Year 2020 Saw Many Positives, Negatives
By MARK EVANS
In addition to battling COVID-19, seeing the Ste. Genevieve National Historical Park established, the Ste. Genevieve Museum Learning Center and the new art guild museum open and other accomplishments previously listed, several other noteworthy things took place in 2020.
One notable thing did not take place.
For once, the Mississippi River, consummate friend and foe of the old village, stayed within its banks throughout the year.
At one point in the spring, predictions were made that it could be a moderate flood year during the summer. That, however, never materialized, with the river stage actually dropping below four feet at the Chester, Illinois gauge.
This finally allowed Alberici Corporation to install protective metal sheeting on the piers of the dock at the New Bourbon Port Authority. This will protect the wooden piers from damage caused by barges, at whatever point the port becomes active.
It also made replacing one of the Flygt PL7121 pumps at the pump house of the Urban Design Levee easier.
MUCH GOING ON
The city of Bloomsdale replaced Rotor No. 2 at the wastewater plant in January and February. The Board of Aldermen had voted in April 2019 to spend $163,775 to replace the rotor. While rotor No. 1 has functioned
largely without issue since its installation in 1982, rotor No. 2 had had problems, requiring an overhaul in 2016 and had not run right since.
The Bloomsdale aldermen also made plans to replace and update sections of the city’s water and sewer system. They also approved the purchase of a new John Deere “Gator,” replacing one they had had since 1998.
Another one of the county’s ongoing projects was the construction of a parking lot in the downtown area. The decision was made to move the University of Missouri Extension staff and St. Vincent de Paul out of the old County Services building at Market and Second streets. The building, built as a Ford dealership in 1953, was then torn down and the lot graveled. During 2020, after discussions with property owners of the existing parking lot (originally paved in 1982) between Market, Merchant and Third streets, a large patch of the existing lot was paved, along with the area along Market Street. The final step was about to begin as 2021 dawned: construction of an area on the Market Street edge of the lot with attractive plants and a memorial to Ste. Genevieve’s John Scott, Missouri’s first congressman.
OTHER PROJECTS GET ACCOMPLISHED
Another accomplishment was the city of Ste. Genevieve moving forward on plans to remodel the building that hosts City Hall offices and the police department.
This had been in the works for a few years, but a surprisingly large estimate for the cost had caused the Board of Aldermen to rethink original plans.
The building has already added an area just inside the front entrance, where visitors must speak to personnel through Plexiglas before being allowed inside. This provides security both from potentially dangerous individuals and from COVID-19 and other diseases.
NOT EVERYTHING WAS CANCELLED
While the coronavirus postponed May graduations and wiped out the French Heritage Festival, La Vielle, Jour de Fete, the county fair and the Ste. Genevieve History Conference and most Fourth of July activities, there were a few things it did not cancel.
Fair board president Keith Skaggs hatched a plan to salvage the two most popular –and profitable – events from the county fair.
He convinced the County Commission and the Health Department to allow the demolition derby and tractor pull to take place in early October. The weekend events went off without incident.
Skaggs was also able to keep kart and lawn mower racing going at the fairgrounds, although with various limitations in place.
Meanwhile, both schools took part in fall sports and other extracurricular activities and both held Homecoming. Ste. Genevieve R-II Schools opted not to hold a parade, but Valle Catholic did.
Meanwhile, students from both schools handed out drive-through lunches to veterans for Veteran’s Day.
One event that went on in its entirety was the 35th annual Ste. Genevieve Christmas Holiday Festival in December. With face masks required for indoor events and recommended for outdoor events, the festival drew a good crowd, despite the situation.
The Chamber of Commerce’s Summer Concert Series also went on as usual, with a variety of bands performing on Friday nights at the Orris Theatre. Several classic car shows also took place downtown, during the year.