Monday, February 28, 2011

Citizen survey puts Rolla at top for customer service

A special thanks are in order for all of the City of Rolla residents who participated in the most recent Direction Finder citizen attitude telephone survey conducted during the month of January by ETC Institute, one of the nation’s leading community-based market research firms based in Olathe, Kansas. ETC has conducted research projects for clients in 46 states, and has conducted five other citizen surveys for the City of Rolla about every two years for the past several years.

I’m more than pleased to announce that an exceptionally good report was given at Monday’s City Council meeting by ETC Institute’s Vice President, Chris Tatham who gave an overview of the results of the citizen attitude survey conducted. About 1,200 residents were contacted, which provided a statistically valid random-sample survey of 400 responses. 
The purpose of the survey was to assess citizen satisfaction with the delivery of major city services. Results from the survey help City Administration and the City Council to make decisions regarding budgeting, planning, goal setting and bench marking. Most importantly, the survey gives City Administration and Council additional direction to help set community priorities regarding how tax dollars can be spent wisely. 
Tatham, who referred to Rolla as a model city, reported that the City of Rolla is setting the standard among other cities across not only the state of Missouri, and the Midwest, but the entire country! The survey shows that the public’s satisfaction with most City services has increased (in 50 of 55 areas), and that the City has what he described as “good brand equity,” which means the City has great name recognition and a very good image – and moreover that citizens feel good about their community. 
While many categories surveyed such as Police and Fire, Parks and Recreation, Environmental Services, etc. received extremely high ratings - well above ratings for other cities surveyed - Rolla scored 34% above the national average in the category of Customer Service. In fact, of all the cities and communities surveyed in the Kansas and Missouri region, Rolla was the highest ranked community in Customer Service. That is a tremendous reflection on the quality of services all of our departments and employees are providing our residents. To review the report in its entirety, click here. Hard copies of the survey results are also available in the City Administration Department located at Rolla City Hall (3rd Floor), 901 N. Elm Street. 
In closing, I’d like to encourage everyone to attend the 103rd Annual St. Pat’s Parade on Saturday, March 12 at 11 a.m. on Pine Street in downtown Rolla. This year the City of Rolla will be participating in the parade with a Sesquicentennial float to celebrate Rolla’s Sesquicentennial Anniversary (150th years of incorporation on Jan. 25, 1861) and to promote Rolla’s Sesquicentennial Celebration on Saturday, June 4 in downtown Rolla. Several City employees will represent various City departments, including myself and City Administrator John Butz, who will carry a Rolla Sesquicentennial banner as the float makes its way down Pine Street through the throngs of parade goers. 
Immediately following the parade the 103rd Annual Best Ever St. Pat’s Concert will feature the band “Reel Big Fish,” at the Rolla Downtown Bandshell located at the corner of 9th and Oak Streets near the railroad tracks. The concert is free and open to the public, and food and drinks will be available for purchase. One unusual aspect of the St. Pat’s Parade is that the surface of Pine Street is actually painted green beginning at 6:30 a.m. the day of the parade. The St. Pat’s Street Painting Event, sponsored by the St. Pat’s Board, includes the volunteer services of several students from Missouri S&T that apply the water-based green paint with large mops and buckets so Pine Street will be properly painted shamrock green for the parade.

St. Pat’s Court will arrive at the bandshell in the City’s Downtown Festival Park on Wednesday, March 9 at 12-noon. The Court Arrival begins at 11 a.m. at the south end of Pine Street where they will proceed through the downtown area to the bandshell.The St. Pat’s Coronation and Knighting Ceremony will be held on Friday, March 11 at 9 p.m. in Leach Theatre, located in the Castleman Hall Performing Arts Center on the Missouri S&T Campus at the corner of 10th and Main Streets. 
The 103rd St. Patrick’s Grand Ball, sponsored by the Ladies of Coterie, will be held Saturday, March 12 at 5:30 p.m. in the Havener Center. The St. Pat’s Ball honors a great Rolla tradition with a delightful evening of dinner and dancing on the Missouri S&T Campus. To make your reservations to attend, visit
The tradition of St. Patrick’s Day has been celebrated in Rolla for over a century. St. Patrick, the patron saint of engineers, marked his first Rolla celebration in 1908 on what was then the Missouri School of Mines campus. Engineers rallied around St. Pat and began what is now one of the most noted and oldest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the nation. For more information regarding the St. Pat’s Parade and related events and festivities, please visit
Have a safe week, and don’t forget to wear your ‘green’ at the parade on Saturday, March 12 and on St. Patrick’s Day on Thursday, March 17.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Electronics & Appliance Collection set for April 23 at Brewer Science

