County clerk, commissioners support no excuse absentee voting

By Laura Schiermeier, Staff Writer
Posted 3/11/20

MARIES COUNTY — The Maries County Commission recently received correspondence from The League of Women Voters of Metro St. Louis asking the commissioners to contact their representatives in …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

County clerk, commissioners support no excuse absentee voting


MARIES COUNTY — The Maries County Commission recently received correspondence from The League of Women Voters of Metro St. Louis asking the commissioners to contact their representatives in Jefferson City in support of SB 681, a senate bill that modifies a provision relating to voting in elections. The bill is for early voting and Presiding Commissioner Victor Stratman and County Clerk Rhonda Rodgers both said they do not support this particular senate bill.

One of the proposed sections increases the number of days the early voting centers would be open from the sixth Tuesday before the election until 7 p.m. to the Monday immediately before the election. The hours of the early voting would be from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday on the weekend before the election the centers would be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Stratman said he does not support any bill that will put additional costs on Maries County. This modification would do that if the county had to pay people to staff voting centers or even the county clerk’s office for additional hours.

Rodgers said that early voting already exists in Missouri with absentee balloting. She, along with the county clerk’s association, would rather see no excuse absentee voting so voters could vote early without having to state a reason for it. The League of Women Voters also supports that there should be no requirement to provide a reason for early voting, and that any registered voter should be able to vote at an official voting site by providing the ID necessary for any voters on a set election day.

Rodgers said there are so many ways to register to vote; there also are so many ways to request a ballot as it can be done through the mail or online. She thinks the league’s early voting centers are not something that is needed in rural Maries County. They already do early voting as the County Clerk’s office is open the Saturday before an election. On this day the clerk’s office may have no voters coming in to vote, or in the past have had as few as two people and 14 at the most. Also, her office is open until 5 p.m. the Monday before an election.

The county clerk’s association in the past has supported no excuse absentee legislature but the association is not in support of early voting centers that carry huge costs.

Western District Commissioner Ed Fagre said he thinks the cheapest way to vote is with mail in ballots. This way is secure and easy for voters to pick up the ballot in their mailbox, vote it, and mail it back to the election authority. It promotes much larger voter participation in elections in the places that use this method. For the county, there aren’t expenses with polling sites and poll workers.

For Emergency Use

Fagre said Maries R-1 School asked permission to use the county’s repeater for emergency radio transmissions. The repeater is located on a tower on the old Shell Oil building on Highway 133. Fagre said the county acquired this when Doug DiNatale was sheriff. It was given to the county.

Eastern District Commissioner Doug Drewel said radios are almost a thing of the past. Fagre said he and the Road One workers use cell phones now to communicate instead of the radios. Drewel said if you can’t get cell service in an area or down in a low place, you likely don’t have good radio service either. The commissioners said they are happy to help out the school, saying its all taxpayers’s dollars.

Building and Grounds

Commissioner Stratman talked to Custodian Shawn Eaton about buying mulch for trees on the courthouse lawn after the tree trimming is finished. He thinks the product can be purchased locally.

Eaton said he found out recently CINTAS has a minimum charge of $35 week so they may want to rethink buying toilet paper, paper towels and soap from another vendor, Office Essentials, which would have saved money. Stratman said they may save enough on the paper and soap purchase to make up the difference. Fagre said there are other vendors that can be used.

Eaton said they have four rugs, the blue ones, from CINTAS and the company cleans them. The county owns four red rugs and Eaton takes care of those. He said he thinks he can buy all new rugs for about $300 and then he can vacuum them. Drewel suggested using a pressure washer to wash the rugs. He said it would be cheaper in the long run to own and take care of the rugs themselves. Treasurer Rhonda Slone said Eaton is making more work for himself. He said working makes the day go by faster.

They talked about the mop heads they buy through CINTAS and the company cleans them as well. Eaton said the drawback is there is no way to wash them. After some discussion it was decided it would be easier to buy disposable mop heads for about $1 each rather than paying CINTAS $2 per mop head to wash them.

Stratman asked Eaton to not sign a new contract with CINTAS and if they have a problem with it to have them contact the county commission and he will speak with them.

About the trees on the courthouse lawn, the commissioners want them trimmed but want to have it done for the lowest price. Phone calls were made and they are waiting to hear from several tree trimmers.

The commissioners agreed the profits from the snack machine can be used for the “flower fund” used to purchase funeral flowers and pay for the meat served for retirement luncheons and the Christmas party. Before the profit was going to general revenue. Slone said it’s about $900 a year. Stratman said he doesn’t see a problem with it.

Rock not dust

In last week’s county commission article, it was stated an Owensville man wants to use a machine to grind shingles into dust and it should have stated it is ground into rock. The rock can be used on roads and reduces the amount of dust.

Jim Moritz wants to work with Maries, Osage and Gasconade counties to get this grinder to Owensville to make this product. Stratman said it is a solid waste issue as well because it can keep shingles out of the landfill, a desirable result. However, the cost is $17 per ton and currently the county pays $5.60 per ton of rock from the quarry. Stratman said he thinks it could be done if they work together and put a charge on the shingles as the roofing companies currently pay to have them disposed of.

The Advocate contacted Waylon Kleffner of R&K Roofing who said they pay a landfill about $100 a ton to dispose of the shingles. The company uses landfills in Rolla and Jefferson City. Also, sometimes the old shingles are taken to an asphalt company that removes the nails and grinds the old shingles and puts this product in asphalt. Kleffner said Owensville would be too far for their roofing company to haul shingles because they don’t do work in that area. There may be other roofing companies in the Belle area that may be interested in this.

Highway 63

Stratman plans to attend the March 20 meeting in Houston at 10 a.m. when interested persons from three planning commissions will discuss Highway 63 and what can be done to improve it. Stratman said the money is not available for a four-lane highway. He doesn’t think bypassing towns with a new alignment will make them ghost towns as the towns have more going on in them than Highway 63 passing through them. He favors the spot improvements MoDOT engineers came up with in an effort to help improve safety on the road during a time of low funding for large projects.


No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment