BENTON -- From a county development perspective, 2005 was a great year. The year started off with the establishment of the county development office in Scott County.
"I think it shows the foresight of the county commissioners - in order to prosper we have to have somebody in the role of promoting the county," said Joel Evans, who was selected by commissioners to be the first Scott County developer.
Receiving funding for the Ramsey Creek Bridge project was perhaps the most significant development in the county in 2005, according to Evans. In August, the county received word that $5 million for the project was included in the federal transportation bill.
"That's been in the works since late '70s," he said. "It could be a huge benefit to northern Scott County. If the Ramsey Creek Bridge Project includes a southern interstate exchange, it will open up a lot of property for development - both commercial and residential development."
Evans said it makes development viable "by giving easy access from I-55 to Scott City and those areas south of Scott City that were hard to get to due to the confusion of the exchange there."
As county developer, Evans was also thrilled by news of an ethanol plant to be located in Scott County.
"It could be a huge boon for the county," Evans said. "When it comes to fruition, it will offer many jobs in Scott County and a ready market for Southeast Missouri's corn."
The establishment of a Public Water Supply District No. 4 of Scott County Missouri, which covers almost all rural parts of the county, will also have a significant impact on future development efforts in addition to providing safe water for residents and businesses, Evans said.
"I think that will be a big selling point for the county with businesses looking to locate in the county," he said.
County leaders were happy to welcome several new businesses and business expansions including Cape Milling at the SEMO Port and Commander Premiere Aircraft at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport among others.
"Infrastructure-wise, the county courthouse renovations have really given us a building to be proud of," Evans said. "Scott County has one of the most beautiful courthouses in the state and the renovations will ensure that it not only is preserved but it is useful on into the future."
Heating, air conditioning and technological improvements made over the last year will keep the courthouse "technologically friendly and environmentally friendly," he said.
Technological improvements were also made elsewhere in the county.
"The union of the Scott County Sheriff's Office and E-911 dispatching to form the Scott County Communications Center has proven to streamline emergency response dispatching in the county," Evans said.
And the county became visible to the world with the establishment of its own Web site at www.scottcountymo.com.
"Readership is way up - both from within the county and from without. We actually have had visitors from a multitude of different nations - a lot of visitors are military personnel stationed overseas," Evans said. "We had a lot of visits from Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom. For some reason we've had a large number from Poland. There's probably 20 different countries that we've had visits from."
Evans said the site now offers several new tools for marketing the county, among them the ability to post election returns by precinct instantly. "As precincts are counted, the results are posted," he said.
The election return feature, which was used for the April, August and November elections, is probably responsible for at least some of the traffic increase at the site.
"In January, we had just over 4,000 hits. In November, we had almost 110,000," Evans said. "We've seen pretty much constant growth since its inception."