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Upbeat building report offered to Monett City Council

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

An upbeat report about construction and a wide range of activities by city departments were reviewed at the May monthly meeting of the Monett City Council.

Building Inspector George Rausch reported the city has issued permits for $6.6 million in new construction so far in 2009. That includes nine new homes and one four-plex. Of the new projects Rausch reported at the March meeting, nine have been completed and five are still in the talking stage. Two new proposals are now on the table: one for "large mercantile occupancy" and another for a strip center.

Rausch reported the Utilities Department had 60 power outages resulting from the May 8 wind storm. One transformer was crushed when a utility pole fell. All the power lines were reconnected the same day. Crews continued to work two days later on a Sunday to replace two utility poles. The roof is being repaired on the well house for well number one.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will be unveiling new flood plain maps for Lawrence County at a meeting at the Lawrence County Courthouse on June 3, Rausch said.

Police Chief Tim Schweder also reported to the council that restitution is being worked out with those who admitted responsibility for causing $800 in damage to flower pots downtown.

Schweder said he had officers in Kansas City taking training for homicide investigations, another in Jefferson City and dispatchers elsewhere getting training. He expected to be able to host training sessions in Monett.

Asked about posting signage prohibiting jake braking by truckers, City Administrator Dennis Pyle said Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) would not allow signs specifically banning the practice of downshifting to reduce speed, which is viewed as a safety precaution. Towns trying to enforce noise ordinances do not specify jake braking specifically, he said. That being the case, Mayor Orr said the city's ordinance needed to be rewritten, taking out the jake brake reference.

MoDOT had approved new signs offering directions to Monett's business district and to the recycling center, Pyle said.

Committee meetings would continue to discuss the visioning ideas suggested by the Drury University architecture students in the visioning project, reported Pyle. He noted some of the ideas put forward were being done. For example, a Topeka man told Pyle about plans to buy a downtown building, live upstairs and open an art gallery for painting, photography and sculpture downstairs.

"We're seeing the activity we'd like to see," Pyle said.

Mayor Jim Orr said his only disagreement with the Drury recommendations was over the necessity to deal with the flooding issue first. "I think we need commitments from landlords. If they are going to let their buildings fall down, there's no need to go forward," said Orr.

"We need to make sure property owners are willing to talk to us," Pyle said.

The University of Missouri Extension Service, one of the partners in the downtown visioning effort with the city, the Chamber and the Downtown Betterment Group, would play a strategic role going forward, sharing expertise in the architectural field, Pyle said.

The advisory committee that had participated in talks with the Drury students would meet again in June. Pyle said others were welcome to contact him to join the group, which could grow to as many as 20.

Chamber Executive Director Suzy McElmurry reported Monett and Pierce City have been invited to participate for the first time in a 100-mile garage sale, extending from Joplin east to Ash Grove and Miller and east to Branson West. Vendors will have the blessing of the MoDOT to set up sale booths along state roads on Saturday, Aug. 29, provided permission has been granted by property owners.

Pedestrians using the city's Greenways Trail have made inquiries to the Chamber about where to go once they reach the south end of the trail off the Eisenhower Bridge, McElmurry said. Commissioner Jerry Dierker said the final stretch of sidewalks is still being built between Eisenhower and the golf course. Improved signage has just been ordered.

There is a map of the Greenways Trail on the city's web site, Pyle said, but there have been changes in the route that have not been posted. Pyle said he would get together with engineer Kevin Sprenkle to update the course route.

McElmurry said one of the requests she has heard is for mile marker signage to be posted on the trail. It was noted the trail has no specific beginning or ending point, making it difficult to measure distance.

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