January 26, 2006

State Auditors Office Completes Review of Scotland County

January is the time most Scotland County residents turn their attention to finances as they prepare to visit the tax accountant. The local county government also is currently focused on its own financial records as the office of the Missouri State Auditor recently released its report on the county audit just completed for the 2003 and 2004 fiscal years.

The Missouri State Auditor is required by state law to conduct audits once every four years in counties, like Scotland County, that do not have a county auditor.

The audit report noted no legal or fiscal issues regarding the countys finances during 2003 and 2004.

We noted no matters involving the internal control over financial reporting and its operation that we consider to be material weaknesses, stated Auditor Claire McCaskill in the final report. A material weakness is a reportable condition in the countys procedure or internal controls where misstatements caused by error or by fraud can go undetected in a timely manner by county employees performing their jobs.

However, in addition to a financial and compliance audit of various county operating funds, the State Auditors statutory audit covers additional areas of county operations, as well as the elected county officials, as required by Missouris Constitution.

A number of concerns were noted as part of the audit in the Management Advisory Report (MAR).

The biggest concern involved declining financial conditions in the countys General Revenue Fund and Special Road and Bridge Fund since 2002.

During the years ended December 31, 2003 and 2004, disbursements of the General Revenue Fund exceeded receipts and it appears that receipts will continue to lag behind typical disbursement levels, the audit report stated. Significant increases were experienced in several expenditure categories of the Special Road and Bridge Fund during 2004, and overall road rock costs have been increasing.

In 2003 and 2004, the county deficit spent by more than $100,000 each year, lowering the countys balance from $325,000 to $96,480 entering the 2005 fiscal year.

The Special Road and Bridge Fund saw similar financial issues, with deficit spending of more than $90,000 in 2003 before a positive balance of more than $23,000 in 2004 helped return the funds balance to just over $78,000. The audit indicated the budget problems were related to road rock purchases, which accounts for more than $50,000 of the funds annual expenditures.

Considering the overall financial condition, it appears that receipts into the General Revenue and Special Road and Bridge funds are not keeping pace with the expenditures despite the existence of dedicated funds which are intended to supplement the operations of the two funds, the report stated.

The county agreed with the audit recommendation to consider alternative revenue sources while attempting to decrease expenditures.

We are aware of the significant decrease in fund balances and are working to correct those deficiencies, the county commission statement said.

The county noted that the 2005 financial condition had improved by more than $40,000 thanks to curbing of incidental expenditures throughout county government. The commission highlighted the dispatching contract with the city of Memphis as one new source of revenue, bringing in $20,000 to the county annually.

The audit noted that county procedures to monitor budget and actual disbursements were not effective, and as a result, actual disbursements exceeded the budgeted amounts in various funds. The audit stated that for costs shared by multiple funds, the County Commission has not been consistent in designating which costs will be paid from certain funds. In addition, support for some transfers between funds was not always adequate and amounts were not always repaid as appropriate.

The commission stated We agree with the recommendation and during the current year we have closely monitored funds and made budget amendments as necessary. In the future, we will document the circumstances regarding such disbursements and budget amendments as appropriate. While we could not provide complete documentation, we feel comfortable with the transfers in question. We will try to avoid making such transfers in the future. Not near as many transfers have been needed during 2005. Better documentation of the reasons for transfers will be maintained.

The county officials also intimated that they now have a better understanding of classification of expenditures and to which fund those expenditures should be allocated. Each month the County Clerk provides year-to-date budget information on the six major county funds (General Revenue, Special Road and Bridge, Assessment, Law Enforcement Sales Tax, Road and Bridge Capital Improvement, and Road Rock) and the Treasurer provides cash balances each month when it is time to authorize expenditures.

