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2021 in Review Part I: Jackson and surrounding area struggle to return to normal

COVID-19 vaccinations were just becoming available as 2021 began. Some of the first doses went to healthcare workers. West Lane Elementary School nurse Morgan Loesel, left, receives her first dose of the vaccine on Jan. 8 at the Show Me Center. Photo by Jay Forness.

As the year 2021 dawned a year ago, Jackson, the State of Missouri, the nation and the whole world found itself mired in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There were some signs that things would get back to normal as the year began, but it has been a year of struggle.

We’ll look back over the events of this year as reported in The Cash-Book Journal.


A year ago, Missouri was just receiving and distributing its first COVID-19 vaccines. Gov. Mike Parson announced Dec. 30, 2020, that “Missouri has now received shipments of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, and we have been successfully administering vaccines for more than two weeks.”

Here in Cape County, there were a reported 6,635 confirmed cases and 1,295 probable cases of COVID-19 for a total of 7,930 cases and 115 deaths as of Jan. 4.

(By comparison, as the year drew to a close, on Dec. 15, there were 10,831 confirmed cases and 3,199 probable cases for a total of 14,030 positive cases and 168 deaths.)

During the first week of January, local healthcare workers received their first doses of the vaccines at the Show Me Center.

The Jackson R-2 Board of Education approved the change from an 11.0 grading scale to a 4.0 scale at the Jan. 12 meeting.

Kevin Cantwell, president of Big River Communications, spoke Jan. 15 at the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce’s Business Breakfast. He described how Circle Fiber, a division of Big River, was building a gigabyte-capable fiber network in Jackson, Oak Ridge and Cape Girardeau. Work has progressed thoughout 2021.

The Uptown Jackson Revitalization Organization named Jana Clifton as its new executive director. She began her duties Jan. 19.

Strickland Engineering was busy renovating 111 W. Main St. in Uptown Jackson.

On Wednesday, Jan. 20, a car accidentally crashed through the front window of Jones Drug Store. Amazingly, no one was hurt.

This started a discussion among City staff and aldermen regarding ways to make parking safer on Court Street. (This was the third time a car had jumped the curb and driven into the drug store. Plus cars had twice jumped the curb and driven into City Hall down the block.)


On Tuesday, Feb. 2, Gov. Mike Parson appointed Christopher K. Limbaugh as associate judge for the 19th Judicial Circuit. Limbaugh was a former Cape County prosecuting attorney before joining the governor’s staff as his general counsel.

A ground-breaking ceremony was held Wednesday, Feb. 3, for a new fire station in Millersville.

Jackson High School held its annual Ye Olde Madrigal Feaste Feb. 12-14 after it was postponed because of COVID-19. The Thursday performance was postponed to the following Sunday because of bad weather.

The Madrigal Feaste ended one day before a big snowfall brought the area to a virtual halt. The City declared a snow emergency at 8 p.m. Sunday night, Feb. 14, giving residents 24 hours to remove their vehicles from snow emergency routes. Snow fell beginning Monday morning and accumulated to somewhere between 7 inches and a foot. High winds created blizzard conditions at times and blew snow into deep drifts in some areas. The snow emergency lasted until 2 p.m. Thursday when bright sunshine began melting the snow.

On Feb. 17, radio talk show host and Cape Girardeau native Rush Limbaugh died of lung cancer.

SoutheastHEALTH officially opened its behavioral health hospital at 639 S. Silver Springs Rd., Cape Girardeau, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Feb. 23.

Uptown Jackson hosted a socially distant February Annual event Saturday, Feb. 27. The theme was “Six Feet Together.”


On March 1, Jen Berti announced to the Jackson Board of Aldermen that NAVI Retail had been retained to do a market analysis on what business development is needed at Center Junction after construction of the Diverging Diamond Interchange is completed.

The Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce held its annual banquet March 3 at Rock ’N’ Roll Drive-In in Chaffee. A program was projected on the movie screen as attendees remained socially distant in their cars. Kenny Loos received the R.A. Fulenwider Community Service Award.

On Thursday night, March 4, the Notre Dame girls basketball team won its third-straight district title for the first time in 17 years. The Jackson girls basketball team won its fourth straight district championship in the past five years.

Cape County had been under a mask mandate since July 2020. On March 8, the Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center Board of Trustees rescinded the mandate.

That same day, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt announced that he would not run for reelection.

On March 15, the Jackson Mayor and Board of Aldermen gave a head nod to proceed with Jackson in Bloom and Homecomers for 2021. Both events had been cancelled the previous year.

On March 19, Gov. Parson announced that the deadline for filing income taxes would be extended from April 15 to May 17 to give additional relief to taxpayers and tax professionals as the state continued to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

After canceling the event in 2020, the Uptown Jackson merchants were excited to plan their spring open house March 20.

Cape County announced it now had the capability for residents to text 911 dispatchers with emergency information, it was reported March 17.

JHS student Mia Foote was honored March 23 for her winning entry in the official Missouri Bicentennial Poster contest.

Life was slowly returning to normal in Jackson and the surrounding area.

(To be continued!)

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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