2020 Achievements

January
Johnson County Mental Health joined Kansas City’s Mental Health First Day

On Friday, January 31, Johnson County Mental Health Center joined mental health centers across the metro for Mental Health First Aid Day. Each of the seven community behavioral health centers serving the KC metro provided Mental Health First Aid training on the same day to promote mental wellness in Kansas City. Mental Health First Aid taught participants how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use disorders.

Community Health Assessment shared with a new campaign
The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment released the latest Community Health Assessment at HealthHappensHereJoCo.com. The site is a story accompanied by photography which illustrates how residents live, learn, work and play in Johnson County.

February
Cedar Niles Park groundbreaking held Feb. 1

A public groundbreaking ceremony for the first phase of the Johnson County Park & Recreation District’s future Cedar Niles Park in Olathe was held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1 at 25780 W. 135th St. in Olathe.

Open houses took place for the public to weigh in on the preferred concept for the new Johnson County Square
The public was invited to weigh in on the preferred concept for the new Johnson County Square in Olathe. Attendees of an open house on Feb. 4 had the first chance to see the concept and provide feedback.

March
JCMHC hosted first national co-responder conference

Johnson County Mental Health Center hosted 175 attendees from 18 different states at the inaugural National Co-Responder Conference. This first-of-its-kind conference celebrated collaborative programs that embed mental health professionals within law enforcement agencies, schools and other organizations.

April
Unique solutions to community problems

COVID-19 is a global pandemic with local effects. The Sheriff’s Office noted there was a limited supply of the personal protection equipment designed to keep those working on the front-lines safe. Forensic scientists at the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office Criminalistics Laboratory adapted a method for the sanitation and reuse of some of these valuable resources for our first responders.

Johnson County Mental Health Center expanded mental health services, resources in response to COVID-19
Johnson County Mental Health Center (JCMHC) modified and expanded services to respond to the increased community need. These shifts included adding staff to answer the 24/7 crisis line (913-268-0156), increasing caseloads, providing phone and curbside options for medication refills and providing psychosocial groups by Zoom.

Johnson County food pantries hosted virtual drive
Johnson County Human Services hosted a Virtual Food Drive using an Amazon Wish List through the end of summer, collecting non-perishable food and personal hygiene items for Johnson County residents in need. It was an effort to stock food pantries’ shelves while keeping residents safe and practicing social distancing guidelines. Since COVID-19 began, Human Services reported an increase in the number of calls for food pantry assistance.

Residents urged not to hesitate to call 911 in an emergency
Johnson County MED-ACT saw a marked decrease in calls regarding medical emergencies, specifically heart attacks, cardiac arrest and strokes. However, common sense told us that these medical emergencies did not actually decline, but it seemed that the calls for help in these situations were deferred due to the public’s fear of contracting coronavirus in medical emergency vehicles and hospitals.

May
JCDS received $25,000 grant from Kansas Health Foundation

Johnson County Developmental Supports was awarded a $25,000 grant through the Kansas Health Foundation’s Impact and Capacity Grants (ICG) initiative. This funding helped support COVID-19 response and recovery efforts for individuals in service, such as additional nutrition expenses, supplies and resources for individuals receiving support almost exclusively in their homes as day and employment programs were temporarily closed.

June
The impact of the murder of George Floyd reverberated across the metro

Following several days of protests and civil unrest across the metro, Johnson County leadership issued a joint message to the community on June 2.

In typical and challenging times, Johnson County received high ratings
Two surveys of Johnson County residents before and during the COVID-19 pandemic produced high marks for the county’s quality of life and overall satisfaction with county government.

Those were among the results in the 2020 Community Survey shared Thursday, June 4, with the Johnson County Board of Commissioners. The first survey involved a random sample of 1,527 Johnson County households by ETC Institute. The Olathe firm has conducted the county’s community survey since 2005.

Transit staff shared public comment results with BOCC
The Johnson County Board of County Commissioners viewed a presentation of the results of a transit public comment period from earlier in the year. The presentation was made during the board’s study session. The board planned to factor in this data when making decisions on recommendations for fixed route and micro transit service adjustments.

July
A’s all the way

Johnson County Government had the unique distinction of being one of only 42 counties that achieved a “triple, triple A” – a rating afforded to only the top 1.34% of all 3,141 counties. Johnson County was rated AAA/stable outlook from all three agencies, Moody’s Investors Service, S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings for its general obligation (GO) internal improvement bonds, which are largely issued for wastewater capital projects. The Public Building Commission issued lease-purchased revenue bonds for a variety of county and library building projects. All three agencies rated the county to be stable relative to revenues, supported by strategic budgeting practices and a strong, underlying economy.