The declining financial condition in the Special Road and Bridge fund is primarily the result of unanticipated price increases during the last few years on such materials as rock, fuel, and steel, said the commissions audit response. Some alternatives we have considered include closer evaluation of roads and the amount of rock needed to maintain the integrity of roads and the already implemented procedure of taking phone bids each time we make fuel purchases. Receipts should increase for 2006 since the county was approved for a community development block grant to help fund various bridge projects. We have also considered purchasing additional equipment for hauling rock, which we believe will decrease overall hauling expenses in the long run.

The audit suggested the county create a formal road and bridge maintenance plan and noted that the county made a $104,000 prepayment for road rock and did not enter into a written agreement with the quarry. In addition, the countys procedures related to the review of road rock invoices and the sale of some materials to the public were not adequate.

The county defended the pre-payment arrangement in its audit reply.

Prepayment arrangements will be considered again in the future if they are in the best interests of taxpayers; however, we will ensure a written agreement is prepared. Also, the prepayment arrangement discussed above saved the county quite a bit of money on rock purchases during 2004.

Another audit concern highlighted county engineering costs of $99,600 for various federal bridge projects from 2001 to June 2005. There was no documentation that the county considered other engineering firms as required by state law when procuring these services.

In the audit report, the county commission indicated that the firm was selected because of past experience with local projects.

By law, the county is required to consider at least three firms for engineering services when using the federal program. The county recently entered into an agreement with the current engineering firm for the next four county bridges, but indicated it would obtain and file all required documentation when contracting future engineering services as recommended by the audit.

The audit MAR went on to point out that several of the recommendations in this report are repeated from prior audits including findings related to the countys bidding procedures, property tax records, computer controls, commission minutes, and property records/inventory. In prior reports county officials indicated they would implement many of the recommendations; however, no significant improvements were noted in some of these areas.

The audit also included recommendations concerning the lack of documentation for some county official salaries, county commission minutes, county phone usage and various trusts handled by county.

Area Students Named to Buena Vista University Graduate & Professional Studies Dean’s List

STORM LAKE, IA – The following area students have been named to the Dean’s List at Buena Vista University Graduate & Professional Studies for terms one and two:

Hilary Harris of Memphis, Mo., who attends Buena Vista University Graduate & Professional Studies Ottumwa location.

Shelbie Jones of Greentop, Mo., who attends Buena Vista University Graduate & Professional Studies Ottumwa location.

Derrick Muntz of Memphis, Mo., who attends Buena Vista University Graduate & Professional Studies Ottumwa location.

Students named to the Dean’s List must have a minimum grade point average of 3.5 for the two terms, based on a 4.0 grade point system, and must have taken at least 12 hours of coursework.

Buena Vista University’s main campus in Storm Lake, Iowa, was founded in 1891, and its Graduate & Professional Studies (GPS) degree-completion program began 40 years ago. Today, the GPS program’s 16 learning locations and online courses have given more than 15,500 graduates the opportunity to expand their potential with a pace, academic rigor, and class sizes that appeal to a wide variety of students. A diverse menu of over 50 different programs and courses designed for working adults delivers options that meet many educational needs, and a variety of class formats make scheduling even more convenient. Visit www.bvu.edu/gps.

Buena Vista University blends liberal arts with real-world experiences, preparing students for lifelong success, especially in the areas of elementary, secondary, and special education; business and accounting; and biological and chemical sciences. BVU is an affordable option for all students and, combined with its academic programs, has led U.S. News & World Report to rank BVU as the third best value school among Midwest Regional Colleges.

Rotary Collecting Shoes for Orphan Soles

shoes feature web

Rotary President, Bill Kiddoo has announced the local Rotary Club will take part in the District 6040 annual shoe drive.  To date, over fourteen years, Missouri Rotarians have contributed 270,528 pairs of shoes and $8,513 in cash.

Shoes and socks collected go to the most vulnerable children around the world.  This includes orphans, children who have lost one or both parents, those who live in institutionalized care, or poverty.

Donated shoes must be new, uppers with shoe strings or Velcro and hard soles and heels.  No open-toed or flip flops are allowed.  Donated cash helps to pay for shipping cost to Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and South America.  Shoes sizes should be for children ages one to teens.

