CHARLESTON -- Mississippi County's county clerk will continue to do administrative services but the courthouse's lawn care contract is up in the air.
County commissioners accepted the low bid of $125 per week from Junior DeLay, county clerk, for administrative services for the road and bridge department, county commission and Johnson grass fund.
Also bidding for the two-year contract were Joe Lane of Charleston, who offered to do the job for $320 per week, and Floyd Neal of Wilson City, who bid $520 per week.
Commissioners decided to table a decision on a bid for maintaining the courthouse yard and light maintenance inside the courthouse.
The only bid submitted for these jobs was from Rick Hensley of East Prairie who offered to do them for $5,200 per year as a contracted worker.
The county was asking for a part-time employee, however, as a contracted worker would be required to carry $2 million in liability insurance coverage. County officials agreed premiums on such an insurance plan would be too high for an individual considering the job would only be paying them $100 per week.
A contracted worker would still be covered by the county's workers compensation insurance, "so really the only concern would be the liability," DeLay said.
"The liability is what I'm really concerned about," Presiding Commissioner Jim Blumenberg said.
Commissioners tabled their decision as Blumenberg suggested to allow time for further study and find out why Hensley doesn't want to be a part-time employee of the county.
State auditors had criticized the county in their audit report at the end of last year for paying DeLay for the administrative services and lawn care without bidding out the jobs.
Commissioners responded by explaining that as the administrative duties only take a few hours per week, it would be difficult to find someone willing to do the work for as low as DeLay.
As for the care of the courthouse lawn, commissioners first tried bidding out the job and then tried having road and bridge personnel tend to it but were not satisfied with the results of either.
Commissioners had eventually decided to pay DeLay $5,200 per year to care for the courthouse yard and were pleased with the results.
In other business during Thursday's meeting:
* Commissioners will need to find out how deadlines work for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Emergency Watershed Protection Program before getting started.
The county is now signed up for a total of 18.5 miles of cleanouts on Ditch 3, Ditch 10, Maple Slough and Ditch 14 South through the EWP Program.
Plans are to hire put an excavator operator on the county payroll for the duration of the projects.
"It won't be a permanent job," Blumenberg said.
The operator would use the county's tracked excavator.
Blumenberg said the excavator will need about $30,000 worth of work to its undercarriage but maintenance is needed anyway.
Most of sediment that needs to be removed is only about a foot and half deep, Blumenberg said.
Commissioners agreed they will probably need to hire a bulldozer for spreading excavated soil. One option for consideration is contracting an owner/operator to spread the spoil which would not require the county to pay prevailing wages.
The question commissioners have is whether the requirement that the project be finished in 219 days considers each ditch cleanout as a separate job or all 18.5 miles as the same job.
"We need to get a little bit more information," Blumenberg said.
* Mark Winkler, State Emergency Management Agency coordinator for Area E, introduced himself to the new commissioners and presented an overview of his role as liaison between state and local governments in his 13-county area.
Winkler advised he will usually work with Danny Harris, the county's emergency management director, but does work directly with commissioners in the event of a disaster in the county.
There are no major suggested revisions for the county's Emergency Operations Plan, Winkler said, but there will be a focus this year on addressing the special needs population. He explained the special needs population, which includes residents who are homebound or otherwise need special care due to medical conditions, require special shelters as they are not accepted at regular Red Cross shelters.
Winkler presented county officials with pamphlets outlining steps for presidential disaster declarations and noted that there were eight presidential disaster declarations in the state last year.
DeLay asked Winkler about SEMA reimbursements promised to the county. Winkler confirmed the money is coming but SEMA staff are short-handed and running behind.
"The main thing is the funding is there," Blumenberg said.
Winkler also briefed the new commissioners about the National Incident Management System and advised them they have two courses to take to keep the county in compliance with NIMS and eligible for some federal grants.
The courses can be taken online, Winkler said. "It takes at most an hour to do it," he said.
* Commissioners set a new minimum wage for county employees.
"If we're going to have an employee in Mississippi County, the minimum wage is going to be $8 per hour," Blumenberg said.
* The county will seek an employee for noxious weeds control to be paid using Johnson grass fund money.
"We can't keep collecting a fund if we're not spending it," Blumenberg said.
Blumenberg said the person hired will be operating herbicide spray rigs, excavators and other equipment related to eradicating Johnson grass and other noxious weeds.
* Land owner Rodney Adkisson advised commissioners he objects to having a ditch dug on the east side of County Road 525.
Accompanying Adkisson was Kenny Keck who farms Adkisson land near the road.
* Commissioners approved annual service agreements with the Mississippi County Rescue Squad, Mississippi County Tourism Council, and the Charleston and East Prairie nutrition centers.
* Commissioners approved seeking bids to paint the courthouse's hallways.