With the arrival of flu season, you may be worrying more about the high costs of prescription drugs — especially if you don’t have health insurance. The Green Impact Zone recently learned about a prescription drug card program called the “Kansas Drug Card” that can help save as much as 55 percent off retail prescription prices. It’s free for everyone, and there are no eligibility requirements or applications to fill out. The card is accepted at more than 56,000 pharmacies nationwide. Even though it’s called the “Kansas” Drug Card, the program’s coverage has recently expanded to include both the Kansas and Missouri sides of the bistate Kansas City area, including the Green Impact Zone. Click here for more details and get your pre-activated discount card.
November 9, 2012
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November 5, 2012
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Last Thursday afternoon, three of our Green Impact Zone staff had the opportunity to walk through the Troostwood neighborhood with public works staff, a city forester and several neighborhood residents.
Using TIGER grant funds, the city’s Public Works Department is beginning to work on replacing sidewalks in Troostwood, which unfortunately will involve removing a few mature trees.
Several weeks ago, when something similar happened in the Manheim neighborhood, a group of protesters — most of whom don’t live in the neighborhood — called TV news crews and staged “performance art” by chaining themselves to trees.
While the Manheim Park Neighborhood Association worked closely with the city to balance the need to replace broken sidewalks with the desire to preserve as many trees as possible — resulting in modifications that saved some 40 trees — their efforts were drowned out by strident voices from those protesters who would not accept the loss of a single tree, even at the expense of residents’ safety.
In the Troostwood neighborhood, concerned residents took a different approach.
Initially, the city had marked only seven or eight trees for removal, but when that number jumped to 15, longtime resident and neighborhood association officer Joe Beckerman wanted to know why. After a series of emails back and forth with city staff, Joe still had questions, so he worked with Sean Demory of the Public Works Department to organize the neighborhood walk. Participants met in the 5000 block of Forest and went tree by tree, discussing the issues involved in sidewalk replacement.
As a result, the project managers and forestry staff concluded that it may be possible to save several of the trees by slightly modifying the sidewalk with a block-out technique and shaving back the tree roots by a modest amount. Specifically, they identified trees at 5009 Forrest, 4956 Forrest and 4937 Forrest as good candidates for this procedure.
A final determination can’t be made until the old sidewalk is removed. If the procedure would result in too much damage to a tree, it will have to be removed. If that happens, city staff will notify the property owner and discuss options.
In an email today, Joe Beckerman said “I want to thank all of you who have followed this process and provided input. I believe in the long run we will have increased the value of our Troostwood neighborhood with new curbs/ sidewalks/fire hydrants and especially the remaining mature trees.”
We want to thank Joe, and applaud Troostwood residents for working with the city and communicating with the Green Impact Zone in a manner that provided for respectful, open dialog.
October 17, 2012
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Congratulations to KCP&L on the recent unveiling of the new SmartGrid Innovation Park. Green Impact Zone Director Anita Maltbia joined U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, Kansas City Councilmembers Cindy Circo, Melba Curls, Jim Glover and others for a ribbon cutting at 4724 Tracy on Friday, Oct. 12.
KCP&L designed the SmartGrid Innovation Park as an educational experience for the whole family — a place where guests can explore and learn more about the SmartGrid and how it is transforming the community.
With the help of a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, KCP&L is investing more than $48 million in the SmartGrid Demonstration Project in and around the Green Impact Zone. The SmartGrid will provide some 14,000 KCP&L customers with new tools to manage their electricity use and costs, along with significant upgrades to the infrastructure that provides residents with reliable electric power.
The SmartGrid Innovation Park contains a walking path and sitting plaza that surround a large, sophisticated lithium ion battery and a solar panel array — both of which help the grid meet the energy needs of people who live and work within the SmartGrid Demonstration Area. It also houses an electric vehicle charging station and an information kiosk. The park is open seven days a week and admission is free.
October 4, 2012
When neighborhood leaders in the Green Impact Zone began drafting strategies to transform the community, infrastructure improvements were high on the list. The Kansas City region secured a TIGER grant — federal stimulus funds through a program called Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER — to pay for sidewalk, curb and street improvements that will make it safer and easier for residents to get around.
Work is currently underway to repair and replace sidewalks in several neighborhoods in the Green Impact Zone. Unfortunately, in some cases, this means removing mature trees. Trees are a vital part of any neighborhood, and the city’s Public Works and Parks & Recreation departments work to retain every tree possible during infrastructure repair or new construction.
