By MARK EVANS
One long-time goal for Ste. Genevieve County is on the verge of being fulfilled.
The county courthouse should soon have an emergency generator for any power outages.
County emergency management director Felix Meyer and Michele Gatzemeyer, associate county clerk, have been pursuing a Hazard Mitigation Grant for a generator.
The matching grant will provide a generator to offer the county some much-needed protection.
It will give the courthouse back-up power for elections, helping ensure election integrity and on-time results in the event of a power outage – whether natural or the result of a malicious hack.
“Now it’s almost a ‘must,’ what with the concern about cyber security,” Presiding Commissioner Garry Nelson said at last Thursday’s commission meeting.
The county’s computer system was hacked in 2019 and the recent Colonial Pipeline hack has created a major gas shortage in the eastern United States.
The generator will also provide backup power to the elevator and prevent any handicapped individuals who might be in the building from being stranded on one floor.
A generator had been a goal for some time. County commissioners at one time had hoped that the generator at the old Riverview at the Park nursing facility on North White Sands Road could be moved and hooked up at the courthouse when the former facility was demolished in 2017. It turned out that generator would be incompatible with the courthouse, however.
“Right now, someone in a wheel chair could be upstairs and wouldn’t be able to get out, if power went out,” Nelson said, also noting that people could potentially be trapped inside the elevator during a power outage.
The grant has gone through and solicitations for bids have been published.
The commissioners have set a June 12 bid opening date for the project.
A caller to the commission got same-day service last Thursday.
A resident of Dry Fork Road in western Ste. Genevieve County called and complained that a $400 rim was destroyed when he hit a deep pothole on the road. The caller said another vehicle was oncoming and he was unable to avoid the hole.
He indicated it was deep enough to do serious damage to a vehicle.
Nelson told him he would ask Scott Schmieder, road and bridge foreman, to investigate it right away.
Schmieder later called in and confirmed that the pothole had been an extremely deep one. He said he had already repaired it.
FAIR BOARD INSURANCE
AGAIN COMES UP
The topic of the county fair board carrying sufficient liability insurance was again discussed.
The previous week, the commissioners had expressed concern about an apparent lack of insurance on activities held at the fairgrounds – land leased by the county to the fair board.
Nelson wanted to make sure fair board members and the public were clear on the issue.
“The county has insurance, but it won’t cover racing,” he said.
For any event held at the fairgrounds, the fair board, he reiterated, needs a policy to both protect itself and the county from liability claims.
No more races can be held there until the situation is rectified, he stressed.
The commissioners checked with the insurance providers and also consulted attorney Ivan Schraeder.
Nelson noted that if anyone got hurt during a race, or other event, “the insurance company would not stand behind us.”
That would leave the county responsible to pay claims out of its general revenue, which would be crippling.
Nelson also repeated that Schraeder had informed the commission that the annual county fair is the only event on the fairgrounds at which any type of alcohol can be served.
First District Commissioner Karen Stuppy repeated her earlier comment that she will need to see the policy “in black and white” before she accepts that the county is adequately protected.
ASPHALT COSTS OK ON PROJECT
Nelson said he had initially feared the repaving of Lawrenceton Cutoff Road might exceed the bid figure by 15 % or more, when he found out how much asphalt had been used at the Highway Y-Roth Road intersection.
By Thursday, though, Nelson felt better about the numbers.
“We’ve used about $165,000 halfway through,” he said. So $330,000 or $340,000 including rock, will be right in the ballpark.”
A total of 2.4 miles is being repaved by Vern Bauman Contracting, after county road crews dug out bad spots and put down base.
The project included widening and lowering the rate of slope on the Highway Y intersection.
SCHMIEDER SHARES OTHER INFORMATION
During his report, Schmieder also reported that limbs from trees not on the county right of way are hanging over West Copper Mines Road, presenting a potential hazard for some drivers.
Schmieder also said that an 80-year-old resident of Coffman Read thanked the road crew for their work on the road.
He also reported that the bucket truck was being inspected that day.
Schmieder said his crew was also doing some patching with the Durapatcher and some mowing.
Nelson suggested that the week of May 19 might be a good time to do repairs on Gillespie Road. Rain was predicted, making many other jobs impossible.