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Desloge to revisit hiring prison inmates

The Desloge Board of Aldermen approved a motion Monday night to have an ordinance prepared for a vote at its February meeting that would, if passed, allow Eastern Reception Diagnostic and Correctional Center inmates in the Missouri Department of Corrections’ Supervised Work Release Program to perform specific duties for the city that would include mowing, cutting weeds and roadside cleanup.

Board members voted on a similar ordinance at its September meeting, but due to several aldermen being absent that night, the motion failed. Voting against the ordinance was Alderman J.D. Hodge, who said his opposition to the city using prison inmates was because of a letter he and the other aldermen had received from residents against the practice.

Although there was no discussion by the aldermen at Monday night’s meeting concerning the city’s use of offenders for landscaping and trash pickup, a resident who previously had a bad run-in with an inmate made a request of the board during the public comment portion of the meeting.

“I’m not here to ask for sympathy,” she said. “All I want to know is if there is any way you can keep [the inmates] away from my house. I worked at the prison. There was a little problem and now I won’t hardly go anywhere by myself and the thought of them being out there scares me to death.

“I know the city cuts behind my yard for the railroad tracks or easement or something. I think I would just fall apart if I was in my backyard and seen them. I would just like to know if maybe there is some way they wouldn’t be around my house.”

Alderman Chris Gremminger said, “I think I can speak for the whole board in saying that there is going to be a very specific use that we’re going to be utilizing them for. I don’t think that would be a major issue. It’s not like we’re going to have them hanging off the back of a trash truck picking up garbage in front of your house.

“I think our primary thing was more along the lines of the weed cutting along our easements and right-of-ways here in the downtown area. The highway exits, working around the city hall here a little bit — mainly this ditch line. I know where you’re at and I don’t see any reason we would use them over in that neighborhood.”

Gremminger thanked the woman for “having the courage” to speak before the board.

“I know it wasn’t easy for you,” he said.

On a lighter note, the board approved two requests made by city residents to keep livestock on their property. One asked permission to raise five hens in a coop and the other to allow their 13-year-old son’s pet duck to live at their home.

Noting that in recent months the board has OK’d case-by-case variances allowing pet pot-belly pigs and other animals to be kept within the city limits, City Administrator Greg Camp offered a suggestion to the board.

“Since this is coming up on a regular basis, perhaps if we had some form — at least a little more formal application process,” he said. “Sort of like the fence permit where they have to get letters of consent from adjoining property owners. They still have to come see you guys to get board permission, but we could give them some sort of application packet we could have it ready before they appear here.

“I think the biggest part would be to see if there could be at least some notification for adjoining property owners. The onus would be on the chicken, duck or pig owner that they would basically have to get a letter from their neighbor. I think the main thing at the end of the day, the reason for this approval process is because of the potential impact on neighboring properties.”

In other action, two ordinances were passed by the board. The first granted a conditional use permit for property at 1006 Hawthorne for the operation of a church. The second allows for a proposal to appear on the April 5 municipal election ballot asking for the city’s continued application and collection of local sales tax on the titling of motor vehicles, trailers, boats and outdoor motors purchased from an out-of-state source.

“It’s not like we’re going to have them hanging off the back of a trash truck picking up garbage in front of your house.” — Alderman Chris Gremminger

“It’s not like we’re going to have them hanging off the back of a trash truck picking up garbage in front of your house.” — Alderman Chris Gremminger

Kevin Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3614 or

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