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Law library will be back in service soon

The county will shortly have its law library back in order as St. Francois County Commissioners approved the use of a room in the basement of the county courthouse for that purpose.

An attorney addressed commissioners about the issue, explaining the equipment is still available but had just been dismantled during recent renovations. A DSL connection is already available as well. All that is needed is permission to use a room in the courthouse basement and the library can be put back in service.

This follows on the heels of a lawsuit filed by St. Francois County Attorney Don Hagar in which he accused St. Francois County judges of dismantling the law library and using funds meant to support it to remodel judges’ chambers. He cited an audit of the 24th Judicial Circuit for 2006/2007 in which the state auditor voiced concern about the possible use of about $2,600 in law library funds to carpet judges’ office.

Judge Kenneth Pratte, responding to the concerns, had said he had worked for legislation allowing law library funds to be used for courtroom renovation. Judges’ chambers are considered an extension of the courtroom, as court is sometimes held there, Pratte said.

Commissioners unanimously approved use of the room for a law library.

The meeting opened with an emergency addition to the agenda regarding the refinancing of a lease purchase contract. Waiting to address the issue in the more regular fashion would have resulted in a cost of $4,200 in interest charges, so commissioners unanimously approved adding the agenda item.

Gina C. Sharamitaro with L.J. Hart and Company presented commissioners with the vital statistics on the refinancing. The county will drop its interest rate from 7.342 percent to 3.5 percent and save about $37,000 over the remaining three-year life of the loan. That savings takes into account the cost of refinancing.

The county’s annual payment will drop from about $269,000 to $254,000.

Commissioners unanimously approved the new financing.

A family living in a rural subdivision discussed a problem with a neighborhood dog that has been charging them and neighbors. The man said his neighbors are not taking the problem seriously and he is concerned someone will get hurt.

Presiding Commissioner Dr. David Cramp said the county has very little legal latitude to address such issues, but added there might be some state laws or civil measures that could help..

Associate Commissioner Bret Burgess said he would discuss the situation with Sheriff Dan Bullock and find out if there is any state law that might help.

The county also approved a bid for window repair at $350 per window and discussed a public hearing for new road specifications at the next evening meeting of the commission, the first Tuesday in June.

“I think that is great,” said Associate Commissioner Patrick Mullins. “That gives people who work during the day a chance to come in and comment.”

The hearing was set for 6:30 p.m.

It was also decided, upon review of a more current statute, that the tax sale could be held inside after all. The updated statute adds adjacent areas to approved locations for tax sales.

Renee Jean can be reached at 431-2010, ext. 117 or

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