UPDATED: City Leaders, Economic Development, & South Cape

Today, a colleague asked if I have read the article in the Southeast Missourian about south Cape.  I found two things equally infuriating when I read “City officials, neighborhood leaders look to improve south Cape, but when and how?” The premise of the article rests on areas of concern in south Cape including parks, housing, education, and crime, and the solutions-oriented debate about “how to do it and what should happen first.”

First, the idea of when and how. In general, Cape Girardeau is covered by TWO economic development plans. The 20 year City of Cape Girardeau Comprehensive Plan was set forth in 2007 and identified needs of recreation, transportation linkages, walkability, jobs centers, and affordable housing stock. The second economic development plan is the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) created in 2013. Among its five-year goals are affordable housing, and “access to health care, improved recreational opportunities, and quality education facilities.” In our area, we also have a Downtown Comprehensive Plan under the DREAM Initiative and a Neighborhood Development Initiative (NDI).

Although the plans are all separate and were created by different entities, they all in some way cover or touch the area known as south Cape. According to the site Nextdoor, the south Cape boundaries appear to be Independence to Southern Expressway (crossing over 74) and East/West Minnesota to Spanish.

Second, the phrase “we are kind of looking for leaders to emerge…” quoted in the Southeast Missourian article. The City of Cape Girardeau Comprehensive Plan was put forth in a collaborative effort between the Mayor, the Council members, plan steering committee, the Planning Commission, City officials, and Arcturis Architecture and Design. Page 1 of the City of Cape plan shows the names of leaders who came forward to help. Page 105 shows the public engagement process that included a community survey, focus groups, workshops, and stakeholder and city staff interviews. The six focus group sessions (including a Southside group) contained 6-10 members identified in distinct areas (pg 118).  In addition, Arcturis identified 23 stakeholders “In order to improve the comprehensive planning process and heighten the likelihood of implementation” of the plan, and an oversight committee was created to govern the plan. You can see the names of those individuals here.

The CEDS was created by Southeast Missouri Regional Planning and Economic Development Commission (SEMO RPC). The CEDS committee was comprised of SEMO RPC members throughout the planning district. You can see the names of the individuals and the planning process involved in Southeast Missouri on page 125 of the CEDS plan.  All of the plans were reliant on community stakeholders and public input.

As a side note, in June our city council authorized $80,000 in funds for Teska Associates, Inc. to update our City of Cape Comprehensive Plan.  There was also $50,000 in funds authorized last year for a Downtown Cape Comprehensive Plan.  In the Southeast Missourian article, we are told that “city and community leaders have traveled to Atlanta twice since 2016” to learn about Purpose Built redevelopment.

We have spent money and time identifying the needs of the community. We have identified the city and civic leaders, community members, and organizations that can help with the effort.  Mayor Rediger says that city officials can’t be the “quarterback”  and that they hope to have leaders come forward by the end of the year. My question is why we are not looking within the plans we have developed and contacting the individuals who took the time to come forward and identify the problems. At the very least we should be relying on the oversight committee for the comprehensive plan – especially considering it is in re-write at this moment.

In my next post on this topic, I will discuss the issue of housing. There are many examples of how housing goals are achieved in ways other than philanthropy.

 

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Local Entrepreneurs Rise to the Occasion and Share the Ride

As written for iluvlocalplaces.com 10/2016

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past couple of years, you have no doubt heard of rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft.  What you may not know is that Cape Girardeau is poised to get its very own version by the name of carGO.  The ride share service is designed to work in micropolitan, or hometown markets, where people are more likely to know each other.  Up until now, this is a market untapped by larger rideshare companies as they tend to focus on larger cities.

I recently sat down with carGO business managers, Gunnar Knudtson and  Kyle Campbell, to get the scoop on their exciting new venture.   James Stapleton of Codefi and Jeffrey Maurer of Mayson Capital Partners of Cape Girardeau spearheaded the micropolitan rideshare concept.  The service is designed to be an on-demand ride service similar to those in the larger markets.  A major defining feature of carGO is the ability to request a ride from your smartphone – connecting you with background checked and safety trained drivers.  A further defining feature specific to carGO is the ability to “favorite” and request particular drivers or be matched with nearby drivers.

