It was a good night at city council meeting tonight. I was really encouraged to see a large attendance. I have been there some nights with only 5 citizens present, but tonight was well attended. The agenda was full with agenda request. The community garden was on the agenda. This was a carry over from last month. Pastor Jonathan cleared some things up with the garden. Last month, it was discussed to end the lease with the community garden early. Pastor let them know that the lease is not due till April 30th and the original agenda request said nothing about the lease. The garden wanted to update them about the progress and ask about them helping with water. The council decided not to help with water and leave it at that. Tom Strom interrupted and said, “you’re not going to end that lease early?” The mayor quickly responded by saying it was staying the same. Next on the agenda was the Poultry processing and food store. They spoke on the issue for just a minute but then council delayed that till the planning and zoning report.
The events committee has been hard at work and they gave a report of some of the things they are wanting to do. One of the things they requested money for was for a website. This surprised me because I am confident a citizen had volunteered to help with this but was never contacted. Now they will pay $250
plus the domain fee and hosting fee. The city will have to do the input of all the information after it is set up. They talked about monthly auctions and down payment for the 4th of July fireworks. The board approved the down payment from fireworks account.
Alderman Edie Rownd asked the board for permission to apply for a grant to again treat the weeds. The grant would be for $16,000 from the Coover Foundation. This was debated for quite some time because other alderman, mayor, and city clerk did not want the weeds sprayed again and felt it was a waist of money the last time. They talked about it for some time, but finally decided to let her apply for the grant and explore other options besides spraying. This is the second time in the past year the board has debated about free grant money to treat the weeds.
The next large thing was the report from Planning and Zoning. Harriet reported that the Planning and Zoning had done lots of research and met with the owners of the poultry plant. Planning and Zoning had decided that it did not fit the location nor did it fit the comprehensive plan. After receiving the report, Alderman Sonya suggested a public forum on the topic. Alderman Roberta then began to say that the P and Z had done all the work and we should support their work. Alderman Edie then read from the comprehensive plan and from a government website describing food desert communities. She thought it was important that we explore this more. Harriet to informed the community that they are doing things right and obeying laws. In the middle of this, Tom Strom started in on the Coffell property on Boys Camp Road and the Church property. The mayor did an excellent job handling this by telling him to get on the agenda. Tom did not stop and was eventually escorted out by the Rockaway Beach police. The board continued and decided to have a public hearing to see plans from the owners and understand the project more before they say no or yes. This was a proud moment for our city as the leaders are striving to make informed and educated decisions that are best for all citizens. After this finished, there was a mass exodus and lots of items left of the agenda.
The meeting was long and the sound system still struggles, but other than this I would say tonight was a success for the city of Rockaway Beach.
Why am I all of the sudden passionate about chickens?
This past week, I have spent time thinking about chickens. So I had to ask myself why all of the sudden am I passionate about chickens in Rockaway Beach. I like to eat chicken, but I would struggle processing my own chicken. Not sure my stomach would hold up walking through a chicken plant, but now I’m all of the sudden passionate about chickens.
The reason I’m so passionate about chickens is that it is not really chickens I’m passionate about. It’s jobs and community development. Each week we bus in approximately 125 students to Bridge of Faith. These lives matter. Their future is important to me. I get routine phone calls for assistance with food, medicine, electric, water, and you name it. This month I am averaging about one phone call a day from a different family that needs assistance. The people have been referred to me from friends, neighbors, family members, the downtown gas station, the city office, police officers, city officials and others. It is often families of the children we bus in that need assistance. I want to see life change and long term help. I am not big in free hand outs that are temporary fixes. I want to see long term fixes. I believe a long term fix is more jobs. This chicken processing and food store has the potential to start out with six jobs. That’s six less phone calls of people who need assistance. I am fully aware that people who need assistance will always be around as Jesus told us this, but I want to see more opportunities for people to work and have year round work.
