Monday, December 14, 2015

Sikeston Proud Awards - Oct/Nov 2015

The “Sikeston Proud Awards” are the city’s program for employee recognition. Any city employee can be nominated by any other employee – supervisor, coworker, or subordinate. Each month the city’s department heads, HR director and city manager meet to review the nominations and select several employees to recognize. For October/November 2015, the winners of the Sikeston Proud Awards are the following:

Chuck Bolen, Skilled Worker (Public Works Department)
Chuck has been with the City of Sikeston for 8 years. He was nominated by a coworker for his attention to detail and dedication to the job. The nomination notes that Chuck runs the side arm mower and is very particular on how ditches are maintained, and he does his best to keep our city looking good.

Rhonda Council, Administrative Assistant (Governmental Services Department)
Rhonda has been with the City of Sikeston for 15 years. She was nominated by three different coworkers for her initiative, customer service, and assistance to fellow employees. In addition to providing administrative assistance to the city manager, Rhonda maintains the city and CVB websites, she routinely responds to social media inquiries, and she handles tourism related mailings.

Said one coworker, “I would like to nominate Rhonda Council for the assistance that she provides, not only to me, but everyone else.  She helps daily whether it is answering the phone, helping with the copier, software assistance, or the City’s website.  She never complains.  She will do anything to help anyone and she is one of the most professional acting employees we have.”

After a brief absence, another coworker said, “I would like to nominate Rhonda Council; she plays a huge part to the city.  I tried to fill her shoes while she was away and I was amazed at the responsibility she carries, and I think she does a great job.”

Vicky Lewis, City Collector (Administrative Services Department)
Vicky has been with the City of Sikeston for 22 years. As city collector, Vicky oversees collection of municipal taxes, licensing of merchants, liquor licenses, collection of franchise fees, TIF revenues – essentially any revenue received by the city is processed by her office. Her Sikeston Proud Award nomination reads: “Vicky is someone that if you have a problem she will try to help in any way possible.  She will stop doing her work just to help others and she follows up with that department or person until the work is done or until there’s nothing else that can be done.  I have worked with her for many years and I know she puts herself last in most situations.”

Chris Merideth, Communications Sergeant (Department of Public Safety)
Communications Sergeant Chris Merideth has been with the City of Sikeston for 14 years. She was nominated by her Communications Officers for her hard work, employee relations, and willingness to do the hands-on work of 911 dispatching. Her nomination reads, “We would like to nominate Sergeant Chris Merideth.  She has taken on 7 strong willed individuals and a division of the Department of Public Safety that is sometimes not the easiest! We are so thankful for all she does for us and the division, and for her hard work to keep us the best in the business. She goes all out for us on Communications Week and makes sure we are reminded how much we are needed in this department. Sergeant Merideth has so many responsibilities but she continues to sit with us daily and assist us in our daily tasks. We are so thankful for all that she does and we don’t tell her enough exactly how grateful we are!”

Tyler Rowe, Public Safety Officer (Department of Public Safety)
Public Safety Officer (PSO) Tyler Rowe has been with the City of Sikeston for 3 years. He was nominated by a coworker for his professionalism and the way he goes the extra mile with colleagues and citizens. His nomination reads, “I believe PSO Rowe demonstrates what it means to be ‘Sikeston Proud.’ PSO Rowe always arrives for his shift looking professional and with a great attitude which increases the morale of all the PSOs he works with. PSO Rowe is always willing to come in early or stay late if necessary to ensure that the city receives the level of protection and service that they deserve. PSO Rowe takes time to ensure that every citizen he interacts with has the best possible outcome. When PSO Rowe is not on a call for service he takes time to speak with citizens and to build an atmosphere of trust and understanding between them and our department. Although PSO Rowe is a new addition to the department, he goes out of his way to help any officer in need. I believe that PSO Rowe’s dedication to performing his job to the best of his ability every day exemplifies what it means to be Sikeston Proud.”

