Monday, March 29, 2010

Police Chief Chat

Another busy week, in that the Police Department handled 744 calls for service. Of these calls there were: 17 accidents, 7 alarms, 67 9-1-1 hang up calls, 28 disturbance calls (domestic or other), 34 traffic complaints, 15 assists of other agencies, 4 narcotic violation reports, 98 traffic stops, 9 check well beings, 20 arrests, 45 security checks and 15 suspicious nature calls.

This week’s winner of the “Employee of the Week” nomination by our FaceBook fans is none other than records clerk, Christy Ford! Christy was born in Lindsay, California and moved to Missouri in 1989. She graduated from Rolla High School in 1994 and has been married to her husband Jason for 13 years Together they have a lovely daughter named Faith. The Ford family enjoys raising and showing cattle and horses and rodeos in the summer. Christy has been with the Rolla Police Department for almost a year and enjoys the employee comradery and considers this a great place to work. Congratulations Christy on your nomination for “Employee of the Week”!

Our featured Central Communications spotlight will focus on 9-1-1 Telecommunicator Alicia Hill. Alicia was born and raised in Independence, Missouri where she met her husband of 10 years, Alan. Together they have 3 children and ended up in Rolla after Alan accepted a position with Rolla Fire and Rescue 3 years ago. Alicia applied and was hired as a telecommunicator. Alicia says, “I applied at the police department, not knowing what to expect, but I am very happy that I was offered and accepted the position as a 9-1-1 Telecommunicator. I have made many new friends and enjoy working with everyone. I have learned so much about this job and that not every day is the same. In addition, I have learned a lot about myself”! Alicia and her family enjoy watching TV, playing X-Box and Wii and fishing or just hanging out! Thanks for all you do Alicia and Alan too!

This next segment of the column is not a regularly featured spotlight, nor has the person we are about to describe been nominated for “Employee of the Week”, but just someone we thought you might like to hear about, Sgt. Wayne Rapier! Throughout the year Sgt. Wayne Rapier works very hard to keep our young people safe. He is the only School Resource Officer for the Rolla Public Schools. There are approximately 4, 000 students and 580 school staff members that Sgt. Rapier serves. What does a school resource officer do? We can’t fit it all in this post! To start with though, any police report of an incident that occurs on school property is investigated by Sgt. Rapier. This could be a “fender bender” in a parking lot, a missing cell phone belonging to a student, an altercation between juveniles or vandalism. He does not just patrol schools and investigate crimes though. He works with staff and administrators to develop and implement safety procedures. He also oversees security at school dances and high school sporting events.

Not all of his investigations are for crimes on campus. Sgt. Rapier works very hard to protect our young people off of campus as well. He handles narcotics investigations, reports of child abuse, internet crimes, missing juveniles, sexual assaults, custody disputes, domestic violence and mental health investigations. Sgt. Rapier is also a trained hostage negotiator. It takes a very special person to be able to be an effective School Resource Officer. It requires a perfect mix of compassion, toughness, patience, wisdom, inquisitiveness ,training, more training, determination, awareness, law enforcement experience, parenting experience, sense of humor and of course a Bulldog spirit! We truly appreciate all you do Sgt. Rapier! Thanks for all you do to keep our young people safe!
In line with "Operation F.R.I.E.N.D. (forming relationships in every neighborhood), and our effort to re-kindle interest in our Neighborhood Watch program, we have sectioned the city into 3 equal watch zones. In the very near future we will coordinate group meetings in each zone to discuss crime prevention, the establishment of Community Emergency Response Teams(CERT) and Neighborhood Watch. Currently most areas of the city are covered under an organized Neighborhood Watch group. Signs have been posted and officers have visited with the groups and explained the Neighborhood Watch program. If your neighborhood is not currently active in this program and you would like to learn more, contact S/Sgt. Rick Williams at the Rolla Police Department at 308-1213. We will announce dates and locations of the group meetings in the near future.

This Spring the Rolla Police Department and Rolla Fire and Rescue will be hosting Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training. If available, emergency services personnel are the best trained and best equipped to handle emergencies and you should use them. However, following a catastrophic disaster, you and the community may be on your own for a period of time because of the size of the area affected, lost communications or unpassable roads. This is where CERT comes in! CERT training is designed to prepare you to help yourself, your family and your neighbors in the event of a catastrophic disaster. Because emergency services personnel will not be able to help everyone immediately, you can make a difference by using the training provided in this program to save lives and protect property. Training covers areas such as: Disaster Preparedness, Fire Safety, Disaster Medical Operations, Light Search and Rescue, the Cert Organization, Disaster Psychology and Terrorism. CERT classes are taught by trained emergency personnel and consists of 20 hours of training which includes classroom segments and actual hands on practice.

