CHARLESTON - Maple Slough will be cleaned out, but without a consolidated drainage district other ditches in that area can't hope for the same sort of maintenance.
The bid to clean out the northern 11,200 feet of the Maple Slough Ditch was awarded to the low-bidder, J&W Construction of East Prairie, during the regular County Commission meeting Thursday.
J&W Construction will complete the excavation and spoil spreading for a total of $6,350.
Also bidding for the job were Duty and Kestner of Benton, which bid $6000 for the excavation and $60 per hour to spread the spoil; Paul Benson of East Prairie who bid a total of $7,900; and Thomure Excavation of East Prairie which bid a total of $8,600.
Adjacent landowners at the Commission meeting said they would mark pivot crossings where mesh had been placed in the ditch bottom.
Commission Homer Oliver advised since the mesh was placed below grade for the ditch, it shouldn't present any problem during the clean out.
"It had been dry prior to this year," said landowner Lynn Bruce of the stretch of Maple Slough to be cleaned out.
Bruce and Clay Shelby of Paragon Farms also asked about the spreading of the spoil. Bruce said he intends to participate in a U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service program which establishes a 50-foot wide "filtration strip" of grass alongside the ditch to control erosion.
"All the dragging's going to be on the west side," Oliver said, adding that the spoil would undoubtedly go on the same side.
Addressing a question regarding the finish date, Commissioner Martin Lucas predicted the contractor will "get right on it" and complete the job without delay.
During a discussion on the state of other ditches in the area which followed the bid award, Lucas said landowners in that area need to consolidate. "That way you would have the landowners controlling the ditches," he said.
Additionally, a consolidated drainage district could shuffle money around to keep all the ditches maintained whereas now each ditch has a separate fund and some are unable to generate enough revenue to keep themselves up, commissioners said.
In other county business during Thursday's meeting:
* Commissioners received the annual report and budget request from the Mississippi County University Outreach and Extension Council.
Anthony Ohmes, agronomy specialist for the Extension, reported on crops and agricultural workshops conducted over the last year before submitting a budget "very similar to years past."
The budget requests $32,500, which includes an additional $1,000 for maintenance "to cover any potential problems" according to Ohmes.
Reviewing the report which lists programs offered by the Extension, Presiding Commissioner Jim Blumenberg asked about the number of grandparents who are raising grandchildren in the county.
"The number of grandparents raising grandchildren has continued to grow," reported Mary Engram, human development specialist for the Extension.
She estimated the number at about 360.
Commissioners said they will probably approve the same amount as last year for the Extension - $31,500 - while agreeing to address any additional maintenance issues as they come up if they come up.
* Renewals for service agreements with the Mississippi County Transit System and the East Prairie Nutrition Center were approved by commissioners.
"The funds come out of the Senior Citizens Sales Tax," said Junior DeLay, county clerk.
* The group health insurance plan for county officers and employees through Blue Cross Blue Shield was renewed by commissioners with some changes.
Facing a 17 percent increase on the old plan, commissioners approved a co-insurance option which will bring only about a 3-3.5 percent increase. Under the new plan, coverage will be 80 percent for in-network and 50 percent on out-of-network, as compared with the 90-70 coverage of the expiring plan.
The new plan goes into effect March 1.
* Commissioners agreed to contact Bill Green, engineer for the county rural water district, regarding culverts and drainage ditches damaged during the installation of water lines by the rural water district.
"They're going to have to fix it," Blumenberg said.