The Sedalia City Council heard presentations from five entities on Tuesday night during a pre-council session.

Randy Kirby
Randy Kirby

Requesting $10,000 of funding from the City of Sedalia was the Scott Joplin Ragtime Foundation. Council heard an overview from Joplin representative Kathleen Boswell, who spoke for the all-volunteer board.

Boswell spent some of her vacation time promoting the local festival, she said, including visits to New York City's Carnegie Hall and Scotland. She noted how other cities are beginning to initiate their own ragtime festivals, such as Tokyo and Sapporo in Japan.

This year's festival is scheduled for May 30 – June 2.

Requesting $30,000 of City funding was the Sedalia Downtown Development, Inc., (SDDI). Speaking Tuesday night was SDDI Executive Director Meg Liston.

Randy Kirby
Randy Kirby

One of the stats she brought to the meeting was that an estimated $2 million in revenue is lost each year due to empty or underutilized building space in the downtown area. Just one empty building can result in a $222,000 loss over a year's time, she estimated.

Several businesses located to the downtown Sedalia area (referred to as “The Avenues”) such as AFC Urgent Care, Malone's Irish Pub, S-C Fuel, Flying Pig Emporium, Sweetpea Kreationz, Pettis County Real Estate, Meraki Beauty Bar, and some expanded in 2017, Liston noted, such as Ozark Coffee Company, Backwoods Guitar, Ozark Real Estate Inspection, Midwest Service Solutions and Salon Vogue.

Liston also stated that the Central and Business and Cultural District currently has more than 225 residential units and 500 residents. Young professionals make up the bulk of the residents with a median age of 30.6, followed by retirees and moderate income working families.

Expansion plans include adding 18 units to Cromwell Court by Furnell Investments, bringing the total amount of market-rate units to 75.

Also there are 30 private upper-floor apartnents and 25 family-affordable lofts at the Commerce Building.

A total of $425,00 in Real Estate transfers occurred in downtown Sedalia in 2017, with $1,038,800 in completed improvements. A total of $180,500 was spent on public infrastructure. Liston noted that a total of 59 new jobs were created. And a total of 2,018 volunteer hours were donated to the downtown area in 2017, representing a $47,544 value.

The other presentations were made by Sedalia Animal Shelter Manager Randi Battson from the City's Animal Services Department, Public Works Director Brenda Ardrey (Mowing and Alley Maintenance Department) and City Administrator Kelvin Shaw from the City's Finance Department.

The Sedalia Animal Shelter is staffed by one full-time employee (Battson), a full-time shelter attendant (Merry Rogers), a part-time shelter attendant (Wynter Houtchens), an animal control officer (Troy Schneider) and an animal control shelter attendant (Shyienne Cornell).

The Animal Shelter, donated by the Heckart Foundation, is open to the public 12 - 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. However, employees staff the shelter seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Animal Control patrols city streets 1 - 5 p.m. six days a week, Battson said. Sue Heckart attended the presentation.

The shelter has 47 dog kennels and 96 cat kennels.

Battson brought along a Powerpoint presentation that showed that in 2016, the animal shelter adopted out 515 animals,  transferred 38, returned 249 animals to their owners and euthanized 658 animals. In 2017, the shelter adopted out 497 animals, transferred 122, returned 219 animals to their owners and euthanized 104.

Battson noted that she needs more employees and more volunteers at the shelter. In addition, security cameras are needed, due to the fact that the shelter keeps finding animals abandoned at the shelter when employees show up for work in the mornings. Battson said she has discovered dogs tied to the flagpole overnight out in front with no food or water. Security cameras would enable animal control to identify those people responsible for those actions and ultimately issue citations.

In her address to Council, Ardrey noted that her department is trying to do more with less.

The mowing and alley maintenance, which is separate from the city's Street Department, employs one full-time person, one part-time and between 2 and 4 inmates when available. Sanitation employees assist the department on Mondays, she said.

In 2017, there were 742 mowing and right-of-way cleaning activities, 297 code enforcement and abatements, 358 city facility activities, 103 trees trimmed, 98 alleys worked on and 10 ditches cleaned up.

Sedalia has a total of 159 miles of alleyways, she noted.

Ardrey requested the City purchase a tractor, a boom mower attachment and a snow blower attachment. She added that Sedalia Regional Airport currently has a 15-foot brush hog that could be used if a comparable tractor was available.

The current 1997 mower attachment and the 1993 snow loader in use are nearing the end of their useful life, Ardrey noted.

The combination of all the presentations was designed to "set the stage" for Saturday's strategic planning session.

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