State of the County - 2018 - 2022
In 2018 Presiding Commissioner Bill Reiboldt, was elected to a 4-year term. Presiding Commissioner Reiboldt served 8 years as State Representative for the area. Bill serves at following Boards: JCPHA - Jasper County Public Housing Authority, AAA- Area Agency on Aging, WIB - Workforce Investment Board, and Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, EX-Officio. Born and raised in Newton County, Bill lives on the family farm, where the farming operation is still very active. Having mentioned this, it is quite natural that he carries the yoke of the Newton County Commission.
Alan Cook serves as Newton County Commissioner in District 1. He was elected for a four-year term in 2012, 2016, and again in 2020. Alan currently serves as Vice President of the Southwest Missouri Association of County Commissioners and President of the Missouri Southern State University Athletic Steering Committee. He is also a Board Member of Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce, 911 Oversight Board, Crowder Joint Land Use, and Region M. Alan is striving to keep our county investments consistent and proportional for both personnel as well as capital needs. He has extensive knowledge of Newton County procedures and assured together with the County Auditor Charlotte Ward that every County audit has been clean and transparent, and our financial rating remains solid.
Commissioner District 2, David Osborn, was elected to a 4-year term in 2020. He serves on the Environmental Task Force Council, Economic Security Board, Clean Air Commission, MU Extension Council, and Transportation Advisory Committee. One of David's most recent accomplishments during the first 40 days of office was to introduce, The Newton County Missouri Second Amendment Preservation Act, Safety Ordinance.
2019 was a significant year when Newton County Commission bid out the installation of a county wide unified IT System. The bid for the county wide unified IT System was awarded to Stronghold Data. The unified IT System is monitored on a 24/7 basis to ensure an effluent IT data process, data safety and to prevent attacks from IT cybercrimes, which is more important than ever in this day and time.
This unified IT System also included the installation of new telephones and implementing a new billing route thru Stronghold Data, which results in a saving of $90,000 per year.
In 2021 Newton County Commission established an inhouse construction team which performs inhouse carpentry and repairs of all Newton County buildings, such as Courthouse, Judicial Center, Jail, CDC, and Historical Museum. The inhouse construction team saved the county over $13,000 by constructing a special filing system at the Juvenile Office, saved approximately $9,000 by building a counter at the Sheriff’s Department, saved $10,000 by putting up a fence at CDC, saved $7,000 by renovating the Prosecutor’s office, and other custom construction projects.
The construction team is also remodeling the Canopy Building which was purchased by Newton County Commission in 2021 for the purpose to provide more space for the Court and other office needs. A special accomplishment was the carpentry of a replica of the Judge’s Dias as copied from the Historical Courtroom.
Newton County Commission, under the oversight of Commissioner Osborn, saved the County in 2022, $110,000 for fixing the Sewer System at the Newton County Jail. A method was used by digging under and thru the storm drain. The Commission worked well together with City Inspector and Allgeier Martin & Associates to find a common solution.
Top improvements during the last 4 years were:
New Bridge Superstructure on Tiger Road.
Streambank Stabilization at Quail Road and Indian Creek, Seneca.
Installation of new AC Unit at 911.
Installation of Security Cameras.
Sewer Project at Newton County Jail.
Newton County 911 Emergency Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS).
Newton County 911 Emergency Generator.
Newton County Emergency Management Mass Notification.
On the financial side, sales tax revenue had a 15.12% increase in 2021. The County gave all eligible county employees a 4.5% Cost of Living increase and adopted an extra holiday day, which adds up to 13 days paid holidays per year for their employees. Full time employees receive paid health insurance coverage with supplemental plans available. Newton County also provides a retirement plan, vacation accrual and other benefits.
In 2020 Newton County Commission received $6.8 million in CARES Act Funding and supported Newton County in its response and recovery from COVID-19.
In 2021 the County received $5.6 million and in 2022 the County received $5.6 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
The County Road Districts collectively improved over 85 miles of county-maintained road using the ¼ cent Road Sales Tax Funding.
