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By MARK EVANS
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
For a second straight week county political leaders addressed concerns to the Ste. Genevieve County Commission.
A week after chairman Kenny Williams and two other county Republican Central Committee members spoke to the commissioners about the resignation and replacement of County Collector Kim Gielow, their Democratic counterparts did the same. Last Thursday, county Democratic Central Committee members Robert Bach and Robert Lord addressed the commissioners.
They came to make their pitch for Susan Mueller as the permanent replacement for Gielow.
The commission last week named Lisa Marschel as interim collector until Governor Mike Parson can appoint someone to fill out the remainder of Gielow’s elected term.
Both parties usually submit candidates when such appointments are made, but the governor generally appoints the nominee of his own party.
Lord pointed out that when Public Administrator Robin Naeger resigned last year, the Democratic committee supported the Republicans’ choice of Amanda Kuehn to take her place. He said he hoped the commissioners would likewise get behind Mueller, who worked for 11 years in the collector’s office.
“She spent a number of years in the collectors office and would, no doubt, bring a vast amount of past experience to the office,” Lord said. “We would like and we ask that you consider nominating her as the permanent replacement if nothing else, as sort of a reciprocal gesture by your party, based on the fact that we supported a Republican person for the position of Public Administrator.”
He stressed Mueller’s qualifications.
“She would come into the position with a lot of knowledge that she obtained while an employee in that office,” Lord said. “That’s the reason I’m particularly here, is to bring forth to you a unique opportunity to put somebody in that office who has the experience.”
While these appointments tend to go the direction of the governors party – especially in a county where the commission is 23 Republican – Lord believes the commission’s backing could sway Parson to name Mueller.
“We’re hoping that what you will do is strongly recommend her, just by virtue of her experience,” Lord said.
“No disrespect to Susan, I know she did a fine job when she was in there,” Presiding commissioner Randy Ruzicka said. “She’s a good person. We did what we did. We appointed Lisa and Lisa had been Claudia (Stuppy)’s deputy and Claudia felt good enough about her that she was the deputy and time was of the essence. We needed to get somebody in there.”
He noted that the permanent pick would be the governor’s choice.
“I just want to go on the record, in spite of the fact that I am a Republican, I really wish that this stuff wasn’t political,” Ruzicka said.
At the local and county level, he noted, serving the people is all that matters, not party ideology.
Lord said that Mueller was “the No. 1” under Stuppy, above Marschel, and has 11 years of experience there, compared to four for Marschel.
“I’ve bee I this political game for many years and know how it works,” Lord said. “We have a Republican governor, so were certainly at a disadvantage.”
He stressed that he feels Mueller is “the better candidate” for the position
Ruzicka assured him that, “Everybody’s voice is equally important.”
Road and Bridge Foreman Scott Schmieder reported that things were “going normal,” as winter sets in. He said trees ad tree limbs were being removed in preparation for 2024 overlays and chip and seal paving jobs.
Ruzicka noted that he receives a lot of compliments for the county’s roads and their upkeep ”from both residents and non-residents.”
Reports were given on recent meetings attended. First district Commissioner Karen Stuppy reported on the Southeast Missouri Commissioners Association meeting. Ryan Owens of Enterprise Fleet Management spoke there, telling how he can save counties considerable money on leasing or purchasing vehicles. The commissioners agreed e would be welcome to come talk to them about it.
She said that Chris Crocker ad other Missouri Department of Transportation people spoke, including giving an update on the Chester Bridge project and on grants.
District 143 State Representative Rick Francis also spoke, along with representatives for Congressman Jason Smith and US Senator Josh Hawley.
A report was also given on a recent community center board meeting. Director Bard Arnold is readying his 2024 budget. The community center’s Christmas Fair and Evening With Santa both had great turnouts. Meanwhile, preparations are being made for the start of gym hockey season
• The commissioners voted to renew Ivan Schraeder’s contract as the county’s attorney on retainer, at $1,800 a year.
• Associate Clerk Michele Gatzemeyer said she is waiting on an invoice from Bade Roofing for the final roof work at the community center. It is being paid with American Relief Plan Act (ARPA) money.
• Mid America Rehab will take over maintenance of the therapeutic salt-water pool at the 24/7 gymnasium and rehabilitation center on Highway 61 in Bloomsdale. It has been costing the county about $320,000 a year to maintain it.
• During the Monday, Dec. 18 meeting, Schmieder reported that the crack patcher was being repaired.
• Schmieder also said that work was being done on Roth Cemetery Road and St. Mary Cemetery Road.
• Jason Blum and Kendra Graham of the University Extension Council discussed the council’s 2024 budget at the Monday meeting. They requested a 5% increase. The commissioners said they would have to follow up on the issue.
• Kate Becker, the outside contractor brought in to work with the county collector’s office, updated the commissioners on her progress.
• Attorney Mark Spykerman of Gilmore Bell, County Treasurer Sara Hoog and several members of the Ozora Community Improvement District (CID board met with the commissioners on Monday. It was agreed to dissolve the Ozora Tax Increment Financing (TIG) district. The CID cannot yet be dissolved due to an outstanding loan. It is expected that the loan will be written off, allowing the CID to be dissolved early in 2024, as well.
• Scott Sadler of the Parkland REDI Committee gave an overview of the committee’s economic development plan.
• The commissioners met with Brad Arnold and Dave Weber to go over the community center’s 2024 budget.