Looking to the future, Schonhardt said, “What are our plans for this year? To get all these projects that I’ve just talked about rolling and substantial progress made on them. We’ve sent out some of these projects to bid already, and others are in the pre-bid process. You’re going to see a lot of projects get started once the weather warms up, and it’s going to be a busy year in Bonne Terre... We’ve made a lot of progress, and we are going to continue building on that progress.”
Mayor David Shaw, Desloge
“We’re really proud of our city, and I think we’re proud of the things that we’ve been able to do, and I think we’re looking with bright eyes to the future,” Shaw said. “Last year, when I made this presentation, I was able to highlight the big improvements we had on the main Deloge Drive with the new lights and the streets, curbing and all that. And that was the end result of years of work that was done by my predecessor and his predecessor and other folks on the board of aldermen. In 2022, we took just a little bit different tact. We thought we’d better look at our infrastructure and make some improvements there so that we are prepared for the future and can meet it efficiently and effectively.
In 2022, Shaw said the city bought a number of trucks, but it also bought a mini excavator with all the attachments necessary to swiftly dig up a water line.
“So in one stop, we can take care of it all, from the digging to the rock-breaking, to the cleaning, to the refill, and then tamping it down. So when we pull out of there, we’re done, and we don’t have to impose on that resident another time.”
Looking to the future, Shaw said the two-year process of updating the city’s 20-year, comprehensive plan had begun, with help from Southeast Missouri Regional Planning Commission.
Shaw shared that the city’s building inspector, Terry Kitchell is focusing on derelict homes.
“I don’t know about the rest of the communities, but many of our derelict homes are owned by people who no longer live there. They’ve inherited their home through whatever, and they wind up renting them out. And unfortunately, renters don’t keep up property like homeowners do. And it’s a long, thorough process to try to get rid of some of these homes, but we’re making progress on that.”
Additionally, Kitchell is working on a 100-year flood assessment and seeking ways to encourage compliance with city ordinances. Meanwhile, the city’s water department also kept busy last year.
“We had some success with the water department, where Paul Pilliard got on the internet and made a pitch for having shutoff valves within everybody’s home. I mean, whenever you’ve got a water problem, you wanna be able to get the water shut off pretty quick without calling from the water department.”
Shaw also mentioned that the water department is removing old four-inch service lines in a three-year project.
Moving on to public works, Shaw said the city completed a $2 million planning and engineering program that works on the Jackson Street renovation and our Roosevelt stormwater project. The town also is offering a trash service program.”
Shaw said public works completed State Street Project No. 1. “We couldn’t complete the entire State Street, but we did complete what we call Phase 1, which covers from the Walmart intersection down quite a bit.”
The city is hoping to soon begin phase two of the project, and take a look at the city’s stormwater infrastructure.
According to Shaw, the city’s volunteer fire department responded to 518 calls in 2022. Additionally, the department took part in 250 hours of firefighter training and added two rescue saws to its equipment inventory. In 2023, the city wants to upgrade the firehouse.
Shaw reported a second canine officer had been added to the city police department in 2022. Looking ahead, the department wants to upgrade its information technology department, continue providing “strong” training and education for its officers, evaluate the number of officers required for the force, and bring improvements to the police station.
Shaw reported the city’s parks and recreation department added a new basketball court in City Park.
“And despite the cold weather, it’s being used,” he said. “I saw some kids out there shooting hoops the other day. We also put in some new scoreboards and improved the fields at Brightwell Park.”
Mayor Larry Forsythe, Farmington
Beginning his presentation, Forsythe said, “I know most of you buy your electric from Ameren, but we do not. Electric utility rates were increased in 2014, and purchase power costs will have remained stable during the period, [with] the exception of extraordinary costs related to the southern winter storms that plagued Texas in that area. And we had to confront some money to help pay for that. Just so everybody knows, I think our share was like $2.5 million.
Forsythe said the Missouri Electric Commission is forecasting $78 a kilowatt hour, with an increase implemented in three phases: the first in April, the second in October, and the third in April 2024. “We’ve done everything we can to prevent these increases. But I do believe that everybody here is going to have an electric increase at one time or another.”
Forsythe noted sewer utility rates will also see a rise in April.
One of the biggest changes the city will experience in 2023 will be the utility payment office’s move from city hall to the former firehouse that, in recent years, had been the home of Big River Broadband.
“For those of you who have ever been to city hall in Farmington, you have to walk up the steps to pay your bill, and the elderly do not like that — and we do not like having the elderly to do that,” Forsythe said. “We will be purchasing that, and that will be our new utility and development services office.”
The city’s airport will get new airfield lighting in 2023 and trees and powerlines obstructing the runway will be removed, and “that’s a very costly, costly thing to do,” he said.
Forsythe reported improvements are underway on Weber Road, adjacent to Panera Bread.
