.”

The KCI Ambassadors are equipped to handle most situations. Sloan carries a clipboard with arrival and departure times, a Spanish language book, a metro area map, a list of hotels and transportation options, and several visitor guides from the Convention and Visitors Association.

The ambassador program makes sure the volunteers are familiar with local attractions and Sloan usually asks people where they’re staying before recommending things to do. Her favorites include the Crown Center area and Country Club Plaza, the World War I Museum, the Arabia Steamboat Museum, the Toy & Miniature Museum, the Truman Presidential Library, Weston, Leavenworth—the list goes on.

Occasionally she meets entertainers such as Sidney Poitier and Alice Cooper, or athletes like Marcus Allen and Brian Waters. The Harlem Globe Trotters were easy to spot as were several groups of Silpada jewelry dealers draped with silver. She also remembers fans headed to the back-to-back All-Star games in Kansas City, geared up with excitement.

Sloan joined the airport ambassador program 14 years ago, and has no plans to stop. “It’s totally gratifying,” she says. “The different personalities of people are just so funny.”

FY 2012-13 Citizen satisfaction data - KC as a place to work

City government has embraced new technologies to cut costs, improve processes and better understand what residents want. City leaders are using data to drive decisions. And speaking of data, the City’s new open data catalog lets individuals dissect raw data to develop apps and other creative tools.

City leaders are partnering with the private sector on exciting projects; for example, nonprofit Code for America is working with the City to create an app that helps small businesses. The City has hired its first chief innovation officer, Ashley Hand, who is identifying creative ways to save money and solve problems.

The City also is expanding the way it communicates, reaching out where the residents are actually listening: yes, through the traditional news release, but also on the Web, email, social media, text messages and much more. And in January 2014, Kansas City will launch the nation’s largest municipal Wordpress website.

And who is driving this innovation? Simply put, the City’s customers: all Kansas City residents, businesses and visitors. The City appreciates learning what it’s doing well and especially what it could do better.

And further, the City is responding and working hard to improve.

Read on throughout this magazine for highlights of how Kansas City is driving innovation. Have an innovative idea? The City wants to know. Call 311 or visit www.kcmo.org/311 to share it.

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FY 2012-13 Citizen satisfaction data - KC as a place to live

The City conducts a Citizen Satisfaction Survey each year to understand satisfaction trends for City services. This helps staff realize what they’re doing well and what needs work. Last year, the City Council adopted several priorities -- such as public safety and economic development -- that are directly linked to specific citizen survey data points to help monitor progress.

This past year’s survey revealed a major achievement: For the first time since this survey started, an impressive 75.2 percent of residents rated Kansas City, Mo., as an “excellent” or “good” place to live. This is one of the highest scores ever reached, and it marks a dramatic 5.4 percent increase since last year’s survey alone.

“Every year, we use survey results to identify where we need to improve, and this year’s results tell us where our hard work is paying off and where we have more work to do,” says City Manager Troy Schulte.

In addition, the most recent survey revealed a major or significant improvement in 41 categories. Residents may view the entire report online at www.kcmo.org/performance.

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Taking data one step further, the City launched the KCStat program. KCStat is a monthly public meeting in which the mayor, city manager and department directors measure and monitor progress toward the City Council’s strategies priorities to improve City services and government accountability.

They look at data not only from the Citizen Satisfaction Survey, but also 311 Call Center data, which records all service and information requests, complaints and compliments.

Jean Ann Lawson, operations manager for the City Manager’s Office, says she noticed that department directors or managers are also more receptive to change when presented with data.

“It’s part of human nature; people respond to data,” Lawson says. “Talking about a problem is one thing, but if you have a chart with specific statistics, it proves that there is an issue and creates a sense of urgency.”

And using data to improve processes is working. For example, a few years ago, many residents contacted 311 voicing dissatisfaction with the Weed Abatement Program. Since weed abatement was a service provided by multiple City departments, no one department took responsibility for this dissatisfaction. Using data, the City’s performance analysts discovered that an alarming 80 percent of residents who reported a weed problem called back to re-report it!

The performance analysts worked with all departments involved with the program to streamline the weed abatement process, which has since resulted in a significant reduction in 311 callbacks and an improvement in citizen satisfaction.

