Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Police Chief Chat

This past week, the Rolla Police Department handled 472 calls for service. Of these calls there were: 27 arrests, 18 accidents, 23 traffic complaints, 78 traffic stops, 24 disturbance calls (including domestics), 22 follow up investigations, 6 suspicious nature calls, 16 assists of other agencies, 33 911 hang up calls, 11 check the well being requests, 13 stealing calls, 7 telephone harassments and 5 trespassing calls. This call total is down from 108 calls from last week, yet still a busy week!

With the Thanksgiving holiday upon us, this week was a time to give thanks for the many blessings we have received throughout the year and was also a time to reflect on just how fortunate as Americans, Missourians and citizens of Rolla, we really are. Those of us in this community are extremely fortunate for many reasons such as clean healthy air, a strong economy, an affordable way of life and good quality schools, hospitals, and churches. Community oriented civic groups are plentiful and support our community in many different ways. We are spared long lines in grocery stores and fuel stops, continuous traffic congestion, air pollution and the unhealthy hustle and bustle of big city life. I still like to think that we live in a friendly close knit community where citizens care for one another and work together to make the community a great place to raise our families.

From a law enforcement perspective, I feel we are very fortunate in that Rolla is home to several great Federal, State, County and City based law enforcement entities with a combined list of services, programs and resources second to none. We begin with our local office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The local FBI office here in Rolla is a satellite office from the St. Louis branch and consists of 2 resident Special Agents Pat Cunningham and Mike Maruschak, who are assigned to investigate all federal level complaints. These agents are also quick to assist State, County and local authorities on major crimes such as bank robberies, kidnappings and many white collar crimes. An interesting note is that Pat Cunningham’s father, Dave Cunningham served as the sole Special Agent here in Rolla for several years before retirement.

Next in line would be the Law Enforcement branch of the U.S. Forest Service based here in Rolla. Officers from this agency patrol federal forest land and investigate complaints based on violations occurring in the Mark Twain National Forest. These agents also assist State, County and City agencies in marijuana eradication and other illegal drug activites.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol has 8 Troops positioned throughout the state and Rolla is home to Troop I. This local troop is staffed by men and women of the MSHP who patrol our highways and secondary roads ensuring motorist safety. Troop I is commanded by Capt. Leann Kenley, who began her career with the Rolla Police Department. Cpt. Kenley has a background in illegal narcotics investigation. In addition to road patrol, Troop I’s Criminal Investigation unit investigates major crimes in the entire troop area. They are also quick to assist County and City agencies with local investigations.

The Phelps County Sheriff’s Department also calls Rolla home as Rolla is the County seat. Sheriff Rick Lisenbe and his crew patrol all county roads and conduct investigations in all areas of the county not covered by a municipal law enforcement agencies, although they are quick to assist any municipal agency with major investigations. In addition, the Sheriff’s Department is responsible for civil process service, jail administration, courtroom security and many other tasks.

Missouri S&T Police with Chief Christine Laughlin at the helm patrols campus properties and conducts investigations stemming from university related complaints. In addition MS&T officers provide security at sporting events, assist with student registration and parking issues and are also quick to assist county and local law enforcement in special assignments at investigative requests. In addition, MS&T officers are commissioned police officers with the City of Rolla and have authority to enforce any and all municipal ordinances.

Rolla, St. James, Newburg and Doolittle and Edgar Springs Police Departments are tasked as the primary law enforcement agency within their municipal jurisdictions. These duties include, traffic enforcement, criminal investigations, community policing and service, as well as many other tasks. St. James Police Chief Jim Anderson and his team keep crime in check in St. James. Newburg Police Chief Kim Elrod and Doolittle Police Chief Scott Jones work to keep their joining communities safe through the creative use of a small full time force enhanced with an active reserve unit. Edgar Springs Police Chief Kody Lucas uses a similar operations plan within their city.

Then finally, last but certainly not least is the Phelps County Regional Medical Center’s Department of Public Safety. Director Rick Hanrahan and his crew are tasked with hospital security, employee safety, criminal investigations and on-site patrol. Currently most Public Safety Officers are commissioned police officers with local area jurisdictions.

All in all, you can see that the Rolla community has a lot to be thankful for. Speaking for the Rolla Police Department we are very fortunate to have the added safety of these fine professional law enforcement agencies right here in our community. Their willingness and commitment to assist, the added benefit of the additional resources, combined with the comradery and respect of each agency just makes our job that much easier. Coupled with the support of a progressive and pro-active city council and you the people of the community, we will work together to keep the Rolla community the great place it is to live work and worship.

