A new ordinance aims to make it easier for citizens to remember when open burning is allowed.
Normally, the dates for open burning run for three weeks at a time and are announced each year, but now the dates will be consistent every year, lasting the entirety of the months of November and April. Fire inspector Steve Henrichson said the dates hopefully will make it easier to know when burning is allowed.
“The biggest change in the ordinance is we went from just three weeks and not really knowing when they are until they arrived to now it’s April and November for the entire month and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.,” Henrichson said. “Just to make it easier, instead of having to try and guess when those dates are, this way everybody knows these two months and these hours.”
While the dates to burn have changed, the rules on to how to burn yard waste have not.
“It’s still just your yard waste in a 55-gallon drum, somebody on the premises, extinguishing equipment somewhere close by,” Henrichson said.
The fire inspector added that the burning must take place 15 feet away from any building. Henrichson also said people should hose down the burned materials twice before leaving as embers could start a fire if not properly put out.
Of course, there is a chance that wind will cause the fire department to call off open burning on some days. To find out if burning is allowed, watch the local news or check the city of St. Joseph’s website, www.stjoemo.info/.
On Thursday night neighborhood streets will be filled with children participating in the Halloween ritual of trick-or-treating.
Extra people on the streets means more caution is needed for a safe night. Sgt. Roy Hoskins with the St. Joseph Police Department advises drivers and pedestrians to be more aware while out.
“Put your phones down and be aware of your surroundings because that’s huge,” Hoskins said.
Young children should have an adult with them, and older kids should make their routes known to parents.
Hoskins said wearing makeup is safer for costumes than masks.
“Masks limit the visibility to the sides and that becomes a problem when crossing the streets,” Hoskins said.
There are several individuals in St. Joseph on the sex offender registry, and Hoskins tells people to stay clear from those houses because of the restrictions they have.
“Their house has to be posted that they don’t have candy and they need to have their lights off, so please don’t approach those,” Hoskins said.
The Buchanan County Sheriff’s Department will be checking on those houses on Halloween night to make sure those inside are complying.
Hoskins said anyone accepting candy should be vigilant when taking items that aren’t wrapped.
“If you accept something that’s not wrapped, don’t eat that and go home and have a parent check over what you have before you start eating it,” Hoskins said.
Another reminder Hoskins has is to keep pets inside due to animal theft becoming more common at this time of year.
Ashland Avenue is a very busy area on Halloween night, and police will have cars patrolling the area heavily.
“If you approach one of the officers, you might get a piece of candy as well,” Hoskins said.
Police hope for a safe holiday and urge the public to contact them with any safety concerns.
There’s a special concoction the city of St. Joseph Public Works Department uses to fight snow before it even floats from the sky.
According to Superintendent of Streets Keven Schneider, mix a bit of sugar beet molasses with saltwater and you get a better version than just salting the road.
“We have tanks with applicators and we just spray it on the street,” Schneider said. “Then it dries and it’ll last for at least three days.’
Using the vegetable mixture, the streets department can melt a half-inch of snow or more off the roadway.
“The (rock) salt is applied after the snow comes because if you applied it before the snow, traffic and wind will just blow if off,” Schneider said.
Sometimes, vegetables and various forms of salt just aren’t enough. When it comes to plowing the roads, Schneider said his crews can usually clear emergency routes in about 12 hours, with the rest of the city cleared within 96.
“I know it seems like we might never get to you, but we will get to you,” Schneider said. “If you think we missed your street, we ask you to give us a call. We will send a foreman go out and look at it.”
News-Press NOW Chief Meteorologist Matt Brooks said a winter weather advisory began Tuesday night and will last into early Thursday morning.
Brooks predicted most of Northwest Missouri will see a mixture of rain and snow this morning, and then that storm will turn into snow this afternoon.
City crews work 12-hour shifts, and they clear emergency snow routes first to facilitate the movement of emergency vehicles. Schneider said the city has two snow plans, phase one and phase two.
During phase one, which lasts the entire winter once declared, Schneider said every car in the city must have at least “all season” tires. During phase two, cars cannot be parked along emergency routes so that those roads can be fully plowed.
“If you’re on a one-way street emergency route, you can’t park on the side with the signs,” Schneider said. “But the other side, you can park on.”
Parking on a snow emergency route during phase two won’t only get you in legal trouble. Schneider said you might not have any way to drive away once the plows come through.
“If you’re parked on the side and we have to go around you, you’re going to have a windrow 4 feet tall around the car,” he said.
The Missouri Department of Transportation also is gearing up for winter.
MoDOT Engineer Adam Wood said if tow trucks are needed for multiple locations across Northwest Missouri, then the agency’s “Emergency Operations Center” will be opened.
“We’ll be talking to anyone we need to if there’s a crash or something like that,” Wood said. “It exists to make sure communication is our No. 1 goal. We don’t want to get delayed or slowed down because of communication.”
Wood said MoDOT usually clears all state routes in the area within a 12-hour shift, with special attention paid to major thoroughfares.
MoDOT also has a traveler’s map available on its website, which Wood said is updated about every three hours.
The St. Joseph Streets Department can be contacted by phone at 816-271-4848.
Demolition of the former Best Value Inn at 4024 Frederick Blvd. is underway as planning for redevelopment of the site continues.
The property is owned by Steven Craig, who also owns the adjacent 4004 Frederick Blvd., where Applebee’s is located, and 4016 Frederick Blvd., the location of the former Ramada Inn and Whiskey Creek. Craig purchased the former Ramada Inn in 2017 with plans to redevelop the area.
“The Ramada Inn, unfortunately, became too old. It was 60 years old,” Craig said. “Along the way, they built a lower-end hotel, which I think affected the Ramada Inn even worse. So we’re masterplanning the entire site.”
Initial plans submitted to the city of St. Joseph include two five-story hotels with 125 units each, one of which will include a conference center and restaurant.
Planning and Community Development Director Clint Thompson thinks such a space could benefit the business community.
“Some of the larger businesses in town sometimes have a difficulty in accommodating meeting space to host their clients,” Thompson said. “So any additional conference space that can be added to the market will help to assist our local businesses.”
The redeveloped site also could be home to a 108-foot animated billboard, which would make it the largest in St. Joseph, according to Thompson. He hopes a sign in addition to possible updates to the Interstate 29 overpass could attract more travelers to St. Joseph.
“The city is trying to enhance the interchange to make it a centerpiece to St. Joseph, make it a front door to our community so visitors who are traveling north and south on I-29 want to get off at that interchange,” Thompson said.
Construction coming to the area could affect the Applebee’s restaurant, although Craig said it’s too early to say what will happen to the eatery.
“We’re evaluating what we’re doing with it,” Craig said. “If you’re at Applebee’s, it was very difficult to go to the hotel if you’re driving or moving your car. We want to make sure whatever businesses are going to be on the property, they all work together.”
Commencement of the project is still one-and-a-half to two years away, especially as the property Applebee’s is on was acquired after planning had started and design of the site will change, according to Craig.
“We’ve spent a lot of money acquiring the three parcels, but now planning begins in earnest and we’ll take it from there,” he said.