Under Commissioner’s Cook oversight, the County has partnered with the City of Neosho on a BRO funded, bridge replacement project over Hickory Creek on Coler Street. The County has awarded engineering services and construction begun in April 2022.
Spring has arrived, and Newton County Commission saved the County $3,700 per year by doing their own landscaping around the courthouse, and it looks beautiful!
Newton County Commission, June 1, 2022
State of the County - 2010-2018
You elected me to serve as your watchdog over the expenditures of your hard earned tax dollars and I have remained vigilant to that priority. You now deserve a report on results of my 8 year term as Presiding Commissioner.
Because of an economic downturn, the reserve fund for the County ending 2010 was $863,505.81. I am extremely pleased to exit 2018 with a reserve fund of $3,693,700.72. This reserve serves as a type of county savings account in case of an economic emergency for any county and should contain operating expenses for 6 months up to one year. The total budget for 2018 is $25,668,974.10
The operating expenses for 2010 were $9,819,156.57.
In 2018 an operating budget of $10,536,723.20 was anticipated.
County growth toward First Class County status based on assessed evaluation of the county was $697,266,246.00 in 2010. It is now $ 877,944,445.00 in 2018.
Many sophisticated software programs have been implemented including a Tyler Bookkeeping system and a Superion System, for law enforcement, 911 and emergency management, to provide state of the art communication throughout the County and State. This process has been slow, it’s been painful, but is necessary to remain relevant in Government today.
We have made an effort to keep our county investments consistent and proportional for both personnel as well as capital needs.
Based on increased security requirements in today’s society and because space became a critical issue, we made the financial and social decision to relocate our judicial system to a historical building of 1,700 square feet, located just across the street from the Courthouse and to continue to remain located on our Historical Square at an amazing per foot cost. We can now boast of a more secure and efficient delivery of our county judicial services to our staff and our citizens, as well as meeting our increasing criminal justice needs.
The County has added an expanded employee policy manual that meets the requirements of federal, state and insurance regulations. It is continually reviewed and updated to meet personnel standards.
Since 2011 the County has developed a flag and a county seal, and is making an effort to clearly mark all county vehicles in the county fleet.
Every County audit has been clean and transparent and our financial rating remains solid.
In 2011 the voters approved an earmarked ¼ cent sales tax dedicated to county roads and bridges. As of 2018 we had collected $12,198,444.39 thus enabling us to improve 480 miles of county roads. This tax money is accounted for separately and dispensed to each road district based on the miles in that district.
We are presently in the process of renovating the Courthouse and restoring our old historical courtroom for public tours and use during business hours by reservation.
Our Sheriff’s department, 911 and emergency management department continue to implement updates in their facilities and radio systems in order to meet the highest standards of the State. Expansion plans for additional bed space are presently underway at the jail facility.
We have continued to remain diligent with money expenditures but we recognize the need to remain progressive as the County moves toward First Class Status. I am personally proud of the progress we have accomplished.
Thank you for allowing me the privilege of being a part of this “decade of growth” for the County that my family has chosen to make our home since 1970.
Marilyn Ruestman – Presiding Commissioner, 2011- 2018
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State of the County - September 2015
If you’ve ever noticed how nice the grounds are kept around the Newton County Courthouse a big thank you goes out to the County Maintenance Department. Of course the crew does more than just mow yards and shovel snow they do their best everyday to make sure county buildings are accommodating to the residents and patrons of the county.
This four member staff includes Maintenance supervisor Bobby Linton , workers Chris Wojtowicz, Laura Layton, and Casandra Martin. Linton and his staff have a wide range of knowledge and expertise in maintenance care. Linton brings to the county years of experience in heating and air conditioning repair. Layton has a strong background in mechanical care. Wojtowicz is an excellent carpenter, while Martin takes care of housekeeping at the Sheriff’s office and Jail along with keeping the Courthouse annex looking nice for fellow employees and the public. There’s not many things that they can’t fix or repair if its broken. ,
There’s never any downtime for the staff. They are busy with any problems that may arise at the various county facilities. You’ll find them at the county jail, the county annex, the 911 emergency dispatch center, the county emergency operations center at the armory, the historical complex and the soon to be new county judicial center on the square…
Bobby and his staff have recently undertaken a major project at the armory building. With the help of other county departments, hundreds of boxes of outdated records are being purged for shredding. It’s a long tedious process that will provide much needed space for future county records. An update on the project will highlight an upcoming State of the County.