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L to R, Maurer, Stapleton, Campbell, Knudtson

When I asked Gunnar and Kyle why this particular business, they said an opportunity like this right out of college was not something they could walk away from.  Both Gunnar and Kyle were studying business at the University of Mississippi, and both had no plans to come back to Cape.  But as we all know, life is funny that way.  Gunner explained the pair received a call one day indicating Stapleton and Maurer wanted to meet and discuss the business idea over dinner.  Gunner recalls with a laugh, “that meeting lasted over four hours.”  He said they felt like they were on “cloud nine” afterward, recognizing that they had an incredible opportunity in front of them.  Although the pair has a background in business management and interest in starting a business, neither has experience launching a tech-infused start-up.

Gunnar and Kyle immediately took up residence in the Codefi co-working space in the Federal Building and started the grind.  Although the business idea was already in place, the pair would have to create processes and finalize details.  This meant partnership agreements, working with the app development, logistics, and a host of legalities and marketing issues related to locating drivers and riders.  Then there is the fact that the service has never been tried in the Cape area.  No pressure guys.  Gunnar and Kyle both express sincere gratitude to the folks at Codefi (https://www.codefiworks.com/) and for the way the up and coming Tech District have nurtured the process.

When asked what success looks like for the new venture Kyle said, “getting that first ride requested and completed.” As the pair laugh, Gunnar chimes in saying that he is hopeful for “future expansion into multiple markets” as the long-term indicator of success.  Both gentlemen agree that the experience is going to be a great learning experience.

 

Notables

The carGO app and website are currently under development.  Potential drivers and riders can visit the site http://www.gocargo.io/ to sign up for more information.

carGO headquarters will be located in the Marquette Tower Tech District.

Read the Fine Print!

Did you know that many lease agreements come with stiff penalties for breaking them? Did you know you can be charged for liquidated damages even if you never occupy the premises (aka two month’s rent plus a lost deposit)?

Did you agree to an increase in sub-metered utility payments payable to your landlord at anytime during your contract?

Did you sign away your right to sue, even if the property owners negligence causes you harm? Some leases also contain language forcing you to sign away your right to jury trial. (Which is an illegal practice I believe).

Parents, and other co-signers – check out your responsibility before you sign the lease!

Lets talk about a couple of scenarios:
You pre-lease an apartment and 6 months before you move-in a change in circumstances requires you to move somewhere else. If you signed the lease and plunked down the security deposit, you have lost the deposit.  Some landlords go as far as charging the lease termination fees as well.

Does your lease contains the following language? “Landlord may modify the method by which utilities are furnished to the premises and/or billed to Resident during the term of this Lease Agreement, including, but not limited to sub- metering of the premises for certain utility services or billing Resident for utilities previously included within the rent”.  This means that if the landlord decides to add or increase utility charges for your unit, you are obligated to pay them.  This is true even if it occurs during the term of your lease.  It’s called an escalation clause.

Your kiddo moves into their first college apartment and they ask you to co-sign the lease.  One weekend while they are at home visiting you like the good kid they are, the other roommate decides to have a party.  The party gets out of hand, the unit gets trashed, and the other roommate moves out.  Guess who is on the hook for the other half of the rent and the damages to the unit?  Worse yet, guess what happens if the unit goes to eviction status?  Many rental agreements are whole-unit, not separate tenant.  This means that as a co-signer you are fullly responsible for what happens with the unit should either party default.

These are “big city” practices occurring all over the nation, including small towns. Your best defense? READ THE LEASE BEFORE SIGNING IT!  If you will be pressed for time at your move-in, request a blank copy to read before your move-in date.  If something is not clear, ASK QUESTIONS.

