SIKESTON - The Sikeston Land Clearance Redevelopment Authority may deal with the old and the dilapidated but it is all about the future and change, Mike Bohannon, chairman of the LCRA, told the Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce Thursday.
Giving a brief history of the LCRA, Bohannon explained it was initially funded through efforts of the Sikeston Housing Authority and the Board of Municipal Utilities. A tax, passed by Sikeston residents in 2004, now funds the LCRA efforts.
"We are so proud of the citizens of Sikeston for passing the tax," said Bohannon. "It means you want change."
And there are changes to be seen, he continued. The LCRA has identified 166 properties in the community needing improvement.
According to the LCRA chairman, 25 have been removed from the list as owners have either cleaned up or removed eyesores. There are 52 lots which are now vacant and he said another 10 to 12 will become vacant lots within the next two weeks.
Currently about 100 properties are in various stages of condemnation, a legal procedure that can often be lengthy, he said. However, he pointed out, the courts have ruled the LCRA does have the legal authority to be taking action and the LCRA recently added to its legal staff to expedite the process.
"It takes time," Bohannon said. "But we are going to do everything we can to see things get done in a timely fashion."
As the LCRA acquired the lots, they have hired teenagers through BRI to assist in maintaining them. Bohannon pointed out that not only are the young people earning money through the program, but they are also taking pride in their work and their community.
It is a pride which is spreading, he continued, adding area homeowners are also maintaining their properties. Recently a new home was constructed on one of the LCRA's former lots and other single-family homes are planned for other LCRA lots.
"Take a drive through Sikeston and you will be amazed by the difference. People are taking pride in their property. When you start cleaning up, it is infectious," he said.
Efforts will continue. Bohannon said the LCRA has acquired the former Cotton Compress property and is in hopes of getting a grant for its removal then plat and develop the site for homes.
He praised the citizens for their support of the LCRA as well as the members of the Sikeston City Council.
"We are just getting started on tackling these problems," concluded Bohannon. "This didn't begin over night and we can't solve it over night."
In other Chamber news:
SACC Executive Director Missy Marshall announced the annual Chamber Golf Tournament will be a three-person scramble on Sept. 15 at the Sikeston Country Club. For more information or to take part, those interested should contact the Chamber office at 471-2498
Missouri Delta Medical Center will host the annual Hospital Ball at the Clinton Building on Oct. 29. This year's event hopes to raise $126,000 for state-of-
the-art EKG equipment for the hospital's cardiology program, according to Nicole Cozean and Valerie Bollinger, co-chairs of this year's event.