Back in the Saddle again

I am one of the unlucky individuals that fell victim to the flu. I spent all of last week in a huddled mass in bed, consecutively freezing and boiling. The worst seems to finally be over, but I am still totally exhausted. I did get the flu shot last year, but as was mentioned in an article in the paper last month, this season’s flu shot seems to have hit wide of the mark. I’ll just keep on plodding though work and life and just hope that my wife and daughter don’t pick up the nastiness.

I just read about a great little program that the city of St. Charles has developed to help out low to middle income home owners in the city. The city’s Community Development Department is offering low and no interest loans to families that qualify through its Home Improvement Loan Program.

The program is a way for families to be able to take care of their homes without breaking already tight budgets. To qualify, the family must own and live in their own home and fall within certain income guidelines, which are determined by the number of people in the home and the household’s gross income.

Interest rates vary from 3 percent for a 10 year loan to a no-interest loan with payments deferred until the home is sold. The homeowner must live in the home in order for the payments to be deferred.

Qualified repairs include general maintenance, roof repairs and replacements, upgrades or renovations to the home’s electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling systems or water heaters, window replacement, new siding, insulation and weatherization, foundation repair and waterproofing.

I, for one, am impressed by the effort. Only time will tell how well it works. Personally, this could be a wonderful resource for the home owners that are just barely making it. It has long been the American dream to own a home. And it will definitely become more difficult in the near future, especially with the credit crisis only now starting to really come to a boil. The number of foreclosures is skyrocketing to levels not seen in a very long time. Helping people stay in the city of St. Charles, rather than moving onto a subdivision someplace else in the county should certainly be a goal for our city administrators.

I would like to see our dream in the city of St. Charles be that of a community helping its own. When a storm comes in and leaves my neighbor with a hole, I’d provide them someplace to camp out until they could move back home. If everybody resolved to help at least one neighbor, we really would be the envy of the surrounding cities.

If you need information or want to apply for the loan, call the Department of Community Development at 636.949.3222. For assistance with the application call Anita Telkamp at 636.949.3224.

By the way, on Sunday, the Department of Agriculture announced a recall of 143 million pounds of beef, after health code violations were found at a slaughterhouse in California. The USDA believes that most of the beef has already been consumed, but do not know of any cases of illnesses they think might have resulted from eating the beef. A video was recently released showing the slaughter of "downed" cattle. Downed cattle are those that have become too weak to stand or walk, possibly because of illness or disease. Federal regulations require that downed animals be re-checked for disease by an inspector. And the really burning gall is that the majority of this meat was for the school lunch programs across the country.


Tragedy in Kirkwood

In what can only be called a tragic and deplorable act, Charles Lee “Cookie” Thornton went on a rampage at a Kirkwood city council meeting, killing 5 people (two policemen and three city officials) and critically injuring the mayor.

Here are a few links to the story:






I have sympathy towards the family and friends of everybody involved, even Mr Thornton’s family. I heard several times last night that he was the kind of person just about anybody would want as a friend, but in the last several months something had changed. Nobody could put a finger on it, but his mood and personality changed. Did his family have any inkling what he was about to do? Mr. Thornton's brother seems to feel as though the city council brought it on themselves because their actions.

I could say somebody should have done something, but what and when? It is always easy to sit back with the television remote and proclaim with 20/20 backwards vision what should have or could have happened. To be honest, when I first heard about the shootings last night I thought that maybe they were in retaliation to the Kevin Johnson trial, since that is the only thing I could think of where emotions have been running high. It doesn’t matter the community you live you, anything like this is a shock to the societal system.

The weekend is looking busy for us as a family. My daughter’s birthday party is Saturday and we’re going to a Valentine’s Day dinner at the Scottish Rite on Sunday. And sometime over the weekend I am going to pop the cork on the first batch of beer I’ve brewed in a number of years. It’s a double chocolate stout and it smelled great when we were bottling it. Take it easy out there and enjoy the nice weather while it lasts!

