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Public meeting to discuss J-turn

The City of Farmington and the Missouri Department of Transportation will hold an informational public meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 27 to discuss intersection improvements in Farmington.

The meeting will be held at the Farmington Regional Library, located at 101 North A St.

"Visitors can stop by anytime between 6 and 8 p.m. to discuss the details of the project with city officials and the MoDOT project team,” said MoDOT Project Manager Jason Williams.

The project includes reconfiguring the Route 67 median crossover at New Perrine Road with a J-turn design and removing the median crossover at Doubet Road.

"Traditional median intersections have approximately 42 conflict points. J-turns decrease the number of conflict points and help reduce the severity of crashes at the intersection," said Williams.

Instead of motorists crossing fast-moving lanes of traffic to get to the opposing lanes, drivers at J-turn intersections turn right in the same direction of traffic, merge into the left lane, and then make a U-turn in the direction they intend to travel.

Construction is expected to begin in summer 2018, with completion anticipated in fall 2018. As work is underway, motorists should expect periodic single lane closures on U.S. 67 and a temporary closure of the existing median crossing at New Perrine Road while work is underway to remove and replace the pavement in the median. The Doubet Road median crossing (north of New Perrine) will be removed with this project.

For more information, please contact Williams at 573-472-5290, Area Engineer Brian Okenfuss at 573-431-4933, Transportation Project Designer Jeff Wachter at 573-472-5294 or MoDOT's Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-888-ASK MODOT (275-6636). To view the meeting materials, please attend the online meeting available at:

Cajun dinner celebrates 10 years

Team Turner Chevrolet's annual Fat Tuesday Cajun Dinner will reach a significant milestone when it takes place from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Elizabeth Hall in Leadington.

The popular fundraiser for Relay For Life of St. Francois County will be celebrating its 10th year of providing its donor diners with a delicious meal, while also raising funds for a good cause.

Behind the scenes, it's Team Turner co-chairs, Glenda Straughn and Anne Strangmeier, who are making sure the banquet of Cajun favorites lives up to the great reputation it's established over the past decade.

"You're always trying to find your niche and what you're good at to be able to fundraise because it's hard to do," Straughn said. "Cooking is one of Anne's and my niches that we seem to do well."

The all-you-can-eat meal features Cajun shrimp boil, jambalaya, red beans and rice, Cajun chicken lasagna, salad, dessert and drinks.

"One thing we don't serve is alcohol," Straughn said. "This is an alcohol-free event, but we do serve hotdogs and corn curls for the kids who don't eat Cajun food!"

So, how did the idea of holding a Cajun dinner fundraiser first come about?

"I think we were in Anne's office one day at work and we started talking about a Cajun dinner. You hear about things like chicken and dumpling dinners all the time, but not Cajun food. We thought that would be different. The thing is we'd never made Cajun food for a crowd before, but once we finally decided to do it, we wanted to make sure we did it right."

The first year the Cajun dinner was served, it proved to be an instant success.

"Everybody who came thought it was good," Straughn said. "Our first year I think we served 90 people. From 90 we're now well up to over 300. I keep a notebook and write down everything every year so we'll know how much food to buy and need to increase things by.

"It's now well over a $5,000 fundraiser now. The first year we might have raised a thousand. Of course, the prices have gone up too. The big old shrimp are expensive that we put in the shrimp boil."

Straughn stressed that everything served at the Cajun dinner is made entirely from scratch — nothing comes from out of a box.

"Even our seasoning starts from scratch," she said. "Anne sets up all the Cajun seasoning. Everything is fresh and served that day."

According to Straughn, the greatest dilemma faced by the team each year is how to get the word out about the dinner.

"Even though it's always on Fat Tuesday, people are still like, 'When is it?'" she said. "It's always amazing to me how people will excitedly tell me they want to come and those who forget to come can't believe they missed it."

As you might expect, work on the dinner starts long before people begin walking through the door Tuesday night.

"There's many hours and several hands that help," Straughn said. "We actually start prepping on Monday, but then we work the day before that to get the tables and chairs, placemats and decorations in place. We do it all up for Mardi Gras!"

Asked if there was one dish that has become the crowd favorite over the years, Straughn said, "They like all of it, but the favorites are the shrimp and the Cajun chicken lasagna. I came up with the Cajun chicken lasagna for people who are like me and don't like seafood. It's not that I'm allergic to it — I just don't eat anything that swims.

"The favorite for me is the red beans and rice. I love red beans and rice! The seasoning Anne makes to flavor it and get the ham in it … the mix of the peppers, celery and onions. Oh, it's so good! But then, I like beans and I don't like shrimp.

"In addition to the food, people tell me they enjoy the fellowship time — that they can just come and sit and visit with other people. We set up 35 tables and we have a little Cajun music going on in the background."

