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County to help Anniston with warning siren

Friday, June 16, 2006

Mississippi County news

CHARLESTON -- Mississippi County will help Anniston with local matching funds to put a tornado warning system there.

Mississippi County commissioners agreed during their regular meeting Thursday to contribute $2,500 in county funding toward Anniston's share of the project.

Presiding Commissioner Jim Blumenberg said the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development is providing 75 percent of the $18,000 total cost, leaving a local match of $4,500.

Before deciding on an amount, commissioners discussed what other areas of the county may need help getting a tornado warning system.

"Wyatt's already got theirs and it's already taken care of," Blumenberg said. Commissioner Homer Oliver said Wyatt's warning siren will reach Wilson City, too.

A warning system has also been approved for the county airport to warn employees at businesses in that area.

Blumenberg said that only leaves Bertrand and possibly Pinhook to help with getting a tornado warning system in the future.

In other business Thursday.

* The county's road and bridge department is now a bit shorthanded following the death of Bill Grigsby last week, according to commissioners.

"We need a good hand," Blumenberg said, adding that it needs to be somebody trained to operate road graders.

Grigsby was "a very good hand," according to Blumenberg, having worked for the road and bridge department for around 10 or 11 years.

Due to the tight budget, commissioners did not hire replacements for two department workers who retired last year but this most recent loss leaves the department too shorthanded, they agreed.

The road and bridge department operates on a budget that hasn't seen an increase since around 1998, according to Blumenberg.

Costs for everything from gravel to insurance have gone up, but the increase in fuel prices in particular "tears a hole in that budget," Commissioner Martin Lucas said.

"We try to keep our roads up," Blumenberg said.

Blumenberg asked Oliver about any remaining roads in his district that need blacktop before moving crews to Lucas' district in the southern half of the county.

Commissioners agreed sealing oil is needed in more places there than overlays there.

"I doubt there's going to be near as much," Blumenberg said of blacktopping for the southern district.

There are places in that district where crews could "try some chip and seal," Lucas said.

* Oliver said he has hired a trapper to remove a beaver dam in a culvert in the Maple Slough ditch.

"This individual's not scared of snakes," Oliver said.

Most trappers prefer to work in the winter because of the snakes, Lucas said. "You have to get a brave one this time of year," he said.

* The discussion on a shed for county road and bridge department's heavy equipment and vehicles was continued.

Oliver suggest putting someone on the county's payroll to build the shed so the county can avoid the prevailing wage requirement which would drive up the price of construction.

* A letter from Randy Turley, chief counsel for the State Tax Commission, was received by commissioners but no action was taken.

Turley wrote in the letter that Mississippi County Assessor W.R. "Bill" Thompson asked him to write the letter "and clarify statutory requirements with regard to the Maintenance Plan and county contributions from general revenue to the assessment fund."

A pertinent statute subsection was cited in the letter which provides that "state reimbursement funds shall be withheld until the amount due is properly deposited in such fund."

"In short, because the Mississippi Maintenance Plan requires that general revenue funds be deposited in the assessment fund by April 1, the Mississippi County Commission is required by law to do so," Turley wrote.

"We're not worried about that letter," Blumenberg said. "That office gets funded; we're funding that office properly."

Commissioners agreed to keep doing things the way they and many other counties have for many years until they hear from a State Tax Commission official.

* Commissioners said they will help Anne Armstrong of Sikeston get a replacement for her late husband's grave marker at the county-maintained Oak Grove Cemetery.

Armstrong said the marker has been chipped all around, probably by a lawn mower, and that she can't even read the name on it now.

"They chipped it up like they used a chisel," she said.