Still here after 200 years

Monday, July 28, 2008

The excitement over the city of Jackson's 100th Homecomers seems to have overtaken another significant anniversary: the 200th year since the city of Cape Girardeau was incorporated.

After Wednesday morning's brief ceremony at the Red House Interpretive Center, many of the 50 or so people who attended went inside to enjoy a cup of lemonade and old-fashioned baked goods served by docent Boots Jessup — I can vouch for the delightful ginger cake and tart lemonade — before checking out the Red House's multimedia history show.

What both Jackson and Cape Girardeau share: People who care enough to make sure that vital information is recorded and preserved, whether it is an original plat of city streets or hundreds of historical photos.

Among my favorite unreported moments during Homecomers was encountering four people on a sidewalk Tuesday evening, rather spellbound by the historical images flashing on a big video screen inside a storefront. While watching scenes from the 1917 blizzard, an older man said, several times, that his dad had told stories about those snowbound days.

Hopefully some will feel inspired enough by these celebrations to share their own stories and maybe, like Meriwether Lewis, will jot down a few notes for future generations.

While Homecomers celebrated the past, "good food, family and fun," Jackson officials were also peering into the future. The city is narrowing the field of companies competing to write the city's next comprehensive plan, with five companies invited to a round of interviews in August.

Meanwhile, Cape Girardeau has hired community planner Sarah Wallace to help implement its new plan. She hails from Wisconsin and worked in the planning and zoning department for Wisconsin's Portage County, helping draft comprehensive plans for 27 communities.

One of 47 applicants for the Cape Girardeau planning job, Wallace was "the best qualified by far," said Ken Eftink, development services director for Cape Girardeau. Wallace's resume includes working in Illinois for the U.S. Forest Service and volunteer firefighting.

Wallace's job will include helping the city modernize the zoning ordinances.

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If you haven't been in the neighborhood of Interstate 55's new exit 102, you may not have seen progress on LaSalle Avenue construction.

"It's a pretty dramatic pathway," said Doug Leslie, Cape Girardeau city manager. Perhaps the best view is from the hill on the East Main Street side of the freeway. I suggest going on a sunny afternoon, preferably before or after rush hour.

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If you'll be driving through Jackson on highways 34 or 72, plan to add time to your trip. MoDOT's work crews are going into a major phase of a road-widening project that's going to reach the 34/72 intersection.

Meanwhile, the deadline for public comment on MoDOT projects in Scott City is Thursday. The plan includes extending the outer road to U.S. 61, giving drivers a north-side route out of the city.

The comment forms are online at www.modot.org/southeast/projects/countie....

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Attention, bugmeisters: Jackson Public Library's "Catch the Magic Bug" is 2 p.m. Wednesday. Magician Marty Hahne will perform. Afterward, prizes will be awarded to those whose names are drawn from the Summer Reading Program logs.

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

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