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3 Callaway County officials sworn in

3 Callaway County officials sworn in

December 28th, 2018 by Helen Wilbers in Local News

Rhonda Miller, left, newly elected Callaway County clerk, repeats her oath of office after Judge Carol England. Miller and two other officials were sworn in Wednesday.

Photo by Helen Wilbers /News Tribune.

Three county officials raised their right hands Wednesday afternoon at the Callaway County Courthouse.

Following election wins in November, incumbent Presiding Commissioner Gary Jungermann, incumbent county Auditor Karen Rentschler and incoming county Clerk Rhonda Miller took their oaths this week.

This is Miller's first time holding office.

"I'm anxious to learn," she said. "This is a career change after almost 30 years."

She said she feels ready to dive in.

"My first order of business will be getting the Carrington voting place re-opened," she said. "There's a location there that's ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible, and people want it re-opened."

Carrington is an unincorporated community on Route H, west of U.S. 54. Miller said older locals have told her they haven't voted since the polling place shut down, some years ago.

"A lot of elderly people don't want to drive (very far)," Miller said.

For Jungermann and Rentschler, it's back to business as usual.

"We're going to finalize the budget Jan. 4, so that's the first priority," Rentschler said. "Also, the state auditor is returning in March to do a second check."

After the Callaway County Collector's office received a "poor" grade from the Missouri Auditor's office in September, officials are hard at work implementing reforms.

The 31-page audit report, released by state Auditor Nicole Galloway, contains a number of recommendations for potential changes aimed at increasing oversight, segregating duties and improving operating procedures at the office.

The recommendations follow a months-long investigation into suspicious activity in a collector's office-controlled bank account. Galloway's office and FBI investigators discovered about $300,000 in tax revenue had gone missing during the course of two years. Then-county Collector Pam Oestreich resigned in March and pleaded guilty in federal court in September to one count of stealing from an organization that receives federal funds.

In November, Sarah Gladman was voted in as the new collector. She had previously worked in that office.

Galloway's office will be checking to see that the county has successfully implemented reforms in the collector's office, Rentschler said.

Jungermann also cited wrangling next year's budget as a top priority.

"It's pretty much ready to go," he said.

Next, the commissioners will look into space issues at various facilities, including the county jail.

"It isn't overcrowded, but we do have space issues," he said.

Jungermann added he looks forward to working with his colleagues in the coming year.

"One thing I'll say about Callaway County its elected officials work well together compared to some counties," he said.