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Overland Park: Recreation

Overland Park: Recreation

Sightseeing

Peace and tranquility are a bargain at the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens located on 179th Street about a mile west of U.S. Highway 69. Three hundred acres of land have been dedicated to environmental initiatives that preserve and restore ecosystems while providing educational opportunities for children and adults. Wood chip hiking trails lead through the various gardens, including the Erickson Water Garden, a Xeriscape Garden, a Rotary Children's Garden, a Native American Medicine Wheel, and the Legacy Garden. Concrete paths extending from parking areas allow visitors with physical disabilities to enjoy the rare plant species and varied biodomes that can be viewed on the grounds. An interpretive Environmental Education and Visitors Center at the Gardens offers a peek into the biology of the facility while modeling environmentally-sustainable energy systems in use at the Center.

Families with younger children will enjoy a visit to the Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead located at 13800 Switzer, within the boundaries of the Overland Park Community Park. Named for a local police officer who was killed in the line of duty, the Farmstead is comprised of a petting zoo, farmhouse, a silo with slides, and picture-box gardens. Demonstration gardens depict methods of growing produce such as wheat, corn, and vegetables. The Farmstead is a seasonal operation, opening April 1st and closing for the year at the end of October.

Downtown Overland Park is a great place to wander amid centralized, locally-owned art galleries and interesting shops. The Strang Carriage House in downtown conveys visitors back to the town's beginnings, and the Farmers Market is a feast for the eyes as well as the belly.

Kansas City is just a few minutes away, with attractions as diverse as the Hallmark Visitors Center (the past and present of Hallmark cards), the Harley-Davidson Final Assembly Plant, the Federal Reserve Bank Visitors Center, and the Kansas City Market (an open-air farmers market). The 18th and Vine Historic Jazz District in Kansas City offers a concentrated selection of entertainment venues and museums such as the American Jazz Museum and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

Arts and Culture

The City of Overland Park has created a gallery space at the Overland Park Convention Center; six art exhibitions are presented each year to supplement the permanent displays onsite. Art at the Center focuses on works of local and regional artists. The city also coordinates a new Sculpture Exhibition at the Arboretum and Botanical Gardens; the juried sculpture show features works distributed throughout the natural beauty of the trees and flowers.

The city is committed to an ambitious public art project incorporating sculpture, lighting design, and landform alteration in accessible spots around the community. Projects on deck include landscape art and sculptures at all gateways to Overland Park, beautification projects at parks that are near high-traffic areas, murals and sculpture along a major transport corridor, and landscape sculpture at St. Andrew's Golf Course.

The H&R Block Artspace at the Kansas City Art Institute features permanent and rotating exhibits. The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City features an international roster of artists who work in all media. A superb Asian collection crowns the exhibits at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, which also boasts nationally-recognized collections of African, American, Native American, European, and ancient art.

Local origins can be plumbed at the Johnson County Museum of History located in Shawnee and housed in a historic school. The museum contains archives documenting the development of Johnson County communities, a research library and an education center. The Arabia Steamboat Museum in Kansas City showcases a cache of well-preserved frontier supplies discovered in the cargo hold of a sunken steamer. The Historic Downtown Airport in Kansas City displays a collection of aeronautical memorabilia and artifacts in Hangar 9, the home of the Airline History Museum.

The greater Kansas City area puts on a great show in the performing arts; Overland Park proper touts its New Theatre Restaurant as one of the best dinner theaters in the country. The cuisine is five-star and the productions frequently feature recognizable stage, film, and television personalities. Martin City Melodrama and Vaudeville Company is a professional theater company in Overland Park, keeping audiences giggling with comedy productions and children's workshops. The Carlsen Center at Johnson County Community College proffers a season that includes 32 special events in six separate series: Center, Celebrity, Vocal Splendor, Dance, Recital, and Family. Internationally-known performers are intermingled with college performing artists in an eclectic mix of opera, jazz, and classical numbers.

Dance and music aficionados can rely on Kansas City to round out the repertoirethe Kansas City Ballet, Kansas City Symphony, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Folly Theatre, and the Music Hall host performances all along the spectrum of the arts. Community-based theater productions are held by the Theatre League in Kansas City, and professional theater performances are offered by the Kansas City Repertory Theatre. Outdoor theater can be experienced in Kansas City at the Starlight Theater and in Shawnee at the Theatre in the Park.

Arts and Culture Information: Overland Park Convention and Visitors Bureau, 9001 W. 110 Street, Suite 100, Overland Park, KS 66210; toll-free (800)262-7275

Festivals and Holidays

Comfortable spring temperatures allow for a variety of outdoor celebrations and events, including the farmers market that operates from early April until late September. Vendors of produce, crafts, and art items set up booths near the Clock Tower, attracting hordes of locals and visitors. The Clock Tower is also the scene for a concert series that begins in early April and ends in late September, running in tandem with the farmers market. Spring showers bring more than May flowers at the Arboretum in Overland Parkfrom mid-May through late October, the botanical gardens and arboretum are the site of a juried Sculpture Exhibition.

