Grand Pockets’s Blog

Genealogy, Family, Poetry and Peeves

Kansas City Chiefs have new Training Camp


st_joseph_missouri_skyline

Bricky red skyline of Downtown St. Joseph

Well, after a few years of wrangling Charlie Shields, Missouri Western and the City of Saint Joseph have come up with a plum for 2011 and beyond – the training camp site for the Kansas City Chiefs. It hinges on one criteria, getting enough money to complete new athletic facilities, new parking, and a couple new ballfields to replace the ones that will be under the new parking lot. The Chiefs, the University, the City and the County are kicking in, and yes, probably the taxpayers before long (besides the general use funds that will go to it already).

Some of Saint Joe's old architecture

Some of Saint Joe's old architecture

About time the Chiefs got their camp nearer home and supported somebody’s economy within their fan base instead of the money going to River Falls, Wisconsin in Packer territory. For my hometown, this is big news and it splits the community between the grumblers and the enthusiastic. The grumblers are ahead in the count. Too often in Saint Joe the grumblers win. Saint Joe has about as low a tax base as any city its’ size in the US – taxes are peanuts here, and the services reflect it. That’s the thing taxpayers don’t get. They want good schools, parks, police and fire protection, the streets salted and plowed the second it snows BUT they want someone else to pay for it. Anyone. Just not them.

Columns from the razed Robidoux Hotel stand sentinel

Columns from the razed Robidoux Hotel stand sentinel

Passing a tax in Saint Joe is about as easy as passing a boulder sized kidney stone. It doesn’t happen often and never without a bunch of screamin’ and hollerin’. So, as the city’s economic base crumbles, Snorkel-Economy just the latest casualty of the economic meltdown, people naturally want to avoid higher taxes but for crissakes, Saint Jo’ you have to have some taxes – or else no services.

Robidoux Row - a Museum for the city's founder Joe Robidoux

Robidoux Row - a Museum for the city's founder Joe Robidoux

The Chiefs situation is just one more blown opportunity to get the community rolling if this thing fails to materialize now that the Chiefs have said “Pony up and we’ll do it.”  Communities grow by an aggregation of attractions/amenities, services and conveniences. Saint Joseph has the convenience of a centralized location with good highways right through it, a river, a major airport just minutes away but it always seems to fail when it comes to capitalizing those other two things – services and attractions/amenities.

Rococco front of the Missouri Theater downtown

Rococco front of the Missouri Theater downtown

Add some ridiculously stupid government that can’t get anything done without deadlocking themselves in ego fights and ‘who’s in charge’ tug of wars and it’s not hard to see why the city always seems seems to teeter on the precipice if economic disaster. Poor services because of low taxes, mediocre schools, and a dearth of quality attractions, unless a second rate river casino is an attraction. I mean, this is a town that proudly hails itself as the home of Jesse James – a career criminal!

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Pony Express Statue - Where Johnny Fry took the first ride

Thing is, it’s not a bad town to raise kids and it could be great if they’d just do a few things. Hire a professional curator to operate and run the museums for one. The city has a great but underutilized and poorly operated museum system, yet as a history buff I can state this is a very fascinating place with some great possibilities. Protect the parkway from developments of any kind. The museums are in place, their artifacts and the history they represent are great – they just need some funding and direction. The Chiefs camp is another step. It brings people here. It gets the name on front burners in season and increases tourism. I could be a pessimist and say oh hell, they’ll blow it again but this is my hometown. I’d like them to win one for a change.

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Belt Highway - St Joe's Fast Food Mecca

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December 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Attack of the Ice


How it all Began...

How it all Began...

Last night about 5 pm  it was 60° outside, wet and melty, this morning its all frozen solid in sheets of ice. Big icicles on the eaves and tree limbs and walking out the door is a an invitation to go “ass skating”.  The snow is melted off now so it isn’t even good sledding weather – just cold, and brown – that midwest drear that get the winter blues a-goin’. Winter is gorgeous when there is fresh snow and ice – but old snow and snow melt puddles are dirty and brackish, a Saint Jo townscape all done in browns. The orange cone monsters are out too – street crews everyhere, and those signs  “Your tax dollars at work” – proclamations that we’re too stupid to realize that for ourselves.  Six guys are working on the Belt and I see three of them sitting on the truck watching the other three work. The sign should say “Half your tax dollars at work.” That’s when I even see anyone there. Usually its just a long file of orange soldier cones congesting three lanes into one without a worker bee in sight. Our subdivision has a great idea to save money, though.  Don’t do a thing to the roads – let the potholes patrol the speed limit. Saves on road crews, tar and gravel and on police enforcement. Locals call them speed slumps.

Speed Slump at Work

Speed Slump at Work

Speed slumps are most useful – mini skating rink, local swimming hole, speed enforcement, and eventually becoming gravel quarries – at which the neighborhood will need to incorporate them and hire a personnel manager.

I write poetry at odd times and more in winter than summer since I’m inside more, I guess. All the road crews and orange cones and delays get me to thinking and I write about it:

Its winter whiteness now
preparing the roads for the season
of eternal road repair,
a slow lift and collapse like bolsheviks:
the white revolution,
fought against asphalt and pancake sidewalks
ice upended like flapjacks
come spring, like breakfast for the roadcrews
that whistle “The Great Pretender”
while they fill blacktop buckles
with tar slurry syrup
in the heat
they’ll repeat
when the cold jester follows
undoing their labor.

They tar and gravel cars here
before they salt and slosh them.
Its winter whiteness now,
except for the edges
where the myth is sullied
and dirty, gutters of exhaust
fumes made visible
our dark environmental secrets
exposed by the snows.

©Chuck Elledge2008

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December 27, 2008 Posted by | humor, Poetry & Art | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment