The St. Francois County Road and Bridge Department will be going through a time of transition with the resignation of long-time department supervisor Wendell Jarvis and the announced promotion of Clay Copeland and John Gross to the positions of highway superintendent and highway administrator/supervisor, respectively.
The promotions were announced at the Tuesday meeting of the St. Francois County Commission.
"We have spent this year experimenting with new leadership in the Road and Bridge Department and we're thrilled with what we're seeing," said Presiding Commissioner Harold Gallaher. "We're cutting the number of leaders out there to two and we have decided that Clay Copeland will be the highway superintendent and he's the 'top duck.'
"John Gross will be the highway administrator and supervisor. They will both work in conjunction with each other and this will take effect at midnight on March 31st, but it's in effect now - they're doing it now. Thank you so much guys," he said. "We really do appreciate the way you've taken this over and the job you've done. We see tremendous positives out of this whole thing."
Commissioner Gay Wilkinson said, "We've received complimentary remarks about road and bridge and that is wonderful. We don't get a lot of complaints."
Following the meeting's conclusion, Gallaher was asked about Jarvis' status in regard to the changes announced in department leadership.
"He told me at the end of last year that people were talking to him and that he had some really good offers," Gallaher said. "They wanted him to go on and do some other stuff. It's much the same of what he's been doing, but in private industry. He told me, 'I'm leaving at a good time with the move to the new barn and the crew is working and everything's fine. We've gone down from 46 people to 29 people. I've got other things I want to do with my life.'"
According to Gallaher, he and the commissioners went over to the Road and Bridge Department barn earlier that morning to announce the changes and assure the employees that Jarvis had not been fired.
"That was made clear," Gallaher said. "I'm going to miss him."
Attempts to contact Jarvis about his resignation were unsuccessful.
The Feed My Sheep Bake Sale is quickly approaching and the community is being asked for their support.
Jack Poston addressed the Bonne Terre Chamber of Commerce Wednesday afternoon about the bake sale.
Poston said he and his wife, Elizabeth, saw the Farmington community was having the Feed the Hungry bake sale, which they have done for many years.
“We looked at each other and said what about the other half of St. Francois County that does not get financial help,” recalled Poston. “So we got a committee together and we were fortunate enough to meet with representatives from the Farmington group and even from Madison County, they do one.”
Poston said rather than reinventing the wheel, they will run it like those groups.
“Our project, Feed My Sheep, is to help the food pantries located in the north, central and western St. Francois County, basically everything outside of Farmington,” said Poston. “The food pantries ... we are going to work with the ones recognized by the East Missouri Action Agency.”
Poston explained those are the ones people have to have a voucher from to get their food. The food pantries are Bismarck Church of God, the House of Praise in Desloge, Immaculate Conception in Park Hills, Bonne Terre/St. Vincent De Paul and others.
“Our project will be divided according to the number of families served,” said Poston. “So the larger food pantries will get a bigger piece of the pie. The EMAA keeps statistics and they will be able to tell us that.”
Poston said they are having a bake sale that will feature cookies, cakes, pastries, candy, fresh baked bread and more. They are also adding a book sale with hardback and paperback books. He said they will also have a silent auction.
“We did not want to compete with Farmington, who have theirs in the fall, so we will have ours on March 24, which is the Saturday before Palm Sunday,” said Poston. “You can help us out greatly by donating items to the silent auction, donating money, baked goods and probably the most important thing is pray for us, that we will be successful.”
Poston said they will open at 9 a.m. that morning and go until 1 p.m. that afternoon. He added there will be biscuits and gravy available that morning.
“If anyone decides to bring something for our sale, you can bring it by the Desloge First Baptist Church Ministry Center Friday from 4 to 6:30 p.m. or the morning of before 9 a.m.,” said Poston. “It is not a Desloge Baptist Church project, it is non-denominational, and everybody is working together from different churches throughout the area.”
Poston said they are very excited about this. There will also be a pastor cake auction. Every church should have received a notice already and he encourages everyone to get their pastor to bake a cake and bid well on it.
“Hopefully it will be a fun thing for us to do more than anything,” said Poston.
At the end of the presentation, Poston announced they were auctioning off a cake at the chamber meeting.
“My wife prepared us this delicious cake and it’s an old recipe. With any project you have to have seed money to get started, so we are going to auction this here.”
The bidding started at $10 and went back and forth for a bit and the cake sold for $40.
A $316,750 Community Development Block Grant recently received by the city of Bismarck will be used to construct of a new L.I.F.E. Inc. Center for Independent Living in the St. Francois County town of 1,500 residents.
The grant project is funded through the Missouri Department of Economic Development and, according to State Sen. Gary Romine, R-Farmington, "will improve the quality of life for Bismarck residents, as well as those living in the surrounding communities."
