Voters in the Prairie Township and Lotawana fire protection districts – the former which includes some neighborhoods in south Blue Springs – voted down a proposed merger of the two districts Tuesday.
The proposed Southern Jackson County Fire Protection District also could have included a new fire station in south Blue Springs, where many residents have grumbled about Prairie Township response times. Separate questions for bonds to pay for that station, as well as a sales tax and accompanying property tax rollback for additional revenue also were voted down.
In Prairie Township, which covers 32 square miles and has a station at Langsford and Milton-Thompson roads just east of Lee's Summit, voters turned down the merger 579-380. They said no to the bonds 586-371 and no to the sales tax 595-361.
In Lotawana, voters turned down the merger by just one vote, 212-211, and the other no votes were 232-192 for the bonds and 221-201 on the sales tax.
Susan Culpepper, a Blue Springs City Council member whose district includes the neighborhoods in Prairie Township, called the result “unfortunate” and said she is not sure what the next steps will be.
“It concerns me that those residents are still not going to get the fire and ambulance service they deserve,” Culpepper said. “It takes (Prairie Township) a long time to get there. They have some regrouping to do.
“I was truly surprised it went down with such a defeat. I knew there was some opposition; I knew some people south of (U.S.) 50 were not happy about it, but I really thought Blue Springs would carry it out. Of course, it didn't matter because Lotawana didn't approve it either. It had to be an all-or-nothing deal.”
Most of the Blue Springs is in the Central Jackson County Fire Protection District. A couple years ago a group of south Blue Springs citizens in Prairie Township had sued in an attempt to be released from Prairie Township so they could petition to join CJC.
Culpepper said the court has ruled that only the fire district boards, not citizens, can redraw lines of a fire district, which is its own political body. The Prairie Township board would have release the Blue Springs neighborhoods first.
The lawsuit is still open, and Prairie Township has had a new board member and a new chief – Bill Large oversees both Prairie Township and Lotawana – since the suit was filed.
“Quite honestly, Blue Springs as a city has lived up to what we said we would do,” Culpepper said, referring to land the city purchased off Wyatt Road where the new fire station would have been built. “We'll see how it plays out.”
GRAIN VALLEY SCHOOLS: Voters in the Grain Valley School District overwhelming approved $11.5 in bonds for the fourth phase of the long-term high school expansion/renovation project.
With 1,772 votes cast, 76.7 percent approved the bonds – 1,359 yes votes to 413 no votes. Construction will take place over the 2018-19 school year.
FORT OSAGE SCHOOLS: Voters in the Fort Osage School District retained board or education members Floyd Hawkins and Diana Rice in a four-person race.
Hawkins, currently the board president, tallied 1,103 votes and Rice 697, followed by John Yocum with 655 and April Flowers with 427. There were 15 write-in votes.
SUGAR CREEK: The city's board of aldermen will see some change, as Ward 1 challenger Christopher Steffen defeated incumbent Lorcan Doyle by 130-89 margin. Doyle had been on the board since winning a special election in 2009.
In Ward 2, voters retained Robert Ray by a 73-49 margin over Michael Schneller.
LEE'S SUMMIT: Bill Baird, a local Realtor and former school district board member, won a three-way race for mayor Tuesday.
Out of 8,953 votes cast, Baird had 43.7 percent (4,234), ahead of Ron Williams at 29 percent (2,599) and former Mayor Pro-Tem Rob Binney at 23.5 percent (2,102). There were 18 write-in votes.
Baird will succeed Randy Rhoads, who had served his allowable two terms.
In the City Council races, voters in District 1 chose incumbent Diane Forte over Robert Dye 907-792; District 2 voters went with incumbent Trish Carlyle over John Elkin 1,501-1,194; and District 4 voters chose Bob Johnson over Donna Gordon 1,307-893 and incumbent Fred DeMoro narrowly over Casey Crawford 1,107-1,079 to fill an unexpired term. In District 3, the northernmost district. Beto Lopez defeated incumbent Diane Seif by just five votes, 1,106-1,101, with four write-in votes. The Jackson County Election Board will conduct a recount by hand Monday for that race.
INDEPENDENCE SCHOOLS: There was no election for the Independence Schools Board of Education, as three candidates filed for the three open seats. Greg Finke returns to the board, joined by Carrie Dixon and Eric Knipp, replacing Ann Franklin and Ken Johnston.
VOTER TURNOUT: Unofficial results from the Jackson County Elections Board showed turnout at 14.67 percent across Eastern Jackson County – 30,200 total ballots from 205,972 registered voters. Election results are scheduled to be certified April 12.