SIKESTON - "It's not about New Madrid County. It's not about Scott County. It's not about Sikeston or Miner. It is all about us working together," summed up New Madrid County Presiding Commissioner Clyde Hawes about the counties and their relationship in his comments to members of the Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce.
The counties' similarities as well as their differences were part of what Hawes and Scott County Presiding Commissioner Martin Priggel covered in their presentations at the SACC noon luncheon Thursday.
Priggel, who spoke first, noted the two counties are working together on drainage issues. On Wednesday, the commissioner said, the county signed a contract with Kinder Brothers of Dexter to begin cleaning out the St. John's Ditch in Scott County.
Explaining the ditch improvements will help water drain from Scott County into New Madrid County, Priggel spoke of the importance of closing the gap in the levee at New Madrid and the construction of a pumping station to move the water into the river. "We aren't against environmentalists but we feel this (project) will help," added Priggel.
The recent completion of the Scott County Jail was a point of pride for the Scott County official. He noted the construction was funded through a sales tax which is scheduled to end in 2008.
Other pluses touched on by Priggel were the county's slight increase in population in the last census and the efforts by county officials to work within their revenues.
Also Priggel pointed out while Scott County had qualified to become a second class county, moving up from third class, the commission opted not to make the change. He explained the new designation would have required the establishment of the auditor position in county government and would require an audit paid by the county rather than the state government.
Finally, the commissioner spoke of a new logo being developed for Scott County. Although he said it was not yet complete, the logo currently promotes Scott County as the place where north meets south and east meets west. "We are in the middle of everything," said Priggel.
Hawes also spoke of the St. John's Bayou project and praised local Rep. Peter Myers, R-Sikeston, for his efforts on the project's behalf.
Improvements in the county, according to the commissioner, included the efforts to maintain the county's 587 miles of roads and its 156 bridges, the additional equipment for the Emergency Management Program, cross-training of dispatchers for the sheriff's department and the 9-1-1 program, and improvements to the county courthouse.
Noting the growth of Sikeston south into New Madrid County, Hawes added that the counties should work together to enhance continued expansion and unity.
In other Chamber news, SACC Executive Director Missy Marshall, announced the Redneck Barbecue is set for Aug. 9 at the Clinton Building. Teams are needed for the event with entry fees set at $50 for ribs and $10 for the "Whatzat" category. Also planned as part of the Redneck Barbecue are a horseshoe tournament, children's games and live entertainment.
The next Chamber meeting will be July 24 with Scott Meyers of the Missouri Highway Department to be the guest speaker.