Have a safe and happy holiday!

Chief Mark Kearse
Rolla Police Department
1007 N. Elm St,
Rolla, Mo. 65401

Monday, November 22, 2010

Construction activity continues in Rolla

The Rolla City Council at last Monday’s Council meeting (Nov. 15) gave the green light for a site plan for the development and construction of a second Dollar General store that will be located on the west side of North Hwy. 63. In addition to this new store, the construction of a new two-story, 4,448-square-foot Sushi restaurant is underway on Hwy. 63 North across from Denny’s Restaurant.

These establishments will be located in areas that are located in visible and highly traveled gateways to the City. In addition considerable improvements were made to prepare the site where the Sushi restaurant will be located – giving a more attractive and pleasing appearance to that area of town. These two recent additions to the community are, of course, very welcomed news and an indication that Rolla continues to attract businesses, restaurants, and investors to our area. It is also an indication that word is spreading about the appeal and marketability of our community, which is gaining stature with the new Missouri S&T Innovation Park, expanding health and medical facilities, the Rolla Arts and Entertainment District, and an impressive array of dining and entertainment establishments.

The City continues to strive to enhance the quality of life and quality of living in our community, and another way the City Council and City staff are able to address the needs of our citizens, and make improvements, is by conducting a citizen satisfaction opinion survey about every two years.

ETC Institute, one of the nation’s leading community-based market research firms based in Olathe, Kansas, began conducting a citizen opinion telephone survey last week to assess citizen satisfaction with the delivery of major city services and to help determine priorities for the community as part of the City's ongoing planning process. About 1,200 residents will be contacted, which will provide a statistically valid random-sample survey of 400 responses.

The telephone survey takes about 10 minutes and consists of a series of questions that help to objectively measure the overall attitudes of residents in 14 major categories. In addition, the survey allows for customized local questions. The City of Rolla has chosen questions related to public safety and parks and recreation.
This survey is a great way for City Administration and Council to measure how well the city is delivering a variety of services to our residents, and the City has used it effectively for the past several years to help assess our performance and enhance the level of services we provide to the community. If you happen to be contacted regarding the survey please realize your input and suggestions are important, and that the city encourages your participation. For more information regarding the survey, please contact John Butz, Rolla City Administrator, at 426-6940.

In closing, please remember that Rolla City Hall will be closed for the Thanksgiving Day holiday on Thursday, Nov. 25 and Friday, Nov. 26. The Environmental Services Department also will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 25 in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday. Thursday’s trash will be picked up on Wednesday. There will be no special pick-ups on Wednesday, Nov. 24. If you have any questions, please call the Environmental Services Department at 364-6693. The Centre, Rolla’s Health and Recreation complex, (located at 1200 North Holloway Street), will also be closed on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 25, and will be open the following day on Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

I hope you have a safe and memorable Thanksgiving holiday. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

City departments offer services for leaf pick-up

Along with the natural beauty that comes with the fall foliage in the Ozark Highlands there also comes the downpour of leaves, and the question of how to dispose them in the most convenient and efficient manner.
The City of Rolla’s Environmental Services Department will continue to offer the pick-up of bagged leaves through Friday, Dec. 17, 2010. 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. 20, 2010 through Feb. 25, 2011. Collection of yard waste (leaves, grass, clippings and small sticks) in brown paper bags will resume on Monday, Feb. 28, 2011. Residents wishing to dispose of these materials during the winter suspension can use the compost site located at the end of McCutchen Drive just north of the Rolla Recycling Center on Old St. James Road. Residents may also arrange for a special pick up for a fee. For more information, please call the Environmental Services Department at (573) 364-6693.

For a nominal fee, Rolla residents can also get their leaves picked up by the City’s Parks & Recreation Department through Dec. 10, 2010. We do ask that you please rake all leaves to the curb along city streets, and that you do not place any leaves in the streets, gutters or ditches. And please remember that private driveways or private areas will not be entered by city vehicles. Leaves will be picked up by a large vacuum and deposited into a large dump body and trailer and then taken to the compost site (located at the end of McCuthcen Drive) to be recycled.

