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2021 in Review Part IV: Jackson struggles to return to normal

Jackson High School’s upcoming production of “Night of the Living Dead” stars Billie Brady as Jen. Photo by Jay Forness


As Missouri’s bicentennial year coasted to a close, Uptown Jackson contributed its bicentennial event: the return of Oktoberfest Oct. 1-2. (It was cancelled in 2020.)

As rain fell on Saturday, Oct. 2, Oktoberfest continued in Jackson, and the new Mil-lersville fire station officially opened with a ribbon cutting (held indoors).

Jackson’s annual band festival on Tuesday, Oct. 5, included a parade through uptown Jackson.

The next day, the Noon Optimist Club held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the refurbished Safety City in Jackson City Park.

On Friday night, Oct. 8, the Jackson Indians football team, for the first time in its history, won the SEMO North Conference Championship for the fourth year in a row. The 55-0 victory over Farmington was on the Knights’ home turf.

On Monday night, Oct. 18, the Jackson Mayor and Board of Aldermen heard preliminary plans for redistricting as a result of the 2020 census. Some changes in ward boundaries were proposed, because of population shifts.

Catholic Charities broke ground for LifeHouse Crisis Maternity Home in Cape on Wednesday, Oct. 20.

Former grocer Lester Maevers died on Friday, Oct. 22.

That night, the Jackson Indians football team concluded their fourth consecutive undefeated regular season. by defeating O’Fallon, IL, 31-10.

Construction began Oct. 25 as Ameren Missouri planned to install a solar array on the Show Me Center Parking Lot. A total of 3,500 solar modules will provide 1.2 megawatts of energy, which is enough to power 130 homes for a year.

Zombies arrived at Jackson High School that weekend as the drama department performed “Night of the Living Dead” Oct. 28-29.

As October came to a close, the John Guild chapter of DAR announced it had reached its fundraising goal in order to place wreaths on all veterans’ graves in Jackson cemeteries as part of Wreaths Across America.


Jackson voters turned down a use tax request in the Nov. 2 election, crushing the City’s hope of reaping $500,000 a year in additional tax revenue. This was thefourth time the measure appeared on a ballot to be turned down by voters. A similar measure failed to pass in the City of Delta. On the other hand, City of Cape Girardeau voters approved the use tax request on their ballot.

On Thursday, Nov. 4, the Jackson boys soccer team repeated as Class 4 District 1 champions after a 2-1 victory over Vianny in St. Louis.

On Saturday, Nov. 6, Jackson High School held its 100th Silver Arrow Dance.

Earlier that day, the new outdoor pickleball court in Litz Park was dedicated and the first tournament was held there Saturday and Sunday.

The Jackson R-2 School District was suffering from a shortage of teacher substitutes. The Board of Education voted Nov. 9 to raise substitute pay from $90 a day to $100 a day.

On Nov. 11, the John Guild Chapter of the DAR celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery with a local ceremony at the World War I Doughboy stature on the old courthouse lawn. The ceremony was held a day early so the wreath placed at the statue would be there long before the Veterans Day parade.

Veterans Day (Nov. 11) fell on Thursday in 2021. Jackson celebrated with several activities. Saxony Lutheran provided breakfast for veterans, JHS held its choral program, and the day concluded with a parade in Uptown Jackson; the parade marshal was Joe Don Randol.

Southeast Missouri State University and the Ground-A-Bout in Jackson partnered to create Redhawk Roast, a new officially licensed Redhawks coffee.

On Monday, Nov. 15, Jen Berti, director of retail development for the City of Jackson, reported that 20 new businesses had opened in the city in 2021.

On Thursday, Nov. 18, The Bank of Missouri celebrated 130 years in business and unveiled a new community branch on wheels with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the William Street branch.

Later that day, Strickland engineering held a ribbon cutting for its expansion at 113. W. Main St. and also celebrated Tom Strickland’s retirement after 42 years.

Cape Girardeau celebrated its newly painted mural on the river side of the flood wall with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday morning, Nov. 19.

The JHS boy’s soccer team went to state, winning the semifinal game on Friday, Nov. 19, but losing to Rock-hurst 2-0 in the championship game on Saturday.

The JHS football team hoped to repeat as state champions, but it was stopped short of that goal, losing 35-21 to Webb City in the state semifinals.


On Wednesday, Dec. 1, Gov. Mike Parson hosted a ceremony to announce the winners of the Missouri Christmas Tree Association’s wreath and tree contest. The winning tree and wreath came from Steve and Teresa Meier of Meier Horse Shoe Pines, just outside of Jackson.

