Nick’s picks | Earth Day, Fountain Day and various comings and goings

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Image credit above: Nick Haines, host of “Kansas City Week in Review”. (John McGrath | Flat Earth)

Rick Smith hung up his badge this week as Kansas City’s top cop.

The Chief of Police’s last day is this Friday.

Before leaving, Smith will stop by PBS studios in Kansas City to join me on “Week in Review”.

After five turbulent years, this is one exit interview you won’t want to miss.

You can watch this deeply personal interview this Friday at 7:30 p.m. on Kansas City PBS.

Catch up

New Mayor at Independence

Independence has a new leader this week.

Missouri Rep. Rory Rowland will be officially sworn in as mayor today.

He succeeds Eileen Weir, who led Independence since 2014.

As the city celebrates its new mayor, flags will fly at half mast outside all city buildings.

Tuesday is the funeral of longtime Independence Councilwoman Karen DeLuccie, who died of lung cancer last week. She had just been elected for a third term.

Bedell speaks to the police board

Just days after a 14-year-old boy was stabbed to death in a college bathroom, Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Mark Bedell will appear before the Board of Police Commissioners on Tuesday.

Bedell will outline school safety procedures and discuss new efforts to protect students.

The murder happened at Northeast Middle School last Tuesday. A 14-year-old student accused of stabbing Manny Guzman has been charged with first degree murder, criminal action with a weapon and unlawful use of a weapon.

It remains unclear how he managed to get the knife inside the building, bypassing strict security protocols that include metal detectors and requiring all students to use see-through backpacks.

Parental Rights Vs. Trans Rights

Missouri lawmakers are getting back to work this week and high on the agenda are two bills that are gaining national attention.

One is a new “Parents’ Bill of Rights” that allows parents to challenge teaching materials they deem inappropriate or harmful.

A second bill would ban transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports.

On Friday, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly vetoed two similar bills introduced to her by Kansas lawmakers.

Topeka Republicans threaten to override Kelly. But that will have to wait. The Kansas legislature is on an extended break and won’t return to the Capitol until next week.

Masks on planes, trains and buses

I have this day circled in my reporter’s notebook for weeks.

This is the date when Kansas Citizens would no longer have to wear masks to board a plane at Kansas City International Airport or to hop on a bus or streetcar.

But take out your mask, the White House has once again pressed the pause button.

With a further increase in COVID-19 cases, particularly on the East Coast, the mask mandate has been extended through May 3.

earth day

This Friday marks Earth Day.

First held in 1970, it is the day dedicated globally to highlight efforts to protect the environment.

Kansas City’s biggest Earth Day event takes place on Saturday.

The 2022 Earth Festival features talks with political and scientific leaders, a giveaway of trees, a fair for green vendors and a local environmental film showcase.

The event at Unity Temple in the Plaza is free, but you must pre-register online.

Fountain Day

We have another holiday to celebrate this week.

There is no parade and you have no free time, but this Tuesday is Fountain Day.

It was then that the city’s 48 public fountains came back to life.

I’m not sure there is another city in the United States that has set aside a special day to light its fountains. But then again, there is no other place in the country that is bold enough to call itself “the city of fountains”.

City leaders will mark Greater Kansas City Fountain Day this Tuesday with a special ceremony at Anita B. Gorman Park in Northland. The solemn lighting of the fountains will begin at 10 a.m.

Pianist Pushback

Should we now cancel everything related to Russia? Requests are mounting to cancel a famous Russian pianist performing at the Folly Theater this week.

The London Times calls Daniil Trifonov “undoubtedly the most amazing pianist of our time”.

But his perceived reluctance to criticize Russian behavior in Ukraine prompted a backlash from local patrons. Even the Kansas City Star editorial board weighed in writing that “unless the Russian-born pianist speaks out against atrocities, his KC show must not continue.”

As of this writing, Trifonov is still scheduled to take the stage at the Folly this Sunday night, as part of his Harriman-Jewell concert series.

Parade of houses

Anyone who has been looking to buy a home recently knows how painful and upsetting this process can be right now.

Even though it seems like every house for sale in Kansas City sells out in seconds and for a much higher price, the organizers of the “Spring Parade of Homes” have managed to pull off a miracle.

They actually found 230 homes that you can still buy.

The Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City’s annual event begins this Saturday.

Best of all, free.

The parade, which is actually a drive from house to house, showcases the best of new home construction from each part of the metro.

The long pandemic has changed our priorities of what we want in our living spaces.

Home offices are all the rage. And local homeowners want to feel more connected to the outdoors, which is why large floor-to-ceiling windows are in high demand. The same goes for fire pits and covered patios where homeowners can set up a big screen and chairs for watching movies.

But good luck trying to find something to buy without agreeing to part with a lot more money than the asking price and maybe a commitment to give up your first child.

It’s time for “Gogh”

After months of delay, a new “Van Gogh” exhibition opens this week.

Elaborate digital projections will allow you to feel surrounded by Van Gogh’s most famous works, including the artist’s signature sunflowers.

Does this sound like the show that just ended at Starlight? Well, they are quite similar.

This second “immersive Van Gogh” exhibition is heading to Northland. It opens this Thursday in one of the largest spaces in the Zona Rosa shopping center.

The exhibition lasts until July 4.

Join the week of “celebrities”

We might call this “celebrity week” here in Kansas City.

Hip-hop legends Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube take up residence at the Azura Amphitheater this Friday night. It’s the new name for the place we still like to call Sandstone, even though it hasn’t officially been called that in 20 years.

Comedian Chelsea Handler is at the Uptown Theater this Saturday and Sunday night.

And Planet Comicon is bringing a cavalcade of random stars to town. They range from the original “Karate Kid” Ralph Macchio to Mark-Paul Gosselaar of “Saved by the Bell”. You can also see the Liberty Bell 7, America’s second manned spacecraft, which was launched in 1961. It is on loan to Planet Comicon from the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Museum in Hutchinson.

Planet Comicon is an all-weekend affair. It begins Friday and continues through Sunday at the Kansas City Convention Center.

Nick Haines, follows the week’s most impactful local news on “Kansas City Week in Review,” Friday at 7:30 p.m. on Kansas City PBS.

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