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Development planned on former Pioneer site

A multimillion-dollar development is being proposed for the empty lot left behind when an historic building was destroyed by fire.

In 2016, the Pioneer Building at 502 Francis St. was heavily damaged by flames and was order to be demolished after standing in Downtown St. Joseph for more than 140 years.

Now, JES Dev Co Inc. is planning an $8 million to $9 million project to fill the space.

The Pioneer Lofts project would consist of the construction of a four-story building with ground-floor retail space and three floors of residential lofts.

The structure would offer 42 housing units and could involve a parking deal with the nearby garage for tenants, according to St. Joseph Planning and Community Development Department Director Clint Thompson.

On Aug. 26, the City Council approved a resolution expressing support of a tax credit application by the developer for housing tax credits from the Missouri Housing Development Commission.

Thompson said the city and developer have discussed local tax abatement incentives as well, in order to make the project more feasible.

“I think the main catalyst for Downtown is just typical commercial development,” Thompson said. “Retail follows rooftops. So, if you can increase your housing in your Downtown area, that’ll help attract other commercial opportunities.”

Thompson said that if JES Dev Co is approved this year for credits, work could begin on the project sometime in 2020.

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Chimney sweeps find place in modern world

The term chimney sweep might evoke images of Dickens’s England and soot-covered orphan boys in the minds of some.

But today as venting systems for coal, heating oil, gas, wood and pellet-burning appliances need to be maintained, the chimney sweep is still in demand.

Instead of using orphan boys in England, most modern chimney sweeps are professionals like Brad Moore, owner-operator of Chim-Chiminey Chimney Sweep.

Moore said the job is enough to keep him busy. He said he serves anywhere from 750 to 1,000 customers yearly, with the bulk of the work being done in the fall.

“I’ve been doing this for 33 years now. A friend of mine started this business, and when he told me he was going to do this I thought he was crazy. I worked for him for one year and ended up buying it out,” Moore said.

The job of chimney sweeper is an old one. In Great Britain in the 1700s, master sweeps took apprentices, typically orphan boys, and trained them to climb into chimneys.

The same hiring practices were used in America, too. That is until the Chimney Sweepers Act of 1788 forbade children under the age of 8 to work as chimney sweeps.

The Chimney Sweeps and Chimney Regulation Act of 1840 made it illegal for a person under the age of 21 to clean chimneys. By 1875, all chimney sweeps had to be registered with and supervised by the police.

“It’s important to have it done,” Moore said. “You see a lot of chimney fires and ... you could lose your house, possibly lose your lives. It’s just not worth not cleaning your chimney.”

Chimney sweeping is pretty much the same as it was in the past, with the standard chimney brush still being used. Vacuums, cameras and special chimney cleaning tools are also are employed today.

“A lot of guys now have the cameras that they wanna drop down in your chimney, and I’m kind of old-school. I like to just do everything by eye, you know, just what I’ve learned over the years,” Moore said.

Chimney sweeps also do more than just clean chimneys. They diagnose and service problems, repair all types of chimneys and install fireplaces.

“Every chimney’s different. It’s not standard cut-and-dried,” Moore said.

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'We're in desperate need,' Missouri's blood banks struggle with lack of donors

The amount of blood available in Missouri is dwindling following a decline in donors, raising concerns about the ability of blood banks to fulfill orders.

With Hurricane Dorian bearing down, Florida’s blood banks have made outside requests asking for blood. Missouri will only send blood to Florida if local orders can be fulfilled.

“A month or so ago we issued a plea for an urgent need for blood,” Chelsey Smith, community outreach coordinator for Community Blood Center, said. “That was a step below emergency but unfortunately we’ve just declined from there.”

Smith stressed that the CBC still can fulfill all local orders, but has less than a seven-day supply of all blood types on hand. In an emergency, the blood bank likely would have to request units from other states.

“We’re still in desperate need of blood donors,” Smith said. “Our inventory isn’t looking good right now.”

A major blood drive was hosted at the East Hills Shopping Center in St. Joseph earlier this month where more than 100 people were expected to donate. A list of upcoming blood drives can be found on the CBC’s website

Smith said as a general rule, young people don’t donate with the same consistency or volume as older people. As more aging people can no longer donate, shortages occur.

After mass shootings or other mass casualty events, there’s often a wave of donations, Smith said. However, it takes about three days to test the blood and make sure it’s safe for transfusion, so Smith said it’s the “blood on the shelf” that saves lives.

“We’re really hoping that as we head into Labor Day our donations don’t drop off,” Smith said.

File photo | Atchison Globe  

Muriel, the last intact Lockheed Electra 10E, is nearly identical to the aircraft Amelia Earhart flew during her final journey over the Pacific in July 1937. Robert Ballard visited Atchison earlier this year to examine Muriel as part of his search.

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Tasks continue for tireless Labor Day workers

On a day many fondly revere for well-deserved time off from work, some faithfully put in hours toward guaranteeing their customers’ satisfaction.

Labor Day 2019 in St. Joseph saw people go to their jobs in such venues as restaurants, electronics stores and museums, among other places of employment that don’t shut down for a holiday.

At Golden Corral, Joan Thomas switched off from her normal and out-of-restaurant duties as a community director and GC Catering manager to help staff serve a Labor Day breakfast buffet and lunch. Thomas knew she was filling in for a regular staffer, but didn’t know that person’s identity. She came in at 7 a.m. and stayed until 4 p.m.

“I’m kind of the last man on the totem pole,” she quipped of her temporary duties.

Thomas said she typically fills in on Mondays and Tuesdays for Golden Corral employees who happen to be college students. Those are the two days of the week that the catering functions tend to drop off the most.

There are no regrets on her part for being asked to take the place of another, just so that person can enjoy the holiday. Golden Corral maintained a constant staff of about 12 employees for both the day and evening shifts.

“It doesn’t bother me,” said Thomas. “I don’t mind being here ... I enjoy coming in and filling in for people ... They can have the day off and be with their families. I don’t get to see customers (with her other duties). I’m out on the road most of the time. I get to interact and see what’s going on.”

And it’s not the only holiday where she assists the restaurant. She also helps staff on the Monday after Veterans Day with arranging free meals for veterans.

Over at Best Buy, at the Shoppes at North Village, on-duty manager R.J. Baig said it was actually just another work day for he and his crew. There were no changes in the amount of help on hand.

“Memorial Day was more of a time that people wanted off,” he told News-Press NOW.

Michelle Jones, customer service manager for the Pony Express National Museum, was the chief cook-and-bottle washer on Monday. The museum saw a busy day.

“I think it’s great that we’re open,” she said of staffing the museum for holiday guests, noting it’s only natural because of the ongoing tourist season.

The U.S. Department of Labor reported more than 157 million Americans on the job as of the holiday, representing the highest number working on record. The agency said the current 3.7 percent unemployment rate is the lowest the U.S. has experienced for a Labor Day since 1969.

This year marks the national holiday’s 125th anniversary.