Greene County Commission Court Session: Utility Assessment Rise & Storm Damage Issues

The Greene County Commission held a County Court session Monday morning that covered a range of topics including a raise in the locally assessed value of utilities and news that homeowners who were impacted by the storms may find a more difficult path to restoration.

The report from County Clerk Shane Schoeller showed a 3% rise in the assessed value of the utilities and railroad routes through the county. The Commission accepted the assessment on a unanimous vote.

The Mayor of Walnut Grove speaks to the Greene County Commission during their Court session

The mayor of Walnut Grove presented a lively report to the Council about his community, announcing at the end he’s starting a program called “Catfish with the Mayor” where he’ll take you to his favorite spots to fish and then show you a place where the fish you catch can be cooked to perfection within Walnut Grove.

The Missouri Job Center told the Commission they will be hosting a hiring event for people in the healthcare industry. They highlighted students they have been working with in the healthcare fields and noted the dozens that will soon be graduating and entering the workforce.

The Missouri Extension Center said they are hosting a conference on garlic and how that can become an additional cash crop for both commercial farmers and homeowners. They said many area farms are still in “rebuilding” phases after last year’s drought required them to cull their herds.

The Extension office is hosting a community and leadership meeting with the Mizzou alumni association on June 13, 2019 that features Mizzou graduates that are leaders in the community. The event will feature a keynote address from Commissioner John Russell.

The Commission also honored the Extension office for work they did around the courthouse building.

County Administrator Chris Coulter said there are five candidates for the county’s new Purchasing Director and interviews begin on Friday. Natalie Gomez has been named the new head of the pretrial department.

It was noted the County’s offices will be closed on Wednesday for Truman Day.

The Highway Department told the Commission that debris removal from last week’s storms will take “a few more weeks” and that crews are working as fast as possible to remove downed trees and other debris.

The Highway Department crew is waiting for enough dry days to begin striping work on county roads.

Commissioner Bengsch pointed out that the Highway Department within 24 hours of the storm cleared all the county roads that were blocked by debris, with the only road not opened was covered by live power lines, leaving the county crew unable to enter the area to clear the debris.

Commissioner Bengsch also pointed out that with the low unemployment in the area, the department is down 12 positions for people to do mowing on the county right-of-ways. He asked staff to help inform the community of the jobs that are available and also that it might take longer for the County to be able to mow and clear right-of-ways because of the lower staffing levels. County staff told the Commissioner that anyone 18-years-old or older is welcome to apply for the open seasonal mowing positions.

Commissioner Dixon announced that the Commission is sending letters of thanks to several county staff. He noted that several departments including Emergency Management and the County Clerk’s office gave up budget to allow for IT work to be done across the county that benefited the entire county. The Commission was thanking those departments for making a sacrifice in their individual department for the good of all in the county and that it shows the “great teamwork we have in Greene County.”

OEM reported a total of 85 residences and one business impacted by the tornadoes that struck last week. Several structures are destroyed or damaged beyond repair although they did not give a formal total.

Larry Woods of OEM thanked the Sheriff’s office for their staff working overtime in making sure there was security in the areas hardest hit by the storms. The Highway Department and environmental experts were thanked. Public Information Officer Donna Barton was honored for her outstanding work coordinating information requests from the media and getting out information to the public for where to go for the necessary help in their situation.

OEM noted there are the possibility of severe storms overnight through Wednesday night, including a risk of tornadoes. The ground is saturated and the storms have the potential for a lot of rain.

“It won’t take much to bring more flooding,” Woods said. “A little variance of the [current] forecast and we’re back in the heaviest of it.”

County Geologist Matt Forir said there were nine sinkhole collapses in the county last week likely caused by the rainfall. The county’s staff is also going to begin working with the city of Springfield on sinkhole issues in the city.

Building Development reported they have been out in the county looking at storm damage and that there are going to be issues related to rebuilding for some of the destroyed homes.

“There were less regulations when the homes were built,” Dave O’Dell told the Commission. “With changes to zoning and stormwater requirements, they may have to meet our current codes and that will result in problems with rebuilding their homes where they had been.”

OI will be following up with the County to gain more information on code changes that could impact those rebuilding after the storms.

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