Pleasant Hill, Missouri            Wednesday,  July 23, 2014                ©2014 Pleasant Hill Times

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County fair a timeless tradition

Times photos by Kirk Powell and Kerry Warman

It was the biggest and best Cass County Fair ever. Unusually cool mid-July temperatures helped attract huge crowds to Pleasant Hill last week for the 2014 county fair. There was something at the 2014 Fair for everyone. A clown and his pony (top photo) make a grand entrance at Thursday night's MRCA/URA rodeo, Kansas City KMBC-TV weatherman Brian Busby (lower left photo) predicts perfect weather for the 6-day fair in a live broadcast from the fairgrounds on opening night last Tuesday. Olivia Henson of Belton is crowned 2014 Cass County Fair queen by 2013 queen Kristi Lee of Drexel (lower center photo) at a pageant held last Monday evening at the Pleasant Hill High School and Mandy Hocker and son Jordan Lisinger (lower right photo) ride their Missouri mules in a big parade on Saturday morning.

Highway tax on ballot August 5

...Missouri officials have pledged to rebuild hundreds of bridges, pave thousands of miles of roads and improve dozens of airports and sidewalks around the state if voters approve a transportation sales tax on August 5.
...The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission endorsed a list of more than 800 projects totaling $4.8 billion that would be funded over the next decade by proposed Constitutional Amendment 7.
...The August 5 ballot measure asks voters whether to impose a 3/4-cent sales tax for transportation.
...Ninety percent of that money would go to the state, but local governments would get an estimated $540 million over a decade for their own projects.
...Without more money, the Missouri Department of Transportation has said that it soon will be strained to maintain existing roads and won't be able to undertake major new projects.
...The proposed sales tax "is a once in a generation opportunity,'' said Transportation Commission chairman Steve Miller.
...Missouri last raised taxes for highways in the 1990s by phasing in a motor fuel tax increase. A voter-approved measure shifted existing vehicles sales tax revenues to the highway agency about a decade ago, but this would mark the first time that a general sales tax has been imposed for transportation. Opponents of the measure, including Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, have said the sales tax would disproportionately hit the poor who may spend a greater proportion of their income on consumer purchases.
...St. Louis NAACP president Adolphus Pruitt told State Transportation Commissioners earlier this summer that the tax wasn't fair and the project list should have been tilted more heavily to urban areas that generate the most tax revenues.
The final project list is similar to a draft released to The Associated Press under an open-records request, with only one change, said MoDOT chief engineer Ed Hassinger.
...It adds $2 million to replace a bridge over Interstate 29 in Kansas City, contingent upon the city providing $10 million in funding. That is offset by reducing state funding from $5 million to $3 million for a traffic management system in Clay and Platte counties.
...The biggest project on the list is the reconstruction and widening of 200 miles of Interstate 70 between the St. Louis and Kansas City areas. It would receive $500 million from the sales tax, with the rest of the $1.5 billion project paid for through existing revenue sources.
...The project list includes 330 new or improved bridges and 3,255 miles of resurfacing on roads, including 749 miles of wider shoulders that transportation officials said should improve safety.
...The list also includes improvements for 71 sidewalks, 24 airports, 14 railroads and seven river ports around the state.
...The projects are "a balance between taking care of the system and building a few new things that are important,'' said transportation commissioner Gregg Smith. If approved by voters, the amendment would mark the first time that a portion of state transportation funding has been dedicated to walking and biking paths, Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Federation president Bret Hugh.
...MoDOT added $24 million in state funding to help purchase the former Rock Island Rail Line corridor from Kansas City to Pleasant Hill for use as a hiking and biking trail. The funding would be contingent on a $48 million match from Jackson County to build the trail.

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