Andy Vanover, Sergeant (Public Safety Department)
Sergeant Andy Vanover has been with the City of Sikeston for 14 years. He was nominated by several coworkers for his decisive action to save an elderly man from choking. As reported by another officer on the scene, “We had an 80 plus year old male choking on a large piece of roast beef. The male is on hospice, in a wheelchair and very fragile.  The family was hysterical because he has a stint in his chest. While we were there the subject could not speak to us but we could clearly tell by his expression that his situation was going downhill. I was afraid to perform the Heimlich due to the stint. Sergeant Vanover stepped in and said he had to do something to attempt to save the man. He performed the Heimlich and a large chunk of roast beef came out. The family was so grateful to Sgt. Vanover. They could not stop telling him how much they appreciated him and DPS services. I believe that this could have been a bad deal if Sergeant Vanover hadn't made the decision he did in the time that he did. I just want to let you know the amazing professional courage that Sergeant Vanover displayed.” 

Marie Walton, Account Clerk (Department of Administrative Services)
Marie Walton has been with the City of Sikeston for 18 years and works in the Collector’s Office in the Administrative Services Department. The Collector’s Office deals with tax collection, business licensing and collecting various monies owed the city.  As one of her nominations pointed out, “Citizens are sometimes not happy about calling or visiting her office.” Marie interacts with the public by phone and in person daily.  She treats every person with kindness and respect. A supervisor in her department reported that even when Marie had to warn a delinquent licensee that Public Safety would have to write them a ticket if they didn’t comply with the licensing requirements, “there was warmth and concern in her voice.” The supervisor also said, “So many times we get tired of the same questions and comments from citizens.  I am sure that Marie has heard them all, many times.  Still, Marie is dependable and works diligently at her position.  More importantly, she treats people like they matter, because they do.”

A coworker also nominated Marie for going the extra mile to make sure a bidder on a city project understood the insurance requirements associated with a bid. Marie went out of her way to contact the insurance company and obtain the proof of insurance needed by the contractor. Marie’s coworker said, “The contractor told Marie he really appreciated it and complimented her on how efficient she was. She made the call, told them what she needed and they took care of it. Problem solved. The contractor left our facility very pleased with the outcome of his visit. Sometimes it just takes a moment of our time & going that extra mile to make someone happy. The contractor was able to leave with something good to say about the City instead of complaining of what we don’t do. We should be proud.”

Derick Wheetley, Public Safety Officer (Public Safety Department)
Sergeant Derick Wheetley has been with the City of Sikeston for 10 years. He was nominated by a coworker for his selfless actions in the community, particularly outside of his official duties. As many people in Sikeston know, Sergeant Wheetley is a driving force behind fundraising for the Special Olympics in Missouri. After Sergeant Wheetley put on two recent fundraising events, a coworker said the following about him, “These duties do not belong to him because he is a Sergeant or a DPS employee; he instead takes them out of the goodness of his heart. He has taken the entire load since the resignation of another officer and he has not complained. Sergeant Wheetley continues to make the department and the city proud with his selfless actions.”


Friday, October 30, 2015

Stretching Your Tax Dollars - Part 2

Forms are laid for the foundation of a new bathroom at the recreation complex.
City staff members are constructing the building at half the cost of a private contractor.
Previously, I blogged about how the Public Works Department saved $25,000 in taxpayer money by taking a creative approach to completing major electrical projects at city facilities. Well, they've done it again! The city is currently replacing two restroom buildings at the Recreation Complex. When we've built restroom buildings in recent years the costs have been around $90,000 each as bid by private contractors. The Public Works Department starting exploring whether we could save money by constructing those buildings ourselves. What we found out is that our staff can complete the foundation, plumbing, and roofing work ourselves, and we only need to bid out the masonry work. By doing so, the cost of constructing these buildings was cut in more than half, meaning that we can construct two of them ourselves for the price we used to pay for one. This is just another example of how the city takes our financial stewardship seriously. Tax money is limited, so city staff tries to make it go as far as possible.

Adopt-A-Road Reboot

City employees and family members completed a litter cleanup on Linn St.
The City of Sikeston has had an Adopt-A-Road Program for many years, although it hasn't been very active the last few years. In an effort to revive the program, the city has launched a new webpage (http://www.sikeston.org/departments/public_works/adopt-a-street_program.php) and city employees adopted a street to kick it off. If you are interested in adopting a street please visit the webpage or call the Public Works Department at (573) 475-5636. The Public Works Department will provide trash bags for cleanup events and pick up the full bags left along the route, as well as post signs recognizing volunteer groups along adopted roadway sections. It's an easy way for companies, families, school groups, churches, Scout organizations, civic clubs, and others to give back to the community. 



Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Actually, you DO have access to that...

