Monday, October 26, 2009

DED selects Rolla as DREAM Community

The Rolla community has been recognized on many occasions for our high quality of life, the Mark Twain National Forest, outstanding park system and facilities, diversified economic base, outstanding schools, and of course the Missouri University of Science and Technology – one of the premier technological research universities in the country.

Not long ago (Sept. 9, 2009), the City of Rolla had the privilege of being host for the second year running for the Tour of Missouri international elite pro cycling event, which has brought international exposure to both the Rolla community and the Missouri University of Science and Technology, which played an integral role in helping to host the Stage 3 Finish this year on the campus in front of the Castleman Hall Performing Arts Center.

So it was another tremendous honor and welcomed news this week when the Missouri Department of Economic Development announced that Rolla has been selected to participate in the 2009 DREAM (Downtown Revitalization and Economic Assistance for Missouri) Initiative. The City of Rolla is one of five Missouri communities who were selected for the DREAM Initiative, which is a program designated to help communities to more efficiently and effectively engage in downtown redevelopment and revitalization efforts. If you haven’t seen some of the revitalization efforts that have already taken place along Pine Street, and recently along 6th Street where the new Benton Square development is taking place, I urge you to take the time to see these new developments. The timing of this new designation by the Department of Economic Development couldn’t have come at a more opportune time for the City, Rolla Downtown Business Association, and the many businesses, merchants and restaurants located in the City’s downtown district.
DED Interim Director Katie Steele Danner announced in a recent news release that “Awarding DREAM Initiative status to these communities is evidence of DED’s continued commitment to working with communities to create new opportunities that will transform our state’s economy for the future.” Of course in Rolla we will look forward to how these opportunities will help transform our City’s economy for the future.
Mrs. Danner also emphasizes that another benefit of being selected as a DREAM Community is that Rolla will become an active member of the DREAM Initiative for three-years and will gain prioritized access to state supported programs through ongoing cooperation among several unique agencies and funding sources. These programs include technical and financial assistance for infrastructure improvements, historic preservation, affordable housing, community services, business development and job creation.

Some of the initiatives Rolla City officials will use the DREAM designation for include the following: Address the three primary downtown entrances, particularly the north entrance to the downtown area on Pine Street; obtain a better mix of retail, including those attractive to students; improve/increase downtown nighttime activities; increase downtown marketing efforts; address downtown parking issues; improve traffic flow; strengthen the Rolla Downtown Business Association and address street lighting problems.

Other communities throughout the state of Missouri who were named DREAM communities include: Aurora, Boonville, Cape Girardeau, Caruthersville, Chillicothe, Clinton, Excelsior Springs, Farmington, Fulton, Hannibal, Hermann, Kennett, Kirksville, Lamar, Lebanon, Louisiana, Macon, Maryville, Mexico, Neosho, Poplar Bluff, Sikeston, St. Joseph, Sedalia, Strafford, Trenton, Warrensburg, Washington, Webb City, and West Plains. Together, these cities received more than $168 million in state financial assistance to rebuild, revitalize and rejuvenate their downtowns.

A special thanks goes to everyone who was involved in completing and submitting the City’s DREAM Community application, including the City’s Community Development Director, John Petersen and his staff; the Rolla Downtown Business Association; the Meramec Regional Planning Commission, Rolla Regional Economic Commission and other members of the community who provided input, and feedback during the application process.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Combat flu with simple precautions

The number one story every night on the nightly news and frequently seen in the Rolla Daily News the past few weeks is the rising number of flu cases being reported across the country. Just this week the Phelps County R3 School District (Edgar Springs) had to close down because a large percentage of students came down with an influenza like illness.

Fortunately the Rolla Public Schools, Missouri University of Science and Technology and other schools and colleges in the area have not faced that scenario, and with more awareness and public education we can all help prevent the spread of flu in our community.

Margaret Donnelly, Director of the Department of Health and Senior Services, and Missouri’s top health official, said the H1N1 flu virus is circulating in our communities and people need to take action. She said any place people gather such as schools, offices, factories, government offices, etc., - need to plan now to help limit the spread of flu.

