Grain Valley on alert as motorcycle group in town for rally - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff


Grain Valley on alert as motorcycle group in town for annual rally


Law enforcement agencies are keeping a close watch on Grain Valley over the Labor Day weekend.

An estimated 2,000 members of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club have arrived for a national rally, temporarily providing a huge increase to the city with a population of about 13,000. The rally is being held at the Thunder Valley Sand Drags race track.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation calls the group an outlaw motorcycle gang for their long history of illegal activity.

Missouri State Highway Patrol doesn't anticipate trouble, still they, along with Grain Valley Police, the Jackson County Sheriff's Department and Blue Springs Police, are ramping up a presence in Grain Valley to ensure public safety, control the extra traffic and make residents feel less intimidated.

"Not only are we here to protect the citizens of Grain Valley and Eastern Jackson County, but also the motorcyclists themselves, making sure there are no problems here. We're here to protect everyone," said Jackson County Sheriff Mike Sharp.

Officers have been in contact with the rally's organizers. They are working together to make sure it's a safe event for the community and the Bandidos.

The Grain Valley Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Coleman said many businesses are excited about the extra cash flow rolling in with the bikers.

JJ's Bar and Grill on Main Street was already serving up its smothered pork chop special to hungry Bandidos members as the restaurant rolled out the welcome mat for the club.

"It means an extreme increase in revenue," said the owner, Jeri Mills. "Revenue is revenue."

Mills knows that not everyone in the city shares her enthusiasm.

"I agree with the police presence, you know, if there is an issue, but it just feels like the presence is so overwhelming. It almost makes them feel like they can't come out and contribute to the town, like the town is not welcoming them," she said.

Two of Grain Valley's biggest bars in town are closed over the Labor Day weekend.

"They (the bar owners) indicated that they had plans, (to be closed) way before this happened, to be out of town," Coleman said.

A few Bandidos members told KCTV5's Erika Tallan that they aren't in the area to cause trouble. They just want to have a good time.

A man who only wished to go by the name Billy is a club member from Texas. He also said he's a small business owner and that the group is bringing a lot of money to a town that can use it, even though members are feeling a squeeze from the law.

"There are a lot of other things going on in this world that are a bigger threat than a local motorcycle club coming around to have a good time. There are much bigger things that they could be doing," he said.

"I'm offended that people would ever be treated this way," said Lynn Mahoney.

Mahoney lives in Grain Valley and loves a good biker rally, which is why she doesn't like the hype surrounding the Bandidos.

"This is not right. This is America. This is the Midwest. I thought we welcomed people that came here," she said. "Sons of Anarchy ain't roaring in, darn it. It's not a crime element. It's people who are coming together."

Mahoney has seen members at many local businesses, including Blue Springs Harley-Davidson, where owner David Worth said he's already sold three bikes on Saturday alone. Worth said he's had no problems with any visiting bikers.

"They're a bunch of guys in a brotherhood who ride together. They go to events, just like hog events and they just want to have a good time," he said.

Worth's dealership will even provide roadside assistance and other services to the bikers. He said the event's organizer contacted him months ago in advance.

"I knew it was overblown. I think a lot of people just don't know. There's a lot of I don't know out there. They see too much television I think," he said.

The rally goes through the weekend before the club starts to head out of town on Monday.

KCTV5's Emily Rittman and Nathan Vickers contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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