Osage County Road and Bridge Foreman…
Osage County Road and Bridge Foreman Ron Kempker announced the repair of the box culvert on CR 436, north of the railroad tracks is finished. The department widened the crossing for the safety of large farm equipment. It now extends about eight feet up stream.
"That should help them out down there," said Kempker.
* The department expects to get Truck #32 out of the shop and back in service early this week. Others are waiting to go in for minor repairs. "We'll get them in the shop and get them fixed up," said Kempker.
* Kempker is hearing from three different contractors to repair the box culvert in CR 306. He's trying to get prices and ascertain immediacy of availability. "We'll see what kind of numbers we come up with," he concluded.
* Osage County First District Commissioner John Glavin requested some base rock be poured on CR 317. He's particularly concerned about a pothole about a third of the way down the road's incline. "It needs material on it pretty bad," he said. Kempker put it on his list; but he warned there are some other projects demanding higher priority. Anticipated detour traffic on CR 274A is going to trump a lot of routine repairs.
* Osage County 911/ EMA Director Andrea Rice passed out copies of the traffic plan for construction of the Shawnee Creek bridge on Hwy. 100. The Missouri Department of Transportation (Mo- DOT) only detours traffic on state maintained roads. The official detour will involve Hwy. 89 and Routes J and N; but local residents familiar with county roads will add traffic to CR 274A and Rt. Z.
* While reviewing county bills, Glavin noticed a line item from AT&T for cutting a cable buried beneath CR 303. Glavin believes statutes protect county crews from liability in such accidents, and Kempker agrees. He has disputed this unsuccessfully, but will try to dispute it again. The commission did not approve paying the charge.
* Commissioners have not received a signed contract for CR 511 from Westphalia city attorney David Bandre. A story on the latest from Westphalia’s position on this issue is published on Page 1 of this week’s issue.
* The department hauled rock on CRs 212, 213, 412, 436, 804, 808, and 810; and grader operators worked on CRs 210, 212, 221, 251, 252, 318, 322, 412, 415, 416, 501, 506, 515, 516, 541, 632, 636, 711, 712, 734, 735, 736, 737, 740, 741, 804, 808, 810, 821, 822, and 823.
* Kempker introduced the county’s newest operator, Kevin Ward.
“It’s been a busy week,” observed Kempker, although “no real disaster happened.”
Osage County Building and Grounds Janitorial and Maintenance Worker John Kennedy briefed the commissioners on his research into erecting plexiglass barriers at the window counters in the Osage County Annex Building. He gave special attention to ideas from the Osage County Health Department for their window. They would like the barrier, but also want some privacy enhancement for Health Information Privacy protection Act (HIPAA) purposes. Rough draft proposals make it appear to be too expensive as described by Osage County Health Department Director Susan Long; but no final figures are yet available. Kennedy is also concerned it might not be covered by Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act funding in that configuration. His rough estimate indicates it could exceed $500 or even $1,000. All other windows combined might total $600-$700.
Long responded with a more basic proposal, and Kennedy promised to look into it.
* Long announced the Osage County Coronavirus Emergency Phase 1 Reopening Advisory currently in effect would end Saturday, May 30. She promised to have a Phase 2 directive available for commission review by Thursday, May 28.
* Summer school policies have been submitted to the health department by the Linn R-2 and Chamois R-1 school districts. Fatima R-3 board members decided not to hold a summer school session. Long is satisfied with what the schools intend to do, for the time being.
* There have been no new cases in Osage County for a while, and the pace of recommended testing is down. “We’re prepared for it,” she said. “That’s all we can do.”
* Long was concerned about the viral video of crowds partying at the Lake of the Ozarks. As a result, “I really, fully expect to see some jumps in the state levels,” she said.
She pointed out there was a surge in cases after the Easter holiday. Families then gave in to the temptation to gather and violate social distance rules. It appears to her the same thing happened over the Memorial Day weekend, so she’s got her guard up.
* She also mentioned a case in Greene County in which a hairdresser has tested positive. Officials are now scurrying to track 90 contacts.
