January 18, 2007

Tri-County Cooperative Customers Being Prepared For Sticker Shock of Price Hike

Not many things have not gone up in price in the past 20 years. Tri-County Electric Cooperative will finally be succumbing to this economic trend.

General Manager David Ramsey told a gathering of customers at the Scotland County R-I High School on January 9th that the northeast Missouri electric provider will be implementing a price hike in March.

I realize this isnt the news people want to hear, he said. But I dont look at it as paying the piper. Instead I know that we enjoyed an unprecedented period of low rates.

Tri-County will be raising its rates on the April billing cycle, for the March power consumption of customers. It marks just the second price hike for the company since 1986.

The amount of the rate increase has not yet been determined. Ramsey stated the co-op had received results of a revenue requirements study performed by a consulting firm. The study indicated the company needs to increase revenue by 10.95 percent.

The co-op board is scheduled to meet January 22 to review the study as well as other information to determine the 2007 rate increase.

Ramsey stated customers would receive a new rate sheet as well as an explanation for the price hike in upcoming mailings.

Board president John Eggleston of Memphis said this would be the first in a series of price hikes for customers.

Im not sure how warmly our presentation will be received, he told the gathering, but this is inevitable. And this is not a single-year event. It is going to extend out for years.

Ramsey said the cooperative is anticipating significant price increases in 2008 and again in 2009 with smaller price hikes predicted for 2010 and 2011.

The general manager explained the changing electricity market. Since 2004, the cost of electricity to the cooperative has risen from $3,218,013 to an estimated $3,941,000 to serve the roughly 6,400 meters maintained by the co-op.

Ramsey explained the rising electricity costs were caused by three main factors: increased environmental regulations, increased member demand and higher fuel and material costs.

The Missouri cooperative system will be spending an estimated $300 million this year to upgrade its power plants coal scrubbers to reduce pollution as required by federal law. Ramsey said the co-ops have already spent $750 million on such projects.

Basically we have spent $1 billion and yet have done nothing to increase power production, he said. Actually the process decreases production slightly.

Decreased production is not what the cooperatives need. The electric providers have seen customer demand double since 1980, with continued annual growth of 2.3 percent predicted.

Each one of us is using more electricity than we did years ago, Ramsey stated. Demand is significantly higher across the nation. It is a supply and demand issue.

The supply of electricity has itself become much more costly to produce. Fuel prices have risen significantly. In 2004 the coal base price was $16.72. That cost was projected to be $20.93 this year but has actually risen to $24.11 with the company expecting $28 prices soon.

We use roughly 10 million ton of coal a year, Ramsey said. So the co-op is spending $70 million a year more on fuel.

The coops natural gas fueled plants also have seen rising costs. The natural gas base price in 2004 was $6.54. In 2007 that cost is now $9.20.

Material costs have also hit the cooperatives like Tri-County hard.

Fuel costs for the fleet of vehicles maintained by the company has risen 37 percent in two years.

Steel prices have risen 20 to 30 percent making equipment cost more.

We have to have decent equipment out there for the guys to do their jobs, Ramsey said. We have to have a good, working fleet to keep your lights on.

Wire prices have more than doubled since 2003, going from $1.51 a foot to $3.07. Copper, used for grounding, has gone up 177 percent.

It has gone up so much that our cooperative offices have been broken into twice with wire and copper being taken, Ramsey said.

Material costs have risen so much that the state cooperatives plans for a new power plant have seen the price tag raise from $1 billion to $1.7 billion for a proposed 700 MW plant being planned near Richmond.

Ramsey said all of these factors have led to the impending price hikes. He added that the cooperative first has made cost-cutting measures and will continue to take hard looks at expenditures so that price hikes will be as small as possible.

He also noted that while Tri-County will be raising its rates the electricity costs for customers will still be favorable compared to the cooperative rates in the eight neighboring states. Ramsey said he was told that Ameren UE has a 35-percent price hike proposal in front of the Missouri Public Service Commission for consideration. Many Illinois customers will be experiencing 55 percent price hikes.

No one likes a price increase, but Id take a 10-percent spike over a 35-percent raise any day.

Special Legislative Session to Remedy Issue of Abortion Sanctuary Cities

by Rep. Craig Redmon

This week the House of Representatives is in Jefferson City, answering Governor Greitens’ call for a special session in response to some troubling events of the past few months. In April, a federal judge struck down years of regulations put in place to ensure abortion clinics met a certain standard of health requirements in order to operate in Missouri. In combination with the Abortion Sanctuary City ordinance in St. Louis, it is clear that pro-life Missourians and pregnancy care centers are under attack by abortion advocates from across the state and nation.

