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County residents begin flood cleanup

AGENCY, Mo. — Like many others in the area, Brian Staggs has grown weary of flooding.

The Agency, Missouri, man’s home has suffered severe damage from the latest round of high waters from the Platte River that swamped parts of the southern Buchanan County town. He spent Tuesday reviewing the calamity and trying to determine a plan of attack for the cleanup of his basement residence. All of the water has been pumped back outside. This time, the levels were actually 2 inches lower than in 2007 — the last time flooding destroyed or damaged local property.

“I’ve lived here six years,” Staggs said, referring to the circa 1907 former Methodist Church that had been converted into living quarters. “The flood has pretty much gutted my house. The floor will have to be ripped up. The walls will have to be ripped out. I got all my stuff out. But there’s nothing that can be saved. The upstairs can be built. It didn’t get wet, and it’s got plenty of room.”

Staggs said he’ll be attacking mold in the structure — “the headache” — after dealing with the mud.

Two Buchanan County hazardous materials team members spent the afternoon assessing flood damage at 10 homes in Agency. Four residents still remain out of their homes, according to Buchanan County Emergency Management Agency Bill Brinton.

Information from damage assessments is gathered on behalf of the county’s flood plain managers and the State Emergency Management Agency.

The Buchanan County Assessor’s Office will provide information on appraised values of the homes. It’s been configured that rebuilding a home in Buchanan County costs $136 per square foot, Brinton said. A formula that includes that computation determines how much damage has occurred, he added.

Brinton and fellow hazmat team member Adam Perry knocked on doors in Agency to take photos and measurements of flood damage.

“If water gets anywhere inside, they’re considered totaled,” Brinton said of trailers in the town.

Data from the National Weather Service indicated that the Platte River near Agency measured at nearly 30 feet on Saturday. The river level continues dropping and is forecast to reach 14 feet by Sunday.

Flooding, maintenance hold up city's summer time activities

As summer begins and many families are looking forward to spending some recreational time outdoors, several summertime options have been unavailable in the city due to equipment malfunctions and severe weather.

Krug Pool and the Aquatic Park

Both Krug Pool and the Aquatic Park will have a late opening this summer as both required some parts to be replaced prior to opening to the public.

According to Chuck Kempf, director of Parks, Recreation and Civic Facilities, Krug Pool is expected to open Wednesday, June 5, after having a pump replaced.

“They were tightening up the last few bolts, and they were going to turn the pump on,” Kempf said. “Hopefully, everything comes on when they do that. We’re confident that it was going to, but we were a little bit nervous. The aquatic crew had been placing chemicals in the water even though it couldn’t circulate. So hopefully that benefits us in the startup procedure, and we’ll be able to open tomorrow (Wednesday).”

The Aquatic Center required a bit more care, with leaks needing to be filled and the pool requiring another coat of paint before opening for the season.

“As soon as they get their finished product on, we need to paint over it because we painted the rest of the pool,” Kempf said. “So when we get that done, which will probably be Wednesday sometime, then we can start filling that and possibly have an opening over the weekend.”

Kempf said the department is considering lowering the price of admission for the Aquatic Park since part of the pool will still be out of commission when the center opens.

“We may be doing some lesser fees at the Aquatic Park, because the whole pool won’t be open, just the activities pool and the lazy river. We didn’t feel like we should probably charge the full amount over there.”

Riverwalk, Nature Center

and Heritage Park

The Riverwalk continues to be a problem area for the parks department as the popular walking path continuously floods anytime the Missouri River reaches above 20 feet.

“The Riverwalk, that is probably going to be closed for the rest of the summer,” Kempf said. “You always hate to make predictions like that not knowing for sure. But the river levels we’re seeing, even through July — the river walkway takes on water lower than anything else; it floods at 20 feet, so anything over 20 ft, we’re going to be flooded on the walkway.”

The Remington Nature Center which rests along the Riverwalk, has also experienced some issues due to the flood. According to Kempf, there is no internal damage at the center, but there is currently no air conditioning in the facility.

“We can get back into the building now by walking in, not by wading in, but the box to the ground source heat pump is still underwater, so we’re waiting for that to come back out so we can turn the electronics on.”

Kempf said he expects the nature center to reopen over the weekend, but that is as long as the river cooperates.

Another point of concern in the area is Heritage Park, which is scheduled to host the Men’s Major Fastpitch National Tournament in July. Kempf said they are utilizing the pumps operating near the Frontier Casino, and thanks to some sandbagging, may have saved the concessions stand.

