County officials hope installation of elevator begins in next 3 weeks

By Buck Collier, Special Correspondent
Posted 6/5/24

HERMANN — Installation of the elevator in the Gasconade County courthouse could begin within the next three weeks, according to the latest status report on the project. At least that’s …

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County officials hope installation of elevator begins in next 3 weeks


HERMANN — Installation of the elevator in the Gasconade County courthouse could begin within the next three weeks, according to the latest status report on the project. At least that’s the hope of Presiding Commissioner Tim Schulte, R-Hermann, who has been anxiously waiting for work to resume.

“I hope things start happening within three weeks of June 1,” he said at last week’s session of the County Commission.

Otis Elevator personnel are expected to be the ones to install the lift that will reach from a corner of the Emergency Operations Center in the basement to adjacent to the rotunda opening on the second floor.

Work on the project came to a halt after Franklin County Construction of New Haven in recent weeks finished its part in digging the pit for machinery and building the shaft that will enclose the elevator. At that point, it became a waiting game as Otis workers reportedly were finishing another project before taking on this one.

Meanwhile, in other matters during the session, the County Commission took up several routine measures:

County Clerk Lesa Lietzow reported that Dan Mercer of AQM of Washington was scheduled that morning to do a walk-through of the courthouse with companies interested in bidding on the rewiring of the building’s computer network. The work will be part of the overall effort to harden the security of the network against cyberattacks.

On a related front, Lietzow was asked about the condition of the phone system in the courthouse — a new one that replaced an aging system but one that has been plagued with problems. “I think they worked this week,” said the county clerk.

However, while steps to remedy the problems affecting the various offices appear to have largely succeeded, there still remains hiccups in the phone network. Deputy Assessor Julia Baker said her office is learning to deal with the problems.

“We’re getting the rhythm of what it do” when the phones act up, she said.

The system was purchased at the first of the year from STL Communications of Chesterfield to replace a decades-old system that essentially had outlived it use and was having significant problems. County administrators have been frustrated with the ongoing trouble with the new system.

“We bought that phone system and it was supposed to work and it hasn’t worked,” said Northern District Associate Commissioner Jim Holland, R-Hermann.

The Commission was cautioned by the county clerk against wanting to move too quickly in submitting paperwork for a requested speed-limit reduction on another county road, considering that documents regarding requests from residents for lower speed limits on two other roads have been in the hands of state government agencies for several weeks.

Lietzow said the necessary documents regarding the previous requests have been submitted to the Missouri Department of Transportation and the Missouri State Highway Patrol for several weeks.

“There’s no sense in sending (the new set of documents),” Lietzow said. “There’s been no response (on the earlier requests) from either” MoDOT or MSHP, she said.

Residents of the county roads are asking that the speed limit on those roads be reduced, probably to about 35 miles per hour. Unless otherwise posted, the speed limit on the county’s gravel roads is 55 miles per hour. The County Commission does not have the authority to reduce speed limits on county roads. That’s why MoDOT and the Highway Patrol are contacted for input regarding an appropriate speed limit.

Southern District Associate Commissioner Jerry Lairmore, R-Owensville, said he would reach out to MoDOT’s regional engineer Preston Kramer in an effort to get a response from the state agencies regarding the earlier requests.

The Commission Thursday morning also reappointed Laura Hengstenberg of Owensville to another term on the Board of Directors of Scenic Regional Library District. Hengstenberg is one of four representatives from Gasconade County to sit on the panel that includes representatives of Gasconade, Franklin and Warren counties.

The reappointment of Hengstenberg highlighted one success for county governments in the just-ended session of the Missouri General Assembly: The failure of a bill that would have required the election of library district representatives.

County government officials watched this bill closely during the session. As written, it would have required library district representatives to be elected at large on November General Elections ballots, which would make the library board seats partisan in nature. It also would have required county government to foot the bill for library district elections, rather than making the districts responsible for a share of the elections, as are other political subdivisions with candidates or issues on a ballot.

County residents will soon be receiving property assessment impact notices based on the review of new construction in the county, according to Baker. She noted there was limited new construction so the effect on taxpayers should be minimal.

“I don’t anticipate we’d be getting a lot of pushback” on the assessments at this year’s Board of Equalization (BOE) session.

At the BOE gathering, held in July, property owners can dispute the assessed value of their properties if they feel it’s assessed too high, which makes for larger tax bills. In recent years the BOE has dealt with only one or two appeals from taxpayers.