Big River to launch free Wi-Fi spots in 7 cities

Monday, November 14, 2011

Big River Broadband is launching free Wi-Fi hot spots in seven Southeast Missouri cities. Its first Hot Spot Site Launch kick off was held in Farmington, Mo., last week, and it will host similar events, today at Sirros Restaurant in Ste. Genevieve, Mo., Tuesday at Tractor's Classic American Grill in Perryville, Mo., Wednesday at Pastimes Antiques in Cape Girardeau, Thursday at Tractor's Classic American Grill in Jackson, Friday at the Madison County Chamber of Commerce in Fredericktown, Mo., and on Nov. 22, at Holly's in Marble Hill, Mo. Each launch event will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and include a ribbon-cutting ceremony, live entertainment and prizes.

Big River Broadband's hot spot Internet service will allow people to access the Internet on their laptop, smartphone, tablet or other portable Internet device free of charge. The downtown Wi-Fi hot spots are the first stage of a larger broadband project to provide wireless Internet and telephone service to seven Southeast Missouri counties. Big River received $24 million in funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's broadband initiative for the $33 million project. Big River Broadband's wireless network will serve Washington, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Madison, Perry, Bollinger and Cape Girardeau counties. Basic home service will be priced at $14.99 per month. Big River's broadband project will provide access to 90 percent of the seven-county area it will serve, including 44,967 households, 7,511 businesses, 61 schools and 143 medical facilities. Currently, only 29 percent of the households in this area have high-speed Internet access, according to Big River.

* The former Ponderosa in Cape Girardeau will soon be home to a new Asian restaurant. The owners of Great Wall Buffet in Cape Girardeau and Carbondale have purchased the Ponderosa building, at 45 S. Kingshighway, according to David Donley of Commercial Real Estate Specialists, who handled the sale. The new owners intend to open a Japanese restaurant inside the 6,040 square-foot building, he said. It has been vacant since Ponderosa, owned by Adco Partnership of Paducah, Ky., closed in December 2010.

* S. Gregg Gallery will close its doors at the end of this year, after 35 years as a fixture on Cape Girardeau's main street. The S. Gregg Gallery began in 1975 as the BOEN Gallery, a fine arts gallery established by two local doctors, Bill Ogborn and Ed Noffel. During a major recession in 1980, the gallery owners sold the BOEN Gallery to Steven Gregg. In 1983, Gregg changed the name of the business to the S. Gregg Gallery in order to reflect the change of ownership. Local real estate agent Jo Duff joined the gallery as a partner in 2009 with the desire to see the gallery, which is the fourth oldest business in Downtown Cape Girardeau, continue to serve the community. Recently, due to several factors, Duff and Gregg have decided to close the business at the end of 2011. Although several individuals have expressed interest in purchasing the gallery over the last two years, no serious buyer has been found to date, Gregg said. The S. Gregg Gallery is now offering 40 to 50 percent off its inventory.

* Mercato di Rodi, French for Rhodes Market, is the newest member of the Rhodes 101 family. The new convenience store under construction on East Main Street in Jackson is expected to open by Nov. 15, said Keith Boeller, president of Rhodes 101. The new facility will include a Soupe Express offering foods based on the menu of Cafe Soupe, located inside City Centre. Mercato di Rodi's Soupe Express will feature soups, salads, and sandwiches. "We will have some exciting new offerings in our beverage area, special selections in the wine area from Primo Vino, and a beer cave to continue to offer the coldest beer in Cape County as voted by the People's Choice Awards," Boeller said. A wide assortment of grocery and convenience items will also be available. Rhodes 101 has more than 20 convenience store locations throughout Southeast Missouri.

* Johnstone Supply recently purchased a 14,000-square-foot building at 2043 Rust Ave. in Cape Girardeau, where the company plans to open a branch facility, said Tom Kelsey, commercial broker with Lorimont Place Ltd. who handled the real estate transaction. Johnstone Supply is a national wholesale distributor of heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration parts and equipment. The company has regional distribution centers in Portland, Ore., Memphis, Tenn., Allentown, Pa., Jacksonville, Fla., and Las Vegas. It has more than 350 independently owned stores throughout the United States and beyond, totaling over a billion dollars in annual sales.

* Pyramid Home Health Services has been named to the 2011 HomeCare Elite, a compilation of the top-performing home health agencies in the United States. Now in its sixth year, the HomeCare Elite identifies the top 25 percent of health care agencies and further highlights the top 100 and top 500 agencies overall. Winners are ranked by an analysis of performance measures in quality outcomes, process measure implementation and financial performance. Pyramid Home Health Services has been supporting Missouri communities since 1972. Pyramid Home Health Services offers home and community-based health services including long-term care, pharmacy, home health and hospice services. More than 4,000 individuals in 110 Missouri counties receive home delivered health service daily from a Pyramid Home Health Services company. Pyramid Home Health Services' local office is at 18 N. Main St. in Cape Girardeau.

Southeast Missourian business editor Melissa Miller may be contacted at 388-3646 or mmiller@semissourian.com.

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