DNR Restrictions May Force City To Say No To CREP
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August 9, 2001

DNR Restrictions May Force City To Say No To CREP

The Memphis City Council will wait until September to make a difficult decision regarding the proposed CREP program.

Conservationist Ken Berry and Farm Service Agency representative Gary Kittle were present at the August 2 meeting of Memphis City Council to discuss the proposal.

Berry told the council there are 499 acres in Scotland County that surround Lake Show-Me that could be enrolled in the project. He estimated the benefit of the federal program would be as high as $650,000 to landowners over the period of the program.

"If they participate we would have 98% of land in the watershed in grass or other stabile systems," Berry said. "I think it would be a very effective insurance policy for your water quality in the city of Memphis."

Berry also noted that the Department of Natural Resource water regulations are expected to be much stricter starting in 2004.

Mayor Ron Alexander explained to Berry that the city's original concern regarding possible liability if landowners did not meet the CREP contract was still an issue. However it was no longer the top problem with the proposal.

Alexander read a letter from DNR director Don Scott that addressed the liability issue. The conclusion of the note generated another concern for the city.

Scott's letter indicated that participation in the CREP program this year would automatically eliminate any participating group such as the City of Memphis from consideration for any other DNR funded projects for the next two years.

Alexander explained this was a key concern as the city is pursuing DNR funding for expansion of the water plant.

"We want to bring the CREP money to the landowners and keep Scotland County green, so to speak, but we must keep our other interests in mind," Alexander stated. "Bottom line we are going to have to come up with some outside funding to continue supplying rural water and this definitely will need to include money from DNR."

Alexander continued stating, "Our first responsibility is to the citizens of Memphis and then to the surrounding area."

Both Berry and Kittle indicated they were unaware of the DNR funding restrictions that CREP enrollment might create.

Kittle indicated that DNR stated the CREP application and enrollment would give the city a step ahead on other similar grant applications.

"If we are not in the funding cycle for the DNR grant in the next two years, we definitely would strongly consider the CREP project," Alexander stated.

Berry indicated there is no specific deadline to apply for the CREP program but noted it is limited to 50,000 acres statewide by legislation unless the program is re-authorized for more ground.

Alderman Ron Gardner stated, with one alderman missing from the meeting he would like the council to take the issue under advisement and make a decision at the September meeting when all representatives would be present.

Alderman Mike Stone was unable to attend the meeting after being hospitalized earlier in the day after suffering heat-related problems at work.

Public Hearings

The council held one public hearing regarding property in violation of municipal code. The city had received a complaint against the property at 420 S. Knott Street.

City Marshal Terry Simerl stated he had reviewed the property prior to the meeting and felt it was unsatisfactory.

"It is a long way from where it needs to be, however he has made some improvements," stated Marshal Simerl.

Simerl presented photos of the property indicating the progress as well as the remaining work.

"There are quite a bit of problems there, yet he still hasn't totally ignored our letter," Simerl stated. "There's still quite a bit of work to be done."

Alderman Patty Simerl suggested continuing the deadline for 30 days to allow the completion of the cleanup by the property owner.

"Let's give him a little more time to get it cleaned," she said. "I think he is willing to make an effort and he has already made a huge attempt."

Alderman Gardner amended the motion to allow the council to draft a letter stating the work that is done is appreciated but the property is not up to city code and must be completed by September 1 or legal action will be taken.

The council voted 3-0 to send the letter.

Citizen Participation

Jeff Behrens, president of the Scotland County Business and Professional Association gave an update on a proposed community-wide website.

Cecil Scheib and Tony Sirna from Skyhouse Consulting of Rutledge were present to display a rough draft of the proposed Internet site. The webpage was displayed on a laptop computer to allow the council members to view the proposed site for Scotland County.

Sirna told the council that the website would include links to each city and town in Scotland County. He stated the main purpose of the site would be to bring new people, new business, and expanded commerce to the county. The website will also serve as an informational tool for residents with a calendar of events, information on public offices and other pertinent local news.

Behrens indicated the site would feature a business directory with local merchants having the opportunity to purchase a webpage to be linked to the Scotland County site. The cost of the webpages will help support the construction of the site as well as the maintenance and update fees.

Sirna said Skyhouse Consulting would like input from community regarding what citizens want to see on the site.

"This is going to be a true community effort," Behrens said. "When we get it completed the site will be very impressive. The webpage is going to be a big tool I think to help us attract new business or new businesses to the community. It will showcase all that Scotland County has to offer."

Behrens stated that community groups as well as the city and county would be looked to as funding sources for the project. The SCBPA, Scotland County Rotary Club and the City of Memphis have already made preliminary pledges for financial assistance.

Checking Account Bids

The council reviewed the lone bid for the 2001-2003 fiscal year financial services for the city.

The Memphis Branch of the Bank of Kirksville submitted a bid of three-percent interest on checking accounts and 3.5 percent interest on money market accounts for the depository bid period of September 1, 2001 through August 31, 2003.

Branch president Sandy Arnold was present at the meeting and told the council the bank appreciated the past business of the city and hoped to continue the service.

The council unanimously approved the two-year contract with Bank of Kirksville.

Department Reports

Light crew superintendent Dave Kittle told the council that Northeast Missouri Rural Electric Cooperative had donated three transformers for the city to use while the existing units were down, being cleaned and repaired.

The co-op had a crew in Memphis to install the transformers and Kittle indicated the city would pay for the labor, but will not have to pay rent on the units.

Street superintendent Roy Monroe said the weather had begun to cooperate again, allowing his crew to get back to work on the box culvert being constructed on Ridge Street.

Monroe also stated the drainage project contractor was ordering pipe at his expense or the pipe company's expense to replace a faulty 200-foot section in the northwest part of town. Monroe said his crew would install the pipe, which will finalize the project.

The water and light plant departments indicated normal monthly activities for July.

Chief Simerl reported the Memphis Police Department investigated two peace disturbances, three domestic disputes, one case of vandalism, one burglary, and one case of stealing. Officers made 22 traffic stops and investigated four motor-vehicle accidents. The department received 303 telephone calls, made 28 community security checks as well as 111 miscellaneous calls. Officers assisted at one fire scene and on three ambulance/hospital calls.

Simerl stated a Des Moines, IA area police department had made a preliminary offer on the Memphis Police Department's 1994 Crown Victoria, offering $4,000 for the car. The council approved the sale of the vehicle if the Des Moines department proceeded.

Alderman Reports

Alderman Simerl reported attending a July 20 airport meeting. A Fly-in meal will be held August 26.

Simerl also reminded the council members of the Relay for Life event to be held on the city square August 3 and 4.

Alderman Gardner discussed an alley where the property owners were requesting grader work. He questioned if the requesting party needed to have permission of all adjoining property owners. The council indicated that was not necessary. The only input from the landowners would be possibly to share the expense of placing gravel or other resurfacing materials on the alley, since that is the responsibility of the property owners.

Alderman Cindy Garrett presented a request for lights at the tennis court. Superintendent Kittle stated he would check on the existing lights.


Copyright © 2001
Memphis Democrat
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