LEAD PHOTO: The Ashland Folks on Spokes originated in 2018.

2018 a BIG Year in Southern Boone

Southern Boone County saw plenty of news in 2018 – from a record-breaking kindergarten class to record-breaking sports teams – and while dealing with the numerous challenges that come with growth, Ashland and Southern Boone residents made the most of new opportunities.

The top 10 stories of 2018 in the Boone County Journal, for the most part, center around that growth:

1     SoBoCo School District Enrollment Climbs – As she has done before, Southern Boone Primary Principal Brandy Clark looked at the district’s school board and said, “Enrollment is up – and we are full.”

It was just a year ago in 2017 that the district opened a new wing of eight kindergarten classrooms, only to have 162 5-year olds packed into those classrooms the first week of school.

Once again, Clark and her staff have had to be a little creative in providing instruction, lunch and work out the logistics of how record enrollment could work – along with large classes of first and second graders, while school board members went back to the drawing board to figure out how to deal with the continued enrollment growth.

The district will go back to voters next spring for another bond issue to build a new kindergarten, prekindergarten and special needs facility, turning the Primary into a building for only first and second grade.

“We want to maintain the quality of education we’re used to,” said SoBoCo Superintendent Chris Felmlee, “we do that in classrooms, not trailers.”

2     Ashland’s growth at top of State – In April, msn.com highlighted the growth of Boone County as being tops in the state and Boone County Assessor Tom Schauwecker noted that Ashland has led Boone County growth for the past three years. The national website noted the population change in the county between 2011-2016 as being up 6.4%, out-pacing the State of Missouri’s 1.4% growth.

“For a number of years, that top growth spot was in St. Charles County or the Springfield-Branson corridor,” Schauwecker said, but the Columbia-Boone County market area is getting a net gain of about 2,000 people per year.”

Schauwecker said that the Ashland area is the “tip of the spear” of Mid-Missouri growth.

“For percentage of growth, Ashland is still the fastest-growing city in the county,” Schauwecker said.

While homes continued to be built and sold in nearly every housing development in Southern Boone, Ashland Mayor Gene Rhorer said the challenge of that kind of growth was to be sure community leadership is in front of hurdles such as infrastructure, safety and transportation issues.

3     East Ashland Plaza Development – In June city planners approved the East Ashland Plaza development plat. The land, owned by the CL Richardson Co., encompasses 31.5 acres and was planned to be divided into 14 parcels, or commercial businesses.

“There is interest in that property from retailers,” Mayor Gene Rhorer said after the plat was approved.

The Richardson Company also sought and received approval by the Missouri Department of Transportation to access Highway Y and create a frontage road, which has recently been cut into the property. Future plans were recommended that the city and Richardson work to connect the development to the housing development along Perry Ave. to the south.

~ Get the rest of the Top 10 in today’s Journal ~

By Bruce Wallace

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