The L.I.F.E. Center is a non-profit organization that assists individuals with disabilities who want to remain independent or to regain their independence. It is funded through a Missouri Vocational Rehabilitation grant and Medicaid fee for service program, along with private and corporate donations and fundraisers.
In the fall of 2016, the L.I.F.E. Center opened a satellite office in Bismarck to assist clients in town, along with those living in the surrounding area. It joined a satellite office opened in the Madison County town of Fredericktown in 2014.
Not long after celebrating the organization's 20th anniversary in the spring of 2017, however, L.I.F.E. Center Executive Director Tim Azinger and the organization's board of directors were forced to close the Fredericktown office when the Missouri Legislature cut $2.5 million from the budget that helped finance independent living centers throughout the state. The storefront office in Bismarck remained open.
Now, thanks to the CDB grant applied for by the city, Bismarck is going to have a new center next door to the senior center on East Main Street and Azinger couldn't be happier.
"With all the bad news from last year this is like one nice bright ray of sunshine to feel good about," he said. "Because Bismarck sponsored us as a city we're going to be able to get our own office over there. We're currently renting a space behind city hall, but when built, this is going to give us a rent-free option over there. We'll just have to pay the utilities."
According to Bismarck Mayor Seth Radford, this is just another example of the city government taking the steps needed to improve the quality of life for its residents, as well as draw new home construction and businesses to town.
"The city board and myself felt there was a segment of our population that had been left in the dark," he said. "That would be our senior adults and people with disabilities. Our board took a pretty active stance to get a L.I.F.E. Center over here. The backbone to this area - whether it's Bismarck, Farmington, or any other nearby community - is about keeping families at home.
"We had a specialized population here that wasn't being addressed by the city or anyone else. The L.I.F.E. Center was really working hard on keeping people out of residential care, nursing facilities, if at all possible. We are working very hard to help our senior and disabled population because we believe they deserve the same quality of treatment as everybody else.
"That's why the city board, working along with the L.I.F.E. Center, has put so much effort into getting the new facility here in town. This is also going to be a place where, if the city needs to address that specific population, we will have a place to meet with them at the L.I.F.E. Center. We're very, very happy we got the grant and are able to address this need."
Radford added that a groundbreaking ceremony is planned for the center sometime in April, details of which will be announced to the public in the near future.
An area man is facing felony charges after police say he was involved in a domestic assault that left his girlfriend seriously injured.
Scott Wallace, 40, of Farmington, is charged with a class B felony of domestic assault and felony armed criminal action.
According to court documents, on Feb. 17 a deputy with the St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department was called to Parkland Health Center to speak with a victim of an assault. When the deputy arrived, hospital staff escorted him to the emergency room and he spoke with the woman.
The deputy noted he saw the woman had extensive head injuries and her hair was soaked in blood. The deputy asked the woman what happened and she said her boyfriend, Wallace, had beat her.
She went on to explain what happened at their home in the 6,000 block of Route DD just outside of Knob Lick. She said Wallace was an alcoholic and that he came home drunk from being out with a friend.
Wallace began arguing with the woman and started screaming at her. She said he then became very aggressive and picked up a coffee table. She said he began hitting the woman with the coffee table until it broke into pieces.
She also told the deputy that Wallace kept saying he was going to kill her and that she would never get out alive. She went on to say that Wallace also hit her with a mason jar, grabbed her by her hair and began kicking her.
She said she screamed and begged him to stop. She said she tried to escape.
She told the deputy that Wallace then picked up a piece of barn wood from a broken shelf and began to hit her in the head with it, causing blood to gush from her head.
She told the deputy that she begged Wallace to take her to the hospital and she said his reply was “the only place you’re going is to the grave.” She said she headed toward the door and Wallace picked up a wooden rocking chair and broke it over her.
She said she eventually made it outside, where Wallace told her, “I won’t go to jail for you." She said she made it down the driveway and hid behind a tree. She later went to a neighbor’s house and got a ride to Farmington, where she was eventually taken to the emergency room.
The deputy reported the woman appeared to be distraught and in definite fear for her life. The deputy explained the process of getting a protection order and then told her he was going to go speak with Wallace.
When the deputy went to the house, Wallace told the officer he expected him and welcomed the deputy into the home. The deputy noticed the furniture was demolished and there was debris scattered everywhere. The deputy also saw several blood stains on the carpet that went from the living room to the front door and he saw the broken furniture the woman described.
The deputy asked Wallace what happened and why the house was in disarray. Wallace said he came home and his girlfriend went crazy, breaking everything. After the deputy spoke with Wallace, it was determined that Wallace was the primary aggressor.
Wallace was being held in the St. Francois County Jail on a $250,000 bond, but has since posted bond and was released.