A couple of more things about Lenexa, that God-forsaken city that is in line to get the EPA regional headquarters, along with its 600 employees.
I’ve read up on Lenexa a bit, and one thing I learned was that in 2009, Money magazine named it the 26th best small town in America.
(Liberty, by the way, was named the 29th best small town.)
Really raises your estimation of Lenexa (and Liberty), eh?
Well, do you have any idea how those goofy “best of” cities are selected?
I’ll tell you…
A Money reporter is sitting around with his feet up on his desk reading The New Yorker, and an editor comes along and says, “Hey, Ernie, I’ve got an assignment for you…You’ve got a week to put together a cover story on ‘America’s best small towns.’ Let’s get cracking!”
As the reporter puts his head in his hands, elbows on his desk, his first thought is, “I wonder if it’s too late to go to barber college.”
Then he stews around a while, goes to lunch with some colleagues and complains about the “stupid assignment” he just got. The other reporters commiserate with him because they, too, have had their share of make-work assignments.
Back at his desk, barber school no longer an option, the reporter warms up to the task. He looks at past “best of” stories and starts running through some cities in Wikipedia. Then, he gets down to the real reporting: he goes around, asking fellow reporters about small cities they’ve visited.
“Hey, Julia,” he says, “aren’t you from Kansas? What’s a decent small town there?”
Julia says, “Well, I’m actually from Kansas City, Missouri, but there’s this town over there named Lenexa that I’ve heard is supposed to be the spinach capital of the world.”
Our irrepressible reporter jumps onto Google and, sure enough, finds that September 2009 will mark the 25th anniversary of the Lenexa Spinach Festival, commemorating the town’s 1930s status as the “spinach capital of the world.”
Bingo! One down, 99 to go.
(You might be wondering how Liberty made the list…Probably went something like this: “Hey, Larry, don’t you have a good friend who lives in Missouri? You know anything about small cities there?”
(“Well,” replies Larry, “my buddy tells me there’s a motel in Liberty, Missouri, a little north of Kansas City, and friends of his who stayed there said it was the best continental breakfast they ever had.”)
When Money magazine published its 2009 list, then, the opening sentence in the accompanying three-paragraph story on Lenexa went like this:
“Popeye would be proud of this town 12 miles southwest of Kansas City…”
The next paragraph says: “But Lenexa doesn’t get its strength just from spinach. It’s home to the headquarters of restaurant chain Applebee’s, plus a J.C. Penney distribution center that employs several hundred people.”
Ooooops! Fifty percent of that equation recently changed, with Applebee’s announcing in May that it was leaving 112th and Renner (future home of the EPA) and taking its 390 employees to an office building on Ward Parkway in Kansas City.
That reduces Lenexa’s claims to fame to Popeye and the Penney’s distribution center. In case you want to visit the distribution center, it’s east of Renner, at about 107th.
You might want to MapQuest it before you start out, though.