You may bring shoes or cash to the Rotary Building at noon on any Tuesday, contact any Rotarian, or leave your donation at Cook’s Mens Store. This year’s shoe drive will end on April 16, 2016.

Gundy Named to Culver-Stockton College’s President’s List

CANTON – Delaney Gundy, a junior Art Education major from Gorin, was named to Culver-Stockton’s President’s List for work done during the fall 2015 semester.

To be named to the President’s List, Culver-Stockton College requires students to meet high academic standards. President’s List students have earned a 4.0 GPA and were enrolled in a minimum of 12 hours.

C-SC also announced its Honor Roll for the fall 2015 semester. To be named to the Honor Roll, students must meet high academic standards established by Culver-Stockton.

Local students honored included Ashley Watson of Brashear and Wyatt Kice of Memphis.

Culver-Stockton College, located in Canton, Mo., is a four-year residential institution in affiliation with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). C-SC specializes in experiential education and is one of only two colleges in the nation to offer the 12/3 semester calendar, where the typical 15 week semester is divided into two terms, a 12-week term and a 3-week term.

The C-SC Wildcats are members of the Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

Azen Jolly Timers Host February Club Meeting

The Azen Jolly Timers met at the Scotland County Hospital on February 3rd at 6 p.m. Alisa Kigar, Communication Specialist from SCH, led the group on a hospital tour.  Following the tour President Brock Aylward called the meeting to order. Pledges were led by Penelope Cline and Kendal Anderson. Roll call was your Super Bowl prediction.

The minutes were read by Bryn Aylward.  Kendal Anderson moved to approve and Abby Doster seconded the motion, motion passed. The treasurer’s report was read by Bailegh Phillips. Penelope Cline moved to pay bills and Brenna Phillips seconded the motion, motion passed.

In the report of project groups the Clover Kids met January 6th at the United Methodist Church and completed terrariums. In new business the achievement event will be March 6th  at the SCR-1 Elementary School. Registration begins at 1:30. Enrollment forms were passed out and are due back to Kristy by February 26th.  Dog school will begin on Feb.22nd and continue every Monday.

Demonstrations next month will be Avery Cowell and Jacob Stott.

Next month refreshments will be provided by Mohrs (snacks) and Justin Cowell (drinks).

Penelope Cline moved to adjourn the meeting and Kendal Anderson seconded the motion, the meeting was adjourned.

Submitted by Bryn Aylward. Reporter

Columbaria, Mapping Among Upgrades Being Considered at Memphis Cemetery

columbaria web

Improvements and upgrades for the municipal cemetery were a focus point of the February 4th meeting of the Memphis City Council. The board of aldermen reviewed a preliminary proposal for the addition of a columbaria, a structure or building that includes niches to house funeral urns for cremation remains.

A proposal is being considered to ad such a structure in the recently completed scattering garden at the Memphis Cemetery. Initial estimates have established costs ranging from $25,000 – $40,000 for stand-alone walls or structures with outside access of 70-90 niches.

Ron Henkenius of Memphis Funeral Home has been working with City Superintendent Roy Monroe to gather information for the proposal.

“Predictions at present, estimate that in 15 years cremation will be selected by 85 to 90 percent of the public,” said Henkenius.

The cost of the columbaria would be recovered over time in the purchase price of niche space, which was estimated between $650 – $800.

The city has been requested to provide digital photography of the proposed site to allow professional rendering of an official proposal, free of charge.

The council also considered a proposal from Midland GIS Solutions for digital GPS mapping of the cemetery.

The Maryville-based company currently is performing GPS mapping of the city’s utility systems.

The proposal calls for digital aerial photography integration into the cemetery mapping GIS program to be used for visual ground reference. The mapping would establish cemetery lot boundaries as accurately as possible using coordinate geometry.

While the proposal would only identify plots by section, block, lot and space numbers, the data base would be available for the city to add additional information, such as the name, plot classification (open, sold, closed, etc.), date of birth, date of death and additional comments.

