The Leadwood Board of Aldermen swore in a new member last Monday night, discussed trash problems around town, and, as in every meeting, answered questions and accusations from the public regarding the process of updating the small town’s water system.
Sheila Wisdom was sworn in just before the meeting. She fills the seat vacated by Randy Howard, who she would have run against in Tuesday’s election for the Ward 2 seat if he hadn’t resigned Feb. 15, although his name will still appear on the ballot. The only contested race on the board— since the other Ward 2 alderman, John Vickers, runs unopposed for his one-year unexpired term – is between Aaron Penberthy and Thomas Watson for Ward 1.
Having taken her seat, one of the first issues that came up under the public comment session was resident Jim Brown’s distress regarding trash throughout town, particularly on Warner Drive.
“It’s a disgrace. You have to drive around this trash thing they built there,” he said. “I mean, yeah, it’s almost hard to drive around. It’s ridiculous. There’s no shoulder anymore. Can’t even get off the road because of this thing they built. That needs to be torn down. Because that thing comes right up to the road edge.”
Brown noted that Alderman Penberthy had been seen cleaning up trash around town which he thought was “pretty neat.”
“But goodness. It looks like a third world country coming through this place,” he said. “And if you just drive around town, you’re going to see more trash than just that one place…. I was wondering, is it possible that the city cleans it up one time and tells them, if you do it again, you are getting fined, or can we fine them?”
Mayor Ed Austin said, the ordinance requires a warning to be issued initially, and after so many fines, the city can charge the owner of the property to clean it up. The process involves a series of letters.
Later in the meeting, a resident asked if Four Aces Trash Service, based in Potosi, had applied for a license to do business in the city. City Clerk Kendra Boyer said they had not, although she had contacted them and sent them the appropriate paperwork. The resident said a representative from Four Aces had said on social media they would not be applying or paying for a business license, after the issue came up during last month’s board of aldermen meeting.
Ward 1 Alderman Charlie Lewis said the ordinance also stipulates trash services need to contain the refuse they pick up in an enclosed bin. “It can’t be an open bed of a pickup truck, as opposed to a container that keeps from leaking everything out on the road,” he said.
The bulk of Monday night’s meeting was taken up by an ever-popular topic, the city’s ongoing project to replace the water system with a combination of a USDA Rural Development loan and a Department of Natural Resources grant.
Resident Danielle Mercer, who asked a number of questions regarding the glacial pace of the water project’s progress, said she had made a number of phone calls and was told by USDA Area Specialist Michael Hartman that the USDA could revoke the loan if more movement wasn’t made by March 23, 2023.
The aldermen said they had not heard of such a possibility, and pledged to look into it. They all stood by the work of Taylor Engineering’s Tim Robbs, who is working on a plan that would overhaul the city’s water system without relying on water being piped in from Park Hills, a decision made by the board last month. The aldermen had met with Robbs regarding that possibility, and about what needed to happen to move the overhaul forward.
Austin said he would be trying to contact USDA and DNR to find answers to some of Mercer’s questions and allegations.
In a Tuesday email to the Daily Journal from Antonia Varner, public affairs specialist with USDA Rural Development, under USDA Rural Development’s Water & Waste Disposal Loan & Grant program, a project’s funds may be de-obligated if they aren’t used within five years.
“A borrower may submit a written request for an extension. The funds for the project in Leadwood were obligated in March 2018,” Varner wrote. “USDA Rural Development is currently awaiting an engineering report from the city to review.”
Robbs responded to the Daily Journal by text on Wednesday while attending a seminar out of town. He said the engineering report regarding the possibility of connecting to Park Hills, and the town’s subsequent decision not to pursue that option, was submitted to DNR and USDA a week ago Friday. He said the USDA and DNR are expected to review the report and provide comments. He said a lot of the engineering necessary for the new water system was completed before the study on the Park Hills option was done.
The board also:
- Approved business licenses for Teaching Tots LLC and C.Z. Boyer & Sons Funeral Home.
- Conducted a little annual housekeeping by approving, en masse, the 2022 ordinances.
- Approved a request from Jennifer Hulsey, school resource officer for West County School District, to organize a memorial 5K run through Leadwood for the late employee Julie Hall on April 28.
- Discussed replacing stop signs around town, and agreed to ask for pricing.
- Set the date for next month’s meeting as April 25, 6 p.m., at City Hall on Bank Street.
Sarah Haas is the assistant editor for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at 573-518-3617 or at email@example.com.