Dear Bob, here are some photos of my life here on the campus of Concordia Seminary. I love kids, working with the grounds crew, swimming, playing with my dog friends, and especially my own family people.
Beginning at midnight August 1 through Sunday August 1, the annual back to school no sales tax holiday begins. When this practice began, it was a boon to many families needing all kinds of things for their kids including tech items. Taking away the 7-9 percent sales tax helped.
But as you can see by the list of cities choosing not to participate in this, it's pretty much a useless endeavor. The state website would be more helpful if they put up a list of the cities which will be participating because almost all local cities with actual shopping areas have opted out.
Noteworthy however, the City of St. Louis has not opted out and will be taking part in the no sales tax weekend. So, parents might want to head for Targets in the city limits.
There is an advantage to shopping this weekend even with the sales tax, many stores are holding huge sales.
I have to get my Missouri license plate sticker renewed and jumping through the required hoops makes me wish we'd registered this truck in Illinois. You must have an emissions test, proof you paid your vehicle property tax (yes Missouri makes you pay property tax on your cars), insurance and one other thing I've forgotten.
The worst part is the emissions test which I truly believe is a racket put in place to benefit all kinds of entities and businesses except the car owner. And, the emissions places often act like they're doing you a favor all the while raking in the money from the many people waiting in line to have their vehicle checked. If it doesn't pass then you're paying someone else to fix it and then go through the emissions process again.
On Tuesday August 5th, Missouri will be holding a primary election as well as 5 constitutional amendment questions. The amendments have had lots of discussion, some heated.
Amendment 7 asks voters to approve a sales tax increase to fund highway projects to raise half a billion dollars a year for ten years with some going to local cities for their road work. Opponents say a better way of funding road work would be a user tax and there is a part of me which agrees when you see who is really really promoting this amendment. "Almost all its money has come in five- and six-figure donations from trucking and automobile interests, as well as construction companies, trade unions and others who stand to gain financially from the construction contracts. The International Union of Operating Engineers donated $200,000 in two days in early July."
Who uses the highways the most? Trucks and the trucking industry which does not want to be in the business of paying a user tax. If this passes St. Louis' sales tax will be higher than Chicago, New York or Los Angeles.
Here's a look at who's using the highways in a big way. This is a Fox2 News shot of I-55 from Troy to Collinsville this morning after an accident.
Not a good day for Illinois drivers trying to get into St. Louis.
It will be very interesting to see what comes of this vote.
City officials in Clayton recently gave the ok for a parklet to be built on Central Avenue downtown. What is a parklet you ask? "A small space serving as an extension of the sidewalk to provide amenities and green space for people using the street. It is typically the size of several parking spaces. Parklets typically extend out from the sidewalk at the level of the sidewalk to the width of the adjacent parking space."
San Francisco has some of these and the story about Clayton and parklets at the link carries a bit of a cynical tone regarding Clayton and it's downtown streets. Here's a picture of a parklet from some other city and is included in the story along with other examples of Parklets. It seems they can be permanent or brought out for special occasions.
Kind of looks like the kind of area you'd just sit down and and people watch, or, if outside a restaurant, used for extra outdoor dining. With Clayton, I'd see the restaurant reason most likely. What surprised me most about the article is how strongly the writer believes Clayton's streets are too wide. He writes about the use of Central Ave: "North Central Avenue itself, often considered the most active commercial and restaurant strip in Clayton, is too wide. The sidewalks are too narrow. Here, a parklet isn’t the best answer. Narrowing the street from four traffic lanes to two is needed and would not adversely impact traffic in a meaningful way."
I wonder if this guy drives through downtwon Clayton very often. If they went from 4 lanes to 2 lanes, there'd be a lot of waiting at stoplights.
Ironically, if this is a coming trend for cities, maybe Collinsville shouldn't have widened Vandalia, instead created some Parklets instead.
I honestly don't know what to make of this parklet idea.
Last night Kruta Bakery asked a question on their Facebook page: " What items do you remember from the past that you wished we would re-introduce?"
This received quite a few responses and it got me to thinking about a couple of their items we don't see much, if at all, anymore. I miss the Cheese Fingers. This may have gone by another name, but most longtime Kruta customers know what Cheese Fingers mean-retangular slices of a coffee cake like dough layered with bakery cheese and drizzled with frosting. These are so good. And, Peanut Squares. These used to be available fairly regularly on one or two days of the week. Now they're by order only.
It would be nice to see a small version of their Dolly Madison cake available without ordering as well. But even without these selections, Kruta's is still the best bakery around.
News items I found interesting, wierd or upsetting.
Scammers are hitting hotel guests this vacation season. Calls to your room seemingly by the hotel front desk asking for credit card information may con artists wanting your info for themselves. These creeps are also printing up fake takeout menus and sliding them under room doors.
What once was confined to parts of Latin American is now showing up in the US-Kissing Bug Disease or Chagas. It seems Northern Virginia is ground zero for this disease. The triatomines, or the so-called kissing bugs, live in the cracks of walls in rural houses made of mud and thatched roofs and they bite people at night, passing the parasite through their feces. A very serious illness that US doctors don't regularly test for.
Who's using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms. The PEW Research people lay it all out. The numbers are interesting especially in the huge numbers of retired/senior now using sites like Facebook. This isn't too surprising to anyone on Facebook, this site has encompassed not only "friends" but it's a way for all generations of families to keep in contact.
For years Fox 2 News had their studios at Hampton and HIghway 40/64. Since they moved out to west county, the former site has been undergoing some work and the word on the street was that it would become a car dealership. But who ever expected the dealership to be a Mercedes Benz? But yes it is and is ready to open.
Most of the luxury car dealers have moved west or located in upscale places like Clayton or Ladue, this site is smack in south city.
Last night as we were waiting for an evening tour group from east central Illinois to arrive on campus, we got the news that the 15 or so young people and their adult chaperones would be late because while they visited the City Museum their van was broken into and all their belongings were stolen. The information we received later was that the thieves made several trips to the van in order to take everything. All this in broad daylight in the late afternoon. The kids, most around 13-15, were devastated and had to deal with the fact that all their clothes and whatever else was gone.
After all the time spent with police reports and such, they made an emergency trip to Target to get replacement clothes, toothbrushes etc. Then they made it to the campus. Most looked shellshocked, but were troopers about making their way around the seminary at 8 last night.
St. Louis is rife with these car break-ins, it happens every year in the warm weather months and it's just sickening.
Ferdie did his best to cheer them up, but it was hard even for him.
Our student tour guide, Rob Bailey, did his best to cheer them, but it was hard for him too and he's one of the best.
What nerve of thieves and vipers to think they have the right to take what isn't theirs. Why can't St. Louis do better at stopping what must have been obvious to anyone driving or walking by that van.