Osage County Health Department (OCHD) Administrator Kim Sallin told commissioners last week she was very concerned about a dog-bite emergency. In July, an 11-month old infant was bitten twice by the …
Osage County Health Department (OCHD) Administrator Kim Sallin told commissioners last week she was very concerned about a dog-bite emergency. In July, an 11-month old infant was bitten twice by the same animal, after which its owner left town. He returned recently, and the dog bit a delivery man at a business in Westphalia on Sept. 23. Sallin's investigation has revealed the dog is not vaccinated for rabies. She cited Missouri Revised Statute 578.024 authorizing local law enforcement to apprehend the animal but she was struggling to find boarding for it while waiting out the required quarantine. Final determination of a dog's status cannot be made until it's determined if the bite victim is infected. "I called the Missouri Humane Society and they had no suggestion for what we can do with this dog," she said. "I can do nothing about it."
Sallin, at the time, had been unable to find a place willing to board such an animal. She was also unsure of funding should she find a facility.
Commissioners assured her they would commit funds since it's a public health emergency.
"We have to," said Osage County Presiding Commissioner Darryl Griffin. "We have to put public safety first."
Sallin's COVID crisis report showed active cases decreasing to 21. There are now more than 70% of the county's citizens fully vaccinated.
Road and Bridge
Kempker announced the arrival of two new pieces of equipment. The new Bobcat mini-excavator ordered in the spring is now in service as Excavator #50. His staff is now training on it. "It's a new learning curve but I think they'll learn it fairly quickly,” he said, adding the machine seems to be quite user-friendly.
Kempker has also added a culvert cleaner to his equipment inventory. Made by Battle Armor, the unit attaches to a backhoe. It attacks clogs deep within culverts and under shorter bridges. It should reduce the time crews spend removing clogs from streams under county roads.
Kempker addressed a recent complaint about CR 754. A resident complained the road had received no maintenance for more than two years. He produced files that showed more than 130 tons of rock applied in 2020 and more than 110 tons so far in 2021. The road has been graded five times in 2021 and brush was cleared in May. Commenting on the department's standard response to such complaints, Kempker said, “We have documentation on file. We did not ignore it. It may not seem like a lot gets done, but we have a lot of roads to take care of."
He also mentioned his chronic under-staffing. There are now 10 crew members, and he's looking for another. "Our door is always open," he said. "Come in and fill out an application."
At the time of his briefing, his department was wrapping up its work around the salvage of the Pentecostal Bridge on CR 611. Guardrails were in place, and crews were waiting for ordered signage to arrive.
Kempker displayed pictures of the bank stabilization efforts on Cedar Creek near CR 424. He was waiting for the right grade of gravel to become available before finishing the job. "We haven't forgotten it," he explained.
Preparation for winter is in full swing. Kempker is concentrating on getting enough material in stock and under cover to keep it dry. Also, vehicles and machinery are undergoing winterization.
Kempker is moving ahead with the buyout of Grader #06. He has officially requested the purchase of the machine for $160,000. The price includes a $12,000 discount because of hours overage. "I definitely think it's worth it," he commented.
Should the county order a new one, it would be three years to get it delivered with supply chain problems.
Osage County Eastern District Commissioner John Trenshaw urged him to look at ordering a machine now for delivery in three years, in addition to purchasing Grader #06.
"It might be smart to order a new one sooner rather than later," he said.
However, he knew budgeting for something not in possession for years would be tough. The purchase price for a new unit now approaches $300,000.
Kempker is fighting other supply chain difficulties. He now has enough batteries and grading blades in stock but is furiously ordering ahead to stay that way. Both items are taking months longer to deliver, but "I'm trying to stay ahead," he said.
Trenshaw urged him to keep old blades rather than salvaging them as soon as he has in the past. Repairing them back into limited service would be preferable to having nothing.
"That's good advice," Kempker commented.
Griffin urged Kempker to arrange for call-forwarding from the Road and Bridge Office to the foreman's cell phone. There have been occasions in which the department's office manager was not at the desk. Either Kempker or his assistant foreman has had to stay off the road to man the phones. Griffin wants them to be free to leave the office in that situation. Kempker said he'll make that happen.
Department employees hauled rock on CRs 205, 317, 424 (bank stabilization), 431, 754, and 806; crew members performed service on Graders #01, #04, #06, Trailer #22, and Excavator #50; workers removed trees on CR 315, and 806, removed temporary barriers from the site of the wrecked bridge on CR 611, and placed a "Dead End' sign on CR 739; department repaired a low water crossing on CR 211; crews repaired a culvert on Loose Creek Highway; mowers worked on CRs 508, 631, 633, and 724; and graders worked on CRs 202, 203, 211, 231, 232, 261, 264, 271, 301, 302, 304, 306, 309, 309A, 316, 317, 318, 319, 403, 404, 423, 424, 425, 427, 431, 432, 435, 436, 501, 524, 608, 609, 612, 613A, 613B, 621, 632, 635, 636, 638, 708, 709, 711, 713, 714, 715, 721, 722, 735, 739, 751, 752, 754, 810, and 821.
Osage County Sheriff Mike Bonham had commissioners sign for a $1,200 grant to fund a “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign.
He also announced receipt of a 2015 Dodge van that will be rigged for prisoner transport. From the United States Department of Defense (DOD) Law Enforcement 1033 Program, the vehicle has only 23,000 miles. The only basic repair is the replacement of a dead battery. "It's cost us fuel to go get it," said Bonham, noting that getting a replacement jail transport vehicle has been a priority for the Sheriff's Office for more than a year.
