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County hires park superintendent for Owl Creek

St. Francois County Clerk Kevin Engler, right, explained the reason for rising auto and liability insurance coverage costs for next year to the county commissioners. File Photo

SFC also bringing on new assistant prosecutor

The St. Francois County Commission moved ahead on plans to hire a park superintendent for Owl Creek Park when it met in regular session Tuesday on the third floor of the courthouse annex in Farmington.

The commissioners voted to create the position of park superintendent at an annual salary of $45,000. The job description was created after consultations with other first-class counties in the state. It was found that St. Francois County was the only first-class county in Missouri not to have a park superintendent or county park system. The salary will be included in the budget for 2024. Preliminary work on Owl Creek Park has been in progress for a while.

In other business, a new assistant prosecuting attorney for St. Francois County was hired. Sarah Jackson, who is currently with the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office, will assume the position Dec. 19. Jackson previously served five years as this area’s district defender, a job in which she supervised 20 lawyers.

County Prosecutor, Blake Dudley described Jackson as having “a tremendous amount of experience.” He added, “And more importantly, she’s actually very familiar with all of our judges, all of our lawyers, the way the process works here.”

Jackson’s salary will be $88,000, which is comparable to her Franklin County earnings.

Permission to apply for a nonmatching Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG) mini-grant of $50,000 for storm warning equipment was approved. If the county receives the grant, it must be spent by July 1. Preliminary plans call for a storm siren to be placed near Hunter’s Ridge, with other possibilities being in the Knob Lick area.

County IT Director Nick Jones said, “The plan is to put in two this year. We don’t have a definite spot where the second one is going to be yet, but it will be towards the south.”

The last grant awarded was $25,000, which was used to place a siren in Frankclay, near the West County schools.

At a cost of $595,582.00, the county will be paying an additional 22.75% over last year’s cost for auto and liability insurance coverage.

When asked about the increase, County Clerk Kevin Engler said, “Insurance across the board, nationwide, is up about 18%. Ours is up higher than that because our incident rate, and particularly the sheriff’s department, is high. That’s what they base your rates on, so we’re up 22.75%. But we don’t have a heck of a lot of choice.”

When asked if he thought that the rates could go down in the future, he replied, “I think we can only slow the rate of increase down.” The renewal was approved.

The cost of Worker’s Compensation coverage for county employees increased 42% over this year’s expenditure of $346, 520, which is a jump from the $242,431 spent this year. Engler once again explained the events that led to the large increase.

“We’ve got a work comp problem,” he said. “I point this out to the employees because when you have this type of increase, it affects our budgeting, and it affects everybody’s potential for raises in the future. We cannot have a six-figure raise in our work-comp claims every year.” He pointed out that even when put out for bid, the history of claims makes companies hesitate to bid. The commission approved the 42% increase.

In other action:

  • Commissioners approved the renewal of RAVE Contract/Emergency Management. The RAVE system sends out text messages, e-mails, and phone calls regarding weather warnings. The annual expenditure for 2024 is $12,690.
  • The commission approved $17,754.03 for election canvassing services through Edward J. Rice, the sole service provider. Engler explained that the company updates and maintains county voter registration lists.
  • The St. Francois County Road and Bridge Department announced that Feezor Road would be closed for approximately one month for bridge construction.
  • It was announced that the county’s election center would be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 26 for candidate filing, per State Statute 115.127.5.

The County Commission meets every Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. in commission chambers on the third floor of the courthouse annex. The next meeting will be held Dec. 12.

Dan Schunks is a staff writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at dschunks@dailyjournalonline.com.

 

 

1 Comment

  1. Right on December 9, 2023 at 8:04 pm

    I’m sure the position for park superintendent will go to a good ole boy…… just like everything else in this county.

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