A ribbon cutting for the improved intersection was held on December 9, 2016. The Independence and Benton project has significantly improved the traffic flow and traffic safety at the intersection of Independence Boulevard and Benton Boulevard in Historic Northeast Kansas City. Below is a list of the improvements that were completed at this intersection:
Replaced the substandard traffic signal at this intersection with modern traffic signal equipment.
Added dedicated left turn lanes on Benton Blvd to improve traffic flow.
Installed crossing islands at the intersection to improve pedestrian safety and traffic safety.
Added metal walls at two corners of the intersection bearing the names of Historic Northeast and Independence Plaza.
Planted trees and bio-swale plants.
Installed brick pavers, seat walls, and neighborhood markers.
The Blue Sage Bee is unusual. Over millions of years, it has developed an exclusive relationship with a common flower of the prairie, Blue Sage. It will only feed its larva the pollen of this one plant. If this plant is not present, this native bee species cannot survive. The Blue Sage Bee was one of the surprise finds from a Native Bee Survey done at Jerry Smith Park Prairie in 2016.
Kansas City Wildlands, with support from Burroughs Audubon Club, and Westport Garden Club through Garden Club of America, enlisted bee expert Mike Arduser to survey what native bees lived at two Kansas City Missouri Park reserves, Jerry Smith Park Prairie in south Kansas City and Swope Park’s Rocky Point Glade. What was found surprised even the bee experts. Eighty-nine different bee species were found. Two of them had never been found in Missouri before. Twenty-one of them were different types of specialist bees, like the Blue Sage Bee.
There were a surprisingly large number of specialist bees found in the samples. The different bee specialists exclusively visit different flowers for pollen. One bee specialist only gathered pollen from Thistle plants, another from Bellflower plants, another from Sunflower plants, and another from Aster plants.
By visiting just one type of plant, the specialist bees efficiently pollinate them and help maintain the diverse ecosystem. The flowers produce the right nutrients in their pollen for the developing bee larva so the bees successfully reproduce. Both plant and bee benefit.
The study found many other types of native bees. It found one species that amazingly only nests in empty snail shells. Also were found fifteen types of Digger Bees, six types of Bumblebees, twenty-one types of Sweat Bees, ten types of Leaf-Cutter bees, six types of Mason Bees, and ten types of bees that nest only in other bee’s nests.
Mike Arduser explains that a community profile of the native bees on a site can be used as a yardstick to measure the vitality of a prairie remnant. For example, Rocky Point Glade had a lower percentage of specialist bee species in its sample compared to Jerry Smith Park. Mike Arduser theorizes that is because Rocky Point is a small, isolated site that had more environmental impacts before management began and it is slower to reestablish diversity.
According to the Native Bee Study, the types of bees found indicate that Jerry Smith Park Prairie is “a high quality, functioning, Tallgrass Prairie remnant of regional significance”. Historically, forty-eight percent of Jackson County Missouri was once covered in Tallgrass Prairie. With development, the Tallgrass Prairie has been eliminated and the remnant at Jerry Smith Park is the only original native prairie left in Jackson County.
There must be a diverse habitat to support a diverse population of native bees. Native bees have different flight ranges depending on their size. Some can fly a mile to search for pollen. Others can only fly a hundred feet. Some dig deep nest tunnels in the ground. Others dig shallow tunnels or need a certain soil type to dig in. Some make tunnels in wood for nests. Others use existing tunnels or cracks to nest. Some require grass clumps to nest and one snail shells. Some have long tongues and can reach deep in a trumpet shape flower for nectar. Others have short tongues and need flat flower shapes to reach the nectar. Native bees often require different habitat types to nest, feed, and hibernate. The study emphasized to maintain a diverse prairie habitat for these native bees, there must be ongoing management.
Next August the Blue Sage Bee will be visiting the Blue Sage Plants at Jerry Smith Park Prairie. If you get a chance to visit and observe, you will hear the bee’s high pitch buzz before you see it flying. It will be continuing the million-year- old pattern of pollinating the flowers and feeding its larva on this rare native prairie.
On December 2, KC Parks unveiled new wayfinding signage that is being installed in Penn Valley Park.
Penn Valley Park is a regional park with a variety of activities and monuments located within its boundaries including Liberty Memorial, National World War I Museum and Memorial, The Scout, Penn Valley Lake, The Firefighter’s Fountain, Off Leash Area, Pioneer Mother, Just Off Broadway Theatre and Baseball fields.
The park consists of two areas, the west and east sides with Penn Valley Drive dividing the park in two.
As a regional park, Penn Valley Park draws visitors from not only the surrounding neighborhoods, the entire city but also surrounding municipalities. The overall signage package took into consideration of size of Penn Valley Park, the historic nature of the park and its activities, the network of streets and trails in the park and the speeds at which vehicles travel thru the park. The signage package consists of iconic, primary, secondary, destination, wayfinding and park courtesies signage. The goal of the Penn Valley Park signage plan was brand Penn Valley Park.
Parks and Recreation working with a project team consisted of Gould Evans, Vireo and Workshop developed a master signage program for Penn Valley Park. The design professionals were designing improvements at Liberty Memorial and Penn Valley Drive & Lake.
The project team worked with the steering committee, comprised of park stakeholders from Penn Valley Park Conservancy and other representatives from activities in the park, including Liberty Memorial, Just Off Broadway Theatre, Off Leash Area and the baseball fields, to develop signage package for the entire park.
