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By MARK EVANS
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
Stolen road signs are no joke.
The Ste. Genevieve County Commission has been making that clear for years.
Road sign thefts have increased in recent years, leading to potential danger. In 2021, for instance, 225 signs were stolen in Ste. Genevieve County.
In one case, a stolen stop sign at Burks School Road and Genevieve Church Road n 2019 led to a collision that got the county entangled in a lawsuit.
It also costs the county several thousand dollars a year to replace the signs.
Second District Commissioner Mark Marberry is trying to get legislation passed to make stealing or possessing a stolen stop sign or yield sign a felony in Missouri.
The county commissioners and Sheriff Gary Stolzer signed a letter that was sent last week to District 145 State Representative Rick Francis and State Senator Elaine Gannon, recommending that such actions would be Class D or Class E felonies.
Marberry was surprised to find that “there is nothing on the books” regarding taking road signs.
He said he has “talked to a lot of representatives,” who agree that this would be a good idea.
The commissioners in the past have stressed that even stealing road signs is dangerous. It can cause potentially deadly delays in emergency personnel responding to calls.
“There’s a lot of signs being stolen in general; it’s not just Ste. Genevieve County,” Marberry said. “It’s an issue. In general, whether it’s stop signs or road signs, it’s a big problem.
“If a road sign’s missing, that’s not good. But the problem is, when someone takes a stop sign or a yield sign that’s a bigger issue than most people think about.”
People driving on strange roads so not know where stop signs are normally located.
I was over in Crawford County on family business a couple of months ago. I don’t know that area, so I don’t know where the stop signs are supposed to be. So, in a certain situation, I could certainly have run through a stop sign that was stolen. If I do that and there’s somebody coming from the other direction who doesn’t have a stop sign, there’s serious potential not only for damage to the vehicle but for loss of life and limb. We’re playing around with his stuff, but it’s a serious issue.”
Marberry discussed it with Prosecuting Attorney Wayne Williams. Currently it is just a misdemeanor.
“I got the idea of talking to some of our elected representatives” Marberry said. “I talked to some of them at different meetings I was at. They were more or less in favor of the idea.”
Marberry noted that it would be applied to salvage businesses that buy stolen signs, as well.
“That’s my aim for this, to try to get this before the Missouri legislature in the next session, to look at the thing,” Marberry said.
CYBER SECURITY THREAT “TERRIFYING”
Presiding Commissioner Randy Ruzicka reported, at last Thursday’s commission meeting, that he had attended a recent Missouri Office of Homeland Security meeting in Warrenton
A cyber security expert was the main speaker. Ruzicka said the picture the speaker painted was “truly terrifying.” He said cyber security thieves rip people and entities off for more than $2 trillion a year.
He also noted that the widely used search engine Google has almost unlimited information each person who makes searches on the internet.
He said there are two Department of Public Safety grants available to improve cyber security.
No update had been received on the ongoing community center roof situation. Grayco Roofing Consultants had called in a third party to try to determine why condensation was staining walls inside the building, following the roof replacement project.
Marberry said he would call Chris Demien, director of operations for Grayco, who was the construction manager at risk for the roofing project.
Ruzicka said that new scrubbers that had been bought were working very well in cleaning the stained walls.
He said it was a “night and day” difference ad that it “really brightened it up.”
Meanwhile, the bad pool pump at the community center has been replaced. Brad Arnold, community center director, found one for less than $6,000. He opted not to go with the lowest bidder. He instead chose the bid of a local company that can have it installed “within weeks,” whereas the low-bidder would take three months.
Scott Schmieder, road and bridge foreman, reported that he was “trying to plug away” at work that can be done before winter hits. That includes patching roads, working on bridges, and owing.
Ruzicka said he had watched some of the work that week and was “really impressed” with the progress the crew was making.
Schmieder said pipes should be coming in anytime, for pipe replacements.
Ruzicka asked how long the bypass would be in place on Ditch Road. Schmieder said it would be another week or two, while wing walls are added to the new box culvert.
Michele Gatzemeyer, associate county clerk, said that complaining calls about the road had stopped coming in, since people could see work being done on it.