An attempt to look ahead at potential stories for 2018

There’s never been any way to predict the news in Platte County. Believe me. I’ve often tried.

But I’ve always appreciated that news happens here in a mostly quiet swath of Missouri. Not all of the news is good, but I’m rarely scrambling to find content.

However, I decided I wanted to try and take a look ahead and give my guesses to some potentially big story lines in Platte County for 2018. If nothing else, this will be hilarious to look back on in 2019 to see how wrong I was.

I’ll call these educated guesses, and I feel more confident in some than others. The unexpected will happen, as it always does, but these will be based on trends and observations I’ve made.

Where will your tax dollars go?

While the sale of Shiloh Springs Golf Course has not been finalized, I do expect a deal to be done with GreatLIFE KC. I expect that sooner rather than later.

The Platte County Commission picked the local company’s bid before the end of the year and has started negotiations for the often-maligned property. I see this as a first step to a bigger story.

If you will remember, the Platte County Commission previously asked the parks and recreation department to plan for a reduction in revenue from the twice-voter-approved half-cent sales tax used to fund parks, recreation and a stormwater grant. Taking the cost of maintaining Shiloh Springs Golf Course off the books should help free up enough funding to plan for future maintenance of other parks properties with room to spare.

I expect the current commissioners to lay out a plan or at least some general framework to reallocate the tax funds. This could include an early look at potential ballot language ahead of the current tax’s sunset date in 2020.

This likely would include a reduction in the parks portion of the tax — let’s say to a quarter cent — while repurposing the other quarter cent for other needs in the budget. Likely, I would see this as used toward law enforcement and potentially a large scale project involving the Platte County Detention Center.

Essentially, citizens won’t see a tax increase, but the money will be spread out to address multiple needs.

Head east

The East Side Master Plan should receive approval in the coming months from the Platte City Planning and Zoning Commission. With the document finalized, the process of developing land located between Route HH and Highway 92 on the east side of Interstate 29 could be ready to start.

All along, officials have maintained that full development of the land will likely take decades. I don’t expect huge movement out east of Platte City, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least one business show interest and finally break ground.

Part of the infrastructure will be in place, and this could be the year to see some progress.

One of the likely two subdivisions located in the area along Highway 92 will assuredly be ready to add homes very soon. That’s key in selling the undeveloped land to potential businesses.

I don’t expect a bunch of new construction, but the city has been waiting for “the egg to crack,” and I think that’s coming up very soon.

Quiet in Ferrelview

Maybe the idea of peace in the Village of Ferrelview might be relative.

However, I fully expect the long-simmering situation to quiet down in wake of the suspension for Ferrelview Police Department chief Daniel Clayton — a controversial figure at the center of much of the unrest. I can’t see any way the current board brings him back to work, especially with a hearing scheduled for February with the Missouri Department of Public Safety, which will review a complaint of misconduct filed against him.

I think Clayton’s removal from the situation should allow for some more constructive dialogue.

How long the peace lasts could be another issue. I expect the board of trustees and citizens to have a chance to start trying to repair the dysfunctional village, but I’d guess that could be interrupted when the Missouri State Auditor’s audit comes back or the April election — whichever comes first.

The true path to change for Ferrelview will be through the trustees election, and April will offer the first chance to change direction. There could be some interesting campaigning going in on the small village of about 450 residents.

North Platte celebrates progress

This one can be counted as an almost sure thing.

At some point in 2018, likely in the summer, the North Platte School District will hold a special ceremony to celebrate the opening of its new junior high school. Sure, the intermediate school in Edgerton, Mo. came online not that long ago, but the update to the Dearborn campus seems long overdue.

I’m extremely happy for the district, which operates occasionally in the shadow of West Platte and its recent spending on noticeable upgrades. There’s no need to make it a competition between the two, but North Platte’s future looks bright, as well, and hopefully, the new building makes a difference for the communities it will serve.

Ross Martin is publisher of The Citizen. He may be reached via email at Follow him on Twitter: