By MARK EVANS
Thanks to Amendment 3, Aries, the Ste. Genevieve County Sheriff’s Department drug dog and K-9 contemporaries across the state are out of a job.
“You can’t untrain a dog,” Sheriff Gary Stolzer explained to the county commissioners during their meeting last Thursday.
The drug dogs were trained to recognize marijuana, along with other drugs. They cannot be “reprogrammed” to react to all drugs except marijuana.
Therefore Aries will have to be shipped out to another type of agency, where his skills could still be used.
This, of course, will require the Sheriff’s Department to invest in a new dog. Stolzer, aware that this would happen if Amendment 3 passed, had his name in early and can get a newly-trained fog from Shallow Creek Kennel in Pennsylvania. This is where the department’s recent drug dogs have come from.
The cost, including training for the dog and handler, will be about $14,000. Stolzer said that to get a dog and train it in-house would cost $20,000 to $30,000 or more and would be taking one employee way from his/her regular duties.
Stolzer hates to see Aries go, calling him “the greatest dog ever” that the department has had.
The handler will also be sent to Shallow Creek for one week of training with the new dog.
The commission approved the purchase, which is covered in the Sheriff’s Department budget.
COUNTY WILL SEE ABOUT BILLBOARDS
Happy Welch, Ste. Genevieve city administrator and acting tourism director, approached the commissioners about helping finance electronic billboard tourism campaign. The cost is $42,050.
The commissioners had some concerns.
Randy Ruzicka, Second District commissioner and incoming presiding commissioner, said his “beef” with electronic billboards is that, driving 70 miles per hour, a driver or passenger only has a moment to see a billboard message – if the message is even visible during that moment. He asked how many seconds the image would be on the billboard.
Presiding Commissioner Garry Nelson said it is hard to catch a digital billboard message even at 30 miles per hour.
He agreed, though, that they would “see where the budget is” for 2023 before deciding.
Nelson also stressed that the county has contributed considerably to area tourism.
“A lot of people don’t think we contribute to tourism,” he said. “We want the city government to know we are helping.”
Ruzicka added that the county is eager to help, but would like to be more “in the loop” when decisions are made. A liaison person on the board and perhaps a voting member for the county would be nice.
Welch said that technically, Laura Oliver represents the county on the joint tourism board.
EMERALD REPS VISIT COMMISSION
Two representatives of Emerald Energy visited with the commissioners. The group is working with Wabash Power and Citizens Electric Corporation to try to obtain easements for the proposed 19-mile route for a high-voltage power line.
A map had been sent to the commissioners, showing the latest proposed route. However, since the imaging was done in the summer, leaves make impossible to see most roads. The assessor’s office was able to use its Integrity program to superimpose roads over the map, showing that the proposed line would cross eight county roads.
They also want to cross the county quarry, where yard waste is burned and where deputies have a shooting range.
Nelson said they would need to have easements from all the affected landowners along the path before it will give an easement. Nelson fears the county giving an easement first might be used as “evidence” that the county supports the project and lead others to do the same.
Nelson has warned residents recently that “easements are forever” and that selling an easement can come back to haunt a family down the road, should they want to do something on that part of the land.
Steve Perkins, one of the Emerald representatives, said that landowners could still hunt, build fences or farm on the easement, “just no building” can be put over it.