KCStat takes place the first Tuesday of the month from 9-11:30 a.m. on the 10th floor of City Hall, 414 E. 12th St. The public is encouraged to attend. Learn more at www.kcmo.org/kcstat.

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While the 311 Call Center provides raw data about resident requests, they also actively seek ways to make it easier for residents to make those requests. This past year, they’ve launched a 311 phone app, located at http://maps.kcmo.org/apps/311ServiceRequest. The app is geared toward infrastructure requests, making it easy for a resident to report a broken pothole or a code violation. It works on most smart phones, tablets and computers.

This new phone app joins the many ways residents can contact 311, including calling 311, visiting www.kcmo.org/311 and tweeting @KCMO311.

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The City launched its open data catalog in January 2013 at data.kcmo.org. The catalog includes raw data about the City’s budget, crime stats, traffic counts and 311 service requests. It’s a government platform that allows researchers, scientists, journalists and programmers to dissect the information for creative and helpful uses -- some even use the data to build phone apps or other handy tools.

In June, Mayor Sly James announced that the City would partner with Code for America to feature open housing data, such as a home’s inspection or violation history. Companies such as Trulia and Padmapper committed to integrating this data onto their own websites so the public can be more informed before making a major house purchase or rental decision.

The open data catalog is powered by Socrata, a data company. The City is partnering with them again to launch another innovative product: GovStat. This new tool will simplify and automate many performance management processes.

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In addition to finding innovative ways to get information to residents (open data catalog) and to learn information from residents (Citizen Satisfaction Survey and KCStat), the City also desired to find better ways to share critical and engaging information with residents.

Enter Nixle, a free text and email notification service. More than 11,000 residents are currently subscribed to receive Nixle messages. The City sends text message advisories, such as major road closures and water main breaks, and emails community messages, such as scheduled trash delays and back-to-school immunization clinics. Better yet, Nixle messages can be targeted to a specific neighborhood or block, which comes in handy for a residential road closure that only affects a small area.

Residents can sign up to receive Nixle messages at www.kcmo.org/nixle. These are just a few of the many ways Kansas City is driving innovation. Read on to learn more examples and stories of the work the City’s dedicated staff is completing to better serve its customers: all Kansas City, Mo., residents, businesses and visitors.

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Maybe paying taxes is still an effort, but filing them got a lot easier this past summer after the City launched a new online service called Quick Tax.

Now taxpayers can register businesses, file returns and make payments over the Internet for the earnings tax, business license tax, utility taxes, convention and tourism taxes and the arena fee. Other tax options, including special assessments, will be added in 2014.

The goal is to make filing taxes more convenient for residents and businesses while keeping the process streamlined and economical, says Mari Ruck, the City’s commissioner of revenue.

Until recently, City revenue staff entered many taxes by hand. The new system improves automation and saves time. It also offers more options than before. For example, taxpayers not having taxes withheld can make estimated tax payments throughout the year. They also can control account access for their tax preparers, and the new system should speed up the return of refunds.

To learn more about Quick Tax, visit www.kcmo.org/taxfaqs. First-time users must register online at https://quicktax.kcmo.org. Once registered, taxpayers can log in to their secure personal account to view information about previous filings and payments, refund statuses, bills and filing requirements.

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In 1994, gas cost $1.09/gallon, OJ Simpson made headlines and the White House launched its first website.

1994 was also the last time that Kansas City’s cable television station, Channel 2, received an upgrade. Yes, for nearly a generation, Channel 2 has operated using the same 1994 equipment and technology.

But thanks to the City Council’s support, Channel 2 is ditching the 20th century and receiving major upgrades, made efficiently and economically.

“Our goal is to bring better quality news and programming to Channel 2,” says Deputy Communications Director Chris Hernandez, who oversees Channel 2 operations.

