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'Scouting for Food' begins Saturday

Boy Scouts will be hitting the pavement Saturday morning to deliver Scouting for Food bags to local residents. Bags will be dropped off starting at 9 a.m. within the city limits of each town. Pick up will be on the following Saturday, Nov. 18.

Donated items should be nonperishable foods including boxed or canned goods. Coordinator of Scouting for Food in Fredericktown Amy Smith reminds people to check expiration dates.

“We tell the kids not to go into yards where the fences are closed in case they have dogs so we tie the bags to the fence or somewhere close,” Assistant Scout Master in St. Francois County Della Ward said. “They are blue bags that say 'Scouting for Food' on them.”

Smith said that local streets may have a little more hustle and bustle than usual so watch for kids.

“The little guys will have adult leaders with them,” Smith said. “Scouts range in age from first grade and up.”

“I feel the kids know what it is like for fellow members of the community,” Smith said. “They see the need and what they can do to help.”

“Scouting is building leaders for our community,” Ward said. “They learn many skills and this teaches them to give of yourself to help. That is what keeps a community going.”

This is the Boy Scouts of America’s 33rd annual Scouting for Food event and the Greater St. Louis Area Council will deliver approximately 1.3 million bags on Saturday according to Director of Marketing and Communications Christine Rasure.

“The people in our community is what makes Scouting for Food a Success,” Scout Executive/CEO of the Greater St. Louis Area Council, Boy Scouts of America Ronald Green. “The collection has become an important source of food for many food pantries in our area.”

“This is a nationwide operation. Every troop in every town participates,” Smith said. “If we miss anyone or you’d like to donate and live outside of the city you can donate at the Scout Hut at 403 West Marvin in Fredericktown.”

Ward added that many local churches will have donation boxes set up as well. 

MERS Goodwill is a sponsor of this year’s campaign and donations can be taken to any Goodwill store location Nov. 19-25.

Ward said that each unit decides where the donations will be taken. 

“They work well to make sure each food pantry gets included,” Ward said.

For more information contact Amy Smith in Fredericktown at 573-330-0030 or Della Ward in St. Francois County at 573-934-0475.

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Working together for growth
Four-county economic plan released

A detailed plan to spur future economic growth in the Parkland was released to the public Thursday morning at a special meeting of the St. Francois County Commission, as well as at three commission meetings held simultaneously in Ste. Genevieve, Madison and Iron counties.

Introducing the Stronger Economies Together (SET) Parkland REDI Economic Plan to those gathered at the St. Francois County Courthouse Annex was Commissioner Patrick Mullins.

“What’s so special about this?” he asked. “All four counties — Iron, Madison, Ste. Genevieve and St. Francois — are all meeting today. On July 24, 2012, I attended my very first multi-county site selection committee meeting and it was held at the Southeast Missouri Regional Planning Commission in Perryville.

“The multi-county committee is a sub-committee of the Southeast Missouri Regional Planning Commission (SEMO RPC). It’s made up of county commissioners and business leaders from the four counties. The group was formed back in 2006 by the late Jim Henson and IDA (St. Francois County Industrial Development Authority) President Al Sullivan.

“Since then, a lot of positive accomplishments have come to fruition. On Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015, a steering committee met. On Nov. 12, 2015, a kick-off meeting took place. Many four-hour meetings transpired and on Sept. 6, 2017, Drew Christian with the SEMO RPC sent out an email to all the members that the Parkland REDI Economic Plan was approved.

According to Mullins, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has given the Parkland REDI initiative’s plan for stimulating economic growth in the region its top rating of “High Quality.”

“This rating opens the door to benefits for the entire region when applying for grants with the USDA, such as bonus points on applications and access to special funds, as well as additional legitimacy when working with other agencies,” Mullins said. “The plan includes specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely actions targeted at improving the economic health of the region.

“Most recently, the Parkland REDI was selected to participate in the Stronger Economies Together (SET) initiative from the USDA. According to the USDA, the purpose of SET is to “strengthen the capacity of communities and counties in rural America to work together in developing and implementing an economic development blueprint that strategically builds on the current and emerging economic strengths of their region.”

Following Mullins’ introduction, Sullivan was invited to offer his thoughts on the economic plan.

“In 2011, this four-county committee contracted with McCallum Sweeney Consulting of North Carolina, a global leader in site consulting for multi-national corporations such as Nissan, Boeing and Procter & Gamble. They came in and they did a study which identified multiple sites in the region for potential industrial development.

“They identified the top site as being somewhere in the neighborhood of the Highway 32/I-55 junction. We then asked the representatives from Ste. Genevieve County to approach those land owners and try to obtain an option on that property so we would have it and be able to deliver it if we had someone interested.

