City leaders cut the ribbon on the recently renovated courts at the Noyes Sports Complex on Monday after nearly six months of work.
The $1.3 million project, funded completely by the 2013 Capital Improvements Program, included a complete resurfacing and installation of new nets, posts and fences. Upgrades to a storm sewer and the parking lot also were completed.
The project, which began in June, was expected to be completed in late September or early October originally, and at one point was ahead of schedule before weather caused some setbacks.
Monday, a group of Parks Department employees and city leaders cut the ribbon after a speech from several people, including Director of Parks, Recreation and Civic Facilities Chuck Kempf.
“It benefits, really, the entire community,” Kempf said. “Obviously, not everybody plays tennis, but we have a pretty healthy tennis community.”
After the scissors were put away, a ceremonial first serve was hit by Central High School freshman River Flaska. Benton High School sophomore Kally Horn received the serve on the other side of the net and the courts were declared officially open for play.
The updated courts could attract tennis tournaments similar to professional events held in St. Joseph in the past.
The United Way of Greater St. Joseph is predicting it will come up significantly short of this year’s campaign goal.
A week ago, United Way President Kylee Strough reported they had obtained 70 percent of the nearly $3 million goal. The official results will be announced Thursday.
“What we’re going to do is we’re going to celebrate the thousands of people in the hundreds of companies that did say yes,” Strough said. “Then we’ll talk about what the realities of raising a little bit less means with our partner agencies and with our board, after the fact.”
The campaign will not be extended, however, donations still can be made throughout the year at stjosephunitedway.org/give.
Strough said some companies have pushed their charitable campaign season later in the year, while others have taken a break from giving to the United Way.
Other factors that may have played a part include companies allowing payroll deductions for competing charities, fewer companies matching donations, and easier methods to donate, such as the online platform GoFundMe.
Board member Mark Wyble weighed in on how funds are distributed to the 17 partner agencies of the United Way, which include InterServ, Big Brothers Big Sisters, United Cerebral Palsy of Northwest Missouri and the YWCA.
“Anyone who would go around to the meetings that were taking place — allocation meetings and so forth … you’ll be pretty impressed to see the work that gets done,” Wyble said. “St. Joseph is a very, very generous community.
Strough said one of the impacts of lower funds could be the United Way’s Community Investment Fund.
“(It’s) how we make grants throughout the year for emerging and emergency needs,” Strough said.
That money came in handy back in September when there was a temporary lapse in showers and laundry services for homeless individuals.
“We partnered with the YMCA, so it paid for things like staffing, (and) it will pay for some sensory equipment for the new expansion at UCP,” Strough said. “Those are a couple examples. We’ve had many more.”
The Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office recently had a bid of $748,000 accepted to start on jail renovations.
The sheriff’s office has been working on the project for a little more than two years to decide what the renovations would consist of and how much money was needed for the completion.
Sheriff Bill Puett said the bid is a combination of money from the LEC commission and the county and city. The department is using capital improvement dollars on the county side to make the project happen.
The renovations are going to improve and provide better security for all of the inmates.
“It’s better conditions for inmates that have issues, such as self-harm or medical events,” Puett said.
The sheriff’s office constantly needs to update the jail based on the changing population and new problems coming up.
New cells will be provided with padding for self-harm inmates, and there will be segregation cells for isolated individuals and an ADA compliance cell.
“We’re trying to provide these inmates with as many protections as possible,” Puett said.
Within the last year, the jail had an inmate confined to a hospital bed, which was challenging for staff. Now one of the cells will be able to fit a hospital bed for inmates who require that extensive medical attention.
“Mental health and medical issues, we deal with all of that inside the jail just like people deal with it outside,” Puett said.
Puett said his staff wants to be prepared and equipped for any situation inmates bring up.
“This will give us new opportunities to put inmates in a separate area and control the situations better,” Puett said.
The area receiving renovations isn’t used for inmate housing at this time and won’t cause people to be moved during the renovations.
The contractor completing the renovations is waiting on material to be shipped and is hoping to start the process within the next 60 days.