by Mary Rupert
The top story of 2021 was another year in the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID pandemic continued throughout the world, nation and local community during 2021, changing to different variants including Delta and Omicron, and challenging health experts and local leaders.
The local response to it was the top local story of 2021, as the effort to vaccinate the population continued here was a little slower than some nearby communities. Still, Wyandotte County was considered to be one of the leading communities in the area fighting the coronavirus, reaching out to underserved populations.
Nationally and locally, some efforts organized to fight mask mandates from a population weary of doing what the doctors ordered. It eventually became a very emotional and politicized issue.
Wyandotte County established vaccine and testing clinics during the year that continued to provide free health services to residents. During 2021, booster shots were authorized six months after initial shots, and kids’ vaccinations were approved.
Schools went back into in-person learning during 2021, by order of the state Legislature, with masks required.
The Unified Government received $87-plus million dollars from the federal government during 2021 to replace lost revenues from the pandemic. School districts also received federal funding.
The second most important story of the year was the election of Tyrone Garner as Unified Government mayor and CEO. Garner is the first black mayor of the city. Garner had pledged to be more responsive to commissioners and put items on the agenda when they requested it, and shortly after Garner was elected, the UG Commission voted to drop the mask mandate for indoor spaces in Kansas City, Kansas.
The Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools mourned the loss of several students to gun violence during 2021. The “Enough Is Enough” campaign against violence that started in 2020 continued in 2021.
There were 51 homicides reported in Kansas City, Kansas, during 2021, through Dec. 24.
Redistricting hearings were held across Kansas, including one in Kansas City, Kansas, and one in Bonner Springs, as the Kansas Legislature prepares to redraw lines following changes tabulated by the federal census. The Legislature is expected to act in 2022 on redistricting. The 3rd District, which includes Wyandotte, Johnson and parts of Miami counties, will need to lose some population, according to officials. Several residents turned out to ask the Legislature to keep Wyandotte County together with Johnson County in the 3rd District.
Economic development continued in Wyandotte County, with construction continuing on Turner Diagonal industrial buildings, plans were tweaked for the Homefield development, Amazon construction at the former Woodlands took place, and planning continued for the redevelopment of the 5th and Minnesota area. KCKCC discussed its plan for a new $70 million downtown KCK campus. The redevelopment project to turn the Rock Island bridge into an events center and trail crossing also moved forward. Hotel and restaurant projects also were announced in 2021.
Despite COVID, it was considered safe to hold outdoor events in 2021, with sports resuming in Kansas City, Kansas, including the Kansas City Monarchs, Sporting Kansas City, Kansas City Current women’s soccer, and racing at Kansas Speedway, all outdoor events.
Notable deaths during 2021 included actor Ed Asner, who grew up in Wyandotte County; as well as former Congressman Dennis Moore, from Johnson County; and former Sen. Bob Dole, from Russell, Kansas.
To reach Mary Rupert, editor, email firstname.lastname@example.org.