COVID-19 showed up a little over a year ago and community events began shutting down to prevent the spread of the virus. Now, a year later, community events are coming back.
At the Jackson Mayor and Board of Aldermen meeting March 15, plans for Jackson in Bloom and Homecomers were given head-nod approval to proceed.
Jenna Clifton, executive director of the Uptown Jackson Revitalization Organization, requested partial street closures for the organization’s Jackson in Bloom scheduled for 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Saturday, April 24, in Uptown Jackson.
“Jackson in Bloom focuses on landscaping, gardening, earth-friendly products and services, pets, outdoor activities, lots of events for kids,” Clifton said. This year, there will be a “fun-filled pet space with dogs and cats for adoption from the Humane Society,” Clifton said. In addition, County Commissioner Paul Koeper will have a presentation on the importance of bees.
Jackson’s Park Day will be the same day, and there may be some collaboration between the two events.
The American Legion’s Larry Koehler also appeared before the aldermen to seek street closures for the annual Homecomers event, beginning Sunday, July 25, and running through 8 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 1. This allows time for carnival rides to set up and take down. Homecomers itself will open Tuesday evening and run until Saturday night, as usual.
“It’s time to be proactive and look forward to having Homecomers as if everything is going to be normal as possible this year,” he said. “People are going to be hungry to get out and do something.
Two years ago, there were some complaints from High Street merchants about Homecomers negatively affecting their businesses, and asking that Homecomers be shortened so street closures did not last as long. Koehler was asked if there was any progress solving the conflict.
He said he had met with Clifton’s predecessor and had discussed several possibilities last spring, before COVID-19 cancelled the plans. “She and I went over those things again,” he said. “She’s going to talk to the Uptown merchants and see if there is anything there we can do to try to ease tensions and get a little more cooperation on both sides.”
One suggestion Koehler has is for merchants to offer coupons that would be handed out free to Homecomers attendees. For example, if merchants offered coupons for $10 off items in their store, at the end of Homecomers, they could turn in their coupons to the American Legion and be reimbursed, so it would cost them nothing.
Other suggestions include having merchants offer “back door sales” if front doors are blocked, or stay open a couple of hours later to get Homecomers traffic to visit their stores.
Other events that will be on again this year will be the annual Legion dinner meeting April 15, and Memorial Day ceremony.
In other action:
- Appointment:The appointment of Mike Berti as an alternate member of the Zoning Board of Adjustment was approved.
- I-55 exits market analysis and retail recruitment:The Board of Aldermen agreed to pay $30,000 to the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce for market analysis and retail recruitment services at Exits 99 and 102 of I-55.
- Electricity:The Board agreed to pay Allen & Ho-shall of Memphis, TN, $76,030 to provide engineering services for the Industrial Substation Circuit Protective Relay Upgrade Project, Phase 2, and $15,000 to provide engineering servicesfor the inspection and review of the Wedekind 73 electric transmission poles, phase 1.
- Public hearings set:Two public hearings were set for 6 p.m. Monday, April 5. One will consider a special use permit for a community unit plan for multiple attached single-family dwellings on a single lot in a C-2 (general commercial) district located on a 6.41-acre tract on Old Toll Road as submitted by The Villas of West Park, LLC.
The other is to consider the rezoning of a 3.93-acre tract of property on the south side of Old Orchard Road from an R-2 (single-family residential) district to an R-3 (one- and two-family residential) district, as submitted by Mastercraft Development, LLC.
- Financial impact of Winter Storm Uri:During study session, representatives from the Missouri Public Utility Alliance discussed the financial impact to the City of Jackson as it purchased electricity during Winter Storm Uri, when electricity production dropped causing prices of natural gas and electricity to skyrocket.
City Administrator Jim Roach said the city’s increased cost to purchase electricity will be paid for out of the electric reserve fund and will not be passed along to the city’s electric customers.
- Hubble Creek crossing:During study session, the Board was updated on a possible bridge design to replace the low-water bridge over Hubble Creek in the middle of City Park. The construction cost is estimated to be $504,000. The design will need to be approved by the Army Corps of Engineers.
- Fiber optic:Kevin Cantwell, president of Big River Communications, updated the Board of Aldermen on the installation of a fiber-optic network (by Circle Fiber) in the City of Jackson. “You’ll see a lot of construction now,” he said.
He mentioned there is a map on the Circle Fiber Web site that shows where installation is being done now.
He mentioned that the price Circle Fiber offers for service is not just a promotional price that will go up in three months. It is the set price. It is not a bundled price and no contracts are required.
He added that he expects cable installation to be done by the fourth quarter of this year. He has plans to open a retail/informational shop in Jackson soon.
Big River is investing about $125 million to bring fiber to this area over the next three to five years. The service area will stretch from Crystal City to Poplar Bluff to Sikeston.
- Planning and Zoning:Janet Sanders, manager of the Building and Planning Department, explained recent projects that have been presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission.
- Court Street safety:City Engineer Clint Brown discussed a report from the Lochmueller Group which gave five options to improve safety on Court Street and help prevent cars from crashing into buildings. The options are to install parking curbs, bollards, enhanced guard rails or planters; or switch to parallel parking. The report included advantages and disadvantages but did not include costs for the options. The city staff will get cost estimates for the options and bring the matter back to the Board of Aldermen.
- Wastewater:The Board discussed the wastewater facility implementation project. A bond request will need to be put on a ballot either this November or next April. Mayor Dwain Hahs said he did not think putting a bond request on a November ballot during an off-election year was a good idea. It would be the only thing on the ballot.
- Civic Center sign:only one company, Coast to Coast Signs, responded to the city’s request for qualifications to construct a sign for the Civic Center. The committee that would have selected the company from various candidates will now sit down with Coast to Coast to discuss the sign.