If you would like to receive the training or would like to learn more about the CERT program, contact: S/Sgt. Rick Williams at 308-1213 or Training Officer Ron Smith at Rolla Fire and Rescue at 364-3989.

Have a great week!

Chief Mark Kearse

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Please fill out 2010 U.S. Census form and mail it in

After nearly 12 months of discussing and promoting the importance of the 2010 U.S. Census to our community, we are now nearing Census Day on Thursday April 1. All U.S. residents must be counted – people of all races and ethnic groups, both citizens and non-citizens. Questionnaire responses should represent your household as it exists on April 1.

Every year, the federal government can allocate more than $300 billion to states and communities based, in part, on census data and Census data determine how many seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Our community’s success is based on the power of everyone working together on a common goal. When we do our part we help make this community that much stronger. I think we can all agree that resources like clean water, good schools, and safe roads are vital to our community. But how can we make sure that we have all of that? It’s very simple – By filling out and mailing back our 2010 Census Form.

Whats at stake for our community is the loss of $1,300 per year for every person not counted for the next 10 years. This means we could lose out on vital resources for our friends, neighbors and our family. This time around the census form is shorter, just 10 short questions, and your private information is kept just that – private for 72 years. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share an individual’s census questionnaire responses with anyone, including other federal agencies and law enforcement entities.

Our community has a lot riding on this and it’s up to each of us to do our part, so please fill out your census form, if you haven’t already, and mail it. We are counting on you, so please be counted. And should you have any questions about the U.S. Census please visit

Looking ahead to next weekend, please remember that next Saturday, April 3 is the City-wide Spring Clean-up that is coordinated by the City’s Environmental Services Department. You may want to start setting aside items this weekend so you are ready for the City-wide pick-up next Saturday, April 3. If you wish to participate in this event, please place all of your items to the curb by 6 a.m.

Examples of items that will be accepted include furniture, microwaves, televisions, old clothes, and household trash. Items that will not be accepted include appliances, water heaters, yard waste, tires, or construction debris such as sheet rock, shingles, concrete or rock. Loose items should be placed in boxes or bags and small pieces of lumber should be bundled.

We ask that you do not place your roll-out container to the curb, because during this special spring clean-up it will not be emptied. If you have any questions, please call the Environmental Services Department at (573) 364-6693.

Mayor Bill Jenks, III

Monday, March 22, 2010

Proposition 911 important issue on April 6

Among the many important issues citizens will be asked to decide on at this year’s Rolla General Election on Tuesday, April 6 will be the proposed Phelps County Emergency Dispatch Sales Tax known as Proposition 911.

The important aspect to consider when casting your vote on April 6 is that the Phelps County Sales Tax of ¼ of one percent (1/4%) is proposed to REPLACE the existing 15% land-line surcharge applied to local telephone service.

The need for the review and discussion of the 911 Emergency Dispatch Center dates back a couple of years when concern was raised by the County Commission that the 911 Fund was underfunded because of the rapid decrease in the 15% land-line surcharge applied to local telephones. E-911 services and the 15% surcharge tax on all basic telephone services were approved by county and city voters in 1992 with 75% support. Unlike 1993 when the City of Rolla first began providing professional 911 and county-wide dispatch services to all emergency providers in Phelps County by contract, many more folks, (including visitors and highway travelers), are using cell phones today, which do not require a surcharge. This shift in usage has resulted in a decrease in the number of land lines resulting in decreased revenues for emergency dispatch services.

In addition to the dwindling revenues from the existing 15% land-line surcharge, the call volume through the City’s Dispatch Center has grown to 75,000 calls for service, which is an increase of 83% since 1995. And the additional call volumes have increased the need for trained professional dispatchers and better technology to deal with cellular phones. Of the 75,000 calls for service that the 911 Dispatch Center handles annually, 50,000 of those calls are for City of Rolla Police and Fire services.

