Donna Pittman, a lifelong resident of Independence, is also a longtime local business owner. She’s owned Curt’s Famous Meats since 1989, and the well-known meat market in Maywood goes back further than that.

“We are celebrating 70 years, 1947 to 2017 – lots of history,” Pittman said.

After all, how many local businesses can still say Harry and Bess Truman were customers? In one corner hangs a picture of the president, holding a shovel at a groundbreaking event, and there are other historical items in the store. Pittman has been pulling out more of those just to lend a historic feel for this Thursday’s thank-you event to mark the 70 years in business.

It’s from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the store, 10101 E. Truman Road.

“We’re going to have treats,” Pittman said. There will be Curt Burgers and a steak giveaway. If you have a car from the 1940s or ‘50s, Pittman invites you bring it up to add to the historical feel of the event.

Pittman is active in civic affairs, among other things working on improving the city’s western gateway on Truman Road and serving for many years on the public safety sales tax oversight board.

And what has owning and running Curt’s taught her?

“The most important thing I learned is that I needed great people to help me,” she said. “I needed a strong, efficient staff.”

Quick hits

The Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City says builder confidence is good and the issuance of permits to build single-family homes in the metro area so far is running far ahead of 2016. The group surveys eight metro counties and says 917 permits have gone out in the first two months of the year, a 34 percent jump from 2016. Eastern Jackson County is even better, with a nearly 70 percent jump. Lee’s Summit is leading the gains, Blue Springs and Grain Valley are on roughly the same pace as 2016, and Independence – five permits at this point last year, 20 so far this year – is picking up the pace. … The Bloomberg news service reports that Payless ShoeSource plans to close 400 to 500 of its 4,000 stores and reorganize under Bankruptcy Court protection. As of Tuesday, there was no word from Payless. The company, based in Topeka, has three stores in Independence and one in Blue Springs.

Tough commute

Area officials are wrestling with an issue they say could affect commuters across the metro area. The issue is the Broadway Bridge, recently renamed the Buck O’Neil bridge.

It connects downtown Kansas City with Clay and Platte counties and gets thousands of vehicles a day over the Missouri River. That’s a bit of a drive from Eastern Jackson County, but if that bridge was closed for an extended time, the ripple effects could be significant.

The bridge is 61 years old, and officials are looking at whether to rehab it or replace it.

Replacement has a major advantage: The current bridge would stay open while a new one goes up.

But there’s a hang-up: The Missouri Department of Transportation has money for renovations, not for new construction.

And that’s a problem: MoDOT would need to close the bridge for at least a year and a half to rehab it and give it another 30 to 40 years of life. That could start about two years from now.

“It would be extraordinarily disruptive all the way around,” said David Warm, executive director of the Mid-America Regional Council.

Any solution to divert that much traffic would probably involve all Missouri River bridges in the area, he said.

Nine bridges in the immediate metro area carry drivers over the river, from Interstate 435 near Parkville to Missouri 291 in Sugar Creek. That’s a lot of commuters.

MoDOT is tentatively looking at the rehabilitation plan. Warm said it’s unclear if that could be delayed long enough to look more closely at plans for a new bridge. One Platte County leader said Tuesday that disrupting commuter traffic at the Buck O’Neil Bridge would be a huge hardship.

“We’re trying to figure out, is there another way to get around that spot?” Warm said.

-- Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s business editor and reporter. Reach him at 816-350-6313 or jeff.fox@examiner.net. He’s on Twitter @FoxEJC and @Jeff_Fox.