Sep 28

Pumpkin Drop Tradition at Smartt Field Airport

Posted on September 28, 2023 at 4:17 PM by Bryanna Hartmann

One of the lesser-known traditions of the Halloween season in St. Charles County happens every October at the County’s Regional Airport—Smartt Field.

A crowd of onlookers cranes their necks as they hear the hum of an approaching plane. Parents holding small children point to the plane that’s coming, and then to the target plane sitting on the runway.

The passing plane drops a barrage of pumpkins, attempting to carpet bomb the plane on the runway. 

I don’t know why, but everyone seems to enjoy this spectacle.

There are oohs and ahs, and moans and applause.

For some reason we all feel a little better when a ton of pumpkins explode, heaving seeds and pulp every which way.

It’s just one moment of the annual Smartt Field Open House and Pumpkin Drop set for Saturday, Oct. 28.

The event features historic aircraft and old military vehicles on display, with beautiful views of Grafton bluffs and fall colors. It’s a great family event. And young children love seeing planes parked on the ground up close.

Smartt Field is one of St. Charles County’s hidden gems, in Portage Des Sioux. The airport’s history dates back to the 1940s, when it was named Neubeiser Field after its former owner.

The U.S. Navy purchased the grounds for use as a training field during the early years of World War II. It was renamed Smartt Field in honor of Ensign Joseph Gillespie Smartt, who was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. He was the first St. Charles County resident to be killed in the conflict.

St. Charles County shared the airport with the City of St. Charles when the federal government deeded the grounds in 1957. In 1976, the City released their portion to the County.

Now managed by St. Charles County Parks & Recreation, today the St. Charles County Regional Airport – Smartt Field provides a unique service to the county as a smaller airport that offers some of the accommodations of a larger airport. It is home to four fixed base operators (FBOs) that provide services to airport customers, and has room to grow with development opportunities for industrial or commercial use.

Mar 03

Supporting Our Department of Corrections

Posted on March 3, 2023 at 10:00 AM by County Council

There’s no way around it: Being a corrections officer is a tough job. These jobs are often overlooked as an option for someone pursuing a career in public safety and law enforcement because of the nature of their responsibilities.

Another thing there’s no way around: It takes a special kind of person to fill that role, and to fill it with integrity and honor day after day.

That’s why I’m taking a moment to express my gratitude for our Correctional Officers and Correctional Peace Officers at the St. Charles County Department of Corrections (SCCDOC). In my 26 years of experience serving as a judge, I have seen the important part they play in our justice system. Their dedication to that part is vital to our region and in ensuring justice is served with the attention and care, before and after those imprisoned see a courtroom.

The team we have at the Department of Corrections is committed to serving with excellence. Because of that, our officers are serving overtime and doing whatever they can to fill in the gaps caused by staffing shortages. SCCDOC Director Dan Keen tells me that right now, in February 2023, the SCCDOC is down a total of 44 officers, or about 37 percent. This is not a new challenge, and as those positions are left unfilled, the strain on our current team remains as they continue to face that challenge head on.

In addition to the staffing concerns, approximately 41 percent of the inmate population is on some type of psychotropic medication. Further, 68 percent of the inmate population suffer from a form of substance abuse. With our staffing needs, coupled with the increase in mental health and substance abuse concerns from the inmate population, our officers are wearing many hats to meet the needs of today’s incarcerated individuals.  

The good news is the SCCDOC is dedicated to protecting the public and serving inmates to approach their mental health and substance abuse needs, and provide constructive and rehabilitative services to help reduce recidivism. Ongoing training and professional development, and recent updates to critical areas in the SCCDOC facility—such as booking and medical space—make that easier for our staff.

The job is never done, and we need more help. Are you the right fit? If you are, or if you know someone who might be, visit to view available positions with the SCCDOC—from corrections officers to food service workers, nurses and office staff.

To our Corrections staff: You are appreciated and critical to the public safety of St. Charles County!

Sep 02

Amenities to Enjoy at Riverside Landing

Posted on September 2, 2022 at 5:16 PM by County Council

I’m so excited that the County park in my district – District 6 – has become popular with boaters and campers! Riverside Landing is located at the confluence of Dardenne Creek and the Mississippi River and is the perfect spot for launching your choice of watercraft for recreational boating, fishing, kayaking or canoeing. It’s also a great place to camp!

The St. Charles County Parks Department has done a tremendous job with this park, and Parks Director Ryan Graham tells me the number of visitors is increasing and the park is becoming extremely popular.  Since May, the park has had 530 visitors either camping or renting watercraft! In August alone, 94 rented canoes or kayaks and 91 used the park’s camping facilities!

The boat ramp, with a nearby scenic overlook plaza, provides free access to the Mississippi and the Dardenne and serves as an entry point to the newly opened Dardenne Creek Blueway – the first phase of a five-phase Blueway plan for St. Charles County. Kayaks and canoes can be rented at the iPaddle Station located in the park and taken for a 3.5-mile ride from Riverside Landing to 370 Lakeside Park in St. Peters. 

The Parks Department has added amenities for those who love the out-of-doors. Parking is available for 59 boat trailers, and the 7.73-acre park has 13 large and five small campsites with electrical hookups and a dump station for RV sanitary lines. A playground for kids recently was completed.

I was at the park in May when the Blueway opened and had the opportunity to tour the waterway, so I can attest to the beauty and peacefulness of this park and its surroundings. Check it out! You’ll be glad you did!

For more information and directions, visit