Serving a city

Monday, April 14, 2008

On Friday, the newest Cape Girardeau City Council member, Mark Lanzotti, was sworn in, along with returning Councilwoman Loretta Schneider. Deb Tracy, also re-elected Tuesday, had a family commitment and couldn't make the afternoon meeting.

The ceremony took place at a special meeting in council chambers with a few family members on hand. Lanzotti's wife, Amy, arrived with the couple's three children, Victor, Marisa and Anthony in tow. The children wore matching campaign T-shirts that read "Vote for my dad."

"Save it," Schneider told Victor Lanzotti after admiring his T-shirt. "You may have to wear it again in four years."

Mayor Jay Knudtson took time to thank the family members for their often-unsung role in city government.

Matt Hopkins, the outgoing Ward 5 councilman, was joined by his wife, Barb, and their daughter, Melissa, 10. Jan Voss came in part, she said, because seeing people take the oath "is cool." She's right.

The oath is more than a chance to take photos -- though visit for the photo gallery -- it's the moment when an elected official makes a public commitment to support the U.S. Constitution, as well as the state's constitution and the city's charter and ordinances. A key phrase is the commitment to "faithfully and impartially discharge all the duties" of office.

It wasn't lost on me that the words were spoken just about midway between the passage of the parks and storm water tax and Tuesday's deadline for paying income taxes. At the end of the day, elected officials are basically there to make sure the money is well spent.

City manager Doug Leslie told the council members that the half-cent parks tax goes into effect Oct. 1; in November, the city will receive the first payments from auto sale receipts and other retail receipts in December.

Cape Girardeau officials face a busy month stewardship-wise. The council meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday to decide who does what to move the comprehensive plan forward, review community development and begin determining what the city's stance is on regulating land beyond the city limits.

FEMA officials will be at the next city council meeting, set for April 21, to outline policies and procedures for people affected by the recent floods.

The city's budget for 2008-2009 will be the subject of a study session that starts at 5:30 p.m. April 23.

The city's parks and recreation advisory board convenes at 5:30 p.m. today to talk about next steps, now that the parks and storm water tax has passed.

They also will hear from Mike Sheehan of the city's historic preservation commission. He's been visiting all city boards, in part to promote an appearance by Southeast Missouri State University history professor Joel Rhodes at the commission's meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Rhodes will talk about his book, "A Missouri Railroad Pioneer: The Life of Louis Houck."

Commissioners will also hear recommendations from preservationists Terri, Foley and Steven Hoffman.

All the meetings are at city hall, 401 Independence St.

The preservation commission is also sponsoring a walking tour, starting at 5 p.m. May 9 at the Marquette Tower.

Speaking of history, two Cape Girardeau firefighters, battalion chief Mike Ramsey and Capt. Sam Welker, are gathering information to document the fire department's history, which dates back to 1875. People with photos, memorabilia or other historic details should call 334-3211.

Questions, suggestions or tips for Lost on Main Street? E-mail or call 335-6611, extension 127.

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