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Uptown Jackson looks forward to new year

Uptown Jackson Revitalization Organization held its annual meeting on Jan. 21 at the Iron Mountain Whistle Stop Depot. The organization, which is now in its tenth year, is looking to have a more successful 2021 after having to cancel several events last year.

“We are starting 2021 differently, but we are going to have a good year,” President Terry Tuschhoff said.

The organization started 2020 with a balanced budget, expecting to have income and expenses totaling $120,600 each. Because of cancelled events, the organization ended up with $37,073 of income and $61,804 of expenses. Outgoing Treasurer Janet Sanders said the organization had to dip into reserves, but it is still in good shape financially.

During the meeting, Tuschhoff was reelected as president, Hunter Williams was elected as vice president, Donna Cook was elected as Treasurer and Sanders was elected as Secretary. Paul Sander, Scott Givens and Rodney Barnes were reelected as board members and Bridget Bingham was elected to her first term as a board member.

The design committee is currently planning the February Annual art event on Feb. 27, which will be themed “Six Feet Together” this year. The event will include a scavenger hunt throughout Uptown Jackson, as well as art exhibits in storefronts. The German Band is also scheduled to perform during the Saturday event.

Board member Donna Cook said construction on a mobile trailer is also underway for the event. The trailer can be used as extra seating on the street or as a stage at any future UJRO event, and was made possible through a CARES Act grant and an AARP grant.

Planning for Springfest, which was canceled last year, is also underway. It is currently scheduled on April 23 at the Jackson Civic Center.

Outgoing Vice President Janey Foust, who chairs the event’s committee, said they plan on using the larger side of the civic center to spread people out with the same number of tickets available. “Lots of events are starting to get on the schedule, so hopefully we can have this wonderful event,” she said.

Foust said they were almost done planning the event when it was canceled last year, so much of the work for this year has been done. She added that they have looked into virtual options, but the bidding during the event will not work virtually.

Jackson in Bloom, which was also canceled last year, is expected to be held again this April.

The organization’s largest event, Oktoberfest, will be Uptown Jackson’s Missouri bicentennial event, and will include a passport stamp for Missouri residents to collect. In addition, for the bicentennial, the organization can contribute items to a time capsule.

The organization committee, chaired by Tuschhoff, recently selected Janna Clifton as the organization’s new executive director. The UJRO office is now on the second floor of Jackson City Hall. “We have a much bigger space than our previous director had,” Sanders said. “We have a giant room that will be our meeting room, as well as Janna’s office.”

Clifton introduced herself and said she had started her position Jan. 20. “I am very excited about the role and my main goal in the first couple of weeks is to get to know everyone, get my face out there, meet people and offer my support,” she said.

The door to the UJRO office is always locked, but those wanting to meet with Clifton can call the organization’s new number, 573-200-6542.

The economic vitality committee, chaired by Barbara Lohr, was not as busy as they’ve usually been. Lohr said Uptown Jackson has been well attended, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, and a billboard promoting uptown businesses has been successful.

Lohr said they have applied for Uptown Jackson to be included in a graduate course survey at the University of Missouri. The survey, if Uptown Jackson is selected, will cover job training needed by uptown businesses.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past four years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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