After some debate, the City Council eventually decided to hold the city of St. Joseph Fireworks Show this year.
During budget talks in April, the City Manager Bruce Woody advised the council not to hold the display this July 4 in order to save $15,000 in the Gaming fund. That fund is fed through the casino, which was closed for a large portion of 2019 due to flooding, and for a portion of this year due to COVID-19, leaving it with around $200,000 less in income than normal.
Woody also felt that allowing people to gather en masse for Independence Day may not be safe due to the pandemic.
Last week, the City Council approved the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, including the full amount to pay for the fireworks show.
Several council members felt that the tradition must go on, including Kent O’Dell, who said the event allows for social distancing and is a needed break from current events.
“This is something that you could easily social distance, so, it’s a no-brainer,” O’Dell said. “We need to have something to look forward to, some kind of celebration, because this town’s been cooped up for a long time and everybody’s been abiding by the rules and if they ever deserved a fireworks show, this is the year they do.”
O’Dell said the display can be seen from “miles around” and if people want to keep their distance from one another they can do so with ease.
At one point, the council discussed approaching the Buchanan County government to pay for half of the display. Director of Parks, Recreation and Civic Facilities Chuck Kempf said the city is paying for the display in its entirety, but he isn’t even sure that the county was approached and that plan may have been dropped.
Kemp said the process to plan the show takes months, and the Parks Department was already on top of it just in case the funds were approved.
“We have to get out in front of that and plan it because we have to bid it out,” Kempf said. “We go through that process and are a little bit vulnerable because of the fact that the money doesn’t get approved until after you’ve gone through the procurement process.”
An agreement with a pyrotechnical company out of Joplin, Missouri, was approved.
The annual display typically starts around 9 p.m. with parking available at the Remington Nature Center and Heritage Park parking lots, 1502 McArthur Drive and 2202 Waterworks Road.
In case of inclement weather, the show usually takes place the next clear night.
With summer in full swing, the number of motorcycles on the road has increased, and with that there have been more crashes involving motorcycles.
Two of those wrecks happened in the past week, with one resulting in a fatality.
“It’s that time of year — the temperatures up, the motorcycles are out and everybody, including motorcyclists, we all need to be vigilant, we need to be paying attention,” Sgt. Jake Angle, with the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Troop H, said.
Angle said paying attention to the road can help reduce wrecks, especially when it comes to motorcycles.
“Motorcycles are much smaller vehicles that you can lose them easier in blind spots. So, motorists and cars and trucks, whatever, need to be paying attention. Motorcyclists need to be paying attention,” Angle said. “They need to be good defensive drivers and try to predict and understand that they’re not as visible and most of them do.”
Another factor Angle believes makes a big difference in preventing wrecks is distance, by giving yourself time to react to unexpected events.
“Distance is big for any vehicle — to have that reactionary gap between you and the vehicle in front of you. So, in case a deer pops out, or the instance that happened on 169 where that chain reaction and the unfortunate crash involving that motorcycle as a result, you never know when it might happen,” Angle said.
There are numerous safety measures that can be taken when operating a motorcycle. Currently, the motorcycle helmet law is under review by the state’s legislators.
Right now the law requires anyone driving or riding a motorcycle to wear a protective helmet. The proposed change would not require those 26 or older to wear protective head gear as long as they have both medical insurance and proof of financial responsibility.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is asking the governor to veto the bill because of this, stating the helmet law saves lives and prevents life-long brain trauma.
The other factor pointed out was that law enforcement officers would have trouble knowing if a motorcyclist driving by is 26 or older.
According to a state representative who supports the change, it’s a matter of freedom and that those 26 and older should be able to decide for themselves.
Coronavirus restrictions being lifted for St. Joseph businesses mean salons have been able to pull back on some rules while still keeping others in place for safety.
One big change is stylists and clients no longer have to wear masks during an appointment at a salon. The modification has been a welcome one to some of those who work in those businesses.
Bobbi Jo Hausman, owner of Bliss Salon, said masks make stylists’ jobs more difficult and are exhausting because of the long hours they work.
“It’s really hard to wear those for 12 hours and breathe and still be able to talk with your client and consult with them,” Hausman said.
Adam Meisinger, owner of Unique Creations Salon, agrees that the loosening of restrictions has made things much easier for employees and also customers coming in.
“It’s much more relaxed than it was prior to now,” Meisinger said.
However, both salons still offer masks for customers if they want them and said stylists will wear them if asked.
But while masks may be less in use, other safety measures remain in force. Hausman and Meisinger said even though restrictions are gone, they’re still limiting customers inside their businesses, social distancing and sanitizing everything.
“We are continuing to do one in and one out and all of our sterilization to keep everyone nice and clean and don’t have much of a seating area,” Hausman said.
She said clients still are asked not to bring people with them and to text staff when they get to the salon.
At Unique Creations, stylists now are allowing walk-ins rather than taking people only by appointment.
“We’ve always taken appointments but it was a little bit of a hassle doing appointments for every haircut and then going out to the parking lot to have people come in,” Meisinger said.
Meisinger said the sanitizing practices are something the salon always does no matter what and aren’t a burden to employees or clients.
The salons said the majority of customers understand and appreciate the restrictions that are still in place, but it puts some on edge.
“Some customers don’t like the social distancing, but we just have to do what we think is best for everybody,” Meisinger said.
The thing Hausman missed the most was seeing her customers smile on a regular basis, and she’s happy to experience that again.
“You don’t realize how much you miss something like that until you can’t actually see someone smile and see happiness,” Hausman said.
The restrictions in place now at both salons are planned to stay put for the foreseeable future until the St. Joseph community’s COVID-19 numbers decrease at a more rapid pace.