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Nick’s Picks | Wearing Masks, Pondering Names and an Independence Day Like No Other

Plenty of Fireworks in Store This Week

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Above image credit: "Kansas City Week in Review" host Nick Haines. (John McGrath | Flatland)

Starting today, face masks are now mandatory in the metro’s largest city. Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas has declared that face coverings are required any time you go in an indoor public space, whether that’s a grocery or hardware store or to ride the streetcar or a bus. 

Starting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Wyandotte County will impose its own mandatory face mask policy. Johnson County is not joining them. The head of public health in Johnson County, Dr. Samni Areola, says “masks do work” but he doesn’t think a mandatory requirement is needed at this time. 

Expect these latest public health restrictions to set off a new round of confusion and questions. Kansas City already is being inundated with calls and emails from business owners and citizens about who should and shouldn’t be wearing them. 

Are you required to wear them while working out at the gym? 

And what are the consequences for not wearing one? Are the police going to arrest you?

Kansas City’s official policy is that everyone needs to put on a face covering with the exception of minors and people who have been told by a health or legal professional not to wear one. 

Andrew Jackson

Should two statues of Andrew Jackson, America’s seventh president, be removed from outside the Jackson County Courthouses in downtown Kansas City and in Independence? Today Jackson County Executive Frank White will ask the county legislature to form a special committee and begin public hearings on moving the two statues. 

Statue of Andrew Jackson
Jackson County is considering whether to remove statues of Andrew Jackson from in front of county courthouses in downtown Kansas City and Independence. (Cody Boston | Flatland)

In a statement, White says Jackson was “a man who owned hundreds of slaves, opposed the abolitionist movement and caused thousands of Native Americans to die when he forced them out of their homeland for white settlement.” The statue of President Jackson outside the downtown courthouse was vandalized late last week. 

Nichols Name Dropping

After wrapping up a series of public town halls on the future of the J.C. Nichols Fountain and the J.C. Nichols Parkway, the Kansas City Parks Board meets Tuesday. It’s unclear whether park commissioners will vote at that meeting to remove Nichols name.

In a press release, the board says it’s continuing to gather input on choosing an appropriate name replacement until July 9th. While Nichols was a pioneering developer, he also used racial covenants that blocked people of color from living in his housing developments. 

K-State Boycott

How much clout does a football team have to change university policies? We may find out this week.

Kansas State University football players are boycotting team activities until administrators create a policy that would allow a student to be expelled for “openly racist, threatening or disrespectful actions.”

The move follows a tweet by a K-State student about George Floyd. Four weeks after Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, the student had tweeted, “Congratulations to George Floyd on being drug free for an entire month.”

Two years ago, K-State claimed in a statement. “It’s not the proper role of the university to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable or even deeply offensive.”

Will this latest standoff with its high-profile football team cause them to rethink that stand?

We’ll be watching. 

Deanna Rose Farmstead

On Wednesday the barn doors finally swing back open at the Deanna Rose Farmstead, albeit with lots of restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Overland Park attraction is home to 250 animals. It’s named after the first police officer in Overland Park killed in the line of duty. 

Independence Day Fireworks

We’ll be celebrating a Fourth of July like no other in recent memory on Saturday. Many public firework displays have been canceled due to concerns about how large crowds could spread the coronavirus. One of the metro’s biggest shows, Riverfest, was among the first to call off the festivities. 

But some cities are moving forward. 

Olathe, Gardner, Stillwell and Overland Park are all still planning to light up the Kansas sky on Saturday. 

So are Excelsior Springs, Harrisonville, Oak Grove, Pleasant Hill and Smithville in Missouri. Worlds of Fun also has a show. But you have to buy a ticket to enter the park. 

Edgerton plans to beat all of them to the punch. The community is celebrating America’s Independence from the British with a fireworks display Friday night. 

Here’s another trend to note. With most communities canceling displays, fireworks stands are reporting explosive sales even though most area cities still have ordinances in place that make the sale, use or possession of fireworks illegal. 

Nick Haines tracks the week’s top local news stories Fridays at 7:30 p.m. on KCPT’s “Kansas City Week in Review.”

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