This week 44 years ago The Wyandotte West was born out of a townhouse basement near 70th Street and State Avenue. That newspaper continues today through the weekly print edition of the Wyandotte Daily News and its electronic edition, wyandottedailynews.com.
There have been many changes in the newspaper business and in this community since 1968. We have seen the shut down of print edition of The Kansas City Kansan (now available on-line) and the elimination of the weekly tabloid insert with Wyandotte and Leavenworth County news in The Kansas City Star. The Johnson County Sun has ceased publication along with The Leader and The Current that served the Lansing community. The World Company, with headquarters in Lawrence, has shut down its Bonner Springs office for The Bonner Springs-Edwardsville Chieftain and the Basehor Sentinel. The company continues to publish these newspapers, but operates out of a Shawnee office.
There have been many significant commercial and residential developments during this period, particularly in the Piper community with more than 20 housing subdivisions and the retail area in Village West including the Kansas Speedway, the Hollywood Casino, Nebraska Furniture Mart, Cabela’s and the Legends. Providence Medical Center and a new community college campus were significant additions to the community during the 1970s.
The most significant challenge for this community has been the exit of much of its middle class. From 1970 until 2000, Wyandotte County lost 60,000 people– many who fled to Johnson County. During that same period, 30,000 came into the county. So the net loss was about 30,000. That was the bad news. The good news is that during the last few years, Wyandotte County has seen a slight population growth– mostly do to Hispanic immigrants.
Wyandotte County will have a brief window when it can take advantage of the 4,000 employees of the Cerner Corporation who will work at its Village West office complex. The Business West organization has set a goal of attracting at least 15 percent of these employees to live here. It is encouraging that we see proposed quality, market-rate apartment developments that would help meet this need.
In looking back to the first edition of the Wyandotte West, which my wife Carol and I founded, I noted that the newspaper “will strive to make our community a better place to live.” Although the ownership of the newspaper has changed, its very strong commitment to the community has not.
Murrel Bland is the former editor of the Wyandotte West and the Piper Press. He is executive director of Business West.