“We were moving back into the building the day that the water came back up, but we sandbagged the building this time,” Kempf said. “We spent the money, $5,000, to protect the building to save us from spending a lot more money involved in damage to the building again.”

Kempf said if the river permits, the complex should be reopened in three weeks and said the department will tackle replacing playgrounds soon.

“As soon as we can get some of this other stuff off of our plate, the flood work and getting the pools open, we have six new playgrounds that are sitting in storage that we’re going to start building,” Kempf said.

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Students must walk on streets, not sidewalks

There are two crosswalks near Pershing Elementary School, but neither of them end in a sidewalk.

One crosses Blackwell Road, and ends in a concrete slab on the side of the road. The other crosses Rock Springs Road and ends next to a mailbox. Both streets lack a substantial shoulder, forcing children and others to walk on the street.

“I haven’t received any complaints in the near past,” St. Joseph School District Director of Operations Chris Silcott said. “This is an old existing school. We do have sidewalk on our property but as soon as you leave our property there is no sidewalk.”

Silcott said there are logistical problems in building out sidewalks, because most of the existing area is surrounded by ditches, some of which are several feet deep.

“You’re looking at culverts, then you’re looking at banks and retaining walls,” Silcott said. “It’s all private property.”

St. Joseph School Board President Seth Wright said it’s up to the city to install new sidewalks, as the district is only responsible for its property.

“Our primary focus as a school district is making sure our students and staff are safe,” he said. “Anything that would impact their safety is a concern of ours.”

Wright said there is not a plan currently in place to schedule a meeting with the city to discuss the issue.

“It’s been like this for 30, 40 or 50 years,” Wright said. “I don’t know if this is a recent problem or not but I think if there was a solution we’d have to work with the city.”

“I think the City Council and the School Board have a good working relationship,” he added. “So if this was a concern of some of the local residents then I think it would be something where we could consider getting the council and the board together.”

Ricky Fulton, who said in a message he has children in the district, said he’s seen the problems with traffic flow at multiple schools.

“All of the SJSD schools that I’ve been to with my children have an issue with traffic at the beginning and end of each school day,” he said. “To the point that I worry about my children’s safety every day.”

Wright said there isn’t a current policy in place in regard to new schools and sidewalks, but that he thinks city ordinances would require sidewalks around a potential new school.

Madison Davis, a city councilman who represents the district in which the school lies, didn’t respond to an email and a phone call Tuesday.

Blackwell Road has one water drainage ditch on the south side of the road that’s several feet deep. On the opposite side, a potential sidewalk likely would have to cut through another water drainage ditch.

“I’m not aware of any recent issues or concerns that have been raised to me personally or to the board about that particular location,” Wright said. “I’ve certainly driven down that road, but I haven’t really gone there and taken a look at what it would be like to install sidewalks.”

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North Side trees to be replaced due to Blacksnake Creek project

Trees removed for the Blacksnake Creek CSO project will be replaced within the next year after a City Council vote this week.

During construction for the Blacksnake Creek Storm Water Separation project, over 1,000 trees that were measured with a 6-inch or greater caliper were removed.

On Monday, St. Joseph City Council approved a $723,273 contract with Pine Valley Contracting of Savannah, Missouri, to replant those trees.

The replanting is part of a requirement from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to replace trees disturbed by projects.

Assistant Director of Public Works Brady McKinley said trees will be planted all over the city as part of this project.

“There’s 1,185 trees in this contract,” McKinley said. “Those are going to be scattered about all up and down and around.”

Trees will be replanted in areas where the Blacksnake Creek project and roadway projects were done simultaneously, such as the areas near Cook Road and Northwest Parkway toward St. Joseph Avenue.

The project also will include tree plantings in Heritage Park and Krug Park as well as along Waterworks Road, Maple Leaf Parkway, Corby Parkway, Savannah Road and near Roy’s Branch where the excavation team has staged their equipment for Blacksnake.

Pine Valley also will construct bioretention cells, which are filled with mulch and sand to slow down water coming out of outflows.

McKinley said those cells also filter out the water as it heads downstream.

“It cleans water if there’s any trash in it or oil or greases,” KcKinley said. “It’s kind of like putting water in a Brita filter.”

The contractor also will be installing educational signage along the trail/service road currently under construction on top of the enclosed stormwater pipes.

Tree planting could begin as early as this fall or early next spring and is expected to be finished by June of 2020.