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Derek Brizendine/Staff Photo 

Community members brave a snowy day on Nov. 11 to celebrate Veterans Day at the American Legion. Col. Matthew Calhoun, the vice commander of the 131st Bomb Wing of the Missouri Air Guard at Whiteman Air Force Base, was the guest speaker. He spoke on the importance of service.


Business
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Dollar General announces store construction in Leeton

LEETON — Dollar General is currently under construction on a new store at 266 S.E. Highway 2 in Leeton with an anticipated grand opening celebration scheduled for spring 2020.

Construction officially began in October 2019.

“In January, we really got the first hint that this might be a possibility,” Taylor Elwell, mayor of Leeton, said. “We’ve been working a long time on making this come to fruition and we’re really excited to see this finally take place.”

Dollar General will offer Leeton residents a new place to shop for everyday goods in their community.

“Meeting our customers’ needs is our top priority when choosing store locations,” Dan Nieser, Dollar General’s senior vice president of real estate and store development, said. “We know convenience is a major factor in our customers’ shopping decisions as we generally serve customers within a 3-5 mile radius, or 10 minute drive. This new location is a great fit for Dollar General.”

Elwell emphasized the importance of having a store such as Dollar General in the community as it will give residents a place to shop closer to their homes.

“For people who typically have to drive 15-20 minutes minutes to get groceries or household goods, this will be right down the road for them now,” Elwell said. “It makes our community a lot more livable, especially for our older folks and retired folks.”

In addition to convenience, Dollar General will provide the City of Leeton with additional revenue derived from sales taxes.

“The sales tax revenue that it’ll brings to our community will be huge as well,” Elwell said. “We’ll be able to do some additional projects and fund the priorities that we have not been able to fund in the past.”

While the projects the tax revenue will fund have yet to be decided, Elwell said some possibilities include improvements to infrastructure such as streets, sidewalks or parks.

Additionally, Dollar General stores typically employ about six to 10 people, depending on the need.

“This will have a great economic impact,” Elwell said. “It will provide a few jobs locally, which in a community of 550 is amazing.”

Anyone interested in Dollar General employment can visit dollargeneral.com.

Dollar General is also involved in the communities it serves by supporting literacy and education.

At the cash register of every Dollar General store, customers interested in learning how to read, speak English or prepare for their high school equivalency test can pick up a brochure with a postage-paid reply card that can be mailed in for a referral to a local organization that offers free literacy services.

Since its inception in 1993, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation has awarded more than $172 million in grants to nonprofit organizations, helping more than 11 million individuals take their first steps toward literacy or continued education.

For more information about the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and its grant programs, visit dgliteracy.com.

“The City of Leeton is thrilled to welcome Dollar General to the community,” Elwell said. “In addition to the creation of new jobs and positive economic impact, we look forward to our partnership with Dollar General for many years to come.”


Local
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Johnson County makes final payment towards Justice Center

WARRENSBURG — Johnson County made its final payment towards the construction cost of the Johnson County Justice Center on Oct. 28, about 18 years after its construction.

The final check total was $434,211.

The original amount needed from county funds for the final payment was $441,204, but the county saved $7,744 by paying it off before its due date on Dec. 1, making the net amount $433.460.

The total principal amount agreed upon for the construction of the justice center was $5,970,000.

The interest rates added an additional $3,189,967 to the amount due, resulting in a total cost of $9,159,969.

Johnson County has made bond payments each year towards the project since 2001.

A refinance occurred in 2010, which lowered the interest rate but extended the payments.

According to County Clerk Diane Thompson, the county commissioners in office at the time it was decided to construct the justice center wanted to do so without creating any additional burdens to taxpayers in the form of increased sales tax.

Instead, they decided the funding for the building should come from existing county revenue.

Construction of the building began in 2000, with it being completed in 2001.

Three buildings previously stood in the space needed to construct the Johnson County Justice Center and its parking lot, which is located at 101 W. Market St.

The Johnson County Justice Center houses the Circuit and Associate Circuit courts for the county and provides a number of services for the community.

These services include:

filing of wills;

marriage dissolutions;

civil lawsuits over $25,000;

felony, misdemeanor and civil cases up to $30,000;

court record retention;

name changes; and

adoption cases.


Local
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Johnson County Collector Ruthane Small to retire in March 2020

WARRENSBURG — Johnson County Collector Ruthane Small has announced that she will retire effective March 2, 2020, after 28 years.

The collector’s year end report Feb. 28 and an annual settlement is certified to the County Commission on the first Monday in March each year.

Small was elected to a seventh term in November 2018 with the term ending March 2023.

When a vacancy occurs in the middle of an elected official’s term, the governor will make an appointment to fill the position until the next general election.

In this instance, the collector’s seat will appear on the August 2020 primary and November 2020 presidential ballots

“I have always campaigned and believed in two basic principles: doing a good job and doing the right thing,” Small said. “I hope that is how I will be remembered. I have given my all to Johnson County, serving the citizens in a responsible and respectful way by proving courteous, efficient, progressive and accountable service. I strive for not just getting by but always getting better. I have continued to make improvements in the office each year.”

Over the last 28 years, there have been many changes in the County Collector’s Office and duties of the collector.

The collector’s 1992 annual report included $9 million in collections.

The 2018 annual report stated more than $48 million in collections.

In 1999, Small was one of the first county collectors in Missouri to send paid tax information to the Department of Revenue to allow all license bureaus in the state access to review Johnson County paid tax information for vehicle licensing purposes.

Small served as president of the Missouri County Collector’s Association from 2000 to 2001.

She also served four years on the Local Record’s Board for the Secretary of State’s office.

During that time, she updated the County Collector’s Retentions Manual.

In 2003, Small designed and implemented tax bills to print on laser printers.

Her design is currently being used by approximately 20 other counties in the state.

And in 2007, she led the way by creating a cover sheet that itemizes and adds the total of multiple bills included in a mailing.

In 2009, Small created the Johnson County Collector’s website.

In addition to being able to pay taxes online and reprint tax receipts, the website includes general information regarding taxes including definitions and how taxes are determined and calculated.

Rather than hiring someone to design the website, Small used a simple program to create and maintain the website herself in order to update information frequently at no additional expense.

In 2017, Small moved the collector’s office from the Courthouse to the Johnson County South Annex, 1310 S. Maguire St.

The current location offers parking, ground-level entry and three drive-thru lanes for tax payments.

“I am humbled and honored to have served as Johnson County Collector,” Small said. “I never took my job for granted and want to thank the voters for keeping me in office. I have often heard that you will know when it is time to retire. Well, it is time. It is time to put family first instead of juggling to make it all work. I look forward to retirement.”