Local camps finding ways to stay engaged with kids this summer amid pandemic

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Original Post

Kids and parents are planning for summer, but the trouble could be finding something to do.

Most summer camps are canceling or adjusting plans because of the coronavirus pandemic. But several local summer camp leaders said they’re going to make it work.

The MLB Urban Youth Academy sees around 1,000 kids each summer. This year it’s delaying its program and pushing it out to August. Their STEM curriculum will be done online.

Executive Director Darwin Pennye said the later shift allows them to work with more kids over time.

“We know that kids are missing the opportunity to be out on the field, and we want to do everything we can to protect them, keep them safe. But we also still want to grow the game,” Pennye said. “We’ll just continue to stay hopeful, stay prayerful and know that this too shall pass. We just don’t know where.”

The Girl Scouts are focusing away from their traditional summer camp.

Instead the organization is encouraging members to get outside this summer with weekly downloadable activities the girls can work on with their families.

Gina Garvin, a spokeswoman for Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & NW Missouri, said the activities will cover many of the topics they teach girls about each year.

“Parents are going to be more involved with their girls and really still see the skills that they’re learning and see their excitement as they earn great things and be in that together,” Garvin said.

The Boy Scouts of America will release their summer plans the first week of June but are still evaluating. They are hoping to move forward with camp sometime in July.

In Kansas City, daycampers won’t be invading Science City this summer, but the attraction will be open to families.

They will be reopening on June 10 and will have two different times when tickets are available each day. They will spend 90 minutes in between cleaning. 

There will be social distancing policies in place. Visitors are not required to wear a mask, but they are hoping people will choose to wear them. Tickets must be purchased in advance and won’t be available at the door.

LeAnn Smith, the director of STEM programming & outreach at Science City Union Station, said it will be good to have kids back to learning about science after months away.

“Unfortunately, it’s the reality of today,” Smith said. “I am at least excited that we are able to reopen Science City. It’s going to look a little different. It’s going to feel a little different. But at least we have a place where families and groups can come and play.”

If you are still looking for a camp your kids can go to, YouthFront is a non-denomination focused faith-based option. It still plans to open at the end of June.

Topher Philgreen, the CEO of YouthFront, said they are working with the health departments in each county their camps are in, abiding by CDC guidelines and connecting with health professionals to make sure their experience is safe.

“Most of the parents that are calling us are begging us to figure out a way to open camp,” Philgreen said. “Obviously, they want us to be safe. And our number one priority is to sell the safe the safety of all the kids.”

Young Life, another faith-based camp that has chapters nationwide, will not be moving forward with their national program this year. Instead, each chapter is looking at options to do things locally for kids in their area.

In the metro, some kids will be traveling to Table Rock Lake in August, working on day camps and hosting club meetings.

Rotary Youth Camp is another organization working to help the children it usually serves. Organizers are working on a back-up plan for children who are disabled and underprivileged.

Allison Kelly, an organizer with the camp, said they are working to find ways to connect with the kids who rely on the program.

“We’re working with all of our organizations to offer virtual programming,” Kelly said. “We’re making videos. We still want to connect. We’re really pushing kind of social media and that summer camp is canceled. It’s just different.”

Kelly said for some of these kids it’s the only time they get to swim in a pool or use a campground for the whole summer. But they’re happy to serve campers in a new way.

A special Mother’s Day for a mom recovering from coronavirus

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Original Post

A Kansas City, Kansas mother who was hospitalized with the Coronavirus is home for Mother’s Day. 35-year-old single mom, Maria Elena Leal is recovering and enjoying the day despite her recent challenges. 

It’s a day she, and her son Brian, prayed would happen. Maria says she is so glad to be alive and holding her children this Mother’s Day. Her son Brian says his mother is an inspiration to him, and he couldn’t imagine a better mom.

“She’s been there my whole life,” Brian said. “She always has been, and always will be.”

A little over three weeks ago Maria was diagnosed, and quickly hospitalized. She says she had no underlying health issues, but it hit her hard.

“I got really sick,” Maria said. “Really, really sick.”