"Jazz in the Woods" is a three-day music festival held in June on the grounds of Corporate Woods office park. Local and national jazz artists perform in Overland Park, with the proceeds going to several charities. The Downtown Overland Park Days and Art Festival in late June revolves around the resumption of an outdoor farmers market. The Fourth of July is celebrated with a bang at SpiritFest, a three-day party featuring local cuisine, three entertainment stages, and a midway.

Cooler fall temperatures bring street fairs and celebrations all around the area. The Kansas City Renaissance Festival in nearby Bonner Springs starts in early September and runs for seven weeks. Overland Park's Annual Fall Festival also occurs in late September and features art and craft booths, food vendors, and street entertainment in downtown Overland Park.

The winter holidays are kicked off in November with the Annual Holiday Market in the Farmer's Pavilion downtown. Vendors offer seasonal arts, crafts, produce, and holiday gifts on Saturdays throughout the month. The Mayor's Lighting Ceremony in mid-November features carolers, cookies, and Santa Claus as the city's communal tree is lit.

Sports for the Spectator

Overland Park's proximity to Kansas City allows sports fans to immerse themselves in professional and amateur sports all year long. The Kansas City Chiefs play in the Western Division of the National Football League American Conference, with home games taking place in the Arrowhead Stadium off I-70. The Kansas City Knights were a founding franchise in the American Basketball Association; home games are played in Kemper Arena from mid-November through mid-April. For the Kansas City Outlaws, the floor of the Kemper Arena is converted to an ice rink to accommodate United League Hockey play. Indoor soccer rounds out the winter season, with the Comets competing in the Major Indoor Soccer League from October through March.

Soccer heads outdoors for the Wizards' seasonthe team plays home games at Arrowhead Stadium and competes in the Major Soccer League. Summer brings baseball, and Kansas City is home of the Royals. The independent Northern League is also represented by the Kansas City T-Bones.

The newest spectator sport in the area takes place at the Kansas Speedway; completed in 2001, the raceway attracts NASCAR events.

Sports for the Participant

Classes in tai chi, yoga, aerobics, and weight training are offered through the Parks and Recreation department of the City of Overland Park, which also coordinates youth and adult team sports in season. The city maintains the Indian Creek Trail for bikers and hikers, which winds for almost 17 miles along Indian Creek as it passes through Overland Park on its way to a convergence with the Tomahawk Creek Trail system.

The Overland Park Skate Park was created in 1997 through the efforts of an Overland Park Community Resource Officer who saw the need for a safe place for youth to skate. The park challenges users with jumps, ramps, and rails based on the urban landscape often frequented by skaters.

The city operates two public golf courses. St. Andrew's Golf Club is an 18-hole course that underwent a renovation in 1997 that was guided by LPGA player Carol Mann. The front nine holes feature wide fairways with some water hazards, while the back nine are characterized by tighter fairways, doglegs and bunkers. The Overland Park Golf Club offers 27 regulation holes that form three 18-hole courses. Putting greens, chipping greens, a grill and a pro shop round out the amenities at the Overland Park Golf Club. Both public clubs provide adult and youth instruction and leagues.

Johnson County coordinates a wide variety of sports and recreation programs, ranging from nature centers, to golf courses, to stables. The Ernie Miller Park and Nature Center in Olathe contains 114 acres of diverse habitats, trails, a wildlife viewing room, and an aquarium. Outdoor Discovery Camps are offered for younger naturalists. Also located in Olathe is the TimberRidge Adventure Centerin addition to a professionally-facilitated challenge (ropes) course, the center provides opportunities to hike, fish, and practice archery skills. Anglers can also cast lines at Regency Park Lake in Overland Park; three acres of surface area shelters channel catfish, bluegill, hybrid sunfish, green sunfish, and largemouth bass.

Shopping and Dining

Overland Park is home to two enclosed malls: Metcalf South Shopping Center is anchored by Jones Store Company and Sears, while Oak Park Mall is a 187-store facility anchored by Nordstrom's and Dillard's stores. The Hawthorne Plaza contains a collection of upscale shops, and a walk in downtown Overland Park will take shoppers by unique locally-owned antique stores, art galleries, and specialty stores. Overland Park's proximity to Kansas City means that locals and visitors are within easy reach of more than 90 shopping centers and 38 shopping plazas.

Barbecue figures largely on the menu of local eateries in Overland Park. Approximately 46 restaurants offer barbecue in one form or another. Mexican-American cuisine is also well-represented, with more than 50 establishments. Asian restaurants are almost 80 in number, and Italian food is served at 32 eating places. Other culinary offerings include French, Cajun, Greek, Indian, Irish, and Jewish fare. Coffee houses run the gamut from chain franchises to locally-owned espresso bars.

