CHARLESTON - Defendants appearing in Mississippi County's half of the 33rd Judicial Court will have to do their arraignments in person for the time being.
A letter from Missouri Department of Public Safety Director Charles Jackson to David A. Dolan, circuit judge for the 33rd Judicial Court advised the Mississippi County's funding request for a video arraignment program was not approved. The letter was reviewed by Mississippi County commissioners during their regular meeting Thursday.
In Scott County, which is the other half of the 33rd Circuit, arraignments conducted using the video arraignment system there are finished in "about a fourth of the time and with a lot less personnel," according to Capt. Jim Chambers of the Scott County Sheriff's Department. "So in the long run it's saving us a lot of money."
Jackson explained in the letter that 74 grant applications from state and local governments were reviewed. "The dollar value of the grant applications received was in excess of $16 million, far exceeding the level of funding available to the state of Missouri through the Department of Justice - Bureau of Justice Assistance," he wrote.
In other Mississippi County news:
* Commissioners are now waiting on a response from the Department of Natural Resources for the closure of the old fuel tank site at the county airport.
Smith and Company of Poplar Bluff, the engineering firm hired to put in monitoring wells required by DNR, reported finding "results below DNR default levels," County Clerk Junior DeLay said.
Smith and Company recommended DNR approve closure of the site.
* A slight increase on Ditch 10 from 18 percent to 20 percent was the only upward adjustment approved by commissioners this year for the county's drainage district maintenance taxes. The change should raise the annual revenue from $4,500 up to $5,000.
Ditch 10 and 3, according to DeLay, "are the only two in the red." The rate for Ditch 3 was kept at 10 percent.
The revenue ceiling for several ditches is locked in at rate does not adequately fund maintenance, commissioners noted.
"The ceiling can not exceed 10 percent of the original cost of construction," DeLay explained.
The problem is that the ditches were dug before 1920, with construction costs not being adjusted to reflect today's dollars. For example, Ditch 32, also known as Maple Slough, cost about $242,790 to dig originally. Today, Commissioner Martin Lucas estimated, it would cost about between $2 million and $3 million to dig it.
The only way ditch tax rate ceilings can be raised is through the reclamation process, Lucas said, with the formation of a circuit drainage district being a much more feasible solution.
Ditches 14 and 23 will remain at 14 percent, and 25 will stay at 11 percent. Commissioner Homer Oliver said the worst part of Ditch 14 presently is from its beginning on the west side of Charleston, continuing on behind the old Wal-Mart building to Interstate 57.
The rate for Ditch 29 was dropped to zero from 5 percent as the ditch presently has a balance of about $7,100 in its fund and not a lot of maintenance to do.
Also with a balance higher than commissioners feel is necessary is Ditch 32, which has about $75,000 in its fund. "We need to roll that back some," said Lucas about the 13 percent rate. "(Ditch) 32 needs to bring in about $18,000 a year."
With the high balance, however, commissioners agreed to cut Ditch 32's rate to zero for the next year.
* Keith Ellis of American General Insurance in Sikeston discussed an employee term life insurance benefit plan his firm offers.
* Minutes from a previous meeting were corrected after Oliver noted that the price paid for the lot near the jail was $18,500, not $18,000 as discussed during the meeting and recorded in the minutes.
* Commissioners agreed paving Bain's subdivision is not the best idea at this time. With no houses - and therefore no traffic - commissioners doubt the blacktop would work well yet. "I don't think it would be a good investment for him," said Presiding Commissioners Jim Blumenberg.
The subdivision's main road may be feasible, however, commissioners agreed.
* If the weather is good, county crews may try the new chip-and-seal blacktopping process as early as Wednesday.
"We get the oil in Tuesday," Blumenberg said.