Channel 2 upgrades include:

  • High-definition: Channel 2 is transitioning from standard to high definition, which will create a crisper, clearer picture. Even better: Channel 2 staff is installing the equipment themselves.
  • Remote broadcasting: Using fiber lines, Channel 2 crews can now videotape and air live meetings and events off-site. This option especially will be useful during crisis situations when press conferences are often held at the City’s Emergency Operations Center.
  • New technology and look: Channel 2 staff has been trained to use Final Cut Pro, a type of cost-effective and user-friendly video editing equipment that will cut the time required to edit video, allowing staff time to work on new content. They also will debut a new graphics package with a fresh, updated look and feel unique to Kansas City, Mo.
  • Better content: Be on the lookout for new features and event coverage on Channel 2, in addition to its regular programs and meeting coverage. A new program, “Kansas City Stories,” will broadcast stories that local production companies have created highlighting Kansas City businesses, people, history and more.

“We hope to enhance our programming by telling unique stories in unique ways,” says Communications Director Danny Rotert.

Channel 2 is available on Time Warner Cable and Google TV. Residents may also access it by visiting www.kcmo.org and choosing the “watch” drop-down button.

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FY 2012-13 Citizen satisfaction data - Snow removal on major city streetsAfter the winter of 2011-12 brought a record low level of snow, Kansas City got pummeled with two back-to-back snowstorms totaling 20.5 inches in February 2013. Yet, citizen satisfaction survey results for this time period revealed the highest level of citizen satisfaction with snow removal ever.

What made these snow storms different from before? After all, the City deployed the same number of crews running the same routes as in years past.

“It all boils down to communication and technology,” City Manager Troy Schulte speculates. “City staff communicated better with both residents and each other. Also, our new GPS snow map helped us more easily see which streets had and hadn’t been plowed.”

And Schulte should know – he not only responded to resident requests on his Twitter account, but he also organized a “snow plow tweetalong,” during which he drove a snow plow while the City’s social media/web analyst, Mark Van Baale, monitored Twitter chatter, and the city editor, Megan Hewitt, tweeted photos and responded to resident snow plow requests, using the hashtag #kcplowtweetalong. They even stopped to push out a vehicle that got stuck!

In addition to Twitter, the City’s 311 Call Center staff worked long hours to answer and communicate a staggering 2,758 resident service requests by phone, email, Web and in person as well.

Communicating about the snowstorms early and broadly also contributed to the high satisfaction levels.

For example, during snowstorms residents are asked to not park on the street, but if they must, to park on the west side or north side. Why? Snowplows simply cannot fit down narrow city blocks when cars are parked on both sides.

To reinforce this practice, the City distributed many messages before the storms urging residents to follow this protocol. In addition to traditional news releases sent to media and community leaders, messages were also sent via the resident news subscription list, social media and Nixle, a free text notification service. Information was posted to the City’s homepage, snow page and on Channel 2. In addition, community leaders and even a local radio DJ re-tweeted parking protocol information online, reaching an even greater audience. Mayor Sly James worked hard to communicate snow information on camera and off. In fact, from Feb. 21-28, he wrote roughly 550 snow-related tweets from his popular @MayorSlyJames Twitter account. During that same time, two City staffers sent about 600 snow-related tweets from the @KCMO Twitter account. These tweets answered resident questions, shared snow service updates and provided safety tips.

With snow season right around the corner again, how can residents prepare for this year’s winter weather? Start by taking these precautions!

  • Make sure vehicles have proper tire thread.
  • When snow depths exceed two inches, park vehicles off-street. If a vehicle must park on-street, park it on the west side of streets that run north/south, and on the north side of streets that run east/west.
  • Please do not contact the 311 Call Center to report slick or missed streets until at least 36 hours after the snow has falling. This allows crews adequate time to complete multiple passes on all of their assigned snow routes.
  • Don’t drive unless absolutely necessary. Residents who must drive in severe weather should have protective supplies handy (flashlight, blanket, jumper cables), along with a fully charged cell phone.

Visit www.kcmo.org/snow or www.twitter.com/kcmo for snow updates and information. Sign up to receive text and/or email snow notifications at www.kcmo.org/nixle. View the GPS Snow Map at http://maps.kcmo.org/apps/SnowPlowMap/.

