Blue Springs City Guide
City started near a spring When the pioneer couple arrived in their wagon they found a place of great beauty. There was a series of springs, open valley and rolling fertile land for cultivating and grazing, plus a good stand of timber. While others had camped around the springs on the edge of the prairie, it wasn’t until 1832 that William and Rhoda Harris arrived from Henry County, Va., with their two children, becoming the first people to settle there. He was fond of hunting and, to a certain extent, was involved in preaching. She was one of those pioneer women who were “on call” night and day as a practical nurse and as a mid-wife who brought newborn babies into the world. Mrs. Harris tended an herb garden and
Portraits of the past Ted Stillwell was the neighborhood pharmacist. The Harrises had 11 more children after they settled in to their new surroundings. In 1845, their infant son, Lewis, died and was the first child buried in the Blue Springs Cemetery. When Mr. Harris died, he was the first adult buried there. Of those 13 children, there was only one girl, Nancy. She became the grandmother of Rufus Burrus, an Independence at-
torney, and one of Harry Truman’s close advisers. In 1838, Franklin Smith Jr. opened the first store and post office and called it Blue Springs. A small community soon grew up around the edge of the spring near today’s intersection of Woods Chapel Road and Walnut Street where the Burrus Old Mill Park is located, just east of Lake Tapawingo. In 1850, T.J. Horn built a mill using from the spring to grind wheat and corn. Following the Civil War, the completion of the Chicago-Alton Railroad changed the face of the small community forever. Since Blue Springs was in a valley, the railroad refused to put a depot in town. Shannon K. Knox foresaw good times ahead with the construction of the
railroad, so in 1878 he purchased 100 acres around the train depot and divided 60 acres of it into town lots. He and his brother-in-law, James Parr, built a general store on the south side of Main Street selling general merchandise and town lots. The pioneers of Blue Springs simply picked up and moved the town to the top of the hill. To serve the railroad, James Parr also built the Chicago and Alton Hotel in 1878, which is the oldest commercial building still standing in Blue Springs. In 1978, the hotel was moved from its foundation, just south of Main Street along side the tracks, to its present location next door to the Dillingham-Lewis House. Reference: Blue Springs Historical Society.
• Carson Ross
Blue Springs Mayor
What challenges are you facing as mayor in your second term? Blue Springs, like almost every other local government, is being asked to do more with less. We are committed to providing the services that create the high quality of life we enjoy in Blue Springs. Although there are small indicators of better times ahead, we continue to prioritize projects and maximize our revenue. I believe we have developed a comprehensive
economic development strategy for our community and have put in place tools and resources to be successful in all areas of our city, including Woods Chapel Road, Colbern and Missouri 7, U.S. 40 and Missouri 7, downtown, and the Adams Dairy corridor.
What are some major accomplishments during the past year? The voterapproved bond projects continue to progress ahead of schedule and
below budget. In January, the Colbern Road and Missouri 7 intersection was completed. This project not only improved traffic flow, but also visually enhances the southern gateway into Blue Springs. The Let’s Move! initiative has had several accomplishments including the new community garden in Central Park, the first ever Kids Triathlon and the continued success with Let’s Move! Saturdays. The Downtown Alive! group has made significant progress including hosting a town hall meeting, developing a calendar of events and establishing officers and bylaws.
What can residents expect to see this coming year? There are many exciting things in the upcoming year. The Sni-a-Bar Sewer
Treatment Plant should be completed this fall and construction on the Woods Chapel Road corridor is in full swing. When this corridor is complete, it will provide a beautiful entryway from I-70 west into Blue Springs. A project near to my heart is the Veterans Way Memorial, set to be dedicated this fall in Pink Hill Park. This memorial will be dedicated to all the veterans of our nation’s wars. We continue to make strides implementing the Public Safety Sales Tax projects. By year’s end, the new radio system will be in place, and we hope to have construction started on the Howard L. Brown Public Safety building. In 2011, we signed a Letter of Agreement with the University of Missouri and the Economic Development Corporation to develop the
first phase of the Missouri Innovation Park. We expect to start construction of the MIZZOU Center in the first quarter of 2013.
What is the city’s greatest asset? I have said it before and I will say it again – great cities don’t just happen. They happen because people, businesses and organizations come together for the greater good. Our greatest asset is our abundant spirit of cooperation. Two great examples would be the recent community effort to save and move the historic Chicago and Alton train depot and construction of the Veterans Way Memorial in Pink Hill Park. Both of these projects have required hours of work, financial donations and skilled volunteers donating their time.
What challenges is the city facing? We are not immune to the current economic environment. City administration has closely monitored our financial situation and provided the City Council with an expenditure and capital spending plan that allows us to maintain essential services, especially in the areas of public safety and infrastructure maintenance. We continue to work with RED Development and do all we can to help facilitate and encourage the completion of the new retail shops at Adams Dairy Landing. We also continue to support is the Chamber of Commerce’s Buy Blue Springs and Discover Blue Springs programs. These are designed to help keep and attract revenue into our local economy.