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Commissioners report 'chip and seal is a pretty good deal'

Friday, July 16, 2004

CHARLESTON - Mississippi County's chip-and-seal blacktop process still needs some fine tuning, but appears to be getting good results so far.

Presiding Commissioner Jim Blumenberg asked the district commissioners what they thought of the new blacktopping method during their regular meeting Thursday.

"I think chip and seal is a pretty good deal," Commissioner Homer Oliver said.

Commissioner Martin Lucas said he has only received two complaints, both of them being about rocks hitting windshields. Lucas said there is too much excess, loose material, and that the problem seems more prevalent with the pea gravel.

The loose gravel is pretty much just along the road edges, commissioners agreed, and is mostly just a problem when oncoming cars move away from the center to make room for each other.

Lucas suggested they try going back over the chip-and-seal roads with a sealer to lock down any loose material.

The irregular gravels may interlock better than the rounder pea gravel, Lucas suggested, but commissioners agreed the pea gravel seems to be bonding just fine. "They won't come out," Blumenberg said.

Oliver said he thinks they are getting better results with the pea gravel. "I think it makes a better road," Blumenberg agreed.

Blumenberg said, overall, he is pleased so far with the results they are getting. "It rides pretty dog-gone smooth," he said.

The only problem he has seen so far, Blumenberg said, is on one section which is coming apart that was "too far gone" before they laid new surface. He said they need to fill in grooves and potholes before laying the chip-and-seal surface.

Commissioners said they can't justify spending $20,000 of taxpayers' money for a stretch of hot mix asphalt for two houses, but chip and seal surfaces may be more feasible.

"The experiment's not over yet," Oliver said.

Blumenberg said Spanish Grant Road is not nearly in as bad of shape as he previously thought. He suggested putting hot mix asphalt on about a quarter mile where there is heavy traffic, and then, once past the houses, "going to go with chip and seal all the way to the old highway."

Also discussed by commissioners was a project on County Road 411 where residents are gathering money for blacktop on two short sections of 411, one about three-quarters of a mile long and the other just over a mile.

Commissioners said it is a high-traffic road used by many motorists to bypass East Prairie.

In other business:

* Mississippi County Port Authority officials have decided not to raise fares for the Dorena-Hickman Ferry.

Port Authority Board member Liz Anderson said ferry operator Stephen "Capt. Steve" P.J. Stanionis did a study which indicates raising the fares would only bring in about $15,000 more.

"He really felt it would hurt ridership," said Anderson, "that people would not ride the ferry so much."

Blumenberg said he would like to see a more detailed expenditure report on the ferry.

* DeLay presented a letter regarding delinquent medical bills on inmates at the Mississippi County Detention Center.

One bill should have been billed to INS; the other was on a county prisoner, he said.

DeLay said the jail's administrator, Don Chance, requested the county pay the bills and seek reimbursement.

The bill on the INS prisoner is $350 and $115 on the county prisoner.

Commissioners also discussed the possibility of billing inmates for medical services, noting some counties have gone so far as to charge for lodging during jail stays.

Lucas said there are probably some inmates who go to jail just to get the free medical attention.

* Lucas said the Maple Slough ditch needs some spraying. "It would sure save a lot of mowing," he said.