Donnelly said the spike in flu-like illness underscores the need for everyone to take basic steps to protect themselves from this virus. These are the simple, and most effective, ways of limiting the spread of flu:

  • Use proper hand washing techniques. Wash hands frequently, especially before and after eating and after using the bathroom. If soap and water are not available, alcohol-based hand cleaners containing at least 60 percent alcohol are also effective.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow – not your bare hands. Flu primarily spreads from person to person through the droplets produced by coughs and sneezes.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick, especially if you have a fever. Remain at home until at least 24 hours after your fever is gone. If you need to take medicine such as Tylenol or Advil to bring down your fever, you need to stay home.
  • If you are caring for a person with the flu, try to isolate the person away from others. Try to maintain a distance of at least three to six feet to keep from inhaling the virus produced when the person coughs.
  • Get a seasonal flu shot now.
  • Schools, universities and employers should clean items that people often touch, such as desks, door knobs, computer keyboards and other hard surfaces. Use normal cleaning agents. No special cleaners are necessary.

For more info, please visit,,,, or While we are on the topic of health, I’d like to remind the community that the Phelps County Regional Medical Center will be hosting a Community Health Fair on Saturday, Oct. 24 from 9 a.m. to 12-noon at The Centre, Rolla’s Health and Recreation Complex, located at 1200 N. Holloway Street. Some of the free services will include PSA, cholesterol, general health info, diabetic education, body fat analysis, blood pressure checks, glucose, and more. The health fair is free and open to the public.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Rolla community embraces Operation Neighborhood Clean-up

There is perhaps no greater reward serving as Mayor of Rolla than seeing our community come together for a common purpose through a project such as Operation Neighborhood Clean-up, which was held last Friday in the historic Frisco Sub Division.

This all-volunteer effort, which included a wide representation of the community’s abundant resources, including churches, City departments, utilities, and both private and public entities, illustrates just how much we can accomplish when residents and community members come together for a common purpose.

What began two years ago as the brainchild of Sgt. Jeremy Martens in the Rolla Police Department has evolved into a broad community project now supported and embraced in large part by the Rolla Area Ministerial Alliance, the Rolla Police Department (including V.I.P.S.), the City’s Public Works, Environmental Services, Parks, Community Development and City of Rolla Fire and Rescue, and numerous generous donations made by businesses and merchants in the Rolla area.

I would like to express my appreciation and gratitude to the following for helping make the second Operation Neighborhood Clean Up another success story in the Rolla community we can all be proud of: the main organizers of the event, Sgt. Jeremy Martens, and RPD; Chris Foster, Associate Pastor at First Christian Church at Greentree; Matt Forrest, Senior Pastor of Vineyard Church; Scott Robinson, Missions and Outreach Minister with FCC at Greentree; and other members of the Rolla Area Ministerial Alliance, including the Christian Life Center, GRACE Fellowship and Salem Avenue Baptist Church; Wal-Mart Supercenter of Rolla; Country Mart of Rolla, Panera Bread, Donut King, Kroger, Coke, Pepsi, Hillcrest Pharmacy, Family Center of Rolla, Josh Shepherd (Superior Crane Rental); My Father’s World (home school curriculum); Rolla Municipal Utilities, Fidelity Communications, Century Tel, Cornerstone Energy Solutions, Troup I, Missouri Highway Patrol, students from the Missouri University of Science and Technology and of course all the City departments already mentioned above. We could not have accomplished all we did without all of your help, hard work, and assistance.

The clean-up, which encompassed a 30-block area from 10th Street to 18th Street and Bardsley Road to Farrar Drive/Holloway Street, came on the heels of the Tour of Missouri, another huge community effort that illustrated the level of cooperation and community-mindedness that exits in the Rolla community.
I understand that plans for the third Operation Neighborhood Clean-up are already in the works, and will encompass the area from 10th Street to Hyw. 72; and Rolla Street to Walnut Street, which should dovetail nicely with the substation enhancements being made in the newly forms Arts and Entertainment District and the revitalization of downtown area.