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FY 2012-13 Citizen satisfaction data - Overall satisfaction with neighborhood services Building healthy communities takes a team effort, involving neighbors working with other neighbors and City staff to keep their neighborhoods clean, beautiful and safe. To help build healthy communities, the City’s Neighborhoods and Housing Services Department offers a wide array of programs and services. They also respond to resident calls about many community issues, ranging from code violations to stray animals. By working together, residents and City staff can make Kansas City an even better place to live.

Here are a few of the many services and tips Neighborhoods and Housing Services provides residents. Learn more by visiting www.kcmo.org/nhs or calling 311.

Stray or dangerous animals: Residents may report a dangerous or stray animal on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. by calling 311 or afterhours by calling 911. Animal control officers will respond immediately. They are trained to reunite stray dogs with their owners; help sick and injured animals; and to humanely sedate a dangerous animal.

Pet licenses: Residents are required to license their pet dogs, cats and ferrets. One-year licenses are $10 and three-year licenses are $27, no matter if the pet is altered or unaltered. Residents may obtain a license at the City’s animal shelter, 4400 Raytown Road, online at www.pet-data.com or possibly through their vet. Learn more at www.kcmo.org/animal.

Towed vehicles: Residents who suspect their car was towed can visit www.kcmo.org/tow to see if it is at the City’s Tow Lot, 7750 E. Front St. To reclaim a vehicle, motorists must bring their vehicle title or registration; photo ID and driver’s license; and a money order, cashier’s check or credit card to pay the tow fees, which vary. Any vehicle purchased more than 30 days ago must be registered to redeem it. Learn more at www.kcmo.org/tow.

Neighborhood Watch Program: Neighborhoods groups can sign up for the Neighborhood Watch Program to learn crime prevention techniques and neighborhood watch information. Neighborhoods that complete the training will receive a free “Neighborhood Watch” street sign. Call 816-513-3200 to sign up.

Social service programs: The Robert J. Mohart Multipurpose Center, 3200 Wayne Ave., provides social services and City programs, including foster grandparents and indigent child care. The center has state of the art technology and may be rented for community meetings. Call 816-513-4501 to learn more.

Neighborhood Advisory Council: This council serves as a citywide conduit for information and feedback between neighborhoods and City officials. Board members are neighborhood representatives elected by residents. Apply or learn more about the Neighborhood Advisory Council at www.kcmo.org/kcnac.

Code violations: Homeowners are required to maintain their property, thereby contributing to a cleaner, safer neighborhood. Code violations may be reported by calling 311. A code inspector will investigate and resolve the violation. Learn more at www.kcmo.org/codeviolations.

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For sale! Thousands of lots, some with fixer-uppers and others suitable for extra green space or off-street parking. Priced at below-market value on a first-come, first-served basis. Apply within and bring a scope of work plan and proof of financial resources.

While that notice doesn’t hang on a sign outside City Hall, the message is real. The Land Bank and Homesteading Authority are open for business and ready to move more than 4,000 properties from the City’s inventory list to the tax roll. But be patient—it’s not going to happen all at once.

“We knew there’d be a lot of interest when we officially opened in June, but we didn’t realize how much,” says Michael Patillo, operations manager for the Land Bank. “We’re trying to catch up with the demand right now. It’s going to take a little time.”

The Homesteading Authority has about 450 properties for sale, including foreclosed homes donated by the Bank of America. The Land Bank has about 3,600 properties, including houses, vacant lots and portions of lots called slivers that somehow didn’t get transferred with a deed. These narrow strips or corners can be purchased for as little as $1, while a larger section might go for $75. The Land Bank must try to sell houses and other properties for at least two-thirds of the market value shown on county tax records, but the cost of repairs may be counted toward the value of the offer.

“Some people want to make these homes their own or acquire a side lot for additional green space, and others want to develop the land for rental property. We encourage investors—there will always be a rental market,” says Patillo. “What we don’t want are people who just plan to hold the property in their inventory and not improve it.”

For a list of properties available, see www.kcmolandbank.com or www.kchomesteading.org.

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Awards were presented to four KC Green Neighborhood winners on Sept. 19 at the KC Green Fair in Ilus Davis Park.

Ivanhoe was honored for its Grown in Ivanhoe project, which includes a farmers market and home farmstands, as well as Lots of Love, a program that repurposes vacant lots for edible landscapes, play activities and community gathering places.

