Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Summer Fun just around the bend

The first and official day of summer may still be a little ways off, but summer fun has just begun for many students in the area who have finished the school year.

To many the end of the school year, among other things, is a reminder that SplashZone, Rolla’s outdoor water park, located in beautiful Ber Juan Park, is opening. SplashZone opens today, May 23 from 12-noon to 6 p.m. and will remain open throughout the summer months Monday through Friday (noon-7) and Saturday and Sunday (noon-6 p.m.). SplashZone is one of the great vacation bargain get-aways at $4.50 per person, for folks in the Meramec Valley Region and one of the local summer favorites in Rolla and Phelps County. Closing day at SplashZone will be on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 7 (noon-5 p.m.). For more information for special events, private rentals, swimming lessons and other information, please visit call SplashZone at 364-8222 or visit

The summer hours at The Centre, Rolla’s 63,000-square-foot health and recreation complex, (located at 1200 N. Holloway Street), have also gone into effect. Hours at The Centre are now Monday through Friday (5:30 a.m.–9 p.m.); Saturday (8 a.m.–5 p.m.) and Sunday (9 a.m.-5 p.m.).

One of Rolla’s most well known and attended events is just a week away as well. The 15th Annual “Route 66 Summerfest” kicks off Thursday, June 4 at 5:30 p.m. with the Miss “Route 66” Pageant at Rolla Middle School. On Friday, June 5 at 4 p.m. classic cars, custom cars and motorcycles will gather at the St. James Visitor Center before “cruising” along old Route 66 from St. James to Rolla’s Downtown Festival Park at 7 p.m. At 5:30 p.m. Friday evening the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) BBQ Picnic will be held in the downtown festival area at the corner of 9th and Elm streets. Anyone interested in obtaining tickets ($8 ea.) for the picnic, which includes barbecue, cole slaw and baked beans, can contact Rick Morris at (573) 578-8567.

Also on Friday at 7 p.m. bring your lawn chair for the Miss Route 66 crowning ceremony and plan to stay for a “drive-in” movie and all the popcorn you can eat. Also, the skateboard track will be open for skateboarders young and old.

On Saturday morning, June 5, you’ll find coffee and doughnuts in the food court, the arts and crafts festival on 9th Street, the classic car show on Pine Street and the motorcycle show on 8th Street. Sporting events include the “Friends of Tennis” Tennis Tournament at 8 a.m. at the Ber Juan Tennis Complex, Sand Volleyball Tournament and Tour-de-Phelps leisurely ride to St. James and back, which begins at 8 a.m. There’s face painting, inflatable games, horseback rides, and the giant sandbox for the young kids and skateboarding for the older ones.

Saturday afternoon is the downhill derby (12-noon), kids bicycle and tricycle race (2 p.m.), the Fire Truck Pull (4 p.m.) and the always popular burnout contest at 6 p.m. Saturday evening there’s a FREE street dance at 8 p.m. with the very exciting St. Louis band, Sh-Boom. There are many more events, so come prepared to spend the day.

For more information about Route 66 Summerfest, please visit

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sales-tax revenue continues upward

It was less than two weeks ago that I was writing to you about the City’s sales tax revenue being in the black at .88%, which was just a little below the 1% sales tax revenue growth the City Council budgeted for Fiscal Year 2009.

You will be pleased to know that the City’s sales tax revenue figures for the month of April came in at 20.83%, bringing the City’s year-to-date sales revenues to 1.65%. This is not only welcoming news, but I think it is also encouraging and promising news for the Rolla area and Meramec Valley Region.

When the City experiences a 20% spike in sales revenue like we did last month, you might ask yourself what market conditions were at play to make this happen. There are many variables to consider that may have influenced the strong sales revenue the City experienced last month. My guess is that it was a culmination of several factors, including an improved real estate market, the great turn out for the St. Pat’s Celebration, the “Shop Local” message that has been emphasized and promoted by the City, Rolla Chamber of Commerce and area merchants, and general stability of the Rolla economy where employment, wages and purchasing tends to remain consistent throughout various economic cycles.

When other cities and communities across America are experiencing double-digit unemployment, and considerable reductions in their sales tax revenues, it is encouraging to see that the City’s budget projection of 1% growth for 2009 is holding steady, and even being surpassed as of April. That is not to say, of course, that the City might experience some bumps and turns along the way, but with Rolla’s tourism season at our doorsteps, the economic future of Rolla is looking better every month. Let’s hope the upward momentum continues to swing our way.

I’d also like to remind everyone that City Hall will be closed on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25. Monday’s trash will be picked up on Tuesday and Tuesday’s trash will be picked up on Wednesday. The Rolla Chamber will be hosting two Memorial Day services on Monday, May 25, beginning at 10 a.m. at Rolla Cemetery (Hwy. 72 and Rolla Streets) and at 11 a.m. at Ozark Memorial Gardens on State Route 63 South across from G&D Steakhouse. Please plan to attend one of these Memorial Day services and pay tribute to all the men and women who have served or are now serving our country.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Free family-friendly events galore at Ber Juan Park

If you haven’t already made plans for today, May 9, you may consider attending one of the friendly-family events planned for the “Free Play Day” in beautiful Ber Juan Park. Numerous activities and events are planned throughout the day at the ball fields, tennis courts and other areas throughout the 100-acre park.

