Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving is special time of year

I hope you are enjoying the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend and this special time of year when family, friends and neighbors make visiting and spending more quality time together a priority. Whether you are traveling this week or staying in town to celebrate the holiday I hope your Thanksgiving is memorable.

Judging by the weather you might wonder if we are in the last week of November or just having the Indian Summer we thought we would have in October when we saw record rain fall that continued into November. With the El Nino-like weather we are seeing, if that is what it is, it makes you wonder what kind of a winter is in store for us. Let’s hope we don’t get two feet of snow in one day like Denver and other parts of the west did in October. The fleet of snowplows and snow removal equipment that is commandeered by the Public Works Department, Phelps County Roads Department and Missouri Department of Transportation are capable of keeping our streets clear of snow and ice within reason, but two feet of snow could pose somewhat of a challenge.

The upside to the unseasonably warm weather for the City of Rolla is that our Street and Road crews have been able to complete a lot of road and construction work, including the restriping of parking areas and streets in the downtown business district, the reconstruction of Lanning Lane, including new curbs and gutters, and other streets in the City. The Missouri Department of Transportation was also able to complete the railroad crossing improvements on 18th Street and 7th Streets that have made a big difference in safety and mobility. Progress on the new Deible Loop Bike Path along Lions Club Drive, and bank restoration improvements made by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Maggi Construction and the Public Works Department to Deible Creek are adding yet another asset to our City’s recreational amenities and high quality of life.

And I don’t think anyone who attended the historic dedication of Veterans Memorial Park could complain about the glorious weather we had on Veterans Day, Nov. 11 to celebrate the many contributions our veterans have made over the years to allow us to enjoy the celebrations and traditions we are now enjoying during the holiday season. Lets all try to keep in mind the sacrifices the men and women of the Armed Services are making - especially at Fort Leonard Wood and abroad, as we celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.

When I think of some of the other things we have to be thankful for this year, I think of the revitalization of two key buildings by Dale Wands in the City’s downtown business district; the renovation of the old Benton School that has been transformed into Benton Square; and the newly formed Arts and Entertainment District - all positive signs that Rolla is capitalizing on its strengths, moving forward, and making our community a destination where folks will come to visit, shop, dine and play.

Enrollment at Missouri University of Science and Technology is reaching record numbers, the new 38,000-square-foot St. John’s Clinic has enhanced our City’s stature as a regional health care center, and the plans for the new Bryant Drive extension on Kingshighway are underway. The improvements to Bryant Drive will improve traffic flow and mobility along this section of Kingshighway, create an access point to the new Innovation Tech. Park at Missouri S&T, and encourage enhancements to businesses and establishments located in the area.

It was also tremendous news when the Missouri Department of Economic Development announced recently 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. You will be hearing more about the DREAM Initiative program and how it will benefit our city in the weeks and months to come.

In closing, I’d like to remind everyone to attend the annual Rolla Christmas Parade being hosted by the Rolla Area Chamber of Commerce next Saturday, Dec. 5 in downtown Rolla. The parade begins at 10 a.m. on Pine Street, and you might want to arrive about 30 minutes early to ensure you have a good viewing spot, as this parade is very well attended.

Santa will also be making two special trips to spend time visiting with Rolla area children at The Centre, Rolla’s Health and Recreation Complex, on Saturday, Dec. 5 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Thursday, Dec. 10 from 4-6 p.m. The visits will take place in the beautiful Castleman Lounge, which will be decorated for the Christmas holidays. Hot chocolate and goodies will be served and children can color a Santa picture or write him a letter while you wait.

Collins Photography will be on hand to take pictures using their special Christmas set. Visit their website at for picture package pricing and to see photos from previous years. You can bring your own camera and take a photo with Santa; however, all personal photos must be taken in front of the Christmas tree and not on the set.

The event, which is free, is open to all ages. For more information, please call The Centre at 573-341-2FUN.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Feral Cat Recipe

Take one abandoned intact female cat and one abandoned intact male cat, add four years and produce 2,201 feral cats!!!

Dogs were domesticated roughly 15,000 years ago; whereas cats were domesticated 7,500 years ago; therefore the wild animal gene is more prevalent in cats than it is in dogs. The first litter born to abandoned domesticated cats will revert back to their wild state if they are not handled by humans!

Cats are seasonal breeders and start producing at six month of age. Also cats stay in heat until they are bred. The feline gestation period is 61-63 days and cats come into season again shortly after they have given birth. Hence, cats may produce two to three litters of three to six kittens a year. The kittens born in spring will be ready to give birth to their first litter before the year ends.

It is estimated that there are 60 Million feral cats in the United States. We estimate that there are at least 2,000 feral cats in Rolla. 12 – 14% of all impounded felines at our shelter are feral cats. These numbers do not include numerous feral kittens less than 10 weeks, since we are fortunate to be able to adopt them to the foster care of the Phelps County Animal Welfare League.