Several years of budgets, audits, annual reports, and capital plans are available on the city's website.

I recently had a casual meeting with a citizen. We were talking about the budget and city finances and he said something like, "I don't have access to the whole budget document, but..." After he finished his thought, I politely corrected him and made sure he knew that he (and everyone else) is indeed entitled to that information and has access to it. All of the city's budgets and financial audits for the last several years are easily accessible to anyone, 24 hours a day and free of charge, at http://sikeston.org/financial_and_annual_reports/index.php. #BuildingTrustThroughTransparency

Friday, September 18, 2015

Stretching Your Tax Dollars

The City saved over $25,000 by using in house expertise to complete the electrical work on two projects. 
In January/February 2014 the back shop building at the Public Works complex received severe structural damage from excessive snow and ice buildup on the roof. Nearly all of the roof trusses had structural failures ranging from small cracks to complete failures. When the damage was discovered Public Works and Public Safety staff quickly worked together to shore up the roof so it wouldn't collapse. Unfortunately, the building, which normally houses Street Division staff and equipment, was left uninhabitable. The city consulted with structural engineers and roofing contractors, then bid out a repair project that would involve removing the old roof and trusses a section at a time, replacing the trusses, then replacing a reinforced roof deck. The project would also involve extensive electrical and HVAC work and the removal and re-installation of several large overhead doors.

After receiving bids on the work, Public Works staff reassessed the project and determined that by using city staff rather than the contractor to remove and replace the electrical and HVAC equipment that was mounted on the trusses, the city could save a significant amount of money. By the end of the project, city staff had saved $11,544 off the contractor's bid even after adding brand new heating and lighting fixtures not included in the original bid.

In a separate project to rewire the city garage building, Public Works staff again reassessed the project and determined that much of the work could be completed by city staff with a commercial electrician needed for only a portion of the work. By utilizing in house expertise, the city saved $14,776 on this project. 

This is just one example of how the city takes our financial stewardship seriously. Tax money is limited, so city staff tries to make it go as far as possible. On these two projects, the city saved over $25,000 by taking a non-traditional approach to complete the work. 



Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Sikeston Proud Awards

The “Sikeston Proud Awards” are the city’s program for employee recognition. Any city employee can be nominated by any other employee – supervisor, coworker, or subordinate. Each month the city’s department heads, HR director and city manager meet to review the nominations and select several employees to recognize. For July and August 2015, the winners of the Sikeston Proud Awards are the following:

DPS Sergeant Jon Broom
Sergeant Broom was nominated for his actions during two life threatening incidents. Regarding the first incident, a supervisor said: “Recently Sergeant Broom responded to a residence in reference to an infant not breathing. Broom met the mother at the door and she took him to the infant child on the couch.  The baby was unresponsive, no pulse and not breathing.  This was most likely the result of an accidental oxygen deprivation while sleeping with other children. Officer Broom immediately began CPR and continued first aid until the ambulance crew arrived.  Broom then drove the ambulance to the hospital so the EMS crew could work on the infant and continue CPR.  A short time later the hospital informed our officers that the infant had a pulse. 

“I spoke with the mother of the baby today and she told me her daughter survived this incident, although regrettably, not without complications. The family expressed their extreme gratitude to Officer Broom for his quick action that likely saved this child’s life. Our officers are faced with many different challenges throughout their career. Few challenges are more frightening or more stressful than one involving a lifeless child. Broom took quick action in this demanding situation and his efforts saved the life of this child.  I’m very proud of him and others like him that work for our department.”

Sergeant Broom was also nominated, along with another employee, for his cool-headed response to a dangerous pursuit: “Today Sergeants Smith and Broom were involved in a shots fired call, and during this call a suspect vehicle was identified.  Sergeant Broom located the vehicle in the area of the call and attempted to stop the car, which resulted in a vehicle pursuit. During the pursuit the suspects attempted to run over Sergeant Smith.  Sergeant Smith showed great restraint by not using deadly force on these individuals.  These subjects were also observed throwing guns from the vehicle during the pursuit. The pursuit was terminated on Tanner Street at which time Sergeants Broom and Smith pinned the doors of the suspect vehicle with their patrol vehicles as the suspects were attempting to flee the area.  The end result of their efforts was the capture of all three of these dangerous individuals.”

