A variety of issues concerning Audrain County citizens were discussed by state, federal, and county officials during the Audrain County Farm Bureau’s 15th Annual Legislative Appreciation Banquet held Friday, January 6 at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Mexico, Mo.
U.S. Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer was the first guest speaker and described Washington D.C. as being quite an “interesting place right now.”
He said there was a contrast in philosophies of the two parties.
“It may be dysfunctional but you know what it’s exactly what our founding fathers designed,” he said. “…They wanted us to have to sit down…and compromise and come to some sort of an agreement.”
One item on the agenda this upcoming year Congressman Lutkemeyer said to be addressed is the 2012 Farm Bill.
He said he’s concerned that there are people in Washington D.C. that don’t know anything about farming, which results in a problem for farmers.
“They don’t understand where their food comes from…,” he added. “They take it for granted; the quality and the cost…They don’t understand that the programs at the federal level can have an impact on you.”
He also said he thinks direct payments are likely a thing of the past and he sees the future being in the form of a subsidized crop insurance program that will be used as a safety net.
Luetkemeyer also noted the Hours of Service issue and the Child Labor Law proposal are also items on his agenda.
In regards to EPA, he noted the Congress’ intent to reign in the EPA with regulations and cuts.
He also discussed the horse slaughtering issue and Obama’s Healthcare Plan.
“We have a situation where we’re spending a whole lot more money than what we’ve got,” he added. “And we have to find a way to try and bring it in.”
State Rep. Jeannie Riddle spoke on behalf of Sen. Brian Munzlinger, who was unable to attend the banquet due to him being at the National Ag Chairmans Summit in Washington, D.C.
Rep. Riddle said Sen. Munzlinger is thankful for the comments and concerns shared by area citizens to him regarding the consequences of the proposed Child Labor Law. He also said to be careful with petitions due to a possible connection of the law to HSUS. She added that Sen. Munzlinger is working to protect Missouri’s veterans and is working to expand districts for the Conservation Commission.
District 10 Rep. Jay Houghton thanked his wife Nancy for her support and noted that the day of the banquet was also her birthday.
Rep. Houghton noted the passing of several bills that he felt helped the citizens of Missouri. He said one gave better regulations for school bus safety and another created harsher punishments for individuals who pose as agriculture inspectors and those who trespass on agricultural property. Conservation bills he’s written includes one that requires the Department of Conservation to make their point system public to all of Missouri.
He also said the fight continues with HSUS and noted a group called Missouri Farmers Care.
Finally, he discussed the emergency clause involving Proposition B.
“You need to be able to rely on the people you elect to vote the way you will,” he said.
District 21 Rep. John Cauthorn said he was proud to be a Missourian. He noted the contrast of his trip to the Gulf shores and how many people during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina waited for the government to help them. An emotional Rep. Cauthorn said “when something happened to Joplin, people showed up.”
He shared how a representative friend of his from Joplin helped put people in body bags.
“Missourians come to the call and the Missouri Cattleman’s Association served hundreds of burgers and really supported that area.”
He said higher speed internet is coming to the rural communities. He also briefly discussed horse processing and noted the service of Rep. Jeannie Riddle and how he appreciates all she’s done for the state.
One of the hot issues on Rep. Cauthorn’s agenda involves eminent domain taking place in Hallsville. He said the City of Hallsville has taken a man’s property. He added that it’s been caused by mismanagement for the city, he said the voters will be burdened with a debt their not voting on, and he said it’s caused by a city manager that is “mean and vindictive.”
Rep. Cauthorn also discussed the trespass issue., the budget, the need for firefighter training, and Monsanto grants that have benefited Audrain County area schools.
Western County Commissioner Tom Groves began his speech talking about the positive impact made by Presiding Commissioner Steve Hobbs.
Groves gave a report on the courthouse repairs. He said the new roof project has been completed and a 10-ton AC unit was installed.
