Commissioners Praise Road Crew; Look At Equipment Issues

By MARK EVANS

mevans@stegenherald.com

After snow had finally stopped falling, Ste. Genevieve County commissioners had praise for employees’ work in dealing with repeated snow showers and single-digit temperatures.

“I received zero complaints on the roads,” Presiding Commissioner Garry Nelson told road and bridge foreman Scott Schmieder at last Thursday’s commission meeting. “They stayed on top of them.”

“Your guys did better than MoDOT (the Missouri Department of Transportation),” Second District Commissioner Randy Ruzicka added.

First District Commissioner Karen Stuppy said the road crews “did an awesome job.”

Nelson also praised county employee Dave Wolk for his immaculate cleaning of the sidewalks around the courthouse.

“Dave did a really good job,” Nelson said. “This is where he really shines.”

“He does a really good job,” Stuppy agreed.

Nelson advised Schmieder that if he does get any complaints, to “let it run off your shoulder.” He added that people don’t realize Schmieder has 200 miles of road, grading each side, which equals 400 miles of grading. All that is with eight trucks and a couple of graders.

“Hopefully we won’t see another winter like this for another 20 years,” Nelson said.

Meanwhile, Schmieder reported that the winter weather is taking its toll on equipment and department stockpiles.

He said it took three hours to get one grader started one of the near-zero mornings.

The county has a block warmer than can be plugged in to keep engines warm overnight, a popular feature in many northern states. However, there is not a convenient location to plug it in.

Schmieder said there is a utility pole near the county quarry and wondered whether Citizens Electric Corporation might be willing to install a drop cord for that purpose.

“They would have done that 10 or 15 years ago,” Nelson said. He expressed doubts that the company do so today.

It was estimated that it would cost the county about $360 a year in electricity to do so. Nelson told Schmieder he could go ahead and ask Citizens Electric.

During the bad weather, stockpiles of material were being depleted. Schmieder said between 600 and 800 tons of material was used This includes salt, sand and rock chips.

More rock will be needed to repair gravel roads after the snow melts. He said a truckload was taken to St. Mary for the city street crew to use.

“They’re county residents,” Nelson noted.

As of Thursday, about 100 to 150 tons of materials was still in the local shed. Schmieder had hired Al Bauman and Cody Donze to haul an additional 300 tons of chip and salt to the shed at the beginning of the snow events.

Schmieder  is getting the supplies replenished. He said 50 tons of salt would be delivered as soon as semis resumed making runs.  He said he will fill the building back up as soon as possible, just in case March has nasty weather.

The additional half-inch to one inch of snow last Wednesday, complicated things.

MUELLER CALLS IN COVID REPORT

Jennifer Mueller, county health department administrator, called in a report on the COVID-19 situation.

The total number of cases since March 2020 was 1,720. The active cases stayed in single digits, with nine, after just seven had been reported the previous week. Meanwhile, the number of probable cases went fro 224 a week earlier, to 228. The number of deaths remained at 15, with three probable deaths.

“The active cases are really down and I will say that  coming back after five days off, we only had 15 positives. So that’s pretty good.”

She said 12.5 percent of the county has been vaccinated, “which is really good,” she said.

The vaccination clinic on Feb. 17 was postponed due to the weather. Mueller said all 600 who had had appointments were contacted and “all were very happy that it got postponed,” considering the weather.

She said the department continues to order more vaccine every week. Often only a portion of the amount ordered is sent.

She added that the county did receive some ”redistributed” vaccine doses from Walgreens and that these will probably be added to today’s scheduled clinic.