Phelps County’s senior companion program is one of two in the state of Missouri to participate in a fixed amount grant pilot program.

Phelps County’s senior companion program is one of two in the state of Missouri to participate in a fixed amount grant pilot program.

According to Jan Boatright, director of the county senior companion program, the county program will have a new fixed amount budget starting next year instead of a cost-reimbursement budget. “We can draw down funds as we see fit,” Boatright told Phelps County Commissioners Tuesday.

The commission unanimously approved the application for the grant pilot program in the amount of $345,800 to the Corporation for National and Community Service.

According to Boatright, the new pilot program would also mean that the county senior companion program will not have to “keep up with match requirements” any longer. It also would mean a reduction in paperwork, she added.

The pilot program will start in January and run for three years, Boatright said.

“You’re being rewarded for how you run your organization,” said Presiding Commissioner Randy Verkamp said. “It’s flattering that they are placing trust in your program.”

Senior companions are healthy, older adults ages 60 and over who serve clients each week on a scheduled basis.

Senior companions have assisted adults and their peers to maintain the independence they have worked for all their lives.

The program’s clients include veterans, Alzheimer’s patients, those who are blind and deaf, men and women recuperating from major surgery as well as those who are simply frail. Respite care is another contribution the senior companion program makes.

Missouri has a total of four senior companion programs.

In other business

• The county is soliciting bids for work to remove and replace the concrete steps leading to the county courthouse as well as another project to remove and replace about 12,000 square feet of carpeting at the courthouse.

Bids for the two projects will be opened at 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. respectively Thursday, Nov. 8, at the courthouse. Work to replace the steps is expected to be completed within 90 days of the commission awarding a bid. The projects will be paid for out of the courthouse maintenance fund, Verkamp said.

District One Commissioner Larry Stratman said with a worry of upcoming health care costs, the county may want to consider repairs that are most critical and not for aesthetic purposes.

District Two Commissioner Bud Dean said the projects should be justified, but noted that the costs of materials has been going up. It was decided to continue the discussion after commissioners see what bids are received for the projects.

• The commission also received the Missouri Route 66 Corridor Management Plan, an undertaking of the Route 66 Association of Missouri. The plan was funded by the Federal Highway Administration and administered by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT). The two-volume document was prepared by Great River Associates under the direction of Spencer Jones and Jerany Jackson.

The document lists ideas and suggestions for the corridor in Missouri but contains no mandatory projects, it was noted. This plan is a required step in the Missouri Route 66 formal application for the National Scenic Byway Program.

Dean said he worried that if the corridor earns byway status, that might affect decisions to replace aging bridges along the road in Phelps County.

• Additionally, Road Superintendent Walter Snelson informed the commission that the three-ton weight limit on a bridge along County Road 3620 at the end of State Route DD near Boys and Girls Town of Missouri east of St. James had been raised back to 10 tons.

Snelson was notified by MoDOT that new signs showing the raised limit had been placed near the bridge. The limit was raised after road department crews fixed the bridge which had two adjoining pieces flexing under the weight of heavy vehicles.

• The commission also approved a Tough on Trash program quarterly reimbursement. Grant funds requested this time total $1,837.51.

• Commissioners also were made aware of a proposed surface mine plan area to continue mine sand and gravel operations on eight acres of land located on Arlington Road near Interstate 44 between Newburg and Jerome in Phelps County.

Melrose Quarry and Asphalt Supply LLC has applied to accept transfer of Webber Sand and Gravel LLC. The permit calls for the operations to be conducted between Jan. 1, 2013 and Dec. 30, 2020.