The Desloge Board of Aldermen covered a number of items during its Monday night meeting that included approving the seeking of a grant by the fire department, removal of a candidate for alderman from the April municipal election ballot and recognition of a long-time city employee.
Desloge Fire Chief Larry Gremminger appeared before the board to discuss two separate Federal Assistance to Firefighters grants being sought for his department. The first is for a 5 percent matching grant to purchase SCBA (air packs), along with a spare bottle, at the approximate cost of $6,800 — or a total of $136,000. The 5 percent match would be no more than $6,800.
The second grant would be for a new tanker truck, which costs about $243,000.
“This number should be adequate to provide a durable chassis engineered to carry the truck and the water load, as well as equipment and meet NFPA standards,” Gremminger said. “It may not be the exact number.
“It is hard to do a grant proposal and have a quote that meets your needs without a build or order date. This [grant] would also be at a 5 percent match unless the city chose to offer other options that would increase the chances of being awarded.”
Gremminger told board members that he had spoken with Kurt Bradley of First Responder Grants who explained that if the city was willing to increase the percentage of its match to 20 percent, it would increase the likelihood of Desloge receiving the grant.
“If we went with 5 percent on the air packs and 20 percent on the tanker, it would total no more than around $55,400,” Gremminger said. “These are just options that (City Administrator Dan Bryan) requested that I present to you. This compares to $249,800 if we made purchases outside of the grant program. It is always a risk when applying for grants.
“The fee for both the tanker grant and the SCBA regional grant is $1,500. This puts in a yearly client of the company and they will research and do grants for us as they become available. There would be no other charge for their services for the next year. If we are not awarded the grant, we are only out the writing fee.”
City Administrator Dan Bryan informed the aldermen that he had received a letter from a city resident who pointed out that Sally Parker-Nash, a filed candidate for alderman, was ineligible to run because she has lived in the city for less time than the one year minimum that the city ordinance requires.
Alderman Alvin Sutton said that while the city is appreciative of people who are interested in running for city government, it would not be a good precedence for the city to allow Parker-Nash to run for the office.
“If we allow one person to do it, that wouldn’t be a good thing,” he said. “Even though she’s just a little short of the one-year requirement, we can’t let a person run who doesn’t meet the qualifications without opening ourselves to future problems.”
Bryan informed the board that he would contact Parker-Nash about the aldermen’s decision.
Later in the meeting, it was announced that City Clerk Linda Moore was selected the first person to be recognized as Employee of the Quarter.
Explaining why Moore was accepted, Bryan said, “During the timeframe of May 12-July 16, 2017, Linda was performing her duties as city clerk, as well as completing duties of the city administrator. During this transition between city administrators, she did an amazing job to ensure all aspects within the city were conducted accurately and promptly.
“Linda is extremely valuable to the city and has been a true asset to have during my first months here. She is open-minded and has been receptive to new ideas and approaches. She has been very effective in instances of corrective actions with her staff. Her communication skills between me and other staff is remarkable.
“Linda’s communication and professionalism with the residents that enter city hall shows the perfect example for everyone to follow. To conclude and bluntly state, Linda Moore is the glue to the city of Desloge and I regret the day she chooses to retire.”
In other action, the board approved an invoice from Jokerst Inc., OK’d suggested city fees and permit changes, approved Bryan to look into possible grants to help cover the cost of installing sewer infrastructure on the Outer Road and learned that the Department of Corrections has installed a pole and warning flag at the city firing range to make people aware of when shooting is taking place.
Prior to the regular meeting Monday night, the Bonne Terre City Council held a public hearing to discuss the annexation of a portion of U.S. 67 by North County High School.
The annexation has been in the works for several months and Bonne Terre City Administrator Jim Eaton said they have been gathering petitions from the school district and accompanying neighbors.
“The school annexation will be moving forward,” said Eaton. “We have signatures and a guarantee of a signature from Vernon Bauman, who owns two parcels of ground, and he is a voluntary annexation. We also have a letter from the school and we have everything else in place. We will now present it to MoDOT.”
Building Inspector Dwayne Hackworth added they had signed papers from all the property owners who have joined in on the annexation. The three properties not included in it are the propane business, the highway department and the fire department.
City Attorney Seth Pegram said once everyone consents to the annexation, a judge will have a brief hearing approving all of the consents and the petition.
