By ERIC X. VICCARO
Let the work begin.
The Ste. Genevieve Board of Aldermen approved an agreement with Donze Construction, Inc., of Ste. Genevieve to begin work on the remodel of the police department and city hall basement.
The final price tag for construction will be $298,914, which comes as a $14,539 reduction from the originally accepted bid.
City administrator Happy Welch noted the current building has a good, stable foundation.
Elected officials and city leaders agreed that was important investing in the current structure – rather than moving or beginning new construction elsewhere.
“This is something that will last the city 50 years,” Welch added.
The first reading was approved, and Ward No. 2 Alderman Michael “Buck” Jokerst expedited for a second reading.
Jokerst then made a motion to accept the second reading, which was seconded by recently re-elected Ward No. 1 Alderwoman Susie Johnson.
City clerk Pam Meyer asked for a roll call vote, and the bill was accepted by a 7-0-1 vote.
Ward 2 Alderman Bob Donovan, for the record, stated his abstention shouldn’t be “misconstrued as a ‘no’ vote.”
The police department remodel is the first of what’s expected to be a three-phase project, which will include a new back entrance into city hall for government meetings and upgrades in technology.
Police matters were one of the focal points of the meeting, which included an update on officer Pete Unverferth’s condition.
Chief Eric Bennett gave his report early in the meeting, explaining that Unverferth underwent a successful, unspecified procedure.
Bennett reported Unverferth is receiving cards of support on a daily basis. The officer is now on worker’s compensation.
The chief asked if Unverferth would be eligible for some additional “catastrophe assistance.”
Donovan said the city needs to go “above and beyond” to support the officer during such time.
Welch said – during a follow-up interview with the Herald on Friday afternoon – the city is currently following state statutes on the matter.
Unverferth suffered injuries as the victim of a Molotov cocktail attack earlier this month.
First State Community Bank is collecting donations for Unverferth and his family. Donations can be made in person at the bank on U.S. Highway 61.
The BackStoppers Inc. also has provided financial assistance.
“We recognize the sacrifice made by this officer who dedicated his life to helping others,” said BackStoppers Inc. executive director Ron Batelle in a prepared statement. “We are honored to provide assistance which will relieve the financial burden of medical bills and other expenses.”
There also will be a benefit barbecue at The Point beginning at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, complete with a live auction and music.
On Monday, Unverferth had a full first responder escort from a St. Louis hospital, through downtown Ste. Genevieve, and to his home in Perry County. Fire and EMS personnel and others gathered on I-270 and I-55 overpasses to cheer him on, as well. (See photos in the May 5 Herald.)
During the meeting, there also were concerns about amending the personnel manual – which ultimately forced the postponement of the second reading until the next board of aldermen session scheduled for Thursday, May 13.
Constituents voiced concerns to Ward No. 4 Alderwoman Ashley Armbruster allowing for Ste. Genevieve field operations supervisor Gary Roth to bring home his work vehicle.
Roth reported he lives roughly one-half mile from city hall.
Elected officials deliberated the matter for nearly 20 minutes, until reaching the general consensus to strike “field operations supervisor” from the list of employees allowed to bring home a city vehicle.
Police officers are currently allowed to bring home the cruisers. Sergeant Ryan McClure noted patrolmen living inside the city’s corporate limits do so.
Donovan was concerned about liability. Since language in the personnel manual didn’t specifically mention Roth, rather terming it “field operations supervisor,” there was no need for an executive session.