To show its support for Proposition 911, the Rolla City Council approved at the March 1 City Council meeting a resolution endorsing the Phelps County Emergency Dispatch Sales Tax issue which will appear on the April 6, 2010 election ballot. Please keep in mind while casting your vote on April 6 some of the major points that underscore the immediate need for an alternative funding mechanism for the E-911 Dispatch Center. Please also consider that the E-911 Dispatch Center currently provides services to 15 different agencies, including the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department, Phelps County Ambulance, Rolla Police Department, Rolla Fire and Rescue, Rolla Rural Fire Department, St. James Police and Fire Departments and St. James Ambulance; Doolittle Police Department and Doolittle Rural Fire Department; Newburg Police and Fire Departments; Edgar Springs Police and Fire Departments; and Duke Fire Department.

Under the current arrangement (15% land line surcharge) the County covers all E-911 costs for all 15 emergency response agencies and pays general dispatch services for all emergency response agencies except for the City of Rolla and the Phelps County Sheriff’s Dept. While the Sheriff’s Dept. has contributed a flat amount of $36, 268 since 1994 the City of Rolla has contributed anywhere from $200,000 to $320,000 per year during that same time period. The proposed sales tax would be paid by all residents and visitors and would generate sufficient revenues to cover all costs of dispatch services for the entire County.

Mayor Bill Jenks, III

Friday, March 19, 2010

Police Chief Chat

With all the activity centered around the Missouri S&T’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration, we were somewhat busy this week. Here are our call totals: 931 calls for service (an increase of 287 calls over last week’s totals). Of these calls there were: 24 accidents, 14 alarms, 44 9-1-1 hang up calls, 27 disturbance calls (domestic or other), 50 traffic complaints, 26 assists of other agencies, 7 intoxicated person calls, 218 traffic stops, 12 check well beings, 27 arrests, 23 suspicious nature calls. Ask you can see, our traffic stops, intoxicated person calls and arrest totals were up from the norm. The additional actions may be a reflection of the St. Pat’s celebration or activities associated with that event.

The Patrol, Traffic and Communications Divisions are hit the hardest during almost any kind of special event such as St. Pat’s, Summerfest, severe weather and just about any other major incident. They are the folks that are receiving, responding and investigating the calls and complaints associated with such events. These folks are what I like to refer to as the backbone or meat and potatoes of our police organization in that of all the divisions, important as they are, the telecommunicators and first responders are usually the first group in and the last group out. I want to take just a moment and thank each and every one of you for your professionalism, courage, dedication to duty, compassion and drive to endure rotating shifts, inclement weather, meals on the go, missed family time and events and the ability to continue to provide this great service day after day and still maintain a warm smile and warm heart. All of you are truly the Rolla Police Department! Thank you for all you do!

I would also like to thank our Volunteers in Police Services, our Police Reserve Unit, the Police Explorer Post and Behind the Badge (BTB) for their endless devotion to public safety and for bolstering our ranks in an effort to ensure the Rolla Police Department’s mission to keeping our community safe is completed! These volunteers, prepared meals, patrolled neighborhoods, manned intersections during the parade and performed many other tasks to make our St. Patrick’s Day operation a success. Thank you again to all our volunteers of whom without, we would be unable to accomplish our goals and perform our mission!

Along those lines, this week’s Volunteers in Police Services spotlight is on none other than Janessa Brown Martin! Janessa is a VIPS volunteer and also a Rolla Police Explorer adviser and liaison between the two entities. Janessa was born and raised in the Rolla area. She was educated at home then accepted a position as a telecommunicator in Central Dispatch, where she served 2 years. Janessa served in the Rolla Police Explorer Program for four years attaining the rank of Captain. Janessa is married and the proud mother of a one year old daughter. She enjoys singing and acting in her spare time and will be playing “Kitty” in the upcoming production of Pride and Prejudice playing this month at the Ozark Actor’s Theatre. Janessa joined the VIPS program in January 2010, and enjoys school and neighborhood patrols!

This week, we took delivery on 3 new Chevrolet Impala patrol cars to replace aging fleet cars that were being phased out of service. The 2010 Impala’s were ordered on state bid through Don Brown Chevrolet in St. Louis. Don Brown ordered the cars in white then painted them to match our black & white paint scheme. The cars were then delivered to Ed Roehr Safety Products where they were outfitted with emergency lights and siren, prisoner cages, rifle racks, video cameras and scanners. Upon delivery to Rolla, Rayfield Communications out of Springfield, Mo. installed the 2 – way police radios. This weekend the cars will be striped and numbered by Steve Harshbarger to match the rest of the fleet. The new cars will be assigned to Sgt. John Frey, Spo. Brad Gibbs and Spo. Tommy Davis.

