By mark Evans
Dena Kreilter, executive director of the Ste. Genevieve Chamber of Commerce, reported to the Ste. Genevieve County Commission last Thursday that business was booming at the newly-reopened county license office.
Kreitler since the office had been “swamped” since reopening on Jan. 4, after being closed more than nine months.
The first day the office processed 168 transactions, Kreitler said. Two people from the Missouri Department of Revenue were there to help out and had told Kreitler, “If we see 40 people, we’ll be surprised.”
Kreitler said the state people “couldn’t believe it” when the stream of customers continued all day.
Things settled down a little the next two days, with 100 people the second day and 74 the third day.
“It’s been very steady, consistent,” Kreitler said.
She said the staff, which had to be trained by the state before the office could open, is still learning.
She said they had received no complaints, even on the hectic first day. That day, the longest wait a customer had was 40 minutes, too long for Kreitler. The next two days the longest wait was just 12 minutes.
“The girls are doing a great job,” Kreitler said.
She also wants to regain corporate business. For instance, Mississippi Lime had to take its business to Festus last year, since tags on its fleet of vehicles were due Dec. 31.
Kreitler encourages business with fleets of vehicles to bring in the whole fleets’ paperwork.
“We can catch up on it in our spare time, “ she said.
Next year, county farmers, whose tags are due the first of each year, will be able to bring their business back to the county office.
The commissioners praised her and the license office staff, Crystal Ogden, the office manager, Tiffany Naeger, the other full-time staff member, and Kara Glass, who works part time.
Presiding Commissioner Garry Nelson mentioned that District 116 State Representative Dale Wright deserved considerable credit for helping in the fight to keep the office in Ste. Genevieve.
Associate clerk Michele Gatzemeyer said that Kreitler had also played a huge role in battling to get the contract, noting that she “was very persuasive.”
The Chamber of Commerce bid for the contract after Wayne Grueling opted not to reapply last spring. Eventually the chamber’s bid beat out four others. The process was then delayed a month when one of the losing bidders filed a protest.
“I feel it was the best thing for the community and the best thing for the chamber,” Kreitler said.
SCHMIEDER DISCUSSES ROADS, COVID-19
Nelson talked about Lawrenceton Cutoff Road with Scott Schmieder, road and bridge foreman. Nelson noted that “several things came together” to make maintaining the road difficult. Springs under the road seeps into the subgrade, making the pavement vulnerable to the heavy trucks that cross it. It was also the first road paved after the county’s transportation tax was passed in 2003 and it had not yet developed its current formula for road-building. The base was not deep enough, he said, it had too high a percentage of “fines,” or very fine pieces of rock, and the contractor used a substandard type of asphalt.
Schemer said he will extend a couple of culvert pipes on the road. The pipes themselves, changed nine years ago, are still in good shape, he said.
Schmieder also reported that between 80 and 90 fiberglass road signs were stolen in 2020. Including stop signs, the total is about $5,000 worth of signs.
Nelson stressed that the sign-stealing must stop. Not only is it an expense and an inconvenience, but it also poses a danger. Aside from the obvious dangers of stop signs being taken, missing road signs can delay emergency vehicles from finding locations.
Emergency vehicles do have GPS systems, Nelson said, but “GPS is often wrong.”
Nelson also returned to the subject of the road crew taking precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic. He had previously told Schmieder to set up an area in one of the truck bays for the crew to have its daily meeting, where social distancing was possible. The men had previously sat at a table in a small room in the road shed.
Nelson said that during a short visit to the shed that Tuesday, he had observed the chairs back in the small room.
Schmieder said they had been moved to make room for a truck.
“This isn’t a debate,” Nelson told him, repeating that he expected Schmieder to follow his directive and that having a large portion of the road crew ill or quarantined during a major winter storm would be disastrous. He added that he was “dead serious about this.”
Schmieder insisted that he has been following Nelson’s orders and that the chairs had just been temporarily moved.
Schmieder added that, “This ol’ boy doesn’t want to catch it, either.”
He also reported that something needs to be done about a Gore Road resident continuing to park vehicles on the side of the road. Among other issuers, it makes it impossible to work on the road or mow.