Account Clerk Amanda Groves
Amanda’s supervisor wrote in her nomination: “While auditing receivables, Amanda noticed a discrepancy in a lessee’s account balance of $5,000. When the lessee was contacted their records indicated they were current.  Amanda provided a history of the account for the past two years to the lessee and they discovered an error from when they changed accounting programs. Payment of $5,000 has now been received by the city.”

Skilled Worker Darren Lowe
Darren is a skilled worker in our Street Department, which means he is involved in everything from street repairs, to snow plowing, to sign making. In his nomination, a supervisor said of Darren: “Darren Lowe is an employee that is deserving of recognition. He is an outstanding worker and he has been a real asset to our department by taking over the sweeper operations and the sign making machine. He just has great knowledge of what we do in the Street Department.

Street Supervisor Darren Martin
Darren was nominated for two different events; his response to a fire at the compost site, and his work on the city’s stormwater  permit. Darren spent many hours working with State inspectors reviewing the city’s policies and practices, inspecting various sites, and writing reports for the city’s stormwater permit. Regarding the fire at the compost site, a supervisor said of Darren and another employee: “Yesterday after work, Captain Jim McMillen called and alerted me to a fire that had ignited at the city compost site. I called Darren Martin, who followed up with Captain McMillen.  Darren quickly came to the scene as did Billy Smith. They worked with the DPS fire crew, and after some water had been applied, they began to use heavy equipment to cover the fire with sand. DPS was able to leave around 6:15, but Darren and Billy stayed on site at least another hour continuing to cover the fire with sand, and move it away from other areas that could ignite. I know it was their job…but they were quick to respond, and could have called other employees in to address it, but the two of them as supervisors handled it themselves. I just thought it was a great effort.”

Public Safety Officer Paula Nichols
Paula was nominated by two people in the Department of Public Safety. From the first nomination: “I would like to nominate PSO Paula Nichols.  She works very hard and has a lot of connections in our community that help Sikeston DPS with investigations.  I believe she is a valuable public safety officer and would like the City of Sikeston to be aware of this fact.”

From the second nomination: “I would like to recommend PSO Paula Nichols for the first round of employee recognition awards.  PSO Nichols has demonstrated great work ethic and an extremely high level of professionalism.  Frequently, PSO Nichols is the officer that can calm the most tense situations and takes time to console victims and family members, thereby reflecting a positive image of the department, the city, and herself.  In addition, PSO Nichols always take the time necessary to ensure she maintains the highest level of employee relationships, and often seeks out ways to assist other officers and supervisors with their daily duties.   It is an extreme honor to have such a proficient and personable officer on our shift.”

Communications Officer Angie Rodgers
Angie was nominated by a coworker in a different department who works with Angie on a regular basis and observed her work during the Santie Oil fire: “I would like to nominate Angie Rodgers. She is a DPS Communication Training Officer and has been with the city several years. In addition to being a training officer she is assigned to the Mobile Command Post which is an attachment of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. The Mobile Command Post is called out at a short notice and responds to many different events and tragedies.  There is a lot that goes on behind the scene that the communication officer does that many are unaware of and often goes unnoticed.  Angie was working the day Santie Oil Company was on fire.  Not to take anything away from the danger at the scene, but I am sure not only was Angie assisting with the major disaster by contacting the other agencies to come and assist, but she also had to handle the regular police calls as well as the 911 calls with others in emergency situations.  Her stress level was probably off the chart but I can assure you she stayed calm through the whole process.  She is truly a “hero behind the headset.”

Building Maintenance Supervisor Billy Smith
Billy was nominated for two different events; his response to a fire at the compost site, and his work on the bandstand in Legion Park. Billy was involved in the design and supervised the construction of the Keith Collins Bandstand in Legion Park. Regarding the fire at the compost site, a supervisor said of Billy and another employee: “Yesterday after work, Captain Jim McMillen called and alerted me to a fire that had ignited at the city compost site. I called Darren Martin, who followed up with Captain McMillen.  Darren quickly came to the scene as did Billy Smith. They worked with the DPS fire crew, and after some water had been applied, they began to use heavy equipment to cover the fire with sand. DPS was able to leave around 6:15, but Darren and Billy stayed on site at least another hour continuing to cover the fire with sand, and move it away from other areas that could ignite. I know it was their job…but they were quick to respond, and could have called other employees in to address it, but the two of them as supervisors handled it themselves. I just thought it was a great effort.”