In closing, S/Sgt. Rick Williams announced that we have exceeded our goal in the sale of Law Enforcement Torch Run t-shirts to benefit Special Olympics. We set out to sell $1,000.00 in shirts to continue our membership in the prestigious Torch Club, which is comprised of Law Enforcement agencies who meet or exceed $1000.00 in fund raising within a given year. The Rolla Police Department has been a Torch Club member since 1993. This year the t-shirt sales are already over $1500.00, and there are more orders coming in. This is great news in that all monies raised supports our local Special Olympic athletes. If you have not yet received your shirt, or need to place another order, contact S/Sgt. Rick Williams at 308-1213. Thank you for helping us help the athletes!

Have a great week!

Chief Mark Kearse

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

9th Annual Rolla Earth Day Celebration set for April 22

The 9th Annual Rolla Earth Day Celebration will be held Thursday, April 22, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. outside the Missouri University of Science & Technology Havener Center.

Businesses, government offices, and non-profit organizations are encouraged to participate. Rolla Earth Day exhibits are strictly limited to organizations sharing information about topics related to earth and biological sciences, environmental policy, sustainability, recycling, and environmental best practices.

Last year, approximately 1,500 children and adults attended the event. Hands-on children’s activities are strongly encouraged. Giveaways are encouraged, but only if they relate to the theme (such as trees, seeds, flowers planted in biodegradable flower pots, or products made from natural/recyclable materials). This year’s theme is Be Green, Keep our Planet Clean.

For more information or to reserve your spot, please contact Julie Wilson at 341-4262 or at your earliest opportunity. Rolla Earth Day Celebration is a free event that includes children’s activities, educational exhibits, live music, door prizes and more.

Show Me Green Sales Tax Holiday approved by City Council (April 19-25)

Going green is something that the Rolla City Council is backing up with action as they demonstrated by unanimously approving an ordinance allowing the 2010 “Show Me Green Sales Tax Holiday” to apply to the local sales taxes of the City of Rolla between April 19 through April 25.

In essences, the Show Me Green Sales Tax Holiday encourages the purchase of certain qualifying energy efficient appliances by exempting them for sales tax, and thereby reducing the consumer’s cost for such appliances. By offering incentives that reward consumers for being energy efficient, it is hoped that consumer awareness will help reduce energy consumption across the state, and have the added benefit of promoting retail sales activity in the Rolla area.

Qualifying appliances, which must be Energy Star certified, include clothes washers and dryers, water heaters, trash compactors, dishwashers, conventional ovens, ranges, stoves, air conditioners, furnaces, refrigerators and freezers. An Energy Star certified appliance is any appliance approved by both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.

The ordinance, however will not apply to any retailer when less than two percent of the retailer’s merchandise offered for sale qualifies for the sales tax holiday. In such instances, the retailer will offer a sales tax refund in lieu of the sales tax holiday.

Improving energy efficiency throughout our community, including City facilities, is something the City of Rolla is very committed to. To be successful, a green community needs to consider a variety of ways its citizens and businesses can reduce its carbon footprint, and promote an environmentally friendly way of living. Engineers from Siemens Technologies, Inc. are currently conducting an energy audit, consisting of the mechanical and electrical systems at Rolla City Hall, the Rolla Police Department, the Rolla Fire Stations #1 and #2, The Centre, SpalshZone, and the City’s three wastewater distribution systems. The assessments will range from lighting and water improvements to aeration system upgrades, and new energy efficiency systems, equipment and technology.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Police Chief Chat

With Spring just around the corner, we can finally shed our winter woes and prepare for better days ahead. March is Severe Spring Weather Preparedness Month in Missouri because the weather transitions from snow to rain, tornadoes and flooding. On Thursday of this week, the City of Rolla Office of Emergency Management and Central Communications took part in the State Wide Tornado Drill hosted by the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA). Central Communications received the notification to begin the drill at 1:30 p.m. and activated our Early Warning System, which consists of Outdoor Warning Sirens, Cable Television Warning System and now Facebook and Twitter. The Statewide Tornado Drill is held each Spring, usually in early March to allow communities to test their early warning systems. We also test our EWS on the first Wednesday of each month throughout the year.

With the severe weather season upon us, emergency preparedness is vital to the survival of the community. Remember, when there is a severe weather “watch” this means to watch the sky, and be prepared to take immediate cover is the conditions worsen. If there is a severe weather “warning” take immediate cover! The City of Rolla Office of Emergency Management has adopted the plan to activate our early warning systems anytime the City of Rolla is named in the pathcast of a tornado warning or a severe thunderstorm warning with winds in excess of 70 mile per hour. We will not activate the system on “watch” forecasts. When our sirens are activated they will continue to sound as long as the threat is present, with the exception of brief pause intervals of approximately 5 – 10 seconds to cool the siren driver. In other words if you hear the sirens, take immediate cover and remain under cover until the sirens finally stop sounding.

