CHARLESTON -- Licensed drivers will soon be able to drive four-wheelers on Mississippi county roads.
During their regular meeting Thursday, Mississippi County commissioners gave their OK for the county to begin issuing $15 permits that allow licensed drivers to operate ATVs on county roads.
"We don't see any problem it's going to create," Presiding Commissioner Jim Blumenberg said.
"If the deal doesn't work out, we'll rescind the deal," Commissioner Homer Oliver said.
"If we have problems with it we'll change it," Commissioner Martin Lucas agreed. Lucas said he only heard from one county resident who opposes the measure.
The ATVs must be equipped with a 7-foot high flag and have a slow-vehicle triangle on them in order to operate on county roads with a permit.
"It might save someone's life," Oliver said about the safety features.
The ATVs drivers must obey all traffic laws and stay under 30 miles per hour regardless of what the speed limit is. No passengers are allowed.
Blumenberg said the only problem he foresees is someone putting two people on an ATV. The state statute which allows issuing permits for ATVs to use county roads mandates one rider per vehicle.
As permits are required, the measure doesn't really become effective until the county begins issuing permits and stickers, Blumenberg said.
He also noted that permits will only allow ATV operation on county roads, not city or state roads.
In other business Thursday:
* Oliver reported the Charleston City Council discussed Drainage Ditch 14 and Ditch 23 during their last regular meeting.
The number of acres that drain into Ditch 14 and Ditch 23 were calculated and multiplied at the rate those who pay into the ditch districts outside of the city to determine what city officials believe a fair contribution to the ditch district would be, Oliver said. City land owners don't pay into the districts.
Oliver said 1,324 city acres drain into Ditch 14 and 504 acres drain into Ditch 23.
Based on these figures, city officials came up with $979.76 for Ditch 14 and $453.60 per year for Ditch 23.
A council member, however, added the stipulation that the county must mow the ditches twice per year and spray once per year in order for the city to contribute the money.
Commissioners figured over $8,000 of maintenance is being asked for while the city is only offering to contribute about $1,500.
"There's no sense in locking ourselves into something like that," Blumenberg said.
Oliver said the county's maintenance on the ditches could be better, "but by the same token, they've done nothing." He later amended his statement to note that the city may have done some mowing on some top banks.
* County Clerk Junior DeLay said he was advised by Cathy Walters, community development specialist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, that the RD grant application for sheriff's department vehicles was denied but funding for early warning weather sirens for Anniston, Wyatt and at the ambulance district office was approved, according to DeLay.
The amount of RD money allotted in Missouri "is substantially less this year," DeLay said. "The bulk of the money went to Louisiana and Mississippi."
Walters also reportedly asked if the county would be applying for a low-
interest loan to build an equipment shed for the county highway department.
"We need it," Blumenberg said, but said the county can't afford to erect a $200,000 building which is what it would cost due to the prevailing wage requirement driving up the cost of the building.
Blumenberg suggested they may be able to put up a pole barn with a snowstone floor for around $60,000.
Oliver suggested the possibility of using county road and bridge department employees to put the building up during winter and possibly putting a construction specialist on the county payroll.
Commissioners also discussed looking into a prefabricated pole barn structure like they have seen put up lately around the county.
Blumenberg said the county will put the loan application "on hold right now until we figure out what we're going to do."
* "Sales tax is down a little bit but still up about 3 percent for the year," Blumenberg reported.