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By Chris Feeney
EDINA, MO — 12/2/2021 – The Northeast Missouri Regional Planning Commission and Rural Development Corporation hosted its 2021 Annual Meeting at the Knox County Community Center in Edina on December 2nd, bringing together representatives from the six counties and 39 villages and cities that comprise the NEMO RPC service area.
County commissioners from Scotland, Knox and Clark counties joined municipal officers and employees from across the region along with state and federal government agents and private sector businesses representatives to celebrate the achievements of the regional planning commission, which is tasked with serving as a federal economic development district and a state transportation planning partner, while also helping municipal and county governments strategize to meet community needs, individually and regionally.
Following a social hour to allow the guests networking opportunities with fellow county and city leaders, NEMO RPC Executive Director Derek Weber addressed the gathering, highlighting a number of achievements by the NEMO RPC in the 2020- 21 fiscal year.
As administrator of the Region C Solid Waste Management District, NEMO RPC helped allocate $138,808 in grant funds for seven total projects promoting recycling. The FY21 grant projects are expected to divert more than 700 tons of waste from local landfills. Since its inception in 1993, the program has administered more than $2 million in grants. Weber praised the efforts of staff member Marla Greiner who serves as director of the program for the RPC.
Weber then highlighted the RPC’s efforts in the Community Development Block Grant realm, where the group aided Adair County and Moberly Area Community College in securing a $480,688 grant this year to help fund the creation of a wind lab at the college’s Kirksville campus to train technicians for wind turbine maintenance. All told, NEMO RPC has worked on nearly 200 CBDG grants totaling more than $55 million over its history, with some of the more recent projects including bridge replacement grants in Lewis and Scotland counties, wastewater upgrades in Lewistown and Brashear and blight removal demolition grants in Rutledge and La Belle.
The executive director then turned his praise to the Scotland County Public Housing Agency. Weber noted that the SCPHA, which administers Housing Choice Vouchers for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in Adair (excluding the city of Kirksville), Scotland, Clark, Schuyler and Knox counties, had assisted more than 360 local families this year, administering nearly $800,000 in rental assistance and another $75,000+ in utility assistance to help meet the emerging affordable housing needs of low to moderate income individuals and families.
The RPC’s transportation work was next in the executive director’s highlight reel. Weber praised the efforts of the RPC’s Transportation Advisory Council, which works to identify local transportation needs and prioritize projects with the Missouri Department of Transportation.
“The TAC’s role in transportation planning with MoDOT is paying dividends,” Weber told the gathering. “Through the efforts of the TAC representatives from each of our six counties to identify and prioritize local bridge and road improvements, 12 of the 31 highest priority needs in the region according to the TAC, have been addressed or have been officially programmed by MoDOT to be completed in the current 2022-2026 State Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP).”
He noted the region’s #1 priority, “Raising the Road at Alexandria” has been programmed for completion in the STIP FY 2023-24. Four bridges tapped by the TAC as top priorities, will be replaced through a federal grant entitled the FARM Program, and two additional bridges prioritized by the TAC have been added to the STIP. Highway 15 has been resurfaced and rumblestripes added from the Iowa State line to Edina with plans to continue on to Shelby County, and Business 63 in Kirksville will see the addition of a center turning lane from Brewington Ave. to Route 6 as part of joint effort by the city and MoDOT through the Governor’s Cost Share program.
Following Weber’s report, featured keynote speaker Derek Lumsden addressed the gathering. The CEO of Polished Productions is a consultant specializing in economic development in small, rural communities.
Lumsden used the phrase, even a broken clock is right twice a day, to demonstrate his belief that so many small communities are in need or repair, but instead often avoid looking at what needs to be improved and instead tending to only look at the clock those two times a day when it is accurate.
He also addressed the pitfall of the old saying “that’s how we have always done it.” He further highlighted the importance of “curb appeal” and the first impressions guests to communities can receive if allowed to be subject to blight or poorly maintained property.
At the conclusion of the evening guests were treated to a door prize raffle courtesy of the NEMO RPC, featuring 13 lucky winners taking home the table centerpieces, “Christmas-themed baskets filled with locally produced products such as Jared’s Jams of Edina.
About Northeast Missouri regional Planning Commission: The NEMO RPC is one of nineteen regional planning commissions in the State of Missouri, which are authorized by the State of Missouri Regional Planning and Community Development Act of 1966, Revised Missouri Statutes Chapter 251. NEMO RPC serves Adair, Clark, Knox, Lewis, Schuyler and Scotland Counties and the 33 incorporated villages and cities within those counties, providing community planning, promoting the spirit of cooperatively working together to solve problems and plan the future development of this region to raise the standard of living for its citizens.