This week’s Volunteers in Police Services spotlight will feature VIPS volunteer Larry Seest! Larry was born in Waynesville, Missouri, but moved to the State of California at a young age. After high school graduation Larry entered the US Navy where he was stationed on the aircraft carrier USS Ranger as an air traffic controller. After 4 years Larry left the Navy and entered Santa Ana Junior College where he received an associate degree in Fire Science. In 1978 Larry moved to Missouri and joined Rolla Fire and Rescue where he remained for 30 years attaining the rank of Assistant Chief / Fire Marshall. Larry retired from the fire service in 2009 and works construction part time. Larry is married to his wife Sandy and they have a son and daughter. Larry was attracted to the VIPS program, because it provides an opportunity to give service to the community, which he has been doing his entire adult life. Thanks Larry for all you do!

This week’s Rolla Police Department Facebook “Employee of the Week” is Senior Patrol Officer Tony Lauth! Tony was born and raised in Washington, Missouri. In 2000 Tony entered the Law Enforcement Training Institute in Columbia, Missouri for his law enforcement certification. Upon graduation, Tony accepted a position as patrolman with the New Haven Police Department. Tony then moved to Rolla to accept a position with the University of Missouri – Rolla Police Department, (now Missouri S&T). In 2004 Tony applied and was hired at the Rolla Police Department where he now serves in the Traffic Division as a Senior Patrol Officer. Tony is also one of the 2 advisors for the Rolla Police Department Explorer Post #170 where he coordinates training, duty assignments, cadet applicants and many other functions for the Post. Tony is married to his wife Malinda and they have one daughter and are expecting their second child in the very near future. Tony enjoys fishing, golfing and spending time with his family. Congratulations Tony on your selection as Employee of the Week!

The Missouri S&T St. Patrick’s Day celebration is in full swing and there will be students and alumni all over town taking part in various related activities. On Wednesday, Lt. Doug James, S/Sgt. Rick Williams and VIPS Coordinator Vince Giacolone escorted St. Pat and his court into Rolla and over to the Downtown Band shell for opening ceremonies. Rolla Mayor Bill Jenks and the Rolla Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors were on hand to welcome St. Pat’s arrival. Festivities continued all week and will feature the annual downtown parade this morning, followed by a free concert at the Rolla Downtown Bandshell. Please use caution in and around town and be sure to watch for increased pedestrian traffic as the St. Pat’s celebration continues.

Have a great week!

Chief Mark Kearse

St. Pat’s Parade kicks off spring fever in Rolla

If you haven’t noticed all the green in Rolla this week you may have forgotten that today is the 102nd Annual St. Pat’s parade, which begins at 11 a.m. on Pine Street in downtown Rolla. Considered one of the largest and most well attended St. Pat’s celebrations in the state of Missouri, it is perhaps the most festive parade of the year in Rolla.

For me the St. Pat’s celebration festivities began on Wednesday, March 10 when I met with Dr. Robert Schwartz, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs at Missouri University of Science and Technology, and Barry White, President of the Rolla Area Chamber of Commerce, at the downtown bandshell to officially greet St. Pat and his court as they made their grand entrance much like St. Pat and his Court made their official entrance in 1908 near the railroad tracks on 8th Street in downtown Rolla.

Regardless of the weather forecast for today, I’m sure we will see thousands of residents, Missouri S&T students and alumni, who return each year to Rolla to attend the St. Pat’s Parade and the many festivities planned for the weekend. If you haven’t already dug out your St. Pat’s green sweatshirt, or green beads, hat, or scarf, just make sure you have some item of clothing or accessory that resembles the color green, or you may feel a little left out as you witness an entire community decked out in the traditional St. Pat’s “Green.” If you are still searching for ideas, there’s no need to worry, as many Missouri S&T students will be selling St. Pat’s apparel at many of the local service stations and grocery stores in town today, and throughout the weekend.

Celebrations such as St. Pat’s are one aspect of our community that bring the residents of Rolla, visitors and Missouri S&T together unlike no other event throughout the year. And realizing the importance and significance of Missouri S&T to our town, and how it has elevated the image and reputation of our community on a global scale, it really makes me appreciate every year during St. Pat’s what a vital role Missouri S&T plays in the lifeblood of our community.

