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.

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