Road and Bridge finds a long-sought road tractor

By H.B. Dodds, Staff Writer
Posted 9/7/22

Osage County Road and Bridge Foreman Ron Kempker has finally found a day-cab road tractor that meets his specifications and commissioners consider affordable.  

A 2017 International with …

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Road and Bridge finds a long-sought road tractor

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Osage County Road and Bridge Foreman Ron Kempker has finally found a day-cab road tractor that meets his specifications and commissioners consider affordable.  

A 2017 International with about 345,000 miles offered by an operator in Arkansas contains all the necessary options, has no options Kempker was trying to avoid and was priced at $88,000. The wheelbase is even shorter than the Kenworth T8 the department is now using and likes a lot. With the desired engine and transmission, “it’ll probably outperform the one we have,” Kempker remarked. 

Commissioners approved the purchase, and the unit was en route to Osage County before the end of last week. Osage County Western District Larry Kliethermes abstained from the vote.

The truck will be purchased from a surplus balance in the county’s Capital Improvement Fund.

Road and Bridge needs this truck to pull a second belly dump trailer now being manufactured. That trailer ordered early this year is scheduled to arrive in mid-September and will be paid for using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. Kempker has been searching for a suitable machine since ordering the trailer. The scarcity of quality used equipment is just now beginning to ease. The industry appears to be planning for a recession. 

Kempker told commissioners that his crew was working hard to repair gravel roads washed out by recent heavy rains. Those rains were spotty, though, so the department didn’t always know where roads were damaged and where they weren’t. He urged county citizens to call (573) 897-3919 when and where they saw trouble. 

“They’s how we know,” said Kempker. 

Kempker reported work on the low-water slab that had closed CR 722 is complete. He brought pictures of the project for commissioners to examine. 

“We’ve now got that road open,” said Kempker.

A citizen submitted pictures showing rock gravel added to CR 605 recently that is too large for comfortably driving. It was evidently improperly screened when dug from a nearby creek. “We must have dug too deep when screening that,” Kempker said. 

Kliethermes passed on citizen reports of overhanging vegetation on CR 512 near the old hatchery near Westphalia. Kempker promised to address the issue but reminded commissioners that the roadway there is crowded. “There’s a wall about two feet from the roadway,” he explained. 

Trimming there is always vertical as there’s no way to cut very far from the road on the horizontal plane. 

A citizen traveling on Loose Creek Highway has submitted a claim for tire damage sustained at the site of a recently replaced culvert under the roadway. Just west of the junction of US 50, it was necessary to wait before pouring finishing concrete at the site. The base material needed to settle properly. While the road was opened after installing the pipe, signs were placed warning drivers of the rough spot. 

However, those signs were vandalized or stolen on several occasions during the process. The driver making the claim alleged there were no signs in place when the damage occurred. 

“He said they saw the signs before,” said Kliethermes. “When they drove by and didn’t see them, they assumed the spot was fixed.” Commissioners are studying the issue. 

Kempker has been pushing his crew harder in the area north of Belle. He’s trying to get as far ahead of the work there as possible before the MO 89 bridge over Swan Creek closes. He’s also concerned about how to get his trucks out of the yard first thing in the morning. With schools open, he often reroutes them south to avoid the congested intersection of MO 89 and US 50 during rush hour. He’s considering having those drivers begin earlier in the morning while that bridge is out. “The traffic there is just tremendous,” he said. 

Department employees hauled rock on CRs 422, 608, 610, 612, 622, 625, and 722; crew members performed service on Trucks #29, #35, #26, and #70; crews replaced a culvert on CR 422; mowers worked on CRs 433, 436, 521, 611, 801, and 808; workers finished painting and placing curbs in the parking area at the Osage County Courthouse; and graders worked on CRs 274B, 303, 310, 312, 403, 422, 423, 424, 608, 610, 612, 624, 625, 632, 722, 724, 734, and 805.

OCHD

Osage County Health Department (OCHD) Administrator Kim Sallin announced her office now has home COVID tests available — two to a family. Because of the contagious nature of the illness, Sallin urges those who think they should test to call the office. They should stay at home if they’re sick, and her staff will deliver the test kits. “If they drive in, we’ll take it out to them in their cars,” she added.

Final construction is now underway on the new OCHD building. Commissioners approved three change orders. One was for guttering and storm drain alterations for $7,836. A second was for the installation of concrete footings on the north side of the building. It will support the load-bearing wall near the entrance. Somehow, this was absent in the original building’s construction. That will cost $8,076. A third was for changes to the gas supply line and the sanitary sewer routing. The propane tank will move to a new location. That order was for $4,001. Finally, floor concrete near the central part of the building needs replacement. That will be at a cost of $8,650. The total of $28,563 will come from ARPA funds. 

Commissioners noticed the cost of the building continues to increase. Change orders have long since overpowered the architect’s $20,000 retention fund. 

“It would be nice if that would be the last one,” Osage County Eastern District Commissioner John Trenshaw commented, “but it won’t.” 

One of the final features added to the building will be a security system. It will include “panic buttons” operated from computer terminals in the various offices. Sallin wants these features. Her operation will be geographically separated from other county offices and much further from the sheriff’s office. Commissioners asked her about the availability of grant money to pay for the system. Sallin has ideas about where to start looking for such funds.

JAIL

Commissioners worry about increasing water bills for the Osage County Courthouse. The last one was for $678.80. The leading consumer in the building is the Osage County Jail, most notably, prisoners’ showers. While the jail population is up, causing water consumption to rise, “I cannot buy the idea that the number of prisoners is enough to account for that increase,” said Kliethermes, noting the bill is more than double that of this time last year. 

“It’s unbelievable,” agreed Osage County Presiding Commissioner Darryl Griffin. 

Commissioners are seeking options for reducing water consumption in the building. There is not now, nor has there recently been, evidence of a leak. 

The August jail report showed 77 inmates, including 56 males and 21 females, with 54 released. The daily average population was 23.6, with the average stay for an inmate of 9.5 days. Cumulative totals for 2022 include 477 inmates (374 male, 103 female), with 441 released. The average population is 18.3, with the average stay for an inmate of 7.6 days.

MISCELLANEOUS

Commissioners signed outgoing checks.

Tammy Snodgrass of Meramec Regional Planning Commission will conduct a Hazard Mitigation Plan Meeting in the commission chambers at 10 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 22.

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