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Commission hears from sheriffs

The county commission recently heard from both Ste. Genevieve County Sheriff Gary Stolzer and St. Francois County Sheriff Dan Bullock on the noise coming from Astral Valley.

On Monday, St. Francois County Prosecutor Jerrod Mahurin was in attendance and was asked to give a report on the noise issue from Astral Valley.

“We are very fortunate today to have Sheriff Bullock and Sheriff Stolzer with us here to give you an idea of the reports they have received,” said Mahurin. “I know there was a packet Stolzer sent over with regards to the noise complaints. I have all those put together to make a decision on how to proceed with criminal charges if necessary.”

Mahurin said he thought it would be best for the commission to get an idea of what is actually going on. He said the complaints are generated from St. Francois County, but they are affecting the citizens of Stolzer’s county.

“They are also affecting the citizens of Jefferson County and we have had a few reports come in from there,” said Mahurin. “The idea here is that this is basically our problem, but it’s affecting people who aren’t even in our county. So however we need to proceed, I am willing to do whatever it is you need me to do or whatever direction you need me to go in.”

Mahurin added he thinks Stolzer can give the commission an idea of what he has perceived in his county and how the commission may want to move forward.

Stolzer said his county is similar to St. Francois County and he feels the citizens are used to noises from gatherings going on until 10, 11 p.m. or even midnight.

“It may be a four or five hour party and I don’t think we are dealing with people who are prudes who are complaining about the noise,” said Stolzer. “I was at a Fourth of July gathering where they had a band and it’s two miles away from where this reunion is, as the crow flies. We were done by 8 p.m. and the lady of the house said when (Astral Valley) has parties it’s 72 hours long.”

Stolzer said that is the complaint they get time and time again. If you can hear and understand the music two miles away inside of your house, it is too loud.

“At some point is a peace disturbance issue,” said Stolzer. “This lady who complained to me has never called us yet, because most people affected by this probably aren’t going to call. They don’t want to be the face out there complaining on a report and have to go court.”

Stolzer said at Astral Valley, it’s pretty over the top and he wishes the owners of the property would just respect others and turn it off at a certain point. He said he would think there is certain level of noise that is acceptable at any time of the day or night.

“You have all of our reports from the people who are willing to complain,” said Stolzer

Associate commissioner Gay Wilkinson thanked Stolzer for making a trip over to help the commission understand how it does affect Ste. Genevieve County.

“We care about the citizens and we care about the people doing it,” said Wilkinson. “But you can’t really, at the expense of your area, cause displeasure of others for your enjoyment. You just can’t do that; it’s common sense. We appreciate your comments and are researching what we can do.”

Stolzer said the citizens in his county appreciate it. He added they have been receiving complaints for a couple of years now.

“Every time it happens we get complaints. I think people assume it will go away and it hasn’t,” said Stolzer. “When they started it was for 72 hours … do it for five or six hours, have fun, go home, or shut the music down so you’re not affecting people two miles away from you.”

Stolzer said his citizens don’t want to shut them down or make them go away, they just want them to be reasonable with their neighbors.

Bullock added Ste. Genevieve County gets more noise complaints than St. Francois County. He agrees with Stolzer and wishes they would just be reasonable and be good neighbors.

“My officers will go there and measure the decibels and so will Jefferson County when the noise complaints come in,” said Bullock. “We have also dealt with a similar issue with the racetrack out here, but at some point they quit racing.”

Stolzer stressed that with Astral Valley it is 72 hours straight and Bullock agreed that it will go from a Friday evening until a Monday morning at 8 a.m.

“It’s not just music, it’s loud music, to the point where it vibrates people’s houses,” said Bullock. “They can’t even sleep. They have to go somewhere to a motel or family’s house just to sleep so they can go to work Monday morning. There has to be a line drawn somewhere.”

Presiding Commissioner Harold Gallaher said he received an email from State Rep. Kevin Engler’s office and has received calls from State Rep. Elaine Gannon in the past.

“I’m going to read excerpts of it. ‘June 9-12, they played more than 75 hours,” read Gallaher. “I live two miles away by using the Google map and it shakes the house. We live in Ste. Gen County, but when we try to complain they say we have to go the St. Francois County prosecuting attorney. It’s louder at night.’”

Stolzer added he took a complaint over the phone one night and he asked the person to get somewhere quieter. He added the person said they were inside their house.

Mahurin said they have a couple options available, one being they could enact a county ordinance in order to stop noise pollution, but he doesn’t feel that will get anybody’s attention though.

“You also have available the possibility of seeking a permanent injunction against them from operating any type of business or sound equipment or live bands on that property,” said Mahurin. “I know one thing Sheriff Bullock discussed with you last week is the people we are dealing with here have been run out of several different counties because of the same type of event they have been having.”

Mahurin said they may not be the same events, but they are similar in nature. He added there are a couple different options available and his personal belief is that a permanent injunction, at least trying to seek one, is the best option available at this time.

“Of course I have reports on my desk that I need to deal with in regards to the criminal actions,” said Mahurin. “That’s nothing the commission needs to deal with, I take care of that as the prosecutor for the county, not as the attorney for the county.”

He added in this instance, those are the county’s options. He asked the commission to direct him on what to do and he will take it from there.

Gallaher said he feels they have tried being nice and it didn’t work. He said it’s time to handle things a little differently.

The commission made a motion to take action through their attorney to address the nuisance of loud noise coming from Astral Valley.

Pictured, the Cosmic Reunion was held over Memorial Day weekend at Astral Valley. Months later, nearby residents in both St. Francois and Ste. Genevieve counties are still complaining about loud music coming from the venue. Although an injunction was granted in court on Friday against principal owner Sheena Cox, others are continuing to hold concerts there that are disturbing the peace.

Pictured, the Cosmic Reunion was held over Memorial Day weekend at Astral Valley. Months later, nearby residents in both St. Francois and Ste. Genevieve counties are still complaining about loud music coming from the venue. Although an injunction was granted in court on Friday against principal owner Sheena Cox, others are continuing to hold concerts there that are disturbing the peace.

Ste. Genevieve County Sheriff Gary Stolzer speaks to St. Francois County officials during a commission meeting on Monday. Seated behind him is St. Francois County Prosecutor Jerrod Mahurin. 

Ste. Genevieve County Sheriff Gary Stolzer speaks to St. Francois County officials during a commission meeting on Monday. Seated behind him is St. Francois County Prosecutor Jerrod Mahurin. 

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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