Doctors put her on a ventilator days later, and at one-point Maria says her heart stopped.

“I just want to say thank you to all the people from KU because they treat me very well over there and they helped me a lot,” Maria said.

With their help she recovered and is home to celebrate Mother’s Day with her four kids. Brian says even though things looked bleak, he knew she would recover.

“Yeah, for sure. My mom told me to stay strong,” Brian said. “And that’s what I did. God came through you know?”

Her 10-year-old daughter, Milena, was overjoyed to see her mom again.

“When she came, I was happy and then I ran to her and then it’s happy to know that she’s here with us on Mother’s Day,” Milena said.

Maria is taking it easy for now, and grateful for everyone who prayed for her.

“The prayers and supporting that’s what helped a lot people that we don’t even know that it surprised me,” Brian said. “There was people didn’t even know that were supporting us and not in that like that good energy just made me feel happy.”

She says Mother’s Day means a little more this year. Brian would send her messages while she was in the hospital. She says when she was able to use her phone again it was overwhelming to see those messages, and the hundreds from family and friends hoping she would pull through. 

Maria wants people to know about the seriousness of Coronavirus, and hopes people will social distance, wash their hands, and staying at home whenever possible. If you are able to help this family, they set up a Gofundme to assist with medical costs while she is unable to work and taking care of the children.

Ft. Leavenworth soldier stops active shooter on Centennial Bridge by striking him with vehicle

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. — Original Post

An active-duty soldier at Fort Leavenworth is being hailed a hero for intervening and ending an active shooting Wednesday morning on the Centennial Bridge.

Police say his actions saved multiple lives.

Leavenworth Police Chief Patrick Kitchens said officers were called to the bridge at 11 a.m. for a report of shots fired that was originally reported as a result of road rage.

When officers arrived they found one man with a gunshot wound and another man trapped under a car. Emergency crews took both to a Kansas City hospital with serious injuries.

As police investigated and spoke with witnesses, they learned it wasn’t a road rage incident, but actually an active shooter who was stopped in the act.

“Learned this was an active shooter with multiple weapons on the bridge firing at cars with no particular association,” Kitchens said.

“There was an active-duty soldier assigned to Ft. Leavenworth waiting in traffic behind the event, saw the event unfold, determined it was an active shooter and intervened by striking the shooter with his vehicle, causing him to be critically injured, ending the encounter with the active shooter and likely saving countless lives.”

The man who suffered a gunshot wound is also an active duty soldier at Ft. Leavenworth. The shooter is a Platte County resident.

Angela Harper lives a couple streets away from the bridge. She heard a boom or two Wednesday morning, but thought it was just the sounds of the neighborhood.

“I heard two bang noises, which I found out later that they were shots,” she said. “Down here we hear a lot of that type of stuff because of the train going by and everything else. So nothing seemed out of norm for me until I heard all the cop cars, all the helicopters, everything going around.”

Another man who lives close to the scene in an apartment told FOX4 he heard between 10-13 shots. He too thought it was train-related, perhaps someone firing bullets at railcars.

The Centennial Bridge was closed for the emergency and reopened at about 4:45 p.m.

With social distancing measures in place, metro church resumes in-person service

JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. — Original Post

For many churches this weekend, it was the first time gathering in months. For others, they’ve made the hard decision to keep services online.

With an open door and heart, Prairie View Family Church in Olathe resumed in person services. 

“It was such a joy to see the people that you love and you, you invest your time in and they invest their time into you and just the relationships that we have at this church,” lead pastor Jerry Hickey said.

Around 60 people attend the church on Sundays. This week many stayed home, and were out of town for the holiday. Their first week back had about 25 parishioners. The church’s smaller size allowed them to set in place guidelines for social distancing.

“We felt like that it was something that, that, that we could attain and we’re doing every everything that we can to take those precautionary steps,” Hickey said.

The church spread out its seating to six feet between each row. Families are asked to sit together and keep three seats between. Masks are not required, but you are allowed to wear one if it makes you feel more comfortable. When service is over each row is excused one by one to avoid bumping into each other.