Missouri S&T has long been known for its cutting-edge innovation and technology, and is consistently ranked in U.S. News and World Report as one of the nation’s top graduate engineering schools. The rankings also list six Missouri S&T programs as among the best in the country, as stated on the Missouri S&T Website (

Among the many exciting projects occurring at Missouri S&T is the construction of the first building in Missouri S&T’s Innovation Park that will be located on 10th Street. The City’s Public Works and Community Development Departments have collaborated with Missouri S&T on the design and master plan of Innovation Park, and we consider this development to be a great asset to our community. In fact, the City is partnering with Missouri S&T and other businesses and entities as we move forward on what will eventually be one of the gateway entrances to Innovation Park at Bryant Drive and Kingshighway where a new traffic light and intersection will be relocated from Fairgrounds Road in August of this year. A development agreement is currently being finalized among McDonald’s Restaurant, Fairgrounds Chevrolet, Missouri S&T and the Missouri Department of Transportation that will provide for the right-of-way variances needed for this new extension of Bryant Drive off Kingshighway. The new Bryant Drive Extension will meander through the south end of Innovation Park and connect to Fairgrounds Road, alleviating traffic congestion that currently exists on Kingshighway at the Fairgrounds Road intersection.

Missouri S&T is growing in leaps in bounds in both stature and student enrollment, and with the City’s new DREAM (Downtown Revitalization Economic Assistance Missouri) Initiative status, the recent creation of a new Arts and Entertainment District, Benton Square, and an infusion of more than $8 million is private investment in the downtown business district, Rolla is gaining recognition among developers, investors, and businesses, as a City on the move!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Public Hearing to Discuss Smoke Free Workplace Ordinance - March 15

ROLLA – The public is invited to provide comment on an ordinance prohibiting smoking in workplaces and public places within the City of Rolla at the next Rolla City Council meeting on Monday, March 15 at 6:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall (901 N. Elm Street).
“The debate on the smoke-free workplace ordinance will continue at the public hearing on March 15,” said John Butz, Rolla City Administrator. “The Rolla City Council is trying to obtain public feedback, and we encourage you to provide comments during this portion of the meeting.”
The Rolla City Council made the following amendments to the proposed ordinance that will be discussed during the public hearing on March 15 at Rolla City Hall:
  • Granting an exception for an enclosed (and detached) smoking facility
  • Granting an exception for private clubs provided there are no employees (this required a modification to the definition of “employees”)
  • Struck the reference to distances from windows and doors
  • Clarified the definition of “Place of Employment” as it affects contractors/employees in residences
  • Struck the “liberal” application of the ordinance
The issue of smoking in bars and bowling alleys also was set aside for future consideration.
For more information, please call City Administration at 426-6948. To review the DRAFT ordinance prohibiting smoking in workplaces and public places within the City of Rolla, please visit

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Public invited to attend Candidates Forum March 8

With the Rolla Municipal Election just around the corner, I’d like to extend an invitation to everyone in the community to attend the Rolla Candidates Forum on Monday, March 8 at the Rolla Public Schools Administration Building – Board Room located at 500A Forum Drive.

The Rolla Community Teachers Association (RCTA) Candidates Forum will begin at 4 p.m., followed by the Rolla Municipal Candidates Forum at 6 p.m. The Rolla Community Teachers Association (RCTA) and Rolla Channel 6 will host a Candidates Forum for candidates running in the Rolla Public School Board Election on April 6. For more information regarding this event, please contact Christopher Wright, President of the Rolla Community Teachers Association, at 458-0190, ext. 19133.

The Rolla Municipal Candidates forum, which will include candidates running for the Rolla Municipal General Election on April 6, will be moderated by Lee Buhr, Sports/Newscaster for Results Radio. The Rolla Municipal Candidates Forum will include introductions by each candidate, followed by questions from the audience, and then an opportunity for closing remarks. Only questions given from those attending the forum will be included in the discussions. The City believes that hosting the Candidates Forum is a reflection of open government that provides an opportunity for an exchange of ideas with the citizens and members of the Rolla community.

I would also like to remind everyone to vote during the Rolla Municipal Election on Tuesday, April 6. Polls will open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. For more information regarding polling locations and ward maps, please visit You may also contact Carol Daniels in the City Clerk’s office at Rolla City Hall, 901 North Elm Street, at (573) 426-6942 or online at

Looking ahead to the month of April, the Environmental Services Department will be hosting the annual City-wide Spring Clean-up on Saturday, April 3. If you wish to participate in this event, be sure to put your items out to the curb by 6 a.m.

