monument

A replica of the civil war marker taken down by Jefferson City council last fall now stands on private property off Armory Drive.

• Ameren Missouri is requesting authorization from the Missouri Public Service Commission to raise its gas and electric rates next year. The average electric customer would pay about $12 per month more. The average gas customer would pay about $4 more. Ameren said they have been decreasing rates recently, and that current electric rates are 8.3% lower than they were in 2017.

• Cole County leased space at Capital Mall in Jefferson City to provide a central site for administration of COVID-19 vaccines. The clinic will be staffed with personnel from Capital Region Medical Center, Community Health Center of Central Missouri, Jefferson City Medical Group and St. Mary’s Hospital. The short-term lease runs through July and is the former Party City space next to Dunham’s Sporting Goods. The $10,000 per month rent will be paid with federal funds the county is receiving for COVID assistance. Health officials hope to administer 4,000 doses per week.

• Jefferson City council will ask voters to approve an additional one-fourth cent sales tax in November to be used for “the improvement of public safety of the city.” The tax would generate about $2.8 million annually. Uses of the fund include, but are not limited to, “expenditures on equipment, city employee salaries and benefits, and facilities for police, fire and emergency medical providers.” A similar sales tax levied by Cole County will be dropping from a half-cent to three-eights of a cent on March 31, 2022. Therefore, the proposed increase from the city would net to one-eighth of a cent additional sales tax from the current rate. (See page 7 for the current sales tax breakdown.)

• A trailer with a 1,500 gallon tank of anhydrous ammonia floating down the Missouri River was recovered by authorities in late March just upstream of Jefferson City, near Claysville. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources called in the federal Environmental Protection Agency to support the recovery. Highway Patrol, the Jefferson City Fire Department and local tow services also assisted. Anhydrous ammonia is widely used in farming as a fertilizer. It is an efficient, cost-effective way to input nitrogen into the soil. It is also a prime ingredient in the illicit manufacturing of methamphetamine.

• Lincoln University is considering new recruiting and retention efforts to stem a decline in enrollment. The LU Board of Curators heard a presentation from Treasurer Richard Ropp in March that reported a 41% decline in enrollment in the last nine years. Enrollment declined 19% from 2018 to 2020, Ropp said. Student revenues in the last two years have dropped $4.5-5 million, he said. Average enrollment from 2012-2020 was 2,732 students.

Gary Plummer

Gary Plummer

• Gary Plummer is returning to be president of the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce, the same position he occupied in Jefferson City from 1988-1997.  Plummer has been president and CEO of the Wichita (KS) Regional Chamber of Commerce since 2011. He will replace Randy Allen who retired last July after 15 years in the position. He recently led the Wichita chamber through a separation of economic development functions, similar to what is underway in Jefferson City.

• A $3.2 million project to improve Business 50 West in St. Martins took a step forward when Cole County awarded the project to low-bidder Don Schnieders Excavating. The project includes wastewater improvements, curb and gutter and pavement upgrades from Babe Ruth Drive to Route T.  Don Schnieders Excavating completed Phase 1 of the project in 2015. The work will be funded by the county’s earmarked sales tax revenue.

Shari LePage

Shari LePage

• The Jefferson City School District hired Shari LePage in March to replace retiring chief financial officer Jason Hoffman. LePage spent the last 28 years with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, most recently as chief operating officer.  Prior to that she was the department’s chief budget officer. Hoffman has been the district’s CFO since 2006.

• Out in Ashland, development is underway for an entertainment park on a 37-acre parcel just west of the exit to Columbia Regional Airport called “Lakeside Ashland.” Plans call for a lake, outdoor movie theater, amphitheater, golf facility, event center, bar and restaurant. Developer Nic Parks of Columbia plans to have the drive-in and amphitheater open this summer.  Parks in owner of Silverball in downtown Columbia and Level Up in the Columbia Mall.

• A replica of the of the civil war marker taken down by the Jefferson City council last fall now stands in public view on private property at 801 Armory Drive. Jefferson City native Edith Vogel tried to obtain the original Sterling Price Civil War marker, but the city returned it to its original dedicators who plan to donate it to the Missouri Civil War Museum in St. Louis. Vogel found a bronze casting company in Florida who made the replica from photos. It is visible just north of the U.S. 50-54 interchange.

• Jefferson City’s COVID-19 emergency declarations and proclamations were extended until May 3 by the city council. The guidelines allow businesses to place signs for modified business operations, the option to participate “virtually” in public meetings, and mask requirements for in-person city meetings.

• Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau will be seeking bids to repair the roof on Housing Unit 4 at the Missouri State Penitentiary. Housing Unit 4 was built in 1868 for Civil War criminals and is the oldest building on the property. The roof was severely damaged during the May 2019 tornado. The repairs are estimated to cost $600,000, which funded from tours the convention and visitors bureau conducts at the property. Construction is expected to begin this summer and be completed by fall.

• Missouri Department of Transportation officials are reminding motorists not to drive over the freshly painted stripes that will be applied to the state’s two-lane lettered roadways throughout the spring and summer. The paint contains glass beads, which reflect headlight beams to make the stripes more visible. The striping trains move 8-12 miles per hour, and drivers are reminded to stay behind the last truck, which is placed far behind the striping vehicle to allow time for the paint to dry. If you do get paint on your tires, it is water-based and MoDOT recommends a quick trip to a car wash or similar high-powered water hose.

bird

A Bird electric scooter.

• Jefferson City staff are in discussions with scooter-sharing company Bird about the company bringing a fleet of its rentable electric scooters to the city. The city council voted in favor considering agreements from any scooter-sharing companies, providing they meet certain requirements – as opposed to an exclusive agreement with a single company. Bird promotes its scooters as being eco-friendly and traffic-reducing. Also, data gathered from the scooters can help cities analyze traffic trends, identify issues and improve infrastructure.

(Mike Murphy is President of BUZ Communications, which publishes Jefferson City BUZ. Feedback welcome, please send to m.murphy@buzcomm.com)