NEW MADRID - They came from towns of several hundred residents or several thousands or even much larger, but sitting around the table the mayors of New Madrid County communities faced similar challenges. They are looking for ways to bring in jobs and ensure the health and safety of their residents.
Working together as the New Madrid County Mayors' Group, the community leaders discussed how best to go about this Thursday afternoon.
In response to interest from an industry in locating in New Madrid County, the group has agreed to seek to hire someone who could work part-time as a contact and provide information about the county. Already several of the communities have set aside funding for economic development, according to New Madrid Mayor Donnie Brown with approximately $25,000 available now. He added the New Madrid County Commission has been asked to match the amount put forth by the cities.
During the meeting, a committee was formed to include Brown, Lilbourn Mayor Don Ray, Portageville Mayor Bud Sisson and Gideon Mayor Lee Downing and one county commissioner, yet to be named. The group will meet with several individuals, whose names were suggested in an effort to begin the process of employing someone to promote the county's interests with prospective industries.
Although Brown would not name the industries, he did indicate there were two which were interested in the area due to the location along the Mississippi River. He noted the state's senators and the Missouri Department of Economic Development are also working with the area, however, he said, other areas are also working to locate the industries in their communities.
Brown said there is a real need for the area to work together "because this will be a big benefit to all of us if we land this."
Also on the list of concerns of the mayors was establishing a uniform code to deal with junk cars, trash and derelict buildings in their communities. While several of the communities have passed ordinances, they sought information from New Madrid County Prosecuting Attorney Lewis Recker on whether their enforcement could be backed by a county ordinance.
Recker stated he was researching the issue but as yet had not found a specific state statute giving the county such authority.
"Laws are easy to write, but following through is the difficult part," said Recker. "If we put teeth into (an ordinance) I want to make sure we are safe in doing so."
Already the County Commission has agreed to allow the communities access to County Highway Department dump trucks to haul debris. The county would cover the cost of the trucks and labor, however, the landfill dumping fees would be paid by the communities.
Recker said this process could be handled contractually between the towns and the county.
Sikeston Mayor Mike Marshall invited the mayors to attend a bridge summit set for Sept. 18 in Sikeston. Also invited are the Illinois, Kentucky and Missouri transportation department officials and those states' senators and representatives.
Referring to the recent bridge collapse in Milwaukee, Marshall noted the two bridges used to cross the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers at Cairo, Ill., are much older. "I can guarantee you they didn't build those bridges for the tractor-
trailer rigs going across them now," Marshall. "They are old, obsolete and need to be replaced."
A new bridge from Kentucky into Missouri "could really open up the whole part of Southeast Missouri. It would be good for all of us; it would be good for southern Missouri," said Marshall.
Marshall suggested the the communities in New Madrid County should pass resolutions in support of a new bridge.
Also discussed was efforts by the New Madrid County Health Department to locate helicopter pads in each community in the county.