Leaf pickup will take place Monday through Friday (leaves will not be picked up after 12  p.m. Friday or during weekends and holidays). 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. Homeowners will also be required to sign a Hold Harmless Agreement. If you wish to use this service, or to get more information, please contact the Parks & Recreation Department at 364-4278.
With the holiday season fast approaching – Thanksgiving is just 12 days away -  I’m sure many of our residents are beginning to make plans for traditional family get-togethers, outings, celebrations and what I consider one of the most special times of the year. Rolla has been fortunate throughout the past couple of years to see both new dining and retail establishments spring up throughout the community. I would like to encourage everyone to please try to patronize our local restaurants, shops and businesses that, like other retailers throughout the state, rely heavily on the holiday season for a large portion of their business. As Rolla continues to grow and develop the number and variety of dining options and retail choices has improved as well. Our economy depends largely on these sectors of society, and we will all benefit from keeping our dollars locally invested.

While we are on the topic of the economy and all the new growth and development that has taken place in the Rolla area with the new Bryant Drive Extension, Missouri S&T Innovation Park, Kingshighway, Bishop Avenue, and Rolla’s new Arts and Entertainment District, I’d like to mention that Rolla City Administrator John Butz will be giving an overview of the state of our economy at the upcoming monthly Rolla Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Wednesday, Nov. 17 at 11:45 a.m. at Matt’s Steakhouse. If you would like to attend the luncheon, please RSVP to the Rolla Chamber at 364-3577. John will also be making a similar presentation at the Rolla Rotary Club luncheon on Friday, Dec. 17 at 11:30 a.m.

In closing, please remember that Rolla City Hall will be closed for the Thanksgiving Day holiday on Thursday, Nov. 25 and Friday, Nov. 26. The Environmental Services Department also will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 25 in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday. Thursday’s trash will be picked up on Wednesday. There will be no special pick-ups on Wednesday, Nov. 24. If you have any questions, please call 364-6693. The Centre, Rolla’s Health and Recreation complex, (located at 1200 North Holloway Street), will also be closed on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 25, and will be open the following day on Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Police Chief Chat

This past week, the Rolla Police Department handled 715 calls for service. Of these calls there were: 31 arrests, 22 accidents, 31 traffic complaints, 101 traffic stops, 1 fight, 28 disturbance calls (including domestics), 11 field interviews, 36 follow up investigations, 11 suspicious nature calls, 19 assists of other agencies, 8 fingerprint requests, 63 9-1-1 hang up calls, 18 destructions of property, 6 recovered property calls, 11 escorts, 5 telephone harassments and 9 fraud complaints. This week’s call total is up 10 calls from last week. Yet another busy week!

On Thursday, November 11, 2010 we celebrated Veteran’s Day where the nation recognized the men and women who have proudly served our country in the US Armed Services. Veteran’s from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and US Coast guard were remembered for their patriotism, honor, duty and sacrifice as they boldly stepped forward in defense of our great nation. All veterans from the newest recruit just entering boot camp, the men and women fighting present day battles and to those entombed in Arlington deserve our respect, support, reflection and unending gratitude for allowing us to continue to live our lives as free Americans! Thank you to all our veterans for what you are about to do, what you are doing and what you have done!

The Rolla Police Department receives numerous fraud complaints from citizens regarding fictitious money orders that are sent to them through the mail. The fraud takes-on various forms but essentially the victims are asked to do the same thing with the money order. The victims are instructed to take these fraudulent money orders to their bank to be cashed and then wire-transfer the money to the suspect. As time passes, the victim realizes that they have been duped. There are four stages in this type of fraud that can be targeted to reduce this crime: 1) stopping the suspects from sending fraudulent money orders, 2) citizen awareness, 3) banking awareness, and 4) wire-transfer service agent awareness. As you can imagine, we’ve had no effect on the first option. The Rolla Police Department has made several efforts to warn citizens about potential frauds but they continue to occur. The message about “If it’s too good to be true then it isn’t” is just not reaching everyone. The latest victim was an 85 year old lady who lost about a thousand dollars.

We plan to coordinate our efforts with the banking community by verifying that the bank tellers are:

1) Trained to ask questions about the origins of a money order? Does your bank have a policy which prohibits/restricts tellers from asking the client about the transaction?
2) Do your tellers/employees have a way to verify a money order before the funds are made available to the client?
3) Are tellers allowed to contact law enforcement if they suspect a fraudulent money order?
4) Would you allow law enforcement to make a presentation to your employees on how to spot these types of frauds?

We are not looking for any banking secrets so please do not divulge anything too detailed. The information that you share will not be released to anyone and only be used by law enforcement as and additional tool to end these fraud violations. To the citizens of our community, once again: If it appears to be too good to be true, then that is probably the case. If you receive this type of request, contact the Rolla Police Department at 308-1213!