The Electronics & Appliance Collection will be held on Saturday, April 23 from 8 a.m. to 12-noon at the Brewer Science, Inc. Parking Lot located at 2401 Brewer Drive in Rolla. Brewer Science is located in the Hypoint Industrial Park at Interstate 44, Exit 189/Hwy V.

The following items may be dropped off free of charge: stoves, washers, dryers, microwaves and other appliances, computer CPUs, keyboards, printers, VCRs, cell phones and other electronics. (You must unload items yourself).

The event is being sponsored by the City of Rolla, Phelps County Commission, Brewer Science, Inc., Ozark Rivers Solid Waste Management District, Missouri Department of Natural Resources and Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC).

For more information, please contact MPRC at (573) 265-2993.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rolla Public Works Dept. provides overview of snow plowing operations

After receiving numerous calls with questions regarding the City of Rolla’s snow plowing operations, route schedules, and degree of snow clearing capabilities, Public Works Director Steve Hargis and City staff have launched a public information campaign that will involve traditional media, the City of Rolla’s Website and City’s Facebook site. Detailed snow route and salting route maps of Rolla are also available via the City’s Website at

Winter weather for us usually starts with the arrival of a fax, e-mail and phone call to the Public Works Department from our weather service Accuweather. Salt has been preordered during the summer months. In the early fall snow route maps are updated and distributed to employees. Supervisors have had the equipment serviced and have reviewed procedures with all crews well in advance of the inclement weather. Plows and salt spreaders are attached to equipment and dump truck spreaders are loaded with a mixture of salt, sand and sawdust. The crews begin their new work scheduled of 12-hour shifts until the roads are clear.

The City of Rolla is approximately 12-square miles in area and contains over 110 miles of streets as well as public parking lots. This is a monumental undertaking and requires the cooperation of employees from the Street Division, Traffic Division, Concrete Division and the Wastewater Division.

At the onset of winter weather, streets are pre-treated as much as possible with a mixture of sawdust, salt, and sand. Sugar beet juice is also added to give this mixture more melting power at lower temperatures. When the snow or sleet begins, the trucks and employees move into action. With such a large number of streets to maintain, there are two individual types of operations that are employed to clear the roadways; Dump Truck routes and Pickup Plow routes.

The City of Rolla is divided in to six separate zones classified as “Dump Truck” routes. The streets located within these routes are typically well traveled and include everything from major collectors to residential roadways. The Dump Truck routes are plowed by….Dump Trucks. These trucks are equipped with large plows and a bed full of salt. Each zone is assigned two employees. An employee will work a straight 12-hour shift at which point the second employee will begin his shift.

Each street within the zone is plowed and treated with salt. The larger arterial and collector streets are considered primary routes and will be the first to receive treatment, including emergency vehicle routes. Secondary streets will be treated when all primary routes have been plowed.

The Dump Trucks are large and difficult to maneuver in smaller areas such as cul-de-sacs and parking lots. This creates a need for “Pickup Plow” routes. These are maintained by pickup trucks and bobcats with plows attached. Each of the five Pickup Plow zones is assigned two employees working the same 12-hour shift as the Dump Truck drivers.

“These Rolla City employees are dedicated to keeping the streets in town as safe as possible and take pride in their work,” said Steve Hargis, Director of Public Works. “During the recent winter storm, several employees went so far as to bring an extra change of clothing with them in case they were unable to return home or their replacement could not make it to work.”

