Scott City residents offer ideas on needed changes

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Scott City needs a reconfigured Interstate 55 exchange, a new bridge over Ramsey Creek, drainage work and replacement of old sewers. It needs sidewalks, a community center, a fairground, a skateboard park, a new swimming pool and more tourism.

Those were some of the suggestions given to former state senator Jerry Howard at a public meeting attended by 15 people, the city council and city staffers Tuesday night at the city hall.

Howard has a contract to catalog the needs of communities in the six Bootheel counties of Scott, Mississippi, Stoddard, New Madrid, Pemiscot and Dunklin.

Mayor Tim Porch said the highly criticized design of the I-55 interchange, with its traffic backups and numerous accidents, is one of the main impediments to business development in the city.

"The interchange is a complete disaster," Porch said.

But the city holds little hope the state will address the problem. The project is not on any Missouri Department of Transportation plan.

"They have nothing to give us," the mayor said.

As a way to ease the situation, the city wants to build a bridge over Ramsey Creek to connect the town with its industrial park, allowing motorists to get on and off I-55 at the Route AB/Nash Road exit. The city is looking for ways to finance that $1 million project itself.

Meeting higher standard

The city's first priority among infrastructure needs is bringing an abandoned sewage lagoon up to state Department of Natural Resources standards within one year, Porch said. That project is expected to cost $250,000.

Beyond the interchange, other impediments to business development include the location of the railroad tracks along Main Street and a lack of commercial buildings in the 20,000 to 30,000 square-foot range, officials said.

Brenda Moyers, president of the Scott City Chamber of Commerce, said the city needs to take advantage of its location on the river to promote tourism.

"We need a way to get new dollars into our community," she said.

Howard is about halfway through the 60 presentations he will make to communities throughout the Bootheel by August. His contract is through Creative Communities Inc. The Malden-Mo.-based nonprofit organization specializes in providing services promoting nontraditional vocational training, job placement and job advancement.

Creative Communities will use Howard's information to structure training programs.

His work is part of a $297,000 grant awarded Creative Communities by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development. Rural Development supports essential public services in rural areas of the country through financial assistance. Other parts of the grant are designed to boost value added agriculture and entrepreneurship.

sblackwell@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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