County board talks roads, bonds

The Monroe County Board opened the new year with its first meeting Monday morning.

County engineer Aaron Metzger reported on several highway issues, including word that a federal grant is now in hand for resurfacing Maeystown Road  from Waterloo city limits south to just north of Maeystown. The Federal Transportation Fund grant of $860,000 is being matched by local funding of $215,000, which is an 80-20 split.

Metzger also gave a rundown of the status of a five-year highway improvement program, noting that Monroe County is continuing to replace culverts that convey water under roads with bridges. Although he acknowledged that bridges are more costly in the short term, Metzger said they require less maintenance, last longer, and can earn state and federal funding, while culverts must be paid for locally.

Trustees of Palmier Cemetery, located on Palmer Road near the new Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Columbia, presented an update at the meeting. They noted the maintenance condition of the cemetery – one of the oldest continuously operating grave yards in the Midwest – is much improved in recent years. Noting that three interments a year would support ongoing maintenance, it was reported that a ground penetrating radar survey has disclosed areas of the facility that are devoid of burials and which thus may be sold to help perpetuate care.

An issue of safety for funeral processions was discussed, with the narrow, sharply curved road being the subject. Monroe County Board Chairman Delbert Wittenauer indicated the county might be able to enhance safety by widening the curve and installing signage.

Steve Adams of Bernardi Securities, the firm that has handled many bond issues for the county — including that for Oak Hill Care Center — reviewed the current bond for that facility. He described to the board how it might save considerable interest costs and recoup a fund known as a bond reserve fund, by judicious refinancing of bonds to take advantage of current and projected low interest rates.

Commissioners decided to continue examining all issues relating to this idea, which could potentially save more than $1 million dollars in interest over the next 10 years and free up another $1.5 million currently locked in reserves fund.

Discussion on an earlier initiative to consider creating an urgent care clinic at the Monroe County Annex continues. The focus is on providing care that may not exist now in the county, such as for Medicaid patients.

But how new health care initiatives impact this consideration remains to be defined and considered.

In other news, a delinquent tax sale for properties in Monroe County will be held Tuesday, Jan. 15, at 9 a.m. in Room 200 of the Monroe County Courthouse.

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Alan Dooley

Alan is a photojournalist -- he both shoots pictures and writes for the R-T. A 31-year Navy vet, he has lived worldwide, but with his wife Sherry, calls a rambling house south of Waterloo home. Alan counts astronomy as a hobby and is fascinated by just about everything scientific.
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