The Public Works Department asks that citizens please be patient. “It is not always possible to clear the streets to bare asphalt,” said Hargis. “This last storm was almost four inches of solid ice and very difficult to plow.”

Keep in mind that primary routes must be plowed first to ensure that emergency vehicles can reach their destination. And if at all possible, please park your vehicles/trucks off the street and avoid shoveling your driveway until the plows have gone by. 

For more information, and to view a series of snow plowing route maps (primary and secondary) and salting route maps throughout the City of Rolla, please visit For more information on Emergency Preparedness and Planning, please visit To contact the Public Works Dept. throughout the work week (8 a.m.– 5 p.m.), please call 364-8659.

Rolla Sesquicentennial Celebration set for Sat., June 4, 2011 in downtown Rolla

The City of Rolla, which was incorporated in 1861, will be celebrating its Sesquicentennial (150th Birthday) on Saturday, June 4, 2011 in conjunction with Route 66 Summerfest in downtown Rolla, Missouri.

The day-long celebration kicks off with a Sesquicentennial Parade at 10 a.m. on Pine Street in downtown Rolla where 15 decades will be represented by various community and civic organizations. The parade will be an opportunity to see 150 years of Rolla history pass by from 6th street to 11th street along Pine Street, which continues to be a center of historic significance with its U.S. Route 66 roots, and the old-world Edwin Long Hotel (now Phelps County Bank). The landmark building where numerous celebrities and dignitaries have visited, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Following the parade, the Sesquicentennial Program begins at 11:30 a.m. at the downtown bandshell. Several City, County and State officials, as well as long-time Rolla residents and historians will part of the ceremony, which will include a tribute to Rolla’s rich heritage and history. Later that afternoon at 2 p.m. Sesquicentennial festivities will continue with historical re-enactments, a living history demonstration and lots of historic exhibits, crafters, displays and tours of the pre-Civil War old Phelps County Courthouse, and the 1857 John A. Dillon Log Cabin, (the first Phelps County Courthouse, which serves now as the Phelps County Historical Museum).
Also included in the celebration throughout the day will be A “Walk Through History” in and around Rolla City Hall (located at 9th and Elm Street), and the downtown area. This unique aspect of the celebration will include vintage photographs of Rolla and Phelps County, oral and written histories, and guided walking tours of the Historic Walking Tour of Rolla (including 37 historic signs and locations within a 2 ½ mile area).

County Commissioner Larry Stratman, Chairman of the Phelps County Sesquicentennial Celebration (held in June 2007), together with Aimee Campbell, Tourism Director with the Rolla Area Chamber of Commerce, are coordinating and organizing the logistical aspects of the Sesquicentennial 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 Aimee at the Visitor's Center at (573) 364-3577 or at

The entire community, State and Midwest region is invited to participate in and help celebrate Rolla’s Sesquicentennial and milestone event on June 4, 2011. For more information, please contact Scott Grahl, Chairman of Rolla’s Sesquicentennial Committee, and the City of Rolla’s Communications Officer, at 573-426-6943 or at

The following individuals are serving on the Sesquicentennial Planning Committee and meeting on a regular basis to plan, promote and organize Rolla’s Sesquicentennial Celebration: 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, and Chairman of the Sesquicentennial Planning Committee.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Police Chief Chat

Chief Chat

This past week, the Rolla Police Department handled 769 calls for service. Of these calls there were: 31 arrests,22 accidents,38 traffic complaints,121 traffic stops, 30 disturbance calls (including domestics),11 suspicious nature calls, 22 assists of other agencies, 59 911 hang up calls, 6 check the well being requests, 31 animal control calls, 17 stealing calls, 20 escorts, 37 security checks, 1 intoxicated person call and 9 careless drivers. This call total is up 21 calls from last week. Yet, another busy week!

