Ups and downs of life in KCK's inner city
The Kansas City Star
I’ve been jogging or walking around the track at Wyandotte High School at 24th and Minnesota Avenue for more than 40 years, even before its hard-surface track was changed to one of the nicest and softest in the area; so at night a few days ago I went the three-block distance from my home to walk for a mile on the track. But I couldn’t get in.
Usually the gates to the track are closed, with only one gate locked loosely, so a person, me, I always figured, could slip in and use the track. This time even that gate was completely closed.
So I had to walk on the sidewalks around the outside of the track area, where I saw another walker. We complained to each other about not having that soft track to walk on.
He told me, “Some kids, I guess it was, put graffiti all over the scoreboard and on the walls, and it would cost $10,000 to fix.” But he said the gates would be open from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m., weekdays only.
So today, Friday, June 15, 2012, a date which will live in infamy (Sorry, I just got finished reading a book about WWII.), I went over about 9 a.m. I passed by Mark Twain School, across the street from Wyandotte. I noticed that while Wyandotte’s fences were going up, Mark Twain’s were going down.
Two workmen taking down the fences said that next Thursday the demolition of the one-story school building would begin and it would be replaced with a two-story building. They said enrollment will go from about 250 to 400.
So that was good news. Then I went to the gates-open track, where a bunch of Wyandotte boys and coaches were interfering with the walking of three women and me, but we didn’t complain.
Two workmen were busy doing some cleanup at the track. It seems workmen in KCK work in pairs. The late city commissioner Chet Matson once explained that was because there was a need for one position to be filled by a worker who has a friend who knows a commissioner, and a second position needs to be filled by a worker who knows how to do the job. I am sure that wasn’t the case at Wyandotte, though.
Both men seemed to be working hard. I asked them when the gates would be open all the time. “Never,” one worker said. “That graffiti is driving the superintendent nuts.” He said kids are all over the area at night, and every Monday morning he has to spent about an hour picking up empty beer bottles.
I asked, “Can’t anybody find a solution that keeps the gates open?”
“Nobody,” the worker said. “Except, I can.”
I asked, “What?”
He said, “Open a 7-Eleven on the corner right across from the fence.”
He saw that I looked puzzled. He explained, “Then there would be so many policemen around here those kids wouldn’t dare try all that drawing and drinking.”
I don’t know about that, I told him, I don’t want to mess with the police and he said he’d just as soon not have his name mentioned to any policeman I might know. Maybe the city could help, maybe its spokesmen there will let us know a solution. Mayor Joe Reardon in his State of the Union speech said it is too bad that the city has no newspaper printed here.
However, he pointed out, it is fortunate for us all that the city has a web site and regularly puts out information on TV and the internet on KCK news, so we are all up on everything.
Then Editor Mary Rupert wrote in The Wyandotte Daily News, which uses newsprint, that maybe that isn’t really such a good thing. She obviously fears a motto for the city’s news office might be, “All the Good News Fit to Print.” She seemed to think there would be no in-depth probes into any UG commissioner’s conduct coming any time soon from the city’s public relations department.
Of course, the taxpayer-paid news offices are sensitive to public relations, which is why those office are usually called the public relations department. Maybe it would be better if we didn’t use that term and used one more reflective of the accuracy, as opposed to the correction-prone private newspapers, of the inside-information bodies. Maybe PR office shouldn’t be used, and they could go with something like, say, Ministry of Truth. Because once we get our big new school building up and get those track gates open all the time the truth will all be good.