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Nick’s Picks | Earth Day, Fountain Day and Various Comings and Goings Busy Week Ahead in Kansas City

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Above image credit: "Kansas City Week in Review" host Nick Haines. (John McGrath | Flatland)
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Rick Smith hangs up his badge this week as Kansas City’s top cop.

The police chief’s last day is this Friday.

Before he heads out the door, Smith will swing by the Kansas City PBS studios to join me on “Week in Review.” 

After five turbulent years, it’s an exit interview you won’t want to miss.

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

Catching Up

New Mayor in Independence

Independence gets a new leader this week.

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

He succeeds Eileen Weir, who has led Independence since 2014.

While the city celebrates its new mayor, flags will be flying at half mast outside all city buildings.  

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

Bedell Speaks to Police Board

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

Bedell will outline security procedures at the school and discuss new efforts to protect students.

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

It’s still unclear how he managed to bring the knife inside the building, bypassing strict security protocols that include metal detectors and a requirement that all students use clear backpacks.

Parents Rights Vs. Trans Rights

Missouri lawmakers get back to work this week and high on the agenda are a pair of bills attracting national attention.

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

A second bill would ban transgender athletes from competing in girls sports.

On Friday, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed two similar bills brought to her by Kansas lawmakers.

Republicans in Topeka are threatening 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 had today circled in my reporter’s notebook for weeks now. 

It is the date Kansas Citians 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 dig your mask back out, the White House has hit the pause button yet again. 

With a new uptick in COVID-19 cases, particularly on the East Coast, the mask mandate has been extended until May 3.

Earth Day

This Friday marks Earth Day. 

First held in 1970, it is the day set aside globally to spotlight efforts to protect the environment.

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

Earth Festival 2022 features discussions with political and scientific leaders, a tree giveaway, a green vendor fair and a local environmental film showcase. 

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

Fountain Day

We have another holiday to celebrate this week.

There’s no parade and you don’t get any time off work, but this Tuesday is Fountain Day.

It’s when the city’s 48 publicly operated fountains spring back to life.

I’m not sure there’s any other city in the United States that has a special day set aside to turn its fountains on. But then again, there’s no other place in the country that is audacious 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 the Northland. The ceremonial turning on of fountains will start at 10 a.m.

Pianist Pushback

Do we now have to cancel everything to do with Russia?  Demands are growing to cancel a famed Russian pianist performing at the Folly Theater this week. 

The London Times calls Daniil Trifonov “without question the most astounding pianist of our age.” 

But his perceived reluctance to criticize Russian behavior in Ukraine has prompted pushback from local arts patrons. Even the Kansas City Star’s editorial board has weighed in writing that “unless the Russian-born pianist denounces atrocities, his KC show must not go on.”

As of this writing, Trifonov is still scheduled to take the stage at the Folly this Sunday night, as part of its Harriman-Jewell Concert Series.

Parade of Homes

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

Even though it seems that every house for sale in Kansas City is snapped up in seconds and for way over asking price, organizers of the “Spring Parade of Homes” have managed to work a miracle. 

They’ve actually found 230 homes you can still buy.

The annual event from the Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City starts this Saturday. 

Best of all, it’s free. 

The parade, which actually involves you driving from one home to another, features the best in new home construction from every part of the metro.

The long pandemic has shifted our priorities about what we want in our living spaces. 

Home offices are in. And local homeowners want to feel more connected to the outdoors, so expansive floor to ceiling windows are in high demand. So are outdoor fireplaces and covered terraces where homeowners can set out a large screen and chairs to watch movies. 

But good luck trying to find anything to buy without agreeing to part with way more cash than the asking price and possibly a commitment to give up your first-born child.

Time to “Gogh”

After months of delay, a new walk-through “Van Gogh” exhibit opens this week.

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

Does it sound like the show that just closed at Starlight? Well, they’re pretty similar. 

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

The exhibit runs through July 4.

Bump into ‘Celebs’ Week

We might be able to call this “bump into celebrities week” here in Kansas City.

Hip-hop legends Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube take up residence at the Azura Amphitheater this Friday night. That’s the new name for the venue 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 from “Saved by the Bell.” You can also see the Liberty Bell 7, the second manned U.S. spacecraft, which launched in 1961. It’s on loan to Planet Comicon from the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Museum in Hutchinson.

Planet Comicon is an all weekend affair. It starts Friday and runs through Sunday at the Kansas City Convention Center.

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

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