Hannibal looks to have a more prominent presence on the Civil War map, thanks to a non-profit foundation and the city council.

The Missouri Civil War Heritage Foundation has created signage for the Ulysses S. Grant Trail throughout Missouri. With Hannibal designated as part of that route, City Manager Jeff LaGarce says the foundation purchased a U.S. Grant Trail highway sign for the city. A marker was also proposed for the city-owned Old Baptist Cemetery since Civil War soldiers are buried there.

LaGarce received council approval Tuesday to spend $1000 in matching funds for the marker, with the foundation covering the remainder of the $2500 cost. In a memo to the council, LaGarce says the signage should help promote more tourism. He also noted the connection between Mark Twain and Ulysses S. Grant: The two were close friends. Twain even published Grant’s memoirs.

In other business, a new Tornado Shelter Alternative Program is coming to Hannibal. Councilman Mike Dobson brought the issue to the City’s attention after noting a similar program was implemented at the Shelbina Public Library. Two local churches have offered their basements for temporary shelter during severe storms: Tabernacle of Praise on County Road 445 and Park United Methodist Church on Palmyra Road. City Manager Jeff LaGarce says the churches are not tornado-certified and cannot guarantee anyone’s safety. However, they would be a safer alternative to mobile homes or homes on a slab. The city will work with Hannibal/Marion County Emergency Management Director John Hark to sign-up people for Code Red phone alerts during a tornado watch or warning. The program will also be posted on the city website. It was suggested brochures also be distributed to mobile home parks.

A special call meeting of the council will be held Tuesday, July 28 at 5:30 p.m. City Manager Jeff LaGarce said the meeting is needed to expedite approval of the contract for airport taxiway improvements. LaGarce told the council bids were opened up in May and June, but MoDOT and FAA requirements drove bid prices way up and consumed valuable time. Even though the project is 90% grant funded, LaGarce says the city still needs to be fiscally responsible. He said a lot of negotiation has occurred between MoDOT Aviation, the FAA, and the contractor. Compromises have been reached regarding some of the more onerous requirements, reducing the costs to an acceptable level. He said the infrastructure improvements are vital to the business community, including Survival Flight based at the airport.

Street Department Superintendent Rich Dauma received approval to award asphalt and cold patch materials bid to Chester Bross Asphalt. Dauma told the council he would have liked a second bidder, Diamond Construction of Quincy, to be a backup supplier as had been done in past years. However, legal issues with city trucks not being licensed to operate in Illinois ruled out that option.

Finance Director Doug Warren received approval for the low bidder Wade-Stables P.C. to continue providing audit services for the city. The contract will be for one year with up to two one-year extensions.

In other council action:

  • A 3-year lease agreement with Riverboat Excursions, DBA Mark Twain Riverboat Company is approved. City Manager Jeff LaGarce said the agreement includes a cancellation clause that would allow boat operator Steve Terry to cancel the lease if the Viking River Cruise initiative conflicts with Mark Twain Riverboat operations. LaGarce said the city does not intend to hamper the operations of a successful tourist business.
  • The Steampunk Festival will be back in Hannibal for a second year. Lisa Marks of the Hannibal History Museum received approval for street closures September 4 – 7 on North Main from Center to Hill Streets, and Center and Bird from North Main east to the alley.
  • Approval was given for street closures along Broadway and Main to North Street on Saturday, August 8 from 9 to 11 a.m. for the Zeta Day Parade.