He said the roof project had a “wrinkle” in it as a slope was noticed after the removal of the old roof. He added that there is a 30-year warranty on the roof.
The Courthouse restoration includes washing and culking of the building, restore outside of courthouse, removal of some of the trees to eliminate bird problems, repair sidewalks, repair the fountain, and the miniature Statue of Liberty.
Groves said the county is looking for a grant and a focus group has been formed.
“What we want to do is we want to bring more people to the downtown area and have them use the courthouse lawn for festivals and make it more friendly to vendors…,” he added.
He said all of the third floor has been remodeled. Groves also said area towns have received grants from Mid-Missouri Solid Waste District.
Groves finished by noting the addition of new Emergency Management Director Steve Shaw who will also be named a Safety Officer later in 2012.
Eastern District Commissioner Roger Young began by talking about the addition of Shaw and his duties. He then said a new emergency notification system will soon be in place to help residents to not hinder 911 in an emergency and get basic questions answered. He noted that this will help those living in rural areas who might not hear the sirens going off in town.
Young then gave a slideshow for Audrain County’s new website, www.audraincounty.org and unveiled the new Audrain County seal. The seal includes an ear of corn and soybeans to showcase the county’s leading industries with the title “Biofuel Capital of Missouri.” Young also noted the County Clerk will soon have a Facebook page and Shaw currently has one.
Young then discussed the plan for building bridges in 2012.
He said their are 227 structures in Audrain County and currently 12-13 are structurally deficient. It was noted that 20-30 bridges are 50 years old. Seventy bridges have been build since 2001 and 150 since 1989.
Bridges slated for replacement through the help of grant money this year includes two on Audrain County Road 448 near the Rockhill Cemetery in Rush Hill along with bridges on Audrain County Road 480, Audrain County Road 716, Audrain County Road 451, Audrain County Road 411, among others.
He did add that the absence of the former bridge tax will make bridge work challenging in the future.
He also shared his goal of getting high speed internet throughout the county. Young added that he’s enjoyed working with the presiding commissioner this year.
Presiding Commissioner Steve Hobbs said the county is sharing an IT person with the City of Mexico. He said the county also worked with the city on some other projects. He noted that the courthouse elevator project has been approved and construction should start in February.
Hobbs also said Bill Allen was hired as the new road foreman.
“I can tell you that everybody that works in the courthouse thinks every day about spending your tax dollars as wisely as possible and making sure your county government is responsible to you…,” he added.
Prosecuting Attorney Jacob Shellabarger said the county has had some problems with trespass and burglary in the county.
“I take prosecuting those crimes seriously,” he added.
He noted there have been fewer bad checks recently.
Shellabarger added that it’s been a challenging year with cases like the Harvey murder case.
Audrain County Assessor Missy Maupin said vehicle licenses can be renewed online through the use of VIN numbers.
Recorder of Deeds Janis Deimeke said her office is working to get more records on the computer. Back indexing being done through the help of retired Recorder of Deeds Virginia Pehle will eventually be done for 1965-current.
Deimeke said putting records online will help title companies.
“I do have to say it has been a great year,” Deimeke said.
Deimeke included the evening by presenting birthday cakes to Nancy Houghton and Gary Wrye. Speeches were given earlier in the night by the Farm Bureau’s young ambassadors Adriana Alton and Andrew Cauthorn. Alton discussed the role of home cooked meals with a family’s efficiency, discussed starvation in both the world and in the U.S., and noted the role the Farm Bureau plays in fighting for the interest of farmers.
Cauthorn shared concerns about having enough food in the future to keep up with the U.S. population change and the need for citizens to fight against a variety of propositions.
“To protect the life we all love, education is key,” he said.
Audrain County’s Recorder of Deeds and Audrain County Farm Bureau President Janis Deimeke noted that the Audrain County Farm Bureau was once again named the top in its district this past year. She opened and closed the event while Laddonia’s Jerry Johnson was the emcee of the event.
The banquet also included a social hour and dinner served by the Knights of Columbus.