Our Rolla Police Department Facebook page is doing very well and now boasts 3900 friends and fans. We have recently added a “Media Log” tab that offers our daily media release blotter as submitted to the Rolla Daily News. This tab will provide you with day to day arrest, complaint and call information as it is entered by our patrol officers and Central Dispatch. In the very near future we will also add a “Rolla’s Most Wanted” tab that will include photos and descriptions of criminals we are looking to apprehend in our area. We realize that utilizing not only our 3900 strong fan base, but also getting information to the rest of the community just adds that many eyes and ears to our search efforts. Do not hesitate to contact us with any type of criminal information you may have witnessed or heard of 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 308-1213. If you want to call but need to remain anonymous feel free to contact our Rolla Police Department Confidential Crime Tip Hotline number at 364-0111. Remember, keeping our community safe is not only up to us, it is also up to you! We will continue to provide as much information to you that can be released through our many media release portals in an effort to keep you informed.

In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome our newest member to the Rolla Police Department family by introducing Animal Control Associate Katie Strawbridge!
Katie comes to us with a background in professional pet care and teaching. Katie has accepted a position with our Animal Control Division and will serve as an Animal Control Associate. Her duties will include animal and kennel care and maintenance, animal adoption services, record maintenance and building supply. Katie is married to her husband James and they and their 2 children live in Rolla. On another note, Katie’s father Steven Volz serves as a volunteer with our VIPS program. Welcome to the RPD family Katie!

Have a great week!

Chief Mark Kearse

Monday, November 8, 2010

Rolla's Sesquicentennial Committee plans for June 4, 2011 Celebration

The kick-off meeting held Thursday at Rolla City Hall for Rolla’s Sesquicentennial Planning Committee helped chart the course for both a historic and festive day-long celebration of Rolla’s 150th birthday.

The City of Rolla was originally chartered (incorporated) on Jan. 25, 1861, but members of the Sesquicentennial Planning Committee want to capitalize on both the large crowds and summer weather that are part of the annual Route 66 Summerfest festivities held the first weekend in June. Committee members unanimously agreed to hold the City’s Sesquicentennial Celebration on Saturday, June 4, 2011 in conjunction with Route 66 Summerfest festivities that will take place primarily in the City’s Downtown Festival Park where the downtown bandshell will be the hub of activity for this day-long celebration.

Following the initial meeting of the Sesquicentennial Planning Committee, plans are already underway and moving forward to kick-off the June 4, 2011 celebration with a Sesquicentennial parade that morning in downtown Rolla that will represent every decade from 1861 to 2011. Larry Stratman, who was the driving force behind the very successful Phelps County Sesquicentennial Celebration, has generously agreed to head up the organization and logistical aspects of the parade, and would like anyone interested in being part of the parade (floats, bands, vintage cars, vintage tractors, soldiers, cavalry, cowboys, covered wagons, etc.) to contact him at his office at the Phelps County Courthouse at 458-6121 or at Stratman@phelpscounty.org.

Also included among the plans for Rolla’s Sesquicentennial Celebration will be “A Walk Through History,” which will be displayed both in the downtown festival park and in City Hall; a “Written History” of Rolla; historical reenactments and interpretations at the Old Phelps County Courthouse. Plans are also underway with the committee to create and unveil a new City of Rolla flag, and to launch a community-wide contest for the creation of a Rolla Sesquicentennial logo that will be imprinted on banners that will be displayed in the downtown area to promote the celebration and on the Sesquicentennial Commemorative T-shirts. The deadline for logo entries is Dec. 2, and entries should be directed to the attention of Scott Grahl, the City’s Communications Coordinator, who can be reached at 426-6943 or sgrahl@rollacity.org or at Rolla City Hall (3rd floor), 901 N. Elm Street. The committee hopes to unveil the new Sesquicentennial banners in late January 2011 to commemorate Rolla’s 150th birthday on Jan. 25, 2011 and to kick off the festivities planned for the City’s Sesquicentennial Celebration on June 4, 2011.

A Sesquicentennial Ceremony that will take place after the parade on June 4, 2011 is in the planning stages as well, and will include many of the local and state leaders, and pioneers who have helped play a role in shaping the history and landscape of Rolla over the years.