The development of the Penn Valley Park signage master plan ran concurrently with the development of the Swope Park signage master plan. Both parks are regional parks and draw visitors from the metro area. However, many the visitors do not recognize the fact that they are in either Swope Park or Penn Valley Park. Both projects involved steering committees that stressed the need to brand each individual park. Penn Valley Park is a smaller park and despite its terrain a pedestrian friendly park. This allows for the signage in Penn Valley Park to be at a slightly smaller scale.
The Penn Valley Park signage plan was approved by the Penn Valley Park Conservancy, Just Off Broadway Theatre Association and National World War I Museum’s Building & Grounds committee.
Parks and Recreation selected Star Signs as the contractor for the installation of the wayfinding signage. The wayfinding sign chosen today, captures those pedestrians and drivers coming up Kessler Road from Union Station and directs them to Liberty Memorial, National World War I Museum, the Money Museum, and the dog park.
Overall three types of signage are being installed in Penn Valley Park.
Wayfinding – both pedestrian (over 20 signs) & vehicular (20 signs) some are single sided, others are double sided
Destination (8) – signs for individual activity/arrival points. For example, the one behind you (the audience) is for Pioneer Mother. In addition to the destination name, these signs will include address for their subsequent location/parking lot.
Secondary Entry Signage (2) – these will be stone columns placed at secondary entrances around the park that announce the arrival to Penn Valley Park and include a brief list of destination points near that entrance.
Kansas City Zoo is breaking new ground and it’s all thanks to you, Kansas City! For the first time in history, one million visitors have experienced an adventure at the KCZoo, shattering last year’s already impressive record of 911,336 visitors. With the addition of two adorable koalas and the births of chimpanzee and orangutan babies, it was a great year to visit the Kansas City Zoo.
This Black Friday has all new meaning at the Zoo! On Friday, November 25, the Jackson family walked through the front gates to enjoy a day at the Zoo and were met with a wild surprise! New recipients of a FOTZ Family membership and a KCZoo gift basket, there was more in store for these historical visitors. Residents of Waterloo, Iowa, the Jackson’s were visiting the Zoo with friends who live in Kansas City. Stephanie Jackson says she and her three kids visit the Zoo about once a month when her husband is in Kansas City with his reserve unit. With their new FOTZ membership, the Jackson family will have many more visits to the Zoo in the coming year.
“Thank you Kansas City!” exclaimed Randy Wisthoff, Kansas City Zoo’s Executive Director/CEO. “Each and every one of you that visited the Zoo this year helped us reach this goal. Having a million visitors enjoy the Zoo is a tribute to all the support this city and surrounding areas have provided. Thank you residents of Jackson and Clay County for supporting the Zoological District! We hope every day at our Zoo is a new adventure for you, your families and friends.”
There are at least a million more reasons to visit the Kansas City Zoo before the year comes to a close. Our adorable marsupial friends are heading back to San Diego very soon. Be sure to see the Koalas before they leave Kansas City on December 4. Catch our gentoo and king penguins marching in the chilly air outside Helzberg Penguin Plaza at 11 a.m. on weekends. Santa Claus is also making the journey from the North Pole to take a dip inside the cold penguin exhibit. See St. Nick diving with penguins on December 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 & 18 at 2 p.m.
Looking for holiday gifts or to treat yourself? Beginning on Black Friday, Kansas City Parks and Recreation is offering special holiday pricing on All-Access Annual Passes good at all 10 KC Parks community centers. With community centers located throughout the city, you’ll never have to go too far to get in a good workout!
The All-Access Pass is valid for the following:
Swim Lessons (at indoor pools only)
Public Ice Skating
All-Access Passes can be purchased at any community center or online at kcparks.org. This offer is only valid from November 25 through December 31, 2016.
With the holidays just around the corner, the Starlight STARS of Tomorrow are ready to help Kansas Citians get into the spirit of the season. The Starlight STARS will perform a holiday song and dance medley at a variety of community events in November and December.
Starlight Theatre’s musical theatre performance troupe this year showcases the talents of 26 students from middle and high schools across the metro. After entertaining Broadway audiences throughout the summer from Starlight’s Spotlight Stage, the young artists are now taking their new show on the road.
Below is a listing of the STARS’ 2016 holiday performance dates, times and locations. We hope to see you there!
Zona Rosa Lighting Ceremony
8640 N. Dixson Ave., KCMO 64153 Saturday, Nov. 19
5-5:15 p.m. – STARS perform once (NOTE: Timing is flexible due to the nature of the event.) Event Information
Santa’s Wonderland at Gillham Park – sponsored by Kansas City Parks and Rec
41st and Gillham Road, KCMO 64110 Friday, Dec. 2
6 p.m. – STARS perform once, just prior to Santa’s arrival Event Information
Santa’s Wonderland at Penguin Park – sponsored by Kansas City Parks and Rec
Northeast Vivion Road and North Norton Ave., KCMO 64119 Saturday, Dec. 3
5:30 p.m. – STARS perform once, just prior to Santa’s arrival Event Information
Powell Gardens Luminary Walk
1609 NW U.S. Highway 50, Kingsville, MO 64061 Saturday, Dec. 10
5:30-7:30 p.m. – STARS perform multiple times in the Marjorie Powell Allen Chapel Event Information
Kansas City Museum
3218 Gladstone Blvd., KCMO 64123 Saturday, Dec. 17
10-11:30 a.m. – STARS perform multiple times during the Fairy Princess festivities Event Information
2450 Grand Blvd., KCMO 64108 Sunday, Dec. 18
12:30 p.m. – STARS perform once in the main atrium by the food court Event Information
The Starlight STARS of Tomorrow program, for aspiring performers in grades 7 through 12, is generously supported by the Jeannette and Jerome Cohen Community Fund. Audition information for the 2017 STARS will be posted on kcstarlight.com in early December.