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Overland Park: Economy

Overland Park: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Overland Park is famous for its high percentage of citizens with baccalaureate or advanced degrees, making education a growth industry for the area. Professional service professions, whether in Overland Park or nearby Kansas City, make up a significant portion of employment in the area. Retail trade accounts for another large chunk of the local workforce, and transportation services and products are also contributors to the Overland Park economy.

Overland Park is the site of Sprint World Headquarters; the Fortune 100 company is the largest local employer and is a major supporter of the Overland Park community. Sprint provides telecommunication services and technology globally to businesses and the public.

The cattle industry remains powerful and influential in Kansas City, which certainly has an impact on Overland Park and other surrounding communities.

Items and goods produced: telecommunication technology, transportation equipment, beef

Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Companies

The Chamber of Commerce in Overland Park acts as a bridge for businesses negotiating the local and state systems in expanding or creating a new project. Business owners can tap into the resources of the KSBusinessCenter from the comfort of their own offices, in order to begin the business and tax registration process.

Local programs

The city of Overland Park encourages new building by allowing for abatement of up to 50 percent of property tax liability for as long as 10 years, dependent upon the size and use of construction projects.

State programs

Kansas offers a wide variety of programs designed to encourage location of new businesses and expansion of existing businesses in the state. The High Performance Incentive Program rewards employers who pay above-average wages by exempting them from sales taxes, and offers tax credits for investment and workforce development. The capital costs of a project's new jobs can be mitigated through Investments in Major Projects and Comprehensive Training (IMPACT), with the state picking up the financing for relocation expenses, recruitment and training costs, building expenditures and cost of equipment.

The State of Kansas additionally has created Enterprise Zones which make manufacturing and non-manufacturing companies eligible for tax credits and sales tax exemptions based on the number of net jobs created. The state can underwrite various business enterprises and expansions through loan programs developed to support the creation of new jobs in Kansas.

Job training programs

The Overland Park Chamber of Commerce schedules two professional development seminars per month and can additionally act as a referral agent for employers looking for advanced training for their employees. The State of Kansas oversees a network of regional and local workforce centers offering seminars and ongoing programs for military veterans, dislocated workers, youth, community members with disabilities, and older employees. Programs such as Trade Adjustment Assistance and the Kansas Industrial Retraining project address the changing face of economic development in the state. The Neighborhood Improvement and Youth Employment Act has provided funding for community enhancement projects for which high school students are hired.

Development Projects

Since opening in the 1970s, the Corporate Woods Business Park has undergone steady expansion and improvement every few years. In the 1990s, the facility added 800,000 square feet, bringing its total capacity to 3,200,000 square feet. New sections were added to the business park in the late 1990s, at the same time a number of older buildings were undergoing a renovation process. In 2004, a putting green was created on the already capacious grounds of Corporate Woods.

Corporate Woods Business Park is now the home of a regional service headquarters branch of QC Holdings, which operates more than 370 payday loan stores in 22 states. The company leased 38,000 square feet of space beginning in 2004 and will eventually employ 300 people in the facility. ProPharma International Partners, Inc., has also become a recent tenant in Corporate Woods; the company acts as a development consultant for biotechnology and pharmaceutical businesses.

Automatic Data Processing (ADP) brought a number of new jobs to the Overland Park area as it moved into the College Oaks Business Park. The company contracts to handle payroll and other human resource issues for companies around the world.

The City of Overland Park is in the process of designing a new community center as part of its 10-year capital improvement plan. Construction on the center is expected to commence in 2006 and end approximately a year later.

Commercial Shipping

Kansas City International Airport, located 24 miles from the heart of Overland Park, operates an Air Cargo Center complete with extensive cargo-handling capability, an onsite Foreign Trade Zone allowing for storage of imported goods without full U.S. Customs scrutiny, Enterprise Zone tax initiatives, and access to an adjacent interstate highway. The airport's central U.S. location means that most major metropolitan areas in the country are within a one-day shipping radius.

The headquarters for Yellow Roadway Corporation are in Overland Park, allowing easy access to a major cargo shipping and transportation resource. Yellow transports cargo to all 50 states, Canada, the Virgin Islands, and several other international destinations. Butler Transport, Inc. and Core Carrier Corporation are two of the more than 100 trucking companies located in nearby Kansas City, and the region is served by both FedEx and UPS cargo delivery companies. Five railroad companies cross paths in Kansas City as well, increasing shipping options.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

Overland Park's adult population is one of the most highly educated in the United States, with more than 50 percent of adult residents having earned a baccalaureate degree at minimum. There appears to be a slight shift in philosophy regarding higher education, starting at the K-12 level, with more emphasis on real-world experiences through technical programs and vocational institutions prior to a four-year degree being earned.

