Osage County Commission News

Posted 1/20/22

Culvert caves in on CR 723

Osage County Road and Bridge Foreman Ron Kempker was out after hours Wednesday, Jan. 12, at the site of a box culvert collapse on CR 723. Several pieces of heavy …

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Osage County Commission News

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Culvert caves in on CR 723

Osage County Road and Bridge Foreman Ron Kempker was out after hours Wednesday, Jan. 12, at the site of a box culvert collapse on CR 723. Several pieces of heavy apparatus had just crossed the structure on the way to fight a nearby fire. They made it over safely. The next car along, however, fell in. The driver was interviewed at the scene by ambulance personnel but refused treatment. The vehicle was undrivable.

Kempker brought photos from the scene to the Osage County Commission meeting Thursday, Jan. 13. “We did get it filled in and got it passable,” he reported. “At least the road’s open.” 

It took four loads of material to fill the hole, and Kempker is now in the process of planning a permanent fix. His observation was supported by his photos. There was no reinforcing steel in the crossing platform. The concrete footings, culvert floor, and walls are still solid but the original construction of the roadbed appears to have always been deficient.

Kempker kept his staff busy through the recent cold spell. They got ahead of vehicle and equipment maintenance. With roads too frozen to grade, getting work done indoors is productive. With the weather turning milder, though, the trucks and graders are back on the road. 

Kempker turned in his recommendations for future Bridge Rural Offset (BRO) federally funded bridge replacements. First is a structure on CR 303 that was built in 1948 and handles 100 vehicles a day. The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) estimates project that number to reach 140 in the next decades. The heavy traffic and Kempker’s observation of the edifice are why it’s first on his list. “In my opinion, it’s in rough shape,” he said.

Next is a bridge on CR 522 near Freeburg. It handles 20 cars per day, expected to increase to 28. Built in 1950, it has a six-ton load limit. Vertical cracks are visible in the concrete. “It’s not in that good a shape, either,” Kempker observed.

“It’s been on the list for a while,” Osage County Western District Commissioner Larry Kliethermes added. 

Restricted load limits causes MoDOT to move structures up on the priority lists.

A crossing on CR 716 carries a five-ton limit. A smaller but eligible structure built in 1950 fields 30 cars a day and is expected to increase soon to 42.  A four-ton truss bridge on CR 625, built in 1930, has 15 cars cross a day, and is expected to increase toward 21. “It needs some repair to it,” said Kempker.

He concluded by mentioning a 13-ton limit structure on CR 806, built in 1940. Ten cars use it daily with projections to increase to 14.

Osage County Eastern District Commissioner John Trenshaw received a call from a constituent concerned about a box culvert on CR 435. Marker signs have gone missing. It’s a hazard to drivers at night and other times of low visibility.

Osage County Presiding Commissioner Darryl Griffin asked Kempker to look at a deteriorating low-water crossing on CR 621. “What I hear on that one is the [school] bus,” commented Kliethermes. 

Kempker agreed and will try to size up the situation before the driver calls.

Kempker previewed his department’s expectations for the snow event forecast Saturday, Jan. 15. “It’s a lot of work for few personnel,” he warned. 

He asked for the public’s patience, assuming there’s more than three inches of snow. That activates plows on all gravel roads. It takes 17 hours for the equipment available to get over every mile of county road just once.

The map for this work does have a hierarchy of built-in importance. “We pay a lot of attention to our daycares and our elderly,” he explained. Snow on days when school is in session gets him thinking about buses. “Our children are high priority.”

Crews have spent several weeks harvesting gravel from Cedar Creek near CR 424. According to Kempker, they have pulled about 500 loads from the location and are almost done with it. “It’s the kind of spot where we can really do well,” he said.

Trenshaw asked Kempker to prioritize asphalt roads and expected repairs. “We’ve got to get caught up on this maintenance, or else we’ll have to overlay,” he said. Kempker promised to get something back to him.

Department employees hauled rock on CRs 502 and 542; crew members performed service on Grader #01, and Trucks #26, #31, #35, and #70; mowers worked on Loose Creek Highway; and graders worked on CRs 502, 542, and 612.

911/EMA

Osage County 911/EMA Director Ron Hoffman has received 13 applications in response to recent advertisements for openings in his department. Some of them are very promising. Meanwhile, his staffing shortage has him and Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Supervisor Travis Holtmeyer working weekends and many night shifts. Due to this, they are behind on replacing missing road signs in the county. The signs are finished and ready to put up. “That process is happening,” he said.

Hoffman was irritated by a cell phone service problem on Tuesday, Jan. 11. AT&T told him it was for planned maintenance but nobody told 911 services depending on that transmission ahead of the event. 

“I think they got caught and used that ... as an excuse,” said Hoffman. “You would hope they would only take one tower at a time.” 

He had a hard time believing 20 towers would all go down at once, according to plan. He thinks somebody should have warned emergency agencies. The reduction of service lasted approximately 10 hours.

OCHD

“All of our patients hospitalized in the last month have been unvaccinated,” said Osage County Health Department (OCHD) Administrator Kim Sallin, who continues to emphasize COVID and influenza vaccination distribution.

There have been two more flu cases documented in the county.  The season’s official total is now 13. Many cases, of course, go unreported to the OCHD. “The flu is going around,” said Sallin. “It’s out there. We’re still giving flu shots.”

Updated COVID totals in the county were unavailable. The recent cyberattack on Capital Region Health Center facilities has interrupted that record-keeping and distribution.

MISCELLANEOUS

Commissioners confirmed the appointments of Russell Troesser, Dave Dudenhoeffer, Mike Brown, Jim Lee, and Owen Wagner to the County Law Enforcement Restitution Fund Board of Trustees.

Griffin offered public thanks to Janice Frank, who filled in for Commission Clerk Brooke Dudenhoeffer during Dudenhoeffer’s recent maternity leave. “You did a great job,” he said.

Commissioners approved paying $1,200.08 to Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC). This is part of the county’s contract with MRPC to assure compliance with American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding through the county.

Meramec Regional Planning Commission Environmental Programs Manager Tammy Snodgrass will conduct a Hazard Mitigation Plan meeting at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 8.

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