The first event begins with the 5th Annual Youth Fishing Fair from 8 a.m. to 12-noon at Ber Juan Lake behind The Centre, Rolla’s Health and Recreation Complex. Every child fishing will receive a free goodie bag and the first 50 kids (ages 6-12) to register will receive a free gift. In addition to free fishing, the day will feature good food, prize drawings and fun contests, including a casting contest which begins at 10 a.m.

A Children’s Art and Wellness Fair will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 12-noon at The Centre (1200 N. Holloway Street); along with a Tennis Block Party at the Ber Juan Tennis Complex (corner of 14th and Holloway Streets) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and relays, games, and disc golf all over the park from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Rolla Optimist Club will provide free hot dogs and drinks from 10 a.m. to 12-noon.

The ‘Play Day’ is being hosted through a partnership among the City of Rolla’s Parks and Recreation Department, The Centre, Phelps County Community Partnership, Missouri Department of Conservation, Rolla Optimist Club, Key Sport, and PCCAN. For more information, please contact Kristy Rich at 341-2386.

For those of you who like to recycle we encourage you to dispose of your old computers, appliances and tires today, May 9 from 8 a.m. to 12-noon at the Brewer Science, Inc. Parking Lot (2401 Brewer Drive), located in the Hypoint Industrial Park at I-44, Exit 189/Hwy. V.

The fee for tire disposal is $1.50 each (passenger); $5 each (truck) and $10 each (tractor). The fee for TVs is $10 each and $5 each for computer monitors. The disposal of the following items are free: stoves, refrigerators, washers, dryers, microwaves, computer CPUs, keyboards, printers, VCRs, cell phones and other electronics and appliances. We only ask that you unload the items yourself to help expedite the deliveries. This event is jointly sponsored by the City of Rolla, Phelps County Commission, Brewer Science, Inc., Ozark Rivers Solid Waste Management District, the Missouri Department of Natural Resource and Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC). If you have any questions, please call MRPC at (573) 265-2993.

Another family-fun day, Public Works Celebration Day, is just around the corner next Saturday, May 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the City’s Downtown Festival Park– rain or shine. In addition to free brochures, coloring books, balloons, stickers and comic books, there will also be an inflatable playground for children. Free hotdogs, popcorn and soda will also be provided. For more information, please call the Public Works Department at (573) 364-8659.

Spring is one of the busiest times in the Rolla/St. James area with Rolla’s Route 66 Summerfest just around the bend on June 4, 5 and 6. For a list of all the events planned for Summerfest visit And don’t forget to mark your calendar for the Tour of Missouri international cycling race Sept. 7-13. Rolla will host the Stage 3 Finish on Wednesday, Sept. 9 between 3:45 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. and St. James will host the Stage 4 Start the next day on Sept. 10 at 2 p.m. For more info, please visit

Mayor Bill Jenks, III

Monday, May 4, 2009

City’s sales tax revenues in black despite national trends

One of the most important topics on everyone’s minds is clearly the state of the economy – especially here in our own community in Rolla. While I certainly cannot speak for every business and industry in the area in terms of sales projections, employment rates or prospects for expansion, I can tell you that after seven months in Fiscal Year 2009 the City of Rolla’s sales tax revenues are up .12%. Considering that the City Council budgeted conservatively for 1% growth in sales tax in 2009, the City is off budget by .88%.

In comparison to some cities throughout Missouri and the nation who are experiencing declines in sales tax revenue, Rolla is holding its head above water, operating as efficiently as possible and providing the services and programs that our citizens have come to expect. We certainly would like to see sales tax revenues in the 4% to 6% range again, like we have in year’s past, but there are some positive signs that construction activity is on the rise with new home and business starts, and that are larger employers such as Phelps County Regional Medical Center, St. John’s Clinic and Missouri University of Science and Technology are continuing to expand their facilities. Seeing growth areas along Martin Springs Drive Outer Road, Bridge School Road and more recently, Hwy. 63 North and Hwy. 63 South, are all positive indicators both from a revenue generating perspective and an image perspective. Some communities are shrinking, and ceasing construction and development, while Rolla is moving forward with some significant projects.

Another important topic on the public’s mind no doubt is the recent Swine flu outbreak that is paralyzing the country of Mexico. Be assured that the Phelps County Health Department is closely monitoring the Swine flu outbreak in Mexico and parts of the U.S. Jodi Waltman, Phelps County Health Dept. Administrator and her staff are in constant communication with Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and are doing enhanced surveillance, meeting with community partners, including Phelps County Regional Medical Center, the City of Rolla Fire and Rescue, and first responders. Jodi and the staff at the Health Department “encourages area residents to remain informed and continue to practice common sense disease prevention methods such as good hand washing, avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth and keeping a distance of at least six feet from anyone who may have a flu-like illness.”

For further information, please contact the Health Department at 458-6010 or visit their Website at

Mayor Bill Jenks, III