It is expected that agricultural employment will continue to decrease in the area, while retail trade and professional services (education and government in particular) are likely to surge. In the past few years, manufacturing has recovered somewhat from a pattern of decreasing productivity and employment; that trend is expected to continue in coming years.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Kansas City, MO-KS, metropolitan statistical area labor force, 2004 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 965,900

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 50,800

manufacturing: 83,700

trade, transportation and utilities: 202,200

information: 45,300

financial activities: 70,900

professional and business services: 127,700

educational and health services: 108,900

leisure and hospitality: 92,300

other services: 40,.400

government: 143,900

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $16.92

Unemployment rate: 4.4% (February 2005)

Largest employers Number of employees (2005)
Sprint Corporation 17,000
Shawnee Mission School District 2,900
Black & Veatch Engineers 2,600
Blue Valley School District 2,525
Internal Revenue Service 1,800
Yellow Roadway Corporation 1,100
City of Overland Park 1,000

Cost of Living

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $228,375 (MSA)

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 95.5 (MSA) (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: 3.5% to 6.45%

State sales tax rate: 5.3%

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: 7.525%

Property tax rate: Annual tax on a $150,000 house is $1,782

(Blue Valley District) or $1,342 (Shawnee Mission District)

Economic information: Overland Park Economic Development Center, 9001 W. 110th Street, Suite 150, Overland Park, KS 66210; telephone (913)491-3600

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Overland Park: History

Overland Park: History

Early Kansas: Lying Low

The Kansas of long ago was wide openplains scoured by a series of Ice Age glaciers and wandering rivers had become vast, level expanses under a limitless sky. Prior to the 1700s the area was sparsely populated; gradually, a growing number of native tribes discovered the richness of the glacial silt soil and the abundance of bison. The eastern portion of the state was home to many tribes which maintained individual languages and customs: Plains, Wyandotte, Sioux, Osage, Kickapoo, Shawnee, Kanza, Arkansas, Otto, Dahcotah and Ogillahah tribes all called the region home and helped establish the natural passage that would come to be known as the Santa Fe Trail.

A European presence extended into eastern Kansas in the early 1500s with the explorations of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado. The land was first claimed by France, then ceded to Spain as a sop after the country's loss in the French and Indian War. The area was contested until Spain ceded it back to France in 1800; the next year, France sold eastern Kansas to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase, and the region was fair game for the Manifest Destiny of the U.S. government.

Born Free: A Matter of Perspective

Kansas didn't have to wait longin 1802, hunter and trapper James Pursley followed a well-traveled trail to New Mexico to do some trading, following a route that travelers started to call the Santa Fe Trail. As trade heated up between merchants in Missouri and trappers in New Mexico, the trail evolved into the Santa Fe Road. Increased traffic and commerce in the area resulted in friction with native tribes still attempting to live on the land's resources. As a solution, the U.S. government negotiated a treaty in 1825 with the Shawnee Indians in Missouri; in exchange for surrendered land in Missouri, the tribe received an equivalent amount of land on a reservation in what is now Johnson County, Kansas.

A new era began for the formerly nomadic tribe that had up until then lived in eastern woodlands; the move to the plains necessitated much adaptation as the Shawnees became farmers. In 1829 the Rev. Thomas Johnson (for whom the county is named) moved to the reservation, where an Indian Manual Labor School was created. Native American children were tutored in English, manual arts, agriculture, and Christianity.

Kansas Territory became official in 1854, populated by a curious mix of passionate abolitionists and independent pioneers who supported Kansas as a "free state" because it was economically advantageous to keep slave owners out of the territory. On the front edge of the Civil War, Kansas became a state in 1861 and joined the Union. Even prior to the advent of the Civil War, pro-slavery factions warred with abolitionists and free soil advocates in Kansas. Ironically, a number of the free soil advocates were less interested in abolishing slavery and more interested in keeping African Americans out of Kansas altogether. Soon after a "free state" and Union victory, the U.S. government also recommended getting the Indians out, moving whole tribes south to what was being termed Indian Territory.

Overland Park Takes Shape

Since 1821, a large city just over the Kansas-Missouri state line had begun to evolve into a major stop on the trail, railroad, and road systems. By the early 1900s, Kansas City was a burgeoning metropolitan center and had changed from trading post to destination. In 1905 William B. Strang, Jr., was staying in Kansas City with a relative when he explored the area to the west of the city and recognized its potential as a bedroom community for the metro area. Strang was particularly intrigued by a plot of land owned by several farm families and situated on a bluff; the combination of high ground and proximity to the city led him to purchase the land and start laying out a series of new communities. Thus Overland Park was createdthe name is reputed to be a combination of the vision of a "park-like" city crossed with the alternate name for the Santa Fe Trail (Overland Trail).