“If anybody’s ever been to Panera Bread, it’s a nightmare, and we are going to try to fix that somehow,” he said. “We will get it done. We are putting in storm rains, and we’re going to do some rerouting of traffic, so just bear with us if you go to Panera Bread or Sonic. We also plan on resurfacing six miles of road this year on our local streets of the water system.”
The city will also begin renovating industrial groundwater storage.
“This is out by the UPS building on Industrial Drive,” Forsythe said. “It’s a million-gallon tank that has been sitting dormant. We are going to implement that and get that finished and get that back online. And we are installing generators on all of our key wells. That way, whenever the power goes out, the water won’t.”
The city of Farmington will also be following federal guidelines to check for lead water pipes that are still in use.
“How many cities have got the lead initiative from the government, the federal government?” Forsythe asked. “We are in contact with some groups in Little Rock, Arkansas. And it’s kind of funny because you buy this machine It’s a ground radar penetrating machine. It tells you what metal you have in the ground. But the funny thing about it is, it’s $70,000 for one machine. But when you’re done with it, what do you do with it? This is supposed to be implemented by 2024, so they give you a lot of time to get this thing done. We’ve got 6,500 services in our town.”
According to Forsythe, the city plans to allow other St. Francois County cities to use the equipment at no charge.
“Come and get it. I mean, we’re all here for one purpose, and that’s to make it. If $70,000 puts a dent in our pocket, I know it’s going to put a dent in somebody like Bismarck’s pocket. So if you want to use it and we’re done with it, we’ll be more than happy to let you come and get it. We appreciate it.”
Forsythe informed the crowd the city’s police and fire departments are fully staffed, but buying new trucks to replace older equipment could cost $1.5 million.
Mentioning the city’s proposed 3% tax on the use of recreational marijuana that will be appearing on the April ballot, the mayor said, “We’re gonna turn around and hopefully put this back into the school system because this is where the money should go back. If the adults are dumb enough to smoke, then we need to figure out how we can prevent the kids from not doing what their parents did. And I’m hoping this will do that.”
Forsythe asserted the homeless shelter has been a good asset for the city.
“The normal person does not understand what a homeless shelter is,” he said. “They just think it’s a pain in the butt. But it’s a very, very good thing to have because there are some people that are not as fortunate. They just need someplace to go, and that prevents them from sleeping in a cardboard box.”
As far as construction, Forsythe said, “We have two more big apartment complexes coming. One is a 26-acre, and one is the Dunning Farm, which will be a 72-building complex. So, Farmington’s growing, so just keep up — and Popeye’s is still coming.”
Mayor Stacey Easter, Park Hills
“I actually became mayor after my predecessor, John Clark, was running back in May,” Easter said. “It’s been a challenging time, but we’ve made some improvements, and I’m pretty excited about that. We do continue to see some growth in new businesses. We also see some growth in new single homes being built within the city. As Dr. Gilgour mentioned, MAC has some exciting things happening here with the Early Learning Academy and the Workforce Innovation and Education Center. We are hopeful of opportunities along our 67 corridors for development in the next year or so.
“Some accomplishments that we have within the city include our work towards public safety and making it a priority. We have purchased a new fire truck along with other equipment to make sure the department has some resources that they need. Our police department received eight [Flock Safety] cameras that have been placed throughout our city. Those cameras are meant to deter crime if you’re not familiar with them. They can also aid other cities in the apprehension of people entering our city and going to other cities as well.”
According to Easter, the city worked with the Central R-3 School District to provide two additional school resource officers for the campus.
“So, now Central R-3 schools have four total school resource officers and one resource officer for each campus all day, every day in their district. So that is something phenomenal, and we’re very proud to make happen this year. Our Prop P funds have allowed us to get additional raises for our police officers, along with purchasing other equipment that they desperately needed.
“Our utility department has seen some challenges this year, and we’re working with them to improve water quality and sewer capabilities within our city. These things include restoring our water plant that is aging, and I’m hopeful that soon we will see the purchase of equipment that will allow the repair and replacement of existing water lines.”
Easter said the city’s biggest project is the building of a new pool and water center.
“We have wrapped up the final details of the design and are now in our bid process,” she said. “The bids are due to go out back March 9th, with an opening date on that day as well. This will be a public opening, so anyone is welcome to attend if they wish. It will be at city hall. We are still on track for a Summer 2024 opening.
“Our Senior Center is undergoing a kitchen remodel that actually begins today. The staff is beyond excited to have an area that will allow them to do their jobs more effectively. You may not realize it, but our Senior Center provides meals for neighboring cities as well as Park Hills residents. Holly Buxton and her staff prepare almost 400 meals a day, with most of those being delivered to residents by volunteers. The search for a new city administrator is still ongoing as we continue to actively search for an individual that would be a great fit for Park Hills. We understand that this is possibly one of the biggest decisions our council will make.”
Concluding her presentation, Easter said, “The Council and I are trying to change the culture within our municipality by opening the lines of communication between all levels of the city government. We are expressing the importance of having the right person in key positions and never settling.