Examples of items that will be accepted include: furniture, microwaves, televisions, old clothes, and household trash. Items that will not be accepted include: appliances, water heaters, yard waste, tires, or construction debris such as sheet rock, shingles, concrete or rock. Loose items should be placed in boxes or bags and small pieces of lumber should be bundled.

We ask that you do not place your roll-out container to the curb, because during this special spring clean-up it will not be emptied. If you have any questions, please call the Environmental Services Department at (573) 364-6693.

Speaking of the environment, the Environmental Services Department will once again be participating in the annual Rolla Earth Day Celebration on Thursday, April 22. The 9th Annual Rolla Earth Day Celebration will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. outside the Missouri S&T Havener Center. This year’s theme is “Be Green, Keep our Planet Clean.”

Rolla Earth Day Celebration is a free event that includes children’s activities, educational exhibits, live music, door prizes and more. For more information or to reserve your spot, please contact Julie Wilson at 341-4262 or at your earliest opportunity.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Police Chief Chat

We had another busy week here at the Rolla Police Department, in that we handled 632 calls for service. Of these calls, there were: 8 accidents, 8 alarms, 45 9-1-1 hang up calls, 17 disturbance calls (domestic or other), 32 traffic complaints, 3 burglaries, 19 assists of other agencies, 4 mental health calls, 142 traffic stops, 12 check well beings, 24 arrests. As you may have noticed, we had (45) 9-1-1 hang up calls! (45)! And that is within one week. Each and every one of these calls requires at least one officer to respond to the location the call originated and investigate to their satisfaction that there was no emergency. In a lot of cases, the calls were made by children, playing with a telephone, or cell phone. Some of the calls are from adults that dialed the number inadvertently, and still others are from callers who may have initially decided they had an emergency, then decided they did not and hung up. Either way, officers are mandated to respond to each of these calls to verify that help is not needed.

As you can imagine, when figured in with all the other calls received, these hang-up calls cost our department a lot of man-hours, we could be using in other areas. I know our Central Dispatch telecommunicators travel to all the public schools each year and teach our children how and when to use 9-1-1. This is a valuable service and we are certain this training has eliminated a lot of our 9-1-1 hang up calls. In an effort to reduce this number, parents please remember that a functioning cell phone still offers the option of calling 9-1-1 even though there is no service to the phone. In a lot of cases discarded cell phones are given to children as a play toy, and then the child ends up dialing 9-1-1. Even if they have received the training in school please re-emphasize the importance of knowing when to call the emergency number. If you have a cell phone you are not using and want to offer it to your child, be sure to remove the battery! A little concentrated effort by all of us will help us reduce these calls for service and allow more time for us to better serve you!

This week’s Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) volunteer spotlight is Don Reed! Don was born in Kirkwood, Missouri but has lived in Rolla on and off since 1950. Don graduated Rolla High School in 1954 and entered the US Army National Guard where he retired as a 1st Sergeant. Don has been married to his wife Bonnie for 52 years and they have 3 daughters. Don’s hobbies include any type of shooting for pleasure, hunting and fishing! Don says “I have always supported law enforcement and as a VIPS volunteer I have the opportunity to do security patrols, some office work and any other service I can provide to the department.” “This gives our officers more time to devote to doing their job of protecting public welfare.” Thanks Don, for all you do!

This week’s Rolla Police Department Facebook site “Employee of the Week” is none other than Detective Robert Jones. Robert was born in Canton, Ohio and raised in Dover, Ohio. Robert served 21 years in the US Army as a military policeman and assigned in Brunssum, the Netherlands and Wuerzburg, Germany. He was also deployed to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Southern Watch. Robert is married, has 3 sons and resides in St. James. His hobbies include model railroading, playing chess with his youngest son and antiquing with his wife. Robert joined the Rolla Police Department in 2004 and is currently a detective assigned to our Criminal Investigations Unit. Congratulations on Employee of the Week!

I noticed our Facebook site has really taken off and that the Rolla Police Department fan base is now 1,772 strong! Thank you for subscribing to our site and sharing your thoughts and insight on how the police department can better serve you. We appreciate all your favorable comments and postings and enjoy hearing your stories. As our fan base increases, so does the opportunity to reach more citizens and keep everyone better informed on the day to day events within the community. Please invite your family and friends to join our site and allow them the same interaction we enjoy with you.