In support of his newly-created bedroom community, Strang went on to develop an interurban train line with trolley service to Kansas City. The Strang Land Company grew busy selling off individual lots of land in business and residential segments of the new town. The city founder also had his hand in the development of Airfield Park in 1909, which combined a landing strip, aviation school, hangars and a grandstand for the locals who were fascinated with flying. Many renowned aviators made Overland Park a stop, including the Wright Brothers; an airplane industry grew up around the airfield that has continued to present day.

Thanks to Strang and other early residents of the area, Overland Park was gradually becoming a viable entity on its own merits. As an attempt to manage the swift growth in Overland Park, Mission, and Prairie Village, these collective communities were organized into an urban township form of government under a law passed by the Kansas legislature in 1940. The reborn entity, Mission Urban Township, was able to form a governmental body but lacked the right to zone or plan independently. In combination with the repercussions of the Dust Bowl days and World War II, Mission Urban Township experienced a time of stasis in the late 1930s and early 1940s, followed by a boom in residential development. In 1951, the Kaw River flooded Kansas City while the community on the bluff stayed nice and dry, and Mission Township began to see an influx of slightly damp folks. The current system of government was insufficient to deal with the resultant growth and development, leading to separation of the township communities into municipalities and the incorporation of Overland Park in 1960.

Out of the Shadow of Kansas City

The 1960s and 1970s ushered in a period of individuation, as Overland Park established its own infrastructure of schools, businesses, and city services. Very early in its formal existence, Overland Park government initiated the practice of citizen surveys to target key concerns of the populace and to measure satisfaction with quality of life. This proactive approach has led to a balanced approach to development and growth, as well as innovative juvenile delinquency and learning disability programs created in the 1970s.

Since the 1980s, Overland Park has experienced a fairly consistent boom pattern, with growth in population, industry and reputation. While continuing to look forward, the city administration has also appreciated its past by supporting extensive renovations of the historic downtown area during the early 1990s. Present day Overland Park has been a regular on national ratings for quality of life, education, affordable housing, appeal to businesses, and population growth. It's a young community in many ways, with a mature approach to living and contributing.

Historical Information: Kansas State Historical Society, 6425 SW Sixth Avenue, Topeka, KS 66615; telephone (785)272-8681

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Overland Park: Education and Research

Overland Park: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

In a 2001 report by Population Connection, Overland Park was chosen the number one "Kid Friendly City" in the nation, based on factors such as education, health, and public safety, which all impact overall achievement in the K-12 population. Overland Park is served by four public school districts: Blue Valley, Shawnee Mission, Spring Hill, and Olathe.

The Blue Valley School District covers 91 miles in southwestern Johnson County and boasts a growing enrollment that reached 19,104 students in the 2004-2005 academic year. One of its innovative programs is the Wilderness Science Centerthis outdoor laboratory encompasses 30 acres of prairie, forest, river, and wetland ecosystems. Students at the WSC put their classroom science theories to work along the trails and learning stations sprinkled throughout the open space.

The Shawnee Mission School District has an enrollment of approximately 29,000 students in suburban Johnson County; each school serves students who live within prescribed attendance areas. Spring Hill School District is comprised of two elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school serving a primarily rural area located just south of Olathe.

The Olathe Unified School District (OUSD) was formerly five separate districts; its enrollment is the third largest in the state of Kansas. Besides its 30 elementary schools, 8 middle schools and 4 high schools, the OUSD provides the Heart-land and Prairie Learning Centers for children with special needs and a Head Start program for pre-kindergartners. Approximately 10.5 percent of OUSD students reside in Overland Park, while the majority of the students are from Olathe. The student/teacher ratio in OUSD is 16.5:1, allowing for more individualized attention.

The following is a summary of data regarding Overland Park public schools as of the 20042005 school year.

Total enrollment: 73,427

Number of facilities elementary schools: 87

middle schools: 24

high schools: 14

Student/teacher ratio: Elementary schools, 24:1; high school, 19:1 (Blue Valley School District)

Teacher salaries

minimum: $30,908

average: $60,641

Funding per pupil: $6,083 (Blue Valley School District)

Public Schools Information: Blue Valley School District, 15020 Metcalf, PO Box 23901, Overland Park, KS 66283-0901; telephone (913)239-4000. Olathe Unified School District, 14160 Black Bob Road, PO Box 2000, Olathe, KS 66063-2000; telephone (913)780-7000. Shawnee Mission School District, 7235 Antioch Road, Shawnee Mission, KS 66204; telephone (913)993-6200. Spring Hill School District, 101 East South Street, Spring Hill, KS 66083; telephone (913)592-7200

Colleges and Universities

Johnson County Community College (JCCC) offers its students a range of undergraduate courses in a two year post-secondary education program that further develops the local workforce and prepares students for transfer to four-year universities or colleges. JCCC is Kansas' third largest institution of higher learning, with an enrollment of more than 34,000 students in classes for credit or continuing education. The college encourages academic, career, and personal growth through programs such as Student Life and Leadership, the Gallaudet University Regional Center (hearing impairment technical assistance and seminars), International Student Services, the Writing Center, and the Math Resource Center.

