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In an update given recently by St. Francois County Associate Commissioner Patrick Mullins regarding progress on the Bone Hole County Park project, he first offered a brief history of the project’s start and then offered some good news about its future.

“Gentlemen, on March 20, 2012, [then-Presiding Commissioner] Dr. David Cramp and I attended a meeting with the Department of Natural Resources,” he said. “We went over the mining history and the fact that we would like to make a county park out of the 37.57 acres we own called Bone Hole.

“On Nov. 24, 2015, Gov. Jay Nixon toured Bone Hole and this commission showed him the conceptual plans of the future park. On Dec. 8, 2015, this commission voted unanimously to make the 37.57 acres a first-ever county park.

“On April 5, 2016, [Presiding Commissioner] Harold Gallaher and I had a conference call with EPA Region 7 executives. The goal was to get the project out to bid. July of 2016, this commission hired Smith & Company, an engineering company based out of Poplar Bluff, to start the drawings on the structural integrity of the Owl Creek Dam and Spillway. The engineering plans were completed and was way ahead of schedule.”

In an email sent to Mullins by Missouri DNR Environmental Specialist Brandon Wiles, he told the associate commissioner that the long-delayed Bone Hole project is once again moving forward.

Wiles wrote: “We ran into some budget issues, but we are currently working past them and are still working with our engineer on finalizing the bid documents and designs for the project. We are hoping to get the projects’ scope and work out the door for bid at the end of January or the beginning of February. Sorry it’s taken so long for this thing to get started.”

Mullins responded to the email’s contents, saying, “I said from the beginning that this was going to take a while. Have we made improvements from a couple of years ago? Yes, but it continually drags out and I don’t know who, why, where, but that’s the latest update on that.

“Missouri DNR has requested $250,000 from the trustee council to restore wildlife habitat at Bone Hole. DNR was also awarded $812,286 by EPA to remove lead contaminated soil and mine waste from the site, in addition to capping and stabilizing mine waste near Owl Creek. So, I’m optimistic — that’s all I’m going to say about that.”

Gallaher commented, “But the money’s going down.”

Mullins replied, “Yeah, yeah.”

Associate Commissioner Gay Wilkinson interjected, “And the longer it goes…”

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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