In closing, I have learned that 1 of 2 concrete guardian lion statues that was symbolically guarding the entrance to the Rolla Lion’s Club Den has been stolen. This is truly a terrible injustice to bring upon such a fine service organization that has performed countless good deeds for our our community. This incident has been reported and is currently under investigation. If you or anyone you know has any information on the location of this statue, or information leading to the perpetrator(s), please contact the Rolla Police Department at 308-1213!

Have a great week!

Chief Mark Kearse

Monday, March 1, 2010

Investment in Rolla area seen across the board

While the City of Rolla is still not seeing the soaring 5% gains in sales tax revenues we once did five and six years ago, many significant developments and investments made in our City over the past year or so are showing just how attractive and robust are community continues to be.

In our City’s downtown business district alone we are seeing resurgence in growth and redevelopment of major structures that have brought a new life and energy in our historic downtown area. More than $5 million in private investment has been made in the City’s downtown business district over the past two years that has not only improved the attractiveness of our City center, but, also brought badly needed foot traffic and life to an area that is home to the historic Edwin Long Hotel (now Phelps County Bank), historic U.S. Route 66 (Pine Street), the Rolla Public Library and several businesses and establishments that are benefiting from this new growth.

Just a couple of blocks east of the downtown business, the new Benton Square Development, that includes at least five properties, and numerous businesses, has resulted in at least $3 million in private investment. Spearheaded by successful business owners Dan Klinski and Steven Scholz, the Benton Square development is the anchor for Rolla’s new Arts and Entertainment District that was recently approved by the Rolla City Council. To say that the Benton Square development will help to put Rolla on the map as a destination City similar to that of a Hannibal, Hermann or Washington, is no stretch of the imagination. Rolla is already known for its tremendous cultural assets such as Leach Theatre and the Castleman Hall Performing Arts Center, Ozark Actors Theatre, Cedar Street Center, Orval Reeves Gallery and Arts Rolla! The Benton Square development will only help to solidify the City’s reputation for arts and culture, and a great place to spend a day, an evening or the weekend. In addition, it is projected that the development will create as many as 100 new jobs. The ripple effect of this type of investment and growth benefits many sectors of the Rolla economy, but most notably economic development.

Investment in the Rolla community is not just limited to Rolla’s business district and Benton Square, although considering the state of the national economy and Missouri’s economy, the investment in these two areas alone would be noteworthy. Missouri University of Science and Technology is also experiencing a benchmark year with record-high student enrollment, the future construction of a new $2.7 million Student Design Center (to be located at the corner of 10th and Bishop Avenue); and construction of the first new building in the new Innovation Park on the Missouri S&T campus on 10th Street. These projects are on the heels of the new state-of-the-art, $29 million Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering building known as Toomey Hall on the Missouri S&T campus. Innovation and technology have been associated with Missouri S&T and the Rolla area for over 100 years, and the realization of the beginning of the new Innovation Park will further establish Rolla’s world-wide reputation as a City steeped in innovation and technology.

The third area of significant investment in the Rolla area includes the expansion and construction of several restaurants, including Napoli’s Italian Restaurant, (Hwy. 72 South); the expansion of Gordoz Restaurant on Bishop Highway; the newly opened Papa Murphy’s in Bishop Commons (Hwy. 63 South); and the soon to open El Sombrero’s, located in Summit Plaza on Hwy. 63 North (next to Lowe’s).

In terms of retail investment and development, the Rolla Daily News recently reported that Shoe Sensation, a regional chain of family-owned shoe stores, will be opening sometime this spring in the Forum Shopping Center where the Sam Goody’s was formerly located. The RDN states reports that other businesses will also be occupying storefronts in the Forum Shopping Center as well. In addition to creating more jobs and shopping opportunities, greater retail expansion and development makes the Rolla area much more attractive to new businesses and industries considering locating in the Rolla area.

A fourth area that is showing signs of life, and one area that is a clear indicator to economic activity in the City, is construction. Compared to fiscal year 2009, which was a very low year of construction activity, early indications for fiscal year 2010 show a significant increase in construction activity with first quarter activity of $6.4 million and permit fees of $35,867. While there is relatively less activity in single-family homes there is considerable activity in multi-family construction and commercial construction. Growth attracts growth, and development attracts development, and abundance creates more abundance. So let’s celebrate our successes, play to our strengths, and keep the momentum going through the first year of this new decade!