In addition to reading the lease, you should know your rights as a resident.  Every state has some form of Landlord-Tenant Act that spells out both landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities.  Under federal law your landlord also has a responsibility to uphold the Fair Housing Act which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.  In addition, there are reasonable accommodations that can be made available to those with a disability, including the required acceptance of service animals at no charge.

I’m not an attorney, but I do have 10 years of property management experience in three states.  If I can help with any leasing questions, ask away!

-Miss B

 

Veterans Day, VFW Style

What comes to mind when you think of the VFW? A dusty old bar and bingo perhaps? Did you know that the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post performs community outreach? Did you know that they provide scholarships, education and assistance to those in need? Your local VFW Post 3838 members stay very busy! They do have a bar, The Cantina, but you won’t find any bingo there. Instead they host events like bands, karaoke, poker tournaments, charitable drives, support group meetings, lunches and dinners.

 
Two important events going on right now are the Team Martina McBride Collection and the upcoming Chili Day. The Team Martina McBride Collection is designed to collect donated food items and turn them into baskets and meals for cancer patients. They also take monetary donations to turn into stockings for the patients for the upcoming holiday season.
Chili Day is December 6th. It is an annual fundraising event that is designed to help those who may have fallen on hard times lately. Not only is it a fun afternoon with good food and community, but it also is a good cause designed to provide temporary assistance to those who need it.

 
In addition to the ongoing outreach, members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars have a full schedule on Veterans Day. They will start the day at 7am with the raising of the flags in the Avenue of Flags in the Cape County Park, followed by a KRCU program at 8a with speaker Jeremy McBroom. The program is open to guests but seating is limited. After the program the members will join the Joint Veterans Council for a program at Freedom Corner on Broadway at 11am. This will be followed by lunch at the Post in which guests are welcome to attend. After lunch the members will be attending a Veterans Tribute at Central High School. It will likely be a long day for the veterans, but it will be a nice celebration of those that served our country.

 
It is at this point that my interview with office manager and event coordinator, Debbie Griffin, gets a little emotional. She is proud to be part of the organization and proud of its members. She says that the veterans deserve recognition and wish they could do more for the community. She says of the service men and women, “They come back and give 10 fold for what they get out of the community. They fought for their country and are still fighting. ” Debbie’s passion for the organization and its members is clearly a VFW principle. It is evident in a statement on the VFW national page (vfw.org), “The VFW was founded for one, single purpose: to assure those who’ve protected our country are protected in return.”

 
It is a very giving organization that treats its members like family. Debbie only wishes that more people would take advantage of the benefits of Post membership has to offer. She says that most people who are eligible don’t even know they qualify. It is through the generosity of the members and guests that the Post can provide so much outreach in the community.
So in honor of the upcoming holiday please take a moment to remember those who have fallen and thank those who have provided us with the honor of their service.

 
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For a listing of membership eligibility requirements and upcoming events take a look at their website http://www.vfwpost3838.org/  or call 573.334.4438

 
Guests are welcome to most events and to enjoy offerings in The Cantina

 
National Veterans Small Business Week runs November the 4th-11th. According to the SBA website (sba.gov), “nearly 1 in 10 small businesses are veteran owned.” The SBA and its affiliates help over 200,000 veterans, service-disabled veterans and reservists each year.

A write up for iluvlocalplaces.com

An Interview with Dr. Mike Wulfers about Direct Primary Care

The rising cost of healthcare. Obamacare. The Affordable Care Act. It’s all over the news and seemingly everywhere we turn these days. Most people are unhappy with the trends in healthcare, but no one seems to have the answer. No one that is, except for a small group of physicians making the radical departure from traditional healthcare. The new trend, called Direct Primary Care or Concierge Care, is springing up in towns and cities across the nation. This is where one of our very own locals hopes to be part of the paradigm shift.

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Meet Dr. Mike Wulfers of IndependentMD. With more than 30 years experience he has come to understand, be influenced by, and react to traditional health care. Dr. Wulfers says that it all started for him 2-3 years ago at a conference with a North Carolina Direct Primary Care physician. He says, “It peaked my interest because I was so dissatisfied with what healthcare has evolved into in the last 15-20 years.”

