Monday, June 22, 2009

City's Storm Water Retention system holds during heavy rains

The heavy torrential rains we experienced this week put our City’s stormwater management system to the ultimate test. Fortunately, with all the new stormwater retention ponds, box culverts, and widened stream beds that were constructed over the last five years, the City’s stormwater levels were kept under control.

It was not that long ago that heavy rains, like the ones experienced this week, would have flooded many City streets, parks, yards and even some homes, apartments and businesses. Low lying areas along Forum Drive, 18th Street, Soest Road, and 10th Street used to flood on a regular basis.

The construction of six stormwater retention facilities three years ago by the City’s Public Works Department are helping the City address issues related to stormwater retention, flood control improvements and the growing need for storm sewer system upgrades. Since most of these stormwater detention facilities are located in hard-to-access areas, however, they are not easily seen or easily accessible to the public.

The six stormwater facilities include: Tory Park Detention Facility (located just east of the Forum Cinema off Tory Avenue); the Bray Sports Complex Detention Facility located adjacent to the Rolla High School (the ball field doubles as a dry detention facility – protecting downstream homes from possible flooding); the Taylor Anderson Detention Facility; Vichy Road Stormwater Detention Facility; White Columns Drive Detention Facility and the RCDC Stormwater Detention Facility (located just west of the Rolla Industrial Park).

Other projects associated with these flood control improvements identified in the City’s 10-year Capital Improvement Plan (implemented in June 2005) include the construction of 10 box culverts. The total cost of these improvements was funded by a bond issue of $3 million and an $180,000 Missouri Department of Transportation Grant. The paramount benefit of these stormwater detention improvements will remove nearly 200 homes and businesses from the 100-year flood plain. In addition to these flood control benefits, the City has added 120 acres of open space and conservation area to preserve and enhance Rolla’s sensitive eco-systems.

The City has also identified over 35 neighborhoods that have localized stormwater drainage problems. These projects, which are part of the Public Works’ annual street and storm sewer maintenance activities, are being prioritized in terms of severity, street maintenance schedule and availability of funds. The City appreciates the community’s patience and cooperation as we continue to address these very important improvements.

In closing I’d like to wish all the Dads in the community a happy Father’s Day this weekend. And remember on Sunday, June 21, there will be a Father’s Day Special at SplashZone -- Rolla’s outdoor water park (located at the corner of 14th and Holloway next to The Centre). Dads get in free with a child’s admission ($4.50). SpalshZone is open weekends from 12-noon to 6 p.m. and weekdays (Monday – Friday) from 12-noon to 7 p.m.

The July 4th weekend is just around the corner as well, which means the Lions Club Carnival will be coming to town Wednesday, July 1 through Saturday, July 4. Don’t forget that City Hall will be closed on Friday, July 3 in observance of Independence Day. Also remember that week that Friday’s trash will be picked up on Thursday and Thursday’s trash will be picked up on Wednesday.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Council gives green light to Deible Loop Bike Trail

The City of Rolla’s bike and pedestrian trail system, which connects many of the City’s parks and park amenities with over 9.2 miles of walking and biking trails, just got a little bigger with the approval by the Rolla City Council to award the bid for the construction of the Deible Loop Pedestrian Bike Path, Phase I and II.

The bid was awarded to Don Maggi, Inc. for $264,538, pending approval from the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT). Funding for the Deible Loop Pedestrian Bike Path will be available through the MoDOT Enhancement Program. Construction is scheduled to begin later this summer.

The new Deible Loop Pedestrian Bike Path will begin at the end of the existing ACORN Trail head on Hwy. O between Winchester and Sycamore Streets and proceed South to the Deible Branch lying just North of Lions Club Drive and following Lions Club Drive. Rolla residents have been running on the sidewalks along Deible Branch or biking on Lions Club Road since it was opened to motorists in October 2005. So if you like to walk, run, ride a bike, rollerblade, or just enjoy strolling amidst the beauty and peace of the outdoors, you will enjoy this new addition to the City’s bike and pedestrian trail system.

The 31 parks located throughout Rolla, including 85-acre Ber Juan Park, 15-acre Shuman Park, the City’s Downtown Festival Park, and of course Lions Club Park, are all quality of life assets that help make Rolla one of the most livable cities in the country. Don’t forget also the Historic Walking Tour of Rolla in the City’s Downtown Business District, which includes 37 historic signs that spotlight the City’s rich history. Both the ACORN Bike Trail map and Historic Walking Tour of Rolla brochure can be viewed and downloaded on the City’s Website at

In closing I’d like to thank everyone who was involved in making this year’s Route 66 Summerfest one of the most memorable events ever. Thousands of visitors packed the Downtown Festival Lot for two days of family-fun celebrating Rolla’s historic ties to “The Mother Road” – Historic Route 66.

Be sure to mark your calendars for two more events coming up in July. The Lions Club Carnival will be held July 1-4 in Lions Club Park and the Phelps County Fair will be held July 22 through July 25 at the Phelps County Fair. In addition to Rolla’s Route 66 Summerfest, the Fall Arts and Crafts Festival in October, the Lions Club Carnival and Phelps County Fair are among the largest and best attended events in the Rolla area. We are certainly fortunate to have so many festivals, events and happenings for a City of 18,000 people.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Route 66 heritage celebrated this weekend in Rolla

Some call it “The Will Rogers Highway,” while others call it “The Main Street of America.” American author John Steinbeck referred to it as the “Mother Road” in his classic novel The Grapes of Wrath. We all know it best by the nostalgic brown and white U.S. Route 66 signs that are located along State Highway 63 (Bishop Avenue) and Kingshighway (Business 44) in the City’s business district.