DPS Sergeant Ryan Smith
Sergeant Smith was nominated for his cool-headed response to an incident in which dangerous suspects threatened his life: “Today Sergeants Smith and Broom were involved in a shots fired call, and during this call a suspect vehicle was identified.  Sergeant Broom located the vehicle in the area of the call and attempted to stop the car, which resulted in a vehicle pursuit. During the pursuit the suspects attempted to run over Sergeant Smith.  Sergeant Smith showed great restraint by not using deadly force on these individuals.  These subjects were also observed throwing guns from the vehicle during the pursuit. The pursuit was terminated on Tanner Street at which time Sergeants Broom and Smith pinned the doors of the suspect vehicle with their patrol vehicles as the suspects were attempting to flee the area.  The end result of their efforts was the capture of all three of these dangerous individuals.”



Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Want your neighborhood to flood? Do this!



On Monday morning a thunderstorm dumped 2.5 inches of rain on Sikeston just before dawn. Our Public Works crews were out first thing in the morning cleaning clogged drains and putting up warning signs where minor flooding occurred. Unfortunately, many flooding problems could have been easily avoided by simple changes to behavior. The picture above is a storm drain I saw a few hours after the rain stopped. Blowing grass clippings into the street is illegal. Littering is illegal. These actions may seem inconsequential - until your street floods because grass clippings and litter clog pipes and drains. Help keep your neighborhood dry by keeping the streets clean. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

And who is my neighbor?

Many people are familiar with the parable of the Good Samaritan, where Jesus gave the commandment to "love thy neighbor as thyself." A doubter scoffed and asked, "And who is my neighbor?" Jesus answered by telling the parable of the Good Samaritan, who acted as a true neighbor by stopping to help a stranger in need who had crossed his path. 

Yesterday a fire started at an oil distributor located in Sikeston. Fueled by large amounts of stored propane and other combustibles, it turned out to be one of the largest fires Sikeston has experienced in many years. When an incident like this occurs, it's an "all hands on deck" situation for our Department of Public Safety (DPS), which includes police, firefighters, and 911 dispatchers. Firefighters and trucks were immediately dispatched to the scene. Public safety officers quickly closed down nearby roads and evacuated nearby businesses as it became apparent that the fire would be extremely large and dangerous. Flames rose high into the air as propane tanks exploded and thick black smoke rolled off the fire. 

Calls went out to our "neighbors" in nearby communities and at several first response agencies. The City of Cape Girardeau sent firefighters and equipment to help fight the fire and staff a fire station in Sikeston in case other fire calls came in. The City of Morehouse sent firefighters and equipment to staff another fire station. The Missouri Highway Patrol closed Highway 60 in both directions to keep drivers away from the explosive materials. The Federal Aviation Administration declared a temporary flight restriction zone to keep small aircraft from coming close to a scene that was more dangerous than they might have known. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources sent crews and equipment to help contain the spread of spilled fuel. The Red Cross sent a canteen truck to help keep first responders hydrated in the 90+ degree weather. The New Madrid County Ambulance District, Stoddard County Ambulance District, and South Scott County Ambulance District all sent ambulances to help treat any wounded, of which thankfully there were few. The New Madrid County Sheriff's Office sent officers to help with traffic control. The State Fire Marshal's Office sent a crew to help with the cause and origin investigation. Sikeston BMU monitored water supplies and pressure. BMU and Ameren turned off power supplies to allow firefighters to safely fight the fire. Liberty Utilities turned off gas supplies and checked damaged meters as the fire diminished.

Multiple private businesses provided or offered meeting space, food, water, ice, and more, including Lowe's, Holiday Inn, Pizza Inn, Cott Beverage, and probably others of which I am not aware. UPS allowed Sikeston DPS to stage personnel, equipment and vehicles from their property across the street from the fire scene, and MikeRentals brought cooling fans over. After the fire was contained Sikeston DPS stayed on scene throughout the night to fight flare ups and hot spots. Sikeston Public Works employees were called in with heavy equipment to move dirt and contain spilled fuel before it entered storm drains and ditches.