Proposed FY 2021 budget maintained current mill levy
On July 9, County Manager Penny Postoak Ferguson presented her proposed FY 2021 Budget to the Board of County Commissioners during a Committee of the Whole session. The proposed budget included a stable mill levy for another year (later decreased by .25 mills by the BOCC). The proposed budget included impacts from the pandemic.

Office mailed 90,000+ ballots
The Johnson County Election Office mailed ballots for the August primary election to more than 90,000 voters in the county. The number of mailed ballots surpassed the total number of votes cast in the 2016 (78,653), 2012 (64,459), and 2008 (77,875) primary elections.

August
Johnson County Board of County Commissioners adopted FY 2021 budget with a mill levy reduction

On Aug. 20, the Johnson County Board of Commissioners adopted the FY 2021 budget that began Jan. 1, 2021. The board authorized a .25 mill levy reduction to the proposed budget for the County Taxing District. The BOCC approved the FY 2021 budgets for the Johnson County Library and the Johnson County Park and Recreation District as proposed in the County Manager’s budget. The mill levy reduction equates to approximately $2.8 million and came from reserves in 2021.

DOT awarded Johnson County more than $1 million for four pilot projects:
The Kansas Department of Transportation awarded Johnson County Transit one-time funding of $1,027,278 for four pilot projects and associated software and capital purchases, which included the expansion of the micro transit service area, a pilot for on-demand transportation programs focused on access to health care, neonatal care and fresh local food, and the purchase of new software and infrastructure improvements for transit vehicles. The funds, awarded at a 90/10 split, require the county to provide a local match in the amount of $102,728 from transit reserves. The Johnson Board of County Commission approved the match during its meeting, Aug. 13.

Johnson County Emergency Management and Communications implemented new program to help improve cardiac arrest survival:
With emergency medical service (EMS) providers, on average, arriving on scene in seven minutes following a 9-1-1 call, the chance of survival significantly improves when Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) telecommunicators guide callers on how to perform CPR. In August, Johnson County Emergency Management and Communications became the first public safety call center in Kansas to adopt Resuscitation Quality Improvement® Telecommunicator, a blended educational and resuscitation quality improvement program that provides continuous, simulation-based mastery learning, practice and analytics to telecommunicators for delivery of high-quality telephone CPR to bystanders.

Historic voter turnout expected in November
A total of 34% of Johnson County voters cast their votes in the August primary election, which was a record-setting voter turnout for a primary election.

September
Johnson County Courthouse reached milestone of substantial completion

The new Johnson County Courthouse reached the milestone of substantial completion. The project was under construction for just over two years leading up to this significant date in the overall timeline. The certificate of substantial completion was dated August 21, 2020, on the 356,821 square foot, seven story courthouse building which includes 28 courtrooms, secure in-custody circulation, state of the art technology, public gathering spaces and north parking lot.

Off-duty Johnson County firefighter and girlfriend rescued three people
It started as a relaxing day of fishing on the Kansas River for Johnson County District 2 Firefighter Andrew Eccles and his girlfriend, Breanna. But at 3:30 p.m., on Saturday, Aug. 22, things took a drastic turn when the couple noticed several people screaming for help. The Johnson County Board of County Commissioners recognized Andrew and Breanna for their heroism in saving lives. They received medals of courage and honor during the BOCC commission meeting.

County enhanced visibility of Aging Services
On Sept. 3, the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners gave the green light to enhance the visibility of the county’s Aging Services program - previously provided by the Department of Human Services - by changing that department’s name and reassigning some of the department’s non-aging services to another county department.

Micro transit offered additional important destinations
Beginning Monday, Sept. 14, micro transit – an on-demand, shared-ride transportation service – became available to more residents in Johnson County. The micro transit service area expanded to include important new destinations, including the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment, the new Johnson County Courthouse, and Merriam Town Center.

October
A new phase planned for New Century AirCenter economic development

When it comes to Johnson County economic development, activities such as developing land, creating tax incentives and attracting business are the responsibility of cities. The one place Johnson County Government supports the creation of economic development is at the New Century AirCenter in between Olathe and Gardner. After five years of work and several policy decisions by the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners in collaboration with the Johnson County Airport Commission, new economic development will be landing at the New Century AirCenter soon.

Center for Tech and Civic Life grant supported efforts to keep voters and staff safe
The Johnson County Election Office received a grant in the amount of $856,245 from the nonprofit, nonpartisan Center for Tech and Civic Life to help meet the challenges of administering a presidential election during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Board of County Commissioners authorized the grant on Oct. 8. The Election Office used the funds from the grant to expand and promote advance voting, install and secure ballot return boxes for mail ballots, purchase equipment for processing mail ballots and operating polling locations, and increase pay for election workers.

