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Marshall addresses community at meeting

Friday, September 29, 2006

(Photo)
Sikeston Mayor Mike Marshall
SIKESTON - "Our best years are ahead," said Sikeston Mayor Mike Marshall. But to achieve them, he added, citizens must continue to work together.

Marshall, the guest speaker for September's Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon, began his presentation noting the recent decision by Union Pacific railroad to change its planned increase in routing through Sikeston was a group effort. The decision was a result of efforts by local citizens and on the city's behalf by local, state and national politicians.

"Washington heard our roar. Omaha heard our roar. It was the roar of you citizens," said Marshall. "When we work together we get things done."

But the mayor emphasized the railroad has been an important part of the community and will continue to be essential to its economy. Describing Union Pacific as a "gentleman" in its decision to use the alternate route, Marshall said the railroad and the city are not adversaries but "they are our friends" bringing a round of applause from the Chamber membership.

Reviewing the progress made in the city in the last few years, Marshall said the Land Clearance Redevelopment Authority has been essential in bringing about change. The removal of dilapidated structures and debris from the community has improved its looks and prompted other property owners to make improvements as well, he said.

While there is a marked difference in the community's appearance, according to Marshall, there is still room for improvement.

Another area seeing improvement is the Downtown which is undergoing revitalization efforts.

Also the mayor praised the efforts of the Department of Public Safety, calling it one of the best trained and best equipped departments in the state. "We are regaining our good image," said Marshall. "Crime is going down in Sikeston."

Other positive points for the community include planned improvements to the airport, the Sikeston Area Higher Education Center which is soon to be renamed Southeast Missouri State University - Sikeston, and the city's economic development efforts by Ed Dust, director. The construction of a coal-fired ethanol plant should be another welcomed addition to the community and region, he said.

Looking to the future, Marshall said efforts will continue to improve the community not only through clean-up efforts by the LCRA but an anti-litter campaign which will include the issuing of tickets by DPS.

Also Marshall said a bridges over the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and a four-

lane interstate connecting Paducah and Sikeston would be a great benefit to the region. "This is very important to our growth. We are going to get that bridge done," pledged Marshall.

Finally, Marshall said, it is important for Miner and Sikeston to talk about combining. Noting both communities need each other, he added, combining would make the towns more attractive to industries looking to locate in towns of about 20,000 population.

"We can make things happen and we will make things happen if we work on it together," added Marshall. "Our best years are ahead."

Missy Marshall, Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce executive director, noted several upcoming events including:

* The annual Cotton Carnival is under way with the parade slated for Saturday. Lineup begins at 9 a.m. with the parade to begin at 10 a.m.

* The Sikeston Public Schools Foundation's "Punt, Pass and Pig Out Tailgate Party will be from 5-7 p.m. Oct. 6 in the Pavilion parking lot. The $10 tickets are available at Montgomery Bank, the Sikeston Public Schools Board of Education office or by calling 472-8833.

* From 7-11 p.m. Oct. 28 at the Sikeston Armory Building will be the Missouri Delta Medical Center's benefit, "Blast from the Past." Tickets are $20 per person and available by calling the MDMC Foundation at 472-7525.