Thornsberry won't sign note for county loan agreement

Darrell Todd Maurina

WAYNESVILLE, Mo. (Dec. 18, 2008) — Western District Commissioner Dennis Thornsberry told his colleagues on the county commission Thursday morning that he won’t approve a loan of $150,000 or more that will be needed to balance the 2008 budget.

Auditors have told county commissioners that they should try to get an internal loan from another agency or department which has a surplus, such as the courthouse maintenance fund or the road and bridge department. However, Thornsberry, who will be replaced at the end of the year by newly elected commissioner Ricky Zweerink, has questioned whether it’s legal to loan road and bridge funds to other departments. Members of the Pulaski County Public Facilities Board, which supervises a special fund for courthouse maintenance, have asked the county to seek commercial bank financing instead of using their money.

“I’m thinking we’re going to have to borrow that money before you come into office,” Presiding Commissioner Bill Ransdall said to Zweerink.

Thornsberry didn’t like that idea.

“I don’t have to come to any more meetings, either. You can sign that note; I’m sure not,” Thornsberry said.

County commissioners received better news on some other funds. After making a call to commissioners from Howell County, Ransdall learned that they’d be willing to trade some of their unused road maintenance credits with Pulaski County so the Missouri Department of Transportation could help inspect and repair a bridge over railroad tracks near Dixon.

“The reason it’s critical to get this fixed is the school buses use that, and if it doesn’t get fixed and it fails an inspection, we have a problem,” said Commissioner Bill Farnham.

Farnham said he was also frustrated by a longstanding problem with the county courthouse’s heating and air conditioning system. The heat and air regularly turn off and on multiple times per day in the commission chambers and elsewhere in the courthouse, leading to rooms that are alternately too hot or too cold. Farnham has attacked that as a wasteful expense, noting that some rooms in the courthouse are so hot in the summer or cold in the winter that employees leave the windows open to adjust the temperature.

“What does it take? We need to get someone in here to get a thermostat that works right,” Farnham said.

The problem in the commission chambers is especially difficult because the commission chambers and the adjacent clerk’s office have their temperatures controlled by a single thermostat, but the ceiling in the commission chambers is three feet lower and that affects temperatures, Farnham noted.

“So far we’ve had two or three people in and the energy audit people from Jefferson City and nobody can solve the problem,” Ransdall said.

In other business:

• County Clerk Diana Linnenbringer reported that the county’s insurance agent, Ken Bassett, has told her the county’s experience modification will be 1.21 for 2009, which is even worse than the current figure of 1.13.

• Farnham said the owner of a resort and canoe rental business that can be reached by Tulsa Road and Teak Road to the northeast of Fort Leonard Wood, has said that people using global positioning systems to reach Fort Leonard Wood are being directed down those roads to reach Fort Leonard Wood, which hasn’t been reachable by those roads for years since all gates except four were closed following the 9/11 terrorist attack.

That’s become a problem for people who aren’t familiar with the area, including semi truck drivers who can’t turn around and families of trainees coming to Fort Leonard Wood for graduations.

“My idea is we need to put a few dead-end signs out there,” Farnham said.

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