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County Commissioners ask residents for patience with major road problems
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (Feb. 18, 2010) — County commissioners have a dual message for Pulaski County residents: Yes, the roads are bad, but no, we can’t work any faster.

“We are very much aware of the poor condition of the roads, and with the weather conditions the way we’re hearing they will probably get worse before they get better,” Eastern District Commissioner Bill Farnham said during Thursday morning’s county commission meeting.

“If they want to call and leave a message, it’s up to them, but our road graders and our operators know that and we are trying to make repairs as fast as we can, so please bear with us,” Farnham said. “I expect people will be complaining like crazy; the roads are in just awful condition.”

While most of the county’s roads will simply have to wait until the weather improves, Farnham said he’s received good news about one major project.

The historic Devil’s Elbow bridge on the original corridor of Route 66 has deteriorated so far that it’s now had the weight limit reduced to 12 tons, which is creating problems for Waynesville school buses since a fully loaded bus is over that limit. Farnham had been working for several years to obtain grants to repair the bridge so it won’t have to be closed or torn down, and he credited Kelly Sink-Blair of the Meramec Regional Planning Commission with recently obtaining a $250,000 Community Development Block Grant to do enough repairs that the bridge’s condition can be stabilized.

“She’s just great,” Farnham said. “I’ve still got Great River Engineering working on it and they’re pursuing some grants, but this money here is enough to start doing some repairs.”

Responding to questions from Western District Commissioner Ricky Zweerink, Farnham confirmed that Dixon entrepreneur Jerry Plunkett had proposed a way to improve the bridge, but Farnham said he hasn’t heard much about Plunkett’s proposal recently.

In other road business Thursday, commissioners accepted a 4.9 percent interest rate bid from Security Bank to finance a recent backhoe purchase. Other bank bid proposals were as high as 6.5 percent.

Presiding Commissioner Don McCulloch said a different project by Plunkett appears to be moving ahead, due in part to an Enhanced Enterprise Zone proposal that county officials will submit to the state’s Department of Economic Development, now that all five of the county’s cities and the county commission have approved ordinances authorizing the zone. The last city to adopt the Enhanced Enterprise Zone project was Richland, whose city council acted Tuesday evening to approve it.

Plunkett is working to produce military-related products in the Dixon plant commonly known as the “Old Brown Shoe Factory.” McCulloch said another businessman wants to put up a building nearby and had been waitingfor approval of the zone before acting.

“I had to come in early and sign the document so it could be taken to Jefferson City,” McCulloch said. “As part of that, since we signed, there’s a gentleman who is going to build a large warehouse behind the old Brown Shoe Factory in Dixon. It’s all coming to fruition.”

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