Just like any other wildlife, feral cats are attracted to food and shelter. During wildlife studies, the Conservation Department noticed that if a species is exterminated, and their territory becomes vacant, any area with plenty of food and shelter will attract more wildlife. Such wildlife will then breed to capacity and cause a population explosion larger than the original exterminated wildlife inhabitants. The same is true for feral cats.

TNR (Trap/Neuter/Return) is another method to control large amounts of feral cats, but unfortunately it is very expensive and results will not be seen for several years.

If exterminating is not the answer and TNR is cost prohibitive for small communities, what is the answer to the feral cat problem? This question has been asked for many years around the U.S. and now is asked here in Rolla. On December 2, 2009 at the City Council Chamber, we will hold the first of several Ad Hoc committees hoping to find a workable solution.

In the mean time, everybody can take the first step towards feral cat control with very little effort. Placing our daily trash in a secure receptacle will stop feral cats from finding more food and therewith, prevent them from moving into a new neighborhood.
We encourage everybody to help us find a solution to the feral cat problem by posting ideas on the City of Rolla's website at "".

Inge Wilson
Animal Control Manager

Monday, November 23, 2009

Momentum builds for recognition of area Veterans

I think most of the residents of Rolla and surrounding communities who attended the Dedication of Veterans Memorial Park on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2009 at 11 a.m. will agree that the appropriate and well-earned recognition of our veterans, and what they have sacrificed while serving their country, is long overdo.

It was heartening, to say the least, to see scores of individuals – many of whom were U.S. veterans, walk for blocks, along Southview Drive, to attend the historic park dedication services on Nov. 11. Seeing the newly paved parking lot (a $37,000 donation of materials and labor donated by Rolla Asphalt) quickly fill up with veterans and their families and friends, and 150 programs disappear in minutes, was all the proof necessary to confirm that creating and dedicating a park for our veterans was not only a good thing to do for our community, but the right thing to do for our veterans.

And if momentum is a good indicator of future success, and in most instances it is, then the next phase of Veterans Memorial Park is perhaps not that far off. In fact, with the kind of grassroots support and community collaboration that exists for the completion of Veterans Memorial Park, it wouldn’t surprise me if we see many of the proposed enhancements take place in the not so distant future.

During and after the dedication on Nov. 11 many individuals expressed an interest in contributing to Veterans Memorial Park both through monetary and in-kind donations, which we fortunately received from numerous businesses, individuals and organizations during the first phase of the park. If you would like to make a monetary contribution to Veterans Memorial Park, please contact Norman Ragan, Treasurer of the South Central Regional Veterans Group (SCRVG), at (573) 364-1147 or at If you would like to send a donation in the mail, please address it to Mr. Ragan at: 11995 County Road 8010, Rolla, MO 65401. For more information about the SCRVG, which played an integral role in the creation, planning and dedication of Veterans Memorial Park, please visit their Website at If you would like to make an in-kind contribution to the park in the way of materials, equipment or labor, please contact Ken Kwantes, the City’s Director of Parks and Recreation, at (573) 341-2386 or at

It was most fitting at last Monday’s City Council meeting that Councilman Stan Spadoni, a Korean War and Viet Nam War veteran, made a motion for the City to prepare a resolution to name the portion of the street on Southview Drive where the park is located, from Hwy. 72 to Winchester, “Veterans Memorial Park Drive.” His motion was quickly seconded, and I’m pretty confident the resolution will be passed so that further recognition can be given to the veterans of this area who have given so much in their selfless service to our country.

In closing, I would like to remind everyone that Rolla City Hall, (located at 901 N. Elm Street), will be closed Thursday, Nov. 26 and Friday, Nov. 27, in observance of the Thanksgiving Day holiday. The Environmental Services Department will also be closed on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26. Thursday’s trash will consequently be picked up on Wednesday, Nov. 25, and there will be no special pick-ups on Wednesday. For more information regarding the holiday trash pick-up schedule, please call (573) 364-6693. The Centre, Rolla’s Health and Recreation complex, (located at 1200 North Holloway Street), will also be closed on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26, and will be open the following day on Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

On behalf of the Rolla City Council, I would like to wish all of our residents, merchants and community members, and family and friends a memorable Thanksgiving holiday weekend! And a special debt of gratitude goes out to all of the men and women from all the branches in the U.S. military who are serving at Fort Leonard Wood and those who are serving elsewhere in the U.S.A. and abroad. We truly appreciate all you have done and are doing to keep our country safe and free!

Monday, November 16, 2009

City offers choices and services for pick-up of leaves

Along with all the beauty that comes with the autumn season in the Ozarks there also comes the raking and disposal of a whole lot of leaves that have fallen in our yards.

But before you get too frustrated at the prospect of having to rake and bag untold numbers, please consider that the City of Rolla offers a couple of alternatives to help make your leaf disposal efforts a little more convenient this fall.

The City of Rolla’s Environmental Services Department will continue to offer the pick-up of bagged leaves Dec. 18, 2009. To receive this service, the leaves must be placed in brown paper biodegradable yard waste bags, which can be purchased at a reasonable price at many stores in the area. We also ask that you place your bags to the curb by 6 a.m. so our equipment operators can pick them up on your normal collection day.

