CHARLESTON -- An engineering firm will present Charleston with specifications for fixing Ditch 14.
During their regular meeting Thursday, Mississippi County Commissioners discussed with Sam Smith of Smith and Co. in Poplar Bluff the proposed project to improve Ditch 14 where it runs through the city.
In May, City Manager Daniel M. Gruen asked county officials to consider working together to improve the ditch within the city for health and aesthetic reasons.
After researching funding options, County Clerk Junior DeLay suggested the best way to fund the project would be to turn the ditch over to the city which would then be able to fund the project with a bond issue through the city's street department.
"The city is a big beneficiary of this for sure," Smith agreed after hearing of the idea.
Smith still has specifications for putting concrete on the bottom of the ditch and and lowest two feet of the ditch banks which he drew up in 2001 for a shorter section of the ditch when the county applied for a Community Development Block Grant. Smith agreed to show these plans to city officials.
These specifications are for about a half-mile section of the ditch between Iron Banks and the old shoe factory.
The project as suggested by Gruen -- to do the entire ditch within the city limits -- "is a huge project," Commissioner Homer Oliver said.
In discussing the project, Smith and commissioners agreed enclosing the ditch using conduits, in addition to being more expensive, makes maintenance more difficult.
"I didn't think that is a good idea anyway," Smith said. He explained as conduits tend to stay wet and can breed mosquitoes, he prefers open ditches that the sun can dry. "And it's easy to take care of if the bottom's paved," Smith added.
Oliver also noted road and bridge personnel who are spraying the ditch behind the Town and Country can reportedly only access the ditch from one side because of dirt spoil on one of the ditch banks.
He suggested in the fall they need to "get a dozer down there to knock that down."
Smith also reported the Off-systems Bridge Replacement project on County Road 522 was approved by the Missouri Department of Transportation.
"We got the go ahead to do the work," he said, adding they will begin "in about a week or so."
In other business Thursday:
* The county's Board of Equalization will meet at 10 a.m. Thursday to set hearing dates for residents who are appealing the county assessor's property valuations.
"If these people are only complaining because it went up from the index change there's nothing we can do," Presiding Commissioner Jim Blumenberg said, as the index change was mandated by the state.
The deadline to file an appeal for the BOE to consider is 5 p.m. today.
* The $24,000 budgeted for blacktop on County Road 416 will not be enough to do it right, Blumenberg said.
"We're probably looking at $45,000," he said.
Commissioners noted the entire blacktopping budget for this year was only $60,000 and will not be enough to properly address all the roads that need overlays this year.
With additional money to be transferred from general revenue, "we're going to fix them up right," Blumenberg said.
* Oliver suggested requesting hourly rate bid estimates for cleaning out a portion of Ditch 30 with a drag line.
He said the banks have sloughed and are nearly vertical now. "We need to try to change that slope," Oliver said.
* A new transmission for the county jail's prisoner transport van would only cost about $400 more than rebuilding it, according to Blumenberg.
Commissioners agreed to replace it now before it breaks down as that would cost the county a large tow bill in addition to repair costs.