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Shawnna Robinson, Daily Journal 

The work is almost complete at the Farmington McDonald's Karsch Boulevard location. Plans call for the grand opening to be anywhere from Nov. 21 to Nov. 29 - with a number of special events planned.

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Council discusses land issue

The Bonne Terre City Council met in regular session Monday evening and during the meeting they discussed a piece of property that runs through the industrial park.

Bonne Terre City Administrator Jim Eaton explained that looking at the map, with Young Street facing forward, there is a striped or hash marked area and Union Pacific Railroad says they may have some interest in the property above it.

rbronaugh / Provided by City of Bonne Terre 

City Administrator Jim Eaton is trying to determine what to do with a tract of land in the industrial park that Union Pacific is questioning. The outlined area shows the area of unknown title.

“We have done title work and can’t find anything where they released their interest in it. Yet several years ago St. Joe Lead Company deeded this piece of property to Community Services Corporation,” said Eaton. “Then they turned around and deeded it to the city. If you look to the left of the hash mark, this is a part of the railroad property.”

Eaton said if you look down a little distance, you will find St. Joe or Bonne Terre Cattle Company had deeded off property to individuals. He added Union Pacific said they can’t find anywhere where they released their rights.

“They haven’t paid taxes on it for any number of years and there is one parcel the county says no one is taxed on,” said Eaton. “What I am trying to find out is if we had this piece of property, you can see the lines where the proposed road is below the hash marks. When you get down there it is real steep incline, so if we had this property we could move the road over on this rail bed which in the long run would save us some money.”

Eaton said he is looking for guidance from the city council. He said their surveyor feels there is a 75 percent chance the St. Joe Lead Company or Bonne Terre Cattle Company did own this or they wouldn’t have deeded it off.

“I think the key would be, if we can get, for a very reasonable fee, Union Pacific to deed it to us as a quick claim deed, it would simplify things,” said Eaton. “I am asking the city council to think about and consider what they would feel would be a reasonable amount to consider paying. It will be a total of six acres. The problem is we have taken this to the assessor’s office and they think it is more trouble than it’s worth.”

Eaton said the assessor’s office told him Union Pacific hasn’t turned this specific piece of property in to be assessed so they don’t know why they are maintaining they have some ownership. He added they probably haven’t paid taxes in some 25 years.

“The easy way to settle it in my opinion would be if they are willing for a very reasonable fee to quick claim deed it to us,” said Eaton. “Then I think we can go to Doe Run and they would quick claim deed it to us for nothing, based on our past history. That will be the easy way to resolve.”

Eaton said the city has already spent around $2,500 to $3,000 for title work, surveying cost, researching records, and they asked Doe Run to go back in their records.

“It’s the railroad that says they didn’t give up their rights to the right of way,” said Eaton. “Further north they did give up those rights, but not in the area where we are looking at. This does run all the way through our industrial park. “

The city council decided to give it some thought and in the meantime Eaton will try to see how they can move forward with obtaining the property.

Also during the meeting the council approved the purchase of a backhoe for the city maintenance department and will review the bids for the purchase of a dump truck. They also approved an ordinance to allow Eaton to execute a contract with FS Leasing, LLC, for the lease of a new sanitation truck.

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Woman injured when van hits tree

An Arcadia Valley woman was injured when her van struck a tree at 8:25 a.m. Monday on Thomas Road, north of County Road 537 in St. Francois County.

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the accident occurred when a northbound 2006 Dodge Caravan driven by Dolores R. Maples, 66, of Ironton, was traveling too fast to negotiate a curve to the right in the road. The van traveled off the left side of the road where it struck a tree.

Maples, who was wearing a seat belt at the time of the wreck, was transported by the St. Francois County Ambulance District to Parkland Health Center in Farmington where she was treated for moderate injuries.

The patrol reports the van as being "totaled."

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City looks at internet tax

Plans to work with other St. Francois County cities in placing the addition of an internet use tax on the ballot in August was among a range of items discussed at the Desloge Board of Aldermen meeting Monday night.

City Administrator Dan Bryan brought up the subject to see if aldermen would be on board if he were to work with the other municipalities to create unified wording for the ballot measure to collect tax on items purchased by city residents online.

“Recently we went to a MML (Missouri Municipal League) meeting in Poplar Bluff and the topic was use tax on internet sales,” Bryan said. “Now if you remember a while back, we did a portion of this use tax that included motor vehicles, boats and different things that are purchased outside of the state. That ballot measure passed.

“This is the other part to include internet sales. Basically, the way to look at it is it’s a sales tax on items that are purchased outside of the state of Missouri. We’ve seen a trend here in town, we’ve seen a trend here in the county, we’ve seen a trend in surrounding counties and across the state of a consistent decline in sales tax collections.

“Now, part of that is due to the increased familiarity and convenience of internet purchasing. So, I think that it’s something that we need to consider, and I hope you guys agree because I’ve already planned a pre-meeting. I’ve met up with and talked with every city in the county and we’re going to try to approach this collectively on the ballot for August of ’18.”

Bryan explained that the cities will only have two opportunities to place the internet use tax on the ballot — in August or November.

“The deadline is November 2018,” he said. “If we haven’t got it passed by November ’18, that’s as long as we have. That’s what they’re saying for the whole state, so I think we need to get our things in line, if you guys agree, to pursue what we need to do as far as looking at this on the ballot for August ’18.”