 
So what exactly is Direct Primary Care? I would liken it to old school care with advanced technology and access to modern medicine. The way that most services work is that you pay a monthly membership fee which includes many advantages. Dr. Wulfers fee is a sliding scale based on age and includes the following: small number of patients, top-notch referrals, non-ICU care for hospitalized patients, access to wholesale medicine, in office surgery with diagnostic and procedural tests, labs at wholesale rate, annual preventative check-ups, same day appointments and 24/7 access to your physician. Yes, you read that right. 24/7 access to your doctor. This means that a Direct Primary Care physician is utilizing all the tools that modern technology can provide whether it’s text, email, web-based, phone or in person.

 
What does this service mean to his current patients? For one patient it means a savings of $135 every month in prescriptions. For others it means $3 lab fees, or immediate access to a physician instead of waiting a week to get an appointment. For the senior population it means actual one-on-one time to ask questions. Dr. Wulfers says “they can’t get the time and attention they need anywhere else”. Speaking of time and attention, the average time a physician spends with patients is 7 minutes. This shortened time frame occurs for a plethora of reasons, including number of patients. The average patient load for a doctor can be between 2,000-4,000 people. In the Direct Primary Care model, the focus is back on the patient. Physicals are at least 1 hour, follow ups are at least 30 minutes and number of patients stays between 500-600. Dr. Wulfers is accepting new patients but is almost full. He does not want to go too far over the 500-600 patient tier otherwise it will erode the concept of direct physician access.

 
Sitting side by side in his warm and inviting office he explains, “One of the problems I’ve had in selling this practice is that people think it’s too good to be true. That there must be some catch.” For anyone that has had the typical “hurry up and wait” experience of healthcare, or been shocked by a bill, the Direct Primary Care service would seem like a far off oasis in the dry and dusty landscape of traditional care. With a cheerful expression Dr. Wulfers says, “I hope it catches on – it has the potential to revolutionize our healthcare system for the better.”

 
Dr. Wulfers explains, “most people are more familiar with the term Concierge Care but I don’t like it. It sounds like it is only for rich people.” His patients all have varying degrees of income and insurance. This practice is designed to support people so that they can get access to a physician and enjoy savings on things they need such as labs and medicine. One of the things that stands out about Dr. Wulfers is his vast knowledge of the inner workings of health insurance. He says, “I learned about insurance to help patients understand it better.” He does see people with all varying degrees of coverage, but does not recommend that patients go without insurance. If Dr. Wulfers had it his way, healthcare would be a mix of catastrophic insurance coverage, Direct Primary Care and a health savings account. He feels as though the health savings account, “puts the consumer back into medicine. Right now there is no incentive for the patient or provider to look for a better price. People would be more inclined to shop around.”

 
As I’m leaving, he tells me a story about Dr. Josh Umbehr from Atlas MD, a leader in Direct Primary Care in Wichita Kansas. He said, “In March of 2013 we were driving to Florida. On a Sunday morning I had my ipad and was Googling Direct Primary Care and started looking at the practice in Wichita… I sent the email and about 10 min later my iphone rings and it’s Dr. Josh himself.” He laughs as he talks about his surprise in how quickly they responded. But that is the main advantage of the system and that must have sealed the deal for Dr. Wulfers.

 
He said, “If I hadn’t tried this I would have retired. I would not have continued in private practice. A lot of doctors are retiring early because they are sick of the current trends.” In a podcast by Dr. Josh, he sums it up by saying, “Direct Primary Care is really the kind of medicine that the people in primary care want to provide and have always thought was the root of medicine.” It sounds like Dr. Wulfers couldn’t agree more. He opened April 1st and says with a smile, “I’m having loads of fun!”
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IndependentMD is located at 37 Doctors Park, Suite #1 Cape Girardeau, Mo
For more information call 573.803.2941 or visit the website at http://www.independentmd.net

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As written for iluvlocalplaces.com