Where will Kennett go from here?

Saturday, August 5, 2017
The City of Kennett put together a panel which ranged from the County Commissioner to DAEOC department heads and judges for it’s Community Meeting held Thursday night. The meeting was established as a way to give the public an open forum to address any issues they may have or to give them a chance to ask questions pertaining to current or possibly future concerns with the City of Kennett.
Photo by Trina Bell, staff

Where will Kennett choose to go from here? That’s the question everyone had in mind at Thursday night’s Community Meeting.

The City hosted this open forum for it’s residents in an effort to give citizen’s a chance to address problems or concerns they have or see in the City, as well as, give citizens a chance to address the positive progress they like.

Mayor Bob Hancock had asked during Tuesday evening’s City Council meeting, for a packed house. He received just that, with some citizens standing in the hall outside.

The City had a panel of professionals who were there on behalf of the organizations they represent in order to try and cover all areas and to hopefully have a better opportunity at answering the citizens’ questions.

The panel consisted of: Police Chief Johnny Dennis, Judge Mike Mowrer, DAEOC Director Joel Evans, City Counselor Terry McVey, Mayor Hancock, Dunklin County Presiding Commissioner Don Collins, Dunklin County Juvenile Officer Tommy Campbell and Director of the Family Support Division Sheila Cooper. Other representatives included Laura Ford, who represented the Oaks Nutrition Center and Michelle Raspberry, with the Dunklin County Caring Council.

The meeting opened up with resident Jill Rickman talking to the Mayor and Kennett City Council, who were in the crowd of residents. Rickman expressed her ideas and opinions on the idea of having a City Administrator for the City of Kennett.

“I feel this is a necessary position to where each department head would have one person they could go to for information,” Rickman said. “I feel if there were a City Administrator, this would free up the councilmen, who are volunteers, and allow them to drive policy and strategic plans and would give us a better shot at getting the resources we need,” she added.

A resident asked if this was an appointed or elected position, at which time, Rickman informed her it was appointed.

Councilman Nick Weatherwax stood and said he felt the idea of hiring a City Administrator was a great idea, while others stated the last attempt was a catastrophe.

Next to address the panel and crowd was Laura Ford, with the Oaks Nutrition Center. Ford’s focus was on Seniors and housing conditions in which some live in. “I have one senior who is blind and lives in a house where there are exposed wires and holes in the walls,” she said. Ford expressed her concerns for the conditions of some of the houses in the City of Kennett and how they are passing inspection.

Former Mayor Roger Wheeler agreed with Ford expressing his concern about hearing the City of Kennett is a dirty community. “Everywhere you look there is trash and clutter,” Wheeler said. “As citizens of this community, we should make a conscious effort every day to do all we can to clean this town up,” he added. Wheeler went on to say, “having a dirty town will deter any new businesses from wanting to come here and that’s the last thing Kennett needs.”

Rickman stood again to ask Code Enforcement Officer Victor Mode and Judge Mowrer if there was a way to stiffen the fines and penalties for those with trash violations. Mode informed everyone, he can write citations but the depth of the penalties lies with the court system.

Mowrer agreed with Mode but informed the crowd on how it’s not a crime to live in poverty. “You want people to be fined for not having screens on windows and for not having everything nice and neat,” Mowrer said. “But the lack of having money is not in violation of any city ordinance in the City of Kennett,” he added.

Mowrer went on to explain some people have the financial ability to maintain certain standards, where as others do not. But that does not make it a criminal offense.

Several in attendance addressed issues with particular landlord / tenant issues. But according to the panel, this has been an ongoing issue, not only in Kennett, but other towns as well. It was mentioned the council may want to consider the idea of renters’ permits or something related.

Another former Mayor was in attendance and had something to say as well. Sol Astrachan addressed everyone, with his emphasis being on how the residents, as well as, the elected and appointed officials should have some pride.

“I do not believe anyone should vote to do away with property tax,” Astrachan said. “In order to progress and move forward, we have to give a little,” he added.

Astrachan touched on how the City of Kennett has lost one company after another over the past several years.

“Did anyone go to MANAC and ask if there was something we could do to help as a city,” Astrachan said. “Did anyone ask to see if we provided utilities, which is City-owned, if that would help cut costs enough to keep them here and open and not cost 80-plus employees to be without a job,” he added.

Astrachan expressed his love for the City of Kennett and made his voice heard like many others who attended the community meeting.

All in all, Mayor Hancock thanked everyone for filling the town hall and for those who spoke and expressed their opinions. It is important for everyone to know how vital it is to pass these ordinances at the Aug 8th election,” Hancock said. “It’s something that will be so little but will in return do so much,” he added.

The City of Kennett is encouraging all residents to vote Yes on Tuesday, Aug. 8. The Ordinance No. 2999 will allow the City of Kennett to impose a sales tax of one-half of one-percent and designate one-eighth of one-percent solely for the purpose of providing programs and services for senior citizens and further designate three-eighths of one-percent solely for the purpose of providing storm water control, with such tax to terminate automatically 10-years after the imposition thereof.

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