“We’re continuing to monitor the situation,” she said.
Speaking to similar operators, she added, “This is your business. You need to make the rules. You have to feel comfortable with the people coming in. This is what this boils down to: personal responsibility.”
* While experts gain confidence in sunshine and warm temperatures to battle the virus, Long is not yet ready to condone children playing on playground equipment. Her new directive will not open such equipment in parks. “Being cautious has got to be the new norm,” she said.
* Other seasonal diseases, like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, are starting to show up. There’s nothing unusual yet, but she urged people to step up use of insect and tick repellent.
* Long dislikes what she sees as unusually heavy responsibility on county health departments. They are expected to enforce COVID-19 rules made by the state. Counties feel the need to match the state restrictions; but state government offers little in the way of enforcement support. “The state has not taken the lead on this like they should have,” she asserted.
* Rice brought a draft variance for flood plain property on Lori Lane near CR 806, which commissioners approved and signed.
“It meets all the qualifications for an accessory structure,” she asserted.
* The new ProQA 911 dispatch system was activated in Osage County Wednesday, May 27.
* Rice announced the new phones which will equip the emergency trailer are being programmed and will be installed soon. “They’re out in the trailer,” she said.
* An idea has been floated to put tint on the windows in the trailer. She thinks it would inhibit temptation to burglarize the unit. “That should be fairly inexpensive,” Rice speculated.
Osage County Presiding Commissioner Darryl Griffin briefed the meeting on a proposed technical assistance contract with the Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) designed to aid client counties with the administration of CARES Act funds. It would help with funding priority, managing reimbursement forms, marketing, and file completion. The commissioners found it attractive for the sake of full and fair execution of the program, noting it also will ease the “red tape” involved.
“They would be our facilitator all the way,” said Griffin.
Commissioners approved and signed the contract.
* Commissioners signed a form presented by Sheriff Mike Bonham to allow Osage County to participate in the Youth Alcohol Enforcement Campaign. A total of $500 in reimbursement for overtime incurred by increased patrol is provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), administered locally by The University of Central Missouri (CMSU) in cooperation with MoDOT.
* Bonham observed heavier traffic on the rivers over the Memorial Day weekend. He, too, encouraged public responsibility when it comes to social distancing.
”All the camper sites were full,” he observed. “Everything else seems to be clicking right along.”
* In light of the restrictions in March and April, “We expect the failure to appear rate to quadruple,” he said, referring to defendants who do not show up as scheduled to court hearings. “All those failures to appear will now come home to roost.”
* With relaxing COVID-19 regulations, the Osage County Detention Center is returning to more normal booking. There were five inmates at the time of this report, and Bonham expected that to increase. Temperatures are being screened. Bonding is being conducted online, and social distancing is being enforced in lines. He hopes Phase 2 will allow an increase from 10 to 25 for gatherings. That’s in light of the increased pressure summer always puts on the jail.
* The Sheriff’s Office is active in helping with summer school, and said deputies would be present at the “Tail Gate Graduation” at State Tech, helping with traffic.
Bonham said feels bad for what the COVID-19 crisis cost the “kids of 2020” from their school experience. “I hope it never happens again,” he said.
* The Sheriff’s Office is disputing a line item billed to them by Xerox. The company is attempting to bill the county for property taxes on leased equipment. Office Administrator Charlotte Townley proposed to pay the bill, less the property tax amount, and commissioners approved. Local governments are usually exempt from such taxes. Since the equipment is leased, the owner should pay it anyway. No one remembers any special arrangement to pay such a tax on this contract.
* Osage County Second District Commissioner Larry Kliethermes pledged to contact Porter, Berendzen, and Associates to get an update on the Osage County Courthouse project. There’s an apparent misunderstanding about who was responsible to publish bidding information.
“We’re just starting that over,” said Kliethermes.
* Griffin said he has not heard anything yet from Verslues Construction about the Annex basement project. He was told they will contact him before the end of last week.