In closing, I would like to remind everyone to please attend the Public Hearing for the proposed Rolla Enhanced Enterprise Zone that will be held this Tuesday, Oct. 13 at 6:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at Rolla City Hall (901 N. Elm Street).

Monday, October 5, 2009

City partners with Missouri S&T on Deible Loop Bike Path

The City’s pedestrian and bikepath trail system, which is one of the great treasures in our community, continues to expand thanks to a partnership between the City of Rolla’s Public Works Department and the Center for Transportation Infrastructure and Safety (C.T.I.S.) and Center for Infrastructure Engineering Studies (C.I.E.S.) at Missouri University of Science and Technology.

The latest expansion to the 9.2-mile-long trail system involves the 1.5-mile-long Deible Loop Pedestrian Bikepath that runs parallel to the Deible Branch located on Lions Club Drive between Hwy. O and Hwy. 63 South. For the past year and a half the City’s Public Works Department and Engineering staff has worked diligently designing the Deible Loop Pedestrian Bikepath with assistance from students, faculty and staff at Missouri S&T’s Center for Transportation Infrastructure and Safety.

On Thursday, Sept. 30 two very large state-of-the-art concrete pedestrian bridges, valued at $55,000 (not including instrumentation and monitoring systems), were installed at two different crossings on the Deible Branch that will be one of the major attractions of the Deible Loop Pedestrian Bikepath. Public Works Director Steve Hargis, together with the City’s Engineering staff lead by Darrell Jones, Sr. Project Coordinator, and Anne McClay, Project Coordinator, have worked together on the design and construction of the pedestrian bridge portion since October 2008 with Kurt Bloch, a Civil Engineering graduate student at Missouri S&T, Dr. John J. Myers an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at Missouri S&T, and Jason Cox, Sr. Research Specialist with the C.I.E.S. at Missouri S&T. Bloch is working on the bridge project as part of his master’s thesis. He and Dr. Myers took on the Deible Loop Bikepath Pedestrian bridge project as a research project that involves the use of innovative construction materials.

Both pre-stress bridges, which are constructed with high strength self consolidating concrete (over 10,000 psi vs. 4,000 psi for a conventional bridge), range in length and weight from 48-feet and 120,000 pounds to 34-feet and 85,000 pounds. The bridge decks consist of two large concrete slabs reinforced with steel and fiberglass rebar, which will significantly extend the life of the bridge and help prevent corrosion. The research team from Missouri S&T installed monitoring equipment that was placed inside the bridge structures to assist them in assessing pre-stress loss, thermal gradient, and basically how well the bridge will perform in the field for year’s to come.

Construction and installation of the two concrete pedestrian bridges also involved the efforts of the City’s Construction Department lead by Foreman Bill Cochran and Equipment Operators Jeff Grisham and Chris Palmer who constructed the bridge abutments, prepared the foundation for the bridge, and fastened the huge concrete slabs together with large cast-iron plates and screws that were welded by Maggi Construction. The large multi-ton concrete slabs were put into place by Gene Gabriele, III, Director of Operations with Gabriele Crane Rental, Inc. based in Rolla. The slabs were slowly and carefully moved into place with the Missouri Monster, the largest crane in Gabriele’s fleet that has a 210-ton capacity, and 120-foot-long boom. The entire apparatus weighed over 300,000 pounds, and required four semi-trucks to transport it to the job site on Lions Club Drive.

Both of the pedestrian bridges on the Deible Loop Bikepath were installed by the end of the day on Thursday, and the entire operation involved the combined efforts of the City’s Public Works Department, Rolla Police Department (which temporarily closed a portion of Lions Club Drive), Maggi Construction, Gabriele Crane, Inc, and the research team from Missouri S&T. The entire project was funded by the City of Rolla, the Center for Transportation Infrastructure and Safety at Missouri S&T, and Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT).

Completion of the Deible Loop Bikepath is scheduled for January 2010, and I hope residents and visitors alike will enjoy this new addition to the City’s pedestrian and bikepath system.