It’s good to see the companies that just go about their business get some recognition. I’m thinking of Hemco, the 60-year-old Independence company that makes laboratory equipment and is this year’s Independence Economic Development Council manufacturer of the year.

The EDC will present its Independence Business Awards on April 6 at the Stoney Creek Conference Center. The other winners fit that keep-on-keeping-on attitude as well:

• Small business of the year – B Vogue Salon and Gallery.

• Major employer of the year – Blue Ridge Bank & Trust Company.

• Emerging business of the year – Matchstick Websites.

• Hospitality business of the year – McClain Restaurant Group.

• Non-profit of the year: Church of the Four Corners.

• Philanthropic business of the year: Speaks Legacy Chapel.


Safety matters

Amtrak is paying a steep price for the freight railroads’ refusal to move forward on technology to save lives.

Ten years ago in California two trains collided, killing 25 people and injuring 135. The two train drivers didn’t see each other until seconds before the crash.

That’s it, Congress said. It ordered the railroads to adopt “positive train control” technology, which has been around for decades. The idea is simple. The system keeps track of trains in real time and if they get too close, it applies the brakes. Congress gave the railroads seven years to get it together.

But the railroads didn’t do that and threatened to shut down or greatly curtail service at the end of 2015. Congress blinked and gave them three more years. Now the end of 2018 is on the near horizon, so we’ll see where this goes.

Meanwhile, more people have died. Three recent accidents have gained nationwide attention, and the preponderance of evidence strongly suggests Amtrak was at fault in one. That was the derailment in Washington state when a train was going way too fast on an interstate overpass. Three people died.

Another, early this month, was a collision on tracks owned, controlled and run by CSX. A dispatcher put Amtrak on the wrong set of tracks. Two died. That’s exactly what train control is designed to prevent.

The third involved a vehicle going around crossing signals into the path of an oncoming Amtrak train. One person died. Sadly, that happens week in and week out across the country with both freight and passenger trains. This one grabbed national attention because members of Congress were onboard the train. Positive train control can’t account for people who drive around lowered bars and flashing lights, but it likely would have prevented the other two.

But no matter who’s at fault, Amtrak is the name in the news, and this hurts its image. This is an operation subsidized by We the People. Congress should stick with the do-over deadline this time. Most important, it will save lives. It will also protect the taxpayers’ investment, such as it is, in our national passenger rail system.


Quick hits

There’s a date for the ribbon-cutting at Orscheln Farm & Home, which figures to be a major addition to retailing in Blue Springs. It’s at 11 a.m. April 13. It’s in the old Price Chopper at the southeast corner of U.S. 40 and Missouri 7. No word from the company about the actual opening date. … The groundbreaking for the Uptown Market, which will be large and include enclosed space, is an important step for the Independence Square. The most convincing argument I’ve heard is to think of this as a business incubator. This is about far more than selling veggies and eggs, valuable as that is. Think about concerts, festivals and other events, potentially year-round. That’s traffic, and that means commerce. The $312,365 donation by Independence Rotary (with a big assist from the Rotary Club of Eastern Independence) goes a long way toward the $3.3 million cost. That’s good service to the community.

-- Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s business editor and reporter. Reach him at 816-350-6313 or He posts business items and other news and comment on Twitter @FoxEJC.