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(Bike Tour, School Road, Health Insurance, Multi-Purpose Center, Park Misc.)

City OKs School Request 3-2
By Catherine Stortz Ripley
December 1, 2015

Chillicothe City Council members voted 3-2 to provide partial funding for a new road if Chillicothe School District patrons approve a plan to expand the district at its high school campus in north Chillicothe. The decision was made during the council's regular meeting at City Hall Monday evening. The school district currently is considering two options for a long-range facility plan and either option involves a public vote in April 2016. The school district is hosting a public forum at 6:30 Tuesday at Gary Dickinson Performing Arts Center to gather input in determining which proposal to pursue. Now that the city has agreed to pay half of the construction costs for a new road (not to exceed $300,000), the idea of developing a one-campus district is more feasible according to Superintendent Dr. Roger Barnes. The other option the district is considering is to create a middle school facility at the existing Chillicothe High School site on the Chillicothe Education Foundation's land and to create a preschool through fifth grade campus at the current middle school site. Whichever option is decided, either one must be voted on by the school district's patrons. The district plans to present a bond issue to voters in April 2016. If the north campus option is selected and school district patrons approve the ballot measure, the city would provide up to $300,000 from the city's capital improvement fund to build the road. The other half of road funding would come from local foundations. The road would be accessed from U.S. Highway 65, north of Missouri Route 190, and come in just north of the stadium to provide access to a new elementary building. Ed Douglas, president of the Education Foundation, addressed the council prior to the vote as did Chillicothe R-2 Superintendent Dr. Roger Barnes. Douglas summarized the details leading up to the foundation's request for funding and the foundation's desire for a one-campus district. He stated that several other local foundations pledged half of the funding for the road if the city would provide the other half. Barnes stated that developing a one-campus district is the vision for the children and the vision for the city. He said the district has been supportive in the city's economic development efforts in the past and thanked the city for considering the district's request. Prior to the vote, council members explained that the only issue the council was considering was whether to set aside funds to help build the road. Whether a new school is built would be up to Chillicothe School District voters to decide. Councilman-at-Large David Moore, First Ward Councilman Reed Dupy, and Fourth Ward Councilman Paul Howard voted in favor of providing the requested funds; while Second Ward Councilman Wayne Cunningham and Third Ward Councilman Tom Douglas voted against the request. Each councilman stated that he would be voting whether to approve funding in accordance with the telephone calls he received from the public. Each member prefaced their votes by detailing the number of calls he received in favor, in opposition, and as to which ward the callers were from. Following the vote, Alvin Thompson questioned whether the city's capital improvements fund money legally could be used for the project. Moore stated that the city's legal counsel assured the city that it would be a legal use of the fund.

Also during Monday night's meeting, the council approved continuing health insurance coverage through its existing provider, Life Style Health Plan. The plan for 2016 reflects a 4.96 percent increase over the current plan year. The city will continue to provide full-time employees with $600 apiece for their flex spending accounts. There was some discussion during the workshop meeting held prior to the regular council meeting as to whether to provide insurance for employee spouses. While providing insurance coverage to dependents of employees (with the city paying 25 percent of the cost), the city last year chose not to offer coverage for spouses. A comment was made during the workshop that spousal coverage through the Affordable Care Act varied among employees, with those having lower incomes paying less than those with higher incomes. The council will study costs for providing coverage for spouses and make a decision later this month. The city pays 100 percent of the city employee’s health insurance premiums.

The council chambers were filled to standing room only Monday evening with people attending for various reasons. Much discussion took place regarding the Livingston County Multi-Purpose Center. The Concerned Citizens for the Community currently leases the facility for the senior center and the group is considering purchasing the building; however, a corner of the building is settling due to erosion of a ditch behind the facility. A board representative asked the council to provide rip-rap to reinforce the ditch. However, after looking into the situation, Street Superintendent Barry Arthur told council members Monday night that the project would need more than riprap and that it would be a project requiring a couple of weeks to complete, rental of a bull dozer, and removal of trees. He noted that a drainage pipe currently beneath the building complicates the project. Cindy Ireland, administrator of the Grand River Multipurpose Center, told the council that the group was requesting riprap to stabilize the ditch. The city is to talk with engineers regarding the project and get cost estimates.

Also during Monday's meeting, the council:

  • heard a request from Amy Supple, director of the Greater Chillicothe Tourism Region, regarding the Big BAM (Bike Across Missouri) event on June 13 at Simpson Park;
  • reviewed an outline of 2016 projects for the city's park system as presented by parks director Josh Norris;
  • gave a general consensus of plans for a bike/walk trail through town as presented by City Administrator Ike Holland;
  • reviewed a proposal of street projects for next year as presented by Street Superintendent Arthur. The council also approved the street superintendent's request to declare a 1996 dump truck with a 10-foot snow plow as surplus property.

An executive session, closed to the public, followed the regular council meeting.

Bike Tour Coming to Chillicothe
December 4, 2015

Chillicothe will be a host city to the Bike Across Missouri (Big BAM) bicycle tour next spring. The event is a six-day, 300-mile journey across north Missouri from St. Joseph to Hannibal, via U.S. Highway 36. The cyclists are scheduled to arrive in Chillicothe on June 13 and stay overnight. Amy Supple, director of the Greater Chillicothe Tourism Region, explained the event to City Council members during their regular meeting Monday evening at City Hall. The cyclists will average 50 miles per day, leaving St. Joseph on June 12, and traveling east to spend the following nights in Hamilton, Chillicothe, Brookfield, Macon and Shelbina. They are scheduled to arrive in Hannibal on June 17.

This will be the second year for the event. Last year, the cyclists traveled across the northernmost part of Missouri, starting in Rock Port and ending in Canton. Supple said that the Highway 36 organization, of which she is a member, asked the Big BAM to bring their tour to Highway 36. Supple asked the City Council to consider allowing the cyclists to camp overnight in Simpson Park and to grant permission for Big BAM to serve alcohol during their stay. She said a component of being a host city is to allow alcohol to be served. She said that when Chillicothe hosted Tour Missouri several years ago, the city issued a special permit to allow alcohol during that event.

Some discussion took place as whether allowing alcohol to be sold in the park for this event could open the door for similar requests from organizers of other events. Council members will further discuss the request during their December 14 meeting. Supple said the event will bring 1,500 cyclists and approximately 700 support people to town. The first round of cyclists would arrive around noon and leave the next morning. Chillicothe cyclist Doug Long also talked about the Big BAM, telling council members that the event came through Missouri in the early 1990s and set up camp near the old high school football field. He said the cyclists will have ridden many miles by the time they arrive in Chillicothe and will be preparing for the next leg of the journey. He said that once they are off their bicycles, they want to look for things to do... walk to the downtown area, eat, go to theaters, etc.

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