Ken Paxton

Paxton ready to talk next big ideas

Town hall scheduled for Sept. 28 at the rec center

By ANDREW MCGINN
a.mcginn@beeherald.com

For Ken Paxton, the question of building a new water park in Jefferson isn’t really a question at all.

It’s more like when a person goes shopping for a new Cadillac and has to decide between leather seats that are heated or unheated.

As the kids say, #firstworldproblems.

“The question,” Paxton explained Monday, “is whether it will be covered or uncovered.”

Paxton, who helms the Greene County Development Corp. as executive director, will again moderate a town hall meeting at 6 p.m. Sept. 28 at the Greene County Community Center for all to learn more about development projects already underway or in the planning stages.

A water park, a sports complex and a covered horse arena are three of the new projects already being planned by GCDC, Paxton said.

GCDC’s mojo is arguably at full potency, having recently checked off such projects as a $40 million casino-events center, a new Hy-Vee and an expansion at Scranton Manufacturing.

“We’ve completed a lot of our major projects,” Paxton said.

Future projects — like a water park that could stand alone or be attached to the rec center — will be bolstered by Wild Rose Jefferson, the new casino that generated $1.4 million alone in gaming revenue this summer in its first half-month (yes, half a month).

“There’s not a reason we can’t get this done,” he said.

A new covered horse arena at the Greene County Fairgrounds is farthest along in planning, according to Paxton.

“It will generate an enormous amount of income for the community,” he predicted.

In addition to horse and livestock shows, the arena could host auctions, motocross and tractor pulls, Paxton said.

He touts that it would be the closest covered arena to a casino in Iowa.

An outdoor sports complex would contain four fields for softball and soccer, he said.

The new projects may look like recreational facilities, but they’re actually tools for economic development, according to Paxton.

“We still want to grow this community,” Paxton said.

To attract young families, “You’ve got to have facilities,” he said.

Consequently, the town hall meeting on Sept. 28 is slated to feature an update on the $20 million school bond issue that failed last week at the polls by a vote of 60.04 percent to 39.96 percent.

Paxton is confident the Greene County Community School District will eventually pass the referendum, allowing for the consolidation of district buildings in Jefferson and the construction of a new competition gym.

“I believe we’ll get the school bond, which is incredibly important,” he said.

Also scheduled for discussion at the town hall is downtown revitalization, along with updates from the Greene County Medical Center and Scranton Manufacturing.

The medical center is in the midst of a $22.5 million expansion and renovation that ranks as its biggest building project since construction of the hospital itself in 1937.

A representative from Cargill also will provide an update on the company’s plan to build a feed mill near Grand Junction, Paxton said. Cargill was scheduled to address the GCDC annual dinner as well Wednesday night at the casino, he said.

Earlier this year, the multinational agribusiness informed the Greene County board of supervisors it was exploring a site at P46 and U.S. Highway 30.

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