“We would then record it with the recorder and county assessor,” said Pegram. “Once we get all the agreements I can go straight to the judge.”
At a previous school board meeting, North County Superintendent Dr. Yancy Poorman said the big factor for the district is that this will give the Bonne Terre Police Department jurisdiction over the district's property.
“Being a part of the city will give the police the authority to be on our property to assist us with issues,” said Poorman. “Theoretically, their jurisdiction stops at the middle of the ditch coming away from Raider Road and they don’t have any of that wedge in by the school.”
The annexation of the school district property includes the back half of the property and a portion of the football field.
“In addition to annexing the school property into city limits, what we are hoping to do, with the right people helping us, is to get a crossover for emergency vehicles on the portion of the highway that is annexed into the city limits,” said Eaton.
Calvert said they aren’t going to be sitting on the highway running radar, they just want to better help the school and get an emergency turnaround on the highway for them.
“The northern part will be harder to get an emergency turnaround because that isn’t being taken into the city,” Calvert said. “Where the old Hedgeapple Lane was, is where we need the crossover, right now we have to go all the way up to Cash Lane to turn around and it is difficult, especially for the fire trucks.”
He explained that if they have a wreck behind Country Mart on the highway, they have to go all the way to Cash Lane and turn around to come back down to the accident.
“I feel this is a good plan and it will work better for everybody,” said Calvert.
Eaton said since there are no city taxes it really won’t affect anyone and the next step, if the council approves it, will be to send everything to MoDOT to ask for their approval.
It was pointed out that there was no one in attendance at the public hearing who objected the annexation.
Calvert asked if Big River Fire Protection District was included in the annexation and Eaton said they weren’t.
“They are already on city water, but not sewer,” said Eaton. “They would be favorable towards an annexation and in all honesty, it would be a lot easier to put the two departments together if they were in the city limits. Also there is the possibility of improving the ISO score with them in city limits, too.”
Eaton added the county resurfaced the road in front of the school this year and that was a part of the agreement with the school. One thing the school agreed to do that Eaton felt was very beneficial to the city was that they would handle the snow removal for them on that road.
The council approved the proposal and they will be presenting it to MoDOT as soon as they are able.
The St. Francois County Road and Bridge Department prepared for the worst over the weekend, but fortunately they were in good shape.
St. Francois County Road and Bridge Highway Administrator Wendell Jarvis said there wasn’t much bad winter weather, but they went ahead and treated the roads.
“They were out for about four hours treating the hills, curves and the bridges,” said Jarvis. “Then Sunday evening they went out again running the roads and their routes. We were out and prepared, but we just didn’t find any slick spots at all.”
Jarvis said they were out again Monday morning checking their routes. He added the temperatures never dropped below freezing, but it was right there at the mark.
“It was one of those deals that if it would have dropped another degree or two, it could have been really serious,” said Jarvis. “It could have gotten really bad and quick, but it didn’t. I’d rather have everything prepared and not have to do anything, than have to get out there unprepared.”
Jarvis said they had the trucks loaded and ready to go in the garages because the trucks can freeze. He said that is why they parked them inside to keep them under the heat and if there were any spots or issues, they were ready to go.
“Since we are at the new county barn this winter, it has enabled us to park more truck inside than we could before,” said Jarvis. “Between the two buildings we have a lot more space than before and were able to house six trucks that were ready to go.”
Jarvis added this time of year no one ever knows what will happen and it’s just best to be prepared.
“Like I said, if the temperature would have dropped a degree or two, it could have gotten serious,” Jarvis said. “I just want to remind the public that this time of year if the temperature drops there could be slick spots and they need to be prepared. Also remember to drive carefully.”
Missouri State Highway Patrol Spokesperson Cpl. Juston Wheetley said they responded to a crash on Route N at 10 p.m. Sunday.
“It was due to driving too fast for the conditions of the road,” said Wheetley. “That was the only crash they had and they stopped keeping track at 6 a.m. Monday morning.”
Wheetley heard the bridges and overpasses on county roads were the main issue, because those freeze quicker than the main roadways.
“When it gets down below freezing, especially in the valleys, it stays cooler in those areas,” Wheetley said. “Even though the temperature outside may be 35 degrees, those valleys could be below freezing. I find that we will see crashes in those areas with valleys and bridges being frozen because the ground holds the temperature longer since it’s been so cold.”