Directors say mental health is a public health issue, collaboration is key to community well-being
Johnson County Department of Health and Environment Director Dr. Sanmi Areola and Johnson County Mental Health Center Director Tim DeWeese issued a joint statement, Oct. 7, on the importance of making mental health a priority as we moved through the COVID-19 pandemic.

NACWA recognized four Johnson County Wastewater treatment facilities
Once again, Johnson County Wastewater was recognized for Peak Performance by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies. The Peak Performance Awards recognizes NACWA member agency facilities for excellence in permit compliance.

Johnson County saved taxpayers millions of dollars with bond issues at lower interests over remaining life of debt service
On Oct. 15, the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners authorized a series of bond sales to refinance existing debt considering current lower market interest rates, saving taxpayers millions of dollars.

Despite pandemic, real estate prices were up across Johnson County
Johnson County Appraiser Beau Boisvert said although we faced economic challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Johnson County saw an increase in real estate prices compared to last year (2019).

County moved housing and community development programs to Planning Department, two departments changed names
Several changes were approved on Sept. 3 by the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners, meant to enhance the visibility of the county’s Aging Services program and reassign some of the department’s non-aging services to another county department.

November
670 seniors received care packages from Johnson County Department on Aging and Human Services

Johnson County’s Department on Aging and Human Services made care package deliveries to 670 older adults in Johnson County on Nov. 23. The county partnered with the Olathe HyVee to deliver the packages free of charge.

Johnson County Museum recognized for service during pandemic
The Johnson County Museum was recognized with an Award of Excellence from the Kansas Museum Association for its efforts in three areas during the pandemic it is calling “Collect, Curate, Partner, Serve: Johnson County Museum’s Response to COVID-19.”

Johnson County’s annual Veterans Day observance took place virtually only
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Johnson County Veterans Day observance carried on its traditional recognition of local veterans on Wednesday, Nov. 11, beginning at 11 a.m. Considering the pandemic, organizers got creative with 2020’s observance. It was available online only in observance of guidelines for reducing/containing the spread of the coronavirus.

JoCo Sheriff's Office received grant to preserve digital evidence
Thanks to a grant, the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office acquired new technology to enhance the timeliness and quality of the forensic science services provided to the residents and agencies of Johnson County. The Johnson County Board of County Commissioners authorized the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office Criminalistics Laboratory to accept $200,000 in grant funding under the Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement grant program. This grant allowed the Criminalistics Laboratory to acquire a new, comprehensive, integrated Digital Evidence Management Systems (DEMS).

December
Johnson County performed well in 2020 Census

(Johnson County’s efforts in the 2020 census were recognized during the Weekly Manager’s memo in the Dec 3, 2020 Board of County Commissioners meeting - click on item #13.a to view the video.)
Johnson County answered the call to participate in the 2020 Census. We had the best self-response rate in Kansas with almost 80% completing the census.

Dozens of representatives from Johnson County Government, cities, school districts, chambers of commerce, faith-based organizations and community organizations served on the Johnson County Complete Count Committee, whose goal was to educate our community on the importance of the 2020 Census, as well as how to participate. An 18-month outreach campaign, Count Me in JoCo, helped Johnson County reach a 79.7% self-response rate, compared to 76.1% in the 2010 Census, with commendable participation in our cities and townships.

The state had a response rate just short of 70%. The national rate was 57%. An accurate census count is important to our county since it provides critical federal funding and determines congressional districts this decade.

Board of County Commissioners approved 2021 State Legislative platform
With the new year just around the corner, the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners voted during its regular meeting on Dec. 3 to approve the 2021 State Legislative Platform. The document served as the basis for the county’s advocacy efforts and priorities for the Kansas Legislature when it convened on Jan. 11, 2021.

Improvements to Johnson County Library’s Central Resource branch coming in 2021
Johnson County Library was excited to announce upcoming improvements for its Central Resource branch, 9875 W. 87th St., in Overland Park. As home to many departments that support all 14 Johnson County Library branches, such as Materials Handling, IT support, and Events and Programming staff, Central Resource Library is considered the heart of the system. The planned improvements to both public and staff spaces at Central will improve efficiency and quality of service across all branches.

JCW to use electric vehicles at expanded plant
Johnson County’s Tomahawk Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility (TCWTF), currently under construction in a multi-year expansion project, will add more electric vehicles to its fleet for cleaner, more cost-effective transportation.

New Century AirCenter became a BNSF Railway Certified Site
Southwest Johnson County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) attained Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. (BNSF) Railway’s Site Certification designation for New Century AirCenter. BNSF Certified Sites are reviewed by an industry expert to ensure accurate, reliable data with the goal of providing an inventory of rail-served sites that are available for immediate development.