So remember the next time you visit one of the county facilities, the beautiful grounds, the cleanliness of the facilities it’s the result of hard work and dedication from a truly remarkable staff, the Newton County Maintenance Department.
The Commission is proud of this committed group of individuals. We just want to say thank you to the maintenance staff who are devoted to the wonderful people of Newton County.
State of the County - August 2015
Everyone knows how important a circuit clerk is to the court system. However, few people know the amount of financial responsibility required or the number of citizens she assists every year.
The Newton County Circuit Clerk’s Office is a very busy place. In 2014, more than 8,791 people asked the Court to intervene in a dispute, provide justice to a victim, or settle a family matter. With a population of 58,845 people in 2013, that means that almost 7 percent of the people in the County accessed the Court in 2014.
· Circuit Clerk, Patty Krueger, is responsible for the overall management of the Newton County Courts and the services and support it provides.
· The State of Missouri employs 18 Deputy Clerks in Newton County, plus the Circuit Clerk. The County funds one clerk who works on a temporary part-time basis.
· Within the circuit court, there are various divisions, such as civil, domestic, small claims, family, criminal, probate, and juvenile. The Clerk’s Office is divided into three different departments:
o Civil Department- (staff of 8) - processes case types that are civil and/or domestic in nature, such as Small Claims, Landlord/Tenant actions, Breach of Contract suits, Malpractice, Wrongful Death, Dissolution and Paternity, Protection Orders.
o Criminal Department- (staff of 8) -processes all traffic tickers written by Deputies and Highway Patrol in Newton County, Misdemeanors and Felonies.
o Juvenile/Probate Division- (staff of 3) – processes Juvenile Abuse-Neglect and Delinquency cases, all Probate matters such as Wills, Estates, Guardianships and Mental Health cases
· In March of this year, the Newton County Courts implemented the Missouri Electronic Filing (eFiling) System to enhance access and efficiency. The eFiling System allows the courts to receive process and manage cases electronically. In making this change, attorneys are offered extended hours of access to cases, providing them with greater flexibility; reduce County budget costs for printing, copying, and mailing; and better serve the bar, their clients and the public. Attorneys can check the status of cases online or submit filings without making trips to the courthouse, calling during business hours or waiting for available staff support to conduct a search.
· Public case docket information is available through Case.net and is accessed easily through the Missouri Courts website at www.courts.mo.gov. From here the public is able to inquire about case records including docket entries, parties, judgments and charges in public court.
· Since August 2014, there have been 8,182 cases filed in Newton County Courts. During this same period 11,262 cases were closed or disposed. There are currently 4,582 court cases pending in Newton County.
· Each month, the Courts will receive and disburse funds in excess of 1 million dollars. These funds are derived of fines, court costs, bonds, garnishments, and filing fees mostly.
· Jurors are summoned by the Circuit Clerk’s Office. Jury service is one of the most important civic duties a citizen can perform. The protection of rights and liberties in circuit courts largely is achieved through the teamwork of judge and jury. A person does not need any knowledge of the legal system to be a juror.
· Other services provided by this office to Newton County residents include passport application acceptance, criminal history records checks, judgment index inquiries and assistance with genealogy and old records.
Our sincere thanks to Patty and staff for the terrific job they do. They certainly help keep things running smooth in Newton County.
State of the County - May 2015
Submitted by Presiding Commissioner Marilyn Ruestman
One of the most important offices in the operation of any county is that of Collector of Revenue. Obviously it requires precise methods of accounting and bookkeeping regarding tax payer money. Thanks to the dedicated hard work of Newton County Collector Jim Otey, Newton County runs smoothly year round.
