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With trees, free is not cheap enough for county

Wednesday, March 3, 2004

BENTON - Sometimes even free isn't cheap enough.

Tom Lett advised Scott County commissioners during their regular meeting Tuesday that he has free trees for the county, if they want them.

Lett explained he is selling property in Cape Girardeau that has many nice trees he believes will be destroyed by a purchaser so the land can be developed.

"It's a shame if we have to tear them all out," Lett said. He recalled selling about 15 acres a couple of years ago that also had some nice trees. "We pushed them into pile and burned them," he said.

While the trees are free for the taking, materials and equipment to pull up and replant the trees are not. "There's some expense, but they're beautiful trees," he said.

Lett said he has around 100 white dogwoods, around 30 bur oaks and other trees such as pines and several varieties of buckeyes.

County officials would need a tree spade to replant them, "and they'll have to have someone who knows what they're doing," Lett said.

"There's not that many (tree) spades around any more," Commissioners Walter Bizzell said.

Commissioners suggested some organization should pursue this opportunity as the county may be too busy to take advantage of it.

In other Scott County business:

* "We did our first video arraignment here Thursday," reported David A. Dolan, circuit judge for the 33rd Judicial Court.

Dolan said it went smoother than live appearances.

Lawyers will still need to get used to it, however. "I think it's going to work fine once they get the routine down," Dolan said.

* Bids on projects to address sewage problems at the new county jail will be opened at noon March 23. A prebid meeting for contractors will be at 1:30 p.m. March 12 at the jail's conference room.

General contractors may bid on either of the two packages or both, said architect Dale Rogers of Stearnes and Associates in Sikeston. Subcontractors will work under the general contractor.

The first bid will be to put walls and doors up in the basement for an exhaust fan enclosure to keep sewage smells out of the jail. This bid will also include electrical work for the entire project.

The second bid will be to put in a Muffin Monster grinder along with associated plumbing and electrical connections to protect the city lines from "bedsheets and everything else," Rogers said. "This is an in-line system. ... It should do the trick."

Rogers said the system has a 4-inch discharge to the main and two clean-out traps before it will reach the city's 6-inch main.

A line-item alternative will be requested for automatic valve controls so water can't back up into the jail cells.

All work will be coordinated with the sheriff, Rogers said, and asked if there would be a problem with removing part of the cyclone fencing to complete work on the project.

"There's no gate at all," said Sheriff Bill Ferrell. "There needs to be a way to get in and out of there."

Commissioners then discussed the possibility of adding a gate to the fence as part of the project.

Commissioner Jamie Burger asked if a delay can be added to the grinder's alarm system so the alarm won't be trigged for momentary pauses by the grinder.

* After discussing a proposed Southeast Missouri State University observatory at the old county landfill with officials in Jefferson City, Scott County Economic Developer Jim Schwaninger said he "received no negative feedback."

"Their concerns would be if methane gas would accumulate," Schwaninger said. Jefferson City officials also directed parking should not take place on the landfill's cap.

Commissioner Walter Bizzell said he still wonders if the 20-year closure time period for the landfill having not elapsed will present a problem.

Schwaninger said he will bring up the question specifically to Jefferson City officials.

* Insulation around the radiator heating system pipes in the courthouse's basement is being tested for asbestos, according to commissioners. "We want to check it and see," said Burger.

County officials had already planned on replacing the courthouse's heating system with a modern central heating and air conditioning system.

"We have to get rid of the old boiler," said Burger. "It's antiquated and it's old."

Only the radiator heat system pipes have the insulation wraps, "and that's all planned to be removed," said Burger.