There’ll be dancing in the streets in October as a result of the Columbia City Council approving a special use permit for Columbia High School to hold its homecoming dance on a section of Main Street.
An official announcement video was released on the school’s Facebook page Tuesday afternoon.
The dance, appropriately-themed “Dancing in the Streets,” will take place from 6-9 p.m. on Main Street between Cherry and East Legion streets, during which time the street will be closed.
CHS Media Specialist and Student Council Adviser Krista Schoellhorn told the Republic-Times she wanted to give the students a “big night” – especially with the amount of events that have been canceled, postponed or modified due to COVID.
“We want them to have the things they’ve missed for the last 18 months,” Schoellhorn said.
CHS Principal Brian Reeves spoke with Schoellhorn at the beginning of the school year about the need for the dance to be held outside. She said she brainstormed for a while and came up with a list of possible venues, Main Street being the top item.
Schoellhorn then emailed Columbia Mayor Bob Hill and she said he was “all about it … for the kids.”
“When (Schoellhorn) approached me regarding the homecoming dance this year, I quickly let her know that not only would I support the high school in doing so, but would do what I could to help it come to life, Hill said. “There has been a lot of time and effort invested by many individuals into making this night happen here on Main Street and I truly think it will be an incredible experience for all involved. These kids are going to have a memorable homecoming they will never forget!”
Schoellhorn noted the school has been unable to have a homecoming dance since 2019, which means current seniors did not have a junior prom and freshman did not have their eighth grade dances.
“We needed a win,” Schoellhorn remarked when the special use permit was approved, adding the school has a “couple of surprises” planned for this dance.
“We are excited to be able to hold this event and thrilled the city council was able to approve it,” Reeves commented. “It will mean a lot to our students.”
In addition to the unique location, which will provide a view of the sunset down Main Street shortly after the dance begins, there will be a few other changes from previous homecoming dances. The king and queen coronation will be done at the dance rather than the homecoming football game. Also, there will be no charge to attend the dance.
Schoellhorn said admission is usually $15, but the CHS Student Council and CHS National Honor Society will accept food donations to benefit Thanksgiving packages the groups will prepare and give to Monroe County House of Neighborly Service. Admission will be $5 with a donation and $10 without.
This is a “takes a village” event, Schoellhorn concluded, noting there is still much to be done now that the location for the dance is a go.
During Monday’s meeting, Columbia Ward III Alderman Paul Khoury thanked the school for putting the dance together.
In other business at the meeting, Columbia Police Chief Jason Donjon gave the first of what will be a series of updates from various city departments.
Donjon reported “minimal” need for police assistance with no arrests over the weekend at the Songs4Soldiers concerts held at Bolm-Schuhkraft Park.
Donjon also reported the CPD has hired a new full-time dispatcher, bringing the total to six for the department. The current staff levels allows two dispatchers to be on duty during peak times of 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
In other personnel changes, K-9 officer Raz recently joined the department. CPD officer Kyle Hannon will be training with Raz in the coming weeks.
Donjon said that K-9 Daggo, who has been with the department since 2013, will most likely need to retire within the next year and live full-time as a pet with his current handler, CPD officer Zack Hopkins.
Donjon said the department is installing new cameras in all police vehicles and is working to have all officers equipped with body cameras by the end of this year. The department has the cameras purchased but is currently working with Monroe County State’s Attorney Lucas Liefer to ensure the department’s policies are in line with state requirements that will be in effect beginning in 2025.
“We’re going to get ahead of it,” Donjon said of the new legislation.
Donjon also thanked Columbia Director of Information Technology James Mitchell for his help with tech implementation at the police department.
Donjon said Mitchell is responsible for enabling police cameras to be uploaded to the “cloud” online storage as well as the ability for camera feeds to be viewed live. In addition, Mitchell has helped set up radio, CAD, mapping and a number of other technical devices used by CPD.
Donjon noted the department would not be able to serve the community as well without all of Mitchell’s work.
Donjon, Hill and Columbia City Administrator Doug Brimm attended a conference in St. Louis last month that focused on public safety complexes.
Hill, Brimm and Columbia aldermen have recently taken tours of the city’s various departments, including a stop at the Public Safety Complex that houses Columbia’s police, fire and EMS.
Donjon thanked the officials for coming by and said he hopes the current momentum toward creating a newer complex continues.
Under unfinished business, the council approved a series of actions that will change the scope of the Columbia’s Department of Public Works.
The council approved the purchase of a leaf vacuum at its Sept. 7 meeting, thereby putting public works in charge of leaf removal.
In corresponding moves, the council rejected bids from a contractor for leaf removal services, approved the hiring of three additional public works department employees and amended the salaries of said employees to reflect a desire to remain competitive during the current nationwide labor shortage.
In action unrelated to the hiring approval, an agreement between the union representing the Department of Public Works and City of Columbia was passed. Work on the negotiations by Brimm, Columbia City Engineer Chris Smith, Assistant City Engineer Tim Ahrens and others was lauded by the council, who noted that past agreements have not been reached in as amiable a nature.
Brimm said that “the mutually beneficial collective bargaining agreement … was able to eliminate the need for outside labor counsel.” The city had spent $16,590 on labor attorney fees during the 2018 negotiation cycle.
At the end of the meeting, Columbia Ward I Alderman Doug Garmer thanked volunteers from Faith Lutheran Church in Columbia for their clean-up efforts Sunday after Songs4Soldiers.
Hill also pointed out at the beginning of the meeting that the recently-dedicated Trost Crest monument commemorating the Gedern, Germany and Columbia Sister Cities partnership is available for viewing in front of Columbia City Hall. Read more about this monument in next week’s paper.