Avalon View has block captains who pick up and recycle litter, and many residents have planted rain gardens and vegetables. They share home-grown produce at neighborhood meetings.

Pendleton Heights was recognized for curbside glass recycling and a partnership with Jerusalem Farm that includes curbside compost pickup. Residents have planted 42 peach trees and will add an orchard to a large community garden this fall.

Center City devised a sustainability plan more than 10 years ago with an emphasis on energy efficiency for new homes and energy audits to improve existing structures. Other accomplishments include food and rain gardens and a community orchard with 95 fruit trees.

In addition to “KC Green Neighborhood” street sign toppers, the honorees receive an eco-gift and workshops. To see how your neighborhood can become greener, visit www.kcmo.org/kcgreen or call Colleen Doctorian at 816-513-1377.

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FY 2012-13 Citizen satisfaction data - KC as a place raise childrenKansas City’s community centers are pretty ordinary during the day. But on weekend nights this last summer, six such community centers transformed into Club KC, a lively Kansas City hot spot where thousands of teenagers gathered safely to play basketball, swim, dance, play video games or just hang out. And it was all free.

Club KC launched two summers ago in response to parents and youth asking the City to provide more safe, summer entertainment options for young people. After a successful first summer, Club KC returned in 2013 bigger and better, expanding from two community centers to six centers. Also new in 2013, Club KC asked youth to register for a Club KC ID card to better ensure everyone’s safety.

“Security is our top concern,” says Roosevelt Lyons, special adviser in the Mayor’s Office of Civic and Community Engagement. “We enforce a dress code, scan all Club KC ID cards and maintain a police presence.”

Lyons added that the police officers at Club KC engage with the youth, giving them high-fives and telling jokes.

“Club KC is a great way for the City and police to build positive relationships with youth,” Lyons said. “It gives us a chance to have a conversation with the kids and learn what they want from their City government and how we can better serve them.”

Club KC is part of the Mayor’s Nights program, which includes Night Hoops, Night Kicks and Night Nets, all summer youth sports activities.

“The Mayor’s Night programs are very important because they provide organized sports and events for youth in areas lacking organized activities,” Lyons says. “I love seeing families coming out together to cheer their kids on and have a good time.”

Learn more about Club KC and Mayor’s Nights at www.kcmo.org/clubkc and www.kcmo.org/mayorsnights.

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The City’s Health Department has combined forces with Children’s Mercy Hospitals, Mid-America Regional Council, the YMCA and KC Healthy Kids to reduce childhood obesity by being 12345 Fit-Tastic!

“With nearly one in four older children and one in three adults who are obese, we need to find a common way for individuals, families and organizations to take a few simple steps to make their lives better,” says Deborah Markenson, director of Children’s Mercy Hospitals’ Weighing In program.

12345 Fit-Tastic! helps individuals reorganize their day to be more health-focused. The numbers represent daily healthy lifestyle goals:

1 hour or more of physical activity: Add extra physical activity by taking walks or bike rides together with the whole family.

2 hours maximum of screen time. Limit TV time to no more than 30 minutes at a time and remove TVs from bedrooms.

3 servings of low or nonfat milk or yogurt. Try adding a serving of milk or yogurt with each meal.

4 servings of water instead of sugary drinks.

5 servings or more of fruits and vegetables. Keep fruits and veggies in plain sight to make it easier to grab as a quick snack.

“You don’t have to tackle all five at once,” says Rex Archer, MD, MPH and director of the Health Department. “Take a look at where you might be now. Pick one or two goals and begin to make simple changes toward a healthier lifestyle.”

Kansas City is coming together to support active living, healthy eating and healthy weight for all. The 12345 Fit-Tastic! message provides a quick easy way to help families choose healthy habits for a healthy future. To join Kansas City in being Fit-Tastic, go to www.12345Fit-Tastic.org and take the pledge!

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Want to take part in Kansas City’s most important economic development initiative? It’s easy—sign up with Turn the Page KC and join more than 600 volunteers who read to children on a weekly basis.

