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Commission talks about sales taxes, snack machines

There was a moment of silence to begin the Commission meeting last Tuesday, with it falling as it did on Sept. 11.

“As life goes on, we forget sometimes the myriad of different events that occurred as a result of that incident and how difficult it was for the nation,” said Presiding Commissioner Dr. David Cramp. “I’d like to take a moment of silence for that.”

After that, Cramp and Associate Commissioner Patrick Mullins dealt with a short agenda, starting with the vending machine issue in the courthouse.

Mullins said the county wants to terminate the existing company, which has not been keeping the machines filled, and seek a better snack machine company.

The Courthouse Annex, for example, has a contract with a company that returns 10 percent of the proceeds from snack sales to the county.

“That is a minuscule amount — last month for August that was $15.90 — but there’s two machines down there and it does help offset the electricity cost to run the machines,” Mullins said.

Cramp said the county doesn’t actually need a motion to end the relationship with the vending company at the courthouse and extend the annex contract to it. “Just go ahead and take care of that,” Cramp said.

County Clerk Mark Hedrick presented the monthly sales tax report as Treasurer Kerry Glore was on her way to annual training.

“The sales tax collection for September is down from that of last year, but the county is still up by a quarter of a percent for the year on total sales tax,” Hedrick said. “It’s a thing that we’re OK because we didn’t budget an increase anyway. So we are still going to be OK.”

Cramp added that last year’s sales tax is still down from where the county was in 2008. “We say this every time, but it’s down from last year which is down compared to 2008,” the Presiding Commissioner said. “We have never come close to getting back to that particular level.”

The county’s budget is nevertheless sound, Cramp added. “Adjustments have been made and will continue to be made,” he said. “So not to worry, the budget is sound.”

There was brief discussion of the new diamond interchange in Farmington, at the Dairy Queen/Family Center exit into Farmington.

Commissioners noted how different that intersection now is. For instance, those exiting US 67 South near the Dairy Queen/Family Center exit and heading into Farmington from there will find themselves with the uncomfortable sense that they are driving on the wrong side of the road, as they must make a direct left onto what is usually the oncoming traffic’s lane.

The oncoming traffic, meanwhile is stopped at a light as the traffic goes by, and once the light is green must pay attention that their lane is switching over to what usually would be the wrong side of the road for them.

All the cars going through the intersection eventually weave back onto their usual side of the road, and the whole intersection is marked prominently with signs pointing out the correct lanes to motorists, but it definitely elicits a different feeling to drive on what is usually the wrong side of the road.

The diverging diamond interchange was listed by Popular Science  as one of the best innovations in 2009 in the engineering category and is supposed to significantly reduce delays, thus increasing capacity and decreasing congestion. Since left turns don’t have to clear traffic, traffic can move faster and safety is improved.

The nation’s first diverging diamond interchange was built in Springfield, Missouri in 2009. Prior to that, there were diverging diamond interchanges in France in Versailles and in a couple other French cities.

Mullins said he has been told by state officials that these diamond interchanges are increasing in popularity and that more are being built. He was also advised by an engineer that it is just “change” and something different and that people will eventually “get used to it.”

Cramp apologized for the light agenda and said the next meeting, set for Tuesday Sept. 18,  would be “heftier.”

Renee can be reached at 573-431-2010 ext. 117 or

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