By Woodrow Polston
The Rotary Club of Vandalia met for their weekly meeting at the Great Plains Kitchen last Thursday. President Darren Berry welcomed the guest speaker, Audrain County Associate Commissioner Leslie Meyer, who was invited to discuss the Audrain County Municipalities Program with Rotary members. She said that the program officially launched in March of 2022.
“We had our first municipalities meeting last March in Laddonia,” said Meyer. “One of my goals after being appointed associate commissioner, was to meet with all of the members of leadership in my area to learn more about what was going on. As a former reporter, I asked a lot of questions. So, as I attended city meetings I was inquiring about what was taking place in the various towns within the county. I learned that there were issues going on in several municipalities that needed attention. After going back to the courthouse, I explained that our various city council members are doing their best to help out their communities, but at times they feel like they are sinking. I asked the question ‘what if they could get together and share their knowledge?’ I imagined that they would be able to help each other get through circumstances that others may have already experienced. After the initial meeting, everyone agreed that this was something that should be continued,” she added.
The goal of the bi-monthly meetings is to connect municipalities with other resources to help them find solutions while bringing local leadership together. Members of local leadership that have attended the meetings include mayors, city administrators, city clerks, city council members, members of the Audrain County Health Department, and Audrain County Sheriff Matt Oller. Meyer said that the meeting locations change each time.
“We decided that we would rotate the location for the meetings. This gives us the opportunity to visit the various communities. Our meeting agendas have had numerous topics of discussion such as code enforcement, emergency planning, and county health programs that are available to area residents. We were pleasantly surprised at one of our meetings when we had an entire municipality’s council show up to participate,” said Meyer.
There are now six Audrain County communities that are participating in the meetings on a regular basis. There is no cost for the meetings other than the provision of a building for the meeting place. Meyer said that the Audrain County Commission recently received an innovation award for their efforts in establishing the municipalities program.
“We were presented an innovation award at the November Missouri Association of Counties meeting. So now, Audrain County is an example for the rest of the state of Missouri on how we can come together as a team for the benefit of the residents whom we serve. We want to make clear that this is not just a commission program, but it is available for any municipal leader who wants to be a part of it,” said Meyer.
The Audrain County Commission has stated that its role in the program is to organize and create an agenda every two months and to lead the meetings. The next meeting, scheduled for Monday, Jan. 30, at the Audrain County Courthouse in Mexico, will include an update from the Mark Twain Regional Council of Governments, a presentation from the commission’s small structures program, and the county collector will discuss information about 2023 disbursements. For more information, contact your local city hall.