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New courthouse elevator discussed

At a recent meeting the St. Francois County Commission voted unanimously to seek bids for a new elevator to be installed in light of the old elevator's many years of service.

Following discussion about the old St. Francois County Courthouse elevator being worn out and no longer working properly, the county commission wasted little time in finding a way to solve the problem.

Addressing the issue, St. Francois County Presiding Commissioner Harold Gallaher brought up the need for the purchase of a new elevator that will adequately meet the needs of courthouse employees, officeholders and visitors.

“The system’s old," he said. "We had a situation last year where lightning ran in and burned out the motherboard, and it took a month to get a replacement. We lose ADA compliance when our elevator fails over there.”

Associate Commissioner Patrick Mullins said, “We were looking at windows for this year. Unfortunately we take what’s needed first and there are no grant opportunities at this time through Missouri Department of Natural Resources concerning elevators, but hopefully the following year they will offer [one] in that grant cycle.”

Gallaher replied, “The windows are drafty and expensive because of heat and cooling loss, but this is a safety issue and ADA issue, so this takes precedence.”

After additional discussion, the commission voted unanimously to solicit bids for a new courthouse elevator.

In other action, IT Director Dan Duncan discussed the process of obtaining audio and video equipment for the County Commission's meeting room.

“Purchasing the equipment would cross the $6,000 threshold, so I stopped that process," Duncan said. "I’m asking that we start the process for sealed bids from vendors."

In response to Duncan's request, Mullins asked where the money would come from to cover the cost of the equipment.

Gallaher said, “We have a miscellaneous account in the general fund for when several departments are affected. State law requires that when an expenditure reaches $6,000 we must get sealed bids on the process, so that’s what he requested that we do.”

The commissioners voted unanimously to solicit bids for audio and video recording equipment for use in its meeting room, and in other action, voted unanimously to hire Daniel Jones & Associates to perform the county's annual audit.

In public comments, Mike Barks thanked the county road crews for their work in clearing the roads during the recent inclement weather, after which a resident asked the commission about the status of replacement of the low-water crossing on Tillman Road.

Addressing the county's bridge replacement schedule, Highway Superintendent Clay Copeland said, “It’s not on the schedule to be replaced this year, but we want to completely replace that bridge in 2020.”

Gallaher added, “That will be a box culvert bridge. I think you’ll like that bridge.”

In departmental reports, Gallaher explained that the commissioners were required to be in Columbia, for the County Commissioners Association of Missouri meeting, for the rest of the week.

Next, County Clerk Kevin Engler explained the issue of inactive voters on the rolls.

“We have almost 4,600 inactive voters," he said. "We’ve sent them letters. They won’t respond. They haven’t voted. We’re looking at other counties on how to clean those up.”

As part of an ongoing review of all the county’s policies, Engler brought up his concerns about the lack of penalties and enforceability of various licenses and permits.

“The liquor license — we have no penalty if they’re late,” he said. “We had someone come in last December and pay last year’s liquor license bill. When we have no penalty, they don’t care.”

Engler went on to discuss his concerns about building permit enforcement because the lack of permits being issued causes problems for proper assessment and septic installation.

“We had 16 new building permits last year,” he said. “That’s very low. I asked what’s the action if they don’t get one — there is none.”

Engler is also looking at increasing pay for poll workers and a full-time and part-time person to prepare the ballots. He also brought up the idea of adding three supervisors to quickly handle polling issues on election day.

Vonne Karraker brought up a concern about inspections of new construction and septic systems being properly installed. She mentioned that properties under two acres require a specially engineered septic system.

Engler replied, “That’s one of the main reasons to have a permit. The assessor’s office and county health department get that report from us. Homeowners on less than two acres, if caught with a standard septic system, could be required to tear out the system and have it replaced.”

A resident asked if homeless people can vote.

Engler replied, “They still have voting privileges, wherever they are currently registered.”

The next meeting of the St. Francois County Commission will take place at 10 a.m. Tuesday on the third floor of the courthouse annex.

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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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