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A year of ups and downs for Bonne Terre

In 2011, voters again said no to a real estate tax issue.

In November, the city asked voters for authorization to levy a property tax of 75 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The tax was to be on real estate only, not on personal property.

A total of 190 (36 percent) residents voted for the tax while 334 (64 percent) voted against it.

The city has been without a property tax for years and several attempts to get one passed have failed.

City Administrator Larry Barton had estimated a property tax would produce less than $180,000 annually. City leaders said approving a property tax for the city would be a step in the right direction.

They had hoped the tax would provide a stable source of income for city officials to count on when making the budget for the following year or when applying for matching grants. Sales tax revenue varies from month to month and year to year.

A property tax would have provided a little extra funding for general capital improvements such as sidewalks, paving projects, and infrastructure such as water and sewer. City officials also have been worried about coming up with funding for radionuclide and other mandated water/sewer improvements.

Also in 2011, the Bonne Terre Chamber of Commerce purchased the former Dr. Mullen’s office  on Allen Street.

In August, they moved the chamber office and the license office from a leased spot on Benham to the former doctor’s office.

There are also five incubator offices that are currently being used by one business.

Long-time Pastor Sally Ketterer retired and moved to Ohio this summer to be closer to her family. She had been at the First Congregational Church for 17 years and had been active in the community.

In September, owners of the building that houses the Round About Night Club filed a petition to de-annex from the city. The adjoining Red Cedar Lodge motel de-annexed the year before.

In October, a St. Francois County jury ruled against the city in a lawsuit involving a fatal motorcycle crash on Old Orchard Road six years before. The jury recommended awarding the family $213,000.

The crash killed Gary Greer Sr. after he lost control of his motorcycle on rock and granular materials in the roadway. The Greer family’s attorney argued the city had long failed to maintain the roadway.

The Bonne Terre Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade, which was held a week later than planned due to weather, was the biggest parade in recent years.  There were 65 entries in the parade and Brian Boyer estimated it was 25 percent bigger than the prior year’s.

In 2011, there were several fires at the Bonne Terre Senior Apartments. The first in June heavily damaged the office. That fire was ruled accidental.

There were two fires in one day in the fall. Fire Chief Chris Thurman said the first fire was put out by police officers who arrived on the scene. About a half hour later, firefighters were called out to another fire on the other end of the building. This fire destroyed the two apartments. Investigators believe both fires that day were set.

The last fire was on Dec. 9 and it caused minimal damage — about $5,000 worth of damage to Building H. It was ruled as a set fire.

The Missouri Advisory Committee of Arson Prevention, the Missouri Division of Fire Safety, Professional Fire and Fraud Investigators Association and the Missouri Chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators are offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and convictions of the persons responsible.

The year was not an exciting year for the building department. Only two single family homes and one commercial building were built. Two duplexes were built, and there were a few home additions.

Among the businesses to open were USA Drug on Benham and Cerrito’s Grill, a Mexican restaurant, next to Huddle House. A few businesses including A Few of Your Favorite Things, Lroxx Retail Utopia, and Cutt-N-Sew Quilt Shop also opened in downtown Bonne Terre. Also downtown, Rug’s changed from being a corner store to a bar and grill.

In 2011, the city purchased a used paver for $11,000 to be able to pave some of the city’s narrow streets itself. The city is also purchasing a new pumper for the fire department.

The city brought back its recycling service in May but fewer residents are using the service than before.

Redistricting for state representatives could split the city of Bonne Terre – into the 115th and the 117th. The 117th district will include the cities of Leadwood, Bismarck, Iron Mountain Lake, Desloge, Leadington and portions of Park Hills and Bonne Terre. The 115th contains part of southern Jefferson County, as well as northern Ste. Genevieve County.

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