“None of the good people up in that area wanted to option their property. They were happy with how it was and they wanted to pass it on to their children. The second source identified was the Orchard property near Bonne Terre. We did obtain an option on that land which we still hold for economic development.”

Sullivan said other areas of potential economic interest were identified in all four counties and cooperation between the political entities has been a key to its success.

“Since the Parkland REDI was formed in 2008, there have been 13 different presiding commissioners elected among the four counties and every one of them, regardless of political party, has renewed his county’s commitment to the coalition without hesitation,” he said. “Iron County has said, ‘Well, we think we’re the smallest county in there, but we feel there’s a lot to be gained by us being a part of it.’

“I will tell you that today, if a major industry were to come to this area, Iron County will probably receive it at the [former ASARCO] Glover site. We have worked with the Doe Run Company as they have cleaned up that site and there’s a 100,000-square-foot building and 4,000 acres they control with rail and both Black River and Ameren serve that, along with a large water reserve.”

The economic plan sets three goals to bring economic growth to the four-county region:

— Industrial Attraction. “By diversifying and growing the number of employers in the region, this goal will help increase employment in the region, thereby directly benefiting those that are unemployed or under-employed. This increase in employment will also indirectly benefit the entire region by stimulating economic activity throughout the area.”

— Workforce Development and Outreach. “Development of the workforce will lead to numerous benefits for the local economy. By providing well defined job training programs that fit the needs of local employers, participants will have a greater chance of employment locally, leading to higher wages and household income, a better quality of life and decreased unemployment.

— Business Retention and Expansion. “BRE programs, focused on keeping and growing existing businesses, are one of the least expensive methods of economic development possible while still generating positive results. This makes BRE very cost effective and allows the region to take a multi-pronged approach to economic development.”

Drew Christian of SEMO RPC, stressed that the key to the economic plan is that it doesn’t just set out goals without offering a way to meet them.

“This plan includes key measures and strategies to track its progress,” he said. “I think this has the potential of bringing significant economic progress to this region as all four counties work together for its success.”

At the conclusion of the meeting, Mullins noted that progress is already being made in bringing industry to the area.

“Folks, on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017, [Presiding Commissioner Harold Gallaher] and I traveled to the Missouri Partnership, along with [SEMO RPC Executive Director] Chauncy Buchheit and [IDA Vice President] Kevin Cook. We went over a proposal using pieces of this data in trying to bring a company to St. Francois County and an adjoining county.

“We spent the day discussing the possible project and answering questions. On Wednesday, Nov. 1, we commissioners sent a letter with our three signatures on county letterhead to this company — they requested it — overnight because they were going to present it to their board. Thanks to the members of the IDA and Al Sullivan and [Iron County Presiding Commissioner] Jim Scaggs.

“Al went out to these jurisdictions and talked to them — he’s been talking to the company, also. Jim Scaggs actually started this project several years ago. So, if this company does come into St. Francois County — and this project comes to fruition using this data — this is going to be huge. It would be around a $52 million plant, 30 to 40 good paying jobs, three shifts and a possible fourth shift.”

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Council approves development

The Farmington City Council gave approval to an ordinance allowing for a Planned Unit Development for the construction of an apartment complex in the southern part of the city – after discussion on the increase in traffic the complex will cause.

Braxton Development submitted the plan for Icon Apartments. Director of Development Services Tim Porter explained the complex is in the area of the Hilltop Apartments and received a favorable recommendation from the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Porter said the PUD allows for the development not meeting the “straight-line” zoning requirements. The zoning designation in this areas is “R-4” – General Residential.

“We’re talking about an apartment complex with as many as 180 units,” he said, noting preliminary plans show open space, a clubhouse, possible dog park plus ADA-accessible sidewalks throughout the facility.

Ward I Councilman Cody Eaves said he could not support the development based on the existing congestion on Highway H. He later clarified his position by stating his biggest concern is the pedestrian traffic on the roadway – which does not currently have sidewalks in place.

“I don’t know that I can support this PUD with the existing congestion that we have on H Highway that we haven’t addressed with the sidewalk issue,” he said. “We’re adding significant quantity of traffic – both foot traffic and vehicle traffic – to an area that I already think is overloaded and already dangerous.”

Ward II Councilor Vanessa Pegram said she was concerned about the amount of vehicle traffic currently on that portion of the highway.

Ward III Councilman Darrel Holdman and Ward I Councilman John Robinson both said it would be of the city’s best interest to approve the development and work toward installing the sidewalks.

Porter said the developer asked for a first and second reading and council action on the ordinance to begin construction as soon as possible due to future employment opportunities in the industrial development park.

