The St. Joseph City Council approved two bills for the Krug Park Amphitheater project during its meeting Monday night.
The first bill was a consulting agreement with ASM Global, a company that would manage the venue. This agreement essentially has ASM Global walk the city through the development process.
The contract is through August 31 for $25,000 a month, with April prorated. PJ Kovac was the only person on the council who voted against the agreement. During the meeting, Kovac said he doesn’t understand why the city is paying for preliminary work when there is no guarantee the city goes through with the project.
The second bill the council approved was a near-$50,000 contract with Stone Planning, an independent planning service, for a feasibility, economic and fiscal impact study. Councilman Madison Davis joined Kovac in voting against this bill.
A couple citizens spoke during public comment and expressed their concerns with the project. Dana Black said the project would ruin the family aspect of the park with increased traffic and noise. Terry Turbak said there should be community input for the project, such as a citizen committee.
“I believe the community should be involved,” said City Councilman Russell Moore. “We’re going to have to wait until we get the feasibility study first. When the feasibility study comes back, maybe we can put together a group of people to take a look at it.”
Much of the information the city needs to decide on whether to move forward with the project will come from the feasibility, economic and fiscal impact study, including the size of the venue, required amenities and potential revenue and cost.
Other notable actions on bills and resolutions:
Horace Mann Improvements
The largest money item on the agenda was more than $1.2 million for improvements to the Horace Mann and Bartlett Center facility. The council unanimously approved a contract with Schneider Electric to make design and energy fixes to building infrastructure and the gym.
The funds for the project come from the Capital Improvements Program. It was originally scheduled for fiscal year 2024 but was able to move up after other CIP project funds were redirected.
“That’s an important thing to take care of,” Moore said. “It’s been years since it’s been brought up to date. We are going to have to spend some money on it, and this is the right year to do it.”
Sewer Backup Reimbursement Policy Ends
Staff recommended ending the policy after significant improvements to the sewer system and a declining number of claims in the last five years. Brian Myers and Kovac were the only two to vote against ending the policy.
“As was explained to me, the upgrades to the sewer system basically created a situation where it’s not likely that we have this issue anymore,” Moore said. “Can it still happen? Sure, anything bad can happen.”
Splash Park Landscaping
The new splash park at Hyde Park will be receiving a variety of trees, shrubs and plants after the council unanimously approved nearly $40,000 for landscaping.
The council unanimously approved a name for the city’s new disc golf course along the parkway — the Bartlett Parkway Disc Golf Course. It is free for the public and will also be used by the St. Joseph Disc Golf Club.
A complete turnover in contested seats among St. Joseph School District leaders took place Monday night, but the school board retained its leader.
The Troester Media Center saw the swearing-in of Kenneth Reeder, David Foster and LaTonya Williams to three-year terms on the board of education. The three assume the seats of outgoing board members Lute Atieh, Larry Koch and Rick Gehring, based on performances in the April 6 election.
“This was a vote for change,” Williams said. “And they (voters) want all new ideas, all new voices, all new choices. And so, I am just thankful to be a part of that change.”
Following the oaths of office conducted by Judge Dan Kellogg of the Fifth Judicial Circuit of Missouri, all seven board members — old and new — united to retain Tami Pasley in office as president of the board. In light of Atieh stepping down, Dr. Bryan Green was named also by a 7-0 vote to serve as board vice president. No one else was nominated for either position.
In the election earlier this month, Reeder placed first. He has set to work on building a relationship with his new colleagues, reflecting optimism that his long experience as an activist will inject overdue new ideas, such as in early childhood education.
“It’s going to be absolutely great to have that next generation on here,” Reeder said, referring to Williams and Foster. “And their two or three top priorities are my two or three top priorities.”
With their membership on the board official, Williams, Foster and Reeder will be set to continue their onboarding process as volunteer public servants, which involves several hours of mandatory training in education policy as required by state law.
Koch and Gehring were each presented a token of appreciation for their service, as is customary for departing board members. Atieh and Koch were last elected in 2018, and have overseen an eventful three years amid the resolution of a budget crunch, the passage of a temporary tax levy increase, the outbreak of COVID-19 in the community and, on April 6, the defeat of Proposition CARE, a debt-service levy proposal.
“As I’m sworn in, it means I’m dedicated,” Foster said. “It means I’m dedicated for what I have in mind for our schools. It means I will do my best to make sure that everyone is thought about, as I put my best foot forward.”
In her renewed role as board president, Pasley also shuffled the SJSD committees. The Academics and Scholarship Committee will be chaired by Dr. Bryan Green, with Lori Witham and LaTonya Williams added as members. The Facilities Planning Committee will be chaired by Rick Gilmore, with David Foster and Green added as members.
The Finance Committee will be chaired by Kenneth Reeder, with Williams and Foster added as members. The Policy Committee will be chaired by Witham, with Foster added as a member. Pasley stated it is not her practice to serve on any committees officially, so as to devolve leadership throughout the board. However, she will attend all possible meetings as a member ex officio. The meeting schedule is available on the district website.
"I would encourage everyone to attend our committee meetings, as it is often there that the real business of the board is done, before a committee member comes to our monthly meeting to make a recommendation," she said.
In a return to familiar activity following a year of pandemic disruptions, InterServ has resumed serving lunch to individuals 60 years of age and older at its facility on King Hill Avenue.
Patrons walked in Monday wearing masks and were able to remove them when enjoying chili dogs and tater tots. Three gentlemen sitting at one table said they enjoy the food but their favorite part of the lunches is the interactions with one another.
They said they enjoyed checking up on the cook, Peggy, who is a staple at InterServ, as she’s held the position for more than 40 years, according to Director of Senior Nutrition Angie Gardner.
“She knows exactly what everybody likes, if they don’t like a certain vegetable,” Gardner said. “She’s the foundation.”
The tables have plastic dividers the nonprofit was able to purchase thanks to a grant. About 35 seats at the facility are available daily for a free lunch between 10:30 a.m. and noon.
Gardner said she believes about 75% of the clientele has received the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We have lots of people requesting meatloaf and, interesting enough, Peggy’s liver and onions,” Gardner said. “It’s not my choice, but the people that enjoy liver and onions say she makes the best.”
On Tuesday, BBQ meatballs with mashed potatoes are on the menu, with creamy baked chicken set for Wednesday, chef salad on Thursday and scrambled eggs and sausage for the meal on Friday.
Some Meals on Wheels programs ceased operation during the pandemic, but InterServ made preparations to keep the project going like delivering a week’s worth of food in one day. That ensured staff never lost contact with the seniors they serve.
That operation continues to adjust as well, and delivery drivers now are passing out meals twice a week.
“Gradually building back up – the clients are getting frozen meals,” Gardner said. “We’re adding hot meals a little at a time.”