Fellowship is no longer held inside the building. If people would like to visit the church board asks them to do so outside the building and maintain social distance. The water fountains are not available, but bottled water is provided. Hickey says they disinfect all the surfaces before and after service. 

While precautions like this can be taken at Prairie View, it’s much more difficult for larger congregations like the Church of the Resurrection in Leawood. Senior Pastor Adam Hamilton says they made the decision to stay online. They hope to reopen for in person worship around July, but it could be longer.

“I want to make sure that when we bring people back, that we’re not putting people at risk, we know that our most committed people would show up and Something happened on one of them, because we made the call to have service. You know, I just I would feel a great deal of grief about that,” Hamilton said.

The church could have more than 2,000 people at their 11 o’clock service on an average Sunday. Hamilton says while smaller congregations like Prairie View can do more to distance they want to make sure when they come back everyone can experience service together.

Hamilton says he’s concerned if they opened service they would have to limit the amount of people in their building and some would be able to attend while others wouldn’t. He says with their online services it allows them to reach their members, and visitors equally. He says three longtime members of the church have died of COVID-19, and he doesn’t want to see anyone get hurt from attending one of their services.

Their weekly service is available online, and Hamilton says it’s been successful for them. Not only are their members logging on and experiencing church online each week, but people who are struggling during this time are using their streams as a way towards Christ.

“We’ve had more people in worship. than we’ve ever had before last Sunday, I mean, it was just huge numbers and, and that’s exciting,” Hamilton said. “There’s people who are joining us who were not going to church anywhere and who feel like, gosh, you know, I’m looking for hope right now I’m looking for something that that is helping me cope with the feelings that I’ve got going on.”

Both pastors say the church is more about it’s people than it’s walls.

“Let’s support each other and love each other, and through the grace of God make it through this time together,” Hickey said.

Both Prairie View and Church of the Resurrection are continuing with fellowship and bible studies mostly online for now.

94-year-old Marine joins local Boy Scout troop for moving Memorial Day ceremony

OLATHE, Kan. — Original Post

Boy Scouts across America are honoring fallen heroes on Memorial Day. One Johnson County troop had a special guest at their ceremony.

A 94-year-old Marine came to the troop’s salute to soldiers. Both the leaders and the boys said his presence was amazing.

The sound of Taps came from the lawn of the Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Olathe on Monday afternoon.

For months Troop 315 had been apart because of COVID-19, but they came together on the somber holiday to honor fallen soldiers. Seventeen-year-old Sr. Patrol Leader Jordan Kinsey helped organize the event.

“It’s great because I’m able to do what scouting stands for somewhat: salute those that served us both past and present that help our country be able to be free,” Kinsey said.

A scout played Taps on the trumpet, while others saluted the flag and said the name of a fallen soldier.

“It’s about remembering those who’ve given the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” Scout Master Kevin Gibson said. “It’s just the right thing to do, and it’s the right thing to teach our scouts to salute those that have fallen and given our lives for our country.”

Gibson is a Marine who served his country in the ’90s as well.

Marine Richard J. Randolph was a lieutenant colonel and served in WWII, Vietnam and Korea. The 94-year-old has been scouting for more than 50 years.

When he was 16, many of his friends and his scout leader went to war. He took on the role himself at 16 until he enlisted. His sons were scouts, along with his two grandsons in Troop 315.

“I thoroughly believe that in the boy scouting gives all scouts something to be proud of,” Randolph said. “I think it’s well worth the trip out here.”

“We’re just grateful to be Americans and to have the chance to help in any way we can,” his daughter Mary Randolph-Gips said.

Kinsey said the name of James Doherty who died in 2002, the same year he was born. He’s grateful for the opportunity to show Randolph a new generation of scouts who honor the men and women who stood beside him.

“I find it amazing that he came out here,” Kinney said. “He’s done a great deal for this country, and I can’t thank him enough.”

Similar ceremonies took place across the nation. Gibson said he hopes all of them were as meaningful as this one.

Suspect allegedly drove toward police in stolen car before officers fired weapons, KCKPD says

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Original Post

A suspect is hospitalized after an officer-involved shooting Monday morning in Kansas City, Kansas.

