Local officials make New Year's resolutions

Sunday, January 1, 2006

Improve their health. Become computer literate. Upgrade road quality. Several politicians and one football coach will take a crack at following through with New Year's resolutions.

Cape Girardeau County Presiding Commissioner Gerald W. Jones wants to catch up with the 21st century and learn how to use a computer. "I don't know how to turn them on," said the 65-year-old, who receives computer tips from his five grandchildren. "I still write letters longhand and hand them to my secretary." For the county, Jones said he will continue to pave roads, which averages about four to five miles a year at $8,500 per mile, and to upgrade the Geographic Information System technology that improves 911 communication.

"I hope that all of the computers that I touch work efficiently," said Cape Girardeau Mayor Jay Knudtson, who admits his frustration that electronic devices are so depended on and yet are so unreliable. Plus, the 42-year-old father wants to keep up with 12-year-old son Gunnar, so he plans to launch a physical fitness campaign that will turn his 6-foot, 3-inch tall, 240-pound frame into a "lean, mean, fighting machine."

Jackson Mayor Paul Sander is not one to make resolutions, but shares Knudtson and Jones' angst with computers. "I'm kind of in that age group, about 50, where we missed out on computers," said the 50-year-old, who admitted he seriously started using computers only five years ago. For the city of Jackson, Sander wants to see two major roadway projects completed in 2006 -- the 34/72 highway widening project and the extension of East Main Street to make way for the interchange.

Scott City Mayor Tim Porch wants to map out a timeline for the completion of the Ramsey Creek Bridge, which was approved for construction in July by Missouri Legislature. On a personal note, Porch said he will continue his usual resolution to lose a little weight and be more considerate of his family and employees at a business he owns.

Other personal crusades:

Redhawks football coach Tony Samuel said he aims to do his best as he prepares for his first season with Southeast Missouri State University.

Cape Girardeau Chamber president John Mehner said he plans to grow stronger in his faith as he attends La Croix United Methodist Church.

U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson said she wants to balance family and work better and exercise more.

State Sen. Jason Crowell said he will ride his bicycle during his stays in Jefferson City, not just to improve his health but to steal some time for self-reflection.

State Rep. Scott Lipke said he will set aside more quality time for his wife and 1- and 3-year-old sons, Layton and Parker.

jmetelski@semissourian.com

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