Jim Otey was sworn in as Collector of Revenue in March of 2003 and is currently serving his fourth term in office.
As collector, Jim and his staff are responsible for the collection and disbursement of tax monies collected for personal and real property and railroad and utility taxes. The office also issues merchant licenses, statements of non-assessment, and duplicate receipts. The collector’s office is also responsible for protecting the state’s lien on real estate that is owned by taxpayer’s who are delinquent in tax payments and, as a result, every August the office conducts the tax lien auction.
More than 37 million dollars in taxes was collected in 2014 with that money being sent to the county treasurer for disbursement to almost 40 different taxing entities who benefit from the payment of the tax bill. There are nine school districts, nine fire districts, and eight road districts among the almost 40 entities.
One of Jim’s goals after taking office was to oversee technological advancements in the office. 12 years later, payments are accepted online at www.newtoncountycollector.com, through an automated phone payment system, by mail and at the counter during normal business hours of 8:30a.m.-5:00p.m. The advancement in technology also allows for the use of credit and debit cards as payment choices by the taxpayer. Much of the escrow payment process is automated with the exchange of tax data done through electronic means.
In addition to collecting tax dollars for the county, the collector’s office contracts with seven cities and villages to collect municipality taxes which allows the city or village to streamline their efforts and provide residents with a convenience. Residents in Neosho, Joplin, Loma Linda, Seneca, Saginaw, Village of Leawood and most recently the Village of Shoal Creek Drive (starting in 2015) have their municipal tax included with their county tax bill.
In another effort to provide convenience to the tax payer the collector’s office cooperates with area department of revenue offices making all paid personal property records available to the Department of Revenue in Jefferson City for optional online look-up by fee agents and for use by tax payers who want to renew their tags online through the DOR.
As an active member of the Missouri County Collector’s Association Jim has served on numerous committee’s and was President of the association in 2011-12. Believing change was needed in how collector’s interacted with their Executive Board Jim devised a plan and rallied support to have each classification of county have its own representative on the board.
Jim serves on the board of directors of the Economic Security Corporation of Southwest Area. A community action agency ESC provides services for the elderly and low income individuals in Barton, Jasper, Newton and McDonald Counties. He is currently serving a two year term as Board President and enjoys meeting and working with the 23 other board members who come from elected offices, private interest, and low income representatives who have previously used services provided by the agency.
Originally from Overland Park, Kansas Jim is a 1983 graduate of Kansas State University and moved to Joplin in 1984 to work for KSNF-TV. Starting as a reporter Jim took on a variety of roles before assuming the duties of Sports Director from 1987-1997. It was in that job that Jim first met and worked with current Newton County Associate Commissioner Jim Jackson who along with Shari Sanders and Ken Ford formed a news team that many people remember today.
Jim has been married to the former Lynn Patterson for 21 years. They have a Daughter Lori and Grandson Gavin. Being a grandfather takes up much of Jim’s free time but he also manages to sneak in time to build, fly and often repair radio controlled airplanes and play an occasional round of golf.
The County says “Thanks Jim” for your professional services
State of the county - April 2015
Submitted by Presiding Commissioner Marilyn Ruestman
Election Day is past, and things have slowed down here at the Courthouse. However, it has become abundantly clear how hard our County Clerk and her assistants work, not only at election time, but year round.
Kay Baum has served the citizens of Newton County for 28 years. She is currently in her 6th four year term as Newton County Clerk. Prior to running for County Clerk in 1994, she served as Division Clerk in Division II for 8 years.
The County Clerk also is the election authority and is responsible for administering elections for all the political subdivisions in Newton County.
Following are a list of duties the County Clerk’s Office performs:
a. Administers elections for all School Districts, Cities and Villages, Road and Fire
b. Districts, etc.
c. Takes candidate filings and ballot issues; conducts absentee voting; recruits and trains
d. Election judges/poll workers;
e. Inspects all voting precincts ; and
f. Certifies election results.
