BENTON - Scott County commissioners agreed to increase the county's contribution to the SEMO Regional Crime Lab by $1,000 per year for five years to help fund its relocation and renovation.
"Law enforcement takes so much money," said Martin Priggel, presiding commissioner, during Tuesday's county commission meeting.
Commissioners said the county receives all its forensic science lab work free each year in return for an annual contribution of $7,000.
The $1.5 million renovation and relocation project will produce a "state of the art" crime laboratory which can meet the needs of the region well into the 21st century in terms of technology and crime solving capabilities, according to Robert C. Briner, director of the SEMO Crime Lab.
In addition to having new automated DNA profiling capabilities using national data base access for tracking offenders, the crime lab will be fully equipped for drug analysis, toxicology testing, hair and fiber trace analysis and will include a full-size firing range inside.
Briner said the crime lab has tried for several years to get funding to renovate and relocate the facility.
Federal funds totaling $750,000 - which can only be used for the renovation part for the project - will be combined with $350,000 from the university and state of Missouri and another $250,000 promised by city and county governments to be paid over a five-year period.
This leaves a $150,000 short fall in funds in order to begin the project, said Briner. He said the goal is to raise the money in 90 days so the project can begin in January. "We are hoping to raise most of this $150,000 through the private sector."
Briner said it is critical to raise the money to stay eligible for the federal funding. "We'd hate to lose this federal money," said Briner.
Tax deductible private donations can be made now through the university foundation. The crime lab is forming "Friends of the SEMO Crime Lab," a not-for-profit corporation to collect tax-deductible donations, as well.
The crime lab has been in operation since 1969 and has processed over 54,000 cases. The laboratory receives about 3,000 cases annually from over 80 agencies in nearly 20 southeast Missouri counties.
In other Scott County news:
* Three upright railroad ties placed too close to the road by a county resident are posing a safety hazard to passing traffic on County Highway 331 east of Benton, county officials agreed.
Terry Herndon, county highway engineer, said he will try to contact the resident to have him move the posts, but will move them himself if he is unable to reach him this time.
* Charter Communications has temporarily tied back a low-hanging cable line on County Highway 247 that county residents have complained about, according to Jamie Burger, commissioner. "They're hoping to run that whole service underground in the future," said Burger.
* County officials have received three applications for the county road and bridge department supervisor. Herndon will retire at the end of the year.
* Commissioners appointed Randy Grant of rural Sikeston to the Johnson Grass Board, leaving one seat remaining to be filled.
* Commissioners raised the mileage reimbursement rate for jurors from 7 cents per mile to 15 cents per mile. "This brings us more into line with the surrounding counties," said Burger.
* The purchase of an electric 6-horsepower 20-gallon portable air compressor unit for $249 from DeWitt Tools in Miner was approved.
The compressed air unit is needed to blow out the air conditioner units at the courthouse and for other maintenance, according to officials.
* The courthouse will be closed Monday for Columbus Day, a state-observed holiday.