File photo
Part 2: 2019 was year of growth for Jackson; surrounding area

by Gregory Dullum ~ Editor

More changes and growth came to Jackson and the surrounding area the second half of 2019.

Effective July 1, Captain Jeffrey Vitale of Troop E (Southeast Missouri) of the Missouri Highway Patrol retired after 30 years.

Pavilion No. 5 in City Park was destroyed by the June 21 wind storm. The Mayor and Board of Aldermen on July 1 began discussions on what to do. They considered replacing it with a bigger facility that included restrooms, but in the end they decided to replace it with a structure similar to the original (although made of steel). Insurance will pay about half the cost of the new shelter and the Optimists will donate the rest of the funds.

Heavy rains in June filled the drained lake in South County Park. This was great in some ways, but it slowed down the work to install a lighted walkway that was to go halfway around the lake.

The lights were eventually installed, the lake was restocked with fish and a gazebo was nearing completion as 2019 came to an end.

Crowds filled Jackson City Park for the annual celebration of Independence Day Thursday, July 4.

On Tuesday, July 9, the Jackson R-2 Board of Education considered expanding the junior high building. (The Board approved a $6.5 million lease purchase for junior high renovations Aug. 13. The project hit a snag Dec. 4 when bids were rejected for being too high.)

On Wednesday, July 17, the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce held its 40th annual ag tour.

On that same day, MoDOT officials met with local officials at a meeting of the Southeast Metropolitan Planning Organization regarding plans for constructing a diverging diamond interchange at Center Junction (I-55 and East Jackson Boulevard).

MoDOT’s latest plans called for leaving one lane of Highway 61 open each direction between Cape and Jackson but closing off both north ramps between Hwy. 61 and I-55 during nine months of construction. Local officials opposed the limiting of freeway access.

Homecomers was held in Jackson for the 111th time July 23-27.

On July 24, the Rural Health Clinic held an open house to show off its new facilities behind the Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center at 1121 Linden St., Cape Girardeau.

Road work began July 29 on U.S. Hwy. 61 from Fruitland to the intersection of Hwy. 61 with Hwy 25 at the train depot. A right-turn lane at Route D was extended, pavement was repaired near City Park and the entire highway was resurfaced. Work was scheduled to be concluded by Nov. 1.

Don Carlos Tres moved into the old Dexter BBQ building. Its liquor license was approved Aug. 5 by the Jackson Mayor and Board of Aldermen.

The Saint Francis Foundation and the People’s Shelter opened a renovated home for homeless men on Jefferson Street in Cape Girardeau. A home-warming party was held in August and occupants were expected to move in Sept. 1.

Sunday, Aug. 18, was Brother David’s last day as principal of Notre Dame Regional High school. Tim Garner was named interim principal.

On Monday, Aug. 19, Travis Hollis was sworn in as the new fire chief in Cape Girardeau.

The Safe House for Women opened a new shelter with a ribbon cutting Aug. 20. The new facility increased bed capacity from 17 to 40.

On Tuesday, Aug. 27, the West Lane Elementary FEMA shelter was inspected, closing out the project and releasing the final reimbursement from the federal government of approximately $250,000.

At 5 p.m. that evening, hundreds of Corvette owners from the Southwest United States stopped in downtown Cape Girardeau on their way to the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY. This was the sixth national caravan, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the museum.

Myron Tillman of Columbia allegedly drove his Ford F150 pickup the wrong way on I-55 and crashed near Oak Ridge Thursday, Aug. 29. A witness said he shed his clothes and fled into the woods. He was arrested by a Cape County sheriff’s deputy the next morning. Because his passenger died when he jumped from the moving vehicle, Tillman was charged with manslaughter.

At 4:41 a.m. Friday, Sept. 6, Jackson Fire and Rescue received a call reporting flames shooting through the roof of the Domino’s Pizza building at 318 E. Main St. The fire was extinguished, but both Domino’s and Sander Financial Services were temporarily shut down. Domino’s has yet to reopen. Fritz Sander moved his business to another location.

