Commissioners don’t want county road to Fish Hollow closed, will take down any gate put there to keep public out

By Laura Schiermeier, Staff Writer
Posted 11/3/21

MARIES COUNTY — The Maries County Commission had busy meetings last week. At Monday’s meeting, they began the week with talking about a landowner’s proposed road closure of MCR #306 …

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Commissioners don’t want county road to Fish Hollow closed, will take down any gate put there to keep public out

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MARIES COUNTY — The Maries County Commission had busy meetings last week. At Monday’s meeting, they began the week with talking about a landowner’s proposed road closure of MCR #306 at the area called Fish Hollow, which is a historical river access to the Gasconade River. 

Last week the county commission received a letter from an attorney on behalf of clients Eugene and Jacqueline Appel, who currently own the Fish Hollow site. They planned to place gates to block the public from using the river access. 

Western District Commissioner Ed Fagre said he looked at the state statute 228.110 and it will take 12 landowners who live in that township petitioning the county to close the road. “The people who live there have to do it,” he said. Fagre said the county is not opposed to closing roads when they have been abandoned for years and have closed those types of roads in the past. 

Presiding Commissioner Victor Stratman said the county road goes all the way to the Gasconade River at that site. 

Prosecuting Attorney Anthony “Tony” Skouby came to the commission meeting to discuss the issue with the commissioners. Eastern District Commissioner Doug Drewel said there used to be cabins there at Fish Hollow. Skouby said a road can be closed if it serves no purpose and is a burden to the county. 

Drewel said Maries County is paid gasoline tax, CART money, on this road. 

Skouby asked if the county has abused its discretion or did something unconstitutional. 

Stratman said the letter the county received concerns just one landowner and he asked if they can get 12 other people to sign a petition to close the road. Drewel said he’s not sure. But, what he is sure of is that it’s a county road all the way to the river. 

Skouby said they are saying #306 ends at the cattle guard on his property. Drewel said MoDOT says it’s 1.383 miles and that is all the way to the water. 

Fagre said to determine Maries County’s CART funds, the state drives all the county roads and records the mileage and that’s how the county’s gasoline tax funds are determined. 

Drewel said if you think about it, all county roads drive through someone’s property. There are cattle guards on other roads and he used Paradise Valley as an example. Fagre said Road One also has roads with cattle guards across them. 

Drewel said Appel has no trespassing signs on his trees, but the county maintains the road. Fagre said if the county does not maintain the road for five years it could be considered abandoned by the county. Drewel said the road (#306) is graded at least four times a year and the road crew puts rock on it when needed. Road Two grades the road to the water, he said. 

Stratman said Fish Hollow has been used as a river access for many years and the county has maintained it. 

Skouby said he will write a letter to the attorney saying the county doesn’t want to close the road. He thinks it is up to the county to post a notice of public hearing about someone filing a petition to vacate the road and “we are going to have a meeting about it.” Drewel asked if a group of people can petition the county to keep it open and Skouby said sure they can. 

If a gate is put up on the county road, it will be taken down, the commissioners said.

Vichy Heights

Attorney Steven Patterson of Salem met with the commissioners about property in Vichy which the landowner is asking the county to vacate some roads. A long time ago a plat map was developed in Vichy, which included blocks and street names. These names included First Street, Second Street, Third Street, West Street, Oak Street, Elm Street, Cedar Street and King Avenue. The northern most portion of the plat is called Vichy Heights Subdivision. This subdivision also included roads. Patterson said none of these roads are existing roads. 

The landowner wants to sell the property and it will be easier to sell if the county vacates these roads which never were developed. Patterson said the reason is because Vichy is unincorporated and these roads never existed anywhere except on this plat. “Basically we are abandoning a plat,” he said.

Full time

While Skouby was at the commission meeting last week, they briefly discussed the conversation they had with Rep. Bruce Sassmann about the state legislature making the prosecuting attorney’s position in all third class counties a full time position with the state paying the prosecutor’s salary. 

Drewel said they talked about the prosecutor’s salary being too low. He said the legislature made the decision about giving the sheriff a $30,000 a year raise and “shoved it down to us” to pay for. Currently the prosecutor’s salary is $49,620.

Skouby said he will run again, adding, “I’ll stay as long as you’ll have me.” He expressed his doubts about the state legislature going along with this proposition. He told the commissioners he’s paid to work 16 hours a week and he works 40 hours a week. He said he could use the financial help. There are only a few county’s that don’t have full time prosecutors and most of them have pension funds, too. When he goes to prosecutor’s meetings, there are less than 10 prosecutors there who are classified as part time. 

They talked about putting the issue on the ballot sometime in 2022, asking county voters to approve a full time prosecuting attorney with the increased salary starting in 2025. Skouby said if the state legislature acts on the issue, he would withdraw it. “I can’t just gamble away the next four years of my life,” he said. “Even if the legislature is behind it, it would take five years to get it done.”