In the face of these attacks on pro-life Missourians, Governor Greitens has called a second extraordinary session this summer so we, the General Assembly, can send legislation to his desk to curtail these efforts to undermine our state’s healthcare regulations and to protect the lives of the innocent unborn.

The timing of the judge’s ruling in late April, more than a month after the deadline for new bill submissions, makes this topic wholly worthy of a special session, due to the timing making a full response during the regular session impossible. This session also gives the legislature the opportunity to remedy the issue of Abortion Sanctuary Cities. The Missouri Constitution explicitly gives Governor Greitens the ability to call special sessions of the General Assembly for extraordinary topics. The wiping of abortion regulations and allowing abortion clinics that were closed after failing to meet minimum health and safety standards to resume operation is one such extraordinary topic that requires action.

I am proud to support the health of women. I am proud to stand with the Governor. I am proud to be pro-life.

Last week the Senate passed a bill that would nullify the Sanctuary City ordinance, allow Missouri’s attorney general to prosecute violations of abortion laws, and require annual inspections of abortion clinics. In addition, it creates a set of guidelines requiring certain standards to be met for an abortion clinic to operate. Now the bill moves to the House of Representatives. I was elected as a pro-life legislator to advocate on the side of life, and it is my desire to work with my fellow Representatives to strengthen and pass this legislation in a way to protect Missouri families.

Culvert Replacements Will Temporarily Close Several Routes in Scotland County

HANNIBAL – Weather permitting, MoDOT crews will perform culvert work the below routes in Scotland County.

Work will be done on Route M on June 27, with the road temporarily closed just north of Scotland County Route W for a culvert replacement. The road will be closed from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Scotland County Route V will be temporarily closed between 1 mile of Scotland County Route M and 2 miles of Route M for a culvert replacement on June 28th The road will be closed from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Work will be done on Scotland County Route D on June 29, with the road temporarily closed between 3 miles of Missouri Route 15 and 3.1 miles of Route 50 for a culvert replacement. The road will be closed from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Motorists will need to use alternate routes during these times.

Again, this work is weather dependent and could be rescheduled or delayed. For more information, contact MoDOT’s Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-888-ASK MoDOT (275-6636). All roadwork is posted on the traveler information map. You can also visit us online at www.modot.org/northeast.

Extension Expert Says Delayed Hay Harvest Calls for Testing

This year’s delayed hay harvest calls for hay testing.

University of Missouri Extension agronomy specialist Anthony Ohmes says farmers benefit from routine hay testing.

Hay quality varies based on forage species, maturity, management, harvest conditions, and insect or disease damage. Guessing the quality of hay fed to livestock could result in lower profits, Ohmes says. Knowing the hay’s nutrient value can help livestock owners decide if animals need supplements.

Ohmes suggests that farmers sample each lot separately. A lot comes from the same field and forage makeup, and is grown and harvested under the same environmental conditions. “Every field and cutting will be different,” Ohmes says.

Use a 12- to 24-inch hay probe, he says. It should be 3/8 to 5/8 of an inch in diameter. Do not grab or hand pull samples. Samples collected that way do not provide uniform results and could lead to misleading values.

Sample multiple bales out of a hay lot. The lot should represent at least 10 percent, or at least 15 random bales.

The sampling method varies for each bale type. On large round bales, take samples on the curved side of the bale and remove the outer layer if moldy. Avoid sampling from the outside of the bale. On large square bales, take samples at a 45-degree angle on the side of the bale or 90-degree angle on the end of the bale. Sample small square bales through the center and end.

Keep each lot separate, Ohmes says. Mix samples in a bucket and fill a quart  plastic bag. Samples perish quickly, so send them to the lab on the same day as the sampling. If this is not possible, keep samples away from direct sunlight and store in a cool, dry place until sending. Freeze high-moisture samples (above 15 percent) such as baleage or silage if they cannot be sent right away.

Mark the sample by date, cutting, location and owner before shipping.

Some MU Extension centers lend probes at no cost. Find information on hay sampling at crops.missouri.edu/forage.

Hay tests cost about $20 each at certified labs throughout the state. You can find information on how to read results at extension.missouri.edu/aginfocus/forage-testing.aspx.

Rural Hospital are a Lifeline

by U.S. Congressman Sam Graves

Rural hospitals are a literal lifeline for tens of millions of people across this country. In communities that don’t have enough primary care doctors or health facilities, rural hospitals provide a critical, lifesaving service that otherwise would not be here for us.

