Jackson's Fourth of July festivities and a community center

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

As we all prepare to celebrate our Independence Day, we want everyone to have an enjoyable -- but safe -- Fourth of July.

Please remember the city of Jackson ordinance that states that "no person under the age of 17 shall possess, discharge, ignite, or explode any article of fireworks unless under the direct supervision of a parent or guardian." Because of the extremely dry conditions, we strongly recommend that people have quick access to water before setting off any fireworks.

We will have activities in the Jackson City Park from 7:30 a.m. (5K walk/run and children's fun run) to 9:30 p.m. (fireworks display). Mud volleyball starts at 8 a.m., beer garden at 10 a.m., car show from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., patriotic bicycle parade at 11 a.m., Colonial America display from 1 to 4 p.m., and many other exhibits and food vendors. Evening activities include the expanded concert at the band shell from 7 to 9 p.m., followed by the fireworks display. Come join us!

The Southeast Missouri Medical Center has been interested in building a community center for Jackson citizens for quite some time. It is now closer to a reality.

At the board of aldermen meeting June 18, Steve Elefson, representing the SMMC, showed preliminary plans and discussed building a 27,500- square-foot facility on land owned by SMMC on Deerwood Drive. The cost breakdown for the project is $3.5 million for the building and $1.3 million for site work, parking lot and landscaping.

This is a very civic-minded group, which has already provided financial assistance for many projects. Now they are working to provide this facility debt-free to the citizens of Jackson.

The Community Center could have several meeting rooms, a historical room, a room that could serve as an electronic library, office space, storage space and a kitchen.

The highlight of the building is a multipurpose room, which is the size of a regulation basketball court and can be partitioned for many other uses such as multiple volleyball courts and smaller-sized basketball courts.

This room would also have a stage on one side of the court and rollout bleachers on the opposite side. By adding folding chairs on the floor, this area can be converted for performing arts events, large meetings or social events.

We are applying for a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency so that the multipurpose room will also be a "safe room" built to withstand an F-5 tornado. Hopefully, we will never experience another tornado, but should that happen the safe room will shelter everyone within a half-mile radius, including anyone in the community center, at the ball field and residents in the vicinity.

With a total cost estimate nearing $5 million, we applaud the willingness and generosity of the SMMC in providing this facility for the citizens of Jackson and the surrounding area.

Barbara Lohr is the mayor of Jackson.

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