Check out the annual listing
of delinquent property taxes from Buchanan County.
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On Friday evening, Felix Street Square will be colored in red and gold as Chiefs fans gather for the Red Rally, an event resurrected by the Downtown Association, Made with Uncommon Character and Mosaic Life Care.
Joey Austin, media and community relations coordinator for Mosaic Life Care, said they wanted to do something special for the 10th anniversary of Chiefs Training Camp.
“It’s the 10th anniversary for the Chiefs training camp in St. Joseph, so we decided to get together and see how we could have the entire community involved in really a pep rally,” Austin said, adding that the Downtown location gives visitors a taste of St. Joseph outside of the camp setting. “For those out-of-town visitors, we really want to show them everything about St. Joseph as well as really giving them a local flavor of what our town is like. So that’s the reason we decided to do the Red Rally.”
Rhabecca Boerkircher, executive director of the Downtown Partnership, said she hopes those from the community also take the opportunity to enjoy the Downtown area.
“It’s nice when you get people even from our community that haven’t been Downtown for a long time,” Boerkircher said. “They’ll come down to one of these events, and they’ll say, ‘Oh my! We didn’t realize all this stuff was down here.’ And it’s especially good for visitors coming from out of town because we have so many wonderful businesses down here and unique restaurants and things to visit, that it works out really well to showcase our community.”
Both Austin and Boerkircher said they are excited about the event as they did some final touches on the rally Thursday afternoon.
“It’s supposed to be a beautiful day like today, and it’s kind of like all forces coming together for just a wonderful event tomorrow,” Boerkircher said.
The rally starts at 5:45 p.m. with Chiefs play-by-play announcer Mitch Holthus acting as the emcee alongside KC Wolf. The 30-minute rally will be followed by the final Sounds of Summer concert with Swift Kik taking the stage at 6:30 p.m.
While the Red Rally is not set to start until 5:45 p.m., those who come early can sign up for a Patrick Mahomes II or Andy Reid look-a-like contest at 5:15 p.m. and the first 500 guests to sign in will receive a Patrick Mahomes K.C. Chiefs headband from Hy-Vee.
Several local businesses in the Downtown area also will be offering specials, with Mod Podge offering a discount on all red items, Nesting Goods offering facepainting and Manic Snail offering glow sticks.
Parking around Felix Street Square will be unavailable after noon today when the square is blocked off. Several parking structures are available in the area that can be used by visitors.
Food and Drink
Food and beverages will be available for purchase, but visitors should not bring in their own coolers of alcohol.
Felix Street Square has limited seating, so visitors are encouraged to bring their own chairs or blankets.
St. Joseph’s hotels may be playing to a full house for the next several weeks, thanks in large part to the annual summer rite known as Chiefs training camp.
The city’s hotels have been busy preparing for an expected onrush of football fans starting this weekend, and signs have started to trend toward a potential saturation of all available rooms.
A check conducted by the St. Joseph Convention & Visitors Bureau showed seven out of eight properties polled already have no vacancy for this Saturday night. That means most of St. Joseph’s 1,050 rooms could be taken, leaving other fans with the need to seek lodging elsewhere. However, some Friday-night vacancies were noted at most of the businesses.
Officials caution that the full space cannot necessarily be attributed to the Chiefs, citing such events as weddings and family reunions as other contributing factors.
Yet there’s no denying that the camp has become a vital linchpin to the city’s economy, and the popularity of an overnight’s stay linked to the Chiefs has become an important barometer of the financial boon.
“Just having the Chiefs players and Chiefs administration staying here in St. Joseph generates quite a bit of economic impact for us, over $175,000,” said Beth Conway, communications director for the visitors bureau. “Top that with all the Chiefs fans that come up here and eat and drink and shop and play. We estimate it’s a huge impact on St. Joseph. We can’t say exactly how much, because we can’t talk to everybody.”
Conway said one reason a huge influx is being forecast for Saturday is the camp’s Family Fun Day, when a large crowd is expected.
The IHG properties in St. Joseph — Candlewood Suites, Holiday Inn Express & Suites and Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott — were all predicting good numbers through the weekend. Brandon Wilson, IHG’s director of sales in St. Joseph, suggested guests book their rooms as fast as possible.
“We’re looking forward to the bookings that we’ve been seeing,” Wilson said. “It’s going up pretty substantially again. The amount of bookings has increased, especially over last year. We’re excited. I think we’re going to be sold out again. It’s become quite a tradition. Overall, it’s a great atmosphere.”
Thanks to the tax levy that passed back in April, a few local buildings within the St. Joseph School District are seeing some security-centric changes.