As part of the proposal, the company would also create an online cemetery mapping program, which if the city chose, could be made available to the public for research purposes.

The bid included a 47,000 price tag for the mapping, $2,500 for the online mapping program, and $1,200 for a one year data hosting agreement for a total cost of $10,700.

The council tabled the bid until further details are received regarding the actual mapping process, and if GPS coordinates will be used to accurately establish all plot sizes and locations, or if the mapping is simply based on descriptions and existing mapping.

Continuing on the cemetery topic, Monroe presented a preliminary estimate for resurfacing the driving surface at the site. Monroe stated preliminary figures were approximately $150,000 for a hot-mix resurfacing of the 1.7 miles of road in the cemetery.

Due to the cost, Monroe suggested considering using city crews to make asphalt upgrades where feasible and added he was working on some preliminary plans to install additional parking areas.

Monroe also reported initial groundwork with the USDA office regarding mapping of possible terrace installation or other upgrades to remedy an expanding ditch issue on the new cemetery ground.

“The experts told us that cemeteries are notorious for runoff issues,” said Monroe. “Because they are mowed and manicured so well, they produce as much as 90% runoff of storm water, which can lead to ditch issues.”

Duley, Hunolt Named to Northwest’s Honor Roll

The Office of the Registrar at Northwest Missouri State University announced the names of students named to the Academic or President’s Honor Roll at the end of the 2015 fall trimester.

To be included on the Academic Honor Roll a student must carry a minimum of 12 credit hours and attain a grade point average of 3.50 or above on a 4.00 scale. Students named to the President’s Honor Roll have attained a perfect 4.00 GPA for the trimester.

Anna A. Duley of Memphis and Andrew M. Hunolt of Baring were named to the Academic Honor Roll.

Bruner Earns MBA Degree at Northwest

The Office of the Registrar and the Graduate School at Northwest Missouri State University have released the names of students who completed requirements for degrees at the conclusion of the 2015 fall trimester.

Degree recipients include: bachelor of science (B.S.), bachelor of science in education (B.S. Ed.), bachelor of technology (B.T.), bachelor of arts (B.A.), bachelor of fine arts (B.F.A.), master of science (M.S.), bachelor of science in clinical laboratory sciences (B.S. CLS), bachelor of science in medical technology (B.S. MT), master of arts (M.A.), master of business administration (M.B.A.), master of science in education  (M.S. Ed.), and education specialist (Ed. Spec.)

Alex Newly Bruner of Downing received his Master’s of Business Administration degree.

Behind the Lens – How To Take A Picture Perfect Self Portrait

by Taylor Lloyd

Let’s face it. Pictures are the best… and the worst. A picture is so unique in that it has the power to transport you back in time to a place filled with fond memories or more often (for me anyway) it can evoke embarrassment (did I really wear that? What on earth was I thinking!?). For better or worse though, pictures are often treasured keepsakes and while I’m strictly more of a nature/ landscape photographer, even I understand the importance of a good portrait. For this reason, I’ll share with you a few tips on how to look your best when it comes to taking your own portrait.

(1) Remember what your trying to capture. While I believe that the difference between a Selfie and a self portrait is that the latter is more thoughtful and time consuming, Self portraits can be anything you want them to be (I mean come on. You’re in charge). They can be a means to capture a flattering authentic image of yourself or an artistic impression of who you aspire to be. They can be goofy or business oriented. Whatever the case may be, being focused on what you are trying to convey in the first place will most certainly improve your portrait.

(2) To achieve flattering portraits (either on you or someone else) is to know what is your best side or angle or features you possess. One thing I strongly believe in is when a face is turned slightly, it will be more flattering than looking squarely straight at the face. The reason being is that an angle gives the appearance of depth and causes the viewer to be more engaged and intrigued in your photo.