Visitors at the SEMO District Fair on Sunday, Sept. 8, could wish Smokey Bear a happy 75th birthday. (He looked great for his age.)

On Monday, Sept. 9, the County bade farewell to two longtime servants. Jim Watkins had been involved with CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training since 1999. Prior to that, he was involved in the Community Caring Council, United Way and American Red Cross. Dwayne Kirchhoff had been involved with the East County Fire Protection District for 38 years. He was chief for the past 11 years and was also president of the Cape Girardeau County Firefighters Association.

On the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America, Jackson Fire and Rescue broke ground Sept. 11 for a huge 9/11 memorial to be constructed in front of Station No. 1.

On Friday, Sept. 20, Jackson Police Officers Danny Brosnan and Kimberly Shuck responded to a report that a vehicle had been swept away into the water during a flash flood at the low water bridge on Mary Street in City Park. Their quick response saved the driver’s life. Both officers were awarded Meritorious Service Awards  at the Oct. 7 meeting of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen.

More than 200 people gathered on the grounds of Old McKendree Chapel on Sunday, Sept. 22, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the chapel. The event included crafts, music, speeches, a trumpet call and an outdoor service.

Ross Furniture celebrated its 40th anniversary in business with a celebration Thursday, Sept. 26.

At the Friday night football game in the Pit, people from Jackson were accused of racial discrimination, sexual assault and vandalism against the visiting school (Battle). After investigation, it was determined the accusations were unfounded. (The Indians blew out Battle 56-12 on their way to an undefeated regular season.)

The Bollinger Mill State Historic Site in Burfordville held its first ever fall festival Saturday, Sept. 28. There were self-guided tours, a scarecrow-building program, tractor display, food for purchase and a free concert  from the Whitewater Bluegrass Band.

The Missouri Heritage Mutual Insurance Co. in Gordonville hosted an open house and ribbon cutting Oct. 1 to mark the 150th anniversary of its opening in 1869. It is one of two companies celebrating this year as the oldest insurance carriers in Missouri. The company was originally called the Cape Girardeau County Mutual Fire Insurance Association and provided protection to farmers in Tilsit and Gordonville.

October was a month for festivals with the 75th annual Jackson Marching Band Festival on Tuesday, Oct. 1, and a two-day Oktoberfest in Uptown Jackson Oct. 4-5.

Speaking of festivals, the Mayor and Board of Aldermen on Oct. 7 decided to end all speculation regarding the 2020 Homecomers celebration; a decision was made to allow Homecomers to remainat the same location and for the same duration as past celebrations.

It was about this time that the federal government awarded the City of Jackson an $80,000 grant to build a baseball field at Brookside Park. It also awarded the Jackson R-2 School District a grant to fund half of a $90,000 walking trail at the middle school.

On Sunday, Oct. 13, Sargent’s Chapel near Sedgewickville celebrated 150 years.

The County began scanning and digitizing more than 500 record books Oct. 14.

The Notre Dame High School softball team came from behind to defeat Perryville Friday, Oct. 18, to win the Class 3 District 1 Championship. Not to be outdone, the Notre Dame girls tennis team won its sectional matches and advanced to state for the first time. (The team finished fourth in state finals.)

Meanwhile, the Jackson boys and girls cross country teams won their sixth and fifth-straight conference titles respectively. The Jackson girls golf team, which began in 2018, placed second in the Class 2 sectional tournament and advanced to state for the first time. (The team placed third at state and three Indians earned all-state honors.)

During a work session/retreat Oct. 22 at the Jackson Civic Center, the Mayor and Board of Aldermen discussed the possibility of putting to voters the opportunity to change Jackson’s classification from a fourth class city to a charter city. Discussions continued off and on until the end of the year, and the idea was eventually shelved because no real advantages to the average citizen could be found by making the change.

