County commissioners consider John Deere road grader prices

Will wait to see how economy does this spring

By Laura Schiermeier, Staff Writer
Posted 3/31/21

VIENNA — Another heavy equipment salesman spoke with the Maries County Commission last week about road graders, prices, warranties and trade-in price.

Keith Thompson of Ashland, Territory …

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County commissioners consider John Deere road grader prices

Will wait to see how economy does this spring


VIENNA — Another heavy equipment salesman spoke with the Maries County Commission last week about road graders, prices, warranties and trade-in price.

Keith Thompson of Ashland, Territory Manager for Martin Equipment, priced John Deere road graders for the commissioners. He asked about the bid the commissioners received from Fabick CAT. Western District Commissioner Ed Fagre said the county received a bid, but “they weren’t very proud of our old ones.”

Thompson said he sold John Deere 672’s to Calloway County with a seven-year, 7,500 hours comprehensive warranty for $273,000 each. He said the prices on all of them “have taken a jump.” The trade-in price on that county’s four to five-year-old AWD road graders was $65,000. He said the market is not good for used road graders. 

Thompson told the commissioners a lot of the graders go overseas but there is trouble with the emissions equipment because they use a different type of diesel fuel overseas. John Deere is not allowed to take off the emissions equipment. 

Presiding Commissioner Victor Stratman asked how long the wait time is for new graders and was told about 90 to 120 days. Thompson said the road graders are made in Iowa and everything is high right now. Other counties have ordered new graders but some have decided to keep their current ones a little longer. He said there are plenty of options and he can guarantee the buy-back price. 

Eastern District Commissioner Doug Drewel said they need to think about it and wait to see how the economy does this spring. Thompson mentioned CARES Act or stimulus money. Drewel said the county does not have guidelines on spending the new money coming from the federal government after passage of the American Rescue Plan.

Thompson said there are a lot of options on financing. The warranty adds about $30,000 but over a period of seven years and 7,500 hours, “It may be good money spent” because if a transmission or engine goes out, it would quickly “eat $30,000.” The warranty is comprehensive and includes all service calls. “It’s a gamble,” he said. “A grader with no problems, you lost, but one with a lot of problems, we lost.”

He said the company has 10 stores, five road service trucks out on the road, and six mechanics. They can take care of repairs fairly quickly. 

Stratman said the price Thompson gave the commissioners on the John Deere road graders is more than the Fabick CAT graders were quoted, but John Deere has a better deal with the warranty. The Fabick CAT quote was $246,000 with a five-year warranty, and $251,500 for a seven-year warranty and 7,000 hours. 


Stratman was part of the Zoom meeting held by the Osage County Broadband Committee recently. It was organized by MRPC’s Anne Freand and about 16 people participated. He mentioned the internet providers Wisper, LTD, Aptitude, and Mercury Network. This is besides Bluebird. 

Stratman said someone mentioned Elon Musk’s Starlink that uses satellites the company has launched to provide high speed internet to millions worldwide. Stratman heard someone say they can get burnt if they invest in internet infrastructure, spending millions, and Elon Musk ends up with all the internet customers. Starlink promotes its internet service as being well suited for areas of the globe were connectivity has typically been a challenge. It is unbounded by traditional ground infrastructure. It can deliver high-speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable or unavailable.

Stratman said the internet companies want local committees to see where the demand for expanded broadband is. 

Fagre said Windstream put fiber optic in southwest part of the county. Stratman said he doesn’t understand why the companies are so hesitant. Fagre said they were told there were companies that received money to make improvements in Maries County. There were some lawsuits about it by other companies.

County IT Coordinator Shane Sweno was at the meeting briefly and Stratman asked if he could put together an interactive survey on the county’s website. He wants to survey the Maries County population about internet availability and needs. Sweno said Google has a way and the information collected can go into a database that can be accessed by the county. Stratman said questions they would like answers to include if people have broadband internet and how well does it work? Do they pay a reasonable price and does it meet their needs for all the users in the home? What do they use it for such as work, school, recreation? 

Sweno said a list of questions needs to be generated and he will look into the mechanics of putting a survey out there. He thinks it should be free.

Stratman said having better internet is positive for everyone. If people have good internet they will buy more. He asked how many people use the county’s website. Sweno will look. 

Two to three months

Annette Cash of the State Auditor’s Office spoke with County Clerk Rhonda Rodgers, Clerk’s Deputy Renee Kottwitz, Treasurer Rhonda Slone, and the commissioners about the upcoming county performance audit. This is a regularly scheduled audit they are required to do every term. It is a performance audit, not a financial audit, although they can look at financials. The audit will last two to three months. There is no start date yet.

Cash said there will be limited in-person visits, probably one to three visits to the county. The performance audit is for fiscal year 2020, but if auditors find something concerning, they can look back or forward. 

The first contact is based on planning such as changes made since the last audit and implemented prior audit recommendations. The auditors will speak to the county on any findings. Once the audit report is written and complete there will be a final exit report where the county can state its reasons for doing what it did. 

Audit staff will need a working space while they are at the courthouse. Rodgers said they can use the county commission room or courtroom.

Slone asked the purpose of a performance audit. Cash said the auditors look at the processes, procedures and controls used to limit fraud. They look at numbers, but mostly the contacts and procedures used to ensure cash is properly handled. Comments will be addressed to the county clerk. 

Cash said last time they had comments about the 911 fees. Slone said a 911 surcharge is placed on county land lines. The county does not have a 911 board. The county commission does not oversee any boards.

Cash asked about the license office, which the county operates. She noted DOR gets most of the money.

Two gasoline tax bills

The commissioners were looking at the Missouri Association of Counties (MAC) legislative newsletter. Two priorities of MAC already have cleared a hurdle in the current legislative session. Wayfair legislation (collecting online sales tax) and legislation to increase the fuel tax 12.5 cents over four years both have passed the Senate and are in the House. With the fuel tax, the increase would be two and three-quarter cents a year for four years. 

All of the commissioners are in favor of increasing the gasoline tax. Fagre said money comes to the county and cities as well. Rodgers said the roads are in bad condition in some places with holes in the road. 

Stratman said the fuel tax is paid by those who use the highways the most. Electric cars will not pay fuel taxes. Stratman said there may be electric cars but heavy machines and farm equipment will likely stay with gasoline. Fagre said Tesla has an electric road tractor that can haul 20 tons. There are new ways of doing things.

Stratman asked them to contact Senator Bernskoetter and Representative Sassmann encouraging them to support more transportation funding for Missouri. 

Another priority is jail reimbursement. The commissioners think the state owes Maries County about $60,000 in unreimbursed jail board for state prisoners. 

Dangerous drug

Sheriff Chris Heitman was as the meeting briefly and reported there was another overdose death in the Vichy area, a 27-year-old man. 

Drugs remain a problem in Maries County. The sheriff said the use of methamphetamine is going down, but heroine use, the most dangerous drug, is increasing.


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