KCK mayor talks bright future at Tonganoxie Chamber awards banquet
A fourth-generation Wyandotte County resident, Mark Holland, mayor and CEO of the Kansas City, Kan./Wyandotte County Unified Government, noted that KCK has had a rise and fall.
He is seeing it rise again.
Holland was keynote speaker at last week’s Tonganoxie Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Dinner at Myers Hotel.
He noted the severe population decline in KCK — an exodus of 30,000 people from 1960 to 2000. But from 2000 to 2010, loss was at less than 1 percent, and projected numbers in future years look promising.
Holland said Kansas Speedway and development of the entire Village West area have been keys for KCK and Wyandotte County.
Demand for the new Village West Luxury Apartments has been high, Holland said. He noted many tenants are affiliated with Cerner, Fort Leavenworth and Kansas University Hospital, so the housing has a regional draw.
Mayor Jason Ward introduced Holland and spoke about the Chamber, saying it was the “quarterback” for Tonganoxie.
He said it’s the first group people go to when they come to town.
“And they’re the first person to be thrown under the bus when something goes wrong,” Ward said.
During the event, the Chamber of Commerce also gave out special awards.
Connie Torneden was named Citizen of the Year, while Free State Fitness was Business of the Year.
Torneden has organized Tonganoxie Days for more than 25 years and is secretary of the historical society.
“Connie is just absolutely remarkable,” said Steve Christensen, chamber president.
Free State Fitness was recognized for its continued growth in the community.
Its business has expanded with an additional building that offers Shred classes, which have been popular in the community — including with Christensen, who has joined in the workouts.
The Chamber also handed out a high school scholarship.
This year’s recipient was Celeste Bartels.
Last week’s banquet took place inside the hotel, but Holland’s speech and presentation of awards took place in the patio area.
A loud noise occurred toward the end of the meal. As a precaution, the meeting moved outside.
City Administrator Nathan McCommon said it was determined a temporary support beam came lose, but it was a minor correction that was being remedied.