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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Cleaning up Sikeston

Sunday, January 16, 2005

(Photo)
While the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority works to remove unsightly buildings from the community, the city is cleaning up from illegal dumping.
SIKESTON - The mandate to clean Sikeston up has been in place for years, but the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority now has the means.

On Jan. 7, Mayor Mike Marshall handed over a check for $125,000 to LCRA Chairman Mike Bohannon.

"I'm pleased to be able to deliver on the promise that we made with the proceeds from the sales tax," Marshall said. "This represents a quarter of the $500,000 that we've committed for this year."

The LCRA is slated to receive that amount for the next three years.

"We're just planning on putting it to use for what the taxpayers approved it for. That is, to continue to tear down dilapidated houses and clean up our city," Bohannon said.

"Part of it will be used for matching funds for the Community Development Block Grant to tear down the old First Baptist Church. The balance will be used as we proceed for the acquisition and demolition of blighted properties."

The Council had previously transferred $50,000 to the LCRA as start up money. With that and the recent transfer, council members have dedicated a total of $175,000 to the LCRA effort so far, according to Friend.

"We just now received our new money from the sales tax," Friend said. "When that first check was received the council directed staff to send $125,000 over to the LCRA so they can continue to make progress."

The first check from the sales tax was for $198,000. City officials had projected it would be $212,000 "so it didn't come in like we thought it would but that's OK," Friend said, noting projections a year in advance are hard to make.

Friend said City Council members are committed to funding the LCRA from the new tax and will continue to send more as it comes in.

"We would like to be able to do more and we are going to actively solicit funds from other government entities that may have surpluses," Bohannon said. "We're moving forward and we have got targeted properties. In the near future we will be identifying another 40 to 50 properties for acquisition that we hope to have down this year."

And while the dilapidated buildings are coming down, city officials are fighting another clean-up battle - illegal dumping in Sikeston's drainage ditches.

Friend said a business called the city about junk in a drainage ditch on the southeastern part of town recently. Due to heavy rains, city officials were looking at drainage issues anyway, Friend said, and the junk makes things worse by inhibiting the drainage.

"We had a whole living room suite, a couch, chair and some tires, a boxspring, a microwave," said Steve Lee, street superintendent.

"It's nonsense with all the opportunities we have in this community to get rid of junk," Friend said of illegal dumping in the city. "We had to take our personnel, our manhours, our equipment and go clean it up."

The city will impose "jail or fines or whatever it takes," Friend added. "We will do everything we can to prosecute and will be on the lookout."