Farmington City Administrator Greg Beavers said the first phase of sidewalk along Highway H to Old Fredericktown Road is currently under design and the city recently received approval from MoDOT to begin acquiring right-of-way to start that portion.

“It’s not a complete solution because it’s only … half the sidewalk distance,” he said. “We may chase the next set of grants to complete it on out.”

Beavers said the city is going forward with the phase one construction and will put in applications for phase two when the grant application cycle comes up in the spring.

The ordinance passed in regular session by a vote of six to one, with Eaves casting the lone “nay” vote. Ward II Councilman John Crouch is still recovering following a liver transplant last month.

In other business, the council once again postponed a second reading and council action on an ordinance regarding amendments to the zoning district usage municipal code.

A public hearing on these changes will take place on Dec. 7, with a first and second reading and council action at that time as well.

Council approved a resolution for an agreement with Power Line Consultants, LLC for labor work at the new north distribution line on Woodlawn Drive and extending to near Butler Supply.

The council also approved first and second reading for an amendment to the fiscal year 2018 operating budget. A first reading by title only for an amendment to the municipal code for parking restrictions was held as well.

Other business during regular session included three residents addressing the council.

Duane Lindsey asked the council to consider equipping the Farmington Police Department with weapon mounted lights and addressed what he believes are the advantages.

The city administrator said the department is currently evaluating between the use of night optical devices or weapon mounted lights and the matter will come before the Public Safety committee for a recommendation. The council did approve a budget amendment item for an upgrade of body armor for the department.

“I like citizens to bring up ideas for us to look at,” Forsythe said.

Don Weiler addressed the council over what he believed to be a zoning violation of a home-based business on Janey Drive. Kelly Linnenbringer asked the council to look at the installation of traffic lights in the area of Maple Valley near Aldi’s and Cici’s Pizza.

Following the meeting, Dr. Dennis Robinson told the media in attendance he would be filing for the seat in Ward II currently held by Dale Wright – who recently announced his intention to run for the Missouri House of Representatives.

Robinson has held a public office in the past – serving on the Farmington R-7 School Board for a number of years.

The council next meets on Nov. 27 in council chambers.

File photo 

Each November, Boy Scouts across the country tie blue bags to as many doors as possible as part of the "Scouting for Food" campaign. Pictured, Brian Pruett, a member of Troop 417 in Park Hills, ties one of the bags to a front door last year. 

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City milestone plans underway

Preparations are already underway for several significant anniversaries for the city of Bismarck next year.

Firefighter Keith Colwell appeared before the city’s board of aldermen when it met in regular session Thursday night to speak about plans for the city’s annual Fourth of July Freedom Fest, as well as the 150th anniversary of the city, 100th anniversary of the train depot and 50th anniversary of the burial of a time capsule.

Colwell told board members that the city and rural fire departments are working together on Freedom Fest and want to incorporate celebration of the three anniversaries on the night of the third and continuing into Independence Day.

“We’re planning on having a big Fourth of July celebration this year, especially with the anniversary of the city’s founding and the train depot happening in 2018, too,” he said. “We’ve talked with the school and they are going to be opening the gymnasium on the Fourth.

"We want people to bring their photos and other historical memorabilia from the city’s past that they can set up in there for the day and let people go around and look at it.”

He added that Depot Committee President Liz Bennett, who was also present at the meeting, is making plans for the day, as well. She told the board that she had been talking to Union Pacific about bringing over a miniature train set to the depot, but had not been able to come up with a date until the possibility of having it on display during Freedom Fest became a possibility.

“I think it would work really well with all of the excitement involved with Freedom Fest,” she said, “Not everyone who comes that day for the fireworks would be interested in this, but I think a lot of the city residents will be.”

As far as the time capsule, the actual burial took place in August 1968, but Colwell and the board both felt that opening it on the Fourth of July would be acceptable and take advantage of a ready-made crowd.

Mayor Seth Radford asked the board to approve a motion that the city is backing the work of the fire department for the Fourth of July festivities and it passed unanimously.

In other action, the board told several residents with complaints about an open cistern at 631 W. Main Street that the property would be fenced off by Friday. The aldermen are also beginning the long process of possibly condemning the property and having it torn down if the owner can’t bring it up to city ordinances.

Board members also approved Bismarck Fire Chief John Colwell looking into the cost of purchasing new turnout gear for firefighters and investigating the possibility of Bismarck becoming a POW/MIA City. Additionally, a business license request for Bobeth Inc. at 534 Center St. was approved, as were annual Christmas bonuses for city employees and lowering the proposed cost of installing a new gas line by $800 for a potential customer on Landfill Road.