Monday, August 8, 2011

10th Street Bridge dedicated in honor of Gene Sally

By Bill Jenks, III
Mayor of Rolla
It only seems fitting that the Rolla City Council approved a resolution at Monday’s City Council meeting to dedicate the section of 10th Street that includes what many refer to the 10th Street Bridge between Elm Street and Cedar Street in honor of former Missouri State Representative, Missouri State Senator, and real estate developer, Gene Sally.
Had it not been for the diligent efforts of Mr. Sally to help pass a bond issue through the Missouri State Legislature to secure funding for the 10th Street bridge, we all might be taking the long way around that portion of 10th Street that is a crucial transportation element for the community – by-passing the railroad tracks below, and providing a direct east/west route through the center of town.

Mr. Sally was 100% responsible for Rolla’s 10th Street project as the Missouri Highway Commission moved the project from the “20 year plan” to the very next year. But the contributions he has made to the City of Rolla and Rolla community, including in particular the private development of the east side of Rolla with the Forum Shopping Center and adjacent residential subdivision do not end there. He also is credited for spear-heading a grant (Rolla was given 90% of the money for this project) for the purchase of Ber Juan Park and swimming pool; helped accelerate the building of Rolla Vocational School (and later expansion money); was instrumental in Rolla getting a new National Guard Armory and Highway Patrol Building, was one of 12 individuals who purchased land for Oak Meadow Country Club and then developed it (160- acres for $7,000); as Chairman of the Missouri Atomic Energy Commission, helped get a nuclear reactor for then UMR – now Missouri University of Science and Technology; gave land in the Forum Shopping Center for the Rolla Cerebral Palsy School and then assisted them in fund raising for the construction of the building; and as former Director of the Rolla Chamber of Commerce, he helped Rolla purchase Rolla National Airport (2,000 acres) for only $1.
Thanks to Mr. Sally’s foresight, vision and perseverance, we not only have the 10th Street Bridge, but also the Forum Shopping Center, 15 subdivisions, including Forum Hills, which was 200 acres. A 1955 graduate of Missouri University, where he played college basketball with Norm Stewart on the Tigers Basketball team, Mr. Sally started Sally Real Estate upon graduation, and began to make his mark not only as a real estate developer in Rolla, but also as an up-and-coming legislator in Jefferson City where at age 26 he was elected to the Missouri State House of Representatives, and at age 30 elected to the Missouri State Senate – at the time the youngest ever elected. It was during his terms in the Missouri Legislature he was able to secure a number of grants and funding commitment for a variety of needed public improvements in Rolla that included the 10th Street Bridge, Ber Juan Park and swimming pool, and the Rolla Technical Institute, to name a few.
A gifted high school, collegiate and adult athlete, Mr. Sally’s true sport’s legacy was well known for the years he devoted to organizational, development and fund-raising support for area youth sports throughout the Rolla area. In addition, with his many years of service in the Rolla Area Chamber of Commerce, Oak Meadow Country Club, Rolla Cerebral Palsy School, Rolla Jaycee’s and many other organizations, Mr. Sally was a true visionary for the entire region. Gene and his wife, Betty currently reside near Palm Desert, California, but his legacy will live on in Rolla, Missouri!
In closing, I’d like to remind everyone that State “Back to School Sales Tax Holiday” began last yesterday and will run all weekend through Sunday, Aug. 7. As stated in the ordinance to ‘opt in’ the sales tax holiday (City tax savings of 2.5% and State tax savings of 4.225%)  is intended to provide tax relief to families with children attending school by exempting the sales tax on clothing, personal computers, certain computer software, and school supplies. The sale officially ends at midnight on Sunday, Aug. 7. The Back to School Sales Tax Holiday was first established in 2004 by the Missouri State Legislature when the legislature passed Senate Bill 11.
On a final note, school will be in session very soon at area colleges, universities, St. Pat’s and Rolla Public Schools, so please be cautious of students as they are going to classes, crossing streets, and using the sidewalks along Pine, Soest, Pinetree, 18th, Salem, Bishop Highway, and many others. Please also continue to be mindful of the extreme heat that has continued to be a challenge for everyone concerning outdoor activities, etc. Cooling centers are available during the day at Rolla City Hall (City Council Chambers, 901 N. Elm St.); The Centre (1200 N. Holloway St.) and the Rolla Public Library (900 N. Pine Street). Have a safe week!

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