CHARLESTON - With spring here and blacktopping weather right around the corner, road maintenance was the chief topic for Mississippi County commissioners during their regular meeting Thursday.
Presiding Commissioner Jim Blumenberg asked the district commissioners to get an estimate of how many miles of blacktop work will be needed in their half of the county. "We've got a lot of blacktop trouble," he said. "If we don't address these roads this year, we're going to lose them (by) next year."
Discussion then turned toward the chip-and-seal process which commissioners believe will be more cost effective.
Last year, the county was able to do about nine miles of cold-mix blacktop at a cost of $80,000-$90,000. Commissioner Homer Oliver said they should be able to cover more miles per dollar using the chip-and-seal method and suggested they should pick a road, patch it real well, and see how it works.
"I'd like to see us do a road," said Blumenberg. "If it works out, it could save us a lot of money."
The county still needs a rubber tired pneumatic roller and a sweeper before they would be able to use the method they have in mind, although they agreed a new oil distributor could wait. "Our old distributor will put out more oil than we can buy," said Oliver.
Blumenberg suggested buying a roller and asking the Missouri Department of Transportation to lend the county their little-used sweeper. "We do a lot of work for the state," Blumenberg said.
Whether the county uses cold mix or the chip-and-seal method, "the emphasis has got to be on the patching," Oliver said, recommending they address holes that are even as small as an inch deep. "But if you don't address it, it's going to be a mess."
Blumenberg also said there are gravel roads on the northern half of the county that need more gravel on them. "They all need some rock," Oliver agreed.
In other Mississippi County commissioner business:
* Commissioner Martin Lucas reported on a National Institute of Corrections workshop he attended recently with Sheriff Larry Turley and jail administrator Don Chance.
Lucas said they learned about alternative funding for jails such as grants and that the national average cost of housing prisoners in county jails is $50 a day.
The correlation between methamphetamine use and dental costs for jails was discussed as well, Lucas said, as Arkansas officials are seeing their methamphetamine problem grow.
Commissioners recalled they hardly ever had to schedule dental appointments for prisoners until the last few years. "Now we have two or three dental appointments per week because their teeth are rotting out," said Lucas.
Lucas said other officials at the workshop were impressed with the way Chance is able to keep costs down at the county jail.
"He came from a nursing home facility," Lucas said. He said Chance brought with him from his previous experience the idea of monitoring the cost per prisoner per day.
Lucas said they were also advised that the county's number-one priority - mandated by the Constitution - is to ensure public safety with an adequate jail.
* Commissioners accepted the low bid from Anderson Computer of Charleston of $1,030 for software for the assessor's Novell server.
Also bidding were Integrated Computer Systems of East Prairie and Charleston, which offered the software for $1,650, and Microcomputer Services of Scott City, which priced the software at $1,035.
* Blumenberg suggested putting yellow ribbons on the courthouse columns to show support for U.S. soldiers.
* Officials discussed killing off the Bermuda grass between the sidewalk and curb in front of the courthouse and reseeding it or laying sod.