Area officials kick around mutual issues

Thursday, March 17, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 4:23 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Boone County public officials met on a first-name basis Wednesday night.

The Boone County Commission held a municipal government meeting to discuss countywide issues, including voluntary annexations and transportation options. More important than the agenda items, however, was the interaction between the officials, said County Commissioner Karen Miller.

“We’re all willing to share, it’s just sitting down to do it,” she said. “That’s what it’s all about — that interaction.”

The meeting included representatives from Columbia, Ashland, Centralia, Hallsville, Sturgeon, Hartsburg and Pierpont. Many of those in attendance had not met previously and took advantage of the opportunity to get to know one another. Miller said that forming relationships through that kind of informal atmosphere is most important in establishing cooperation.

The meeting began with a discussion about city and county cooperation on voluntary annexations. House Bill 477, sponsored by Rep. Steve Hobbs, R-Mexico, would allow the city and county to resolve objections to or problems with a voluntary annexation. This would not apply to all annexations, just those with a county interest.

“It has not been our policy to not encourage annexation,” Miller said. “It’s in our best interest to keep our communities strong.”

Commissioner Keith Schnarre said that the county does not want to hinder development; rather they would like to make it better.

“We just want the infrastructure to be organized and understood,” he said.

Schnarre pointed out that Boone County and Columbia have increased their interaction on annexation issues. He urged other communities to do the same.

The officials also discussed transportation in the county. Commissioner Skip Elkin said that the county is working on a needs assessment study on the available public transportation.

“They’re going to define the existing transportation systems and try to coordinate them to move people where they need to go,” Elkin said.

The results of this study will not be used to create a new transportation system but rather a vision of how to make all the available options work together more smoothly.

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