Kathlene and Larry Bieser and George Recar recently addressed the St. Francois County Commission about the noise coming from Astral Valley and their Cosmic Reunion.
“I think we are all here. We handed out 85 fliers for people to come, but people don’t like to get involved in politics,” said Kathlene. “We live east of Astral Valley and they have a huge reunion there and a lot of music festivals. The noise is driving us crazy and we are here to see if you have any suggestions as to what we can do.”
Kathlene said the Cosmic Reunion starts on a Wednesday night and goes through the weekend, around the clock 24 hours a day.
“They play it so loudly we can hear it in our house with the windows closed and the television on,” said Kathlene. “That’s mainly why we are here, just to see if anybody has any suggestions.”
Larry added Recar lives closer than they do, so he hears it even more.
“I live about a mile down the creek from where they have this and the noise is so loud you just can’t sleep at night,” said Recar. “I have the air conditioning going, the fan going, all the windows closed, the doors closed and we are awake all night.”
Recar added he knows they are just trying to make money, but they need to have some consideration of the people that live there.
“I am concerned as far as what they do for the septic problem as far as human waste,” said Recar. “They have these events two or three days at a time. I was in the National Guard for 35 years and we would go out into a field maneuver and we had to have at least one Porta-Potty per 10 people.”
Recar said that is basically for an 8-hour function and if you are out there longer than 8 hours around the clock, there has to be even more.
Presiding Commissioner Harold Gallaher asked if they have seen any evidence of a situation with the sewer.
Recar said there have been beer cans and cottage cheese containers floating down the water, but his concern is fecal matter getting in the water because he has wells.
“They are uphill and so if it gets in my well water … it’s got to be contaminating the creek if they don’t have a minimum of 400 or 500 Porta-Potties,” said Recar. “If it’s getting into the creek, fecal matter is a disease you don’t see. The kids get in there and they could get impetigo and I don’t know how many diseases can be spread but human waste, but there is a whole slew of them.”
Recar added he knows with the amount of people they have over there they couldn’t fit enough Porta-Potties on the property. He also said if they are using outside toilets that is even worse because it is putting it underground and it could get into their wells.
“I don’t know if sewage can get into your wells from creeks, but it will kill fish and kids play in that creek all the way up to Crystal City,” said Recar. “That is a long creek and families around there, just in Jefferson County, we have a minimum of 30 wells. Plus the traffic and the noise is just unbelievable.”
Kathlene said they don’t have the traffic, but they do get the noise. Recar added when you have that many people travel that road there is also litter.
Associate Commissioner Gay Wilkinson said St. Francois County has no planning and zoning so they are limited on what they can do.
“However, I think there is state statutes that can protect you from peace disturbance and what you are speaking of here, environmental contamination, or whatever it may be,” said Wilkinson, “you may have to contact the prosecuting attorney or an attorney to learn what those avenues are, because people can’t do that to you without some kind of responsibility.”
Gallaher added as it happened he was looking at the county health regulations for a different topic and he said they can contact health services and they will do an inspection for contamination.
Recar said he had already called Jefferson City and the county health board, and the Department of Natural Resources and he thinks they are in the process of doing something.
Gallaher and Wilkinson agreed that Recar was taking the correct steps to start the process. Gallaher added they have to inspect it to see if there is an actual issue.
“You have to do it by step, that I know,” said Recar. “They are going to contact the county and it will take about 30 days to process my complaint through the state.”
Wilkinson asked if there were more of these reunions scheduled and Recar said yes.
Sheriff Dan Bullock said they do have them scheduled and his department had been working the traffic and they have gotten some drugs out of traffic stops.
“There is only one way in and one way out over there,” said Bullock. “The highway patrol and the sheriff’s department, Jefferson County, Ste. Genevieve County all work together enforcing all the traffic coming in and out of there and all the drugs as long as the people have been there having this Cosmic Reunion that they have up there.”
Bullock said so far they have been in touch with the prosecuting attorney and there is nothing they have been able to do so far, but they are working on a solution.
“I know we don’t have the noise in our county that you are getting over Ste. Genevieve and Jefferson County, but we do have plenty complaints from people in this county,” said Bullock. “So we are working on that and we are going to do whatever we can … because of the rules and regulations that are out there.”
Recar said he does live in St. Francois County and he wanted to know who was responsible if his well gets contaminated and what steps would he take. Wilkinson said the Department of Health would give guidance on that.
“A number of people have wells and if these wells get contaminated you can’t clean them up, we don’t have county water,” said Recar. “They are possibly contaminating our only source of water, if it gets contaminated what can we do?”
Wilkinson said he is pretty confident they have some protection there, but he doesn’t know where to guide him. He added the county is limited, but they are also sympathetic.
“Maybe the health department can direct you on where to go,” said Wilkinson. “Like the sheriff said, we have so little enforceable rules at the county level that it will probably be on the state level or the county health department.”
Bullock added if Recar could prove his well has been contaminated by them there are civil remedies in this county.
“Assessor Dan Ward has been up there to try and help with some of this stuff … and he was practically thrown out of there,” said Bullock.
They again discussed the noise.
Kathlene said they have events almost every weekend. They started Memorial Day weekend and that is their big huge event.
“This is the one they play so loud, they have bass drums that you can feel it on the floor because it is so loud,” said Kathlene. “It’s 24-7 so it does get annoying and we had to leave one night to go to my son’s house in St. Louis just to get a night’s sleep.”
Kathlene added she would like for them to turn the volume down and she thinks they could all co-exist if they would just turn the volume down.
During the meeting while these neighbors to Astral Valley were expressing their concerns, three people sitting in the back of the room associated with Astral Valley were photographing them while they addressed the commission.
Recar later told the commission he felt this was harassment.
The commission advised him to contact the proper authorities if something like that should happen again. The sheriff asked the individuals to delete their photos.
Renee Bronaugh is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3617 or firstname.lastname@example.org