Since kicking off a year and a half ago, this community-wide effort has organized a board of directors and attracted more than 50 partner organizations and two grants, one from the Bloomberg Foundation funded by Target and the other from the AmeriCorps VISTA national service program.

The goal of Turn the Page is to make sure all third-graders in Kansas City are reading at grade level. Currently, the percentage of students who meet this standard varies from about 20 to 35 percent. VISTA corps members are helping recruit and train hundreds of volunteers who have put in nearly 3,500 hours working with kindergarten through third grade students to improve their reading skills. The initiative includes four school districts: Kansas City, Hickman Mills, Center and Park Hill.

“Investments in people are far more important long term than investments in buildings and equipment,” said Mayor Sly James. “We can all help change the future by helping young learners read.”

For more information, please visit www.turnthepagekc.org or follow the initiative on Facebook or Twitter at @TurnthePageKC.

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Kansas City’s bicycle and pedestrian community has thrived in recent years. The City has built 29 bike lane miles, nine lane miles of “sharrows” – or shared lane markings – and 63 miles of trails. Nearly 300 water inlets, sewer grates and utility covers were replaced with bicycle-safe versions along a 355-lane-mile route where “bike route” and “share the road” signs were installed.

And as the City’s bicycle community grows, the City has plans to make Kansas City even more accessible by building a streetcar line that will travel on Main Street from the River Market to Crown Center. To aid its construction, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx recently announced a $20 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant to help fund the Kansas City Downtown Streetcar project. This award is the largest TIGER grant presented this year.

“We are thrilled and very grateful to receive this $20 million TIGER grant,” says Mayor Sly James. “This additional funding will not only reduce taxpayers’ burden, but will also enhance the already state of the art streetcar system.”

The Kansas City Downtown Streetcar’s TIGER grant was accompanied by more than 35 letters of support, including letters from Sen. Claire McCaskill, Sen. Roy Blunt and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver.

“This is fantastic news for families and businesses in Kansas City,” Sen. McCaskill says in a release. “This streetcar project will encourage housing, construction and business development in the city-and that will mean more jobs across the region.”

Kansas City’s streetcar is expected to be operational by summer 2015. This TIGER grant will fund about 20 percent of the project. Learn more about the Kansas City Downtown Streetcar at www.kcstreetcar.org.

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FY 2012-13 Citizen satisfaction data - Quality of Fire protection and rescueOn a hot mid-July day, a KCFD fire crew responded to a Northland structure fire. When they returned to the station, one of the firefighters said he didn’t feel well. Brian Wilson, a paramedic on the crew, conducted a patient assessment and applied a heart monitor. He discovered the firefighter was having an active heart attack and immediately requested an ambulance for transport. While waiting, Wilson started an IV and administered aspirin and nitro so the firefighter would be ready when the ambulance arrived. Thanks to this quick work, the firefighter is now recovering and doing well.

Wilson is part of KCFD’s Advanced Life Support (ALS) Pilot Program. Approved by city ordinance in February 2013, this program authorized a dozen paramedic-certified firefighters to serve as paramedics on two designated KCFD pumpers in areas that had a larger response time gap. Previously, city ordinance did not allow firefighter paramedics to use their medic skills while serving as firefighters.

“Starting this pilot program was a top priority for Chief Berardi. The program aimed to improve response times and provide faster service in areas that did not meet our response time criteria,” says Battalion Chief Ross Grundyson, who helped design the program.

And improving response times is exactly what the ALS Pilot Program achieved. Data shows that the program’s two pumpers provided care to patients an average of three minutes and 22 seconds faster than an ambulance. In addition, pumper paramedics gave medications up to five minutes sooner and delivered 12-lead EKGs, which help diagnose heart attacks, an average of three minutes earlier. How did response times improve so much? A few factors contributed – some intuitive, others pleasantly unexpected.

“KCFD pumpers respond to emergency calls an average of three minutes faster than ambulances, mainly because there are more pumpers than ambulances in Kansas City, so they are able to reach the patient and begin care sooner,” says Fire Chief Paul Berardi.

Outside the pilot program, firefighters serve as first responders and assist with EMT basics. But without a paramedic onboard, they cannot deliver important advanced care, such as providing medications or inserting advanced airways.