One thing Straughn and Strangmeier always keep in the forefront of their minds is the reason why they put in all the work to make the Cajun dinner a success each year.

"You want to help fight the fight," Straughn said. "You don't want anybody to hear the words 'you've got cancer' again. I know — I'm a survivor. It's a drop your heart in your stomach moment when you're told that.

"We know so many people right now that's fighting the fight. It just seems like every time you pick up the phone, somebody's calling to say they have cancer. The list just keeps going on and on of people.

Strangmeier said, "The reason I do it is because I was 7 years old when my mother died with cancer. And 57 years to the very date that my mother passed away, my sister passed away from cancer.

It's clear that both women work hard to do their share in the fight against cancer.

"That's why Team Turner is the top team every year," Straughn said. "But we really wish someone would get the urge to outdo us."

The all-you-can-eat Fat Tuesday Cajun Dinner meal costs $20 for adults and $5 for children ages 10 and under. Carry-outs are available. For more information call 573-431-0342 or 431-2414.

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County owed for inmate care

The reimbursement of expenses incurred by the St. Francois County Sheriff's Office for the holding of state prisoners was the main topic of discussion at the Feb. 6 meeting of the county commission.

Presiding Commissioner Harold Gallaher asked about keeping state prisoners.

County Clerk Mark Hedrick said, "This is where we keep prisoners, and if they're convicted, they become state prisoners and the state does reimburse us for them. You send for the reimbursement, and the way it is right now, it's taking a long time to get it from the state due to funds.

"They only get 'x' amount of dollars every year to pay for state prisoners that are kept by all the counties and they're way, way behind on payment to a lot of the counties. In the past when the money has come in, it's been placed in the general fund, but the sheriff is requesting that the money be placed in the law enforcement fund instead. He's expending the money right now out of his fund to keep these prisoners."

According to Associate Commissioner Patrick Mullins, county reimbursement for the care of state prisoners is nothing new.

"This has been a hot topic since 2009 when I was first elected," he said. "Mark Hedrick and I are on the Missouri Association of Counties and this continues to be one of their top priorities. The average housing rate is around $40 to $42 per day to house a prisoner. The reimbursement rate is around $20 to $21 and it will fluctuate. It's a mess and it's been a mess. I don't see any fix in the future."

Mullins explained that Missouri is the only state that reimburses the cost of housing state prisoners.

"County commissioners meeting from across the state were told last year that we were lucky that we get something and that we should continue pushing the issue, but not to be surprised in the years ahead if it goes away because we are the only state that pays it," he said.

Hedrick noted that the reason why reimbursement for housing state prisoners was originally placed in general fund instead of the law enforcement fund was because that was the budget line where the money was being expended at that time.

"[Sheriff Dan Bullock] didn't have a sales tax and so it all came from the general fund and so that's why it was put back into the general fund at that point in time," he said. "But now he has a sales tax and he's expending the money and wanting it put back in the law."

Asked by Associate Commissioner Gay Wilkinson how much the annual reimbursement totaled, Hedrick said, "It depends on when they pay it. Right now they're $250,000 to $300,000 behind on what they owe us."

According to County Auditor Louie Seiberlich, the county had just recently received a reimbursement payment from the state for May 2017.

"We haven't received one for 2018 yet," he said. "As of Oct. 31, the amount owed statewide was almost $8 million owed to counties."

Hedrick said, "I know at one time Cape Girardeau County was behind about $800,000 that was owed them - not counting all the new stuff that was compounding on. The director of the Department of Corrections is attempting to get this done, but they are limited by how much the legislature gives them every year and they just do whatever they can do each quarter.

"They only pay per quarter because they're only given the money per quarter. Let's say they get $10 million. Well, that's not going to pay everybody, so they just pay until they use the $10 million - and they do it on older dates first. That's what they're doing to try to correct it."

The commissioners voted unanimously to place future reimbursements for the care of state prisoners into the law enforcement fund.

The next meeting of the St. Francois County Commission is 10 a.m. Feb. 13, on the third floor of the courthouse annex in Farmington. The meeting is open to the public.

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Bismarck looks to the future

As the city of Bismarck prepares to celebrate its 150th anniversary later this year, the St. Francois County town of 1,500 residents has already experienced a number of positive changes and Mayor Seth Radford believes such changes will continue to occur in 2018, as well.

“We got a lot of things accomplished last year,” he said. “We secured the grant and have just passed an environmental survey for a sidewalk that’s going to be placed in front of the post office and up and down Cedar Street.

“We’ve been talking to the railroad about that piece of property along Cedar Street. We’re going to put the easement down there. We’re still working with Union Pacific to get that sidewalk in and our goal is for this year.”

According to Radford, the city has also begun updating a portion of the municipal water system.

“We’re increasing some of the waterline sizes over on the west side of town,” he said. “It isn’t necessarily going to give them more pressure, but we’re giving them more volume for fire hydrants and things like that. We’re going to start that project a little bit this year.