Please be aware that this service will be suspended from Dec. 18, 2009 through Feb. 26, 2010. Collection of yard waste (leaves, grass, clippings and small sticks) in brown paper bags will resume on Monday, March 1, 2010. Residents wishing to dispose of these materials during the winter suspension can use the composting facility located at the Phelps County Transfer Station, or arrange for a special pick up for a fee. For more information please call the Environmental Services Department at (573) 364-6693.

Rolla residents can also get their leaves picked up by the Parks and Recreation Department Monday through Friday for a nominal fee through Dec. 11, 2009 (leaves will not be picked up after 12-noon Friday or during weekends and holidays). We just ask that you rake or haul all leaves to the curbside along city streets.

No private driveways or private areas will be entered by City vehicles. Per City Ordinance no leaves can be placed in the streets, gutters or ditches. Leaves will be picked up by a large vacuum and deposited into a large dump body and trailer and then taken to the Phelps County Composting Site to be recycled.

New users of this service must pay a $150 refundable deposit or leave a credit card number. The fee is $50 per half-hour with the minimum charge of $50, and all fees must be paid within two weeks of the service being completed. Credit card payments (Visa, Master Card & Discover) are preferred. If you wish to use this service, or to get more information, please contact the Parks and Recreation Department at (573) 364-4278.

Rolla residents who have household hazardous waste materials such as car batteries, used oil or antifreeze, or other toxic, poisonous or flammable products may dispose of them at the City’s Household Hazardous Waste Facility. The facility is operated by the City’s Environmental Services Department at the Rolla Recycling Center located off Old St. James Road.

Use of the facility is encouraged by all Rolla residents, however, this is strictly a residential service; business and commercial waste is prohibited. We simply ask that you make an appointment by calling during normal business hours at (573) 364-6693. Deliveries will be accepted by appointment only. For a complete list of items that will be acceptable to drop off at the facility, please contact the Environmental Services Department at (573) 364-6693 or visit the City’s Website at

Monday, November 9, 2009

City partners with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Just weeks after partnering with the Missouri University of Science and Technology on the construction of two concrete pedestrian bridges that were installed at crossings on the Deible Branch along Lions Club Drive in Rolla, the City’s Public Works Department partnered this week with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and St. Louis District Corps of Engineers to implement streambank stabilization techniques to a portion of Deible Creek.

The work performed along Deible Creek where the newly constructed 1.5-mile-long Deible Loop Pedestrian Bikepath runs parallel to the creek, was part of a three-day-long seminar, “Deible Creek Innovative Streambank Stabilization Seminar and Working Workshop” held Nov. 3-5 at the Department of Natural Resources, Division of Geology and Land Survey Annex located on Fairgrounds Road in Rolla. More than 60 individuals across the state of Missouri, including the City’s Engineering Division, Kansas City, Joplin, St. Louis, Willow Springs, Fort Leonard Wood, West Plains and Sullivan attended the seminar that was sponsored by the Public Works Department, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Water Operations Technical Support (WOTS) Program and the St. Louis District Corps of Engineers.

The highly acclaimed and sought after nation-level seminar was taught by Dave Derrick, a Research Hydraulic Engineer with the Corps of Engineer’s Engineering Research & Development Center’s Coastal & Hydraulics Laboratory. Derrick specializes in innovative, environmentally compatible, and cost-effective approaches and methodologies to river and streambank stabilization. Those attending Derrick’s seminar had an opportunity to participate in the innovative, environmentally sensitive, and cost-effective approaches to channel restoration, including the installation of various innovative streambank stabilization techniques using rock and vegetative materials. The section of Dieble Creek where the work was done during the seminar was relocated approximately four years ago to accommodate the construction of a new street, and had experienced some streambank erosion. Through the minimized use of rock and an increased use of vegetation, the goal of the project is to protect the stream from future damage and restore the surrounding stream corridor.

In addition to planting 1,750 willow, dogwood and ninebark trees along the creek, the workshop attendees also assisted with the placement of other materials. Members of the Public Works Department assisted with the unloading and grading of about 30 dump-truck loads of large stones donated by Capital Quarry. The end result of the three-day seminar and hands-on workshop was not only the knowledge and experience gained by the participants, but also a cost effective streambank stabilization to a portion of Deible Creek.

In addition to the professional development aspects of the seminar that were made available to several City employees, the seminar also helped boost the local economy. An informational packet highlighting dining establishments, and local attractions to visit was provided to all participants courtesy of the Rolla Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center. Rolla’s Pedestrian Bikepath Network and Historic Walking Tour of Rolla brochures were also provided for those spending the evening in town.

In addition to the numerous municipalities who participated in the seminar, there were also individuals from the Department of Natural Resources, Missouri Department of Transportation, Fort Leonard Wood, and Missouri Department of Conservation.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Siemens seeks to lower City’s carbon footprint through energy audit

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.