Lansford urges Linn aldermen to address potholes immediately

By Theresa Brandt, Staff Writer
Posted 12/27/23

LINN   — At their meeting, Linn resident Lauren Lansford addressed aldermen last week with a PowerPoint presentation about the state of the city’s streets. Lansford, who lives at 400 …

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Lansford urges Linn aldermen to address potholes immediately


LINN  — At their meeting, Linn resident Lauren Lansford addressed aldermen last week with a PowerPoint presentation about the state of the city’s streets. Lansford, who lives at 400 E. Benton Street, took issue with the many potholes that she believes have become a problem on the city’s streets.

“I am here today to bring attention to the urgent manner of the potholes in our roads,” Lansford said. “These potholes pose a significant risk to the well-being of our community and residents.”

Lansford added that potholes and uneven surfaces cause accidents and increase the need for vehicle maintenance, causing residents financial burden. She believes that poorly maintained roads can potentially hinder the response time of emergency vehicles; they also may negatively impact the local economy.

She asked that the city plan properly and prioritize maintenance to ensure a safe road system.

“Safe roads are the backbone of a thriving society, ensuring the protection, well-being, and prosperity of individuals and communities. By investing in roads and safety measures, we’ll pave the way to a brighter future,” Lansford said. “The image of the road reflects the overall image of the town. Poorly maintained roads can create negative perceptions to residents and visitors, affecting the town’s reputation and potential for growth.”

Lansford said that in her daily commute, she had witnessed times when cars swerved to avoid potholes and nearly caused accidents.

“The city needs to develop a comprehensive plan that prioritizes the most crucial areas in need of attention,” Lansford said. “This will allocate funds more effectively and demonstrate a clear path forward for the future.”

Lansford suggested the city look to collaborate with neighboring municipalities, explore a sales tax specifically for roads, consider special road district fees, federal and state grants, ask for help from the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), reach out to Osage County for funds, look into Community Block Development Grants (CBDG), explore bonds, seek private collaborations and local donations, and solicit professional services to help explore funding options and write grants.

“I’m respectfully requesting that if there is no plan in place to pave the roads in the next six months, potholes be addressed immediately,” Lansford said. “I’m strongly urging you to take immediate action.”

She asked to be updated regularly.

“I know that we all know this is a problem,” Lansford said. “Filling the potholes isn’t the wisest decision; these roads need to be ground off and resurfaced. Filling the potholes is almost a waste of money.”

Alderman Bill Turner noted that aldermen were working to address many of the issues Lansford presented.

“We’re trying to,” Mayor Dwight Massey added. “We’re not anywhere near where I’d like to be.”

Massey said that when he first became an alderman, the city was using chip and seal to repair streets; now, Linn is repaving the roads with asphalt.

“Putting down asphalt is expensive, and it’s hard to do. It’s slower but more permanent,” Massey explained. “We have well over half of the streets repaved. Each street is a little different and has its challenges.”

Massey said that the city was investing only $20,000-$30,000 per year in the streets when he first took a seat on the board, and now that investment is 10 times as much.

The mayor noted that some streets do not have a base under them and will need to be completely dug up so that one can be laid. He explained that the recent improvement to Fifth Street, including curb and guttering, was done with the help of a CBDG grant and cost the city $500,000.

“But we are no longer eligible for the CBDG grants because our household income has exceeded the (maximum) allowed,” Massey said, adding that Linn is ineligible for other grants because the city is too big or small. “We’re stuck in the middle.”

Massey noted that years ago, the cost of paving all city streets with asphalt at one time was $3 million; with curb and guttering, it would have been $15 million.

“It’s not something we turn a blind eye to,” Massey said. “We work on it quite a bit. I’m proud of where we’re at. Do I wish we were further along? Yes.”

Lansford questioned why the city had not tried to annex the east side of town before now to get extra tax money.

“I’ve been wanting to do that for 10 years, but there were issues holding us back,” Massey explained.

The mayor offered to sit down with Lansford and anyone else concerned about the condition of the city streets and talk to them about the city’s future plans.

In other business, aldermen passed Bill #2023-027, an amendment to the task order between the city of Linn and  Bartlett & West for the Lee Mar Hills Regionalization Grant.

“Last month, you approved a contract to begin on Lee Mar Hills; unfortunately, I made a little snafu on the wording of the contract,” said Bartlett & West Engineer Hope Drennan.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) was not happy with some of the wording of the original task order. There were no changes to the scope of work or any fees.

Bartlett & West plans to walk the Lee Mar Hills alignment on Jan. 4 and ensure everyone is happy with the plan and the placement of the manholes.

“We want to make this alignment walk prior to sending out our survey,” Drennan said. “We also want to touch base with all of the property owners.”

Drennan said the survey is scheduled for March.

She noted that the punch list items on the Jaegers Wastewater Regionalization Project had not been completed yet.

“We aren’t making any progress with the contractor on the final punch list,” Drennan admitted. “We have hit a couple of snafus, and things are still in the works.”

Drennan noted that Bartlett & West had been in touch with DNR to ensure that the grant could be finalized and everything was still within the time frame that DNR was happy with.

• Linn Police Chief Sam Ford recommended that everyone lock their doors.

“This week, we’ve had two residential burglaries,” Ford said, adding that in one case, the burglar walked into the house when the family was home.

Ford noted that two people have been arrested and are in jail for the burglaries but that the holidays are a time to remain diligent about locking your doors. Linn police recovered most of the stolen items.

Ford’s wife, Joan, was also at the meeting and thanked everyone for their donations for her coat drive. She has not been able to make a final count of everything that has been donated, but they have been very happy with the community’s response.

Ford noted that he felt fortunate for many reasons this season.

“If anyone knows of anyone in need, please let us know,” Ford asked. “I don’t want anyone in our town to be cold or hungry.”

• City Clerk Carrie Grellner noted that Alderman Steve Boeckmann was the only person to file for the April 2, 2024, election. City Hall will be open until 5 p.m. on Dec. 26 to accommodate anyone who wants to file for the two open seats.

• Aldermen agreed to renew health insurance through Anthem for the city employees with only a 1% increase in premium costs over last year. The city will pay $8,600.12 per year, slightly higher than last year’s total of $8,514.80 for the same coverage.

• Aldermen approved a liquor license for St. George Catholic Church’s Taste of Italy scheduled for Jan. 20 and the Spring Fling on April 6.

• City Hall and Linn License Fee Office will be closed on Jan. 1 for New Year’s Day.

• Utility employee Aleks Rowinski reported the department had been working hard to fix water leaks throughout the city. Rowinski has been taking water operator classes and will take tests soon. He plans to start taking wastewater classes in January.

• Rowinski has been consulting with utility workers from other municipalities on the best way to fix potholes so they can make the best repairs possible.

• Grellner will get bids on a roll-up and a panel door for the wash bay in the city shed.

• Republic Trash Service will be running one day behind for both Christmas and New Year’s Day but will run the complete route.

• Aldermen approved outstanding bills totaling $257,542.19.

• The city of Linn had the following ending account balances for their governmental fund accounts: general ($649,790.43), pool (-$30,915.45), park ($103,703.92), police training ($2,988.58), park, general fund improvement & equipment (-$21,400), park, improvement & equipment ($4,464.09), and pool, improvement & equipment ($1,948.24).

• Linn had the following ending balances in their business type funds: water ($463,423.45), water replacement ($101,688.36), sewer ($501,152.77), sewer replacement ($47,454.81), grants (-$38,310.60).

• The city holds nine certificates of deposit totaling $1,279,947.92.

• The next regular meeting is scheduled for Jan. 16 at 5 p.m.