According to the KCK Police Department, officers were doing an area check in a public parking lot in the 600 block of South 71st Terrace aroud 7:40 a.m. when they discovered a stolen vehicle from Leavenworth sitting unoccupied.

While investigating the stolen vehicle, a tenant approached officers and told them about an armed disturbance.

A man matching the suspect description of that armed disturbance then got into the stolen vehicle and attempted to drive away.

When this happened, a police officer deployed a taser, but it was ineffective. The suspect then drove at the officers, according to a police spokeswoman.

When this happened, two officers fired their weapons, and the suspect was shot. The suspect then got out of the vehicle and tried to run into an apartment building when he was tased by police and taken into custody.

The suspect was taken by ambulance to the hospital for treatment. It’s unclear the extent of his injuries.

The two officers involved in the shooting suffered minor injuries. They’re on paid leave during the investigation.

The shooting is being investigated by the KCK Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Bureau along with the Topeka Police Department.

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS (8477).

With Jackson County eviction ban ending soon, KC Tenants push leaders to help renters

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Original Post

In a matter of days some renters will face eviction because they can’t pay their landlords.

Since mid-March no one in Jackson County has been evicted. However, starting on June 1, that will change as the county’s eviction moratorium lifts.

“I don’t know how my landlord expects to get rent, and quite frankly I don’t know how my landlord expects to pay her mortgage,” renter Ashley Johnson said.

KC Tenants, a housing advocacy group, met with Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas on Thursday. They’re hoping for an extension on the moratorium, options for the unhoused and legal funding for people facing evictions.

“We believe that the mayor and City Council should use CARES Act funds to insist property owners to fully cancel rent payments and/or forgive all debts since the beginning of March and extending through the next six months,” organizer Tara Raghuveer said.

Leaders say change isn’t so simple.

Lucas said funding is being scrutinized during the pandemic, and it has to be approved. However, he said he’s committed to getting money to those in need once they can — and soon.

“I’ll call a special city council meeting next week because nobody’s going on vacation, to actually — if we receive this money — to pass the necessary ordinances to get it out on the streets,” Lucas said. “To make sure that we’re actually doing things to expand services for unhoused people.”

The 16th Circuit Court of Jackson County, which handles evictions, said there are about 53 evictions moving forward at the first of the month. These evictions were already set in motion prior to the pandemic.

However, Thursday also marked the first date landlord tenant meetings resumed in person at the Jackson County Courthouse.

The court said numbers for evictions did drop in April, but itcouldn’t say the pandemic was the cause. However, they did say more than one landlord had called, not realizing they could file evictions during this time.

“There will be a lot of people who are getting evicted today, tomorrow, the next day, Monday off, and then Tuesday, and then all of that,” Lucas said. “That’s what happens when we don’t act.”

Lucas said actions he could work on immediately would be to extend the utilities moratorium, along with calling an emergency city council meeting to discuss getting funding allocated for renters in need.

KC Tenants suggested using funds to turn vacant houses throughout the city into housing for those who are evicted and homeless. Lucas agreed this would be something of interest.

Kansas congressman joins Trump in taking hydroxychloroquine to help prevent COVID-19

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Original Post

A Kansas congressman who’s also a doctor is joining President Donald Trump in taking hydroxychloroquine, a drug that is traditionally used to combat malaria and lupus.

But is it effective? It’s been around a lot longer than COVID-19, and the drug is gaining interest across the country.

“A couple of weeks ago I started taking it because I heard it’s good. I’ve heard a lot of good stories,” Trump said in a news conference.

Trump and Republican Congressman Roger Marshall said they’re taking it to prevent COVID-19. Marshall said he’s taken it before, and his family has taken the drug to ward of malaria on international mission trips.

“Due to previous international travel for mission work, my family and I had experience taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent malaria. I made the decision to again begin taking the drug prior to my work in health care facilities with known cases of COVID-19. As a physician, I am able to weigh the benefits and risks, and in this case, the benefits far outweigh the risks.”

