By MARK EVANS
Another high total of active COVID-19 cases were reported in Ste. Genevieve County last week, although the 62 reported cases last Thursday, was considerably below the high-mark of 87 the previous week.
Provisional county health department administrator Jeanette Wood reported the numbers to the County Commission at their meeting last Thursday, adding that the county’s total number of cases since March had risen to 540. Additionally, a second county death had occurred.
She said there were 23 new active cases.
Wood also said she and her staff met again with school officials the day before to hash out some communication issues. Nelson had summoned Wood and R-II administrators to the previous Thursday’s commission meeting to hash out issues between them, after the health department had informed R-II Schools that it would no longer do contact tracing for the district.
“We’re drawing up new plans to deal with close contacts to positive cases,” Wood said.
She said Prosecuting Attorney Wayne Williams also attended the second meeting as he had the one with the commission.
She said he also met with her nurses following the second meeting and discussed ways of trying to get compliance from the community.
She said that in such a small community, her nurses felt uncomfortable being asked to turn in non-compliant individuals who refuse to stay in quarantine.
“I know that’s putting a lot of pressure on the nurses,” Presiding Commissioner Garry Nelson said, “but someone’s got to be the one who contacts the prosecutor.”
He agreed it “was not an easy thing to do.”
Nelson asked Wood if the meeting had gone well with the schools.
“Absolutely,” she said. “I feel like everything was taken care of. I thought it was a good meeting.”
Nelson emphasized that the commission is doing everything it can to try to help county students stay in school.
Later Nelson said he was “disappointed in the numbers,” but added to Wood that “It’s definitely not your fault,” and told her he appreciated the work she is putting in.
ON ROAD WORK
Scott Schmieder road and bridge foreman, reported that Saw Mill Road had gotten chip and seal paving.
It was also agreed that a ditch would be cleaned out on Chestnut Ridge Road and that a resident who has complained about a water runoff problem would be told that the county has done everything it can do..
Schmieder said a check had been issued to County Surveyor Gerald “Duck” Bader for surveying work done on Saline Creek Road and that it would be recorded.
Nelson added that the county appreciates property owners Frank and Sandy Kranjec for working with the county to allow a bluff to be removed and a dangerous curve improved along their property.
Schmieder said the tractor the county leases to pull the bat-wing mower was nearly out of hours. Nelson suggested he go ahead and get it cleaned up and ready to return.
Schmieder said is crew has been mowing and doing patch work on roads. Nelson added that the recent warm weather has given the crew “a couple of bonus days” to get summer work done.
An issue was then brought up concerning the crew’s shed near Weingarten. The 11-man crew frequently meets at one table. Nelson expressed concern that this was not safe in the midst of the pandemic.
He suggested extra tables be set up in one of the bays, so the workers can practice proper social distancing when they meet.
“We can’t afford to have the road crew come down with COVID,” Nelson said.
Schmieder said that he has been disinfecting the shop, especially doorknobs and other frequently-touched items.
Recent savings experienced by the R-II School District and Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital have led Brad Arnold, executive director of the Ste. Genevieve count Community Center, to look into the possibility of refinancing bonds on the community center’s building projects, which have totaled $17 million over the years.
“I think we could save money in the process,” Arnold said, noting that currently, four different payments are being made ay four different times.
A meeting was planned with three local banks and the law firm Gilmore Bell.
Arnold also reported that community center activities like volleyball and gym hockey have had big turnouts, “more than ever before,” in his words.
“People want to get out and do something,” he said. “We could fill two more gyms this winter.”
They also briefly discussed the planned crosswalk between the community center, Progress Sports Complex and other amenities on the west side of Progress Parkway and the new River Rapids Waterpark on the east side.
Plans have changed several times. Now sidewalks, steps and a crosswalk are the plans being considered after a pedestrian bridge and elevator proved impossible to bring together.
“Hopefully we can get approved and bid at least by January,” Arnold said, “so we can hopefully get started working on it in March, so we’re not spreading straw in May when we open the waterpark.”
NEW BUSINESS HOPES TO REMOVE GUARD RAIL
The commissioners met with Cody Bahr, who is moving his Bahr Hydroexcavation business from Jefferson County to a 193-acre tract of land he bought just inside the county border on Noce Road. The road dead ends, with a guard rail blocking the end. Bahr inquired about getting it removed to grant access to the property.
After several people were consulted, it was determined that the road is state-owned, essentially a service road to I-55. Nelson spoke to Brian Okenfuss, area engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation, who said he doubted it could be removed and open into a private drive.
Bahr said the huge pieces of equipment could not navigate the current gravel entry into the property and that a rock bluff prevents other options.
Nelson suggested he consult a lawyer, since the argument could be made that he was being prevented access to his own property.