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Park Hills discusses water fluoridation, fire district, code enforcement
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Park Hills discusses water fluoridation, fire district, code enforcement

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Park Hills discusses water fluoridation, fire district, code enforcement

The Park Hills City Council is entertaining public input on water fluoridation. The council has been weighing the advantages and disadvantages of continuing the practice.

Park Hills City Council members held a work session Tuesday in which they approved maintenance to city water tanks, heard about water fluoridation from representatives of the local dental practice Upward Smiles, and discussed several other matters.

The session began with a delegation from Upward Smiles speaking to the council about the benefits of adding fluoride to Park Hills’ drinking water.

Upward Smile CEO Sherry Cauley, accompanied by Dr. Megan Scott and Dr. Tonya Long, was invited to address council members as they discussed whether to refrain from adding fluoride.

The primary argument for ending the practice has been cost savings. Ending the practice could save the city $20,000-$25,000 per year. Park Hills is the only municipality in St. Francois County that adds fluoride to its water.

Cauley said the benefits of public fluoride are especially seen in children.

“Water fluoridation is the most efficient way to prevent one of the most common childhood diseases, and that’s tooth decay,” Cauley explained.

She said when she and her team at the dental practice educate patients and parents in Park Hills, they tell them how lucky they are to live in a city that practices water fluoridation.

City Administrator Mark McFarland said the council has been weighing its advantages and disadvantages.

He said one of fluoride's disadvantages is that the chemical is toxic and requires special handling. He said the city would need to upgrade the area in which hazardous materials are stored, and the cost of the upgrades are not yet known.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) requires that the city provide the public with a 90-day notice before making any decision on the matter. The notice has been posted on the city’s website and outgoing water bills. The 90-day notice allows the public to provide the city with feedback and opinions on the removal, or continued use, of fluoride in the water.

The council moved on to authorize an agreement with Liquid Engineering Corporation for maintenance work on the city’s water tanks, wells and raw water reservoirs.

Utility Director Frank Shovlin said the city’s water tanks had not been serviced in seven years. He said DNR recommends servicing water tanks every three to four years. Shovlin said the city’s raw water reservoir hadn’t been cleaned out in nearly 25 years, and he believed they should be cleaned at least every three to five years.

The council also discussed altering the fire department’s response boundaries.

Wolf Creek Fire Protection is looking to alter its fire protection district to include areas currently within the response boundaries of the Park Hills Fire Department.

McFarland said the city’s fire department would lose approximately $4,500 per year if their boundaries were redrawn to exclude the area.

He explained several homeowners in the area that Wolf Creek Fire wants to annex had expressed disapproval of the change. The homeowners currently pay the Park Hills Fire Department $50 a year for fire tags, and McFarland said they could spend more than $50 in taxes for fire protection if encompassed by Wolf Creek Fire’s redrawn protection district.

McFarland said the city is willing to come to a reasonable agreement that will benefit everyone involved.

City officials and representatives of Wolf Creek Fire Protection plan to meet this week.

During Tuesday’s work session, the council also:

  • Approved an engagement letter from Boyer & Associates for auditing services for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.
  • Discussed implementing stricter code enforcement citations and a possible increase in fees charged for code enforcement mowing abatement.
  • Discussed broadening the city’s animal regulations and permits to allow citizens to keep animals such as quail and rabbits.

Bobby Radford is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at bradford@dailyjournalonline.com

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