Roughly four months ago, Seymour City Administrator Hillary Gintz and I attended the inaugural meeting held by Webster County officials for $4.6 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Stimulus (C.A.R.E.S.) Act funding that recently had been deposited in the county’s treasury.
In a nutshell, the meeting was confusing.
It wasn’t anyone’s fault.
That’s because Webster County, in essence, was the recipient of a “buck being passed,” as the old saying goes.
Congress appropriated a gigantic amount of money to the states, which, in turn, was passed from the state to our counties. The counties were given no guidance, so many, if not almost all, of them hired lawyers to sort out the distribution process.
A big mistake?
Attorneys are best at one discipline.
The end result for the county was an application form for C.A.R.E.S. Act funding that read like a John Grisham novel, minus an interesting plot.
It was cumbersome. It wasn’t business friendly.
In the interim, Gintz put her noggin to work. She realized the key to the program’s success, at least for Seymour, was for the city to hire an energetic and smart administrator, since the county essentially was doing what the state did by passing the buck.
Gintz suggested Terry Penner to run the program.
The city’s four aldermen, myself included, agreed with her selection.
Fast forward to today, and Gintz looks 50 times smarter than the political “other Hillary” we often associate with her namesake. To say that Penner has been successful is a huge understatement.
Last week, I met with Penner to get an update on her work for C.A.R.E.S. Act funding in Seymour.
The results are staggering.
As of last Thursday, she’s turned in 35 applications.
For those apps, she’s received more than $368,000 on behalf of the city, including last week’s giant award of more than $228,000 for the Seymour R-II School District.
Grant amounts range from a few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Recipients have included businesses, churches, governmental entities, civic organizations and our school.
At that aforementioned initial meeting, Seymour was told it would receive a total of $246,000 from the county’s pot of $4.6 million.
Folks, we’ve already received $368,000 and change.
I have no reason to believe Seymour’s tally, when all the dust settles, will be $750,000 or more.
Credit Terry Penner for that.
Then credit Hillary Gintz for hiring her.
* * * * * *
Reading time, three minutes:
• Free the Missouri Department of Transportation. Known to most as MoDOT, perhaps an appropriate acronym would be DemoDOT, because the state agency has a special talent of wasting taxpayers’ dollars on needless projects that apply bandages instead of solutions. Although the Missouri Legislature is Republican controlled, one would think Democrat fiscal policies are in full force.
Case in point is the recent intersection work along U.S. 60 between Rogersville and Seymour.
The project has a total price tag of $9 million.
And it will solve nothing.
Modifying dangerous intersections won’t prevent deaths.
Correcting dangerous intersections with overpasses will accomplish this.
Rogersville received this solution, although most of the improvements were in Greene County or — in the case of the Mill Street intersection — at Greene County’s border.
Diggins, Fordland and Seymour receive the equivalent of government cheese.
We get lousy modifications that still leave motorists with a problem.
A Springfield contractor collects $9 million.
Taxpayers get screwed.
Well done, DemoDOT.
You’ve accomplished nothing.
• I really like the status of Seymour R-II School District’s sports programs for the 2020-21 school year.
Credit the administration and school board for putting the right people in the right places.
If you get a chance this fall, go catch a high-school baseball or softball game ... or a middle-school basketball game.
• An interesting fellow stopped by the Citizen office last week.
His name is Don Spencer.
Don’s a barber.
He was accompanied by Wayne Worden, who for nearly two decades owned the Westside Barber Shop a couple of doors down from my office.
Don is looking at renting Wayne’s building to run a barber shop a few days each week. He currently owns Reflections Barbershop at 303 West Grand Avenue in Springfield.
We’ll see what develops.
Dan Wehmer is the Citizen’s editor, publisher and owner. He can be reached at 417-935-2257 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.