Three things

Jim Schmitz, 76, and his wife, Barbara, who live in Defiance, MO but have “a home away from home” on MCR 308, came to discuss three things with the county commission. 

The first thing is he does not like the white gravel on the county road. It breaks down and when it rains its slimy like flour and when its dry the dust is terrible. He thinks creek gravel would be better than the white rock.

The second thing is he misses Ken Ramsey being the trash patrol guy. Schmitz said Ramsey is a very good person who volunteered his time. Schmitz could call Ramsey about a trash dumping problem and it would be taken care of. The last he heard is the sheriff’s deputies are talking care of trash patrol.

Drewel said some things have changed since Ramsey retired from his trash patrol duties, which all agreed he did very well. The program is funded by a grant and the scope of the grant has changed from trash pickup to education about not dumping trash and recycling instead. Drewel said dumping remains a problem. 

Schmitz said he and his family go out and pickup three-quarters of a mile of road frontage. There was a dump site they cleaned up several years ago that he keeps checking on. Unfortunately it slowly is getting to be a dump site again. Schmitz said he has bags Drewel gave him to put the trash in and Drewel also offered the Road Two dumpster. But, they pick up on weekends and can’t get into the driveway to the dumpster because it’s blocked on weekends. Drewel said to leave the bags there and they’ll put them in the dumpster on Monday. Leave any tires outside the bags as they go to a different place. 

Schmitz said he wants to get the dumping stopped at that particular site. Drewel said if somebody throws out one tire, pretty soon there will be 10 tires there. Schmitz said he picked up the trash voluntarily as he thinks its unsightly and ugly. We live in a beautiful county and “I don’t know what’s wrong with people” who won’t throw trash away properly. “Don’t be so lazy. It makes my blood pressure go up,” he told the commissioners. 

Drewel said maybe the grant will be different next year. It was a good deal when Ramsey did it. 

“He was fantastic,” Schmitz said.

The third thing is the deplorable mobile homes with trash everywhere on the property. There is such a site near him. Drewel said they can’t do anything because they don’t have zoning. “It’s all over the county,” he told him. “It’s on private property.” 

“It just takes away from the beauty of the county,” Schmitz said. He’s owned property here for over 40 years. He thinks these people get on drugs and booze and “let it all go.” 

Drewel said people’s attitude’s are getting bad and he thinks in 10 years it will be worse.

Schmitz complimented the sheriff’s deputies and said they need to be paid more as do teachers. He has 125 acres where he “raises rocks and copperheads.”

Need board members

Stratman said the Maries County Enhanced Enterprise Zone Board needs two new members. Lloyd Honse wants off of the board and former R-1 Superintendent Mark Parker, who represented education/schools on the board, is no longer employed with the school district as he retired. The commissioners talked about possible replacements and Stratman will contact them.

The enterprise zone tries to attract businesses to the county and the area, using tax abatements. Stratman said the enterprise zone is good because it puts the counties in the surrounding area on the same playing field as they all offer the same benefits and enhancements to prospective business investors. 

The board position is a three-year term and it requires attending only one meeting a year. Current board members include Steve Vogt, Kevin Guffey, Stratman, Lloyd Honse, Otto Williams, Ray Schwartze, and Mark Parker.

Miscellaneous  

Stratman said the MOCA mobile office van will be in Vienna on the first and third Wednesdays of the month and in Belle on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month. Staff will help county families fill out applications for assistance for any of MOCA’s many programs from energy assistance and weatherization to HUD housing.

Stratman said Rep. Sassmann has arranged a tour at the Hippos cannabis facility in Vienna. 

Drewel said there is no tax in Missouri on solar panels. 

State Rep. Benny Cook expressed interest in the prosecuting attorney being a full time, state paid job.

There is a flag retirement box now located in the foyer of the courthouse, just inside the front door. Citizens who have old American flags they don’t know how to discard of can place the flags in this special box. The county will see that they are given to the American Legion or the VFW to be destroyed in a dignified and proper way.

Stratman reported a good bid on propane from Three Rivers Propane of $1.35 a gallon. Last year the gallon price on propane for the courthouse was $0.98. 

County Clerk Rhonda Rodgers said they received a letter from the judge saying the sheriff’s $3 service fee can’t be collected anymore because it is unconstitutional. The $3 fee added to all papers served in Maries County is for the sheriff’s retirement system. Persons who have paid the $3, the court said it is not obligated to give a refund.

Drewel asked about ARPA money paperwork for the City of Belle and asked if Stratman will follow up with MRPC about it. 

Treasurer Rhonda Slone said they have to be careful spending the ARPA money as if what they spend it on is not accepted by the federal government, it will be on the county to pay it back. She said the expenditures have to be one source or if over $6,000 it needs to be bid. Stratman said they will get approval first. 

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