County school districts request reimbursement for COVID-19 related expenses, renovations

By Laura Schiermeier, Staff Writer
Posted 9/9/20

VIENNA — The Maries County Commission last Thursday had two more requests for CARES Act money to help both of the public school districts in the county pay for expenses incurred due to the …

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County school districts request reimbursement for COVID-19 related expenses, renovations

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VIENNA — The Maries County Commission last Thursday had two more requests for CARES Act money to help both of the public school districts in the county pay for expenses incurred due to the Covid-19 coronavirus. Earlier this year the county received $1,020,000 from the federal government to be used by public entities and businesses dealing with the changes brought about as they react to the coronavirus, which is sometimes expensive.

The Maries R-2 School District, Belle, requested $3,111.63 for drinking fountain upgrades.

The Maries R-1 School District, Vienna, asked for $5,602.25 for multiple items including non-budgeted work done to renovate the nurse’s office area, AT&T long distance bills, postage, and personal protective equipment (PPE).

County Clerk Rhonda Rodgers said she encouraged the Maries R-2 superintendent to submit and application for virus related expense reimbursement. The public entities can submit monthly applications for reimbursement rather than apply for a large amount at one time.

Maries R-1 already has been pre-approved for 14 water fountain bottle filling stations for $15,232. To be reimbursed the expense must be incurred and a receipt must be shown.

Presiding Commissioner Victor Stratman said the county plans to use the Covid-19 money to pay for the sheriff’s office bathroom repairs and renovations. A decontamination shower was installed and while they were at it the necessary plumbing was upgraded.

Stratman said he thinks the Covid-19 money distribution agreement with MRPC is good for the public entities part of the agreement. But, the business agreement is more in depth and it appears to be scaring people away as no applications have been received from business owners requesting reimbursement of money spent because of the coronavirus. On about every page of the application it states the money will have to be paid back if its found out later they should not have received it. Drewel asked why it is so complicated and said he thinks it may need to be made easier.

Western District Commissioner Ed Fagre said he’s heard of parents pawning their child’s Chrome Book laptop. Drewel wondered how education will be after all of this discussion about broadband and virtual learning.

Stratman said if these two new requests from the school districts are approved, it will bring the total county Covid-19 money spent to $246,861.28. There is $773,554.59 remaining to be spent.

They discussed upgrading fountains in the courthouse with bottle filling stations but the fountain just outside the commission meeting room was purchased new last year and it costs $1,000 to do the upgrade. They decided to wait and let MRPC look over the new requests.

Junky Neighbors

A citizen had expressed concern about the junky condition of their neighbor’s property and asked if the county can do anything to make the junky neighbors clean up their place. The commissioners said they hear complaints about this and about their neighbors driving too fast by their homes. They suggested trying to talk nicely to their neighbors about it. There is nothing the county commission can do.

Sold

On Aug. 31 the commissioners opened one bid on the 2011 Chevrolet truck Road Two advertised for sale. The pickup is  four-door, 4WD with 189,000 miles. Chuck Mayes bid $8,100. Drewel said he wanted at least $9,000 for the truck and if he can’t get it, he’ll keep the truck. On Thursday, Drewel said he sold the truck to Mayes for $9,000.

Building and Grounds

Stratman said Mike Shaughnessy will come later that day to measure the amount of floor square footage that will be stripped and waxed. He will keep in contact with Custodian Shawn Eaton on the project. Shaughnessy will use two coats of sealer and then wax the floors in the two bathrooms and other areas. He plans to do the work on the hallways on weekends.

Eaton talked about putting some type of netting over the window wells to keep the leaves out. Then the leaves could be taken off of the netting. Stratman said he thinks netting “will look unseemly.” Drewel asked how the netting would be put up as they can’t mount it to the wall of the courthouse because it is a historic building. He suggested making a plan to clean out the window wells once a month. Stratman said it’s a good idea but there is no way to make it look decent.

It was reported Eaton put up a chain to keep the public out of the workers area of the license office in the courthouse. This is something the state requires.

Eaton asked about replacing the residential dryer in the sheriff’s office with a commercial one. Maybe the Covid-19 money can be used to pay for it. The driver is for sheets, towels and blankets for the jail. Rodgers wondered if they are putting too much into the dryer at one time. Eaton said he checked the vents and filters. The dryer vents into a trash can that’s emptied because before it was expected to use a 25 foot vent to get out and that didn’t work very well. Stratman said he does not think a new dryer will qualify. He asked that it be monitored and not to put too much in the dryer at  one time.

One of the wooden front doors of the courthouse during the high wind that brought in the rainfall was flung open and with the force of the wind, hitting a concrete pillar, denting the heavy metal guards on the door, and now the door will not close properly. They looked at the hinges, thinking they had been bent. The door is not sitting right within its frame and can’t be closed. It’s not really a security issue as the foyer doors are locked and that door generally is not because of the dropbox just inside the front door. Eaton took off one of the hinges and it is an old, heavy, brass hinge. Drewel said they can straighten it or buy new ones. Fagre said they need to be heavy and strong. Stratman and Drewel worked on it a bit and got the door to close.

Miller Glass of Rolla had someone come to the courthouse to look at the handicap door just inside the exterior door at the south courthouse entrance. The glass door has an opener that has been leaking oil or something similar. Stratman said Miller Glass said it all needs to be replaced and gave a price of $6,800. Drewel asked, “Do we need it?” as it was put there to keep the heat in during the winter. Stratman said the handicap door in question is open all day and at night the exterior door is locked. Drewel said it provides an air lock and saves energy. Fagre said it’s too much money. They will close that door at night.

Canceled

Jill Holloway of MRPC informed the commissioners the Ozark Rivers Solid Waste Management District (ORSWMD) recycle event for Oct. 3 at Road Two has been postponed because of the coronavirus. They may do it in the spring. Drewel said he doesn’t think they should charge people to bring their recycled items to a recycle event. It defeats the purpose of it and they end up throwing the items in a road ditch.

The MAC Transportation Officials meeting set for Oct. 6 and 7 has been cancelled due to the coronavirus.

The County Clerk’s and Election Authorities Association meeting during the first week of September has not been cancelled. It was held in Kansas City and Fagre expressed concern for Rodgers and Clerk Renee Kottwitz attending it.

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