I would like to personally thank the following individuals who have agreed to volunteer their time and talent to serve on the Sesquicentennial Planning Committee, and who will be meeting on a regular basis to plan, promote and organize Rolla’s Sesquicentennial Celebration. The members of the committee include: Larry Stratman, Phelps County Commissioner, and former Chairman of the Phelps County Sesquicentennial Planning Committee; Dr. Wayne Bledsoe, former Chairman of the Missouri S&T History Department and General Manager of KMST radio station (located on the Missouri S&T campus); Jaime Rinehart, Rolla Junior High School History teacher; Mark Stauter, member of the Phelps County Historical Society; Carolyn Tilford, President of the Phelps County Historical Society; Dan Henke, Phelps County Historical Society member and historical re-enactor; Dianne Henke, Curator of the Phelps County Historical Museum; Judy Jepsen, former Rolla City Council member and past president of the Ozark Actors Theater Board of Directors; John Petersen, the City’s Director of Community Development and Living History organizer; Aimee Campbell, Tourism Director, Rolla Area Chamber of Commerce. Ex-officio members of the committee include John Butz, Rolla City Administrator; Steve Hargis, the City’s Director of Public Works and Scott Grahl, Communications Coordinator.

In closing I’d like to remind everyone that Veterans Day is just around the corner on Thursday, Nov. 11. Rolla City Hall will be closed in observance of Veterans Day, but there will be several Veterans Day ceremonies celebrated throughout the community on Nov. 11 at various Rolla Public Schools (RMS, RJHS, and RHS) and at Veterans Memorial Park (located on Southview Drive) at 11 a.m. The ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park will be open to the public and everyone is invited to attend.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Bryant Drive Extension to trasnform intersection

Anyone traveling along Kingshighway near the construction of the new McDonalds restaurant and Bryant Drive Extension can quickly see by the number of orange cones, slowed traffic and abundance of bulldozers that the new Bryant Drive extension will transform this new intersection.

The size and scope of the Bryant Drive Extension project is probably one of the most significant construction and development projects the City of Rolla has seen in recent years in terms of how much it will change the look, feel and image of this area on Kingshighway. The Ridgeview Road Extension at State Route 63 and Hwy. 72, where the new Walgreen store is located, has transformed that area of the city as well, but did not involve the relocation of a traffic light or quite the magnitude of construction activity we are seeing at the Bryant Drive Extension. While the City realizes the construction activity is impacting traffic flow and causing time delays along Kingshighway, we ask the public to please be patient, drive with caution, and realize the work at this intersection will greatly benefit this area of town. In the coming weeks and months, we will not only have a new intersection at Bryant Drive and Kingshighway with a new traffic signal installed by the Missouri Department of Transportation, but an alternative route to access Fairgrounds Road and eventually 10th Street.

The new Bryant Drive Extension, which will serve as one of the gateway entrances to the Missouri S&T Innovation Park, runs north and then northwest as it bends to the west and terminates on Fairgrounds Road near the Mark Twain National Park Headquarters. The current traffic light at Kingshighway and Fairgrounds Road will be removed by MoDOT this fall as part of the entire redevelopment of the new Bryant Drive Extension intersection. Future plans for Kingshighway involve the addition of two lanes of traffic (creating five lanes) from Fairgrounds Road, across the I-44 overpass and the other side of the overpass.

Also included in the agreement with MoDOT, but slated for 2012, will be improving the Kingshighway Interchange with Interstate 44. These improvements will consist of the installation of two roundabouts, which will greatly improve the capacity and safety of these heavily traveled intersections. The current traffic signals at the Martin Springs Drive intersection will be removed and replaced with a roundabout, and the second roundabout will be located on the north side of the Kingshighway/I-44 overpass. Plans also include the eventual stripping by MoDOT of the I-44 overpass at Kingshighway so there will be two east-bound lanes and two west-bound lanes. The estimated cost of these improvements is $1,760,051. The improvements are part of the Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan, which will be funded by MoDOT.

In addition to these improvements, the City of Rolla will be responsible (as MoDOT relinquishes ownership to the City for Kingshighway) for widening Kingshighway from three to five lanes from the Martin Springs Drive/Kingshighway interchange (adjacent to HJ Drive) to the new intersection of Bryant Drive. This will be done during the same time frame in 2012 as the interchange improvements and is estimated to cost $250,000.
In closing I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to attend one of the three public forums that were hosted on Oct. 13, 20 and 26 by the City, Parks and Recreation Department and The Centre to allow input and suggestions regarding the future of our Parks and The Centre. The feedback and comments we are receiving are greatly appreciated. If you did not have the opportunity to attend any of the forums, you are encouraged to provide input by either filling out one of the comment cards available at The Centre or on the City’s Website (http://www.rollacity.org/events.shtm#forums). Additional documents relating to the open house information, parks sales tax history and general fund financial data is also available on the City’s Website.