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Johnson County Museum Foundation secures grant from Freedom’s Frontier NHA for Indian Creek Trail interpretative signage project
POSTED: 04/01/2016
Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area has awarded the Johnson County Museum Foundation a $5,000 grant for the Indian Creek Trail interpretive signage project, an innovative pilot public history undertaking now underway that will transform the 10.1 mile segment of the Overland Park portion of the Indian Creek Trail into a hike through history.

The project, which is being developed by Sunflower Republic LLC under the auspices of the Johnson County Museum, will feature 15-20 permanent and well-designed outdoor exhibit panels (3 feet by 5 feet) that offer historical narratives on the derivation of the names of the various streets that cross or intersect with the trail, as well as other points of historical interest.

The FFNHA grant, which will cover many of the costs related to three of the interpretative panels, complements significant funding already obtained for this project from the Regnier Family Foundation, the Sunflower Foundation, the Barton P. and Mary D. Cohen Charitable Trust, and the Greater Kansas City Health Care Foundation. Installation and site planning services are being provided by the Parks Services department of Overland Park. Historians from Johnson County Community College and other institutions of higher education are developing the scholarly component of the project. The project is directed by Henry Fortunato of Sunflower Republic LLC, formerly the award-winning director of public affairs at the Kansas City Public Library.

Scheduled unveiling is in two phases. A Grand Pre-Opening will take place on June 4 which is National Trails Day, at Roe Park, 10400 Roe. At this event, an initial three-to-five completed panels (including at least two that are being funded by FFNHA) will be on display for public comment. There also will be guided historical walks along portions of the trail, and historian Bill Worley, a professor of history at the Metropolitan Community Colleges in Kansas City and a noted re-enactor, will portray the Rev. Thomas Johnson during introductory remarks. Formal installation of the actual panels will take place in fall 2016. There are also plans to develop a mobile phone app.

The Freedom’s Frontier Interpretive Grant program was started in 2012. Since then, more than 48 projects have been awarded grant funding. Grant projects have been completed on both sides of the Missouri-Kansas border, in the 41-county region that comprises the heritage area.

Projects awarded grant funding must interpret local history, and connect to one or more of the three major themes of the heritage area: the shaping of the frontier, the Missouri-Kansas Border War, and the enduring struggle for freedom. Grants range in amount from under $1,500 to $5,000. All awards over $1,500 require that the grant recipient show a local match of half the amount of the award. This match can be in the form of cash, or in-kind donations and staff and volunteer time.

Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area is one of 49 heritage areas in the U.S. Heritage areas are nonprofit affiliates of the National Park Service (NPS). They act as coordinating entities between the local organizations telling nationally significant stories and the NPS.

Freedom’s Frontier was established as a heritage area on October 12, 2006, when signed into law by President George Bush. The heritage area’s management plan was approved by the Department of the Interior and the NPS in 2010. Freedom’s Frontier is headquartered in the Carnegie Building, 200 W 9th St., in Lawrence.

Grant applications are accepted from organizations within the borders of the heritage area which have signed a partner pledge with Freedom’s Frontier, and meet all other qualifications for grant funding. Applications are reviewed quarterly by a peer group from the partnership. Organizations are asked to complete their grant projects within a year of the grant award. For more information about Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area, visit the website at

The Johnson County Museum is funded by Johnson County Government, and operated and managed by the Johnson County Park & Recreation District (JCRPD). The Johnson County Museum (JCM) operates three facilities: the main Museum and the 1950s All-Electric House both located in Shawnee, and the Lanesfield Historic Site near Gardner. With the mission of “challenging you to explore the story and heritage of Johnson County, through an exceptional venue, collections, exhibitions, and programs,” the JCM collects materials of historical significance about Johnson County and its residents, develops exhibitions, and provides educational opportunities for the general public and school audiences.

In addition, the JCM provides a research library, special events, and online collections at the resource . In 2015, the JCM served a total of 129,747 people: 46,000 people onsite and over 83,000 via electronically.

The JCM also is supported by the Johnson County Museum Foundation, a private 501c3 organization governed by a Board of Trustees. The Museum Foundation’s primary function is raising funds to support Museum exhibit development, educational programs, and special events.

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