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by Patty Cheffey
The Marion County Commission stopped short from supporting forming a Transportation Development District to work on three projects after hearing a proposal for one during Monday’s meeting.
Also Monday, the commissioners heard a request for funds to help support the recycling program in Palmyra and approved the purchase of a new Sheriff’s Department vehicle.
Mike Purol, co-chair for the Hannibal Regional Economic Development Transportation Committee was present at the county commission meeting to see if the commissioners would support the formation of Transportation Development District which would hopefully lead eventually to the Hannibal expressway being pushed through quicker.
While the commissioners did not say they would not support a TDD, they indicated they would like additional information and questioned how well the idea could be sold to the public if the Hannibal expressway is not the main objective at this point.
According to Purol, three projects, one in Ralls County, one in the city of Hannibal and one in Marion County (probably a Palmyra project), would be selected.
“We would go to the voters and say we want to form this committee to get these three projects completed,” he said. “Then in a few years, when the Hannibal expressway studies are completed and we have some good cost estimates and can go back to the people with that information, we can ask to extend the district to the next project, which would be the Hannibal expressway.”
He also noted that by completing the projects while waiting for MoDOT to update the environmental assessment, put together preferred routes, get cost estimates for those routes then take the building of the road through the various stages, the TDD will be able to show they are willing to put money into projects, including a Hannibal expressway.
“We don’t want the environmental study to be completed and sit on the shelf another 15 or 20 years,” Purol said. “We want to be ready and to show MoDOT we are ready.”
While Purol said he was not asking for any money from the county at this point, eventually there would be the need for a campaign advisor, the cost of which would be split between Ralls and Marion counties.
He also noted Ralls County has said they would support the formation of a TDD to work towards the goal of a Hannibal expressway.
Rusty Adrian, Palmyra’s mayor, who was present at the meeting, noted every project being considered is a safety issue.
“We’re trying to save lives and make it as safe for the people as possible,” he said, noting Palmyra has two outer road projects they would like to see completed. “It’s what motivates us.”
Steve Begley, Western District commissioner, said he understood the benefits, but there are several safety projects the county would also like to see completed, including acceleration and deceleration lanes at various locations along Highway 61.
Larry Welch, Eastern District commissioner, said he was not saying yes, but not saying no, but indicated he would need more information to fully support the move.
In other business, the commissioners heard a request from Adrian for $2,000 in support from the county for the Palmyra recycling program, noting the majority of those using the program are from out-county areas as Palmyra provides containers for a recycling program.
He also noted the program will be in the red at the end of the year.
The commissioners said they would consider the matter at budget time, and encouraged Adrian to look at grants through the Mark Twain Regional Council of Government’s solid waste program.
While the recycling program has received grants in the past for equipment, Adrian noted it is more difficult to get a grant for operating expenses.
Commissioners also approved the purchase of a Tahoe to replace a sheriff’s vehicle totaled in an accident. The county has received an insurance check for a little over $22,000 to go towards the $43,000 vehicle.
It was noted Sheriff Jimmy Shinn is still negotiating with the insurance company to cover the cost of moving the equipment from the wrecked vehicle to the new one.
In her report, Stice said Great River Engineering will be present next week with a contract for the county to review for the cultural resource study on the Wenneker bridge project. She will review that contract before next week.
She also reported there were issues at both Palmyra and Hannibal courthouses with the heating and air conditioning units, but the issue at Palmyra has been resolved.
Because Hannibal’s heating system is a closed system, clean-outs need to be installed, and the commissioners approved spending $1,342 to have Peter’s Heating and Cooling do that work.
Presiding Commissioners David Lomax discussed looking into energy efficiency funding to upgrade the systems at both courthouses.
Mike Schaefer, county highway supervisor, reported he had received a quote for an oil burner furnace, but as it was high, he will need to go out to bid for that.
The county also approved the sale of two trustee-held properties in Hannibal, one at 2007 Spruce Street for $300 and one at 1119 Valley Street for $100.