CHARLESTON - Missouri cities south of St. Louis had to fight to be included in events celebrating the Missouri Lewis and Clark Bicentennial, according to Silvey Barker of the Mississippi County Tourism Council.
"We've called ourselves, 'The Forgotten 150 Miles'," said Barker during her presentation of the tourism council's 2001 annual report and 2002 budget request at Thursday's county commission meeting.
Preparing for the Missouri Lewis and Clark Bicentennial celebration will be the focus for the tourism council this year, Barker said.
The start date for the famous expedition commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson and undertaken by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark is usually listed as May 14, 1804 - the day the expedition departed St. Louis and headed up the Missouri River. The party actually gathered the summer of 1802 and headed west down the Ohio River, however.
Even after doubling their manpower to head up the Mississippi River at Cairo, Ill., the expedition only achieved "less than a mile a day," according to Barker.
Mississippi County is where the expedition first touched land west of the Mississippi. "We're going to get some calls, get some interest not only locally but nationally," said Barker.
Articles submitted to tourism publications will focus on historical events this year such as the Trail of Tears and the Battle of Belmont during the Civil War in addition to the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
Barker also discussed gathering information on local events to place in local newspapers' "calendar of events" sections "to promote things that are going on in the county."
The council's budget request of $2,000 is the same amount requested last year, according to Junior DeLay, county clerk.
Jim Blumenberg, presiding commissioner, said Barker and Sophie Dugan are doing a good job promoting tourism in the county.
In other Mississippi County commission business:
* Another public hearing to gather public comment for the $500,000 Community Development Block Grant which will help fund the county's rural water project was held.
"It's the same thing we did back in June," said Martin Lucas, commissioner. "Their time ran out and they had to resubmit the application."
Joe E. Lane, director of community planning for the Bootheel Regional Planning and Economic Development Commission at Malden, said the hearing is a formality required under the grant's guidelines.
Blumenberg estimated 80-90 percent of potential rural water system users will be included in this first phase.
* Barker agreed to represent Mississippi County on the Transportation Advisory Committee along with Blumenberg and David Brewer, Charleston's city manager.
Brewer and Kathie Simpkins, city administrator for East Prairie, previously served on the Highway 60 Committee but DeLay said he believes this to be a new, separate committee.
This committee will be a way "to put input in to MoDOT on problems with our roads," Blumenberg said.
* Blumenberg asked about the status of the county Industrial Development Authority.
Liz Anderson, IDA board member, said the county IDA has operated as an active agent instead of waiting for events as city IDAs typically do, but the board had not met recently.
Blumenberg said even a factory with only 20-30 jobs would help the county. He suggested the county could resume funding the IDA.
"We're sitting here with two nice buildings and no one to occupy them," said Blumenberg.
* Commissioners approved an order for release to fulfill a request to disinter a body at the Oak Grove Cemetery.
The body is being moved to be buried next to his wife who was recently buried at another cemetery, according to Sheriff Larry Turley.