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Meeting on ASARCO projects set at MAC

The St. Francois County Commission learned during its Tuesday meeting that the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, acting as trustees for natural resources, has announced the two agencies are holding an informational meeting for the public to learn about upcoming projects proposed by the trustees to restore natural resources damaged in St. Francois County.

Announcement of the meeting was made by Associate Commissioner Patrick Mullins who noted the meeting will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 5 in Mineral Area College’s private dining room, located on the second floor of the Bob Sechrest Fieldhouse.

“Gentlemen, a few weeks back on the 14th of November, I attended a meeting with officials at the Desloge City Hall hosted by Rep. Mike Henderson,” said Mullins. “Our liaison, Mike Alesandrini with Leverage Management Solutions; city administrators; and the RPC (Regional Planning Commission) were also there.

“The reason we met was to try to get with Eric Gramlich with DNR to get an exact number that are left in the monies for the ASARCO settlement — and that number is $24 million. A number of issues that we talked about was projects, but the city administrators were talking about INI (Ideas Never Implemented) issues with their water treatment plants.

Next, Mullins gave a read-through of the press release about the Dec. 5 public meeting at MAC sent by Gramlich and John Weber with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“Agency reps and restoration partners will be on hand to discuss proposed projects that would use ASARCO funds to help restore natural resources injured by waste released from historic mining operations in St. Francois County,” Mullins read. “The meeting will discuss an update on ASARCO restoration; St. Francois County projects; Big River restoration; potential conservation practices; and public involvement.

“Public participation is an important part of the Natural Resource Restoration process. Input from the public on future restoration projects is encouraged and will be accepted at the meeting during a breakout availability session, as well as through comment cards available to all in attendance.”

Mullins then said he would translate the press release in what he described as “layman’s terms.”

“In an email I received from Eric Gramlich, he wrote that at the public information session, they are going to have more of a one-on-one approach where they only do a very short presentation,” Mullins said. “They’ll then break out into groups to answer questions.”

According to Gramlich, DNR has been cooperating with the local soil and water conservation district, NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service), and the Department of Conservation for the area. He said that all would have booths at the Dec. 5 meeting. In addition, Gramlich said a Washington County landowner has been invited to offer information on his implementation of a practice with NRD (Natural Resource Damage Program) funds from the last request for proposals.

“Continuing to read from Gramlich’s email, Mullins read, “Recognizing that we have a limited number of tools in the toolbox prior to EPA remedial decisions, we are thinking that helping local landowners with erosion issues will help, not only their operations, but help keep ore-impacted soil from washing into the river.”

In other action, commissioners had a bid opening for the purchase of a new washer and dryer for the jail, approval of county holidays for next year and announced a closed meeting to be held regarding county employee health insurance at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

The next regular St. Francois County Commissioners meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Dec. 5 on the third floor of the courthouse annex in Farmington.

St. Francois County Presiding Commissioner Harold Gallaher, left, discusses county property tax at the commission meeting while Associate Commissioner Gay Wilkinson listens on.

St. Francois County Presiding Commissioner Harold Gallaher, left, discusses county property tax at the commission meeting while Associate Commissioner Gay Wilkinson listens on.

Prior to the meeting of the St. Francois County Commission, Presiding Commissioner Harold Gallaher, right, goes over several items with Associate Commissioner Patrick Mullins.

Prior to the meeting of the St. Francois County Commission, Presiding Commissioner Harold Gallaher, right, goes over several items with Associate Commissioner Patrick Mullins.

Kevin Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3614 or kjenkins@dailyjournalonline.com

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