For more than 20 years, Cole County has been trying to find a buyer for the water system in Eugene.
That may finally have happened.
Cole County commissioners approved an agreement Tuesday that would allow Central States Water Resources to take over the Eugene water operation. How soon that could happen is unknown because the company still needs approval from the Missouri Public Service Commission.
Central States, based out of St. Ann, works within the standards set by federal and state regulatory agencies, such as the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the Public Service Commission and others, to help under-served communities achieve and maintain compliant water or wastewater facilities, according to the company's corporate website.
The county has been trying to sell the service because it loses money due to its small number of customers, some of whom do not pay for the service, and an aging infrastructure.
The town disincorporated in 1997. Since then, the only remaining vestige of the town of Eugene has been the water system, which Cole County still operates but would like to unload.
In January 2010, the Cole County Commission turned over control of the Eugene water system to Cole County Public Works and its director, Larry Benz.
Algoa rail spur agreement approved
In other commission action Tuesday, one of the final pieces of the puzzle was put into place to get a rail spur at Algoa to serve businesses in the area.
Commissioners approved an industry track agreement with Morris Packaging. An agreement with Union Pacific that lets them use the extension is to be signed next week to complete the deal.
The project will be done with half-cent capital improvement sales tax funds. It's a joint project with Jefferson City.
Design work was done last year on the spur track, which runs from Command Web across Militia Drive and continues along the south side of Morris Packaging and Alpla.
However, Union Pacific officials said more space was needed for siding and mainline tracks to make the project work. Without an increase in length, there could be interruptions in passenger and freight rail traffic. This meant the project would cost more than the original estimate of $400,000-$500,000.
Construction should begin this year. The city and county each will pay $225,000, and Morris Packaging will pay $79,800.
Commissioners said they eventually want to work with businesses in the area on forming something like a homeowners' association to take over ownership and upkeep of the spur.
Stormwater improvements continue
Also Tuesday, commissioners gave the go-ahead for public works officials to begin another stormwater improvement project.
The small Wilmor Drive stormwater project will add inlets and edge drains to address drainage issues causing pavement problems. Central Missouri Professional Services will design it. It is part of a larger pavement replacement project in the Sleepy Hollow Estates subdivision.
The public works department will do the engineering work on the pavement replacement in house and bid both as one project. Bidding should be in June, and the work should be done by December.
Engineering for the stormwater part will cost $7,370. Construction will cost about $50,000. Pavement repair will cost approximately $150,000. The funds to pay for the work will come from the county's half-cent capital improvement sales tax.
Property abatement extensions granted
Also Tuesday, commissioners approved an extension for two property owners to continue to clean their properties and avoid having the county abate them.
The first was in the 9000 block of Osage Front Street, where Michael Morgan inherited half a city block from his deceased father and is in the process of cleaning up old tires, mobile homes and abandoned vehicles. The commission said County Code Enforcement Director Mike Sapp would monitor Morgan's progress and give them updates every 30 days for the next two months.
The commission granted a similar extension on property owned by J.B. "Darrell" Jackson in the 13000 block of Jefferson Road in Russellville. The commission had ordered to start the abatement process in December but has since been working through Jackson's attorney, Erin Wiseman, to have Jackson clean the property himself. The primary problem is large amounts of cardboard scattered about the property. Wiseman said they are working to get a grant to help pay to bring someone in to clean the property.