Sedalia voters turned out in high numbers Tuesday to vote overwhelmingly for the Heckart Community Center.
With roughly 80% voting yes on both questions and 24.2% registered voter turnout, the one-eighth cent sales tax increase and removal of the June 30, 2026, sunset provision on existing capital improvement sales taxes passed with flying colors during Tuesday’s special election.
County Distributing’s meeting room was packed Tuesday night with government officials, members of the Sedalia Park Board, members of the Yes Yes for Sedalia campaign, and citizens waiting for election results. Refreshments were provided as attendees conversed together, anxiously awaiting the results.
Sedalia voters were asked to consider Sedalia Question 1, which would remove the June 30, 2026, sunset provision on existing capital improvement sales taxes. Voters were also asked to consider Sedalia Question 2, a one-eighth cent parks sales tax increase to pay the principal on the proposed community center.
Cheers rang loudly when the final results came in just before 8 p.m. On Question 1, 2,341, or 79.54%, voted yes and 602, or 20.46%, voted no. On Question 2, 2,396, or 81.17%, voted yes and 556, or 18.83%, voted no.
“I feel great. I mean just really that’s Sedalia. It’s Sedalia, they know that it will help this community. It’s really gratifying,” said Yes Yes for Sedalia Chairman Steve Bloess. “... This is a really good part of the world to live in. You know, it’s just blue-collar people and this community center I just know how much this will benefit our community to do.”
Involved parties were especially excited by the measures passing with an overwhelming majority. Parks and Recreation Director Amy Epple said that during the first meetings when asked what percentage she would ideally want to win with, Epple responded with 80-20.
“They all looked at me like, ‘Amy we know you’re competitive and have high expectations but that’s unrealistic.’ I said, ‘well that’s my goal’...I said I want when this passes that it’s not close, that this community wanted this and is supportive of it,” Epple recalled.
“I don’t want something that they’re not supportive of...Showing 80-20, they want it...It’s awesome, it’s huge. The people of this community of Sedalia are showing that they want it.”
Sue Heckart, former owner of Heckart Funeral Home and founder of the Heckart Family Foundation, has been a vocal supporter of constructing a community center for years. The interest on the bonds for the center will be paid by Heckart’s donation to the Heritage Foundation. After nearly 20 years of working on the project, Heckart is grateful to finally see it come to fruition.
“This is just unreal...It wasn’t a vote for me. It’s a vote for Sedalia. I’m humbled by such a great majority,” she said.
Heckart will have naming rights with her donation and will be naming the center in honor of her parents.
“Like I’ve said many times, Sedalia has been good to my parents and I and it’s my time to give back. I hope my parents are looking down and saying, ‘Good job, well done Sue,’” Heckart said.
According to Epple, city staff will soon get to work on the center. The first step will be getting blueprints and more specific designs from the architect, SFS Architecture. The city did not have these done before it knew it had the funding because it would have been a waste of money.
“We’ll take a couple of days off and then it’s starting to go into the next stage...then we’ll start working with the architects to start on the next spot with all of the blueprints. What they gave us was just kind of a design, and now they’ll go more in depth,” said Epple.
“You’ll have like your electrical engineers and bringing everybody else in. That will be the next step, then you’ll go out for bid and then a month later we’ll start with the shovels in the ground and start working on getting it done. It’s very exciting for Sedalia.”