CHARLESTON - New rates for the Dorena-Hickman ferry will go into effect beginning Jan. 1.
Mississippi County commissioners approved revised ferry rates during Thursday's meeting as recommended by the Mississippi County Port Authority Board.
Kenny George, chairman of the Mississippi County Port Authority Board, said they thought it best to change the rate from "10 scales to three."
Fares will be $8 for vehicles up to 30 feet in length; $16 for vehicles requiring 30 to 55 feet; and $24 for vehicles between 55 and 75 feet long which is "gate to gate" on the ferry barge, according to George.
Special charges for over-wide vehicles will still apply and return fares will remain at one half the original fare for the same vehicle traveling in the opposite direction.
With the $8-charge now applicable for up to 30 feet instead of only 23, officials expect more customers to use the ferry such as fisherman who may have thought $24 too steep for the round trip but would think $12 worth it. "We want to fair with everybody," said George.
George said Captain Steve Stanionis recently distributed figures showing the ferry had traveled over 29,000 miles since going back into service in May 1999 having completed 21,756 trips carrying a total of over 31,000 vehicles and 74,000 people.
George said some customers were using cell phones to contact the ferry tow boat and time their arrival at the landing for when the ferry would be on their side of the river.
"We've had a lot of hits at the webpage," George reported and thanked commissioners for signs promoting the ferry.
He also reported that a typographical error holding up the 40-foot ramp extension for the ferry landing was discovered and resolved clearing the way for construction to begin. George said plans for a new tug boat are nearly ready to be bid on as well.
In other Mississippi County Commission business:
* Premiums for the county's liability insurance through MoPERM will go up to $54,000 for 2002, according to Junior DeLay, county clerk. "Almost a $10,000 increase over last year."
DeLay said the increase is due to a "basic 10 percent increase," an increase in the sovereign immunity limit and an increase in the number of law enforcement personnel.
* Commissioners approved paying for $1,350 of the $2,850 for new tile on the University Extension building's roof bid by Jerry Naile Jr. of Deep Steam Inc. in Charleston.
* As Smith and Company engineers advised a plan to widen a bridge on County Road 208 will not work, commissioners agreed to put in a railcar bridge.
Commissioner Homer Oliver said the road "services several farms" and will get slow-moving farm equipment off the highway.
* W.R. "Bill" Thompson, assessor, updated commissioners on the county mapping project.
Commissioners said they will approve a plan to use Promap software once Thompson confirms the quote is still available.
Thompson also brought up for discussion the statute which adjusts property taxes for new construction and catastrophic damage, but Martin Lucas, commissioner, said he remains opposed to implementing it in Mississippi County.
Lucas said the schools would lose funding because money diverted to the assessor's office would not be made up by additional tax revenue. "There's not enough new construction to justify it," said Lucas.