Bonham said he is two officers below ideal staffing but a new detective has been added. He's an individual who previously left the force but has now elected to return.
"It will help tremendously," said Bonham of the good fortune.
He still seeks another sergeant and a deputy.
One issue hindering his recruiting efforts is housing scarcity in Osage County. Recently hired staff struggles to find homes for their families. Bonham is now checking into acquiring a 20-foot travel trailer from the DOD 1033 program to serve as temporary housing. "I'm running out of options," he explained. "I'm trying to come up with innovative ways."
In response to questions from commissioners, Bonham said he has no evidence of illegal immigrants from Latin America or refugees from Afghanistan now in Osage County. However, his jail is very busy, especially with inmates from outside the county. "It's pretty serious stuff going on," he said.
He confirmed immigrants and refugees are landing in Jefferson City.
He's pleased with the announcement a new mental health facility will soon open in Jefferson City. His jail has no "padded" cell so Bonham is ill-equipped to detain individuals with mental health emergencies.
Osage County is involved in a pilot project to reduce suicide. "That's exciting," said Bonham.
A new electronic lock system for the Osage County Administration Building (Annex) is now operational. Osage County 911/EMA Director Ron Hoffman and Osage County Building and Grounds Janitorial and Maintenance Worker John Kennedy are working together to program a lock code list of all Annex workers to operate the system.
The Osage County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) already uses such a system. Hoffman has a Data Transfer Module (DTM) in the EOC inventory that will serve to manage the Annex’s new system.
"It logs and tracks everything," he explained. "I think sharing that DTM would be a good way to start."
A conversation with Tyler Lock and Key of Jefferson City, the company that installed both systems, confirmed Hoffman's idea.
Hoffman was concerned about the current maintenance contract in effect for the county's two emergency generators, one at the Annex, and the other at Osage County Courthouse. It calls for maintenance, including changes, twice a year on each machine at a cost of more than $3,200. Hoffman has seen used oil coming from those reservoirs. He thinks it's being changed too often, even wastefully.
"That oil doesn't even get brown," he said. "We had a $2,500 water pump go out and they didn't fix it."
He wants to renegotiate the contract.
"I think you're doing the right thing," said Osage County Western District Commissioner Larry Kliethermes.
"I think it's a good idea," added Griffin.
Hoffman is also dissatisfied with the maintenance contract on the EOC communications equipment. Currently held by Solacom Technologies, Inc., Downers Grove, IL, he would like to find another provider.
"Solacom is so hard to get ahold of, worse than AT&T," he explained. "I'd like to get a different company."
He intends to contact the same firm used by neighboring counties.
Not done with his analysis of contract services early in his term as director, Hoffman also expressed dissatisfaction with Socket Telecom of Columbia. He has arranged for his department's email to be rerouted through a different server. There have been several emails that endured unacceptable delays. "It shouldn't cost us any more," he said.
His report on the EOC mapping system was different. It's now becoming obsolete, so he's exploring options. However, he's not upset with the service. Technical support for the program ceases in 2022, but "it's been a pretty good program for 18 years," he said. "The new version is going to run about $10,000."
Hoffman has received the report card on his department's recent graded drill. He quoted the evaluation as saying, "Osage County has excellent command and control."
"That's you three," said Hoffman. "We got 'excellent' in everything. I think everybody did great. It's a team effort."
"We have a good team," Trenshaw agreed.
Commissioners have received some guidance on the use of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. However, it remains inconclusive for the most part. Legal counsel from Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC), contracted by the county to screen funding applications, remains deliberately vague. Griffin quoted Attorney Travis Elliott as saying, "Do not get in a hurry to spend that money."
"That was a big concern of his,” Griffin said, adding that Elliott said it more than once. "He couldn't express it more than that."
One thing is certain. For a funding application to be successful for any party other than a local health department, the majority of the money must be demonstrably spent on fighting COVID-19 or its effects. "He was very clear about that," said Griffin. "He didn't waiver a bit about that."
The largest difference in accessing ARPA funds, as opposed to Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020 dollars, has to do with its routing. ARPA money came straight to the county from the United States Federal Government, while CARES Act funds were distributed through state governments. Federal red tape is much tougher to navigate.
"We're still in the 'hurry up and wait' mode," said Trenshaw, explaining there is yet no timetable set to accept applications for ARPA funds distributed by the county.
Commissioners approved paying bills from Sept. 14 through Sept. 27 as follows by department: 911/EMA ($2,400.44), Assessor ($122), Building & Grounds ($391.93), ARPA ($228.88), Circuit Clerk ($621.07), OCHD ($8,833.64), Miscellaneous ($1,277.42), Prosecuting Attorney ($494.75), Road & Bridge ($23,348.35), Road and Bridge MOPERM ($1,000), and Sheriff-Jail ($3,866.63); for a total of $42,585.11.
Commissioners signed outgoing checks.
All Osage County offices will be closed on Monday, Oct. 11, in observation of Columbus Day.
The Osage County Salary Commission will meet at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 13.
An expired drugs and electronics recycling collection is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 16 at the Osage County Fairgrounds.
The Taste of Osage County is scheduled at Linn City Park Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Oct. 16.
The Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) annual dinner is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 21, at State Technical College. The 2020 dinner was canceled, so there will be two years worth of awards given. Local government and other community leaders will be invited.
MU Extension and the OCHD plan to co-sponsor a health fair at Legends Park at 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 22.