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Businesses prepare for Chiefs arrival

In just over a month the Kansas City Chiefs will arrive in St. Joseph for their annual training camp.

Their arrival means an increase in customers at local restaurants and businesses.

The first practice open to the public is Saturday, July 27. Hotels in St. Joseph already are close to being fully booked for the opening weekend due to all the people coming from out of town.

Popular restaurants like 54th Street, Cheddars, Cracker Barrel and Applebee’s are already expecting to see an increase in customers and sales. Assistant General Manager Evan Clemmons for 54th Street said they are used to seeing Chiefs fans show up.

“We get a lot of people that are familiar with 54th Street show up, but we also will get rookie players come in,” Clemmons said. “We’ve had Eric Berry come in before and last year Patrick Mahomes came by too.”

Another business that sees an increase in sales is Rally House at East Hills Shopping Center. The store is currently flipping its Royals merchandise with the Chiefs in order to make their gear the main focus.

Store Manager Blakli Thompson said they are expecting even more items sold this year due to the team’s successful season. They’ve brought in brand new merchandise and are trying to increase their Patrick Mahomes selections.

“With this season it’s hard to predict anything based off the last season, but we normally see a lot of traffic due to people coming from out of town like Iowa, Nebraska, south Missouri and Kansas and we hope to see that increase,” Thompson said.

There will be a Red Rally in Downtown St. Joseph on Friday, July 26, to kick off the tenth year of the Chiefs coming to town. The practices start on July 27 with $5 admission.

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School board approves budget, new positions

A packed agenda led to many discussions during Monday’s St. Joseph School District Board of Education meeting.

The board unanimously approved the proposed fiscal year 2020 budget, which is separated into various funds related to salary, long-term payments, construction, transportation, etc.

The zero-balance budgeting plan has total expenditures at $130.7 million with total revenue at $132.1 million.

“This year, we are seeing being able to budget $6.1 million roughly in additional revenue coming from the community saying ‘yes’ to levy vote in April,” School Board President Seth Wright said. “So that certainly makes things easier now to budget, and you see the things reflected in there that we promised to them being increases in salary for our staff, the security upgrades and the operational upgrades in trying to fix those problems. So those are the things I think we’re trying to do and incorporate into that budget.”

A 1 percent increase for support staff salary as well as a $500 increase to base salary across all certified staff and administration is built into the budget as well.

Superintendent Dr. Doug Van Zyl also was tasked with looking at the organizational structure of the district and administration, and through various talks over the last few months, brought the idea of hiring a second superintendent to handle business/operations as well as an assistant director of special education to the board.

He said that both roles are needed in order to make the district more effective and less susceptible to liabilities in the future. The positions would most likely cost just over $100,000 total.

The proposal was approved and Van Zyl said they plan to be incredibly thorough with the hiring process to make sure they find the right people for the job.

The district also voted to move their business from MPR and United Heartland to Missouri United School Insurance Council regarding their liability workers’ compensation insurance. Wright said the board did their due diligence and that in the past they’ve done things cheaply, but not to a point where it’s saved them a lot of money in the long run.

Various capital-improvement and nutrition-related projects were also unanimously approved by the board, including a new walk-in freezer at Hosea and a replacement industrial dishwasher machine at Central High School.

Summer school numbers also were discussed, with the district celebrating 5,420 students enrolled, up from 3,108 last year. Dr. Marlie Williams, the St. Joseph School District’s assistant superintendent of academic and education services, said the numbers are impressive, and believes that the incentives have played a heavy role.

Through the Catapult Learning Summer Journeys program, students can earn $50 to $100 for near-perfect to perfect attendance through the program.

Issues were brought forward regarding getting enough educators for the program, which is something that may be discussed in the near future, as the St. Joseph School District currently has a one-year contract with Catapult and will be in discussions on whether or not to renew with the company in the coming months.

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Travel delays continue following months of flooding

Following months of record rainfall and subsequent widespread flooding, dozens of highways remain closed in the region as the swollen Missouri River inches lower while staying steadily above flood stage.

In St. Joseph, the river sat around 24 feet Monday evening after jumping up 2 feet following this weekend’s rainfall, which dumped 2 to 6 inches of torrential rain over an already soaked basin. The Missouri River is forecast to fall — slightly — this week, but is expected to deliver moderate flooding into at least next week. Any additional rainfall would likely alter the river’s descent.

Although water may be receding, it’s not going down fast enough for motorists having to navigate through an unprecedented number of closures. This includes five crossings over the raging river in Northwest Missouri.

And while the bridges are closed, the region’s top transportation authority said it wasn’t because water was over-topping them, or even damaging their structural integrity.

“The bridges are OK,” said Chris Redline, district engineer with the Missouri Department of Transportation. “It’s actually the roads leading to the bridges that’s the problem, they are underwater, or damaged so bad that we can’t have traffic on them.”

The unrelenting rainfall wasn’t helpful in MoDOT’s effort to reopen routes like U.S. Highway 59 in southern Buchanan County. The excess rainfall doesn’t have a place to go, leaving low-lying areas near major drainage systems flooded.

Monday, the river had overtaken a 1-mile stretch of Highway 59 leading up to the bridge on the Missouri side.

Outside of a brief period of a couple of weeks, the heavily traveled route into Atchison, Kansas, has been closed for most of the spring and summer. A MoDOT employee stationed near the barricade quipped that it turns a 4-minute drive into a 45-minute or even an hour detour.

“The detours are massive, and there’s nothing we can do about it,” said Redline. “These roads are still flooded.”

Redline pleaded with motorists to obey road closure signage and to not drive through — or remove — barricades leading into a submerged route.

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Man charged in toddler shooting case

A St. Joseph man has been in charged in relation to the shooting of a toddler that occurred on Saturday.

Riandten Cloyd E. Brant was charged with first-degree endangering the welfare of a child with a physical injury being involved. Court documents allege Brant was staying at 1610 Beattie St. on June 22 when police were called to the house to investigate a shooting.

According to the court documents, a search warrant was obtained for the house, and 28.5 grams of methamphetamine were found in the basement, were Brant allegedly stayed and was present when police arrived.

It is still unclear what happened on Saturday morning that led to the shooting of a 3-year-old girl, but Brant is named in connection with the shooting in the probable cause statement submitted to the prosecuting attorney. The document states Brant is considered a danger to the victim of the shooting because he was allegedly in possession of the controlled substance where the child was staying.

Brant has been denied bond and is scheduled to appear in Judge Keith Marquart’s court at 9 a.m. Tuesday, June 25.