Four months after deciding to look into other locations for the Regional Office of Education #21 building, the Massac County Commission may be getting closer.
During its meeting Tuesday, Feb. 21, the commission and Lorie LeQuatte, regional superintendent of schools, discussed a recent building visit.
LeQuatte pointed out there are some concerns and items that need to be changed or added, noting some of the additions to the current building may be moved over.
“It didn’t seem like a lot,” LeQuatte said of a bullet list made during the visit.
Commission vice chairman Jayson Farmer stated they toured the building for an hour last week, and ROE’s bullet list will be presented to the owner to see what each party needs to do before possibly moving forward.
If everything is agreed upon, LeQuatte noted the earliest a move could be made is in the summer.
The ROE building is currently housed at 1102 W. 10th St. in Metropolis, a county building originally donated by Harry and Rosemary Crisp from Marion Pepsi. Among the numerous services provided and covered by ROE and housed in the building is the alternative school program. S.T.A.R.Quest Academy Regional Safe School South Campus serves sixth- through 12th-graders in the Massac Unit 1 and Joppa-Maple Grove school districts.
The county has put numerous dollars into the building over many years to address its leaking roof, especially after heavy rains. In February 2022, LeQuatte noted she was trying to make other improvements to the building, “but there’s only so much you can do.” During an Oct. 18, 2022, meeting, commissioners agreed they were putting money “in a sinking ship” and the county would be “put(ting) in more than it’s worth” with further repairs. They then decided to look at other options.
County treasurer Sarah Bremer reported her office has reconciled the county’s 2022 bank statements and is now ready for the annual audit. She said she’s spoken with the auditors, who advised it may be up to two months before they can begin.
Bremer also presented the commissioners a summary of the county’s possible American Rescue Plan Act projects. The county has just over $886,000 allocated in the account, which must be spent by December 2024. She advised an audit of what’s been spent so far has to be conducted in April and a report of future spending may also due at that time.
“You need to decide what you want to spend it on so we can get all the funds appropriated correctly,” Bremer said. “I don’t know that we can still be making decisions next year and get everything in time.”
Commissioner Jimmy Burnham asked county highway engineer Joe Matesevac for an update on the Country Club Road bridge project.
“I thought we’d be started by now,” Matesevac said, noting he’s waiting on information from Ameren before the project can begin. He said he met on-site with a field engineer and has followed up with weekly emails “to get from them what they plan on trying to do to help us facilitate construction. We don’t even know at this point if they can de-energize the lines while we’re doing construction.”
Burnham requested an oil and chip project list from Matesevac. He said he’s received several calls asking when work will be done and would like to give some type of answer.
Matesevac explained the “patch work and re-coating to fix bad spots is done randomly across as many roads as we can get over,” but he does have an “intend to work on” oil and chip project list for the year.
“Last year, I intended to work on about six roads, and we couldn’t get chips, so we only worked on two,” he said. “In a normal year, we’re only able to get about two miles worth of (gravel to oil and chip) conversion when we get all the materials we need, and that’s only been happening in the last three years because three years ago we got the Motor Fuel Tax increase from 19 cents a gallon to 38 cents a gallon. We’ve been trying to use a good chunk of that extra fund to convert some of these roads.”
Burnham also asked how the oil and chip process works. Matesevac explained that three inches of white gravel are put down around this time of year and allowed to pack in for around four months before the road is reshaped and rerolled for the oil and chipping to be done in the summer.
“That’s one reason why it’s so expensive. It costs about $74,000 a mile to put the gravel down and do the oil and chip over the top of it, including the work and equipment involved,” Matesevac said.
“If you don’t put the white gravel down, the oil and chip would completely fall apart within the first year. Last year, we put gravel down on three different roads we didn’t get to oil and chip because we didn’t get the chips, so they’re pretty much ready to go, but we need to reshape and roll them before we do it.”
Matesevac noted that additional gravel is sometimes added on roads “we don’t intend to oil and chip. It’s just that the roads are in bad condition and need something done to them.”
Matesevac noted there are 300 miles of county roads. He pointed out the overlay recently done to New Columbia Road cost $250,000 a mile. “That’s why we don’t pave roads,” he said. “We spend $250,000 to $300,000 on our oil and chip project a year.”
Matesevac noted the only asphalt paving job slated for this year is in Joppa, which is being partially funded through the state. That project — going from the former EEI entrance, through Joppa to the east city limits — is to begin in May.
Following a 15-minute closed session with the commissioners, Matesevac announced his resignation as county highway engineer effective on May 15. He began the position in May 2013. He said he will assist the commissioners in finding his replacement.
“The board does not agree with his decision, but we respect it,” said commission chairman Jeff Brugger.
“I appreciate you guys and working with you all these years,” Matesevac said.
Farmer wished Matesevac the best. “You’ve done an outstanding job. We regretfully accept your resignation.”
In other business:
• Bremer reported the county’s general fund is $1,390,470.38.
• Due to the April 4 Consolidated Election falling on a regular meeting day for the commissioners, they voted to meet on Wednesday, April 5, at 8:45 a.m.
• And, Sheriff Chad Kaylor reported the jail count on Tuesday morning was 28.
The commission’s next regular meeting will be at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday, March 7.
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