In addition, a pumper carries four individuals, instead of only two on an ambulance, so more people are available to assist the paramedic.

“Before the program started, we didn’t realize how engaged the other three firefighters in the apparatus would become when working with the paramedic,” Chief Berardi says. “They’ve learned how they can most effectively help the paramedic, which has also resulted in better care.”

Due to the pilot program’s success, the City Council approved the program to continue on three pumpers, with future expansion possible. Currently, new paramedics are training to become firefighters. The ALS Program is expected to officially launch this fall.

“Every firefighter wants to serve the community. Firefighter paramedics can now use their medic skills to provide a higher level of care on the ALS pumper,” Battalion Chief Grundyson says. “Service is what we’re all about, and this is just one more way we can better serve our residents.”

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The Water Services Department and the Kansas City Fire Department (KCFD) together have developed a high-tech solution to the age-old process of inspecting and maintaining Kansas City’s 23,000 fire hydrants.

Utilizing an electronic tablet and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software, Water Services and KCFD collaborated to overhaul a previously time-consuming, costly and paper-driven process. This fall, each of KCFD’s 50 trucks will now carry a tablet that will electronically submit fire hydrant inspections directly to Water Services. Water Services will then issue a work order to repair hydrants reported by the fire crews in the field.

“Working together, KCFD and Water Services have successfully taken a labor-intensive, paper-driven, 20th century process and turned it into an efficient, technology-driven, 21st century process,” says Fire Chief Paul Berardi. “This improved process and new technology will provide real-time data, which will greatly aid our crews when responding to future emergencies.”

“I’m proud of the impressive collaboration taking place between Water Services and KCFD to create inter-departmental efficiencies, save taxpayer dollars, and, most importantly, to create a safer Kansas City,” says Water Services Director Terry Leeds. “I’m confident this pilot program will become a model for other cities.”

Water Services and KCFD anticipate that the electronic inspection process will reduce the amount of time required to complete the process by 50 percent, and result in an estimated annual cost savings of approximately $20,000, which includes approximately 500 employee hours and the elimination of the printing and binding of 23,000 paper inspection forms.

In addition, as a result of the partnership, KCFD anticipates being able to integrate the electronic data with its Dispatch Unit so crews will have immediate access to fire hydrant inspection data while in route to an emergency.

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Parents beware: the new synthetic or “designer” drugs proliferating among young people are just as dangerous as their older counterparts.

Chemist Seth Cooper of the Kansas City Regional Crime Laboratory says synthetic drugs have an extremely high potential for abuse and addiction. Kansas City Police have encountered many cases of synthetic drug overdoses – fatal and otherwise – and suicides prompted by the altered mental state the drugs bring.

Missouri banned synthetic drugs in 2012. Since then, the City’s Gateway Crimes Task Force has made parent education on synthetic drugs a priority, and KCPD has cracked down on retail and street-level dealers. The most common are synthetic cannabinoids and bath salts (not the kind used in the bathtub).

Synthetic cannabinoids are herbs that have been sprayed with THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. They go by names like K2, K3, SYN, Spice, Incense, Blonde, Sunset Gold and Nirvana. Bath salts come in either powder form or as a powder contained inside a capsule. They also have been sold as “plant food.” The drugs usually come in a plastic packet with label names such as Vanilla Sky, Ivory Wave, Sextacy or Blue Magic.

Locally, Cooper says the Kansas City Crime Lab has found bath salt-type substances to contain an assortment of drugs, even when they are packaged identically. Users therefore never know what type of narcotic, or how much, they’re ingesting.

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FY 2012-13 Citizen satisfaction data - Adequacy of Street lightingLandwise, Kansas City is one of the largest cities in the nation. And while our population is steadily on the upswing, we have lots of room to grow. That’s why the City and its partners are involved in an intricate dance to expand housing options for all segments of society. “It’s not a straight line process,” says Stuart Bullington, assistant director of the Neighborhoods and Housing Services Department. “I don’t have a book in my office to consult. Each project is very different.”

One of the most exciting is Beacon Hill, a mixed-use, new-urbanist neighborhood with terrific views near Hospital Hill and Crown Center. When complete, it will be a $100 million investment with single family homes, apartments, student housing, commercial development and a grocery store.