Graduate and undergraduate studies in business and management make up the core of Baker University, a private college affiliated with the United Methodist Church. The campus in Overland Park is a branch of the main university and is dedicated to the School of Professional and Graduate Studies. Associate degrees and certifications in management, business, information management, medical assisting, and paralegal studies are available at the National American University.

Overland Park is also home to local branches of St. Mary's College, a Jesuit institution offering liberal arts education; Ottawa University, a small private college with Christian underpinnings offering baccalaureate and masters degrees in the Arts, Education, Human Resources, Professional Counseling and Business Administration; and the University of Kansas Medical Center, located within 15 miles and offering a range of undergraduate and graduate degrees in the health professions.

Vocational training facilities abound in the Overland Park area, as well as in nearby Kansas City.

Libraries and Research Centers

The Johnson County Library system's main location is the Central Resource Library, with 12 branch libraries covering the entire county. Library patrons can access more than one million items in formats such as audio books, video and DVD movies, magazines, newspapers, and hard and soft cover books. Computer services at the library allow visitors to tap into more than 70 databases and online services to search full-text articles and reference books. The Johnson County Library is a repository for federal government documents, available both in hard copy and online. Assistive technology is available for community members with disabilities, and the library serves homebound populations with outreach and delivery programs. Various special events for children and teens are offered throughout the year.

The Billington Library on the campus of Johnson County Community College contains more than 107,000 titles in book or audiovisual form, along with a collection of more than 400,000 microforms and 600 current periodicals.

The Dykes Library, the Clendening History of Medicine Library and the Farha Medical Library, all located at the Medical Center at the University of Kansas in Kansas City, contain a wealth of health-related books, periodicals, digital collections and databases. The Medical Center also houses several research institutes conducting investigations into life processes, function of the human body, disease processes and health care models.

Public Library Information: Johnson County Libraries, 9875 W. 87th Street, Overland Park, KS 66212; telephone (913)495-2400

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Overland Park: Transportation

Overland Park: Transportation

Approaching the City

Situated in almost the center of the United States, Kansas City International Airport is a busy transportation hub that serves approximately 10 million passengers every year. The airport was developed with an innovative "drive-to-gate" design that gets passengers to the departure area efficiently and quickly. As part of a 10-year capital improvement plan, the airport is undergoing a variety of runway, equipment, and service upgrades. Travelers can arrive or depart on Air Canada, American Airlines, Delta Continental, America West, United, Southwest, Frontier, and Northwest, among others.

The Johnson County Executive Airport is located between Overland Park and Olathe; originally created as a Naval auxiliary field during the second World War, the airport now provides general aviation services for corporations and other users. Air charters, aircraft sales, and flight instruction are all available onsite.

Ground transportation in the Kansas City area is provided by Amtrak passenger rail service and Greyhound bus company. Greyhound has stops in the Overland Park area and a depot in Kansas City. The north-south Interstate 35 passes along the western edge of Overland Park, and the east-west Interstate 70 runs just to the north. The city is further accessible via a network of bypasses, U.S. highways (56, 69 and 71), and state highways (150 and 350).

Traveling in the City

The major streets in Overland Park are laid out in a grid pattern that is neatly oriented with name streets running due north-south and number streets running east-west. Interstate 35 runs along the western portion of Overland Park, with numerous exits to the community. Metcalf Avenue is a primary artery within Overland Park itself; the street, which runs north and south, makes a handy reference point as it drives right through the heart of the municipality.

Johnson County Transit operates a large number of buses, vans and smaller vehicles to support public transportation in the area. Passengers can take advantage of park-and-ride services, and special programs exist for seniors or disabled riders. Johnson County Transit also organizes shared rides to sporting events and festivals in the Kansas City metro area. A fleet of taxi companies further bolster transportation services within the city and beyond.

Bike commuters into Downtown Overland Park can navigate the street system or utilize the Indian Creek Trail system.