* Commission approved paying bills from May 13 through May 22 as follows by department: 911/EMA ($11,462.48), Assessor ($598.33), Building & Grounds ($205.33), Circuit Clerk ($594.11), Collector ($112.50), Commission ($112.50), Health Department ($108.21), Miscellaneous ($775.40), Prosecuting Attorney ($308.25), Road & Bridge ($25,868.58), Treasurer ($19.94), and Sheriff-Jail ($3,670.77); for a total of $43,836.40.
* Commissioners approved employee time sheets.
THURSDAY, MAY 28, 2020
Long presented a Phase 2 draft for further opening of the county from COVID-19 restrictions. Since Gov. Mike Parson wasn’t scheduled to release the state directive until later in the day, details couldn’t be finalized until then. Commissioners agreed to meet Friday, May 29, at which time they anticipated approving and signing the county document. They asked Osage County Prosecuting Attorney Amanda Grellner, Bonham, Rice, and Long to attend. Long’s interest in enforcement was tweaked by the incident Memorial Day Weekend at the Lake of the Ozarks, as noted previously in this report.
Highlights of the document include a continued ban on playground equipment. It will otherwise emphasize personal responsibility. It will also express intention to take violations to the prosecuting attorney’s office. “I think that’s good,” said Kliethermes.
According to statute, a year of jail time, although unlikely, and fines up to $2000 can be levied.
Long has concern for how to document violations in order to enforce them. Most of the time, these gatherings occur on weekends and after normal business hours. On many calls, it’s been impossible to respond quickly enough to catch a violation in progress. Once again, she would like more help from the state. “I understand [Gov. Parson’s] reasoning,” she said; but she would still like the state to lead more of the law enforcement on the issue. She would also like for her staff and herself to be safe while on site investigating a complaint.
She reiterated the county document will be an advisory subservient to Parson’s order. “Let’s keep it simple,” she said. She also intends to administer it, emphasizing education instead of punishment. “The majority of the people have done what’s right,” she said. The fact there are no new cases is evidence.
She’s watching the loosening of regulations on business with keen interest. “I know they’ve got to make money,” she said, “but they still have to protect their patrons in the long run. My job is to keep those businesses in business, but also to keep the patrons safe.”
Long has had recent meetings with parochial and public school administrators. She is emphasizing common sense and responsibility to staff and parents. She recommends parents to get family vacations done two weeks before school starts. That would enable any necessary quarantines to clear. Schools should screen students and staff in attendance.
* The county health department foot clinic is resuming. Clients are being scheduled so as not to meet each other coming and going from the department office.
* The Pregnancy Health Center Van will be coming again to the Courthouse Square, with dates to be announced soon.
* Kennedy has received drawings and quotes on the plexiglass barriers from Missouri Vocational Enterprises (MVE), but they did not include frames. He sent back to get quotes and drawings that do include them. He doubts the price difference will be exorbitant. The commission approved him to order if the total bid comes in under $1,000.
“We’ll see what the price is and go from there,” he said.
* Osage County Deputy Clerk Valerie Prater delivered a Notice of Award from MoDOT for the CR 274A bridge over Shawnee Creek. It commits Bridge Rural Offset (BRO) funds for that project, not to begin before the completion of the Shawnee Creek Bridge on Hwy. 100.
* Porter, Berendzen, and Associates sent a “Notice to Bidders” to be published in the Unterrified Democrat for two weeks. It will also be published on county, company, and newspaper websites.
* Commissioners signed outgoing checks.
FRIDAY, MAY 29, 2020
“The governor threw me for a loop [yesterday],” said Long.
Gov. Parson, instead of issuing a new order, extended his Phase I order. Therefore, Long made only minor modifications to the county advisory, which has been extended to June 14. There will probably be a new order beginning June 15.
Commissioners approved and signed the advisory. Detailed coverage of the order appears in this issue of the Unterrified Democrat.
* MRPC will hold its annual banquet Thursday, Oct. 22, at Missouri State Technical College.