(3) Having good lighting is key to creating good portraits. Though take this tip with a grain of salt, though, because everyone has their own opinions on what looks good, for some like to play with other lighting elements to create different feelings. But good lighting will enhance details. With good lighting it is also important to let the light brighten your face. You will want to be having the light source facing you, otherwise you’ll end up with shadows or patchy splotches of sunlight covering your face. Inversely, don’t overexpose your face in the light or else you’ll be squinting and look washed out in the harsh light. Photographing on a cloudy day usually produces great lighting because the clouds act like a giant diffuser, making the sun’s light less intense and more evenly dispersed.

(4) For beginners, starting to shoot yourself at eye level, if not slightly above, is a good angle to start with and having your eyes on the top third of your photo is generally more visually pleasing. More times than not, the eyes are the first thing you notice on a person and with that being said, always make sure the eyes are in focus when taking pictures. Catchlights (the light source you see reflected in the eyes of your subject) are also something that is pleasing to capture in the eyes because it captures the life or spark in a person.

(5) Just like in horror movies, always be aware of what’s behind you. Instead of monsters, it’s the background that should concern you. Background as much as lighting plays an important role in your self portraits. A background that’s not out of focus enough or is too bright distracts the viewer from the main subject and thus loses the point of taking the photograph in the first place. Also be conscious of what you are wearing. Wrinkles or an upturned collar on a shirt can make a photo look sloppy. Unless this is your goal, give yourself a once over before snapping the picture.

(6) Where you position yourself will direct the rest of your photo. It is wise to never crop your pictures right on the joints of your subjects. Your goal should be to elongate and flatter the body and when you crop at the knees, ankles, toes, fingers, elbows, waist, neck, and wrists can make a person look rather stumpy. A good question to ask yourself when you crop (whether in camera or in photo editing) is, “does this look deliberate or does it look like a mistake?”

(7) Don’t be afraid to use props in your photos. Mirrors especially can make an image even more interesting. Holding a mug full of steaming coffee, or a full wine glass for example, will help give the picture a certain mood. Using a prop to stand in your place while you prefocus for your shot is also very useful if you have no other means by which to prefocus.

(8) My final tip is a bit more on the technical side but it might be the most handy. Use a tripod and also put your camera on timer mode. It is also wise to use Continuous Mode (or Burst Mode as some call it). Continuous shooting Mode isn’t just something that DSLRs have – most point and shoot cameras have it as an option also. This mode allows you to take multiple pictures as the shutter button is pressed down instead of the usual single shot you would otherwise get. There are a few variations to this mode, one of them being that your camera has a set amount of pictures it will take in an allotted time. This allotted amount of time is determined by how long of a shutter speed you have. For example, if you have the camera set on Continuous Mode and your shutter is set for a one second exposure, your camera will take the picture for that length of time and then take another photo for the same length of time. Continuous Mode is a great tool when combined with the timer mode. It gives you enough time to get into place and it will take multiple pictures, leaving you with several photos to choose from. Another great tool to throw into this combination is a remote. I have a cheap ($10 off Amazon) remote that has been an excellent device to own and I use it more often than I imagined I would. The reason I love my remote so much is it reduces camera shake when you are taking long exposures and it is also helpful for when you are in position for your portrait and you can’t move from your predetermined spot to press the shutter button down. Another excellent function of the remote is that if your camera is on Auto Focus, using the remote will focus the camera for you, which is crucial when you lack props to take your place where you will stand.

Self portraits can be quite addicting and each one can be vastly different from the last with just a few alterations. Armed with these simple tips, I hope you can better hone your skills at taking self portraits and have fun doing so. Until next time, happy shooting!

Construction Projects Lead Agenda at February City Council Meeting

construction

While the current cold spell may not make it seem like it, the Memphis City Council worked the through its February 4th meeting agenda under the premise that spring is just around the corner. And with the improving weather comes the start of construction season.

The board of aldermen discussed a number of proposed projects being considered for the 2016 construction season.

