Last fall, the Saint Joseph City Council approved an agreement with Missouri Western State University for the construction of a new, campus-based, city fire station which will serve as a replacement for Station Number 8 on Mitchell Avenue. In return for the 99-year long lease, the city will build a new police station to house Missouri Western's growing number of officers.
According to Missouri Western’s Vice President of Financial Planning and Administration, Darrell Morrison, both the fire and police stations will be funded through the city, with no money coming from Missouri Western's end. Morrison also stated that, due to COVID-19, there have been some delays in regards to the construction of the sites. As a result of the setbacks the university does not have any major updates on the project nor a set timeline for completion but hopes to see progress heading into the upcoming summer months. In the end, Morrison believes that the deal will help to strengthen both parties involved and will be highly beneficial for the Missouri Western student body.
City Councilwoman Brenda Blessing, a former professor at Missouri Western for 28 years, shared the following thoughts on the station to the Saint Joseph News-Press.
"I think it's a win-win for both groups of people," Blessing told the News-Press. "One, we need a fire station on that end of town. Two, it's nice for the university police instead of being inside the student union. I think they've gotten bigger, and I think it's a place where their cars can meet and park."
The News-Press also reports that Councilwoman Blessing stated that the agreement sends a message that Missouri Western is working with the city and hopes the two will continue to work together in the future on other matters as well.
Garrett Jackson, a student on campus majoring in construction engineering technology, felt that the fire station is a very good idea on the Missouri Western and St. Joe’s part.
"I think it sounds like a dashing idea. It should make students feel safer because there will be a fire station closer and a more workable space for the police officers. It will improve the look of campus to have a nice new building where the officers can operate from,” Jackson said. “It should help the city of Saint Joseph because they will have a good spot to put the fire station and keep the rest of the city safe. Nice job Saint Joe."
Kole Dalen, a biology major at the university, had a positive response in hearing that a fire station is being built stating that "I think this is a good idea, beneficial for both the city and college."
While there is no current timeline set due to problems resulting from the pandemic, members of Missouri Western and the surrounding community look forward to the fire station's completion as well as the future police station. In addition to providing more jobs to the community, it makes the campus and town safer as a whole.