Unfortunately, about 80 rural hospitals have closed since 2010. What’s worse, one third of all rural hospitals in the U.S. could close in the next few years. That’s 12 million Americans at risk of losing access to the closest emergency room. A devastating number, and something we can’t allow to continue in rural America.

Cuts to hospital payments have worsened the problem, and as populations decrease in rural communities, so-called “medical desserts” are popping up across rural America. It leaves people living on farms or in small towns dangerously vulnerable to medical emergency – particularly older Americans.

This week, I am joining with my colleague from Iowa, Dave Loebsack, to introduce the Save Rural Hospitals Act. This bipartisan bill looks to reverse the trend of rural hospital closures, in part by eliminating unrealistic federal regulations like the “96 hour rule,” which forces rural hospitals to move a patient within 96 hours in order to get reimbursed by Medicare.

The average rural hospital creates 195 jobs and generates $8.4 million in annual payroll. But more than that, these facilities make communities livable, ensuring a doctor isn’t far away when a medical emergency strikes.

This bill shines a light on the rural health crisis in Missouri and across the country. If we accept this reality – and neglect this much needed conversation – rural hospitals in Missouri will continue to close. This leaves thousands without access to health care, putting lives in jeopardy and affecting every family in Middle America. That’s simply not acceptable.

City Looking to Crack Down on Traffic Violations

Memphis residents are being reminded to monitor posted speed limits. Photo by Maddy Zahn.

With an increasing number of citizens voicing complaints regarding traffic concerns, the Memphis City Council recently agreed to move forward with an increased police presence while also encouraging a lower tolerance level for infractions.

Complaints have centered around speeding, stop sign adherence and non-traditional vehicle usage such as ATVs and golf carts.

“The City of Memphis has not written a lot of traffic tickets, but unfortunately that appears like it is going to have to change,” said Alderman Chris Feeney. “This isn’t about revenue, or being punitive, it is about public safety.”

Police Chief Bill Holland indicated officers have tried to use warnings and have allowed some leeway when dealing with speed enforcement.

Under the new council directive, that tolerance level will be reduced.

“In the past, we may have just flashed our lights at you, or offered a warning when a car was going a little too fast,” said Holland. “Now those cars going 30 in a 20 will likely be looking at a ticket.”

Holland stated the enforcement efforts have been ongoing, with officers performing additional traffic patrols. In an effort to enhance those efforts, a part-time officer has been added to the police force. Justin Allen from Clark County will be joining the MPD, and Holland indicated his initial responsibilities will focus on traffic control. The department has been shorthanded with the departure of officer Jason Ketchum, and Holland said efforts will continue to replace that full-time officer as well.

The council also has discussed the possibility of adding a radar camera system that could be deployed by the department in trouble areas to help deter speeding and produce data on traffic volume and speed habits of motorists.

“We are not turning a deaf ear to citizen complaints,” said Holland. “When we become aware of trouble spots, we increase our presence there, but it takes being in the right spot at exactly the right time to catch the people responsible for the complaints.”

Unless otherwise posted, the speed limit within the city limits is 25 mph. ATV’s, golf carts or utility vehicles are allowed on public streets only by special permit, available at city hall. They may only be driven by licensed drivers and are not to exceed 30 mph regardless if the posted speed limit is higher.

Holland noted that enforcement efforts are difficult with a small force, that typically only has one officer on duty, adding that police presence performing traffic patrol normally turns into a simple deterrent rather quickly as motorists become aware of the law enforcement presence and temporarily reduce speeds or choose alternate routes.

While automated traffic controls such as radar cameras and stop sign video surveillance are not particularly popular with the public, the city council expressed a willingness to at least consider such measures.

“I’m certain I have exceeded a posted speed limit at some time or other,” said Alderman Feeney. “In doing so I could be putting the public safety at risk. So I have a choice, I can either slow down and monitor my speed better, or I can risk paying a ticket.”

The council is hoping the community chooses the first option, but is anticipating it will take more of the later for the initiative to hit home and start to sink in for motorists.

Area Students Named to MU Dean’s List

Several area students were named to the University of Missouri spring semester 2017 dean’s list.

Kathryn Mary Howard of Memphis has been named to honor roll. Howard is a senior student.

Samantha Rachel Tobler, a senior, was named to the 2017 dean’s list for the spring semester.

Jaclyn Wiggins, a junior student in the arts and science school, was named to the honor roll as well.

