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Tuesday, Sep. 2, 2014

Chamber gets look at DPS in Sikeston

Friday, November 21, 2003

(Photo)
Drew Juden
SIKESTON - Through a series of photos, Sikeston Department of Public Safety Director Drew Juden showed what his department is today. Then Juden asked the members of the Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce what they would like DPS to become.

"It is up to you what we are to be," stated the DPS chief. "We have made great strides in the last few years and to continue, it will take money and support."

Juden praised the support received from the City Council and city administrators, but added it will take the public's support - financial and otherwise - to continue to provide quality services in the community in the future.

Opening up his presentation Thursday to questions from the audience, Juden noted his department is working with officers from the city of Jackson on Homeland Security. Calling the team a "model" for the state, Juden said his department has received about a quarter million dollars for equipment through Homeland Security funding.

Efforts are continuing to battle illegal drugs in Sikeston, the DPS chief said. Acknowledging it continues to be prevalent problem in the state with some 2,200 to 2,400 meth labs shut down each year in Missouri, Juden stated: "Meth is still here but not as prevalent in the city as it used to be."

A good working relationship with merchants and efforts by his department have helped to push the methamphetamine labs outside the city limits, Juden said.

The number one issue facing his department is salaries, according to Juden. He pointed out DPS officers, along with other city employees, have gone three years without a cost-of-living raise. "My employees, the city employees, are the most valuable resource we have," said the chief. "They need to be compensated."

He added his department has problems when officers are on vacation or ill. "We have no depth to back up those positions and it is getting ready to get worse as we lose our men who are in the National Guard," said Juden. He explained the DPS staff includes four members of the local National Guard, which was recently notified it would be activated, and at least three are expected to be called up for service.

Prior to Juden's speech, Keith Kirk spoke to the members about the Sikeston Missouri Arts Inc. and its effort to promote and broaden the arts in the community. As part of this effort the group would like to bring the St. Louis Black Repertory Company in for performances next spring and is attempting to raise $5,000 to do this.

The repertory company's visit to the community would be an opportunity for elementary and secondary school students to see a professional theater company perform, said Kirk.

Encouraging businesses and local leaders to make a tax-deductible donation, Kirk added: "This community has heart and soul and believes in supporting things to make life better."

Upcoming Chamber events include:

Nov. 22 - Altrusa Club will host the annual O'Christmas Tree Dinner and Auction at the Sikeston Elks Club.

Dec. 3-6 - Nativity scenes will be displayed at the First United Methodist Church, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the Wesley United Methodist Church. Displays are open from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Dec. 7 - The third annual Christmas Homes Tour is scheduled from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. to benefit the Sikeston Depot.

Dec. 13 - The 16th Annual SEMO Farm Toy Show is set for the RaudMont Inn (formerly Ramada Inn).

Dec. 18 - The December Chamber meeting is at noon at the RaudMont Inn.