Sedalia Voters Say ‘Yes-Yes’ to Heckart Community Center
Sedalia voters overwhelmingly said "Yes-Yes" to the proposed Heckart Community Center on Tuesday.
Two questions were on the ballot in Tuesday's special election, and a yes vote for each meant approval for a 78,000-square-foot facility to be built on the site of the former Jennie Jaynes Stadium in Liberty Park.
Voter turnout was 24.2 percent, according to Pettis County Election Authority Nick La Strada. Votes were counted from a total of five precincts.
Results from Tuesday's election showed that Question One received 2,341 yes votes, or 79.54 percent, and 602 no votes, or 20.46 percent.
Question Two received 2,396 yes votes, or 81.17 percent, and 556 no votes, or 18.83 percent.
A total of 2,956 votes were cast, out of a possible 12,192 registered voters.
Garnering such a huge margin of yes votes was more than satisfying to Sedalia Parks & Rec Director Amy Epple.
"The people of this community of Sedalia are showing that they want it for their children and for themselves. They're going to come out and use it," Epple said after the results were announced. "I don't think people realize how much of a positive impact this will be for Sedalia, and that's what I want for this community."
Sedalia Parks & Rec will manage the facility. "I have an awesome team. Let them do what they're good at. And I think that's how you become successful," Epple stated.
A watch party and fish fry was held at County Distributing Tuesday evening. When the final vote tally was displayed on a large screen, the place erupted in applause and cheers.
Eight people have served on the "Yes Yes for Sedalia" campaign committee since forming in June, according to Campaign Chairman and head cheerleader Steve Bloess. Bloess admitted he couldn't sleep the night before the election, but was quite relieved to see the ballot proposal pass by about an 80 percent margin.
"It's great!," Bloess exclaimed when asked about how he felt about the election results. "They know that this will help this community grow, and they know that Sedalia will move forward. It's really gratifying. I thought we would win, but I didn't know we would win with such a resounding margin."
The ballot measure proposes a one-eighth-cent sales tax increase for public parks and storm water control. The special election will also ask voters to remove the sunset clause from an existing capital improvement sales tax.
The cost of the community center would not exceed $20 million. The increase in funding will pay for the principal, but not the rest of the cost.
Sue Heckart aims to honor the memory of Bill and Stella Heckart by giving back to the community, and help make a desire of her parents come true, Heckart said on May 6.
Her proposal is to pay the interest on bonds, with naming rights to the community center. The only stipulation was that the project be completed in time for the 20th anniversary of Stella's death, March 18, 2021.
The sales tax will increase from three-eights to one-half cent. The extra one-eight center is estimated to bring in an additional $655,000 annually to the City to help fund construction costs through debt service, explained City Administrator Kelvin Shaw.
According to yesyesforsedalia.com, voting yes removes the sunset clause from the city’s 1/2 cent capital improvement sales tax, which was planned to sunset in 2026 and second, on a 1/8 cent sales tax that will fund the new construction.
Both taxes needed to pass with a 50 percent majority yes vote in order for the Community Center project to move forward. A sales tax was chosen to fund the project because the entire community, including visitors to our city, will be able to use the facility.
At the end of his speech to the crowd, Bloess, at the urging of Kyle Herrick, literally dropped the mic onto the floor, which promptly broke into pieces.