North County Associate Superintendent Katie Bockman said they decided to call off school because they were concerned with the secondary roads.
“The city streets were good, but the secondary roads had some frozen ice spots,” said Bockman. “There were some areas where there had been standing water that froze over and areas with culverts and low water bridges had some icy patches on them.”
Bockman said if those buses had to stop on those spots they wouldn’t be able to stop, so as a precautionary measure the district called off school.
Central Superintendent Dr. Desi Mayberry said his reason for closing for the day was the concern of high school kids driving who may have only had their license for a few months.
“We didn’t think our buses would have any problem at all, but there was an icy area on Route O by the college,” said Mayberry. “We have a lot of high schoolers who drive and a lot of those kids may have only had their license for one or two months. They may have thought it was fine and they could have taken that curve too fast and been in a ditch or on the other side of the road.”
Mayberry said only about 2 or 3 percent of the district may have had ice on the road that was a concern.
“For me, if there was a 16 or 17-year-old kid driving on that and they have an accident, I’d have to live with that for the rest of my life,” said Mayberry. “So I just felt like we would have a better day in May to go when there isn’t any risk. That’s what it boiled down to for me.”
Leadwood started the year out by filling several vacant positions with the city and working to finish work on the new city hall.
Anna Woods was appointed to fill a vacant seat on the Board of Alderman after Alderman Jeff Mahurin stepped down because he had been hired by the city street department.
Leadwood became the center of national attention after the disappearance of city resident Frank Ancona. After Ancona’s body was discovered in Washington County three days after his disappearance, his wife Malissa and stepson Paul Jinkerson were eventually charged with the murder.
The Leadwood Board of Aldermen approved a resolution to request funds from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to pursue updates to the city’s wastewater system.
Syr Charles Lyons and Mason Pratt became the second and third West County students to be named National Merit Scholarship finalists.
After serving on the West County Board of Education for a combined 37 years, Lynn Frago decided not to run for reelection.
West County Board of Education President Brett Forshee, who had served on the board for 12 years, also declined to run.
Rocky Stevens and Tiffani Wright were elected to the West County Board of Education. Andy Kearns was also reelected.
The Leadwood Board of Aldermen tour the new City Hall alongside Mayor Dennis Parks and other city employees in preparation of moving into the new building.
The West County High School Varsity Scholar Bowl Team travelled to Columbia, Missouri to compete in the Missouri State High School Activities Association Scholar Bowl State Championship.
West County’s Tiffany Miller was named Missouri Educators of Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) New Teacher of the Year.
Ashley Brewer became the first West County High School alum to graduate high school with a college degree.
The West County Board of Education voted to form the district’s first-ever cross country team.
A group of West County Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) students made a name for themselves on a national level when they placed third in the organization’s LifeSmarts Knowledge Bowl at the 2017 National Leadership Conference in Nashville, Tennessee.
Leah Mills, a teacher of 25 years and a veteran’s daughter, was recognized as the Desloge VFW Post’s Teacher of the Year for her dedication to instilling patriotism in her students.
West County students were out of school on Aug. 21 for the Great American Eclipse.
West County held a special ceremony in remembrance of 9/11, with local veterans speaking about the event that occurred before many of the students in the audience were born.
West County was again awarded a $2 million 21st Century Grant to go toward afterschool activities.
The Leadwood Bluegrass Festival was a success despite intermittent showers throughout the day. The festival featured the likes of Buck Trent, Roni Stoneman and Leona Williams.
A large crowd assembled at Leadwood City Hall for an informational meeting with city officials and representatives of Taylor Engineering and the United States Department of Agriculture. The topic to be discussed was the proposed raising of utility rates to qualify Leadwood for assistance with an overhaul of the city’s water system.
Later in the month, the board adopted the new water rates and established fees for reconnection and initial deposit for water service.
Robert Riley II, co-founder of the Missouri Network for Opiate Reform and Recovery, spoke to West County students about the dangers of opioid abuse.
West County FCCLA students organized a meet and greet for students to hear from local veterans before the district’s annual Veterans Day concert.
City Clerk Charlotte Lewis was let go after a breach in protocol, related to a statement that arrived at Leadwood City Hall and did not make it to the police department as intended.