On Friday, Dec. 3, it was announced that Missouri had its first reported case of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus.

On Saturday, Dec. 4, Oak Ridge held its second annual parade of lights.

The Jackson Christmas Parade, scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 5, was postponed a week because of the threat of bad weather. Its theme was “Peace on Earth.”

At the Board of Aldermen meeting on Monday, Dec. 6, Curtis Poore was appointed as the new city attorney. He replaced retiring Tom Ludwig on Jan. 1.

The Lutheran Family and Children’s Services Holiday Home Tour was scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 11. It was held virtually.

Missouri Attorney Gen. Eric Schmitt had sent a letter early in December to all school districts ordering them to stop mask mandates . Jackson R-2 did not require masks in schools, but it did require masks while riding school buses. That mandate was removed at a Dec. 14 meeting of the school board.

On Friday, Dec. 17, the Jackson Police Dept. again held its Community Toy Drive, providing free toys for needy children.

Ross Furniture collected donations on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 17-18, for victims of a deadly tornado that had struck Murray, KY, and surrounding areas. Crossroads Fellowship sent its LIFT Disaster Response Team to help out as well.

The very first Wreaths Across America ceremony in Jackson was held Saturday, Dec. 18, sponsored by the John Guild chapter of the DAR. Over 1,300 wreaths were placed on the graves of veterans in City Cemetery and in Russell Heights.

On Sunday, Dec. 19, Pastor Wayne Schwiesow retired after 24 years of serving Zion Lutheran Church in Gordon-ville and St. Paul Lutheran Church in Chaffee.

On Dec. 20, it was announced that Jason Lipe, the director of the Jackson Civic Center, would replace Shane Anderson as director of Jackson Parks and Recreation, effective Jan. 1. Anderson is retiring.

A Mississippi man was charged in a murder at the Town House Inn on East Jackson Boulevard. The incident was reported to JPD at 4:03 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 22.

On Dec. 29, Gov. Parson appointed State Rep. Wayne Wallingford (Dist. 147) as director of the Department of Revenue, effective Jan. 3. State Rep. Barry Hovis (Dist. 146) offered to help serve his neighboring district until a replacement is elected for Wallingford.

As 2021 came to a close, things were getting back to normal. Most community events were being held live and in-person, although a few were still virtual.

The COVID-19 virus is still out there, but vaccines are now easily available for those who want them. The county stopped reporting COVID-19 cases after Dec. 15. By that time, 14,030 people in the county had contracted the disease since it first came here, and 84,702 doses of vaccine had been administered in the county, including both first and second doses.

The virus has mutated, and the Omicron variant appears to be more contagious but even less deadly than the original virus. Its symptoms were reported as being no worse than a common cold for many people.

Although the federal government is trying to enforce nationwide vaccine mandates, many states have fought back with lawsuits.

In Missouri, successful lawsuits brought by Attorney Gen. Schmitt against school districts ended many of the masked mandates that were being enforced by schools and local health agencies.

People are still free to wear masks as a personal choice (and they are still recommended by the CDC), but most people are no longer required to wear masks. A large percentage of the public has chosen to forego the masks and get back to normal.

Two lasting effects that continue to plague area businesses as they struggle to reopen are a difficulty finding employees and problems in the supply chain, especially with products from overseas.

Several area fast food restaurants have their lobbies open for only limited hours or their lobbies are closed completely and they remain open for drive-thru only. Area stores still have some empty shelves waiting for products to arrive.

As the new year dawns, the battle continues in the courts over federal vaccine mandates, but the Supreme Court did throw out the requirement that companies with more than 100 employees be required to have all employees vaccinated (or get tested weekly).

For the most part, Jackson and the surrounding area has returned to a normal lifestyle.

Gregory Dullum has worked for The Cash-Book Journal for more than 25 years. Prior to becoming the editor in May 2017, he was production manager, circulation manager and reporter. Before moving to Cape Girardeau in 1988, he was editor of the Saint Louis Park Sailor, a weekly community newspaper in suburban Minneapolis, MN. A native of Minnesota, he returned there after graduating with distinction in 1978 from Ambassador College in Pasadena, CA, with a degree in mass communications. His wife, Marie, whom he met in college, is a native of Zalma, a small town in southeast Missouri. They have two grown daughters and five grandchildren. Gregory may be reached at

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