County Commission orders masks to be worn in courthouse

By Laura Schiermeier, Staff Writer
Posted 11/18/20

MARIES COUNTY — Doing business at the Maries County Courthouse in Vienna will require wearing a mask.

At last Thursday’s county commission meeting, the commissioners determined the new …

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County Commission orders masks to be worn in courthouse

Posted

MARIES COUNTY — Doing business at the Maries County Courthouse in Vienna will require wearing a mask.

At last Thursday’s county commission meeting, the commissioners determined the new rule until further notice. Signs will be put on the exterior doors that masks must be worn while members of the public are in the courthouse.

Presiding Commissioner Victor Stratman said the numbers of people who have the Covid-19 coronavirus are getting to be more all the time. This is an effort to keep safe the public as well as courthouse employees. Also, with many people paying taxes right now, the courthouse is getting busier. People coming into the building are asked to put on a mask and to practice social distancing.

The explosion of new cases has been called by one infectious disease research director “one huge coronavirus forest fire.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week, citing research, that masks offer personal protection by filtering some infectious particles out of the air before the mask wearer inhales them. The agency also endorsed universal mask mandates.

Election

On Nov. 9, the county clerk’s office had the checks written and ready for the election judges who worked at the county’s polling sites on Nov. 3. The poll workers received a bit of a raise this election as judges received $160 and supervisors received $175.

County Clerk Rhonda Rodgers was well-pleased with how smoothly the polling sites worked on election day.

In predicting voter turnout before the election, Rodgers at first thought about 78 percent, then decided to increase it because of so much interest in voting. She predicted 83 percent, the number she gave the secretary of state’s office. Rodgers has a lot of experience with elections and her first initial percentage of 78 percent was very close to the actual county turnout at a little over 77 percent.

Progress

After being a place of inactivity for many years, the former Vienna industrial park now is a hive of activity as Hippos is busy building its medical marijuana cultivation facility and Farmer’s Meat Market is renovating the former WOW Pizza building to open a new butcher shop soon.

Stratman said he talked to Farmer’s Meat Market co-owner, Chris Brundick, who said they are “really coming along.” They just about have the pens finished and have good coolers in the building. Brundick said the pens will hold about 44 beef cattle at a time.

Coronavirus

Rodgers was sad to report one of her colleagues, the Lawrence County Clerk, died on Nov. 7 from the Covid-19 coronavirus. He was 61 years old.

Another colleague, a former county clerk, is still in the hospital with Covid-19 and is very ill, she said.

There was talk at the meeting about the many people in Maries County who currently have, or have had Covid-19. Also, that several are hospitalized and are very ill.

EEZ

Stratman would like to reappoint himself and two other current Enhanced Enterprise Zone (EEZ) board members from Maries County. Stratman is on the board and will serve again. Ray Schwartze will serve again, and Stratman wants to contact Tom Kinsey about his interest in staying on the EEZ board as a Maries County representative. Also on the board are Otto Williams and Lloyd Honse.

Wages

Stratman said the minimum wage will increase to $10.30 an hour on Jan. 1. In 2022 it will increase to $11.15, and by 2023 the minimum wage will be $12 an hour. This was approved by Missouri voters. Western District Commissioner Ed Fagre asked if all Maries County employees are paid above the $10.30 an hour the new minimum wage will be in January. Rodgers gave them a printout about all county employee wages.

Stratman wondered how some people will take it if their wage is close to the new minimum wage. He thinks it will have a big impact at some places.

CARES Act

The deadline to submit a CARES Act funding request is Dec. 11, 2020. The request application has to be at MRPC on that date to qualify for the coronavirus funding.

Stratman said Vienna Volunteer Fire Department said with the CARES Act request they received, there was a purchase of $126,000 for protective gear and equipment. Stratman said the fire department does not have the resources to pay this bill and asked the county to make the purchase for the department with the CARES Act money. Stratman said MRPC okayed this and the commissioners did, too.

Big Checks

Treasurer Rhonda Slone was working on preparing checks to be mailed to the different entities that receive tax money paid in Collector Jayne Williams office. She said this is the first round of checks. Although they are big amounts, the checks the schools and other entities will receive later this year and in January will be much larger.

Of the first round of checks, for Maries R-1 School District $15,047.54, Maries R-2 School District $7,266.59, Dixon School District $4,000, St. James School District $2,000, Rolla School District $200.

Buildings and Grounds

Getting rid of a burned out fluorescent light bulbs is not as easy as throwing them into the trash can. The bulbs contain mercury. There is a place in Jefferson City that will take the bulbs from a municipality, but they charge $1 a bulb. It seems like it’s a racket.

Stratman said the bulb is bad on the light on the front porch of the courthouse. It’s a sodium bulb and has been ordered.

The dropbox for making tax payments and other correspondence with county offices has arrived and has been adhered to the sidewalk outside the front door of the courthouse. When leaving correspondence in the drop box, persons are asked to write the name of the intended county office, include their name and contact information in case there are questions. Please do not put cash into the drop box. Citizens can use this resource which is especially helpful during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic as they won’t need to enter the building.

The front porch will be painted with swimming pool paint by the courthouse custodian.

In last week’s county commission article, it was reported in error the commissioners decided not to upgrade a maintenance contract with Norton Power System with the courthouse generator. Instead, the $23,670 was for a complete new generator, which they declined to do. The commissioners decided to stick with what the county has now.

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