New Oak Hill director chosen

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2022 will be a year of change in the area if the trend at Tuesday’s meeting of the Monroe County Board of Commissioners continues.

One change within the next couple of weeks will be a new administrator beginning employment at the county-owned Oak Hill senior living and rehabilitation center in Waterloo.

Oak Hill Interim Administrator Kim Keckritz announced at the meeting that her replacement has accepted a contract beginning Feb. 7.

The new administrator, who was not identified, has agreed to take the position once a 30-day notice period expires at a senior care facility in St. Louis.

The new administrator will be introduced at the Feb. 7 county board meeting. 

Keckritz has served as interim administrator at Oak Hill since Brian Koontz resigned the position in September. Koontz began the role in August 2020 when Keckritz moved to a part-time role after nearly 20 years as administrator. 

In other Oak Hill news, after an optimistic report from Keckritz during the December county board meeting, the COVID-19 Omicron variant put a damper on any progress with the facility’s staffing and census problems.

Since the last meeting, there have been 53 employees and 27 residents who have tested positive for COVID-19. 

Keckritz said new CDC quarantine guidance helped keep an appropriate level of staff during a time which Oak Hill was already experiencing staffing issues. She also reported no serious symptoms among the residents who tested positive.

The vaccination rate among residents at Oak Hill is 97.2 percent, while the rate of staff vaccinated is 81.2 percent.

Although Oak Hill managed to get through this latest COVID surge relatively unscathed, Keckritz reported that parts of Evergreen Pointe rehabilitation center, which had been maintaining high census numbers, had to be used for isolation rooms for infected residents.

Keckritz added she believes the worst of the latest outbreak is over, but Oak Hill will continue to test twice per week for COVID until no positive cases are found in staff or residents for two continuous weeks.

Overall, census numbers have increased substantially from the same time last year, with Keckritz saying numbers are “right on track.”

Another change on the horizon for the county is a new phone system to be installed at the courthouse and Monroe County Sheriff’s Department in the coming months. 

Craig Brown and Craig Whelan of Harrisonville Telephone Company were on hand to answer questions about a submitted estimate for the new phones. 

The board voted to approve estimates for the new phone system.

It is expected to cost a little under $17,000, including labor and installation, for 69 new wi-fi enabled phones.

Since the courthouse phones, sheriff’s department phones and 911 phones are interconnected and all in need of upgrade, the board planned to complete all three phone projects at once, saving both time and money.

The project will be put on hold slightly, however. Integration of the new phones with a computer server project at the courthouse was postponed due to staffing shortages. 

County board chairman Dennis Knobloch reported the server update, scheduled for Monday, was delayed due to a significant number of employees from the company doing the work being out due to illness. 

This work is expected to be completed during the next holiday when the courthouse is closed, President’s Day, which is Feb. 21.

Monroe County Public Safety Coordinator Kevin Scheibe said server work would need to be completed before the new phones could be activated  at the county’s 911 emergency telephone operations center in the courthouse.

The final change from Tuesday’s meeting involves zoning at one lot and nearby property in the  Deer Hill Estates subdivision on Route 156 near Foster Pond.

Property owner Andrew O’Guin needed board approval to help him realize a “dream” he has had of raising produce hydroponically. To do so, his property needed to change from R-1 residential to A-2 agricultural use.

O’Guin wants to place a self-contained greenhouse pod on his property. There is no special use allowance in R-1 zoning that would facilitate placing the nonpermanent structure on the lot.

Since O’Guin’s parcel does not meet the minimum size for agricultural zoning, an adjoining landowner agreed to have their land rezoned along with O’Guin’s property.

All other parcels in the vicinity besides the subdivision lots are zoned either A-1 or A-2.

The plan was recommended for approval by the Monroe County Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals.

The only objection came from a neighbor who was concerned about a possible traffic increase from people picking up product once the greenhouse is established.

Once O’Guin explained he would deliver his wholesale produce, thereby eliminating any extra traffic, no further objections were raised.

The board voted to approve the zoning change. 

In other action, commissioners voted to reappoint Dale Haudrich to the Monroe County Regional Planning Commission for two more years.

The board also voted to approve installation of a historical sign at the Monroe County Courthouse Bandstand which contains information and history about the Waterloo Municipal Band. The sign was approved pending final review once the sign details are complete.

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