Diverse Growth, Eye-Popping Plans and Humor at Luncheon
The Clay County Economic Development Council’s State of the Cities Luncheon included humor as well as several announcements. Membership Chair Jeff King (left) presented the new Zinger Award to Kearney Mayor Bill Dane (far right) who had promised to build “a big, beautiful wall between Kearney and Liberty, and make Liberty pay for it!” EDC Chair Sam Lodhi (second from left) and Smithville Mayor Brian Fullmer were present. Fullmer earned Zinger honorable mention for promising to build a wall between Smithville and Kearney, but pay for it themselves! Additional photos here.
The annual meeting sponsored by the Clay County Economic Development Council featured reports from representatives of Excelsior Springs, Gladstone, Kansas City, Kearney, Lawson, Liberty, North Kansas City, Pleasant Valley and Smithville. More than 200 people attended the event March 24 at Harrah's North Kansas City Hotel and Casino.
Excelsior Springs Mayor Brad Eales opened with developments ranging from the city’s new $17.7-million community center, award-winning work at the Elm’s Hotel and a new fiber optic network.
In Gladstone, Mayor Jean Moore cited exciting projects that include new residential and retail development along with continued excitement in the city’s growing downtown, including the award-winning Innovation Campus.
Kansas City Mayor Pro Tem Scott Wagner pointed to work at the Northland Park industrial center where 300 more acres are under development, thanks in part to widening of Highway 210, which the EDC helped coordinate.
Mayor Bill Dane of Kearney emphasized well-balanced growth there, including retail downtown and on the cities highways. Kearney is also seeing a variety of residential projects.
Lawson Mayor Greg Taylor announced a number of projects in that city’s first participation in the luncheon. Although it’s one of Clay County’s smaller cities, Lawson now boasts several new residential and retail projects along with an upcoming business incubator and its own fiber optic network.
Liberty Mayor Lyndell Brenton had some of the largest projects to discuss. He impressed the audience by announcing that a new Highway 152 bridge over I-35 will have 10 lanes. He also cited the nearly complete, $85-million Liberty Commons center, a completed $75-million wastewater operation, the $41-million South Liberty Parkway extension and millions in residential development.
North Kansas City Manager Eric Berlin discussed one of the most visible projects in Greater Kansas City, “1 North” near I-35 and Armour Road. The project recently held groundbreaking for Meierotto’s Jewelers and will also include a major destination mix-use development with entertainment, restaurants and more.
Mayor David Slater of Pleasant Valley cited a variety of work, from the nearly complete I-35/Pleasant Valley Road interchange to a new fire station and several properties planned for residential and industrial projects.
Smithville Mayor Brian Fullmer noted that city’s recent tornado. He thanked public safety and utility personnel for their good work helping address the damage. He also cited projects that include several residential developments, road improvements and a downtown streetscape.
The meeting included humor as well. EDC membership chair Jeff King closed with a Zinger Award to honor the good-natured jesting between the cities. The honor was won by Kearney’s Bill Dane who said that Liberty recently “stole” an outstanding high school coach “…in the middle of the night. So we’re going to build a huge, beautiful wall between Kearney and Liberty. And we’ll make Liberty pay for it!”