BENTON -- Scott County officials and residents are "pleasantly surprised" to hear of the Union Pacific Railroad's decision to drop their request which would have increased train traffic through Scott County, according to County Commissioner Jamie Burger.
"I know a few people I have talked to over the weekend are glad to hear it," Burger said during the regular County Commission meeting Tuesday. "Most of those lived close by the tracks on one side or the other."
UP officials sent notice to the federal Surface Transportation Board Friday that the railroad is no longer seeking to acquire the Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail line that runs between Sikeston and Rockview, which is located in northern Scott County.
UP decided to withdraw its request because the STB's review process was taking too long and the railroad needs to increase its freight capacity through this area now, according to Mark Davis, the railroad's spokesman.
Commissioner Dennis Ziegenhorn said he is "excited with reluctance" and "very happy with reservations" as he isn't sure UP is really completely abandoning their plan for the increased traffic through the county. "But it's definitely a positive note for Sikeston and Scott County. A lot of people in Sikeston put in a lot of time, lot of effort, which has proven to be positive."
"I didn't figure it would go down this way," he added. "I think they saw we were coming at them 100 percent as a community with all that effort to stop them."
While he declined trying to list all the individuals who were directly responsible for applying pressure to UP, "I definitely have to thank Josh Bill," Ziegenhorn said.
In other business Tuesday:
* Commissioners awarded the contract to put in improvements to the gutter drainage from the courthouse to Kevin Williams Excavating of Commerce which bid $9,200 for the job.
Presiding Commissioner Martin Priggel said the improvements will catch water that comes from the courthouse's gutters and carry it underground to the city's storm drains.
The project also includes the installation of cleanouts at every gutter drop, according to Priggel.
The contractor advised he intends to start on the project next week, Priggel said.
"He thinks it will be finished in two weeks," Priggel said. "He plans on being through by the end of September."
Commissioners also worked on drawing up specifications for a related landscaping project for the courthouse lot.
Fill dirt and sod are needed for the areas where the water has been standing, according to Priggel.
"It should help improve the drainage right up against the building," he said.
Commissioners plan to advertise for bids on the landscaping project within the week and plan to open bids around Sept. 19.
* County officials received about $3,000 in donations for the Scott County War Memorial, according to commissioners.
Officials are hoping the project which will renovate the memorial and add the names of those from Scott County killed in action in the wars following World War I, will be completed in time for a dedication ceremony on Veterans Day.
Some information for this story was supplied by the Southeast Missouri News Service.