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A trade war’s

fallout widens

The answer to the trade war will have a significant effect in St. Joseph.

Details on Page A4

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Flooding threatens to cut off Lewis and Clark Village for third time

A small village of about 50 homes in southern Buchanan County is once again at risk of being totally isolated from the rest of the area as floodwaters move in for the third time this year.

Lewis and Clark Village, which has an estimated population of 128, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, only has one road in and out of the town, which is County Road 251. As of 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, water from Sugar Lake already was beginning to overtop a low spot as dead fish lay in the road.

Resident Tammy Christgen’s home was safe as of 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, but many of her neighbors weren’t so lucky. The village is arraigned in a loop, and water was over the roadway at two different points, effectively blocking some homes on Lakecrest Boulevard and Lakeshore Drive.

“I feel sorry for my neighbors who have small children. I feel sorry for the older people,” she said. “And what people need to understand the pain.”

Christgen said everyone who lives on or near the lake expects some flooding, but not three record floods in one year.

“This is not normal, this isn’t supposed to happen,” she said.

Insurance will pay for the damage to Christgen’s home, she said. At least a foot of water could be seen underneath the home’s floorboards. The inside is gutted from previous work.

One thing insurance won’t cover is Christgen’s pool, which has filled up with at least 4 feet of groundwater alongside toads and debris.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Missouri River is expected to crest at over 27 feet near Atchison, Kansas, sometime after 7 p.m. today. Christgen said Sugar Lake itself usually only sustains minor flooding, but the swollen Missouri River has caused additional issues.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has blamed damage to levees as a cause for flooding.

“From a damage perspective, we are seeing more damage and severe damage than what we were seeing in 2011,” said Mike Dulin, an emergency management specialist with the Corps, in a previous interview with News-Press NOW. “Looking back historically, we are seeing damage on par with 1993. So this has been a very bad year.”

In a September press release, the Corps also blamed excess runoff and said it was lowering the amount of water it is releasing from the Gavin’s Point dam.

Christgen said she’s viewed the Corps of Engineers plans online, and doesn’t think they account for enough leeway in precipitation estimates.

“It’s frustrating that the Corp of Engineers continues to run the river so high,” she said. “There’s a plan and there’s no deviation.”

Home damage aside, Christgen said many in the village work in Atchison, which is now inaccessible via U.S. Highway 59.

“We have people where it should be a five-minute drive and now we have to commute one hour,” she said.

It wasn’t a question of if Christgen would leave this time, it was a question of when. She said she’ll sneak out before the only escape route becomes impassable, and go back to living in a travel trailer like she has been for most of the year.

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Downtown tourism funds low

The Downtown portion of the transient guest tax program is currently operating in the red, but is expecting to see incoming dollars soon.

The tax, also known as the hotel-motel tax, historically collected 3 percent from lodgings in the city to fund the Civic Arena and Missouri Theater. In 2011, voters approved an increase of an additional 3%, with the condition that hotels Downtown collect money for Downtown tourism projects and all other hotels collect revenue for riverfront development.

There is currently no money coming into the Downtown portion of that 2011 3% increase after the only hotel Downtown, Red Lion Hotel, closed this summer.

During an Audit Committee meeting Tuesday, City Manager Bruce Woody announced that the Downtown portion of the tax is currently negative on funds.

“We’ve spent about $16,000 more than we’ve taken in in that category of just Downtown, but I say that with the understanding that the Downtown hotel is a little over $17,000, almost $18,000, in arrears after having closed recently,” Woody said “So, that would bring us back up to a zero.”

The Downtown gate project at Felix Street Square was approved to use up to $200,000 in transient guest tax program funds from the Downtown portion. However, the city is estimating that the project will only cost around $160,000.

Woody said even more could be saved due to damages because of that project being behind schedule.

“Because the contractor is behind schedule, he is being assessed liquidated damages, that could be as much as $30,000, which could further reduce the cost down to $130,000,” Woody said.

The City Council recently approved a $15,000 agreement using the Downtown portion of funds for holiday lighting around Coleman Hawkins Park, which will be combined with $36,400 raised privately. The city made a similar donation last year.

Council Members Gary Roach and P.J. Kovac voted against the allocation, citing concerns about the dwindling funds in the portion of the fund that can be used for Downtown.

Mayor Bill McMurray said that if there isn’t enough money in that fund, the holiday lights could be funded from another source such as gaming or cellphone.

He said either way, he wants to see those decorations go up because they are good for the image of the city.

“Last year, the holiday lights and decorations Downtown were just fabulous,” McMurray said. “As one of the council members said, and I said this myself, ‘Downtown hasn’t looked so beautiful since we were kids.’ We want to continue this, we want to continue to decorate for the holidays.”

The council will see an item at their next meeting that could approve $50,000 in matching funds with the Buchanan County Tourism Board for the design phase of enhancing wayfinding signage throughout St. Joseph.

City staff is recommending denial of that ordinance.

New abortion clinic being built in Illinois, near St. Louis

FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS, Ill. — Planned Parenthood has quietly been building a new abortion clinic in Illinois, just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, as women concerned about the uncertain future of Missouri’s sole abortion clinic flock across the state line.

The 18,000-square-foot clinic in Fairview Heights, 12 miles east of St. Louis, will provide abortion services as well as family planning when it opens in mid-October, Planned Parenthood officials said at a news conference Wednesday.

“While health care access in Missouri continues to hang on by a thread, Illinois is well-positioned to serve as a health care hub in the region,” said Yamelsie Rodriguez, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri.

Planned Parenthood has been battling Missouri’s health department for months to try and keep open its St. Louis clinic. The state has refused to renew its license to perform abortions, citing concerns that include “failed abortions” that required additional surgeries.

Missouri’s Administrative Hearing Commission is deciding the fate of the St. Louis clinic.

Meanwhile, Missouri women have been increasingly getting abortions at the Hope Clinic for Women in Granite City, Illinois, another St. Louis suburb. Deputy Director Alison Dreith said 58 percent of the abortions performed at the Hope Clinic through August of this year involved Missouri women, and 37 percent were women from Illinois.

Missouri is among several conservative states to pass new restrictions on abortions in the hope that the increasingly conservative U.S. Supreme Court will eventually overturn Roe v. Wade. Republican Gov. Mike Parson signed legislation in May banning abortions at or beyond eight weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for medical emergencies but not for rape or incest.

A federal judge in August temporarily blocked implementation of the law until the legal challenge plays out in court, which could take several months.

During an annual inspection of the St. Louis clinic in March, Missouri health investigators cited numerous concerns, including reports of failed abortions.

Planned Parenthood said it has already addressed those concerns and defended its clinic. It claims the state is using the licensing process as an excuse to stop abortions.

The state initially let the clinic’s abortion license lapse at the end of May, then announced more definitively in June that it would not renew the license. The clinic remains open while the hearing commission decides its fate.

Planned Parenthood officials said construction of the Fairview Heights clinic began last year, but details weren’t released until near completion to avoid protesters and potential construction delays.


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Chiefs Claiborne, Hill and Williams have returned to practice.

Details on Page C1