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Opinion: Decision on sales tax to be made by voters

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

In July I gave you information about the Southeast Missouri Medical Center wanting to provide a new community center for the citizens of Jackson.

The medical center is a not-for-profit organization formed by Jackson residents back in the late '60s for the purpose of improving health care for the citizens of Jackson and the surrounding area by offering incentives to recruit doctors. At the time Jackson was served by Drs. J.N. Jaeger and E.F. McDonald, who were both nearing retirement.

The 12 Jackson residents who formed the committee, which later incorporated as Southeast Missouri Medical Center, were Drs. Jaeger and McDonald, R.A. Fulenwider, Louis Kasten, Stone Manes, Mayor L.A. Nowak, Mrs. Vinyard Kies, Louis Schrader, Bill Thompson, Wib Lohman, Dr. Frank Wiley and Ralph Montgomery. They collected $180,000 from Jackson residents to start Southeast Missouri Medical Center.

In January 1968, the group became incorporated and appointed a board of directors consisting of C.J. Brennecke, Lee Cochran, Bob Hartle, Paul Mueller Jr., Dale Myers, Garland Powell, Bern Schaper and Arnold Strickert.

In 1973, Southeast Missouri Medical Center purchased 78 acres in west Jackson, and two years later recruited Dr. Kennett Asher and helped him build Jackson Family Clinic on its property. The family clinic was opened in December 1976. In 1979, they helped to start Jackson Manor.

Since that time, they have recruited additional doctors, donated money to help build the senior center, and donated to Jackson Fire Rescue for a defibrillator, an ambulance and for early warning sirens. They sold more than 50 acres of land at considerably less than the appraised value to the Jackson School District for an elementary and middle school. Through the years, the medical center has invested $2,534,000 back to the Jackson community.

About seven years ago, Bobby and Jane Clark and Ron and Marcia Clark generously donated almost eight acres of land on Deerwood Drive to Southeast Missouri Medical Center. It is on that property that the medical center plans to erect the community center.

In order to improve infrastructure in that area, Southeast Missouri Medical Center has contributed one-half of the cost for the Deerwood Drive Bridge and the turning lane on U.S. 61 at that location. Now plans are underway to build that community center. It will be built on the land donated by the Clark family and the almost $5 million facility will be paid for by the medical center.

In order to provide the operational costs and to provide for park maintenance and improvements, the board of aldermen voted to place a one-quarter cent sales tax measure on the ballot for the Nov. 6 election. This sales tax will generate enough revenue to operate the community center, eliminate the approximately $100,000 annual park subsidy, and provide some additional revenue for park improvements.

Approval of this sales tax would bring the sales tax rate for the city of Jackson to 7.225 cents, still considerably lower than the 7.975 rate of Cape Girardeau, Perryville and Farmington, Mo., and still lower than the 7.725 rate of Sikeston and Fredericktown.

Again, the decision regarding the sales tax increase will be made by the voters of Jackson on Nov. 6.

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.