City Superintendent Roy Monroe reported ongoing legal work surrounding possible ramifications of a joint effort between the city and private property owners adjacent to the municipal light end power plants for the proposed construction of a flood levee.

The partnership idea was born out of shared interests in protecting property that currently is threatened by canal flooding at the west city limits of Memphis, on the north side of Highway 136.

Initially the city was considering construction of a concrete berm surrounding the power plant’s new substation. After learning that adjacent landowners were considering building an earthen levy on the west side of their properties and along the north/south boundary between these properties and the city’s water and power plants,  the parties met to discuss a possible partnership.

Initial discussions were had between the city and the property owners about the possibility of completing an earthen levy along the western borders of the private property and continuing the length of the city property.

Such a proposal would eliminate the need of the private property owners building the levy on the north border of their properties, and would also eliminate the need for the city to build the concrete retaining wall around the substation, which would represent significant savings for the city.

Preliminary discussions between the city and the landowners have centered around initial costs as well as maintenance responsibilities moving forward.

Monroe reported additional concerns have risen regarding potential liability generated by such a levee if flooding occurs on non-protected land on the other side of the canal.

The council asked Monroe to continue to seek legal advice regarding such liability issues, working with the Corp of Engineers and other resources to establish options for moving forward with the project.

PARK BUILDINGS

Monroe reported progress working with the local Boy Scouts as well as the American Legion regarding the possibility of restoring a community building at Legion Park. Such a structure had existed for many years before its deteriorating condition had forced its removal more than a decade ago.

The project is still in the planning stages and will be dependent upon available funding from all three partners.

A proposed shelter and new restrooms at Johnson Park has hit a snag, as grant funding for the project was denied by the Department of Natural Resources.

Monroe reported the City of Memphis was one of 16 applicants for grant funding, and one of just four that did not receive funding.

Last season, the city had placed portable restrooms at the site, but the city will now look into constructing some form of temporary restrooms, with the possibility of later moving the building and using it for storage if and when funding is secured for the larger shelter/restroom project.

MOWER BIDS

The council opened bids for the purchase of two new commercial zero-turn mowers and three commercial-grade trimmers. The low bid of $4,500 was accepted from The Farm Shop, Inc. of Edina for two 2016 EXMARK mowers with 60″ deck and 27HP Kohler engines, and three RedMax Trimmers. The bid price included trade in of two 61″ SCAG mowers.

Bids were also received from Wiss & Wiss Equipment of  Kahoka, Armstrong Tractor, LLC of Donnellson, IA and Garden Spot in Edina.

AIRPORT

Continued maintanence issues with the airport beacon have led to preliminary discussions regarding replacing the lighting system that identifies the airstrip to planes in the air. Preliminary cost estimates ranged from $4,000 to $10,000 to replace the beacon, which is believed to be the original installed in the 1970s.

The airport committee will work on a proposal to be presented to the council at a later date.

Scotland County Hospital Admissions & Dismissals

Scotland County recorded 26 admissions and 26 dismissals from January 29 through February 8, 2016.

ADMISSIONS: 1/31/2016 – Joseph L. Young, Kahoka 2/01/16 – Angela Wiley, Bloomfield, IA; Chyanne Popp, Lancaster; Gracelynn Popp, Lancaster; Jase James Wiley, Bloomfield, IA 2/02/16 – Ashton Pruett, Wayland; Tara Pruett, Wayland 2/05/16 – Roxie B. Miller, Memphis

DISMISSALS: 1/29/16 -Shelby Garrett, Lancaster; Aidyn Lynnae Jackson, Lancaster 2/3/16 – Chyanne Popp, Lancaster; Gracelynn Popp, Lancaster; Angela Wiley, Bloomfield, IA; Jase J. Wiley, Bloomfield, IA 2/4/16 – Tara Pruett, Wayland; Ashton Pruett, Wayland 2/5/16 – Joseph L Young, Kahoka 2/6/16 – Roxie B. Martin, Memphis

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