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MoDOT shoots down idea for Jackson statue

File photo

Jackson Alderman Steve Stroder’s grandiose plans for a giant statue of General Andrew Jackson riding upon a horse adorning the center of a new roundabout planned for U.S. Hwy. 61 N. (North High Street) at Deerwood Drive were shot down by the Missouri Department of Transportation.

During a study session June 3, Stroder had proposed that a life-sized copper statue of Jackson on his horse be placed atop a pedestal in the roundabout, surrounded by a flower bed and rock wall with the words “Welcome to Jackson” on the wall. The statue would be only the fifth such statue in the country — and what better place for it to be than in the first city to be named after the hero of the War of 1812 and former U.S. president? The aldermen were looking for something to make this roundabout special as drivers enter the city from the north. (For more details on the proposal, see June 12 issue of The CBJ.)

The aldermen seemed to like the idea but were concerned about the $325,000 price tag, and they were unsure if the plans would meet MoDOT’s requirements for roundabouts, a necessity because U.S. Hwy. 61 is a state highway.

At a June 17 study session, Public Works Director Janet Sanders and Alderman Stroder both reported that new MoDOT specifications have shot down the idea.

“I spoke to Chris Crocker, [MoDOT] area engineer for the Southeast District,” Sanders said in a written report. “While his initial response was somewhat optimistic given the draft MoDOT specs, he reiterated the MoDOT specs that might allow monuments are still in draft form and are determined by the MoDOT folks in Jefferson City. Review of any submitted plan is also reviewed in Jefferson City and is a lengthy process.

“The ‘draft’ MoDOT specifications have been in the works as long as he can remember and he cannot project a finalization date.
“Today, [June 14] however, he let me know that MoDOT has now added to the draft a specification that a monument area will only beallowed on roads with a speed limit less than 40 mph. The current speed limit on this section of North High Street is 45 mph.

“Speed limits are set by MoDOT based on a thorough traffic study, not just a community request.

“Under current MoDOT roundabout specs, low profile landscaping and low shrubbery with a trunk diameter of no more than 3” is allowed and the proposed design, if submitted under the current specifications, could not be approved,” she noted.

There are other rounda-bouts being approved in other parts of the state, so Sanders said MoDOT appears to be handling each roundabout on a case-by-case basis until the draft specifications are approved.

“Chris called me as well,” said Stroder. “We talked this afternoon [June 17]. I got the impression it’s pretty much a no-go. To get something like this done would take a significant amount of effort and probably is not going to happen.”

Stroder said whatever Jackson places in the roundabout will probably be required to have a low profile, including any signs.

Sanders said it is okay to proceed with plans to construct the roundabout and worry about enhancements to its center when the roadway is completed.

In other action

• Clean audit: During the regular session of the June 14 Board of Aldermen meeting, Jeff Stroder of Beussink, Hey, Roe and Stroder, LLC, presented a brief report on his company’s annual audit of the City of Jackson’s budget. Jackson received an “unmodified” or “clean” audit. There were no deficiencies in internal controls and no instances of noncompliance with federal regulations.

“It’s about as clean a report as you can issue,” he said.

The aldermen officially accepted the audit report.

• Stroder to UJRO: The mayor’s appointment of Alderman Steve Stroder as an ex-officio member of the Uptown Jackson Revitalization Organization board of directors was approved.

• Fire Station No. 1: The aldermen approved Change Order No. 1 requested by Penzel Construction Co., Inc., of Jackson, for the building of an addition and renovation to Fire Station 1.

Instead of moving a potable temporary office onto the property, out of which the fire station would operate until the renovation is complete, Penzel offered its warehouse to the City to use as a temporary fire station at no additional cost or time change from the original contract. A temporary leasing contract was approved for $1 a year.

Penzel also included in the change order an offer to remove an unused communications tower at no cost to the city. This is a savings of at least $14,000 to the city.

• Underground facilities: A contract with Precise Target Locating, LLC, of Cape Girardeau was renewed. The company will continue to provide underground facilities locating and marking services, but at a ticket price of $38 (a $1 increase from last year). The new contract is good until June 30, 2025.

• Comprehensive plan: Houseal Lavigne of Chicago, IL, was granted a time extension to complete the 2024 Jackson Comprehensive Plan Update. Instead of 18 months, the firm now has 30 months to complete the plan.

• Soccer Park: A Park Memorial and Donation Form in the amount of $155,450 was accepted from JAOSA, Inc., to make improvements to Fields No. 9, 10 and 11 at the Soccer Park. The fields will be rebuilt with irrigation and Bermuda grass. A memorandum of understanding was approved between the City and JAOSA.

In a related item, another donation form was accepted in the amount of $15,645 from JAOSA, Inc., to pay for engineering and project management services for improvements to Soccer Field 2 at the Soccer Park. A separate memorandum of understanding was approved between the City and JAOSA regarding this project.

• Homecomers: During study session, Larry Koehler from Jackson American Legion Post 158 discussed plans for Homecomers this summer. Requests have been made to the City for street closures as in past years.

One nagging question was if Homecomers would be able to set up the stage on the old courthouse lawn as in past years, because of renovations being done to the courthouse. Penzel Construction has granted permission for the stage to be set up there.

Vendor contracts have been coming in, and there will be a lot of political booths this year, Koehler said.

The carnival rides will again be provided by Fountain City Amusements. The porta-potty company has changed because the owners of Cape Porta-Potty retired and went out of business.

Koehler thanked the City for all the help it gives in making Homecomers a success. “The City has really, really been very helpful with this, and we appreciate your contribution.”

• Jackson tourism update: an update on Jackson tourism was given by Brian Gerau, president and CEO of the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce, and Janna Clif-ton, retail and membership director for the chamber.

Gerau said the chamber has been using the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds it has received from the City to boost tourism in Jackson. (For more information, see related stories in this issue on tourism and Janna Clifton.)

• Pedestrian crossings on W. Main Street: During study session, the aldermen discussed possible changes to making pedestrian crossings on West Main Street safer. There have been some complaints from Lenco employees who must cross Main Street regularly to get from one building to another.

Some ideas included installing more cross walk signs, using signs that flash when pedestrians activate them, or placing removable signs in the middle of the street. (They can be removed for snowplowing and parades.) Signs that state in bold print that “state law” requires stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks seem to work the best in other cities. Other options include raising the intersection (such as at High and Main streets in front of the courthouse) or extending curbs out into the streets at corners like on Broadway in downtown Cape.

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 cashbook@mvp.net.

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