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Local soldier surprises wife with early homecoming

When Lt. Kevin Miller was planning a surprise trip home to see his wife Jade, he knew he wanted to do something different.

“I watched a lot of surprise coming home videos,” he said. “In a lot of them, they just walk in the house or a classroom.”

A member of the Kansas Army National Guard since 2016, Miller recently finished a nine-month deployment to Kuwait and Jordan, where he was in charge of vehicle maintenance for the 2-137 Infantry Regiment.

With the help of friends Cody Taylor and Taylor Hudson, Miller crafted a plan to surprise his wife by hiding in a package on the porch and jumping out as she came home.

A frequent internet shopper, Miller said he convinced his wife that he had ordered a set of weights.

In video footage captured by hidden cameras, Jade can be seen approaching the porch in work attire. Apparently irritated to have to carry a large package in the house, the first thing she says is “Dude, seriously?”

Jade’s demeanor changes moments later as her husband pops out of the box a week earlier than she expected to see him.

After her initial shock settled, the couple hugged for the first time in nearly a year.

“Oh my God, what are you doing home?” she shouted with excitement.


Kevin and Jade Miller embrace for the first time since his deployment nine months ago. She didn't expect him to be home for another week. 

Having just finished a 12-hour shift at Villa Maria in Mulvane, Jade said she felt both excited and relieved to see her husband home. The couple has been together seven years and married for just over a year.

One of the hardest parts about being apart was handling day-to-day issues, the couple agreed, including when their home was struck by lightning while Jade was out of town.

“A lot of things broke while he was gone,” she said. “He usually handles things like maintenance and yard work, so I was relieved he was back … but I’m also able to help him with those things now.”

Pleased with the success of his plan and Jade’s reaction, Miller shared video of the surprise on his Facebook profile and with various Derby community groups. As of Monday, April 1, the video has garnered over 23,000 views, 200 reactions, and nearly 100 shares.

A lifelong Derby resident, he said a desire to stay near home motivated his decision to join the National Guard after serving in the Navy. This was his first deployment with the guard.

Now Miller says he’s just happy to be back in his hometown with the woman he loves.

Agreement with railroad will improve streets

The City Council has authorized an agreement with BNSF Railroad for improvements related to reconstruction of Kay and Water streets.

Cost of the work is not to exceed $201,017.

The approval came at the council’s March 26 meeting after an explanation by City Engineer Dan Squires about the work and the overall West End redevelopment design, which this is part of.

“This is going to be a great project for the West End,” Squires said.

Since part of the work involves the railroad, its owner, BNSF, had to get involved and an agreement reached.

Improvements will include relocating signal equipment, a crossing for the sidewalk portion and a new crossing.

The contract also provides a blueprint for the contractor working with the railroad, including training and insurance policies, Squires said. The details are quite involved, he added.

“The city’s contractor will be required to enter into an agreement with BNSF and follow specific railroad requirements,” he said.

Squires said his staff will ensure the selected contractor is prepared and qualified to work with BNSF to complete the project.

The railroad will be responsible for long-term maintenance of the upgrades.

The project is part of the Capital Improvement Plan to reconstruct Kay from K-15 to Water and Water from Kay to Madison Avenue to what is called an urban standard.

That includes stormwater sewers, curb and gutter, and a sidewalk on one side.

Squires said his staff has been “working very hard on this.”

“Building a project like this in an existing area is, to say the least, a challenge,” he said.

That’s because of existing utilities and easements.

All easements necessary to construct the project have been acquired, and utility relocation work is underway and expected to be complete in early May.

Squires said the final design work is being completed and the project is expected to bid in late spring.

Since the area is part of the oldest section of the city and more than 100 years old, Squires said it’s expected that issues will arise as the project goes along, even  though due diligence was completed.

“We’re going to run into something out there,” he said. “I’ll be surprised if we don’t because of the age.”

The cost of the agreement has already been figured into the CIP and council members had no issue with the expense, approving it unanimously.