Looking back on a productive 2012 for Jackson

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

As we reflect on 2012 and look forward to 2013, these have been good times in Jackson, city of beautiful homes, parks, schools and churches.

In the "homes" area, the city has issued permits for more than 60 new single-family residences this past year. This is the largest number of new single-family home starts in the last eight years. In addition, there are 28 proposed town-house units by Ashwood LLC. The first building is under construction now.

The new community center will be a welcome addition to our parks and recreation system. Thanks to our citizens who approved the parks and recreation sales tax, we plan to start construction of the building in 2013. The Bobby and Ron Clark families donated the land to the Southeast Missouri Medical Center Inc., and the SMMC will pay for the construction of the community center on that land and donate it to the city. The dedicated park sales tax will provide for the operation of the community center.

Following voter approval of a bond issue in April 2012, plans began for a new elementary school on North Lacey Street. Preliminary site clearing has been completed and design work is underway.

Pastor Greg King and members of Bread of Life Church are building a new 12,600-square-foot church on West Jackson Trail to house the growing congregation.

As you can see, we have growth and progress in homes, parks, schools and churches. However, we also have new businesses coming to town. In our surveys, citizens of Jackson say we need more eating establishments and more retail stores. Wings, Etc., a new eating establishment, should be open in late February following extensive renovations. Little Caesar's Pizza has opened and, after being closed for a short while, Mario's has reopened. Family Dollar Store is also under construction.

The new corporate office for Liberty Utilities is coming to our north business and industrial park. The project is in the design stage, which indicates that construction should begin soon. We hope to be able to have a groundbreaking in late January or February. This office will bring more than 25 new professional positions to our city. Along with this project, the city and MoDOT will construct a left-turn lane into the industrial park. This will be an enhancement for safety and traffic flow at that area along U.S. 61.

We are also encouraged by the number of inquiries from new businesses interested in coming to Jackson. We work closely with these businesses to give them information about the many advantages our city has to offer. As I have mentioned before, we cannot "force" a business to come to town, but we are continuously looking for ways to improve police and fire service and upgrade streets, sanitary sewers, water distribution, electric transmission reliability and other public amenities to make our city more attractive for new business.

We look forward to a busy and productive new year in Jackson and the surrounding area.

Barbara Lohr is the mayor of Jackson.

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