Municipalities Do A Lot For Us

Backstory

By Sheridan Garman

One of the interesting aspects of my job is gaining an understanding of how municipal government works and learning about all of the hard work that goes into keeping a city going. Small city offices generally have at the bare minimum a city clerk and city collector. The duties of these positions entails so much more than the public sees. It can be easy to take for granted the services offered by our cities. Clean water, lighted streets and a safe community are just a few of the things managed by cities.

I interviewed the Lowry City Clerk Lisa Snethen and Stephanie Roberts who is the Lowry City collector. “What does a city clerk do?” I asked Lisa.

“I get everything ready for the city council meeting, as well as take minutes for the council. I write the resolutions and ordinances, sometimes editing what others have given me. I also handle city permits and licenses as well as the financial statements and the budget.”

Lisa Snethen became the city clerk after seeing a facebook post stating the position was open. When I asked her what she liked most about her job, she was quick to reply “my coworkers”.

When I asked Lisa and Stephanie what it was the public does not see, the answers surprised me. They said that they were not sure that everyone realized that the monthly city council meeting was public or that the office, being government, was transparent as well. “They don’t understand that they can come in and ask to see the city’s ordinances.”  Stephanie said.

I started to ask Stephanie what the most challenging thing about her job was, but interrupted my own line of questioning. “I bet water shut-off day is the most challenging, isn’t it”, I said.

She nodded in agreement, then said “People don’t understand what we do with the money. They don’t understand that as well as providing necessary utilities, we have to pay the city’s bills. So much more goes into a city than meets the eye.”

Municipal governments do so much to nurture our communities and provide essential services like clean water. Often city employees go above and beyond to help our communities continue to move in a positive direction. Next time you are in to pay a water bill or pick up a permit- take a minute to say “thank you”.

 

 

 

Economic Developer Works with Atypical Startup

It all started a few months ago when I attended an Osceola Chamber Meeting. The Osceola Elementary LOGO students were pitching their business ideas as part of their participation in a program sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City Missouri. The kids had done quite a bit of research and I was impressed with their unique ideas. Especially since they were viable business ideas. It is interesting to note that both of the businesses pitched were tech businesses- which is not ordinarily the type of startups seen in our area.

The first business was a plan to attach tracking devices to arrows for hunters, so that they could locate their arrows after shooting them. The students hypothesized that they could also use the tracking devices for many other applications. The second business pitched, and this one really caught my eye was an app that showcased historical sites in the area and sold advertising to local businesses to turn a profit and increase tourism dollars. This business was in line with one of my goals for St. Clair County, so I decided to contact them.

After offering my assistance on a comment card, one of the students emailed me. After talking with their instructor, Cathy Colby I agreed to help them with a business plan in order to secure investment. Once the business plan is complete, I plan on working to help partially grant fund the business. Working with the students has been great because they are so enthusiastic and have a creative approach to the project.

City of Osceola Hires Growth Services Group to do a Lodging Market Feasibility Study

A set of developers interested in investing in the Osceola area expressed a strong interest in a variety of projects. They asked me what was most needed and the answer was easy. A hotel. Hotels don’t necessarily provide the highest paying jobs, but a hotel would allow us to expand our tourism industry. Without lodging, visitors to the area who take advantage of our many recreational opportunities don’t necessarily stop and spend money at our local restaurants and retail locations. When they stay in a hotel, they stop to shop too.  There is a 50 mile stretch between Clinton and Bolivar without any lodging options, so I was optimistic that a lodging market feasibility study would come back favorably.

After speaking with local business owners who had expressed an interest in possibly building a hotel as well, the next step was an easy determination to make. I needed to find a way to fund a market feasibility study for a hotel. I approached the city of Osceola board of alderman to ask for permission to pursue a USDA rural business development grant on their behalf. The city agreed as well as pledging to pay the match for the grant out of capital investment tax funds.