Another project begun last year that bodes well for Bismarck’s future growth is the one undertaken by the city along Highway 32 that runs through the center of town.

"It’s out there by the Mike’s Market area,” Radford said. “We put in a new sewer system and waterline out there, so that way we have access to commercial property that will allow for people to come in. That’s what we’re looking forward to in 2018 — that we’re going to finish that property for future development and increase the population of the town and increase the number of commercial businesses.”

Radford believes one of the main reasons that progress is taking place in town is that the residents are willing to work together to make change happen.

“It’s the unity of the people,” he said. “They have come together. We’re a small-town community that looks out for their neighbors. We’ve always had that environment here and we want to continue having it.

“We’ve had a really tough year with the budget, but even with the budget crunches, the community has come together and we’re providing more activities for the kids and for the families. We’re a family friendly community and were working to become more that way every day.

“Bismarck has a great school district. The school and the city work together well. That helps us to bring in more families to make it strong today and in the future."

File Photo 

The St. Francois County Sheriff's Department will be receiving reimbursements for the care of state prisoners after county commissioners voted Feb. 6 to no longer place the money into the general fund.

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Scam: You’re hired!

A Park Hills resident was nearly a victim of what appears to be a new type of scam that targets people who are seeking a new job.

Amanda Barton said she was looking for a better job and decided to put her resume on Missouri Career Source at and also created an Indeed account.

“Within a couple of days I had an email and a text message from a company asking if I would do an online interview with Envision Healthcare,” Barton said. “I did research on the company and it was a legitimate company. I did the interview process and on Martin Luther King Jr. Day they told me I was hired.”

Barton said she was told they were going to send her a copy of the employment agreement, a W-4 and everything she needed to fill out for the job.

“I received those documents, reviewed them and did more research on the company,” said Barton. “I matched the logo with their website and I thought it was OK. I filled everything out and sent it back. The next day they told me the office wasn’t open yet, so they were going to send me a laptop to do training for the next two weeks from home.”

Barton said they told her every day from 9 a.m. to noon she would log in to do the training and she would be paid $12 an hour while training.

“They told me they were going to send a check to pay for the software,” said Barton. “That was my big red flag, because if they were going to send me a laptop the software should already be installed on it. I really wanted to believe I had a job.”

Barton said after asking a few more questions she received the check a few days later and it was for $2,400. They wanted her to deposit it into her ATM and when she asked why they told her the government is trying to go to digital funds.

“They said their corporate office is doing everything digital,” said Barton. “At this point I thought this was really weird. My bank was closed and I tried to call Envision Healthcare corporate office to check to see if this lady worked there. I used the dial by name directory and it didn’t come up.”

On Monday morning Barton took the check to her bank and showed it to them explaining her concerns. She said they had her identity and she didn’t know where to start in case they do use her identity.

“They told me to take it to the police department, which I did, and I also contacted Envision Healthcare,” said Barton. “They said they were aware of scammers using their business name and they were trying to put a stop to it.”

There is an Envision Healthcare location in Chesterfield, but none in the local area. Barton said all she could do was report it to every agency she could think of reporting it to.

“I filled out a police report. I took it to the post office and they took copies of everything,” Barton explained. “It’s interstate, it’s going from state to state, so that makes it a federal issue. They told me I am one in a thousand and probably wouldn’t get a call back.”

Barton said she also took it to the FBI office and they told her it looked foreign. They also told her she wasn’t a victim since she didn’t try to cash the check.

“They said other countries they are probably based out of don’t cooperate with them,” explained Barton. “The only way they can build a case is if 100 people like me came forward and turned in evidence. They said $2,400 wasn’t enough, but if they had $240,000 they would have a better case.”

Barton said unfortunately people fall for scams like this, she almost did. They have everything, driver’s license, birth certificate and other personal identifiers.

“I reported this to both Indeed and Missouri Career Source that these scammers are hunting victims off their sites,” Barton said. “I am just glad I caught it before I deposited the check. They asked if I could front the funds for the software if there was a hold on the check.”

Barton said she has a fraud alert on her credit reports and has taken every measure possible to protect her identity.

“The most disappointing thing is that I don’t have the job,” Barton said. “They prey on the desperation of someone wanting a job. I know I was heartbroken. I really thought I was finally going to have a good job to support my kids with and have health insurance.”

Placing all phone numbers, including cell phones on the National Do Not Call Registry can help. To register online go to or to register by phone, call 1-888-382-1222 (TTY: 1-866-290-4236).

Also, filing a complaint with the FTC will help bring scam artists to justice and put an end to unfair and misleading business practices. If you think you have been a victim of a scam file a complaint with the FTC online or call toll free 1-877-382-4357 (TTY: 1-866-653-4261).

The FTC enters internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.