The school district’s capital improvement program amounts to around $2.8 million in repairs, HVAC replacements and security upgrades, and according to Chris Silcott, director of operations with the school district, everything has gone according to plan thus far.
His team has replaced 2 acres’ worth of roofs as well as 5 acres of new asphalt in the parking lots, 30 rooftop HVAC units and 14 antiquated electrical panels. However, the district currently has its eye on security, something Silcott said is high on the priority list of both students and parents.
The construction of walls and security doors at Robidoux, Lindbergh, Hyde and Edison will force entrants into the office before they are given access to the rest of the building, mimicking the designs of newer schools like Oak Grove and Carden Park.
“We promised the public that we would do something to upgrade our security, so we’re putting in these entrances,” Silcott said. “It’s a double layer of security: you come in through the first door, we do a background check … and then you go through these entrances before you’re allowed to be where the students are.”
The four chosen schools have very similar designs for such a modification, but Silcott said other buildings will be more involved.
Dr. Robert Sigrist, the director of nonacademic support and student services, agreed, saying the high schools may prove to be a bit more challenging.
“In some of our buildings it’s a simpler fix, and in others its a bit of a more complicated fix, so we’re going to have to get creative and think outside the box,” Sigrist said.
The chosen doors, which teachers and administration can access through key cards, will be made of wood as opposed to metal, something that Silcott said was very intentional.
“We just feel like they’re a little bit more warm and inviting,” he said. “They’re very secure, but they’re not quite so institutionalized as the exterior metal doors.”
Furthermore, the district has replaced some sidewalks and older retaining walls at Lindbergh and is in the process of added a more accessible bathroom near the gymnasium of Benton High School.
“We’re walking every single building with a very critical eye,” Silcott said of him and his crew. “Typically, when we’re out at the buildings, we’re responding to a certain concern and we’re there and gone fairly quickly. Now, I’m taking my assistant for facilities and we’re … scrutinizing everything. We’re putting together a list of future items that we’d like to do as capital improvement projects or in-house projects.”
He added that the district is currently on track to complete all of the capital improvement projects. Most of the larger modifications should be done by August, Silcott said, with smaller projects being far less intrusive to students should they take longer.
Having opened 90 percent of the projects, the district is currently $370,000 under budget, and that’s money administration can use to look at other projects, including replacing a retaining wall at the administrative building as well as painting the entire exterior of Eugene Field School. Silcott said both projects will go out to bid in August.
Sigrist also added requests for proposals regarding security cameras will be sent out soon, and he said the district is in the process of hiring additional student resource officers as well as adding campus supervisor positions to the local high schools.
The controversy surrounding the gates at Felix Street Square in Downtown St. Joseph continues.
Three establishments are voicing their feelings about the gates, which are still under construction, by serving protest drinks.
“Mokaska, Tiger’s Den and Club Geek are all developing specific cocktails custom tailored to either resemble or poke fun at the gates that we don’t like,” general manager of The Tiger’s Den Evan Banks said.
Drinks include the Monolith, You Shall Not Pass and the Oversized Sundial.
“Ours (the Monolith) is dark, we couldn’t necessarily get everybody to do a dark one,” Banks said “Just making a drink black for the sake of making it black would just make it leave a bad taste in your mouth. I guess kind of like the monoliths leave a bad taste in our mouth.”
The gates surrounding Felix Street Square were first brought forward by the Downtown Improvement Project committee in 2017 and approved by St. Joseph City Council in January 2018. Construction began in June of this year, but not everyone thinks the gates deliver what was promised.
“I saw the other day, they actually closed them down, and they weren’t even level with the street,” said Kurtis Ballinger, whose bar Club Geek is participating in the protest. “I was like, they can either level them out or that just looks ridiculous, like you spend that much money, make it look nice.”
Pat Dillon, who is involved with the Downtown Association and Downtown Community Improvement District, said people should wait until the gates are finished before making a judgement.
“It’s very disappointing to see this protest before construction of the gates is completely finished,” Dillon said. “It would be better of Downtown business owners to show leadership rather than stir up controversy.”
A motion to stop construction of the gates made by councilman and owner of The Tiger’s Den Brian Myers failed during a City Council meeting at the beginning of July. Banks said he is aware it is unlikely construction of the gates, which cost $200,000, will stop, but he hopes to start a conversation.
“People should come down and if they have a contrary opinion, please enter any one of these establishments and hear what we have to say and hear what they have to say and basically work it out,” Banks said.
The protest drinks will be available at The Tiger’s Den, Mokaska and Club Geek until Saturday.
Take a dive
Robidoux Resident Theatre set to perform ‘Dixie Swim Club’ this weekend .
Details on Page B4
Giddy on up!
St. Joseph Mustangs hold on to win on the road against the Ozark Generals.
Details on Page C1