Dr. Dana Hawkinson, an infectious disease doctor with the University of Kansas Health System, said they are no longer using the drug to treat patients.

“I think the evidence right now that we have is pretty good that hydroxychloroquine alone or in combination for treatment of COVID-19 really doesn’t offer benefit to people,” Hawkinson said.

He said they are waiting to see the results of two studies. One called the Healthcare Worker Exposure Response and Outcomes (HERO) Study and another from the University of Minnesota.

“Unfortunately, it does have a significant side effect of having and can cause heart arrhythmias, which can lead to heart attack and death. And so it’s very important to be monitored pretty closely,” Hawkinson said.

In March, FOX4 spoke with Dr. Joe Brewer, another infectious disease doctor, who works with Plaza Infectious Disease Specialists. He believes the drug has positive results.

“It looks as though this could stem transmission and get rid of the virus rather quickly. There are dramatic effects coming from all over the world about how efficacious this is,” Brewer said.

Hawkinson said he hopes the results of these studies helps give doctors insight for the future.

“There’s been a lot of rush to do things in a quick manner,” Hawkinson said. “I think that’s OK. But I think we need to do it in a safe manner. I think we need to report on the accurate facts so that we moving forward we can best decide how to treat it and how to protect against it.”

Marshall said he’s experienced no negative side effects from the drug and said anyone who wants to use it should go through their physician to get a prescription.

The White House reports Trump will complete his use of the drug Friday.

As cities reopen but COVID-19 concerns remain, business owners adapt for ‘new normal’

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Original Post

Until there’s a vaccine for COVID-19, things are going to be different. As we ease back into daily life, many have asked: What is the new normal?

FOX4 dug deeper into what you can expect when you leave the house.

The heart of Kansas City is the people. We are all learning to live in a new way for who knows how long. Everything will be a little different with a lot of cooperation.

“I think, in our industry, it’s definitely going to have a different vibe,” said Melissa Tanner, owner of Delphinum Salon in the Crossroads.

She said masks will be the new fashion accessory for her stylists.

“I think it’s really important just to make everybody feel like they’re comfortable being in our space,” Tanner said. “Whatever we have to do to make the clients feel comfortable is important.”

She’s been renovating her space and her business plan. Clients will wait in their car for appointments.

“They’ll get a text or a phone call letting them know that they can come in,” Tanner said. “They’ll have to sanitize at the front desk. We’ll have the sign-in book. After that, masks obviously. We’ll encourage them to bring their own mask. If they don’t have them, we will provide them.”

Tanner said reopening will be a fresh start she’s ready for.

Getting to the doctor will be as easy as opening an app.

The University of Kansas Health System is speeding up a plan they hoped to roll out over the next two years. Dr. Keith Sale with the hospital said the pandemic accelerated their timeline.

“There is no post-COVID. There’s just the COVID world we live in now,” Sale said. “Because that COVID world is still a real thing, we have to think about ways to deliver health care a little bit differently.”

Sale said telehealth will ease hospital traffic. By doing more appointments online, it reduces the amount of people coming into the hospital.

He also hopes waiting rooms become a thing of the past. Sale said the plan is for patients to eventually be able to go straight from their car to their exam room. That way everyone can manage their time better.

“We can give you an update via text,” Sale said. “You can log in and find out where you are in the queue for that physician or that provider.”

He said many visits aren’t necessary in person. He believes in the future people may be able to do more in-home health monitoring, so they can update doctors on things like their heart rate and glucose levels digitally.

“I think this has opened the doors to a new way to take care of patients and to access patients in a way that we never could before,” Sale said.

Getting back to the gym may mean doing more and moving less.

Sean Van Horn with Freight House Fitness said they have a plan. Their workouts revolve around high intensity training where clients rotate from weights and cardio.

Touching a space someone else did is inevitable, and Van Horn said with the way they were doing things, it would be impossible to stay sterile.

“My goal right now is to keep people as safe as possible,” Van Horn said. “I know that a lot of people are really skeptical when it comes to gyms and COVID-19, so I’m trying to go above and beyond to make this the safest place for people to come to.”