Once the RBDG was funded, the city of Osceola hired Growth Services Group to do the study. We picked three sites in the Highway 82 & 13 area due to the high traffic counts, easy access into town with the new interchange, and site availability.  Out of the three sites submitted, the site near the new Shell station-Port was viewed the most favorably due to best highway access.

The study ultimately showed that the Osceola area was indeed an excellent place for a midsized hotel. A hotel development group, Cobblestone hotels met with local business owners, potential developers and the city of Osceola to talk about what kind of hotels would work well in the area and how Cobblestone could help. Now that the study is complete it is a great marketing tool for both the city of Osceola and St. Clair County. It is hoped that this study will spur more investment in the Osceola area.

Behind the desk at City Hall

Backstory

By Sheridan Garman

One of the interesting aspects of my job is gaining an understanding of how municipal government works and learning about all of the hard work that goes into keeping a city going. Small city offices generally have at the bare minimum a city clerk and city collector. The duties of these positions entails so much more than the public sees. It can be easy to take for granted the services offered by our cities. Clean water, lighted streets and a safe community are just a few of the things managed by cities.

I interviewed the Lowry City Clerk Lisa Snethen and Stephanie Roberts who is the Lowry City collector. “What does a city clerk do?” I asked Lisa.

“I get everything ready for the city council meeting, as well as take minutes for the council. I write the resolutions and ordinances, sometimes editing what others have given me. I also handle city permits and licenses as well as the financial statements and the budget.”

Lisa Snethen became the city clerk after seeing a facebook post stating the position was open. When I asked her what she liked most about her job, she was quick to reply “my coworkers”.

When I asked Lisa and Stephanie what it was the public does not see, the answers surprised me. They said that they were not sure that everyone realized that the monthly city council meeting was public or that the office, being government, was transparent as well. “They don’t understand that they can come in and ask to see the city’s ordinances.”  Stephanie said.

I started to ask Stephanie what the most challenging thing about her job was, but interrupted my own line of questioning. “I bet water shut-off day is the most challenging, isn’t it”, I said.

She nodded in agreement, then said “People don’t understand what we do with the money. They don’t understand that as well as providing necessary utilities, we have to pay the city’s bills. So much more goes into a city than meets the eye.”

Municipal governments do so much to nurture our communities and provide essential services like clean water. Often city employees go above and beyond to help our communities continue to move in a positive direction. Next time you are in to pay a water bill or pick up a permit- take a minute to say “thank you”.

 

 

"Our Cities Offer So Much"

One of the interesting aspects of my job is gaining an understanding of how municipal government works and learning about all of the hard work that goes into keeping a city going. Small city offices generally have at the bare minimum a city clerk and city collector. The duties of these positions entails so much more than the public sees. It can be easy to take for granted the services offered by our cities. Clean water, lighted streets and a safe community are just a few of the things managed by cities.

I interviewed the Lowry City Clerk Lisa Snethen and Stephanie Roberts who is the Lowry City collector. “What does a city clerk do?” I asked Lisa.

“I get everything ready for the city council meeting, as well as take minutes for the council. I write the resolutions and ordinances, sometimes editing what others have given me. I also handle city permits and licenses as well as the financial statements and the budget.”

Lisa Snethen became the city clerk after seeing a facebook post stating the position was open. When I asked her what she liked most about her job, she was quick to reply “my coworkers”.

When I asked Lisa and Stephanie what it was the public does not see, the answers surprised me. They said that they were not sure that everyone realized that the monthly city council meeting was public or that the office, being government, was transparent as well. “They don’t understand that they can come in and ask to see the city’s ordinances.”  Stephanie said.

I started to ask Stephanie what the most challenging thing about her job was, but interrupted my own line of questioning. “I bet water shut-off day is the most challenging, isn’t it”, I said.

She nodded in agreement, then said “People don’t understand what we do with the money. They don’t understand that as well as providing necessary utilities, we have to pay the city’s bills. So much more goes into a city than meets the eye.”

