Phelps County Commissioners on Tuesday approved vacating an alley in Jerome and heard opposition from a resident about a separate petition to vacate a section of county road west of Newburg.

Phelps County Commissioners on Tuesday approved vacating an alley in Jerome and heard opposition from a resident about a separate petition to vacate a section of county road west of Newburg.

With no discussion, the county commission unanimously approved a request to vacate an alley in Jerome which extends from the east side of the unimproved Fifth Street right-of-way boundary for about 397.7 feet to the vacated Fourth Street right-of-way boundary and from the east side of the vacated Fourth Street right-of-way boundary for approximately 74.45 feet.

Roy G. McClendon and Judy A. McClendon own property on both sides of the alley, which is considered abandoned. A letter from Roy states that the alley has never been developed or used as a byway for vehicle or pedestrian traffic.

No county funds have been expended for the establishment or improvement of the alley. In addition, Roy’s letter states that there is no beneficial purpose or service of the alley to the community of county.

A first reading of this petition took place in early July. State statute requires the commission to wait until the next quarter to take action.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the commission said a different petition to vacate a section of County Road 7530 is under consideration. Twelve residents, including members of the Richard J. Myers family, in the Arlington Township west of Newburg, signed the petition.

This petition requests vacating the section of County Road 7530 between the north right-of-way line of State Highway P and a point 225 feet south of the south right-of-way line of the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe (BNSF) Railroad.

Along this section of road, there is a bridge, known as the Grotto Bridge, over the Little Piney Creek that was closed by a commission order on Dec. 15, 2009 after a Missouri Department of Transportation engineer inspected it and suggested the bridge’s lifespan was over.

Gene Pahlmann, a resident who lives on Highway P, attended Tuesday’s commission meeting and said that he would like to see the bridge fixed.

“It seems like you’re not representing the county, but a few people who want privacy,” Pahlmann said. “There’s a lot of people besides the spotlighters who frequent that route.”

Pahlmann said drivers in the area use County Road 7530 to reach Sugar Tree Road, noting that it’s an approximate 11-mile trip around the bridge. Since the bridge has been closed, residents south of the bridge have been asked to use Route T through Newburg to travel north.

Presiding Commissioner Randy Verkamp reiterated that this petition is only being considered and that under state statutes, the commission cannot take action on the petition until the next quarter, which would be after Jan. 1, 2013.

“More people want the bridge open than (people who want to) close it,” Pahlman said. “It could have easily been remedied ... I think there’s a way to make everyone happy without breaking your budget.”

District Two Commissioner Bud Dean said an engineering study done on the bridge estimated that it would cost about a half million dollars to turn the closed bridge into a low-water crossing, but Verkamp worried that drivers would cross when they shouldn’t if the water gets above the road. Verkamp said the danger comes if the population in that area increases, which could lead to more traffic and possibly more incidents.

“We’ve looked for a solution for a long time, but couldn’t find one,” Verkamp said.

In other business, County Road Superintendent Walter Snelson said he met Friday with MoDOT at the site of the County Road 3620 bridge located at the end of State Route DD near Boys and Girls Town of Missouri east of St. James.

Snelson said steelwork costing about $400 could be the best solution to stop movement on the bridge and raise the weight limit back up to 10 tons. Currently, the weight limit is 3 tons. “It beats redoing the deck,” Snelson said.

The commission also approved a childcare health consultation contract for the Phelps/Maries County Health Department with an amount not to exceed $9,037.80.

Jodi Waltman, director of the health department, explained that the contract allows the health department to have a registered nurse work with day care facilities in both Phelps and Maries counties. Last year, the nurse worked with 31 day care facilities, Waltman said.

The contract allows the department to “help provide education for the workers and to help promote the health and safety of the children in the facilities. Some of education also is given to the children.”

Waltman said for instance, last year, the department coordinated CPR classes for staff at the day care facilities. The contract also works with the Division of Family Services to train how to recognize and properly report child abuse and neglect, education on infection control practices, food safety and healthy snacks and activities to prevent childhood obesity among several other activities.