Back in 2010, before any of the TIGER improvements began, the city of Kansas City, Mo., completed all necessary environmental and historical reviews and submitted plans to the Federal Transit Administration, the agency overseeing the grant funds, for approval. The FTA issued what’s known as a “Categorical Exclusion,” the official approval necessary for the project to proceed. The city recently submitted an amended plan with complete details about tree removals, and the FTA has authorized the city to move forward with the project.
We’ve heard from a lot of people over the past few weeks — many who live in the neighborhoods affected, and many who do not. Some are eagerly anticipating safer, smoother sidewalks, while others deplore the loss of any trees under any circumstances.
The Green Impact Zone worked with the city of Kansas City and the Mid-America Regional Council to develop a fact sheet that answers some of the questions people have asked about the trees. We’ve also added a detailed map created by the KCMO Public Works department to our website. By zooming in on this PDF file, you can see which trees are scheduled for removal and which trees will remain.
The city has made a firm commitment to plant two trees for every tree that is cut down. The exact species and location will be determined by city foresters using an approved tree list that uses best practices for “the right tree in the right place” to accommodate future growth.
With support from the TIGER grant, Green Impact Zone residents will enjoy smoother, safer sidewalks for many years to come — with no out-of-pocket expenses for property owners. All told, more than $26 million will be spent on infrastructure in the Green Impact Zone. In addition to sidewalk repair, TIGER funds will pay for new curbs and driveway approaches, traffic signal improvements, new transit facilities and street resurfacing — including new pervious pavement to help with stormwater runoff.
When you consider that Kansas City normally has less than $5 million per year to spend on sidewalk repair in the entire city of more than 300 square miles, this in an amazing investment in a relatively small area.
September 24, 2012
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Congratulations to Kenneth Alexander, a recent graduate of the Green Impact Zone’s Essential Employability Skills (EES), on his new job!
The Green Impact Zone hosted an interview fair for EES graduates on Sept. 17. One of the participating firms, New Horizons LLC — a Kansas City-based company that provides a comprehensive range of environmental services, including asbestos, lead and mold remediation — hired Kenneth as a laborer/asbestos worker the following week.
“New Horizons was pleased to participate in the Green Impact Zone interview fair,” said Stephanie Isaacson, New Horizons president. “We appreciate what the Green Impact Zone is doing for the community’s underemployed and unemployed residents. The zone spent an entire week training these individuals in life/job skills that they need to be successful in their future careers, and also pre-screened these individuals to make the interview fair a most valuable experience for New Horizons. We were able to hire one person from this experience and look forward to using the Green Impact Zone as a recruitment source for future hiring needs.”
The Green Impact Zone will hold its next EES training in October. EES is a free, week-long training for unemployed and underemployed residents. It provides a refresher on basic skills for job seekers, such as a strong resume, a professional appearance, interviewing skills and a good work ethic. EES is designed to complement the ‘hard skills’ training and job placement services provided by organizations such as the Full Employment Council and Institute for Workforce Innovation.
Those who successfully complete the zone’s EES program are entered into a jobs pipeline. The Green Impact Zone staff keeps them informed about job openings and connects them with employers and other job placement service providers.
The Green Impact Zone provides each EES graduate with a certificate of completion and continuous job leads, but participation does not guarantee graduation. In order to graduate, participants must arrive on time, dress in business attire and demonstrate professionalism each day. For more information, contact the Green Impact Zone at 816-936-8803.
September 13, 2012
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When Google announced details about its ultra-high-speed Internet service on July 26, all of Kansas City was excited. Here at the Green Impact Zone, we were particularly excited about the potential for free connections at the schools and public institutions that serve our neighborhoods. We were also excited about Google’s plan to help shrink the digital divide by offering free Internet connectivity for seven years (at lower speeds) for a minimal installation charge.
Google came up with a demand-based plan to determine where the fiber service would go and who would get it first. They divided the city into “Fiberhoods” and set a goal for how many residents had to pre-register (by paying a $10 fee online) to qualify each neighborhood for the service.
A few days later, it was clear to see where Google Fiber was definitely going to be installed. On Google’s Fiberhood map, neighborhoods west of Troost — the city’s historic racial dividing line — were meeting their goals very quickly, while east of Troost the registrations were much slower.
Our Green Impact Zone staff knew immediately that the problem wasn’t lack of demand, but lack of education. We didn’t want our neighborhoods and residents to be left behind, so we contacted the Google Fiber Team and met with them. We explained the Green Impact Zone’s mission of community transformation and talked about how Google Fiber could help our efforts. For example, we learned from the Fiber team that just having a house wired for Google Fiber could raise the property value anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000! The schools and libraries in our communities need free high-speed Internet, and our lower-income residents could definitely benefit from having free Internet access, too.