Just as Steinbeck’s classic 1939 novel and 1940 film recreation sought to immortalize the legacy of Historic U.S. Route 66, the organizers of Rolla’s Route 66 Summerfest, held this weekend in downtown Rolla, have also gone a long ways to immortalize Route 66. The Summerfest festivities should be well underway in the City’s Downtown Festival Park and at the Ber Juan Tennis Complex by the time you start reading this morning’s issue of the Rolla Daily News.

You may have missed the Route 66 classic car cruise-in from St. James to Rolla last night while the winner of the Route 66 pageant was being crowned, but you’ll have plenty of time to see all the classic cars, and enjoy all the Summerfest festivities, including great food and family fun today and tonight in the City’s Downtown Festival Park and along Pine Street.

Missouri was the first of the eight states that comprise old Route 66 (a 2,448-mile-long road that stretches from Chicago, Ill. to Los Angeles, Calif.) to have its entire portion of Route 66 completely paved. In fact, the building that was once the home of the Edwin Long Hotel and Rolla National Bank, and is now Phelps County Bank, (located at the corner of 8th and Pine Streets in downtown Rolla), was the location of a memorable celebration on March 15, 1931 where 8,000 people celebrated the completion of Historic U.S. Route 66 in the State of Missouri. Missouri’s Governor at that time, Henry S. Caulfield, was the keynote speaker.

The original U.S. Route 66 in Rolla ran right through the center of downtown on Pine Street, and with the construction of Interstate 44 has been realigned twice. Some of the well-known establishments in Rolla that still promote U.S. Route 66 include the Totem Pole Trading Post located at 1413 Martin Springs Drive, where historic Route 66 markers tell travelers they are traveling along “The Mother Road.” One of the many icons located along Route 66 in Rolla, the Totem Pole Trading Post still has the original 1933 Totem Pole. The Trading Post, with all its history and Route 66 memorabilia is definitely worth a visit, and it’s conveniently located behind the Rolla Visitor Center. The Mule Trading Post, located at 11160 Dillon Outer Road, also is a treasure-trove of Route 66 memorabilia, and can’t be missed with the large motorized sign that is visible from Interstate 44.

Whether you are a life-long resident of Rolla and Phelps County, or a visitor from a neighboring town or state, I think you’ll discover with all the Summerfest festivities planned this weekend that the legendary U.S. Route 66 is very much a part of our heritage in Rolla and Phelps County.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Frisco Caboose is source of great pride in downtown Rolla

In keeping with tradition the Frisco Caboose will once again be open for free tours to the public during the 15th Annual Route 66 Summerfest Celebration on the evening of Friday, June 5 and Saturday, June 6. If you didn’t have a chance to tour the Frisco Caboose during Public Works Celebration Day on May 16, you may want to take a few minutes to peak inside and take a look at the Route 66 memorabilia that is showcased inside. The new 2009 Tour of Missouri banner is also displayed on the front of the Frisco Caboose and makes a great backdrop for photo opportunities with friends and family.

The relocation, restoration and enhancements to the Frisco Caboose were truly a community-wide effort comprised of Rolla residents, city employees and members of the community. This collaborative effort makes the Frisco one of the more enduring landmarks and focal points in the downtown area. To show the City’s appreciation to those individuals who played an integral role in the restoration of the Frisco Caboose, and those who donated their time and talent in helping preserve the Frisco history, John Butz, City Administrator and myself presented them with a piece of Frisco history. Each of the individuals was presented with a commemorative framed copy of the $1,000 St. Louis – San Francisco Railway Company bonds that were sold to help fund the construction of the Frisco Railroad. The bonds are dated Feb. 24, 1958.

The commemorative bonds were presented to the following individuals for their tireless efforts, which included countless weekends and volunteer hours after work: Steve Hargis, Public Works Director (Frisco history and restoration); Marlin Malone, Equipment Operator II, Environmental Services Department (Frisco history, restoration and wiring on the Frisco Caboose); Jeff Feeler (all electrical work on Frisco Caboose); Richard Allison (repainted the 1501 Frisco Engine and passenger car in Schuman Park); Keith Conway (painted the 1501 Frisco logo on the park building in Schuman Park); and Don Macormic (helped research Frisco memorabilia items).

I truly appreciate all the work and effort that went into the restoration and preservation of the Frisco Caboose and related Frisco heritage at Schuman Park by these individuals, and countless other community volunteers who helped clean, paint and restore the Frisco Caboose.

Well known for its history as a railroad town when the first train rolled into town on Dec. 22, 1860, Rolla’s association with trains has been well preserved through the acquisition of the Frisco Caboose and the restored 1501 Frisco steam engine that is on display at 15-acre Schuman Park in Rolla.

In closing I’d like to remind everyone that the new 2009 full-color aerial photo of the Rolla area is available for purchase at the GIS/Mapping Office located in the Public Works Department at Rolla City Hall (901 N. Elm Street). The aerial was flown on Feb. 10, 2009 and is available on 42- x 52-inch photo quality gloss paper. For more information, or to place your order for an aerial photo of Rolla, please call (573) 364-8659, or stop by City Hall anytime between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.