BENTON - The State Emergency Management Agency has approved three grants totaling $72,440 toward the development of a countywide digitized mapping system for Scott County.
County Economic Developer Jim Schwaninger presented information on the grants to county commissioners during their regular meeting Tuesday.
Grants include $43,880 for Scott County, $15,920 for Chaffee and $12,640 for Scott City to fund "the first step toward a countywide geographic information system that the county's wanted for a while," Schwaninger said.
Chaffee and Scott City received assistance from Schwaninger in the application process, coordinating the efforts between the county and cities.
These homeland security grants were only available to counties and communities with populations over 3,000. The city of Sikeston opted to use its funds for other security uses but has indicated it will work closely with Schwaninger to coordinate aerial photography and data conversion for land within its city limits.
"It is good that the cities and county are working together toward the development of this countywide digital mapping system," said Presiding Commissioner Martin Priggel. "It helps everyone when we share this information."
Although the primary purpose of the grants is to provide a mapping data base for planning response and recovery efforts in case of a security threat in the county, it will also "give the county that base map for a wide variety of other uses," Schwaninger said, with possible applications for law enforcement, school districts and other governmental bodies in addition to the cities.
County officials will meet with a representative from Midland GIS on Tuesday to "go over the needs assessment," Schwaninger said. After determining what is needed to implement the system, most of the grant funds will be used for aerial photography and conversion of data to digital formats.
While minor updates to the county's aerial photography were shot in 1992, the last major aerial photography shoot of the county was in 1982.
The photography will be scheduled in late winter when the most detail can be seen from the air.
The total cost to develop the GIS beyond aerial photography is estimated at $180,000.
"We're also seeking funds from other sources to be able to complete the project as soon as we can," Schwaninger advised commissioners. Base map users will need to purchase software to add their own layers of information.
In other Scott County business during Tuesday's meeting, Schwaninger asked commissioners to advise him on which questions they are frequently asked as well as other information for the County Commission's part of the county Web site.
Commissioner Jamie Burger said he is often asked "whose responsibility is it?" on roads and ditches.
"The ditches in the county all belong to drainage districts now," Priggel noted.
Schwaninger said he hopes to put maps on the Web site showing road districts "so people have a general idea" of which district a road is in and contact numbers so they can call on more specific questions.
Commissioners Walter Bizzell said many people think any road in this area is the county's. "It's hard to explain to them that it's not," he said.
Priggel said signs on state roads are often thought to be the county's responsibility as well, but aren't.
Also on the Web site, "I point out the public is invited to attend the county commission meeting at any time," Schwaninger said. County Clerk Rita Milam said the Web site needs to advise residents that commissioners can not discuss matters as a group (unless on the agenda) or make decisions on items not listed on the agenda due to Missouri's Sunshine Law.