More Than $988 Million in Unclaimed Property Waiting to be Returned  Statewide

JEFFERSON CITY – State Treasurer Eric Schmitt on June 15th announced the start of an annual effort to return Unclaimed Property to Missourians by publishing the names of owners in Missouri newspapers. Starting June 16, the names of more than 145,000 individuals, families, small businesses, and non-profits with Unclaimed Property will be printed in more than 100 publications across the state.

“Our team works hard every single day to financially empower Missourians by returning the money they are rightfully owed,” Schmitt said. “One in ten Missourians have Unclaimed Property, and this public awareness initiative is one of the many creative ways we work to get abandoned money back to its rightful owners. I encourage all Missourians to visit ShowMeMoney.com to see if they or someone they know has money waiting to be claimed free of charge.”

Missouri law requires these notices be published annually in order to list the names of individuals whose Unclaimed Property valued at $50 or more has been turned over to the State Treasurer’s Office in the past year.

Individuals, families, small businesses, and others can check to see if they have Unclaimed Property on ShowMeMoney.com. They can also sign up for email notifications when new assets come in matching their information and send notifications to family and friends to let them know about money being held in their name.

Treasurer Schmitt has returned more than $13.5 million to over 50,000 account holders since taking office in January. The average Unclaimed Property return is around $300.

Fireworks Season Will Run June 20th – July 10th in City of Memphis

As the Independence Day holiday approaches, the Memphis Police Department is reminding city residents of ordinances related to the discharge of fireworks in city limits.

Fireworks may be discharged from June 20 – July 10th from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. That coincides with the permitted sales period.

Fireworks are prohibited on public property, including parks and the municipal lakes. It is unlawful for any person to discharge any fireworks within the city limits of Memphis, except upon their own property or upon property whose owner has given his/her consent. It is also illegal to recklessly discharge fireworks in such a manner that the explosion of the same will be likely to endanger or cause injury or damage to any person or property within the city limits of Memphis.

Any person violating any of the provisions of the city’s fireworks ordinance shall, upon conviction, be punished by a fine not exceeding $500 or by imprisonment in the City or County Jail not exceeding ninety 90 days, or by both such fine and imprisonment; provided, that in any case wherein the penalty for an offense is fixed by a Statute of the State, the statutory penalty, and no other, shall be imposed for such offense.

Memphis Man Facing Charges Following Motorcycle Crash

A Memphis man is facing numerous charges following a motorcycle crash on Route MM Tuesday evening.

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the accident occurred at 7:30 p.m. on June 13th, a half mile south of the Highway 136  intersection, just south of Memphis.

Russell B Matthew, 34, was southbound on Route MM on a 1993 Suzuki 500 motorcycle when the vehicle ran off the right side of the roadway and overturned. Matthew sustained moderate injuries in the crash. He was transported via patrol car to Scotland County Hospital.

Matthew was ticketed for driving while intoxicated, no valid license, leaving the scene of an accident, child endangerment, failure to wear approved headgear and failure to drive on right half of the roadway.

The Patrol was assisted at the scene by the Memphis Police Department and the Scotland County Sheriff’s Office.

Large Hail Storm Pounds Scotland County

Chrissy Myers put the hail to the ruler test, topping out at two inches in diameter.

Some brief power outages and several downed tree limbs  were all that law enforcement had to report following Saturday’s severe weather that hit northeast Missouri, but the real damage reports started rolling in Monday at local insurance offices.

The National Weather Service reported “Severe thunderstorms tracked across eastern Iowa, northeast Missouri, and north central Illinois Saturday afternoon and evening. Large hail, torrential rain, and damaging winds up to 65 mph were reported.  Very large hail fell in Muscatine, IA and Antioch, MO, where golf ball and baseball size hail was reported respectively.”

The heavy rains and high winds did minimal damage in Scotland County, but hail ranging in size from golf ball to as big as baseballs, was reported, leading to hundreds of claims for hail damage to vehicles, homes and businesses.

Local insurance agents and auto body repair specialists indicated it is too early to offer a  solid estimate for storm damages, but several speculated that with anywhere from 300 to 500 damaged vehicles and a smaller number of hail damaged homes and businesses, the total could easily eclipse $1 million.

At approximately 7:15 p.m. Saturday evening, the frozen precipitation hit the City of Memphis. Trained storm spotters reported hail up to two-inches in diameter, with reports and photos of larger bundles of ice making their rounds via social media.

Kris Lister collected this assortment of hail stones at his Memphis residence on Mi-Lor Street.

The storm continued east, with similar damage reports out of Kahoka and Clark County around 7:45 p.m.

More than 2 inches of rain was reported during the storm, with the hail dissipating as the storm left Missouri, but still resulting in significant rainfall in southeast Iowa and eastern Illinois.

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