We asked the Fiber team how they calculated their pre-registration goals for each Fiberhood, and made sure they understood some of the unique challenges in our neighborhoods, such as the large number of vacant properties and the high percentage of renters. We worked hard to make sure that Google understood the concerns of the neighborhood associations and residents in Green Impact Zone neighborhoods.
Then we got busy! We helped organize door-to-door engagement of residents using volunteers from the neighborhoods to share information about all of our Green Impact Zone strategies and about Google Fiber. We helped the Fiber team schedule informational events at churches and other locations in the zone.
Shontrice Patillo, our office administrator, used her contacts to get detailed data about vacant lots and structures in the zone. This data supported our contention that Google’s initial numbers for our neighborhoods were high, and as a result of Shontrice’s efforts the registration goals for most of the Fiberhoods in the zone were lowered.
But even with lower goals and all of our outreach efforts, many of the zone’s neighborhoods were still a far cry from meeting their goals as September began, with the registration deadline just a few days away. Without enough time to educate all of our residents about the importance of Internet connectivity — how it could help schools, public institutions and individuals — we needed help. Zone staff reached out to Paint the Town Green, an effort launched by the Social Media Club of Kansas City to help urban core neighborhoods qualify for Google Fiber. With help from Paint the Town Green and our neighborhood leaders, we were able to connect with funders who were willing to pay the $10 registration fee for residents who were interested in Google Fiber but either couldn’t afford the fee, didn’t have a debit card to pay online, or didn’t have access to a computer to sign up.
With help from a team of volunteers, we began a final push, registering hundreds of residents on the Google website. This was a tedious process that took the better part of a week and a large amount of patience — from those of us doing the registrations and from our families and friends.
In the end, we’re pleased to announce that all of the Fiberhoods associated with the neighborhoods we serve in the Green Impact Zone met their pre-registration goals!
While the Green Impact Zone doesn’t recommend one Internet provider over another, we want our residents to have the same range of options available to them as other neighborhoods. Thanks to all of these efforts, zone residents will now have the option to access Google Fiber in their homes — and ultra-high-speed Internet will be available for the schools and public institutions that serve our residents!
September 11, 2012
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In today’s job market, applicants often need an edge just to get a foot in the door — especially in the urban core, where unemployment rates are approaching 50 percent in some areas. The Green Impact Zone is helping job seekers stand out from the crowd with a free, week-long Essential Employability Skills (EES) training for unemployed and underemployed residents.
“For those who’ve been out of the job market for a while, or for those looking to step up to a better job, we provide a refresher on the basics they need to get started — a strong resume, a professional appearance, interviewing skills and a good work ethic,” said Twana Hall-Scott, assistant director of the Green Impact Zone. “This refresher course complements the ‘hard skills’ training and job placement services provided by organizations like the Full Employment Council and Institute for Workforce Innovation. EES doesn’t try to reinvent or duplicate what other organizations are already doing, but supplements those efforts and positions our residents to be successful in the job market.”
In August, the zone conducted two EES sessions with a total of 29 participants — residents from the Green Impact Zone and other parts of the city, including some enrolled in the Metropolitan Energy Center’s environmental remediation training. The second session, held Aug. 27–31, included an introduction to business management for five small-business entrepreneurs. It targeted residents of the Manheim neighborhood who are seeking employment related to the upcoming redevelopment of the vacant Bancroft School into housing units by the Dalmark Group and the Make It Right Foundation. EES training was facilitated by Twana Hall-Scott and Anwar Jones of the Green Impact Zone, Florene Bellows of U* R*MPLOYABLE and Rodney Knott of ReEngage, Inc.
In addition to training, August participants received an added bonus. Rodney Knott worked with Men’s Wearhouse to provide free suits and dress shirts to men in both classes, and Lewis Smith of Diamond Knots provided free men’s ties. Women who participated received business attire from Connections to Success. Participants in the second class also received catered lunches each day, courtesy of the Haddad Restaurant Group. “It’s so rewarding to see local businesses get excited about the possibilities a program like this offers and get involved,” said Anita Maltbia, Green Impact Zone director.
Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II attended a graduation celebration for EES participants on Aug. 30 at the zone office. He congratulated the class on completing the training and complimented their new looks. He shared a story about his own lessons in the importance of a professional appearance from his early days campaigning for the office of mayor in Kansas City and told the graduates “Employers will hire you over the next guy who doesn’t look this sharp. I’d hire you over the next guy.”
Cleaver also encouraged the group to use their new skills to help transform the community: “Get a job. Earn a paycheck every week. You’re worth it.”
