Looking Back: 2017 in Review, Part Two
In “Looking Back: 2017 in Review, Part Two,” we find out more of what was newsworthy in a year filled with something for everyone.
After greeting July with a fabulous Independence Day fireworks display at Edwin A. Pape Lake, Concordians turned their attention to other matters as a body found in the Missouri River was identified as that of a 26-year-old man from Kansas City, Kan. Authorities said the body had been found in the river just east of the 65 Highway bridge at Waverly at 8:35 p.m. on July 3.
At the regular meeting on July 13, the Transportation Advisory Council of Pioneer Trails Regional planning Commission held a lengthy discussion on needed improvements and possible solutions to a variety of problems related to Interstate 70 across the state.
Alma’s Lillian Strathman submitted the Grand Champion ham at the Lafayette County 4-H/FFA Fair Ham Curing show on July 13.
In late July, the Concordia Board of Aldermen voted to seat a review board following an incident involving the escape, manhunt and eventual capture of an alleged felon the took place between July 13-15 in Concordia.
In August, all eyes were on the sky as Concordia was near the center of the line of total darkness as a total solar eclipse made its way across Missouri on Monday, Aug. 21. This was the first such eclipse in the continental United States since 1979. Concordia was in the line of totality, or the time when the sun is completely blocked by the moon, for a total of 2 minutes, 38 seconds. The event meant fun as well as educational activities for local school children and adults alike, as well as sizeable crowd of visitors, some from as far away as Texas, India and China.
Also in August, the Lafayette County Children’s Services Fund board of directors announced changes in Brighter Futures program providers and funding. According to LCCSF Coordinator Tiffany Dehn, the changes were needed after the board learned that the Brighter Futures program was not recognized as a state or federal entity, and therefore was not eligible to receive funding through the LCCSF, which is made up of monies from a 1/8 percent sales tax voted in by county citizens in 2005.
The Heins family of Concordia was chosen as the 2017 Lafayette County Farm Family of the Year and went on to represent Lafayette County at the 2017 Missouri State Fair.
August also saw the addition of a sports reporter to the staff of The Concordian. Rocco Scarcello, a 2017 graduate of Missouri Valley College, started reporting on local sports on Aug. 7.
September saw the return of the Concordia Fall Festival, which ran from Sept. 5-9. During that time, a major portion of Main Street was filled with carnival rides, vendor booths, and revelers enjoying the contests, displays, parades, and the general sights and sounds of the annual street fair. Abigail Rankin, daughter of Jennifer and Chad Rankin, was named the 2017 Concordia Fall Festival Queen.
Kaylee Breshears, daughter of Robert and Karlin Breshears, of Blackburn, was crowned Waverly Apple Jubilee Queen at the annual Waverly Apple Jubilee. Addison Beumer, daughter of Matthew and Danielle Beumer, of Blackburn, was took home the crown and title of Apple Jubilee Princess. The 2017 Waverly Apple Jubilee Auction brought in more than $50,000 for the Waverly Jaycees.
As the month drew to a close, both of the local high schools held homecoming events. Meghann Roepe and Brett Mueller were named homecoming queen and king, respectively, at Saint Paul Lutheran High School. Abigail Goolsby and Cameron Cooper were crowned Queen and King at the Concordia High School homecoming game.
Mary Vogt was named as the new part-time director of the Concordia Area Chamber of Commerce to begin October’s news. Vogt was raised in Concordia and attended St. Paul’s Lutheran School, Concordia High School and Saint Paul’s Lutheran College. She holds an associate’s degree in education and is a certified activity director.
State Auditor Nicole Galloway warned of financial instability for the city of Lexington during a presentation to the city on Oct. 5, saying it was “critical that leaders take a proactive approach to budgeting and make sure that taxpayer dollars are managed responsibly.” The city of Lexington quickly issued a press release stating that the mayor was “disappointed” in the auditor’s presentation and asking residents to remember that “the auditor’s recommendation are just that, recommendations” and that there were “no findings of misappropriation of funds, criminal activity, fraud, waste or abuse” in the audit.
October brought about the official retirement of local veterinarian Dr. Jon Schroeder, who had been in practice in Concordia for 42-years. Schroeder and his wife Karen sold the business to Dr. Paul Smith and his wife Rhonda.
October also found Randy White, executive director of Pioneer Trails Regional Planning Commission, announcing his retirement effective at the end of 2017, after 10 years in the position.
Veterans Day celebrations took place across the county in November, with an inspirational salute to veterans bringing Concordia area residents together at Central Park on Nov. 11.
Good Shepherd Care Community, previously known as the Lutheran Good Shepherd Home, held a fund raising comedy event at the Concordia Community Center on Nov. 3, reportedly bringing in over $4,000 while entertaining approximately 160 guests.
Four area farms were honored as 2017 Missouri Century Farms, including the Marvin Boeschen farm near Concordia, the C. W. Hook farm near Higginsville, the Lichte farm near Lexington, and the Jeremy and Rachel Ahmann farm near Odessa.
A new element of holiday celebration was added to the Concordia landscape on Nov. 20 with the lighting of the “Magic Tree” on the grounds of CFM Insurance. CFM spokespersons said the idea of the tree came about from larger surrounding cities, such as Lee’s Summit and Columbia, which have such trees and have seen increased tourism and community involvement around the holidays because of the trees. The annual Lighting of the Mayor’s Christmas Tree celebration took place on Nov. 24 at Concordia’s Central Park, with visits from Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus and a variety of different holiday-themed activities.
And area students were honored as winners of the local VFW Patriot’s Pen and Voice of Democracy contests in November. Holly Brown, of Concordia High School, took first place in the Patriot’s Pen essay completion, while Elizabeth G. Gillet, from Saint Paul Lutheran High School, took first place honors in the Voice of Democracy audio-essay contest.
Members of the Pioneer Trails Regional Planning Commission announced they had found a successor to retiring executive director Randy White, naming Norman Lucas of Park Hills to fill the vacancy. Lucas’ background includes nine years of workforce development and grant administration service for the Southeast Missouri Regional Planning Commission and 17 years of economic development and project administration work for the city of Park Hills.
Lafayette County joined the St. Louis County Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. The state’s first PDMP, the St. Louis County program was established in 2016 to battle opioid abuse and increasing overdose deaths in the state. Since that time, a growing number of counties and cities, as well as physicians and pharmacists, have joined St. Louis County’s program. Lafayette County commissioner Craig Williams said the county wanted to “be part of helping to find a solution to this problem we are facing statewide.” Since there had been no statewide initiative enacted at the time, the commission “felt this was a good way to become part of finding a solution” to the opioid problem, he said.