On Tuesday February 8th, 2011 several employees attended M.U.L.E.S. recertification training hosted by the Missouri State Highway Patrol and held at Troop I in Rolla. The Missouri Uniform Law Enforcement System (M.U.L.E.S.) is the computer system used by the Highway Patrol and most Central Missouri Law Enforcement agencies. The automated system is used to make inquiries on drivers licenses, vehicle license plate registration, warrant checks, stolen vehicle and other property inquiries and to broadcast other law enforcement messages nationwide. This system allows patrol officers to make inquiries via radio through Central Dispatch and receive the requested information in a matter of seconds. Those in attendance included Cpt. Jason Smith, Detective Sgt. Ken Nakanishi, Cpl. Tim Mayfield, Detective Hank Harper and telecommunicators Amanda Rogers and Clint Capps.

The Rolla Police Department will be joining efforts with statewide law enforcement on Friday, Feb. 25 for an aggressive “Click It or Ticket” mobilization to get more motorists to buckle up – and save more lives. Despite evidence proving the benefits of wearing a seat belt, nearly one in four Missouri motorists are still not making it click. Seven out of 10 Missourians killed in traffic crashes are unbuckled. “Local motorists should be prepared for stepped up Click It or Ticket enforcement,” said Corporal Tim Mayfield, Rolla Police Department Traffic Supervisor. “We’ll be out there to remind you seat belts can – and do- save lives.” Buckle Up and Arrive Alive. For information on Missouri seatbelt usage, please visit

In early January, just off the heels of the devastating and deadly tornado storm that passed through Phelps County, Emergency Management Director Rick Williams sent out a letter to all the different emergency response agencies in the county with a follow-up to the storm. Rick wrote: In light of the recent tornado situation experienced by all of us here in the Rolla community, I would like to say that I am very proud of all of our emergency responders and their governing bodies for their quick response, strategic approach and unending diligence in doing what it takes to restore order in the community. As the Emergency Management Director for the City of Rolla, I cannot tell you how relieved I was to discover the brunt of this storm was going to miss the City of Rolla. Sadly, the residents in the surrounding Phelps County area did not fare so well.

As you know, the City of Rolla has an outdoor Emergency Warning System (10 sirens) in place and these sirens are activated when the National Weather Service in Springfield names Rolla in the pathcast of the approaching storm system. We sound the sirens when there is a tornado warning or a warning of storm produced straight winds in excess of 75 mph. Our sirens are outdoor warning sirens and are intended to alert citizens who may be outside their homes of impending severe weather. These sirens are quite loud and many of the citizens of Rolla are able to hear them inside their homes but that is not the intent of the manufacturer of the sirens… just a bonus for us.

Now there are parts of Phelps County surrounding Rolla, where county residents are able to hear our warning sirens and take appropriate action, but this is not the norm. And with the large expanse of Phelps County and the differing distances between homes, a siren system for county residents is not practical and certainly not cost effective. A few years ago, I looked at other forms of early warning systems for our community and learned of a company called CodeRed. This company offers a service that is an early telephone warning system designed to automatically deliver targeted weather notifications for the immediate threat of severe thunderstorm warnings, flash flood warnings and tornado warnings within moments of being issued by the National Weather Service (NWS).

In other words, this system will alert citizens via, telephone message, text or email of impending severe weather without any effort or input from the governing agency. As you know the use of cell phones, smart phones, I-Pads and other media devices are on the rise and it seems as if almost everyone carries these devices with them constantly. What better way to let the community know than a personal message that they are sure to receive? This system can also be used by law enforcement and fire districts to warn of major incidences such as barricaded shooters, hazmat spills, power outages and road closings. Public works can use the system warn citizens of road repair projects, parade routes, sewer line breakage and many other functions. Public school systems can utilize CodeRed for parental notification of early school closings and emergency school evacuations and incidents. Health Departments and medical centers can provide pandemic info, vaccine availability, and emergency rerouting.

