• The Cole County Health Department is offering free rapid COVID-19 antibody tests at its West Truman Blvd. location. The test is a “finger stick” and results are available in 15 minutes. With a positive antibody test quarantine is not necessary after coming into contact with an infected individual. The test is not to determine a current infection, but provides results for past infections.
• A new chief of the Cole County Emergency Management Services started this summer, replacing former EMS chief Matt Lindewirth who resigned in June. The new chief, Eric Hoy, was previously the clinical supervisor of EMS operations at Sanford Medical Center in Sioux Falls. The county has managed the EMS service since taking it over from Capital Regional Medical Center in 2009.
• Jay Moore has joined the Jefferson City Chamber of Commerce as Director of Finance and Administration. Moore recently retired from the state of Missouri after more than 30 years of service with the Public Service Commission, State Treasurer, Department of Transportation and Department of Health and Senior Services. He replaced Dana Struemph, who took a new job with Jefferson City Public Schools after 25 years with the chamber.
• The new $3.5 million Bicentennial Bridge to Adrian’s Island on the Missouri River is expected to open next month and crews from the city’s parks and recreation department are working on a new park on the island. Plans for the park include a life-size chess set, walking trails, seating areas, a hammock area and viewing spots of the Missouri River. The trails, landscaping and concrete areas are expected to be in place later this fall.
• Jefferson City is expecting to receive at least $14 million in federal grants next year, up from $370,000 in 2020. Administration of the grants falls on the city’s Neighborhood Services Division, which is seeking an additional employee to handle the new workload. The city received $3.8 million in 2021 and that is expected to increase to near $14 million in 2022. The grants allow for administrative costs, which would fund the new position.
• A joint “task force” of Jefferson City and Cole County citizens is trying to figure out the best way to improve internet service in the area, taking advantage of federal funds from the American Rescue Plan. The group has heard presentations from Socket about installation of fiber optic cable and from Wisper Internet on wireless rural service. A presentation from CenturyLink is being scheduled. The difficulty is the lack of data, or a map, of current services and the best way to address shortcomings. The task force clarified its objective moving forward. Instead of seeking to get service to hard-to-reach residents, it would instead seek to provide reliable, affordable service to a broader scope of residents. The American Rescue Plan was signed by President Biden in March to distribute $65 billion to municipalities across the nation. About $1.3 billion is coming to Missouri.
• The Missouri River Regional Library in downtown Jefferson City is making plans for an expansion. Library Director Claudia Cook told county commissioners recently that the library has the architectural work done to add a third floor and 15,000 square feet of space. A capital campaign to raise $2.5 million is in the works.
• After several delays, construction is expected to begin soon on $21.4 million in new athletic facilities at Jefferson City high schools. The groundwork for the improvements at Capital City High School has already been completed, and bids for subcontractors are expected to go out later this fall. At Jefferson City High School, excavation is expected to begin this summer with completion expected next summer. At Capital City, new construction will include a press box, new bleachers, concessions, restrooms and locker rooms for use between the football and soccer fields; dugouts, concessions, restrooms and storage at the baseball and softball fields; and new parking lots. At Jefferson City High, construction will include new baseball and softball complex with dugouts, bullpens, batting cages and bleachers; an eight-court tennis complex; a new, lighted soccer field with bleachers; and a new press box, restrooms, concessions and storage.
• Improvement of the old, vacant JC Penney building downtown began last month with construction crews tearing down part of the building. Ryan Gilmore of Cameo Construction purchased the building at 206-210 E. High St. in 2018. The owners received a tax abatement in 2019 to remove the current metal façade and replace it with one more period-appropriate. Plans call for three commercial units downstairs and residential above.
(Mike Murphy is President of BUZ Communications, which publishes Jefferson City BUZ. Feedback welcome, please send to firstname.lastname@example.org)