All of these agencies and people acted as true neighbors to the Sikeston community throughout this incident. My sincere thanks go out to them, and to the many Sikeston DPS employees who put their lives on the line to protect our community. 

video

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Good Guys

Photo courtesy of Sikeston Standard Democrat
Recently you may have seen a viral news story and photo of a police officer comforting and distracting a toddler while other officers were tending to a fatal vehicle accident in the background. What you may not realize is that scenes like that happen everyday in the law enforcement world, even locally here in Sikeston. Above, a photo of Sikeston Public Safety Officer Scott Kim tending to a child after responding to a car accident scene. And sometimes our local officers's feel good stories do get recognized by the media as well, like this story of Sikeston officers playing basketball with some local kids:
http://www.kfvs12.com/clip/11624402/raw-sikeston-dps-officers-play-basketball 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Orgill Expansion Announced

Orgill, Inc. is the world's largest and fastest growing independent distributor of retail hardware and home improvement products. In 2009 they built a 795,000 sq ft distribution center in the Sikeston Business, Education and Technology Park. Today Orgill announced a $10.3 million, 250,000 sq ft expansion of the facility. The expansion will add 70 jobs to Orgill's operations in Sikeston, and bring the facility to over 1,000,000 sq ft. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and Director of Agriculture Richard Fordyce traveled to Sikeston to announce the project. We're proud to have Orgill as one of our great corporate citizens in Sikeston!
Orgill, Inc.'s current facility in the Sikeston Business, Education and Technology Park. 

Sawing logs with butter knives

Having the right tools for the job matters. The City of Sikeston hired me and a new public works director just as the winter of 2013 began. Unfortunately, during my first week on the job we got the worst winter weather since the ice storm of 2009. More unfortunately, during that storm and some subsequent snows, we learned that our snow plowing equipment was badly in need of replacement. We had four dump trucks with plow attachments, all 18-25 years old. They spent more time in the shop than on the road during a big snow storm.

As a result, snow plowing operations did not go very well. So for the next year we budgeted for replacement of the three worst dump trucks. Our three new dump trucks arrived in the middle of the following winter. In fact, they arrived about a week after an 8" snow storm, and a week before another 8" snow storm. The difference between the old trucks and the new ones was astounding. After the first storm, it took us 5 days to plow all of the streets with the old trucks. Under virtually identical conditions, we completed the job in only 36 hours with the new trucks, simply because they are bigger and they stayed on the road instead of in the shop. As the public works director explained, with the old trucks it was like we were "sawing logs with butter knives."

Just this week we took one of new dump trucks to buy some cold mix asphalt for filling potholes. In the old trucks we could haul about 4-6 tons of asphalt. The first load in the new truck was over 14 tons, which means in one trip to the asphalt plant we can now haul as much as we used to in 2-3 trips. The investment in new trucks, though certainly expensive up front, has paid tremendous dividends. We are providing better service to our citizens, and we are doing it faster and cheaper.

New dump trucks in the Public Works yard shortly after they were delivered.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Economic Strengths of the Missouri Bootheel

I serve as a board member at the Missouri Innovation Corporation (MIC) at Southeast Missouri State University. MIC supports business and community development in the region through research, financial assistance, and other efforts to deliver University programs to the business community. MIC recently completed a Regional Entrepreneurship Assessment and Strategy for the Bootheel region of Southeast Missouri. One portion of the assessment identifies the economic strengths of the region, including Sikeston, which I thought I should share with my readers. The image below illustrates some of the employment growth factors in the region, including the concept of "clusters" of certain business sectors. This is something we have observed in Sikeston, particularly in the distribution center cluster. Our Sikeston Business, Education and Technology Park is home to several large distribution centers that take advantage of our strategic location at the crossroads of I-55, I-57, and Highway 60.        



Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Sikeston vs Ferguson

Like many local government officials, I have watched recent events in Ferguson and tried to learn from them. One of the criticisms leveled against the City of Ferguson is that the municipal court was used primarily as a revenue generator, rather than as a means to administer justice. The US Department of Justice found that in fiscal year 2013, Ferguson collected $2,460,000 in municipal court fines and fees. For comparison, in fiscal year 2013, Sikeston collected only $380,000 in municipal court fines and fees. Ferguson's court fines and fees accounted for approximately 23% of their city revenues. Sikeston's court fines and fees accounted for about 2.6% of our city revenues. And the bottom line is that Sikeston's municipal court in fiscal year 2015 is only projected to bring in $42,000 more than is spent on court operations - meaning that the court is in no way a cash cow for the city. I am glad that our friends in Ferguson seem to be on the road to healing, but it's also worth pointing out that the problems in Ferguson are not endemic to city municipal courts everywhere - especially not in Sikeston.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Thanks for your patience, and your service to neighbors!

