Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR

Some say that local government is the toughest branch, because it’s closest to the people.

For Mission, Kansas Mayor Steve Schowengerdt, it's easy.

“If you're honest and talk straight the people tell you what they want and what they don't like and you adjust,” he says.  

Schowengerdt stopped by KCUR studios to talk with Up To Date host Steve Kraske about the meatiest issues on Mission's table. 

Here are five questions Kraske asked the Mayor:

For a city of 9,500 people, Mission, Kansas has its share of big issues. Mayor Steve Schowengerdt discusses some of the meatiest topics on his city's table, from driveway taxes and the Mission Gateway development project to chickens and bees. 

A controversial tax enacted five years ago by Mission, Kansas, has been ruled illegal by the Kansas Court of Appeals.

The so-called transportation utility fee, derided by critics as a “driveway tax,” pays for street and infrastructure maintenance and is imposed on all improved real estate in the city.

A three-judge panel of the appeals court on Thursday ruled that the fee is in fact an excise tax that Kansas law, with certain exceptions, prohibits cities from imposing.


For almost a year, orange cones, torn up sidewalks, and road closures were a daily fact of life for businesses and their customers along Johnson Drive in Mission, Kansas. After months of dealing with restricted access, the road is officially re-opened and traffic is once again moving smoothly. 

On this edition of Up to Date, we look at the effect of the project on local shops, how these retailers coped, and what both they and the city hope the new and improved Johnson Drive brings to the area. 

The Johnson Drive reconstruction project that started in mid-2013 in Mission, Kan., is finally coming to a close. 

For many business owners, having their parking blocked off by construction for so long dealt a major blow to their bottom line. Hershel Casey of the Casey Brothers service station said that he was surprised by just how much the construction hurt business.

"Well during the summer months, we were down about 45 to 60 percent on business," Casey said. "I think it took about twice as long as it should've."

Sandi Russell

Massive street and sidewalk work has been going on for six months along Johnson Drive in Mission, and the mom and pop businesses on that street are feeling the pain of lost business. The work has shut off front-door access for many of them.

On Wednesday's Up to Date, we talk about how much the construction has changed these businesses, how they're coping and what the city is doing about the situation.



  If you're driving through Mission, Kan., make sure that your seatbelt is fastened, you're not talking on your cell phone and you come to a complete stop. This suburb hands out more traffic tickets than they have residents. You've been warned. 

On Tuesday's Up to Date, Steve Kraske talks with Mayor Laura McConwell about why the traffic ticket count is so high and why traffic enforcement is such a priority in the town. 

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR

At the corner of Roe Avenue and Johnson Drive facing Shawnee Mission Parkway, if you look to north side of the street, you see Roeland Park. There are sparsely inhabited businesses, including a cremation center and weight loss store, facing a weed- and dirt-filled lot on the Mission side of Johnson Drive.  This empty lot will be the new Walmart and Gateway Development expected to open in 2014. It will close the Roeland Park Walmart store located 8/10 of a mile away down Roe Avenue.   Walmart is the number one sales tax generator in Roeland Park.