Still haunted by the damage from the December flood of 2015 and this year’s May flooding, water was on the mind of the county commissioners last week.

Still haunted by the damage from the December flood of 2015 and this year’s May flooding, water was on the mind of the county commissioners last week.

According to County Commissioner Gary Hicks, the county wants to send a “letter of interest” with an application to apply for a $200,000 grant to study stream bed stabilization on Callen Road, just off of CR 7360. The culprit is where the Little Piney River wants to change its course and bypass the river bridge, washing out the road.

The grant is offered by the Natural Resources and Conservation Service within the United States Department of Agriculture.
“It’s just to express our interest—it’s not committing the county to do anything,” said Hicks. “We had just paved that road from the 2015 flood, and it picked up 200 feet of pavement and moved it into a field.”

In other news, County Clerk Pam Grow said the BSNF railroad paid the county $2,500 for repairs made to CR 3610 (off Route KK). A St. James Auto Salvage car-carrier truck was high centered on the railroad bridge earlier this year.

Commissioner Hicks serves as a Rock Island Trail network member and shared an e-mail update on the trail progress written by Missouri Rock Island Trail (MoRIT) Executive Director Greg Harris.

Harris said the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has not signed the Interim Trail Use Agreement with Missouri Central Railroad, a subsidiary of Ameren.

“The deadline to conclude negotiations established by the Surface Transportation Board is February 21, 2018. Missouri Central Railroad has not completed the salvage operation of the former Rock Island Corridor. Once the salvage has been completed, the Department intends to do an environmental assessment and evaluate the condition of the corridor.”  
Hicks mentioned the importance of DNR getting both the environmental and economic assessments completed, in order for DNR to engage all municipal and political stakeholders. The e-mail summary stated, “the city of Belle was recently told they could not build more than a mile of trail in 2017 as planned. DNR is taking a fresh look at the whole corridor acquisition.”

According to Hicks, this wavering vote of confidence in the project might be due to the fact that DNR came under criticism for the recent development of Echo Bluff State Park, by not going through proper channels for acquisition and development.

MoRIT’s Harris said in his e-mail, this huge project depends on many players—that momentum is a necessity. For example,  “Missouri Rock Island Trail had helped the City of Belle and Ameren broker a special agreement to transfer interim responsibility for the segment to the city. Belle plans to renovate its former MFA as a welcome center with wrap-a-round decking and other inviting spaces.”