Tiny house village planned for Metro East veterans
The Missouri-based Veterans Community Project (VCP) is hoping to develop a Veterans Village, a collection of small houses for homeless veterans, in O’Fallon.
If approved, the O’Fallon project would represent the latest in a growing list of tiny house villages for veterans, springing up in cities around the nation.
The VCP describes the proposed O’Fallon development as “a specialized community of tiny-homes and services to provide housing stability and address the underlying cause of the veterans’ homelessness.”
It might have a dozen or more residences, around 500 square feet in size with full bath and kitchen, VCP illustrations suggest.
Lodging in the tiny houses would initially be provided to veterans free of charge. In addition, all services, food, and utilities will be provided at no cost to the veteran for a brief period.
Eventually, the veterans would have to take over financial responsibility for living at Veteran’s Village and then transition to permanent housing.
In the meantime, however, the village — In contrast to traditional homeless service providers such as shelters or hospitals — would offer veterans several important boons to rehabilitation: privacy, a sense of ownership, and the ability to reintegrate into society at a comfortable pace, the VCP says.
The VCP, an organization of former military personnel, opened a prototype community of 50 tiny houses earlier this year in Kansas City. The group plans similar developments for homeless veterans in Nashville, Tenn., and St. Louis.
Other organizations have opened similar tiny house communities for veterans in cities ranging from Las Vegas, to Muskogee, Okla., to Racine, Wisc.
The VCP relies largely on volunteer labor and donated materials to construct its tiny houses. Some fundraising events are also planned.
Working with the VCP on the proposed Metro East village are Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 805 in O’Fallon, the office of U.S. Rep. Mike Bost and O’Fallon Mayor Herb Roach.
Madison County jail renovations finally approved
The Madison County Board has approved a $14.3 million contract for long-anticipated renovations at the county jail; despite continuing controversy over cost and how the county will pay for the project.
Approval came just a day after County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler issued a press release noting the $14.3 million cost was far over engineers’ estimates. He suggested rebidding the project to address a limited number of the needed repairs at the jail; but not renovations to cell blocks.
Board members countered that the jail renovation project has already been scrutinized by several board committees over a lengthy review process.
Selected as the contractor for the project is Highland-based Plocher Construction, which submitted a basic bid of approximately $8 million, with four alternates that include work on prisoner cells for a total of $13.15 million. Engineering fees and a 10 percent contingency fund account for the remainder of the $14.3 million total cost.
The renovations are expected to take about three years, with roughly $5.4 million budgeted for the first year of the proposed three-year project, about $5 million for the second, and approximately $3 million for the third year.
Several county board members insist the county pay for the renovations on a cash basis to avoid the substantial interest charges generally associated with a bond issue.
County voters have twice rejected tax increases to pay for the jail renovations.
During his tenure, former Board Chairman Alan Dunstan’s proposed a $24 million jail renovation package, with $19 million financed through a bond issue.
Critics of a county property tax cap, approved by voters in March, say that without the tax limitation, the county would have had an extra $2.5 million in revenue annually — eventually taking in enough to pay for the jail renovations.
Some board members hope to use proceeds from the sale of some county buildings or land to help fund the jail project.
Regional airports win state recognition
Two Metro-East airports received special recognition from Gov. Bruce Rauner during the Illinois Aviation Conference, May 24.
MidAmerica St. Louis Airport, the civilian air terminal adjacent to Scott Air Force Base near Belleville, was named the 2018 Illinois Primary Airport of the Year Award.
St. Louis Metro East Airport/Shafer Field, a small, private airpark near St. Jacob, was named the Illinois Open to the Public Airport of the Year.
Awardees were selected based on cooperative relations with the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Division of Aeronautics, customer satisfaction, safety records, promotion of seminars and aviation events, and maintenance at the facility.
MidAmerica’s award came as the airport for the first time, on May 23, began offering daily, non-stop service to a destination: Destin/Fort Walton, Fla.
Belleville newspaper to be printed in KC
The Belleville News-Democrat will soon be printed on the presses of the Kansas City Star and then shipped to Metro East for distribution, according to McClatchy Newspapers, which owns both publications.
McClatchy spokespersons cite need for increased cost effectiveness; noting industrywide growth in digital news platforms with an accompanying decline in traditional printed newspaper circulation.
News Democrat delivery times for subscribers and newsstands will not be affected by the move, they say.
Transportation and distribution operations will remain in Belleville, the company says.
The 24 full- and part-time print production workers at the newspaper’s soon to be shuttered Belleville printing plant will receive severance packages, extended health insurance coverage and job placement assistance.
Publishing operations are to be transferred to Kansas City effective Aug. 18.
Collinsville sauce wins World BBQ title
The home of the “World’s Largest Catsup Bottle” is now also apparently home to world’s best barbeque sauce. Collinsville’s Code 3 Spices Patriot Sauce was named “Best Tomato Based Sauce on the Planet,” at this year’s prestigious Memphis in May World Championship of BBQ.
“This is the biggest accolade a BBQ Sauce can receive,” said Code 3 Spices co-owner Mike Radosevich.
More than 300 entries from around the world were submitted in the Memphis festival’s sauce categories this year.
Code 3’s entry came after company co-owner and head pit master Chris Bohnemeier accepted an invitation to cook with the Memphis BBQ Supply team — generally one of the festival’s frontrunners.
Code 3 Spices has also garnered the Best Sauce in America award from the National BBQ News and other honors.
The company has twice been named the city of Collinsville’s Small Business of the Year and recently accepted the Southwestern Illinois Business of the Year award for philanthropy. Code 3 Spices donates a portion of every sale to first responder and military organizations.
Company products are now available in ACE Hardware stores in almost every state.
–Metro East Area News Briefs–