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Another blow to area tourism

The Examiner

The state of Missouri is closing its welcome center just off Interstate 70 at the Truman Sports Complex. It's closing three of its eight centers altogether.

Jeff Fox

It’s a curious decision since the state earmarked a good chunk of its money from the CARES Act – the only COVID-19 relief bill Congress has passed so far – for tourism. The pandemic has hit those businesses hard in Missouri.

Still, state revenues overall are down, and the governor has withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in spending across state government. The Division of Tourism budget has been cut nearly in half.

The state did make some of that federal money available to cities, and Independence sought and got more than $1 million. That makes sense. The city’s rich history – Truman, trails and a good deal more – has bequeathed the community any number of tourist attractions, most of which remain closed with no opening in sight. That’s a significant ding to the local economy.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the state is closing its welcome centers – good facilities where a driver can stop for a map, a brochure and a minute to rest – in Hannibal and St. Louis County as well as Kansas City. It’s cutting hours at Eagleville, Conway and Joplin. Six full-time employees are being laid off.

Quick hits

Stroud’s, which briefly had a location in Independence, is coming back to Eastern Jackson County with a take-out-only site at SummitWoods Crossing, the Lee’s Summit shopping development with Target, Lowe’s and Jack Stack Barbecue. No opening date yet. … Spire, the gas company, has recognized Blue Springs and a handful of other cities for having public works departments with records of safe digging. That means the city had no “at-fault damages” to Spire facilities in 2019. The company says that’s not as simple as it sounds. Last year its lines were damaged 1,780 times across the state. Belton and eight other cities also were honored with the new award, the Silver Shovel.

Fine, cleanup for CarMax

CarMax Auto Superstores has agreed to pay a federal civil penalty of $119,440 for spilling thousands of gallons of gasoline into the creek next to its Independence site.

The company reported the incidents when it became aware of them more than a year ago and has agreed to a cleanup that could cost more than $1 million, according to the regional office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is to oversee that cleanup.

The EPA says CarMax had failed to follow the rules on storing large amounts of fuel, such as inspections and maintaining safe storage.

Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s editor. Reach him at jeff.fox@examiner.net or @FoxEJC.