Welcome to the city of St Joseph's weekly digital newsletter. City Link is your source for timely and relevant information from your local government.
Thursday, July 1, 2021
Firework Safety

It's that time of year again! The National Safety Council advises everyone to enjoy fireworks at public venues conducted by professionals and not to use any fireworks at home. Some may be legal, but are certainly not safe. In fact, fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires each year, including 1,300 structure fires and 300 vehicles fires.

This Fourth of July, the city of St. Joseph and the St. Joseph Fire Department want everyone to have a safe holiday by following these safety tips when using fireworks: 

  • Do not allow young children to play with fireworks.
  • Older children should use them only under close adult supervision.
  • Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol.
  • Always use protective eyewear when lighting fireworks.
  • Set off fireworks outdoors in a clear area, away from houses, dry leaves or grass and other flammable materials. 
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergencies and to pour on fireworks that fail to ignite or explode.
  • Never light fireworks in a container, especially a glass or metal container.
  • Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks.
  • Never aim fireworks at people, animals or property.
  • Do not experiment with homemade or illegal fireworks.
  • Call 911 in case of an emergency. 
 
Remember, sparklers are dangerous. Considered by many to be safe for small children, sparklers burn at about 2,000 degrees which is hot enough to melt some metals. They can quickly ignite clothing and children have suffered severe burns from dropping sparklers on their feet. According to the National Fire Protection Association, sparklers alone account for more than 25% of emergency room visits for fireworks injuries. Consider using safer alternatives, such as glow sticks, confetti poppers or colored streamers.

Under Section 16-32 of the Code of Ordinances, fireworks with a report or that discharge projectiles are prohibited within city limits.
FEMA Flood Mapping Update

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been working to revise flood hazard mapping throughout Buchanan County and the city of St. Joseph over the past three years. The previous mapping was completed in 1984 prior to aerial radar contour mapping technology and computer modeling of storm events to best understand how rainfall interacts within multiple watersheds to create flooding hazards. The county and city have both viewed the preliminary mapping and provided comments relevant to proposed changes based on recent flooding events to better capture the areas which will be most affected. 

FEMA will be offering a public comment period later this summer and begin finalizing the flood maps in the winter of 2021-22 with a final adoption in the winter of 2022. View the proposed Flood Hazard Mapping Buchanan County Missouri to better understand the proposed changes throughout the county and city. 
Parks and Recreation Month

This July, join the St. Joseph Parks, Recreation & Civic Facilities Department for National Park and Recreation Month as we celebrate how St. Joseph is stronger, more vibrant and more resilient because of parks and recreation. A variety of activities are planned for residents of all ages and abilities including tours of the Missouri Theater, yard games at the pools, free track days at the REC Center and food specials at Fairview Golf Course.

The parks and recreation department is celebrating this initiative through the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) by inviting community members to share their experiences, memories and stories about what parks and recreation means to them. With everything from social media giveaway and mini scavenger hunts, there are plenty of ways you can celebrate.

NRPA encourages people who support parks and recreation to share their park and recreation story, as well as why their local parks and recreation professionals are important to them with the hashtag #OurParkAndRecStory. NRPA is also encouraging people to create their own original poem about parks and recreation by July 9. Bestselling author Kwame Alexander will combine lines from your poems and create one community poem made up of our many voices that will read online at the end of July.

To see what our local parks and recreation department is offering during the month, follow online on Facebook.
Rain and the Landfill

Is rain a friend or foe at a landfill? Hopefully, we will be able to find the answer to this question by looking at what happens to the landfill when it rains. If you were to ask the users of the landfill, they would probably tell you they would just as soon never see it rain at the landfill especially at the face of the fill and the roads leading there. It creates muddy conditions which can be a challenge where the majority of the work involves moving and compacting soil. All roads from the shop to the active fill are unimproved roads, gravel at best generally compacted of soil or clay, which creates situations which slow down the haulers ability to unload, potentially getting stuck, and in general for both customers and employees not a particularly good time. 

However, water is actually necessary at a landfill as it is everywhere else. We need the rain for vegetation to grow. The vegetation is important to a landfill because it reduces erosion and helps hold the top soil in place so there are no ditches that expose solid waste. Rain also helps with the decomposition of solid waste and also speeds up the decomposition. When rain does get through to the solid waste it creates leachate, water which has percolated through solid waste and picked up dissolved or suspended materials. Leachate has to be collected in separate ponds and hauled off in trucks to the water protection division where it is treated. 

Another part of dealing with rain at the landfill is stormwater runoff. The landfill’s stormwater discharge is governed by a permit which is obtained from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR). This permit spells out where staff has to test, when they have to test and what they have to test for. The landfill has five siltation ponds where stormwater is collected downstream from runoff areas on the landfill. The water is collected there and the silt is allowed to settle out and the water then slowly released into the surrounding creeks. This is accomplished by a large stand pipe in the pond with a series of small holes in it to allow the water to escape slowly. By allowing the water to escape slowly, this also allows the silt to settle out in the pond and remain there. Over time, the ponds will fill up with silt and it will be necessary to clean the silt out of the ponds to maintain the required capacity for stormwater retention.

Staff test the water leaving, or outfall, of these ponds on a quarterly basis. The tests look for several things including minerals, oil, grease, biological oxygen demand and suspended solids, which is the silt settling out before the water leaves the pond. These are all things which could have a negative impact on the surrounding environment. In addition to the five ponds, staff also tests a sixth area and this is the creek downstream from the ponds. This is an additional safeguard to verify they do not have a negative impact on the surrounding environment. MDNR requires staff to sample all six of these areas once every quarter. The samples have to be taken within 24 hours of water flow from the outfall pipe. The water from each area is placed in multiple bottles and sent to an independent laboratory for testing. Timing on this procedure is critical because some of the tests have to be performed within 48 hours of the time the sample is collected. The results are then sent back to the landfill where they are reviewed and put into a report sent to the MDNR. 

On the stormwater discharge permit, it not only states what staff has to test for, but it also states what the limits are for each of the items tested. If they do not fall below the limits for each item then corrective actions will be implemented to correct this condition. So, is rain a friend or foe? Those at the landfill would call rain a friend in the long haul even though there are days we definitely call it foe.
Independence Day

Happy Independence Day from the city of St. Joseph. In observance of the Fourth of July, buses will not be in service and all city offices will be closed on Sunday, July 4, with the exception of:
  • Remington Nature Center - Open

In observance, on Monday, July 5, buses will not be in service and all city facilities will be closed with the exception of:
  • Remington Nature Center - Open
  • REC Center - Open

Don't forget to head to the riverfront for the city's annual fireworks display on July 4. The show will start 15 minutes after dark with viewing locations in the parking lots of the Remington Nature Center and Heritage Park Sports Complex. In the event of rain, the show will take place the next clear night.
(816) 271-5300