Won’t you meet our neighbor: Alex Gill

Won’t you meet our neighbor: Alex Gill

i Aug 10th No Comments by

Alex Gill has lived on Jefferson Street for the last five years and serves on the WPHA Membership Committee. Here’s how he answered our resident profile questions:

Why did you choose to live in this neighborhood? My wife and I were living in an apartment on the Plaza and wanted to start a family. We knew we wanted to stay within KCMO city limits, and this area of town just spoke to us!

Do any family members or pets live with you? My wife, Caroline, our 18-month-old daughter, Lily, and our dog, Trudy.

Occupation (past or present)? Both Caroline and I work at Children’s Mercy (Hospital Hill) and love it!

How do you like to spend your free time? We truly enjoy staying local….like taking Lily and Trudy on neighborhood walks and taking part in local experiences like long lines at Betty Rae’s on nice summer evenings!

What’s the most interesting feature of, or story about, your house? The previous owner of our home worked for NASA, which I think has to be pretty rare!

What is your favorite area business/restaurant/meal/drink/service? Betty Rae’s! Both Caroline and I went to Mizzou, and the owner of Betty Rae’s used to work for Sparky’s Ice Cream Shop in Columbia! So, naturally, I feel a connection. Caroline jokes with our friends that I single-handedly made sure that Betty Rae’s made it through the first month by going every single night!

What Waldo hidden gem would you recommend to neighbors and why? F3 Fitness (75th Street across from CVS). Andre is the owner/operator and is tough, but fair.  He provides a quality service at a fair price. If you’re thinking about improving your personal fitness then I recommend you go talk to him.

Is there anything you would change about the neighborhood? We love the neighborhood!  If I could change one thing it would be the level of involvement.  I would love to see more people in the neighborhood involved in the association!

Caroline and Alex Gill

Caroline and Alex Gill

The WPHA can provide paid security while you’re away from home

i Aug 9th No Comments by

Guest post by WPHA resident Jim Anderson

The picture above from our Ring camera shows the police checking on our house while we were out of town. I always request the Ward Parkway Homes Association’s vacation house watch service every time we are gone more than just a couple days.

You can get access to this protection by becoming a member of our homes association and supporting the KCPD security patrol service. It is a wonderful thing to know your home is being watched by the “good guys.”

When I am home working in my office, I frequently look out the window and see marked or unmarked police cruisers going down our street. Our neighborhood takes security seriously enough to pay for off-duty officers to spend hours each week patroling our streets to watch for patterns and deter property crimes. A regular police presence sends would-be criminals elsewhere to prey on easier targets. I love seeing officers in our neighborhood. And I value the benefit of having them monitor my home for suspicious activity when I’m away.

The concern I have is that there are not enough paying neighbors to continue our security patrol service. I would hate for the WPHA to lose out to other neighborhoods who are on the waiting list for a security patrol service. Please review the information consider joining. Our KCPD security patrol is covered through the end of the year and can continue if we get enough paying members.

If you are a already a WPHA member, thank you so much. If you are a member but have not not opted to support the security patrol in the past, please join me and others in helping to keep our homes safe and protected.

The WPHA’s security patrol service ensures that we have a regular police presence than the understaffed Kansas City Police Department can otherwise provide in such a large city. This service, when combined with personal security cameras and watchful neighbors, helps keep property crimes in our neighborhood among the lowest in the city. And that’s the way we want to keep it!

Ring camera screenshot of police officer on front porch

 

 

Hale Cook Elementary enlivens our neighborhood

i Aug 9th No Comments by

Guest post by WPHA resident Sara Wiercinski

My husband and I bought our first home in 2011: a mint-green Colonial at the corner of 74th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, across the street from Hale Cook, a mothballed public elementary school. At the time I was pregnant with my son Luke. Though kindergarten seemed like a long time away, I became curious about the school, seeing as how we were now neighbors.

While walking my dogs by Hale Cook one Saturday, I met a group of people hosting a neighborhood yard sale — mostly donated items — to create buzz around campus. These friendly people in red T-shirts called themselves the Friends of Hale Cook. I learned about their efforts to generate neighborhood support for reopening the public school. The school district had not sold the school, only closed it for a while.

I was relatively new to Kansas City, and saw an opportunity to join these group of dedicated parents (and soon-to-be parents) to promote our dream for the neighborhood.

Soon after, Friends of Hale Cook formed as an official nonprofit organization with a board of directors. We conducted town halls, canvassing sessions, meetings with the school district, fundraisers, clean-up days, parade floats and even a feasibility study, commissioned by then-superintendent Stephen Green to prove community support for reopening the school. It was a lot of work for the six board directors, our families and a few regular volunteers. I have to admit that at times I doubted whether our efforts would go anywhere. The district had many other priorities. Also, there was much confusion around school choice and terminology (charters, magnets, private, signature schools).

Yet the hard work and persistence paid off. In 2013, the school district approved the reopening of Hale Cook Elementary. That first year, Hale Cook resided within a few classrooms inside Hartman Elementary; the following year our school building reopened to welcome kindergarten through second grade.

Julie Lynch, who served as transition coordinator while Hale Cook was off-site at Hartman Elementary, was named principal. Since then, Julie has been instrumental in developing a successful school with top-notch staff and a community spirit.

My son Luke entered kindergarten at Hale Cook in Fall 2017. I never considered sending him to any other school. Though I had been involved with the school’s reopening, joining the school as a parent was a new experience. My son has enjoyed two wonderful school years, and this month he returns as a second grader. My daughter Hazel will enter kindergarten at Hale Cook in fall 2020.

A few reasons why my family loves Hale Cook:

  • It’s a public school. Our school’s success contributes to the success of the overall school district. Test scores are up, and the district is on track to becoming fully accredited next year. This is great news for Kansas City.
  • The teachers. Luke has learned to read, do math, make art and sing. These hard-working educators deserve recognition for their dedication and patience.
  • Hale Cook families represent a variety of life experiences. This diversity is a gift.
  • LINC. Hale Cook starts at 9:15 a.m. and ends at 4:15 p.m., so many families need help before and after school. Our LINC site coordinator, Qiana McGee, coordinates fantastic partnerships to bring creative and educational programming to our extended care program. Through LINC, Luke has cooked healthy snacks, performed at a tap dance recital, weeded the school garden and competed in three chess tournaments. LINC also offers Girls on the Run, drumming, art and scouting. Families pay no fees for LINC.
  • Thanks to partnerships with Kansas City Community Gardens and hard work of volunteer stewards, Hale Cook has a beautiful vegetable garden and orchard with pears, apples, blackberries and raspberries. We are also a designated Monarch Watch waystation.
  • Active PTA. Our fundraisers and partnerships with community resources have resulted in improvements to the school grounds, including sun shades and a swing set on the playground. This past January, the PTA’s first-ever trivia night raised funds to hire a part-time Spanish instructor. These committed parents make for a vibrant, caring school community.

Eight years ago, I would have been unable to dream up what a gift Hale Cook Elementary has become to my family. I now hear of families who want to move into our neighborhood so their children can attend and walk to Hale Cook. As neighbors, we all have a stake in the success of Hale Cook and the school district as a whole, even those of us to don’t have children or whose children attend other schools. Shouldn’t Kansas City’s recent development boom elevate public education for all urban kids?

If you’re interested in learning more about my family’s experience at Hale Cook, email me at srechtin@gmail.com. If you want to volunteer at Hale Cook, please contact the school. We would be happy to have you.

exterior of Hale Cook Elementary School