The Community Outreach Board sponsored its first-ever Halloween dance Thursday, Oct. 24, at the Jackson Civic Center. About 380 people attended the free event.

For the first time in program history, the Jackson Indians football team officially ended its regular season undefeated for back-to-back years. The final regular-season victory was a 52-6 win over Parkway Central at the Pit on Oct. 25.

Meanwhile, the Jackson volleyball team won its first district title since 2015.

The Nov. 5 election proved to be a disappointment for those who put the two questions on the Cape Girardeau County ballot.

Voters turned down a $900,000 bond request by the Millersville Rural Fire Protection District  to build a new fire station. In Oak Ridge, a request to allow the sale of liquor by the drink also was defeated.

The City of Jackson and Cape County integrated their storm sirens. Testing for those sirens is now done the first Wednesday of every month (beginning Nov. 6).

As of Wednesday, Nov. 6, the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport hit the goal of 10,000 commercial flight boardings for the year. At that level, the airport can combine federal funds with local tax revenue approved by voters to build a new control tower and terminal for the regional airport.

On Saturday, Nov. 9, the Oak Ridge boys cross country team won its first ever state championship.

The annual Veterans Day program at Jackson High School was moved from the auditorium to the much larger Event Center on Monday, Nov. 11. This location allowed more students to attend and was more handicapped accessible for all guests.

The team of Penzel Construction Co., Inc. of Jackson and the architecture firm TreanorHL was selected as the design/build team for the $12 million renovation project of turning the Common Pleas Courthouse into the new Cape Girardeau City Hall. Work will not begin until the courthouse is vacated in May of this year.

The Jackson cheerleaders won their second straight Class 4 Small Schools State Championship the weekend of Nov. 16.

For the first time in 24 years, the Jackson Indians football team headed for the state championship after defeating Staley 20-7 in Kansas City on Nov. 30.

A developer kickoff meeting was held Dec. 3-4 in Cape Girardeau for a new VA health Care center to be built at 711 S. Mount Auburn Road, Cape Girardeau, next to Southeast-HEALTH. A groundbreaking ceremony is planned for this spring.

The Jackson Board of Education rejected all bids for the junior high renovation at a special meeting Dec. 4. The bids all came in higher than expected.

Also on Dec. 4, it was announced that Dr. Jessica Maxwell, principal of East Elementary, will become an associate principal effective July 1 of this year.

High hopes for a state football championship were crushed on Saturday, Dec. 7, when Carthage beat the Jackson Indians 27-21 in overtime. It was the first loss all year for the Indians.

The Rev. Sam Roethemeyer was named the grand marshal for the annual Jackson Christmas Parade, which was held Sunday, Dec. 8. The parade was moved from Saturday to Sunday because the JHS football team played in the state championship on Saturday.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house was held on Tuesday, Dec. 10, for the new SoutheastHEALTH primary care clinic at 2600 E. Main St. in Jackson.

On Friday, Dec. 13, bids were opened for MoDOT’s diverging diamond project at I-55 and U.S. Hwy. 61 (East Jackson Boulevard). The Jackson firm of Penzel Construction Co. Inc. had the low bid, but it is higher than the budgeted amount. (The Highway Commission accepted the low bid last week (Jan. 8).

Jackson saw a new restaurant come to town as Rally’s, a drive-thru and walk-up restaurant, opened for business on Friday, Dec. 27. It occupies the spot where the old Rhodes 101 convenience store stood for many years near the train.

As 2019 rolled into 2020, workers are installing a sewer line along Williams Creek from East Jackson Boulevard to East Main St. The City is providing utilities to the intersection of I-55 and East Main Street so those empty fields can be developed in the future.

This past year was a year of growth and change! In this limited space, we could only hit some of the highlights. There were plenty of other accomplishments that we just couldn’t reflect upon here. Can you imagine what 2020 holds in store?