*Voter Registration – maintains the voter registration for the county. Newton County currently has 37,905 registered voters
*Clerk of the County Commission - keeps record of all Court Orders and proceedings of the County Commission
* Prepares the County Financial Statement – to be published on or before the first Monday in March
* Works with Commission and Auditor in preparing yearly Budget for the County
*Custodian of all Records
*Human Resource Office for all County employees
a. Handles all county benefits, i.e. vacation, sick leave, deferred compensation plans, health, dental and vision insurance plans, CERF retirement, Division of Employment, Workers Comp, etc.
b. Issues payroll checks
*Maintains all accounts payable requisitions in office and mails out all payments
*Assists in preparation of gas tax refund forms for citizens
*Files with Secretary of State all salaries and non-accountable fees received by each elected county officeholder.
*Annual School Report to DESE; and School money distribution report
*Certifies Assessed Valuations to all Political Subdivisions so they can hold levy hearings and certify their tax levy to the County Clerk
*Certifies Tax Levies to the Collector of Revenue
*Railroad & Utility Tax Bills – responsible for extending the real and personal property tax bills for the railroad and utility companies
* Serves as Secretary to the Board of Equalization
*Serves as Clerk at the Collector’s yearly Tax Sale
*Issues Notary Public Commissions and keeps records on file of all Notaries commissioned in Newton County
*Issues County Auctioneer’s Licenses
*Issues County Liquor Licenses
The County Clerk’s office consists of Kay Baum County Clerk, Brenda Wheeler, Elections Clerk, Sharon Standeford, accounts payable and elections, and Angela Springer, Payroll and Human Resources.
These hardworking ladies are a real asset to the citizens of Newton County. We here at the Commission can’t thank them enough!
State of the County - February 2015
Submitted by Presiding Commissioner Marilyn Ruestman
Year end for Newton County means weeks of closing books and beginning the budget process. The Commission relies heavily on assistance from our elected County Auditor, Charlotte Ward. She does a great job and offers a real service to the County. However, most citizens know little about her duties, so we would like to take this opportunity to let you better understand her position. Thanks Charlotte!!
The Newton County Auditor’s office was created in 2001 when the County grew large enough to be categorized as a second class county. The office operates as the equivalent of a finance office in private business and is responsible for many duties some of which are detailed below. A complete list of duties is available in Missouri Revised Statutes Chapter 55. The Auditor’s office works closely with the County Commission, Clerk and Treasurer to report an accurate financial picture and assist the county’s ability to prepare for growth and extended services.
The Auditor’s office prepares checks for invoices presented to the county for payment each week. She has authority to audit, examine and adjust all accounts and claims presented for payment against the county. These payments are made after the Auditor certifies that there are budgeted funds available for the payment and that the payment is true, just and legal. The Auditor may examine any account and may question the parties, witnesses and others on oath or affirmation regarding any matter or circumstance.
The Auditor reviews reports and bank statements of accounts held by all county officials each month. If the Auditor finds it necessary they have authority to have access to all books, county records or papers kept by any county officer. From these individual reports the Auditor prepares a summary report and presents it to the County Commission.
She is also required to countersign all licenses issued for the sale of intoxicating liquor and keep a record of all county licenses issued; keep inventory of all county property under the control and management of the various officers/departments; serve as a member of the board of equalization. During annual budget preparation the Auditor is required to prepare a statement of estimated revenues to the budget officer of the county. This report is classified as to funds and sources and includes an itemized list of expenditures for as many previous fiscal years as deemed proper to arrive at a reasonable estimate of the anticipated revenues and expenses to prepare a county budget.
The Auditor’s office consists of the elected Auditor, a Deputy Auditor and an Accounts Payable Clerk. Charlotte Walker Ward has served as Auditor for the past twelve years since being elected to the position. The Auditor oversees the functions of the staff, meets weekly with the County Commission, assists officeholders with problems and questions as needed, and assists the human resource department to ensure compliance with IRS, Department of Labor and statute regulations, grant reporting and audits. Jennifer Ginger has served as Deputy Auditor since August 2013. The Deputy Auditor is responsible for monthly audit of county officeholder funds, monthly reporting to the Commission, inventory, payroll and budget review and monthly financial report preparation. Carol McMillan has served as Accounts Payable Clerk since November 2009. The Accounts payable Clerk is responsible for invoice review, vendor verification, weekly check preparation, accounting for all licenses issued, and daily balancing with the Collectors office.
