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Commission discusses tire grant, voting
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Commission discusses tire grant, voting

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County Commission

Associate Commissioner Patrick Mullins, Presiding Commissioner Harold Gallaher and Associate Commissioner Gay Wilkinson listen to reports during the regular session of the St. Francois County Commission Tuesday.

Tire recycling and absentee voting issues were on the agenda Tuesday morning during the St. Francois County Commission regular session.

Associate Commissioner Patrick Mullins announced that the county will have a two-day tire recycling program as part of a new initiative.

“Our road and bridge superintendent and highway administrator has stated several times in the past that there is a definite need for a tire cleanup grant,” he said. “We will be receiving a check for almost $10,000 from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Solid Waste Division. This will almost certainly be enough to pay for the recycling, but more important, reimburse the St. Francois County taxpayer on fixed costs.”

The tire collection will be a two-day event held Nov. 5-6. Residents will be required to drop off the tires at the Road and Bridge facility on Woodlawn Drive next to the Farmington Regional Stockyards. Only normal sized vehicle tires will be accepted with no rear tractor tires or heavy equipment tires allowed. Residents with more than 10 tires should call the Road and Bridge Department at 573-431-4794 and be put on a list.

“Our crew may come to you and pick them up,” Mullins said. “If we do come and pick them up, you will be required to set them next to the road for ease of pickup. This is also at the discretion of Road and Bridge.”

Mullins said that the goal is to receive 5,000 tires.

“Once we receive them, at our leisure, on a slow day, we will truck the tires to High Ridge and they will recycle them on the spot. We will bring the material home. We are looking at a number of uses for them: flowerbeds, erosion control of trails at our county park. This is a pilot project and other counties in southeast Missouri are going to be contacting me and seeing what the pros and cons were.”

County Clerk Kevin Engler updated the commission on absentee voting and his thoughts on extending the poll hours on the last week before the election from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

County Auditor Louie Seiberlich asked, “Can you clarify, is it state statute or law that employers have to allow their employees time to vote?”

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Engler thought that was correct. “But, I’m hearing some employers don’t adhere to that, and we wish they would. We’ve given them six weeks during that time period, we give them the Saturday before, but that’s why we are considering, some of them aren’t doing so, and we’d like the people to have the opportunity. I’ll make a decision on it this week.

“We keep hiring more and more workers, last two weeks we’ve got six or seven every day, that’s how busy we’ve been. One Friday we did almost 200, so we had three extra workers. We’ve made the time period very long.”

Engler said that the three full-time elections employees are already working well past the 4 p.m. closing to finish paperwork every evening.

“On the 19th we start down at the meeting room, and we will have a full precinct,” he said.

According to Engler, there is extra work to send an absentee ballot in the mail that is taking up a lot of the elections employees' time right now.

“When you request an absentee ballot through the mail, we have to send out the form and get the form back,” he said. “Two people have to independently verify that it’s the correct signature, Social Security Number’s right and address is correct. They put a label on the interior envelope, put a ballot in there, have a label for the exterior, have it stamped on both envelopes and sent out.

“Now, almost half of the mail in ballots that we are getting back, people are walking in and giving to us. We bought postage for nothing and it took us 15 minutes to process the thing and then they bring it back. If they bring it back to us, we have to process another set of paperwork to show that it didn’t come through the post office. They have to sign another paper because we have to verify and put in the computer that it came in a different way.”

The preference for the clerk’s office is to just come in and absentee vote in person.

“Ten times as many people has requested them,” Engler said. “This is the first time that most people have requested absentee ballots. They don’t realize that they could just come in. Now they are wanting to make sure it’s been counted, so they are bringing in them.

“I checked with other county clerks on what they are doing. This is happening all over the state, not as many people are doing it in other places, but everybody is petrified of the lines that will happen on Election Day. We don’t want to discourage voters.”

Mark Marberry is a reporter for the Farmington Press and Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3629, or at mmarberry@farmingtonpressonline.com

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