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By MARK EVANS
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
About two and a half years after Wabash Valley Power Association created an uproar by proposing a 69,000-volt power line to run through 19 miles of Ste. Genevieve County, Wabash officials will be discussing the updated route with the county commission.
Wabash representatives will attend the Nov. 9 county commission meeting to go over the latest projected path of the controversial power line.
In October 2022, Wabash provided an updated map of the route its proposed power line. However, the google map did not have county roads marked and the summer photos, with fully-leaved trees, made it virtually impossible to plat out county roads on the map. The commissioners requested a better map.
At Thursday’s meeting, Second District Commissioner Mark Marberry suggested that Wabash be requested to bring some large maps, on which it is evident exactly where the lines will go and which roads and properties would be impacted.
In the spring and summer of 2021, residents along the proposed route of that time arose to protest the Wabash-Citizens Electric Corporation (CEC) project.
The unrest had started in the fall of 2020, when an O’Fallon, Missouri Company hired by Wabash had panicked some residents by using what were called strong-arm tactics, trying to get the to sign over a right-of-way to Wabash. Hints were given that eminent domain might be needed if they didn’t sign.
CEC, which has gotten its power from Wabash since about 2005, intervened at that time and helped smooth things out. The O’Fallon firm was replaced with a more user-friendly firm and some changes were made in the proposed route. A virtual forum was set up, as well.
Residents along the 2021 path expressed concerns about the ecological impact and the impact on livestock, such as contamination of the water supply.
Fears were also expressed that the power lines and the construction of them could upset livestock and affect breeding.
More than 100 people attended a public meeting on the issue in early May, 2021, nearly all expressing hope that the project could be stopped.
TAX REVENUE BIG CONCERN FOR ALL MO. COUNTIES
After attending various meetings, the commissioners noted that this is not the only county to be facing financial shortfalls due to decreasing tax revenues. Virtually all the state’s 116 counties are in the same boat, following a reduced state income tax rate and the abolishment of state income tax on social security benefits, regardless of income level.
Adding to that is the end of the special COVID-19 pandemic relief. The American Relief Plan Act (ARPA), which followed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, is coming to an end.
“The Monopoly money is drying up,” Second District Commissioner Mark Marberry said, noting, “Everybody has the same problem.”
While Ste. Genevieve County should remain on stable enough ground, the commissioners fear some of the state’s poorer counties could be in serious trouble in 2024 – possibly even seeing some official vehicles be repossessed.
In addition to hearing other counties’ financial concerns, the commissioners picked up information on various grants at meets of the Southeast Missouri Regional Planning Commission, the Southeast Missouri Solid Waste District and the Southeast Missouri Transportation Advisory Committee.
It was announced that, with the limited number of applications for Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grants, all those in the region who applied for one was approved.
At the New Bourbon Regional Port Authority meeting, it was announced that the port authority has found a firm to serve as its auditor. Also, the port authority signed a new contract with the Ste. Genevieve-Modoc Ferry.
Scott Schmieder, road and bridge foreman, reported that the boom had broken on the tractor that operates the boom mower. He also said that Truck 12, a 2012 International, had to be towed to C & B Diesel in Jackson for repairs.
He said pipes were being put in on Misplay Road.
Meanwhile, he has found two firms willing to offer bids to install guardrails on the new box culverts on Ditch and Misplay roads. Flash flooding and bank erosion led to both culverts having to be reconfigured. As high as both are, the commissioners did not want to open the roads without guardrails to keep drivers from going over the sides.
• One of the special consultants Grayco Roofing Consultants brought in to address a condensation/wall-staining issue at the community center has suggested doing a “mock repair” on the problem. In other words, the recommendation is to experiment with various fixes to see if any work to stop the problem. They also said that a vapor barrier should have been built into the wall when the building was constructed.
• The commissioners agreed to make the final of three payments to Trapper Joe’s Nuisance Wildlife Control. The final payment is $17,023.
• Sheriff Gary Stolzer lamented the reduced number of Missouri Highway Patrol troopers available to work wrecks.
• The commissioners will consider writing a letter of support for the nomination of 32nd Circuit Judge Michael Gardner to the Missouri Supreme Court.