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Overland Park: Population Profile

Overland Park: Population Profile

Metropolitan Area Residents (CMSA)

1980: 1,449,374

1990: 1,582,875

2000: 1,776,062

Percent change, 19902000: 12.2%

U.S. rank in 1990: Not reported

U.S. rank in 2000: 44th

City Residents

1980: 81,784

1990: 111,790

2000: 149,080

2003 estimate: 160,368

Percent change, 19902000: 33.4%

U.S. rank in 1990: 168th (2nd in state)

U.S. rank in 2000: 143rd (2nd in state)

Density: 2,627 people per square mile (2000)

Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000) White: 135,137

Black or African American: 3,801

American Indian and Alaskan Native: 401

Asian: 5,703

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 52

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 5,620

Other: 1,852

Percent of residents born in state: 28.9%

Age characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 10,646

Population 5 to 9 years old: 11,045

Population 10 to 14 years old: 11,027

Population 15 to 19 years old: 9,261

Population 20 to 24 years old: 7,391

Population 25 to 34 years old: 21,695

Population 35 to 44 years old: 26,758

Population 45 to 54 years old: 22,227

Population 55 to 59 years old: 6,825

Population 60 to 64 years old: 5,171

Population 65 to 74 years old: 8,679

Population 75 to 84 years old: 6,057

Population 85 years and over: 2,298

Median age: 36.3

Births (2003; Johnson County)

Total number: 7,475

Deaths (2003; Johnson County)

Total number: 2,847 (of which, 29 were infants under 1 year of age)

Money income (1999)

Per capita income: $32,069

Median household income: $62,116

Total households: 59,703 (2000)

Number of households with income of . . .

less than $10,000: 1,791

$10,000 to $14,999: 1,658

$15,000 to $24,999: 4,175

$25,000 to $34,999: 5,929

$35,000 to $49,999: 9,306

$50,000 to $74,999: 13,257

$75,000 to $99,999: 9,063

$100,000 to $149,999: 8,936

$150,000 to $199,999: 2,959

$200,000 or more: 2,821

Percent of families below poverty level: 2.1% (11.7% of which were female householder families with related children under 5 years)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: Not reported

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Overland Park: Communications

Overland Park: Communications

Newspapers and Magazines

Since 1880, The Kansas City Star has been delivering the news to eastern Kansas, with coverage of local, regional, national, and world events. The Star publishes three editions daily, including one edition specific to Johnson County. Business news, sports and entertainment are featured daily in the paper.

A number of special interest and religious newspapers are produced in the Overland Park-Kansas City area. Targeted audiences for local magazines include seniors, farmers, alternative health treatment seekers, computer buffs, the business community, and sports coaches.

Television and Radio

Overland Park tends to rely on Kansas City for its radio and television services. The local airwaves carry a variety of news, talk radio, sports and Christian programming on the AM frequency. FM radio locally offers alternative rock, National Public Radio, oldies, classical, country, Christian, and much more. One AM and one FM station broadcast directly from Overland Park.

Television stations broadcast from Kansas City and available in Overland Park include the networks of CBS, NBC and ABC, along with UPN, PAX and the WB. Public television, University of Kansas and Christian channels are also offered.

Media Information: Overland Park Convention and Visitors Bureau, 9001 W. 110 Street, Suite 100, Overland Park, KS 66210; toll-free (800)262-7275

Overland Park Online

City of Overland Park. Available www.opkansas.org

Overland Park Chamber of Commerce. Available www.opks.org

Overland Park Convention and Visitors Bureau. Available www.opcvb.org

Overland Park Economic Development Council. Available www.opedc.org

Johnson County Government. Available www.jocoks.com

Johnson County Library System. Available www.jocolibrary.org

Selected Bibliography

Kansas: A History, New York, NY: Kenneth S. Davis (1984)

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Overland Park

Overland Park

Overland Park: Introduction
Overland Park: Geography and Climate
Overland Park: History
Overland Park: Population Profile
Overland Park: Municipal Government
Overland Park: Economy
Overland Park: Education and Research
Overland Park: Health Care
Overland Park: Recreation
Overland Park: Convention Facilities
Overland Park: Transportation
Overland Park: Communications

The City in Brief

Founded: 1905 (incorporated 1960)

Head Official: Carl R. Gerlach (R) (since April 2005)

City Population

1980: 81,784

1990: 111,790

2000: 149,080

2003 estimate: 160,368

Percent change, 19902000: 33.4%

U.S. rank in 1990: 168th (2nd in state)

U.S. rank in 2000: 143rd (2nd in state)

Metropolitan Area Population (Kansas City, MOKS MSA)

1980: 1,449,374

1990: 1,582,875

2000: 1,776,062

Percent change, 19902000: 12.2%

U.S. rank in 1990: Not reported

U.S. rank in 2000: 44th

Area: 56.85 square miles

Elevation: 1,000 feet above sea level

Average Annual Temperature: 56.75° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 40.17 inches of rain; 20 inches of snow

Major Economic Sectors: Professional services, retail trade, manufacturing

Unemployment Rate: 4.4% (February 2005)

Per Capita Income: $32,069 (1999)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: Not reported

Major Colleges and Universities: University of Kansas

Edwards Campus, Johnson County Community College, Baker University, National American University, Ottawa UniversityKansas City Campus, St. Mary CollegeKansas City Campus

Daily Newspapers: The Kansas City Star

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Overland Park: Health Care

Overland Park: Health Care

The Overland Park Regional Medical Center is licensed for 244 acute care beds, serving southern Johnson County and surrounding areas with emergency services, a diabetes center, a neonatal intensive care unit, a cardiac rehabilitation program, outpatient pharmacies, and a sleep disorder clinic.

