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What You Think Metro Residents Get Wrong About Wyandotte, Johnson Counties

Neil Nakahodo
for KCUR

As we embark on our next exploration for Beyond our Borders, our dive into lines that unite and divide our metro, we are now turning our attention to Wyandotte and Johnson counties.

As part of our Tell KCUR initiative, we recently asked: What do we get wrong about Wyandotte and/or Johnson Counties?

A lot of you told us what you love about where you live, which, although not an answer to the question, was awesome. For example, several of you said you live in Wyandotte County because you value diversity.

"As a longtime Dottie," Richard wrote on Facebook, "the thing that I love about Wyandotte County is that people of all types get along with each other."

On the other side of the line, a man living in Johnson County called in to say he loved "quality of life ... progressive government and award-winning education."

Many of you did help us understand the misconceptions about each county. For example, a few people  emphasized that the stereotype of Johnson County residents as rich, snobby and materialistic is wrong. 

Jennifer Salva, who happens to be Miss Johnson County 2015, called to say she is putting herself though school with loans and grants. All her clothes, she said, including the gown she wore in the beauty pageant, were purchased from used clothing stores.

Amy tweeted that there was a common misunderstanding that poverty and domestic violence in Johnson County. "They are both rampant," she wrote.

And to that point, an anonymous Wyandotte County resident called to tell us that poverty in Johnson County may even be greater than in Wyandotte County today, despite the commonly held belief that the opposite is true.

There are a lot of misconceptions about Wyandotte County as well.  Marge tweeted that "more than inner city and Village West." With a "rich history, caring neighbors and a beautiful county lake."

Jamie on Facebook said she hears all the time that Wyandotte County isn't safe. "I've lived here more than 20 years. I live in the urban core, and there hasn't been a break-in on my block for 30 years. My car has never been broken into, and I walk to the park with my 3-year-old daughter on a regular basis."

We also heard from some folks through a Tell KC questionnaire we sent out last week. 

Chris Lyon, of Olathe, told us that media gets it wrong by conveying that it is boring in Johnson County and there is nothing to do.  And he extolled the virtues of living outside the urban core.

"With a few exceptions even the closer-in suburbs have started declining in desirability to live," he wrote. " Schools definitely drive growth. People are willing to commute for a job."

In that questionnaire, we also asked about perceptions of the "other" county.

Carol Abrams, of Overland Park (Johnson County), shared this observation.

"I try really hard not to generalize a stereotype when it comes to talking about the average Wyandotte resident. But, generally speaking, it appears to be a working class community with an overall much lower average income level and the schools seem to be a notch down from the Jo Co schools. School perceptions to me are determined by the higher levels of crime and lack of graduates and/or college- bound kids in Wyandotte vs. JoCo."

Abrams also agreed that Johnson County has a reputation for being more arrogant than other surrounding counties be it Missouri or Kansas. 

Our responses have given us a solid starting point for our exploration of Wyandotte and Johnson counties.  We hope you will continue to weigh in, particularly as our stories start to show up on our air and web site.

For the full Twitter conversation about Wyandotte and Johnson counties, follow the #TellKCUR hashtag or add to our Facebook comments.  You can also answer our Tell KC questionnaire by clicking here: How Are Wyandotte and Johnson Counties The Same And Different?

Tell KCUR is part of an initiative to engage the community and shine a light on your experiences and opinions. We’ll ask a new question every week and then share your feedback on the air and online. Everyone has knowledge and insight to share. Be a part of our Tell KC source network and let us know more about your expertise. 

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