The Green Impact Zone’s involvement with EES graduates doesn’t end with the weeklong class. Those who successfully complete the program are entered into a jobs pipeline, and zone staff work hard to keep them informed about job openings and connect them with employers and other job placement service providers. On the last day of the first August session, four employers — Garmin, CareGivers, Truman Medical Center and Green Vet — accepted the Green Impact Zone’s invitation to interview current and past EES graduates. Another interview fair for EES graduates is scheduled for September 17.
The Green Impact Zone provides each graduate with a certificate of completion and continuous job leads, but participation does not guarantee graduation. In order to graduate, participants must arrive on time, dress in business attire and demonstrate professionalism each day.
The next EES training will be held in October. For more information about EES or the Green Impact Zone, call 816-936-8803 or visit www.greenimpactzone.org. The Green Impact Zone is also on Facebook (www.facebook.com/greenimpactzone) and Twitter (@greenimpactzone).
August 1, 2012
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by Angela Pearson, Green Impact Zone intern
On July 21, Kansas City residents joined the Green Impact Zone for our third annual Urban Homes Tour. The large coach bus was packed full with 43 eager prospective homebuyers. The tour visited homes in the Ivanhoe, Troostwood and Blue Hills neighborhoods. Twana Hall-Scott, assistant director at the Green Impact Zone, narrated the tour and shared news about upcoming developments within the center city area. The guests also visited the Vineyard Neighborhood Association.
Following the tour were educational homebuyer workshops. Representatives from our sponsors — US Bank, Bank of Kansas City and Capitol Federal — spoke to guests about getting loans and explained other financial aspects of the homebuying process. The Housing Authority of Kansas City, our hosting partner, also shared valuable information. Ten lucky residents each won a $30 discount for the home-ownership counseling class, normally $50, offered by Neighborhood Housing Services.
The tour showed residents that buying a home is a feasible alternative. Our guests left the Green Impact Zone with a new perspective, more informed and inspired to pursue their dreams of being homeowners.
July 23, 2012
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Tuesday, August 7, marks the date for Missouri primary elections. As a non-partisan organization, the Green Impact Zone recognizes the power of informed voting and even contributes to voter registration efforts. The purpose of the primary election in August is to narrow the field of candidates for elected positions before the general election in November. Several positions are up for election at the federal, state and local levels, including: U.S. Senator, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Senator, State Representative, Prosecuting Attorney and Sheriff.
The primary ballot will also feature three issue items. Issue items aim to solve local or statewide matters. Voters in Missouri will vote on Constitutional Amendment No. 2, and residents of Kansas City, Mo., will decide the fate of Questions 1 and 2 (see text below). Links to state and local government sources for more information are also provided.
STATEWIDE BALLOT ISSUE:
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 2
Proposed by the 96th General Assembly
(First Regular Session) HJR 2
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to ensure:
- That the right of Missouri citizens to express their religious beliefs shall not be infringed;
- That school children have the right to pray and acknowledge God voluntarily in their schools; and
- That all public schools shall display the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution.
It is estimated this proposal will result in little or no costs or savings for state and local governmental entities.
KANSAS CITY BALLOT ISSUES:
Shall the City of Kansas City, Missouri:
- Prohibit the renewal of the expired annual $12.50 per motor vehicle fee,
- Cease billing and collecting the trafficway maintenance tax by setting its assessment at $0.00,
- Cease billing and collecting the park and boulevard maintenance tax by setting its assessment at $0.00,
- Cease billing and collecting the boulevards and parkways front foot assessment by setting its assessment at $0.00,
- Enact as a replacement a parks sales tax of ½-cent authorized by Section 644.032 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri for the purpose of providing for the maintenance and operations of local parks, parkways, boulevards and community centers,
- Establish a dedicated fund to be used exclusively for street maintenance, and
- Transfer no less than 7.5% of the net annual earnings tax receipts to the dedicated street maintenance fund effective January 1, 2013 and each following year for as long as the parks sales tax is in effect?
Shall the City of Kansas City, Missouri issue sanitary sewer system revenue bonds in the principal amount not to exceed $500,000,000 for the purpose of extending and improving the sanitary sewer system of the City, including compliance with the federally mandated Consent Decree for the Overflow Control Program, with the principal and interest of the bonds to be payable solely from the revenues derived by the City from the operation of its sanitary sewer system?
July 19, 2012
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The Kansas City Region’s TIGER grant — Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery — includes $26.2 million for improvements in the Green Impact Zone. We’re documenting progress on TIGER projects with videos, and want to share with you our latest episode, which focuses on improvements to the Troost Avenue bridge and other parts of the Green Impact Zone. It specifically highlights a pedestrian bridge/walkway that will be built soon along Brush Creek, funded by the region’s TIGER grant.
Watch the four-minute video at http://www.marc.org/TIGER/video.asp.