Also under construction is Seven Oaks School at Jackson Avenue and 38th Street. This repurposed elementary school will feature 44 units for seniors. And at Leeds Trafficway and Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard, a 58-unit apartment building for homeless veterans called St. Michael’s is underway through a partnership with Catholic Charities.

“That one is on track to be a national model,” notes Bullington.

By making infrastructure improvements along Troost Avenue, the City is helping make possible new student housing for the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Another project is located at 27th Street and Tracy Avenue, where 30 apartment units are being developed as The Colonnades. And the old municipal stadium is the site of a single-family development called Monarch Manor.

North of the river, a $40 million sewer expansion along First and Second creeks will open 13,000 acres of land for future development, which is expected to attract housing for more than 70,000 residents.

In downtown, a private developer soon will begin constructing a 25-story market-rate apartment building. The $79 million project will attract young professionals and retirees directly adjacent to the downtown streetcar line.

Along with these large-scale projects, the City helps in smaller ways as well. The KC Dream Home Program assists first-time and displaced homebuyers, while various emergency and minor home repair programs aid residents who are struggling to maintain their homes. The Land Bank and Homesteading Authority offer inexpensive houses and lots for sale.

“We urge people to seek out our programs and look into all the possibilities,” says Bullington. “There are some incredible opportunities.”

By creating a variety of diverse housing options the City looks to add population—because its people have always been its greatest strength.

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FY 2012-13 Citizen satisfaction data - Condition of Catch basins Ensuring Kansas City continues to be a great place to call home requires work above ground and below. Often the difficult task of repairing and replacing critical infrastructure occurs in the dark of night, below a manhole cover, in the wet recesses of a hole. The work often goes unheralded, but the City’s economic progress relies on our roads, bridges, pipes and drains being in good repair.

This year, the City has committed nearly six times more funds than last year to repair and repave our massive network of roads. The $19 million investment is more than has ever been spent in a single year. Thanks to Kansas City residents’ approval of Question 1 in August 2013, the City looks to maintain this high level of infrastructure reinvestment.

Below those newly paved roads lies a web of pipes and drains that bring clean water to homes and businesses and whisk sewer water to treatment facilities. In a city that is 319 square miles, there are thousands of miles of pipes and drains to maintain. At the corner of Third and Delaware streets in the River Market, crews recently unearthed a water main with the year 1874 stamped on its side. More of an archeological dig than water main repair, the find is a good example of both how long infrastructure investments can last, and the need for more regular and proactive maintenance.

FY 2012-13 Citizen satisfaction data - quality with water utilities Water Services crews have replaced and repaired more water mains at a faster pace than at any point in its history. More than 90 percent of critical repairs are made within 24 hours of a resident’s report. But beyond the swift reaction time, the team at Water Services is also proactively investing in the City’s future.

In the last few years, Water Services has assessed more than 20,000 water main valves --- more than half the valves in the entire city. By making sure the valves are in good shape, the crews can better isolate water main breaks when they do occur, reducing the number of affected homes or businesses. Because of this valve work, residents and businesses are sometimes completely unaffected by a water main break in their area.

Water Services also recently broke ground on the final two projects for the City’s 16-year, $75 million Small Main Replacement Program. This effort is improving water service and system reliability for nearly 12,000 customers who were previously served by small, two-inch waterlines.

FY 2012-13 Citizen satisfaction data - Timeliness of water/sewer repairs When the final projects are complete, Water Services will have replaced 130 miles of small water mains and installed 1,200 new fire hydrants to better serve residents.

“Replacing older, unreliable two-inch waterlines for our customers not only reduces the likelihood of a water main break, but it also improves service to our customers by providing more consistent water pressure and improved fire protection,” says Water Services Director Terry Leeds. “This infrastructure investment will enhance many of our customers’ daily lives and will serve us for generations to come.”

Prior to the Small Main Replacement Program, two-inch-diameter waterlines served customers in several portions of the City. Due to their age and size, these waterlines were prone to breaks. The new larger pipes will make a noticeable difference for many customers.

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