West Seventh Street bridge reopened after repair

Webb City Public Works has managed to catch a day when it wasn’t raining to pour a concrete deck on the West Seventh Street bridge. Storm water earlier this spring came over the bridge and uprooted the asphalt surface. The bridge will be more important as the city builds out Seventh Street farther west to connect with Prairie Flower Road.

The city staff continues to work on a plan to build a detention pound south of the bridge at MacArthur Drive to slow down storm water so it doesn’t flood the Golf Road area.

Local beer and wine makers will be able to serve drinks during July festival in park

Promoters want to increase attendance; Tent restricted to those 21 and older will be located away from children’s activities

The Webb City Council on Monday voted to allow a tent featuring alcoholic drinks made by local businesses at city-hosted events in King Jack Park.

Alcoholic drinks are otherwise prohibited in city parks at all times.

The tent, to be called the Red, White & Brew Beverage Garden, will first appear July 8-9 as part of the Route 66 Cruise-A-Palooza.

Kyle Hickam made the proposal as a representive of the Webb City Area Chamber of Commerce, saying the beverage tent is part of an effort to improve the city’s main summer event.

Erin Turner, the city’s community development director, noted in her report to the council that there has been a decline in the number of vendors and attendees at the event – and those who do attend aren’t staying very long.

Hickam said there were only seven vendors last year, while 32 have already signed up to be at the event this year. New attractions include a two-day barbecue cook-off, big trucks on display and an outdoor movie.

“We’re really trying to grow this event,” Hickam said.

He added, “There are people who would like to showcase as local vendors, but they do offer alcoholic beverages. They want to show their wares in a confined location.”

Two of the businesses seeking to sell and promote their products during the event are Flag City Brewery and Just A Taste winery.

The plan is to erect a 40-foot tent away from children’s attractions. It will be fenced, and entry will be restricted to those at least 21 years old.

Gwen Allen, executive director of the chamber, noted that Carl Junction allowed a place for alcohol consumption at its festival last year.

Police Chief Don Melton confirmed police are present at the event anyway.

Mayor Lynn Ragsdale said he didn’t resist the proposal coming before the council because of two major differences from when a beer garden request at the festival was rejected two years ago:

• A majority of the Park Board members have said they don’t object.

• Local businesses will be serving drinks, as opposed to it being just a beer garden.

Jerry Fisher (3rd Ward) said, “I believe it’s a step in the wrong direction.” And because there are hundreds of kids present, “it’s not a place for alcohol.”

Fisher and Alisa Barroeta (2nd Ward) voted against the motion to approve the alcoholic beverage tent at city-hosted events. The other six voting in favor of it were Andy Queen and Ray Edwards (1st Ward), Gina Monson (2nd Ward), Jonathan Shull (3rd Ward), Debbie Darby and Jim Dawson (4th Ward).

After the vote, Ragsdale said, “Now it’s our job to monitor this thing and if it’s not as we perceive it to be bring it back.”

COLA increased to 3.5%

City staff recommended a 2% COLA (cost of living adjustment) wage increase for city employees to help keep up with inflation.

Normally, the city goes by the COLA set annually by the Social Security Administration, but that guide for this year is 5.9%. 

A motion to approve the 2% was made, but Dawson said, “I believe we can afford more than that.”

He added, “I think we’re just underpaying our employees.” It was a “big deal” when the council improved the retirement plan for city employees, “but they can’t spend that.”

According to the treasurer’s report accepted Monday, the city had a balance of $1,688,527 in its general fund as of May 1. And Ragsdale pointed out that revenue from sales and use taxes continues to increase (9.1% sales tax, 31.7% use tax).

Raises for merit are made separately from COLA.

“We have a good pay plan,” said City Administrator Carl Francis.

However, Ragsdale made a point that it is unfair for the council to rely on Francis and Tracy Craig, the financial administrator, to determine what salaries are appropriate, partly because their job duties include saving the city money.

The amended motion to raise all city wages by 3.5% on June 1 was approved 7-1, with Edwards voting no.

The annual cost of that raise is estimated at $45,000.

Pinnacle Bank will hold an Employee Appreciation Grill-Out at the Webb City Police Department parking lot when weather allows.

In other action, the council:

• Accepted the bid of $23,852 from Modern Tech Equipment, of Pacific, Mo., to further repair the limb shredding machine used in making compost at the Center Creek 201 Wastewater Treatment Plant. The machine was repaired after it was damaged by a piece of steel. However, the need for other parts and alignment has become apparent.

• Allowed the fire department to accept the donation of $1,610 from the Jasper County Local Emergency Planning Committee to purchase two new air gas monitors. They are used to check the air quality while the firefighters are on emergency and hazardous materials calls.