Municipal governments do so much to nurture our communities and provide essential services like clean water. Often city employees go above and beyond to help our communities continue to move in a positive direction. Next time you are in to pay a water bill or pick up a permit- take a minute to say “thank you”.

 

 

Local Grocery has Something For Everyone

I like to tell folks about the benefits of shopping local, so given that I do that I shop local too. One of my favorite new places to shop in St. Clair County is “Mama K’s Market” out by Kottwitz feed and supply in Osceola, MO. Last time I was in, I took the time to interview Connie Kottwitz about her and Jim’s business.  Being in economic development, I am always interested in what makes our local businesses tick, and why they opened in the first place.

Connie says she opened the little grocery because she didn’t want to travel for work and she wanted to spend more time with her husband and grandkids. What she hadn’t realized, was that owning a small store meant she would be there most of the time. Still, the grandkids get to hang out at her work and that’s definitely a plus. She touched on one of the things I like most about our county- and that is the industriousness of our friends and neighbors. Being a rural area means that there is less jobs available, so many folks start their own business. That shows determination, creativity and independence- all of which makes us so great.

But back to Mama Ks. Walking in to her store feels a lot like walking in to a comfortable home, and she says that’s exactly how she wants folks to feel when they walk in. She carries a variety of goods, including many gluten free products.  She has a full line of spices (hint: try the rib rub!), dip mixes and soup starters. They also carry several varieties of frozen foods including onion petals and jalapeno poppers. The refrigerators line two walls where you can find a variety of cheeses (some of them in bulk), deli meats and seasonal veggies grown right there behind the store. Some of my favorite items include the low priced coconut oil and gluten free flour blend.

Remember I said walking in feels like home? It does- but only better because walking in to Mama K’s feels like walking in to a home where the smell of fresh baked bread wafts through the air. They bake white bread, honey bread, herb bread, oatmeal bread and even cheddar cheese bread right there at the store. If you have a sweet tooth, try the homemade cookies, brownies and pie.

Mama K’s has good prices and is a friendly mini grocery. One of the things Connie says she likes about her store is all the friendly teasing that gets thrown her way. You oughtta stop in and give her a bit of trouble and pick up something tasty for dinner while you are there. It’s a special home grown business and just one more business that makes our communities a great place to be.

Out and about meeting local business owners

 

By Sheridan Garman

One of the most interesting things about being an economic developer is getting to meet business owners and talking to them about their plans, goals and aspirations. Last week I met with Daylen Noble of Noble Machine and Manufacturing. Daylen’s shop is located in Appleton City, off of Hickory. The shop is a full service manual and CNC machine and fabrication shop. Recently, he also began offering powder coating as well.

He showed me what a blueprint from a client looks like. (Sort of like a picture with some numbers, measurements and Greek on it)  From those plans he makes the specified part or parts that the client ordered. Often though, he doesn’t have a plan to work off of, just a part that someone brought in. This is a valuable service for our local farmers and anyone else that is in need of hard to find specialty parts.

On the powder coating side, Daylen has worked on a variety of projects including a kerosene heater and some grain bin blowers. As of now, he can powder coat any part under 20 feet long. In the future, he would like to expand his capabilities to do both more powder coating projects and manufacturing of parts.

When asked why he likes doing business in Appleton City, Daylen responded “I believe that if I expect people to do business with me, I should be doing business with them. Small communities and rural areas depend on people spending their money within their own community. As a resident and a business owner I try to buy most everything I can from local businesses.” Daylen also said “Some may argue that the rural location hurts this kind of business.  I don't believe that to be true.  In this rural area, local people basically had the choice to go to Kansas City or Springfield to get the services that Noble Machine & Mfg now offers.  Cost also factors into being in a rural area. We can offer the same services that big city shops offer at a fraction of the price because of the lower overhead that can go along with operating in a rural area.”

Having a shop with these capabilities is a huge boon to our area. If you need a part or powder coating done, please consider supporting this young St.Clair county business. Its businesses with down to earth folks like these that make our county a great place to live and work!