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2022 Year in Review Part III: COVID-19 emergency comes to an end

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The state of emergency that had existed for more than two years in Missouri came to an end April 1, 2022, but the COVID-19 pandemic continued to have some lingering effects throughout the year.

July

On Friday, July 1, the Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office charged Lawrence Schanda and Teresa Baumgartner with the first-degree murder of Schanda’s niece, Jessi Wilfong. They were also charged with armed criminal action and tampering with physical evidence in a felony investigation. Wilfong’s body had been discovered buried under a barn in Millersville.

Michael Gardner, a Cape Girardeau attorney, began his duties as chief judge of the Court of Appeals, Eastern District, on July 1.
Jackson’s July 4 celebration began early with a Saturday night (July 2) performance of the Heart tribute band, Heartland, at the band shell in City Park.

On Tuesday, July 5, the Jackson Mayor and Board of Aldermen chose Putz Construction of Millersville to replace the low-water bridge in the middle of Jackson City Park.

Gov. Mike Parson and Sandy Karsten, director of the Missouri Department of Public Safety, visited the Cape Girardeau County Sheriff’s Office in Jackson on Wednesday, July 6. They spoke about how partnerships play a role in law enforcement.

On Tuesday, July 12, the Jackson R-2 School Board adopted a more strict attendance policy. Student attendance rates had fallen to all time low of 81.1% of students attending 90% of the time. COVID-19 contributed to the low attendance.

The school district also was looking for 16 new bus drivers for the coming school year, as it faced a bus driver shortage. The shortage forced Orchard Elementary to open and close an hour later than normal.

On Thursday, July 14, Jackson City Park was filled with superheroes and princesses as the Jackson Municipal Band presented “An Enchanted Evening in the Park” starring Storybook Entertainment SEMO and its Disney-inspired performers.

On Wednesday, July 20, almost 100 people endured about 100° heat to partake in the 42nd annual Agri-Business Tour sponsored by the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce. Stops this year included Reed’s Metals in Scott City, the SEMO University David Barton Agriculture Research Center on Highway 25 south of Gordonville, the Antique Tractor Museum in Perryville and Apple Creek Winery.

Homecomers returned again to Uptown Jackson July 26-30.

MoDOT held a public information meeting July 27 at the Career and Technology Center to discuss four options for improving the Highway 61 “flyover” bridge at I-55 in southern Cape Girardeau. Preliminary plans are expected to be approved in September of 2023.

August

Jackson donated an old fire truck to the Career and Technology Center so it can offer firefighting courses. The gift was approved by the Mayor and Board of Aldermen Aug. 1. A new fire truck was dedicated Aug. 10 at Fire Station No. 1.

Voters went to the polls Aug. 2 and approved Jackson’s $10.1 million wastewater bond issue request The funds will be used to renovate the 33-year-old wastewater treatment plant.

On Tuesday, Aug. 9, the Jackson R-2 Board of Education approved the district’s COVID-19 re-entry plan for the upcoming school year. Restrictions were removed and COVID-19 was treated like any other contagious disease, such as the flu.

Mineral Area Community College held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new facility that shares a building with the Career and Technology Center in Cape Girardeau on Monday, Aug. 15. It has been a dream of many to bring a community college to this area, and it finally has become a reality.

That night at the Mayor and Board of Aldermen meeting, ATVs, UTVs and golf carts were banned from city streets when the mayor broke a tie 4-4 vote to restrict them. (City ordinances had already banned ATVs and golf carts but had not specifically mentioned UTVs, so UTVs had been allowed under state law.)

Jackson students — about 5,700 of them — returned to school Monday, Aug. 22.

The next day saw more than 275 motorcycles come through the area as the American Legion Legacy Run made its way through Cape Girardeau, up I-55 to the Fruitland exit and onto U.S. Hwy. 61 toward Perryville. The entire ride was 1,158 miles from Mobile, AL, to Milwaukee, WI.

On Aug. 24, The Cape Girardeau County Commission approved a $32 million lease-purchase agreement for an expansion of the Cape Girardeau County Jail.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau Aug. 25 to celebrate 3,500 solar panels that had been installed over the parking lot going into operation. They will generate enough electricity to power up to 130 homes.

The next day, Friday, Aug. 26, U.S. Rep. Jason Smith visited Schoen Dairy in Oak Ridge on his annual farm tour.

September

The United Way of Southeast Missouri held its first live campaign kick-off event in three years at the Cape Girardeau VFW Hall on Thursday, Sept. 1. In 2020 and 2021 the events were cancelled over COVID-19 concerns.

Jehovah’s Witnesses began knocking on doors again Sept. 1, ending a two-and-a-half-year suspension of that activity due to COVID-19.

Work to replace the Mary Street low-water bridge in Jackson City Park began on Tuesday, Sept. 6.

Meanwhile, over in Cape Girardeau, a ground-breaking ceremony was held the same day for the Houck Field Project on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University.

That night, City Engineer Anna Bergmark told the Jackson Mayor and Board of Aldermen that Jackson had been approved for a grant to help finance a new sidewalk along East Main Street between Bellevue Street and Shawnee Boulevard. The City was going to do the project with ARPA funds, but now 64% of the project’s cost will be covered by a grant.

On Wednesday, Sept. 7, a 140-foot communications tower was removed from the old county courthouse. It had been replaced by a new tower atop a water tower behind Mondi on the north side of town.

On Saturday, Sept. 10, Jerri Levin of Lake Havasu City, AZ, visited Old McKendree Chapel. She is a descendant of the historic chapel’s architect. The public was invited to attend a celebration.

On Sept. 14, Justin Davison was named the new president and CEO of the Saint Francis Helathcare System. He had served as interim president since Maryann Reese resigned in February.

The SEMO District Fair was held Sept. 11-17 at Arena Park in Cape Girardeau. The East Perry Community Fair arrived a week later, Sept. 23-24.

Photo by Gregory Dullum
Deputy Fire Chief Randy Davis hoses down the new $500,000 fire engine to give it its first washing on Aug. 10, 2022.

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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