Update: Definitely losing respect for the family of Mr Thornton when his mother and brother in interviews with media say city council deserved what they got for harrassing him. Looks like the harrassment came in the form of getting tickets for illegally parked cars and fines for not obtaining the proper permits and licenses needed for the work he was doing. Also, the change in Mr. Thornton apparently had been observed over the last two years, not months as I had thought I originally heard. Also, there are reports that the family saw Mr. Thorton take his gun out and they knew he was heading to the city council meeting. If true, and I emphasis the point since it is hearsay at this point, would that not make them somewhat responsible for not stopping him.


It’s almost the end of the week

Happy Chinese New Year!

Many countries in southeast Asia celebrate Chinese New Year (CNY) for the next 2 weeks. I haven’t been there for CNY, but from what I’ve read and heard it is their biggest holiday of the year. Many businesses close for a week, if not for the whole thing.. Chinese New Year is really the Spring Festival. The Spring Festival celebrates the Earth coming back to life and the beginning of plowing and planting. This year is the year of the Rat. Xin Nian Kuai Le!

So what do you think about the results of the primaries?

The only thing that is certain is that there is no clear cut winner/leader in the democratic race and in the republican race John McCain is definitely out pacing his other two opponents. There is still a number of weeks to travel and it would be foolhardy to pick who is going to get the nomination from either party. I’m hoping to get by the St. Charles County election authority and pick up a copy of the precinct-by-precinct breakdown of the votes. In precinct 1, there were 500 brave souls out of 1,150 registered voters that braved the foul weather to go out and vote that’s 44.34%. I know that at 3:15pm I was voter number 320.

There was a report prepared for and presented to the city council of St. Charles last year on implementing Streecars/Trolleys in St. Charles. The report specified railway right-of-ways, streets, and other land that could be utilized to put in an initial line. The report identified a little over 11 miles that could be serviced. Price tag for the build out was $35 million. Looking at other cities that have been building streetcar lines, this is a HUGE cost savings over what other cities are having to pay to create their streetcar lines. Other cities that have go forward with their plan (such as Little Rock) have spent $10 million dollars for just a 2.5 mile stretch of track. Unfortunately, $35 million is not chump change. However, there are some very good reasons that an investment in a streetcar line to move people around St. Charles is a very good thing. Besides saving gas money (by the way, gas prices shot up a quarter yesterday), but would encourage people to shop local businesses that are located on the route. Main Street would be the focal point of system. And there is the potential of encouraging growth along the North 94 area, which has been struggling for years. There is a lot more research that needs to be done before committing to the price tag, but it seems to me to be a wise investment in the future of downtown St. Charles.

Election Update: Mitt Romney has pulled out of the Presidential Race. And based on Kit Bond's assessment of Huckabee, I think that John McCain has pretty much tied up the republican nomination. Huckabee so far is saying he is staying in the race. And Romney is hanging onto his delegates, which will give him a huge power boost if Huckabee does well in the rest of the primaries, as Romney can use his delegates to get something out of the potential nominee.


Super Duper Tuesday

It comes down to this, 24 states holding primaries and caucuses which will help determine the direction and face of the democrats and republicans in the 2008 Presidential race. I can’t say that I personally lean one way or the other. It is your civic duty to gather as much information about the candidates as you can and then determine for yourself who is the person that most reflects your views and attitudes. Voting should never be a “pick a hole at random” type of thing. It’s much more serious than that and you should definitely take it as such.

Locally in St. Charles, there are a few issues on the ballot besides the primary in Weldon Springs, Lake St. Louis, and Wentzville. But the only thing I have going on in the district I live in is the Presidential Primary. I’ll be heading to the polling place after work, since they don’t open quite early enough for me to vote before work. It’s raining like crazy out there and I hope that doesn’t keep people away. It always seems embarrassing to me, that in this land of democracy and liberty, we usually have fewer than 30% of eligible voters participate. Then again, maybe I’m just crazy like that.

It is anybody’s guess who will win the nominations. You can’t go by the pollsters or the exit polls. You’ll just have to wait until the results are counted. Election results for St. Charles county can be viewed at http://tinyurl.com/37nbhe. The Secretary of State’s office for the state of Missouri hasn’t yet updated a page to show the election results for the state.

Get out there and vote.

Update #1: Just received an email from the Secretary of States office and they will have a link up on their website later this afternoon and live at 7pm.