Storms and businesses come and go: Democrat staff picks top 10 local stories of 2011
1. Tornado tears through Sedalia: On May 25, just three days after a tornado decimated Joplin, a funnel cloud touched down about a mile south of Sedalia and moved up U.S. Highway 65, then cut in a northeast path, destroying businesses and homes. Forty Winks and Katy Motors are among the businesses that sustained heavy damage but have since reopened.
As the Democrat’s Dennis Rich reported at the time: “(Pettis County Emergency Management Agency Director Dave) Clippert said preliminary estimates show the storm caused between $15 million and $20 million in damage. At least 19 businesses, many along south U.S. Highway 65, sustained major damage, and another 30 sustained minor damage. Damaged or destroyed homes in Elm Hills and Hillcrest trailer parks and the Brentwood subdivision may have forced as many as 250 people into temporary shelter as families and businesses look to rebuild.” Damage to the First Student bus barn and its buses forced an early end to the school year.
There were no fatalities caused by the EF-2 tornado, a fact credited to residents’ quick response to Clippert’s warnings. In the hours and days after the tornado, the community rallied around those affected, donating food, necessities and money to assist in the relief effort.
2. Blizzard blasts Pettis County: On Feb. 1, Sedalia and Pettis County officials declared a state of emergency as a snowstorm dumped between 18 and 22 inches of snow on the area within 24 hours, forcing the closure of schools, government offices and businesses throughout the community. Road crews worked extended shifts for days after the blizzard to clear streets.
3. Canon Center opens: As a way to address the region’s top two health concerns, Bothwell Regional Health Center created the Canon Center for Cancer and Cardiovascular Care, which opened Sept. 18. The $15.56 million state-of-the-art facility helps Bothwell deal with the 23 percent increase in demand for cancer treatment it has experienced over the past three years, and the expected 10 percent increase in heart disease expected over the next three to five years.
4. ProEnergy announces expansion: Gov. Jay Nixon came to Sedalia in April to help announce an expansion at ProEnergy Services that will create more than 300 local jobs at its Sedalia facilities over the next three years. ProEnergy’s plans include a new 110,000-square-foot building that will house a service center for aeroderivative gas turbine engines and a manufacturing operation dedicated to the assembly of turbine engine-driven packages.
5. Windstorm damage shuts down fair: Gusting winds of nearly 70 mph caused widespread damage across the area Aug. 18 and left the Missouri State Fair without power. The fair was shut down for more than half a day as tents, tree limbs and merchandise were cleaned up across the grounds. The overnight storms left as many as 119,000 KCP&L customers without power.
6. Hamburger heartbreak hits Sedalia: Two longtime burger joints, Eddie’s Drive-In and Griff’s Burger Bar, closed their doors late in the year. Eddie’s owner George Geotz set a closing date, then decided to remain open after a rush of sentimental business. Geotz later closed the business without notice. Rumors of Griff’s closing circulated for weeks, then a date of Dec. 4 was set. A late rush of business wiped out the food supply and it closed Dec. 3.
7. Water meters get blood boiling: The $3.5 million water meter replacement project infuriated residents, not because of the initiative’s cost but because of the Sedalia Water Department policy stating that residents would be responsible for damages should the meters get damaged and need to be repaired or replaced at a cost ranging from $25 to $125 per meter.
8. Building collapses, and rubble remains: The front portion of K&K Restaurant Fixture Company, 202 W. Main St., collapsed late March 17. The rubble remained at the site, some spilling onto the street, until late fall, when the city finally was forced to take action.
9. Edwards named city administrator: Sedalia officials hired Gary Edwards to become the next city administrator in June; Edwards took office on Aug. 1, succeeding Frank Myers, who received a $63,750 payout as part of a separation agreement a year ago. Edwards, who was town manager of Wickenburg, Ariz., before coming to Sedalia, also had previously served as manager or administrator in the Missouri cities of Moberly, Festus, Ste. Genevieve and Branson West.
10. Jennings inducted into hall of fame: Longtime Sedalia Democrat reporter and columnist Ron Jennings was inducted into the Missouri Press Association Hall of Fame in September during the MPA’s annual convention in Branson. Jennings, with family members and current and former Democrat journalists in attendance, thanked “the several generations of Sedalians who have trusted me with their stories. You’ve given me a wonderful life and the honor of a lifetime.”
READERS’ TOP 10
1. Tornado tears through Sedalia.
2. Christ & Trinity Lutheran Church youth group creates an illuminated cross out of broken glass found where a church was destroyed in Joplin, and delivers the cross to that church’s congregation.
3. Canon Center opens.
4. ProEnergy announces expansion.
5. Blizzard blasts Pettis County.
6. 1st Sgt. Billy Joe Siercks, 32, of Lincoln dies from injuries sustained in Afghanistan.
7. Building collapses, and rubble remains.
8. Jennings inducted into hall of fame.
9. United Way campaign brings in more than $750,000.
10. Windstorm damage shuts down fair.
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