The Phelps County Commissioners took their meeting on the road again this week for National County Government Month, holding their third consecutive Tuesday night meeting — this time in St. James.
About 27 people, mostly county officeholders and St. James city and school officials, attended the meeting, which was also the third meeting held in the renovated city council chambers of the new St. James City Hall.
The meeting provided a chance for St. James officials to update county officeholders on happenings in their offices and vice versa.
During the meeting, the commission gave time to St. James Mayor Dennis Wilson, who shared good news about possible jobs coming to the area.
Wilson talked about a recent trip to China with St. James City Administrator Jeff Davis and other city officials about a company that was interested in expanding to St. James.
While Wilson did not name the company at the commission meeting, at a St. James City Council meeting earlier this month, the company was named as Shanghai GORO Conveyor Belt Fasteners Co., Ltd., a conveyor belt joint manufacturer.
St. James is among three prospective U.S. cities, including Bristol, Tenn., and Fulton, Mo., that could be the site for GORO's newest operation. If St. James is selected, it could mean an additional 30 to 35 jobs here, Wilson said. Wilson and Davis said they hope to know by early summer if St. James is chosen.
Wilson noted that any economic development in St. James is also good for Rolla and Phelps County. When it comes to businesses moving or expanding in the area, "(Rolla Mayor) Bill Jenks and I are on the same page. What's good for St. James is good for Rolla," Wilson said.
In related economic development news, the county commissioners talked about attending a recent Rolla Regional Economic Commission (RREC) meeting, in which the expansion of Brewer Science at the Rolla National Airport in Vichy in Maries County was discussed. A groundbreaking for the expansion is scheduled for Tuesday, April 30, at 2 p.m.
In other St. James news, Wilson noted that the official transfer of the St. James city park and library from the James Foundation to the city will take place May 1. Transfer of the cemetery will take place later, it was noted.
Also at the meeting, St. James School District Superintendent Joy Tucker spoke about what projects the bond issue that recently passed will fund, including classroom additions and security upgrades at the middle school, a new front entryway, renovations, track work and security improvements at the high school as well as a new turf field, if any funds are left over.
Tucker also told attendees that she believes the St. James School District will be the first in the county and surrounding area to begin offering laptops to be checked out and taken home starting this fall.
Also during the meeting, the commission conducted the following business:
n A floodplain permit application was approved for property along the Little Piney Creek west of Highway T near Newburg. The owner of the property is Andrew and Lindsay Mohn, of Kansas. Richard Gilbert is the contractor on the structure being built.
n In addition, the commission approved appointing Donna Kreisler to the Meramec Regional Emergency Planning Committee (MREPC).
n The commission approved an insurance renewal with Missouri Petroleum for underground storage tanks.
n District Two Commissioner Gary Hicks informed attendees that a community listening session about the impact of the proposed U.S. Army reductions on Fort Leonard Wood will take place Tuesday, April 30, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Nutter Field House at the Fort. Davis said the St. James Area Chamber of Commerce is looking to have a bus take people from St. James to the Fort for the meeting and back.
Several county officials and circuit court judges also spoke their about offices and what services they provide, including Associate Circuit Judges Ron White and Ken Clayton, Prosecuting Attorney John Beger, Capt. Rick Hope of the sheriff's department, Circuit Clerk Sue Brown, Public Administrator Kathy Oliver, County Treasurer Carol Green, County Recorder Robin Kordes, Patrick Greenwald, representing the UM Extension Office, Health Department Director Jodi Waltman and County Assessor Bill Wiggins.
Next Tuesday, April 30, the commission will meet at 7 p.m. at Newburg City Hall, 191 Main St. in Newburg. The following Tuesday, May 7, the commission will meet at 7 p.m. in the Phelps County Courthouse Multi-Purpose Room, 200 N. Main St., Rolla.