Saint Luke's South Hospital offers emergency services, cardiac diagnostics, surgical intensive care, radiology, pain management, physical and occupational therapies, and the latest in birthing suites. The facility is licensed for 75 beds and is supported by a range of outpatient programs.

The Menorah Medical Center moved to Johnson County in 1996 and now occupies a medical campus that includes an acute care hospital licensed for 158 beds, a doctors' building, and a number of outpatient clinics. Menorah Medical is one of 20 facilities in the country to provide access to cutting edge treatment of previously inoperable tumors and lesions. Other specialties include radiation therapy, audiology services, cancer diagnostics, and a full range of neurological services.

Specialized care is provided at Mid-America Rehabilitation Hospital (physical rehabilitation treatment), Select Specialty Hospital (acute long-term care) and Children's Mercy Hospital (emergency and outpatient pediatric care).

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Overland Park: Geography and Climate

Overland Park: Geography and Climate

Located in the sub-basin of the Missouri River, Overland Park exists in the transition area between rolling green hills and the eastern edge of the Great Plains. Ice Age glaciers scoured the land and left silt deposits that have contributed to the rich agricultural history of Kansas. The meandering Missouri further softened the surface of one of the more geologically stable areas in the United States. Overland Park itself is perched on a bluff above Kansas City, protecting it from periodic floods.

Eastern Kansas experiences warm, slightly humid summers that can border on hot; winters can feel quite chilly thanks to the humidity level, but precipitation is relatively moderate. Spring ushers in a season of towering thunderstorms moving across the Plains, along with twisters that frequent the edge of Tornado Alley in which Overland Park resides.

Area: 56.85 square miles

Elevation: 1,000 feet above sea level

Average Temperatures: January, 29.0° F; July, 79.2° F; annual average, 56.75° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 40.17 inches of rain; 20 inches of snow

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Overland Park: Convention Facilities

Overland Park: Convention Facilities

The Overland Park Convention Center hosts trade shows, corporate meetings, conferences, and social events. The facility boasts 60,000 square feet of exhibit space, a 25,000 square foot ballroom, 15,000 square feet for meetings, and a 25,000 square foot outdoor courtyard. Audio-visual connections and high-speed wireless service comprise only a portion of the state-of-the-art technology available to presenters and exhibitors. The Center is decorated with works from local and regional artisans, including a blown-glass chandelier.

Many of the local hotels in Overland Park, Shawnee, Olathe, and Kansas City offer convention areas, banquet halls, meeting rooms, and ballrooms. The Wyandotte County Fair-grounds and Sports Complex in Kansas City can seat 350 in the auditorium and 150 in the banquet hall, while the Community Diversity Center has facilities for meetings, health fairs, seminars and workshops. The Jack Reardon Civic Center at Hilton Garden Inn adds 20,000 square feet of exhibit and conference space; along with its banquet room, the facility can seat up to 2,000 people.

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Overland Park: Municipal Government

Overland Park: Municipal Government

Overland Park operates through the Mayor-Council-City Manager form of government, with the mayor and 12 council members forming the governing body for the municipality. The city is divided into six districts, each of which elects two council members who serve four-year terms with staggered elections. The mayor is elected by the general populace and also serves a four-year term in office. In April 2005 the city of Overland Park elected its first new mayor in 24 years. The governing body hires a city manager to effect established policies and to oversee the daily operations of the city.

Head Official: Carl R. Gerlach (R) (since April 2005; current term expires 2009)

Total Number of City Employees: 1,000 (2005)

City Information: City of Overland Park, 8500 Santa Fe Drive, Overland Park, KS 66212; telephone (913)895-6000

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Overland Park: Introduction

Overland Park: Introduction

Growing up in the shadow of Kansas City, Overland Park has found myriad ways to distinguish itself as an affordable community populated by well-educated professionals. In 2003 Overland Park was ranked 3rd in Money magazine's "Hottest Towns" with more than 100,000 people in the central region. The city was also nationally recognized in 2003 as one of "20 Best Places to Live & Work" (Employment Review magazine). Other national honors indicate that Overland Park is a community that is child-friendly, welcoming and safe for women, and open for business. Overland Park is an urbane and thriving city in Kansas in the twenty-first century.

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Overland Park

Overland Park, city (1990 pop. 111,790), Johnson co., NE Kans., a residential suburb of Kansas City; inc. 1960. There is printing and publishing, and the manufacture of apparel, aircraft parts, cement, prepared foods, salt, chemicals, marine accessories, and signs. It is also a center for insurance and other corporate headquarters. The city has grown substantially in the late 20th and early 21st cent., profiting from the regional growth and development of the Kansas City area. Of interest is the 300-acre Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.

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