I have worked to create conversation on this topic and from what I hear those who are against it just don’t like the location. One, due to the lack of development our city does not have to many other options as far as adequate buildings go. From speaking with the owners, they shared with me that the planning and zoning suggested they purchase 20 acres and build a building. This is great idea but would be difficult for a small operation to start with that much overhead. Two, what was in this location before now? A cricket farm that’s right a cricket farm and no one was upset with a cricket farm being located on main street. I thought about what all we have had on main street in my eight years of living here. I have seen a food pantry, incense manufacturing, gym, numerous restaurants, thrift store, tackle shop, wood shop, canoe rental, computer repair, bars, and others. Now if you drive down main street few of these are left. Third, the smell. I never smelled the cricket farm, and I never smelled the incense manufacturing. I believe the owners have provided a solid plan to keep the smell to a minimum. The only smell I’m currently smelling is the potential for more jobs and community development. The opportunity is before us and everyone talks about change. Change is before us let’s see how our city leaders handle this one. Outside investors are certainly watching!
For those who missed the last town hall meeting, I thought I would write an informational post about what took place on October 27th, 2014. The meeting began at 7:00 pm. Present for the board were Edie Rownd, Sonya Cross, and Tom. The mayor was not in attendance due to a funeral. In the crowd was, five citizens, the clerk, secretary, and a police officer. The topic of the evening was to explain the park tax that will be on the ballot tomorrow. Eddie took control and explained the purpose of the tax was to help generate interest in our local parks. She asked for questions from the audience. Two questions were asked. 1.) Where is the Mallord Bay project? 2.) What are the future plans for the tax? Edie answered the second question by saying that they did not have any formal plans for the tax, but their hope was to generate more interest in participation by collecting the tax. No priorities for the money have been laid out. The first question was then answered by saying the Mallord Bay grant money has been sent back. Some discussion took place about the process of the tax making it to the ballot without being on the agenda for the meeting when it was passed. One citizen spoke up and said they would not vote for it because it was not done right. Edie then asked for our ideas on getting more people to participate on city boards and meetings. The suggestion was made to allow citizens to participate more in meetings on voting issues for the aldermen. The suggestion stated allowing any citizen that wanted to speak a time allotment of one minute to speak on the issue so that their voice could be heard. The citizens suggested the aldermen work to make this happen for the betterment of the city. This was a bitter sweet moment as it seemed for a second the city was unified on this idea. Every citizen got to speak without being cut off and their voices were heard. It was a great night for the City of Rockaway Beach and the sense of things we could accomplish if we all participated and worked together.
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Rockaway Beach Extreme Makeover Weekend
A group of citizens in Rockaway Beach have been meeting for the purpose of community development. The citizens decided the first project this group would focus on would be to host a clean-up Rockaway Beach event. The purpose of this project is to foster community pride in ownership, unite the community by showing a willingness to work with others and with outside mentors to improve the long-term viability of Rockaway Beach. This event will consist of volunteers from the city of Rockaway Beach, Bridge of Faith Community Church, local businesses, area churches, and Branson area businesses that believe in the revitalization of Rockaway Beach. The project will be lead by local citizen and pastor of Bridge of Faith Community Church, Jonathan McGuire. This event will focus on Hwy 176 or Main street of Rockaway Beach from the corner of 176 and EE to the East end of 176 and EE. Areas of focus will be on the city park, community garden, and Pizza Cellar. Projects entail landscape maintenance, litter pickup, general cleaning, painting, and planting. This will take place on April 25th through the 27th. On Friday and Saturday, at 9:00 a.m. volunteers will gather at the Rockaway Beach city park to sign in and report to their assigned work zones. At 11:30 we will once again gather in the Rockaway Beach city park for lunch provided by Amvets Post 78. After lunch, its back to work to put the finishing touches on the morning’s projects. All Projects will be completed by 3:00 p.m. Sunday the day will begin at 11:30 in the city park with lunch being provided. At 1:00 p.m., its back to work to finish up the weekend’s projects. All projects will be completed by 4:00 p.m.
At the end of the weekend, numerous volunteers will have “Made over” Rockaway Beach into the beautiful city we all love.