It may not be the circuit you’re used to. You’ll come into the gym, disinfect your area, and do your entire workout from one spot — all while social distancing at 6 feet.

Van Horn said during this time, they also created an online exercise experience for his clients. They offered weight rentals while they were closed and even called clients to help them stay accountable and motivated.

“I think life will throw you things, you know, and you just have to be ready to change or adapt or die,” Van Horn said.

Chicken & Pickle in North Kansas City is open at 10% capacity. Employees are wearing masks, and customers no longer wait in a line to order. Your server will come to your table. Social games, like bags, will be sanitized after each use.

“Our whole service model has changed,” managing partner Bill Crooks said.

Not only are they taking precautions in the dining room, but also on the pickleball courts.

“All of hard surfaces are done on the hour, and inside the courts we used to schedule court times about every hour on the hour,” Crooks said. “And now we schedule them every hour and 15 minutes, so we’re able to sanitize the hard surfaces in the courts, the balls and the paddles.”

In Westport, the lights in many bars and clubs remain out. Streets are more sparse, and social distancing for many means staying home instead of lining up on the sidewalks.

Jay Keitel is the general manager at Lotus, one of Brett Allred’s five bars in Kansas City — four of them are in Westport. All are closed for business until they can find a safe way to operate.

“This industry basically died,” Keitel said. “People just stopped being able to go out and enjoy themselves, and it’s going to put a strain on a lot of small business owners because of that. We want to make sure it’s safe one hundred percent for our customers and employees before we reopen.”

For everyone, the new normal will take a while.

Local family sues Prairie Village nursing home over 88-year-old’s COVID-19 case

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. — Original Post

A Johnson County family filed a lawsuit Monday against a senior living facility.

They argue Brighton Gardens didn’t do enough to prevent their loved one of dying from COVID-19.

Gordon Grohmann is described as a family man, a father who was deeply loved by his children. According to court documents, the 88-year-old died April 1 at Brighton Gardens in Prairie Village. He was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 30.

Rachel Stahle, a partner at Dollar, Burns & Becker, represents the family.

“These places have undertaken a duty to protect our most vulnerable population,” Stahle said. “Immunizing any and all claims against these nursing homes during the state of emergency is frankly a bad idea. It gives these places free rein to ignore the residents. The patients who are elderly, frail, and they need attention — they cannot go hours without being seen.”

The care facility has seen scrutiny from Johnson County Department of Health and Environment.

On Monday, when asked for comment on the facility’s efforts to control an outbreak, the department said they have been “very responsive” and since their knowledge of COVID-19 in their facility, they have “implemented infection control measures.”

However, in a statement on May 12, the health department said: “Due to the apparent inability of Brighton Gardens to sufficiently and effectively control and manage the situation, immediate action is required by its national owner to avoid further spread.”

Around that time, the number of reported infections also began to vary, based on documents from the facility and reporting from the health department.

As of May 13, the facility reported to the Johnson County Health Department it had 76 cases with 14 deaths. 

However, in letters to families obtained by FOX4, the facility said on May 11 it had 79 cases — instead of 76. On May 14, that number increased to 80, and on May 18, it increased to 84 reported cases.

The health department’s reported numbers remained at 76. They say the number may be due to confusion in some cases being reported as “out of state” and upon second look were from Johnson County.

In another letter to patients’ families on May 14, Brighton Gardens reported Executive Director Lisa Barnes would be transitioned out of her role.

Stahle hopes lawsuits like hers help families get the answers they need.

“In the end, these families recourse ends up being the civil justice system because that really is the only deterrent to future conduct that we’re seeing here,” Stahle said.

Brighton Gardens sent the following statement in regard to the lawsuit and concerns about the facility: 

“We do not comment on legal matters and have yet to be provided with a copy of this complaint. Public health experts are struggling to respond to the unpredictable nature of this novel virus, as the pandemic reaches every corner of this world.

“We continue to implement guidance from the CDC and other health agencies, and our courageous frontline team members use their training, experience and love of our residents to protect and care for our senior population.”