State of the County - October 2014
Meet Your Commissioners
Submitted by Presiding Commissioner Marilyn Ruestman
Presiding Commissioner Marilyn Ruestman, elected in 2010.
Marilyn has been a resident of Newton County for 50 years and has resided in the Reding Mills area since 1971. She has served as an elected official for Newton County for 12 years, as a Commissioner, as well as a Missouri State Representative. She attended Benton Elementary School in Neosho, has an Associate’s Degree from Joplin Junior College, a Bachelor’s Degree from Missouri Southern State University, a Master’s Degree (with honors) from Pittsburg State University. The Ruestman family has been in the construction and real estate business since 1946. Marilyn was district assistant to US Representative Hancock for eight years. Marilyn and her husband Dick have three children and four grandchildren.
Associate Commissioner Alan Cook, elected in 2012.
Alan was born in Neosho and has been a lifelong resident of Newton County. Alan is a graduate of Crowder College, attended MSSU, and then received a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics from Oklahoma Christian University. He was employed by Leggett & Platt for 23 years in the Computer Information Technology Department, serving as Staff Vice President-Head of Development. In that position he served as Project Manager for several mutli-million dollar projects; and was involved in long range planning, disaster recovery, financial compliance regulations, and software installations. He worked at EFCO, a Pella Company for over four years as a Business Partner in the Human Resources Department. His responsibilities included managing employee relations for over 1,200 employees, recruiting, and conducting management level training courses. Alan and his wife M’lle live in Granby; they have two daughters.
Associate Commissioner Jim Jackson, elected in 2012.
Jim has lived in the area for more than 40 years. Prior to his election to office in 2012, Jim had a 35 year broadcasting career. He began as an on air announcer in 1977 at KCTE Radio in Southwest City, Missouri. He joined KSNF TV in Joplin, Missouri in 1980 and served as the station’s main 6:00 and 10:00 p.m. news anchor for more than 30 years. A graduate of Missouri Southern State University, Jim served as an Adjunct Instructor of Communications for 11 years at Crowder College in Neosho, Missouri. Jim is a combat veteran of the Vietnam War serving in the US Navy in the early 1970s. Jim and his wife Susan live in Neosho; they have two daughters and two grandchildren.
State of the County - September 2014
Submitted by Presiding Commissioner Marilyn Ruestman
The citizens of Newton County elect three commissioners for a four year term. A Presiding Commissioner is elected during the “off” presidential election year. Two Associate Commissioners who are elected during the presidential election year.
The Presiding Commissioner is elected at large by vote throughout the County. The District I Commissioner represents the North portion of the County. The District II Commissioner represents the South portion of the County. This split of the County is irregular and is based on population.
Major duties of your Commissioners are:
· To determine that the County maintains a balanced budget each year.
· Accept and publish audits and financial information.
· To oversee bridge construction and the County Common Road District as well as expenditures of the seven Special Road Districts.
· To constantly update the employee policy manual to assure that the County is in compliance with mandates, statutes and laws and can meet governmental requirements.
· To complete and advertise all bid requirements.
· To review and sign all contracts on behalf of the County.
· Set the County Agenda.
· Conduct a business meeting each Wednesday and submit public notifications.
· Meet with the County Engineer and Road Superintendent weekly.
· Maintain County buildings and grounds.
Commissioners are available in the Courthouse Monday through Thursday, 8:00 to 4:00.
Collectively, Commissioners represent Newton County monthly at over 20 committee and board meetings. In addition, they perform weekly road inspections throughout the County. (Many are completed on personal time or on Friday.)
Stay tuned in October for information regarding your elected Commissioners:
Marilyn Ruestman, Presiding
Alan Cook, Associate District I
Jim Jackson, Associate District II
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.