Alderman Alvin Sutton said the collection of sales tax from online sales makes it possible for local businesses to keep their heads above water while in competition with internet giants like

“People who have brick and mortar businesses here, we go in and we have to pay the tax there,” he said. “But if we’re not frequenting our local brick and mortar establishments and we’re getting online and buying things there, the internet sites are getting off scot-free because there’s no tax paid.

“It evens the playing field, as well as the amount of money that we’re losing. When I say ‘we,’ that’s all communities – taxpayers included – because if they bought at Walmart or the Dollar Store or whatever, that sales tax revenue would come back into our revenue stream and go back into the sidewalks, streets, overlays or whatever.”

Bryan noted that in February, Amazon agreed to begin imposing a Missouri use tax on online purchases made by state residents.

“Amazon, as we all know, encompasses more than half of online purchasing,” he said. “If we get onboard with this by this deadline, we can start collecting some of those monies that we may be missing out on. I’ll say the trend for everyone across the state – and I’ve talked to people specifically in Jefferson and Franklin County – and they’re seeing the same decline. It’s not just here, guys, it’s hitting everybody.

Asked by an alderman what percentage of additional internet use tax would be asked for on the ballot measure, Bryan said, “A two percent addition is pretty common. On the trends of people who have been passing it the last couple of years – I looked at the spreadsheet on that – and the common is 2 percent on top of the [Missouri] use tax.”

The board expressed their support of Bryan’s efforts and encouraged him to continue on in cooperation with the other cities.

In other action, the board approved the payment of an invoice presented to the city by Hurst-Rosche, Inc. for the Chestnut/Trailwood Stormwater Project, less $1,000. The city will pay $5,023 of the $6,023 invoice, holding the remainder due until the project is completed to the satisfaction of the board.

Also, a request by El Tapatio for TIF funds in the amount of $7,668.98 was approved for work on the restaurant entrance and ditchline required by MoDOT, concerns were heard from a local businessman about garbage collection at his duplexes and two ordinances were approved – the first amending Schedule I, Stop Intersections, of the city code; and the other approving a tax-exempt equipment lease purchase agreement with FS Leasing LLC for the purchase of a pickup truck for the Water Department.

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911 center enters 'phase two'

Work on phase two of the St. Francois County 911 Communications Center renovation and construction project is progressing so well that 911 Director Alan Wells believes it may be completed by the end of the year if no unforeseen delays occur.

Wells spoke about last month’s move from the previous dispatch area to the new and also revealed his optimistic forecast regarding the project’s completion when the county’s 911 board of directors met in regular session Wednesday morning at Desloge City Hall.

“It’s been overwhelming moving from the old dispatchers area and going live over into the new,” he said. “Now, we had preplanned with some new equipment — some new consoles. We already had those in place. Then, with the purchase of our new radio system, we had some additional components that were installed and activated live, as well as additional Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) positions to meet the new expansion. So, we had our spare positions there installed and going live, and then we moved the phone system over.

“The move went seamlessly. It was a matter of turning on our spare systems there and then having an operator get out of their seat in the old facility, move over there and start going live in the new position. Then we tore that position down that they had just gotten off of and moved it over. We just moved one at a time and they were still working as a team. We had no downtime whatsoever.”

With completion of the new dispatch area, the process of transforming the old structure into a new Emergency Outreach Center (EOC) began.

“Now that we’ve moved out all of our old stuff and equipment, they’ve demolitioned all of that to prepare for the renovation for the EOC,” Wells said. “The EOC is where we have our resources already in place and set up there, so that in case there is ever a disaster situation that hits anywhere in our counties or our communities, that those responsible to manage that incident can work through the EOC.”

Regarding the completion date of the 911 Communications Center/EOC project, Wells said, “We’re hoping that by the end of December that phase two — which is the renovation — will be complete. Then it will be a matter of moving forward with our new 911 system and our fiber networking to Ste. Genevieve and the Farmington Police Department.

“I want to add that the 911 board appreciates our citizens — our community — for believing in us and giving us the support that we need to manage their enhanced emergency 911 and dispatch systems so we can help save lives and property. We couldn’t do it without that support and we never forget that.”

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Murder charge filed

Charges have been filed against a local man accused of murdering his son-in-law during a domestic dispute Saturday evening.

Clinton Wheeler, 49, of rural Park Hills, is being charged with a class A felony of murder in the first degree and felony armed criminal action.

According to the probable cause statement, at 11:20 p.m. Saturday in the 1600 block of Ellis Road, Wheeler "engaged" his son-in-law, Christopher Goodman, 22, "in a physical confrontation."

The report says Wheeler and Goodman both lived at the address. In preparation for the confrontation Wheeler retrieved a semi-automatic pistol from his bedroom and placed it in his back pocket.

During the fight, James Lowry, also a resident of the home, attempted to help Wheeler. Goodman was unarmed and Wheeler had a pistol that was loaded. Wheeler fired the gun during the struggle with Goodman, striking Lowry and Goodman both.

Lowry was taken to Mercy Hospital Jefferson for a gunshot wound to the hand and Goodman was pronounced dead at the scene by St. Francois County Coroner Jim Coplin.

Wheeler is being held in the St. Francois County Jail on a $1 million cash or surety bond.