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Opinion: Transmission line and fire station major improvements

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

When campaigning for my first term, there were two projects that I considered high priority. These were the extension of a 34.5 kV electric transmission line and the addition of a satellite fire station.

The electric transmission line was high priority because our big transmission line along East Jackson Boulevard was getting close to capacity during periods of extreme heat or extreme cold. We might also have experienced a loss of power for some time if an accident or natural disaster had taken down the line on East Jackson Boulevard. Our city staff (especially the Electric Department) has expended a lot of time and effort on this project.

This project was done in two phases. The first phase was from Wedekind Substation by Center Junction up to Bainbridge Road. The second phase went from Bainbridge through the countryside to East Main Street.

The most time-consuming part of this project was getting the easements and rights of way. The project has now been completed and the lines energized.

MoDOT requested that we have the transmission line project completed before we started actual construction of the phase of Old Orchard Road that runs parallel to the transmission line. That project has already been designed so Public Works director Rodney Bollinger will put it out for bid as soon as we get MoDOT's approval.

Four years ago, one of my first acts was to establish a Fire Station Committee and give them the task of making a recommendation to the board of aldermen regarding a new satellite fire station. Members of the still-active committee are fire chief Jason Mouser, assistant chief Randy Davis, Capt. Greg Hecht, city administrator Jim Roach, assistant city administrator Larry Koenig, and Aldermen Mark Dambach, Larry Cunningham and David Hitt.

The needs for the new station were obvious. As our city limits expanded, homes and businesses were further away from the main station and response time became a factor. We needed a location on the east side of town.

While the number of calls increased greatly, there were also a large number of simultaneous calls. We knew it would be beneficial to have the additional station with the additional crew on duty to respond when two calls occur simultaneously or when there is the need for additional help when responding to fires and accidents.

Being fiscally conservative, we are building the new fire station on property already owned by the city with funds allocated for a public facility in the TIF district. However, we had to go to the citizens for a sales tax increase to pay for the ongoing operational costs of the station. The city of Jackson last asked for a half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements in 1987.

In exchange for the approval of the sales tax, the city repealed ordinances requiring the purchase and display of a city motor vehicle sticker. We felt the quarter-cent sales tax was proper and justifiable. Fortunately, our citizens did too and passed the tax by a large majority. We are in the process of designing the new fire station now.

Barbara Lohr is the mayor of Jackson.


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Barbara Lohr
Mayor's Corner: Barbara Lohr
Jackson Mayor Barbara Lohr is one of three local mayors writing weekly columns for the Southeast Missourian.