CHARLESTON - The January ritual of renewing the county's annual contracts and agreements began for Mississippi County commissioners Thursday during their first county commission meeting of the year.
Commissioners approved the annual service agreement with the SEMO Drug Task Force for reimbursement of pass-through funds received from various grants.
The funds are used for operating expenses for the multi-jurisdictional Drug Task Force which provides coverage for an 11-county area in Southeast Missouri.
"We're just the pass-through agency for them," explained Junior DeLay, county clerk.
Three of the five grants are from the U.S. Department of Justice: a Narcotics Control Assistance Program Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Task Force grant of $156,879 for the period of July 2001 through June 2002; $5,000 for Operation Weed and Seed from December 2001 through November 2002; and a new $100,000-grant.
The other two are a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area grant through the Office of National Drug Control Policy which provides $64,350 for a coordinator and $55,606 for an officer from February through January 2003; and a $146,386 Sheriffs Methamphetamine Relief Team grant through the Bureau of Justice Assist's Methamphetamine Hot Spots program.
The task force coordinates with local, state and federal agencies in the area conducting investigations into the illegal possession, distribution and manufacture of controlled substances.
Prosecution of crimes investigated by the Task Force is sought at both the state and federal level depending on the seriousness and scope of the violations.
In other Mississippi County news:
* Commissioners reviewed a copy of a letter from the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations' Division of Labor Standards to Ever Ready Electric and Services Company in Malden advising the company they had failed to properly pay the correct hourly wages for six workers from Oct. 1, 1998, to Jan. 13, 2000.
The workers should have been paid "prevailing wage" while working on the courthouse, according to DeLay.
The letter states the workers were underpaid a total of $19,524.76.
The letter also states that the county will be paid $1,920 as a penalty for the 192 days at $10 per day.
* DeLay said the first public meeting for the county's 2002 budget will be during the next county commission meeting Thursday.
* Commissioners appointed replacements to the Senate Bill 40 Board to replace resigning members. Dick Brown of Charleston will finish up Jack Farmer's term which expires July 31, 2003; and Richard Conn will replace Myrtle Austin whose term ends this July.