From talks of a new police station to more businesses coming to the area, 2017 will be another year of add-ons and improvements to the city of Jackson. Mayor Dwain Hahs joined KRCU's Marissanne Lewis-Thompson in the studio to talk about it.
Lewis-Thompson: Infrastructure wise in 2016, it was a pretty big year for Jackson. And one of the main projects that became the center of attention was the roundabout. So how has the traffic flow been since the completion of that roundabout?
Hahs: Well it's just gone very well. We're very pleased with with the traffic flow. The backups that we experienced when we had a four-way stop have completely gone away. In fact even in the busiest time you know before and after school at noon the backups are almost nonexistent at this point in time. So the traffic is flowing very well. Large trucks, buses are not having any problem getting through the roundabout. So it's going very well. Certainly the citizens are learning about roundabouts and how to drive through them. But you know no major issues as we go through this.
Lewis-Thompson: So what other big projects are in store for this year that are kind of at the same magnitude or scale of that roundabout?
Hahs: Well I guess as far as construction within the city you know we have two fairly large projects. The first one is our water system. During 2014 the citizens voted for a water bond issue, which will improve our water system and will spread that out over the next nine or 10 years. Well this year will be a major beginning of that. We started it at the end of last year, but we'll begin replacing a lot of water lines throughout the city. One of the major areas that we do is our uptown area North High Street, Adam Street we'll replace those two water lines this year.
Lewis-Thompson: And you said there's another big project coming after that.
Hahs: Then in our sewer system on the east side of town, we plan on beginning a project to put in a new wastewater sewer line to the east side of town. So that'll be a major project. That will certainly do the pre-planning at the beginning of the year. And if it goes well we could start construction by the end of the year.
Lewis-Thompson: Moving on from that there have been talks about a new police station in 2018. Can you tell me a little bit about those plans if you can?
Hahs: Yes I can. Well you know we're still doing some design work on our police station. But today our police and fire share one building, which was built about 40 years ago in Jackson. And we're just greatly space constrained and in some areas even you know constrained in terms of what we'd like to do with our public safety buildings. So the plans are to build a new police station next to the present building where we have a lot, and then let the fire department take over the complete part of the building that they share at this point in time. So the design is coming along very well. We should hope [to] have that done by mid year. We're doing some changes based on cooperation with the Cape Girardeau County, where we have a plan to-- we're working on that to consolidate our dispatch centers and our 911 call center. And if we can consolidate that we'll move that to one of the county jail. Also we're looking at the jail system. Right now, we just have a very small jail in our police station. We'll probably move that to the county as well that responsibility. So we can use their facility. So in the new police station we won't need a 911 dispatch center. We won't need a jail. That'll save us quite a bit of money going forward as we design that building.
Lewis-Thompson: Well since we're already kind of talking about public safety what kind of improvements are you trying to have in 2017 for the city of Jackson?
Hahs: Well I think probably support of our police department. We're looking at adding another school resource officer in cooperation with Jackson R-2 schools. I think we have a plan to start upgrading our radio system for the police department so they have a little better communication. Update it you know into the digital age, and also so they can communicate better with other police departments, safety departments within our region. So you know some communication areas this year as well as adding some resources.
Lewis-Thompson: And with that being said on more add-ons,there were quite a few pushes to get more businesses added to the Jackson area in 2016. What is that like now?
Hahs: Well we've you know we certainly are pleased that we've had several new businesses come to Jackson and always welcome those as well as some you know expanding within the city that we're already here. What we're doing now is that we have a retail initiative. We've hired a retail consultant Catalyst Commercial to go out and recruit new businesses to Jackson, and that process has has started. In addition, for our local businesses and so that we've got a good local connection for our new retail businesses and our present ones. We've hired a director of retail development in Jackson and that is a shared position with the Chamber of Commerce as well as the city of Jackson and Jen Birdie has just started in that role as of January 1st.
Lewis-Thompson: And what types of businesses are you trying to bring to the Jackson area?
Hahs: Well we've done some survey you know just as far as what's here now and what is needed. So you know if you look at that survey there's some areas where we're a little bit underserved as far as population and what kind of businesses. So certainly reaching out to some food type businesses within that. Yeah. Not not only fast food, but other type of businesses that serve the public and restaurants and so forth. And in addition we're you know looking at the area of health and beauty aids grocery type businesses as well showed to be underserved for our population of 15,000. So those are some of the emphasis. And then there'll be some others based on you know our land that we have along the interstate. Certainly any business that would draw off Interstate 55 could go on one of our exits.
Lewis-Thompson: And one of the things that you had mentioned to me is that there's going to be a community survey.
Hahs: Yes. Yeah. Probably you know towards the mid part of the year I'd like to construct a survey so that we can go out to our citizens and even the area population to find out really what are they interested, what type of retailing are they interested, what type of stores would you like to see. And then we can use that information to talk to various retailers either in the area or on a nationwide basis. Also I'd like to have an interest of what they see as their priorities. We'll look at parks. You know what's their highest interest that they'd like to see us develop in the future in parks. Is it the fields you know sports fields? Is it a swimming pool? Is it something else they'd like they'd like to see.