By MARK EVANS
As could be expected, the COVID-19 pandemic affected activities at the Ste. Genevieve County Library during 2020.
Shawn Long, executive director, discussed the trends when he gave his annual report during last Thursday’s County Commission meeting.
Long reported that the number of items physically checked out dropped 25 percent from 2019. However, digital checkouts increased by 33 percent, to 6,293.
Page views also went up by 16 percent.
Overall, the total volume went up by 2.6 percent.
He also reminded the commissioners that the library was closed for two full months last year. During that time, the staff cleaned the building thoroughly and also “weeded out” some 5,000 little-used books and other items from the collection, Long said.
“If a book hadn’t been checked out in three or four years, it went,” Long said.
He said he tried to avoid having to recycle books. A book sale was held and grab bags of books were auctioned off once a month.
Laboure Exchange took the remainder of the fiction books. Only some of the older non-fiction books had to be recycled.
Long said steps are being taken to try to curb declining use of YA (young adult) books. He said a separate area for youth may be set up.
The library is increasingly state-of-the-art, with Kindle Launch Pads and other electronic items available.
This includes the portable internet “hot spots,” which can be checked out. Long said the demand for them continues to be high.
There are also hot spots set up at several locations across the county to provide internet access to students and others who have spotty or no internet service at home.
Long noted that a grant was received to pay for the hot spots the first year, but that they will have to be added into the library budget.
Long said he is “confident we’re adding value for the customers.”
All three commissioners were quick to praise Long.
“What you’ve done is remarkable,” Presiding Commissioner Garry Nelson said.
“You’re definitely an asset,” First District Commissioner Karen Stuppy said.
“You’re doing a great job,” Second District Commissioner Randy Ruzicka agreed.
MUELLER CALLS IN COVID, VACCINE FIGURES
County health department administrator Jennifer Mueller called and reported that the county’s cumulative number of COVID-19 cases was 1,759. There were 252 probable cases and just seven confirmed active cases last week. The death total was 19, with three probable deaths.
Mueller was taking part in an immunization clinic, which prevented her from attending in person.
She said 750 vaccines had been given out two days earlier, while other, smaller clinics are being held.
Meanwhile, she encourages companies with 10 or more employees to contact the health department if they would like immunizations to be done on-site.
SCHMIEDER GIVES ROADS UPDATE
Scott Schmieder,, road and bridge foreman, reported that the department’s oil pot had been repaired. He said it came in about $1,000 under the estimate he had been given.
He said rock was put on Hart-Pinkston Road, at the intersection with Highway D. He said the portion in the state right-of-way is “pretty bad.” He hopes the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) will overlay it.
Bids were being worked up for the Lawrenceton Cutoff Road project. It includes the section that becomes Roth Road and intersects with Highway Y. Nelson said he wants it done in April. According to the MoDOT Asphalt Price Index, the price of asphalt increases considerably from April to May each year.
Schmieder said he thinks they “may be gaining ground” in getting the road ready for paving, amidst frequent rain showers.
The county will prepare the road for paving, then the low-bidder will do the asphalt work.
Schmieder also reported that the slab on Minnith Road, off of Highway P, has developed a hollow area under the deck. Nelson suggested that non-shrink grout might be used to repair the problem.
HONEY FESTIVAL ON PARKING LOT?
Toby Carrig, Ste. Genevieve director of tourism, and Amanda Hutchings of Harold’s Famous Bee Company, came in to discuss the possible use of the new county parking lot on Third and Market for a June 25-26 honey festival and market.
Nelson expressed concern over insurance, saying there would be “a lot of liability exposure.” He noted that it is “a sue-happy” society.
He also reiterated that use of it could not interfere with the businesses that own part of the large, combined lot, or residents who live next to it.
Hutchings described what the planned festival would entail.
It will involve beekeeping demonstrations, vendors a children’s activity area and live music that Saturday by Route 67.
She said the event will be noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
The lot would be used for a classic car cruise, rather than for vendors, who would be elsewhere. Festival insurance is being purchased.
“We like to work with people,” Nelson said, “but the insurance issue is kind of like the fair ground.”
Concern has been expressed this winter about whether the county fair board covers sufficient insurance for the county fair and the various races held there.
Nelson said he has to “look at the bigger picture.” If this use is allowed, he said, other organizations will be lining up to use it. “How do you pick and choose?” he asked.
The commissioners agreed that using the lot for emergency vehicles and personnel and perhaps a cooling station would be fine.