It was still business as usual for the Phelps County Commission on Tueday during its regular meeting.

The first item tackled was the need for a new van for COSP (Community Operated Services Program), which handles the supervision of community service hours for the county.

“It’s a great program,” said Presiding Commissioner Randy Verkamp, who stated that instead of spending time in a cell, people can work off their sentences on the weekends by doing useful work around the community.


It was still business as usual for the Phelps County Commission on Tueday during its regular meeting.
The first item tackled was the need for a new van for COSP (Community Operated Services Program), which handles the supervision of community service hours for the county.
“It’s a great program,” said Presiding Commissioner Randy Verkamp, who stated that instead of spending time in a cell, people can work off their sentences on the weekends by doing useful work around the community.
Unfortunately, the program is so busy it needs a larger, 15-passenger van to transport people.
Commissioners asked Mark Brookshire, Phelps County facilities manager, whether the red van he uses could be used by COSP on weekends.
Brookshire said the seats would have to be bolted back into the 1991 van, which would limit his use. He said he’d just spent more than $800 to have the steering gear box and shocks fixed.
“I’d hate to lose it,” he said.
Commissioners decided to check for another van through the government surplus inventory.
In other business, the commission:
• Reappointed Dick Elgin as the county’s Land Commissioner for another four years;
• Briefly reviewed a surface mining public notice in which Southwest Quarry & Materials, Inc., will transfer its mining permit to Melrose Quarry & Asphalt, for the mining of limestone on 60 acres of land located in Phelps County.
• Accepted an order from the 15th Circuit Court, signed by Presiding Judge Mary Sheffield and Circuit Judge Tracy Storie, directing the county to pay juvenile attorney Dawn Clayton’s total mileage claim of $5,915.67. In a previous meeting, the Commission agreed to pay only the amount claimed for November since it had not been turned in monthly, as stated in the contract.
• Acknowledged the receipt of a letter from the Missouri Department of Revenue establishing April 19 to 25 as the Show Me Green Sales Tax Holiday dates, and asking whether the county would participate. According to County Clerk Carol Bennett, Phelps County Commissioners rejected the event in the past, feeling that sales taxes were voted on by taxpayers and should not be set aside by a political mandate.
The Show Me Green Sales Tax Holiday was enacted by the general assembly in 2008 to encourage the purchase of energy star certified appliances. However, cities and counties choosing to participate must notify the state’s department of revenue by March 5.
• Discussed changes to the county’s insurance package. In a discussion led by Commissioner Larry Stratman, the board considered five proposed changes; all of which will be voted on at the next meeting on Tuesday.
Some of the changes include eliminating retiree insurance coverage at age 65, at which time the employee becomes eligible for Medicare, while allowing a retiree’s dependents to be covered by a  COBRA plan for an additional 18 months.
Stratman said the change was approved by the Commission three years ago, but “no one told Blue Cross that, so they didn’t know.”
Other discussion involved wording which had been in place since 1981.
Commissioners agreed it was time to close a loophole which would allow a former employee, with only a few years of county service, to return years later when “retired” and be ask to be covered once again by the county’s insurance plan.
Stratman suggested adding the phrase “immediately upon retirement” to the option of choosing to continue medical coverage through the county.
Changing the benefit package midstream for current employees drew the most discussion.
Verkamp noted that the Commission would be “25 years away from seeing an impact” if changes were made only from this point forward.
Making changes to retirement benefits for existing employees worried County Clerk Carol Bennett.
“A person could work for the county as a career and then not have the benefits they were promised,” she explained.
“I think it (certain changes) might force people to keep working,” agreed Stratman.
“But that’s happening all over America,” said Verkamp.
“Most industries, when you retire, you’re gone,” said Stratman. “It’s just government that’s different. In a government job, you don’t always have the choice of staying.”
After further discussion, commissioners decided that adding a “term of service” of 15 years before retirement, to continue to be covered with the medical package, was the best solution.
Stratman said he would continue to work on wording and details, and present the changes for approval at the next meeting.