This program seems to be very cost effective and a great way to reach the masses in the event of emergencies. A representative from CodeRed is scheduled to be in Rolla on Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. at the Phelps County Courthouse to introduce the program and provide a demonstration of the services available. I think it would be in the best interest of the community if all of you or your designee could attend and present any questions you may have. We will be meeting in the County Clerk’s office. I have provided attached information on the CodeRed system for your review. This letter was sent to representatives from the Phelps County Commission, Phelps County Sheriff’s Department, Phelps County Health Dept., Phelps County Office of Emergency Management, Rolla Fire and Rescue, City of Rolla Mayor’s Office, City of Rolla Public Works Dept., Rolla Public Schools, Phelps County Regional Medical Center, Central Dispatch, the Emergency Services Board and Rolla Municipal Utilities.

The meeting was held this past Thursday and all the aforementioned agencies sent representatives to look at the program. At the conclusion, the consensus was to look at the possibility of instituting the program here in Phelps County with all the participating agencies contributing to the cost of the program and all agencies maintaining individual control of their usage. We feel this program would be an added benefit to both citizens within the city limits of Rolla as well as the residents of surrounding Phelps County and other municipalities. A follow-up meeting will be scheduled in the near future in an attempt to secure the benefits of this program.

In closing, I would like to remind you to be sure to join our Rolla Police Department Facebook site. We have nearly 5000 loyal fans who are receiving minute to minute crime and arrest reports, severe weather and traffic warnings, updates to policies and procedures, new employee introductions, dangerous suspect information, humerous officer encounters and many other features. Simply put, this Facebook page is the Rolla Police Department Daily Newspaper. If you are not a member go to and then search for the Rolla Police Department page. If you are already enjoying our site then be sure to tell friends and family to join us. This is just one more way the Rolla Police Department strives to keep the citizens up to date on happenings in our community.

Have a great week!

Chief Mark Kearse

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Recreation for All Ages Committee meets to support Rolla’s proposed Parks Sales Tax

Community leaders, health and recreation enthusiasts, and representatives from various community agencies and organizations met on Monday, Feb. 7 to lay the foundation for their support of Rolla’s proposed ½ cent Park Sales Tax that will be on the April 5 ballot during the Rolla General Municipal Election.
   The energetic and diversified group of 19 or so individuals from the community is being co-chaired by long-time residents and well-known community leaders Sue Eudaly and Bob McKune. The treasurer of the committee is Don Brown.
   The meeting was facilitated by Scott Caron, the City’s Recreation Director, who provided a brief overview of the proposed Park Sales Tax Ordinance that will appear on the April 5 election ballot in Rolla.
   The proposed election ordinance, which was recently approved by the Rolla City Council, will appear on the April 5 ballot as follows: “Shall the municipality of Rolla, Missouri impose a sales tax of one-half (1/2) of one percent for 10 years beginning Oct. 1, 2011 reduced to three-eights (3/8) of one percent beginning Oct. 1, 2021, for the purpose of funding local parks for the municipality, including construction, operation and maintenance of a new community and senior services center?”
   The proposed Parks Sales Tax, if passed, would replace the existing ½-cent Parks Sales Tax exclusively utilized for The Centre, and which is set to expire in December 2013. The new Park Sales Tax would primarily fund the City’s park maintenance operations and the construction and operational support for a new Senior Center, and a small portion for Centre operations. In addition, flexibility in the City’s General Fund can be used to enhance public safety and economic development efforts.
   Members of the ‘Recreation for All Ages’ committee, volunteered to serve on various subcommittees, including fundraising, marketing and community outreach that will be part of the focus of the committee’s efforts to educate and inform the general public regarding the proposed Park Sales Tax and the benefits it will provide individuals of all ages and backgrounds.
   The committee will meet on a weekly basis to plan, coordinate and implement a grass-roots, community-wide public information campaign that supports the passage of the proposed ½-cent Parks Sales Tax. For more information, or to become involved in the efforts of this committee, please contact Sue Eudaly at

Monday, February 14, 2011

Rolla City Hall to close Feb. 21 for Presidents' Day

Rolla City Hall will be closed on Monday, Feb. 21 in observance of Presidents’ Day. The Rolla City Council meeting, ordinarily held the first and third Monday of the month, will be held Tuesday, Feb. 22 at 6:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at Rolla City Hall (901 North Elm Street).
   The Environmental Services Department will also be closed on Monday, Feb. 21 in observance of Presidents’ Day. The department will be picking up Monday’s trash on Tuesday, Feb. 22 and Tuesday’s trash will be picked up on Wednesday. There will be no special pickups on Wednesday, Feb. 23.
  For more information, please visit

Environmental Services Dept. to close Feb. 21 for Presidents’ Day

The City of Rolla Environmental Services Department will be closed on Monday, Feb. 21 in observance of Presidents’ Day. Monday’s trash will be picked up on Tuesday and Tuesday’s trash will be picked up Wednesday.
   There will be no special pick-ups on Wednesday. If you have any questions, please call 364-6693.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Winter weather poses challenges to community

Winter weather is easily the main topic of discussion these days not only in Rolla, but all across the Midwest and Northeast where record snowfall and low temperature readings are reported day after day in the news.
   In Rolla these conditions have resulted in what may seem to some as endless snow storms, cold winter nights, back-breaking snow shoveling, and lots of icing on porches and sidewalks;  and yet to others it has meant striking sunsets, endless sledding opportunities at Ber Juan Park and the Rolla Jr. High hillside, building snowmen, snow angels, quiet walks in the woods, and in the City’s case, snow plowing and salting. Some folks love it, and some folks can’t wait until spring and warmer weather arrives. No matter how you stack it or measure it, Rolla has had more than its normal share of severe winter weather, icing and snowfall – and it’s not even March yet!
   Some say this winter is one of the worst winters in 40 years to hit the Meramec Valley Region, and considering that we still have another good six weeks of winter ahead of us, that statement may turn out to be true. Either way, the snow we have been receiving has meant challenging driving (and walking) conditions around town, countless days of school closings at Rolla Public Schools, a two-day closure at Missouri S&T, and countless closings for area colleges, businesses and community organizations. Let’s hope the warmer weather forecasted for this weekend and the upcoming week will thaw some of the large ice and snow piles that have accumulated along the street curbs and at various entrances to parking areas and businesses. While the City’s snow plowing operations have been in full force throughout the past six weeks or so, it is extremely difficult to plow every inch of snow on the City’s 110 miles of streets, especially in the downtown area where so many cars park and become trapped by snowfall. The clearer a street is of parked vehicles, the easier it is for the City’s snow plows and salt trucks to maneuver and eliminate snow and ice build-up.
   The winter weather is particularly hard on many City employees whose duties and responsibilities require them to work outdoors, such as the Sanitation Department, Rolla Police Department, Rolla Fire and Rescue, and of course the Street Department that has spent much of their time outdoors clearing the City’s streets and municipal parking lots. While these employees are well accustomed to working outdoors, the severe weather conditions have made their jobs all the more challenging over the past six weeks. We certainly appreciate the efforts of all our employees, and especially when asked to work in snow storms, frigid temperatures and unpleasant weather conditions. 
   While it may be a bit soon to be talking about March and warmer weather, I would like to remind everyone that the 103rd Annual St. Pat’s Parade is getting closer by the week, and will be held on Saturday, March 12 at 11 a.m. on Pine Street in downtown Rolla. I’ll be mentioning more about this festive event in the weeks to come, but it never hurts to have something like the St. Pat’s Parade to be looking forward to over the horizon.
   In closing I’d like to mention that the Rolla Sesquicentennial Planning Committee continues to meet regularly to plan and coordinate festivities for the City’s Sesquicentennial Celebration on Saturday, June 4 in downtown Rolla. And in an effort to make as much information as possible about the Sesquicentennial festivities, including the Sesquicentennial Parade, a special link has been added to the City’s Website homepage (see the ‘Rolla’s 150th’ tab button) that includes several articles, and updates regarding the City’s rich history and the many festivities planned for the Sesquicentennial Celebration. I encourage you to help spread the word about this important milestone in the City’s history, and pencil in the weekend of June 4, 2011 on your calendars while you contemplate the arrival of summer weather.
   Have a safe week!