A couple Sikeston Cub Scouts shovel a neighbor's driveway. 



















We thought we might get through this winter without any major snow/ice events, but instead an entire winter's worth all hit this week! 87% of city employees work in Public Safety or Public Works, so the great majority of our workforce is involved in winter weather response - from Public Safety Officers controlling traffic at accident scenes to Street Maintenance Workers standing ankle deep in ice water shoveling open sewer grates by hand. And it's not just city employees working hard to keep our community running. BMU employees were out in the middle of the night during freezing rain making repairs to downed power lines. I even saw neighbors out in the street shoveling open storm sewer grates to let water drain off the streets.

During big snow events we get a lot of questions and comments about snow removal operations, so here are a few things to know:
  • The City of Sikeston has four dump trucks with salt spreaders and snow plow attachments. 
  • This year we added a plow to a front end loader, so we have one more piece of equipment on the streets this year that we didn't have last year.
  • Snow has to go somewhere, which means that when we plow, it will create windrows in front of driveways. When it's possible to plow the snow to the other side of the street we do it, but many times it's just not possible. 
  • We get a lot of requests to plow open the windrows at the ends of driveways to residences and businesses, and we have to politely decline those requests. If we took the time to do that for the thousands of driveways we plow past, we would never be able to get the streets done. We also can't simply lift the blade and not plow in front of driveways, for the same reason. 
  • Our street crews work 12 hour shifts, 24 hours/day, until the streets are adequately clear or until they no longer can do it under the law (due to driving hour restrictions for CDL license holders). 
  • Sometimes it takes a while to get to the residential streets, because there is no sense plowing residential streets if the main streets aren't passable. Oftentimes the main streets need multiple passes to keep them clear, especially early during a storm when snow is still falling or blowing. 
  • Our dump trucks are all 20-25 years old with significant maintenance issues, and it's not always easy to get parts for them. This is something our new Public Works Director identified as a problem last winter and has taken steps to address. Over the summer we put in orders for three brand new dump trucks, which are under construction and should be here soon. We would have loved to have them already, but unfortunately cities all over the country are in the same boat and there is some backlog in production.  
The city appreciates your patience during major winter storms like this week. Thankfully in Southeast Missouri we only have to deal with weather like this a few weeks out of the year. Thanks for looking out for your neighbors, driving carefully, and for the kind words many of you have expressed for our hard working Public Safety and Public Works employees!

Sledding at the Sports Complex. Please park at the Clinton Building and not on N Ingram Rd.



Friday, January 23, 2015

DPS sponsors St Patty's 5K Run for Special Olympics

The Sikeston Department of Public Safety (DPS) is a big supporter of Special Olympics. DPS employees are currently organizing the 2nd Annual St Patty's 5K Run for Special Olympics to be held on 03/14/2015. DPS is seeking sponsors, volunteers, and runners for the event. The deadline for preregistration for runners is 02/28/2015. See http://www.sikeston.org/DPS_St_Patty_s_5K_Run_2015.pdf for more information! 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Too cold to work?

No way! But what does a street or park maintenance worker do when it's in the single digits outside? There's usually not much grass to mow, and patching potholes doesn't work as well in extreme cold, so usually they come inside and catch up on some projects in the shop. They are probably happy not to be plowing snow in the middle of the night! Here's a great story about City of Sikeston crews coming in from the cold to complete maintenance projects they will be too busy for once spring arrives.

Law Enforcement Appreciation Day

Citizens nationwide are celebrating Law Enforcement Appreciation Day today, January 9, 2015. In Sikeston, several local businesses as well as the hospital are sponsoring appreciation events for local law enforcement officers. At City Hall, we wore blue to show appreciation for our law enforcement officers, including the Sikeston Department of Public Safety. Sikeston DPS employs around 80 police, fire, and dispatch professionals who work odd hours, sacrifice holidays with families, deal with unpleasant situations, and face life threatening danger to protect and serve our community. We are proud of the work they do, and grateful for their dedication, professionalism, bravery, and compassion.   
Sikeston City Hall employees wear blue in appreciation of our law enforcement officers.