Dan Wehmer - Publisher's Pen

Dan Wehmer - Publisher's Pen

If you read your Citizen closely, you’ll notice both an advertisement and news story regarding a public meeting that arrives at 5 p.m. Thursday at Seymour City Hall.

It’s an hour-long forum.

Although the city is playing host to the event, running the meeting will be about 20 students from Missouri State University (MSU) in Springfield, who will be in town over the next several months conducting a study on the revitalization of Seymour’s downtown business district.

I’m not a fan of pointless meetings.

I’ve attended plenty of them over the past three decades in Seymour. My nickname for them is a “rusty-bucket meeting,” as in, “Let’s kick the same rusty bucket around and ultimately do nothing.”

But I feel Thursday’s meeting is different.

A fresh set of eyes needs to survey Seymour’s historic business district, which dates back to 1881, collect information and suggest remedies for a malady plaguing downtowns across America.

Some cities have fared well once the new ideas were gathered, then a plan was put in place. There are examples of downtowns becoming hubs for the arts, while some cities have found success in their historic downtowns with antique stores and eateries. In some cities, old business buildings find a future as living quarters.

What would work in Seymour?

I’m not sure. However, I will say that our city has a very unique downtown with a beautiful, large square.

That’s a good start.

We also have a landmark venue with the renovated Owen Theatre, which has received a $250,000 facelift and now plays host to more than 20 shows a year.

Our square is filled with century-old brick buildings that can be restored. Some already have been renovated. Our city hall is a fine example of that; the former Western Auto now is perhaps the finest building on the square. Before it was fixed, it was bought for only $3,000 and came very close to being razed.

The good news is that a crew of young folks from MSU want to help. They are charging zero for their services.

Planned is a comprehensive study by students who want to do this very thing for a living in the future — revitalize old downtowns.

Citizens’ input is essential.

So is the input of business owners, building owners and business managers.

By summer’s end, and perhaps before then, these MSU students will present a revitalization plan to the city. Maybe it will be unrealistic, but I don’t think so. Not if we, as a community, participate in the process by filling out surveys and offer accurate answers and realistic expectations.

The process begins Thursday.

The meeting is at 5 p.m. at city hall.

It will take an hour of your time.

And refreshments will be served.

Seymour residents will be driving more than an hour round trip this week traveling to the Class 2 district basketball tournament in Cabool, me included.

The Tigers don’t play on Thursday.

The round trip to city hall is a few minutes. The meeting lasts one hour. Your input is needed, as are your suggestions for our city’s downtown, which includes Business 60, several side streets and the city square.

Give Seymour one hour of your time.

If for nothing else, do it for the free cookies.

* * * * * *

Reading time, four minutes:

• Free Dora. As in the high school that’s very good at boys’ basketball. It seems all hell has broken loose down at the school without a city as the high-school principal, who also serves as the Falcons’ coach, was given his walking papers in a 5-1 vote by the school board.

After last week’s meeting where his contract wasn’t renewed, a special meeting came two days later. Now I’m told a second special meeting may be held. I have no clue why.

Reminds me of the old country song, “What Part Of ‘No’ Don’t You Understand?”

It’s an interesting sidebar for a school entering the Class 1 state playoffs as a favorite to reach a second consecutive championship game.

It’s also funny how people will riot en masse for a basketball coach yet care little about root issues at the foundation of a public school.

Stay tuned.

This ordeal has the potential of making national headlines, sort of like the story did a year ago when the same Dora ballclub interchanged free-throw shooters.

I’ll bet Seymour R-II Superintendent Steve Richards is thrilled to be free from that tour of duty.

• Last week, things were lively in Jefferson City as a hearing in the Missouri House of Representatives was full of people ready to discuss new legislation that would rescind last July’s decision on bail bonding by the Missouri Supreme Court.

Many people, including several country sheriffs, spoke in support of House Bill 1937, which alleges that a rule imposed by the state’s highest court has led to the pre-trial release of hundreds, if not thousands, of felony suspects, creating extra risk and extra work for law-enforcement officers statewide.

Informally, the court’s decision is known as “catch and release.”

It’s a poor judicial mandate.

Here in Seymour, the ruling has caused all sorts of issues as some of our local “finest” commit crimes while awaiting trial for previous felonies. Back when a bail bondsman was involved, this wasn’t a problem.

In hearing testimony, the sheriffs said the problem was the Missouri Supreme Court’s decision that allows suspects in non-violent crimes to be let out of jail without having to post bond.

No vote on the legislation was taken by the committee after the hearing last Tuesday, Feb. 18.

I’ll simply say this.

Any legislator who is against this remedy is a coward.

Any legislator willing to allow the bench to enact law isn’t doing his or her job.

This is an easy decision, lawmakers, regardless of your political party or personal agenda regarding crime and punishment or the defense lawyers’ lobbyists.

The Missouri Supreme Court’s decision has created a law-enforcement nightmare.

So fix it.

• Speaking of Tiger basketball, the girls’ team ended its season Saturday with a loss to Sparta in the Class 2 district playoffs.

Seymour won nine games, more than double the total of a season ago.

The Tiger boys have a 16-11 record entering tonight’s (Wednesday’s) matchup in the district semifinals against Gainesville. With a victory, Seymour, seeded third, advances to the Class 2 championship game on Friday.

Should the Tigers defeat Gainesville, it will be the first time Seymour has reached a district-title game since 2010, the year Seymour won the program’s only district crown.

Before that, the Tigers last reached a district final in 1998.

District action is at Cabool.

Dan Wehmer is the Citizen’s editor, publisher and owner. He can be reached at 417-935-2257 or via e-mail at citizen@webstercountycitizen.com.

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