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New county barn in use

The St. Francois County Road and Bridge Department is now in their new location after months of fixing up the property.

A year ago the St. Francois County Commission announced the purchase of property to house their south barn for the road and bridge department.

The former location on Maple Street, where they moved in 1955, had become too populated as they had become surrounded by daycare centers, and homes. 

St. Francois County Highway Administrator Wendell Jarvis said they are now located off of East Woodlawn next door to the livestock sale barn. The new location offers easy highway access away from the high traffic, which makes it safer when maneuvering the large trucks and equipment.

“We have approximately five acres of land and three buildings,” said Jarvis. “There is plenty of room, better access to the highway and I believe it was a wise move.

When coming through the gate, the first building on the left is the front office where the road and bridge supervisors are set up, along with their secretary and clerk. They have a small area with a countertop, sink, refrigerator and they plan to purchase an icemaker for the area.

Jarvis said they have always bought ice, but will now have the opportunity to make their own ice and save some money in the long run.

“We have three new bathrooms and even installed a shower in case anyone gets chemicals spilled on them and they need to get cleaned off,” said Jarvis. “Eventually we will build a break room, a locker room and a storage area in a section of the building so the workers have an area to eat and change.”

Jarvis said the department has been trying to do most of the work on their own in their free time. So far they have built a mechanics tool room, a supply room, a room with the compressor boxed in to keep down the noise, and a tire storage area.

“Also in the same room with the tires there will be a new bulk tank system coming in to hold oils, hydraulic fluids and antifreeze,” explained Jarvis. “It will be nice and neat and it will be hooked into lines which will be ran through the wall into the main area. They will be on a reel and the workers will be able to pull them out, use them to put fluids in the vehicles and reel them back.”

Jarvis said they have a big lift they ordered a few months out and it’s going to go on the floor. He added it will be flush with the floor and there won’t be any posts like their other lift.

“They will drive the vehicle in right over it, raise it up and they will be able to work on the dump trucks,” said Jarvis. “We have never had a lift we could use with our dump trucks. We will be able to get them up in the air and the guys will be able to work on them. We have some jacks where we could get them off the ground, but nothing like this where we could get them up high enough to work on them.”

Jarvis said there is a room for small engines, chain saws, weed eaters, generators and a work bench if they need to work on them. They also have a new sign room.

“The new signs are organized and separated in slats on a shelf we built,” said Jarvis. “There is a work bench in here too, so if we need to work on any of them we have the space. It’s difficult to do all the road work we need to do and to move doing this work. I really wanted a couple more months before we moved in to get things done, but we needed the storage area.”

Jarvis said they have a lot of work to do on the parking lot. He does know they will eventually put an overhang or lean to up along one side of the lot to park the trucks underneath and protect their equipment.

“We have a few items left at the Maple Street barn we plan to put on GovDeals(.com),” said Jarvis, “whether it’s oil filters for equipment we no longer have and different odds and ends things. It took the guys about seven days to move 80 percent of everything, but we didn’t see the point in moving stuff we can’t use.”

Jarvis said around the front office they are going to put the different rocks down they use, so when someone comes in and asks what they are lining their ditch with, they can show them right there.

“We are trying to continue to our roadwork, whether it’s patching, culvert pipes, road projects or move our building shelving here at the new barn,” said Jarvis. “Some may think it’s moving slowly, but once it’s done everyone will be happy. We are just trying to get things done in between everything else.”

Jarvis said once they do get everything in order he plans to hold an open house to invite the public. Since it is the public’s money, he feels they do need to see how it is spent. 

“We aren’t ready for that yet. We just want to make sure everything is cleaned up and nice and neat from the move first,” said Jarvis. “With this move we got more square footage with the buildings, which is what we needed, and newer buildings. It’s a big improvement, we are out of town, it’s a better location, easy access to the highway and to me it’s a step in the right direction.”

The Maple Street county barn will eventually be sold to compensate the purchase of the new property. Jarvis had been putting money back for this move and budgeted it knowing this move would eventually come. The property was a cash purchase and there is no debt on the property.

The St. Francois County Road and Bridge Department has moved into their new south barn off East Woodlawn Drive.</p><p class=

View additional photos online at dailyjournalonline.com” width=”800″ /> The St. Francois County Road and Bridge Department has moved into their new south barn off East Woodlawn Drive.

View additional photos online at dailyjournalonline.com

The county's road and bridge department has a lot more space in their new county barn with sections designated for specific things. There is a sign room which houses new signs and parts for the county. Some of the workers kept some of the old signs and hung them on the wall for decoration.

The county’s road and bridge department has a lot more space in their new county barn with sections designated for specific things. There is a sign room which houses new signs and parts for the county. Some of the workers kept some of the old signs and hung them on the wall for decoration.

Renee Bronaugh is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3617 or rbronaugh@dailyjournalonline.com

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