City Administrator Dan Bryan provided members of the Desloge Chamber of Commerce a report on his first two and a half months on the job when he served as guest speaker at the chamber's monthly luncheon held Tuesday at Hub's Pub in Bonne Terre.
Bryan, who followed Greg Camp in the position after the long-time city administrator took on similar duties for the city of Festus, hit the ground running when he officially went to work at city hall in the middle of July. While his previous work experience was with the Missouri Department of Corrections, he told chamber members that the two roles weren't all that dissimilar if one thinks of a prison as sharing many of the same attributes of a small city. Bryan has also taught college courses at Mineral Area College and Southeast Missouri State University.
"For some of you who don't know me, I lived in Desloge for several years," he said. "My family's from Desloge. My grandpa was one of the founding members of the Desloge Fire Department, the first assistant fire chief and the second fire chief of the city. He was also a municipal judge in town for about 14 years. He retired in 1988 and was the last municipal judge that did not have a law degree."
Bryan noted that his wife is a school teacher and the couple's oldest son is a sophomore at Missouri Baptist University in St. Louis. His youngest son is a seventh grader at West County Middle School.
"I just want to start out by saying that I have not found in my time a better group of hard-working, ethical people than those that work for the city of Desloge," he said. "That's a real valuable trait and these folks work hard for us day in and day out — as a resident or if you work in town — whatever the situation might be.
"We seem to forget the things that are 'undercover' and not in the forefront of our minds — things like water lines and sewer lines. These things break and we realize everything that we take for granted when we turn that faucet on and it works. And there's the police and fire departments, too. At city hall there's a whole lot of people working hard for us in town."
Bryan next offered praise for the four-day Desloge Chamber of Commerce-sponsored Labor Day Picnic held in City Park.
"I really want to thank everybody for the things that they've done for that event," he said. "I went there this year and I was there pretty much for a period of time all four days. I was really pleased and proud of the efforts that you guys did at that event. I thought that it went off really well.
"I talked to one of the local businesses and they indicated to me that they had a record-breaking day for sales on Sept. 1. I think that something we really need to take a look at is the event itself is going on in the park, but what are we doing as far as bringing in revenue and how is it benefiting the city as a whole? I can say for this particular business, it was very successful for them on the Friday of the weekend."
Bryan discussed several projects, including completion of the stormwater project around Chestnut and the eastside of State Street; the purchase of several pickup trucks for the Public Works Department and Water Department; the planned replacement of city street signs to keep up with federal guidelines; a number of street overlays beginning around Oct. 16; the placement of security cameras in City Park — including the pool area — and Brightwell Park; and the closing of the railroad crossing at Cedar Street. A new railroad crossing will be installed at Walnut Street.
Several questions were asked by chamber members regarding industrial growth in the city. Both Bryan and Desloge Alderman Alvin Sutton said the two biggest problems facing the city is having the kind of industrial buildings available to meet the needs of companies looking for a place to move, as well as enough land for expansion, if needed. There is also little if any developed property for sale within the city limits ready for construction.
Despite that, Bryan believes the city will see future expansion and expressed his excitement about the new El Tapatio Mexican restaurant on Desloge Drive that will be opening soon, as well as the remodeling of the city's Walmart Supercenter that will be holding a grand reopening and ribbon cutting beginning at 8 a.m. Oct. 13.
In other action, the chamber's board of directors presented a $250 check to North County High School for its backpack program and announced that the civic organization's next major activity is the annual Jingle Bell Walk/Run set for Dec. 16. The next chamber luncheon will be held at noon Nov. 7 at a location yet to be determined.