Voters reject 911 cell phone fee

Proposition A asking Maries County voters to support a $1 per month fee on cell phones to pay for 911 services was defeated by 47 votes (322 Yes 45.87 percent and 369 No 52.56 percent) with just 11.57 percent of the county’s voters making the trip to the polls on Tuesday, April 2.

The majority of the county’s precincts voted down the cell phone fee for 911. Vienna (110-96) and Hodgeville (9-4) were the only two precincts that passed the county commission and sheriff’s petition to voters to approve the cell phone fee for 911. 

Maries County Sheriff Chris Heitman said he is disappointed in the results.

But respects the voters’ decision. He said he should have campaigned a little harder to inform the public of grave consequences with this not passing. He said the county will continue to do the best they can with what they have but it is not enough to properly fund 911 services.

They were hoping the cell phone fee would generate about $60,000 annually to support the county’s 911 Dispatch Center, which they say needs more manpower and equipment upgrades. 

On Proposition A, other precinct totals were: Santee (24 Yes-34 No); Brinktown (10-35); Hayden Heights (17-39); Safe (17-21); Mason Ridge (13-16); Belle (80-89); and Vichy (14-21).

County-wide, only 702 of the county’s 6,070 voters came to their respective polling sites on Tuesday. County Clerk Rhonda Rodgers, the county’s election authority, who last week predicted a low voter turnout of 9 percent, said she still had hoped for more voting activity in the county. She called the low voter turnout a shame as an election costs taxpayers money, and the April election is estimated to cost $17,000 to $20,000. To have such a low voter turnout is discouraging. “It’s a shame more people don’t express their rights by voting. This election we had today will affect the taxpayers more than a presidential election will. What we voted on today is important to our communities,” she said.

Other than the county Proposition A, voters chose two school board members in Maries R-1, re-electing Joseph Barnhart who received 243 votes (35.12 percent), and David Long who had 249 votes (35.98 percent). Challenger Matt Clark netted 118 votes (17.05 percent). 

In the Dixon R-1 School District of Pulaski County, Maries County voters chose David Day with 58 votes and Doug Roam with 57 votes. 

For school board directors for a 3-year term in the St. James School District of Phelps County, Maries County voters chose Tina Spurgeon with 31 votes and Carl Behr with 31 votes. County voters chose for a two-year term on the St. James School Board Timothy Wilson with 39 votes and Justin Sybert with 29 votes. 

County voters chose Shannon P. Lusk with 11 votes and William “Bill” RE Parsons with 10 votes for the Rolla School District. 

Voters turnout numbers by Maries County precincts were: Santee 17.02 percent voter turnout with 64 votes cast; Brinktown 15.33 percent with 46 votes cast; Vienna 14.10 percent with 206 votes cast; Hayden Heights 12.80 percent with 59 votes cast; Safe 9.84 percent with 38 votes cast; Belle 9.19 percent with 169 votes cast; Vichy 6.35 percent with 35 votes cast; and Hodgeville 5.08 percent with 13 votes cast. There were 43 absentee ballots voted.

A three-man race for the Belle Ward 2 Alderman seat resulted in incumbent Tony G. Gieck as victor with 33 votes (58.93 percent) total; Vinny MacClugage received zero votes and Christopher Bray received 20 (35.71 percent).

The two-man race for director of Belle Fire Protection District resulted in incumbent Nathan Abel retaining his seat with 110 votes (33.13 percent). His opposer, Andy Littrell, received 53 votes (15.96 percent).

Belle Ward 1 Alderman Courtney Abel ran unopposed and received 27 votes (87.10 percent), retaining her seat.

Belle precinct’s final count was 169 voters.