Submitted by Presiding Commissioner Marilyn Ruestman
Now that spring is here, we begin to think about being outdoors. Well, so does our County road and bridge crew! They are anxious to begin repair on damage done to our roads over the winter.
In Newton County, District One Commissioner Alan Cook oversees all County road operations. The County Common Road District covers approximately 340 miles, and we cooperate daily with the seven other special road districts located in Newton County. Our County Common Road District Superintendent Lee Booyer has been with the County 22 years, and the road and bridge crew consists of: Craig Doty, Matt Friend, Kenny James, Scott Ramaeker, Gray McKinney, Wade Scheppert, Ward Scheppert, Brad Turner, Bob Ward, David Doty, Ben Trammell, Jason Hart, Kenny Link, and Mike Smith.
The County Commission meets weekly with Superintendent Booyer and Newton County Engineer Leon Glover. Commissioner Cook communicates daily with Booyer, as they discuss present or ongoing projects as well as long-range plans for our road system.
The County has eight individual road districts which maintain collectively 980 miles: the County Common, Diamond, Fairview, Joplin, Midway, Neosho, Seneca, and Stella. Each district has three elected road commissioners, with the exception of the County Common, which works under the oversight of the Newton County Commission. Of the nearly 1,000 miles, almost 50% are white gravel, 42% are chip/seal, and 8% are asphalt.
Each road district operates from three sources of funding: (1) a tax levy used for operations and equipment purchases, (2) a County Aid Road Tax (CART), which is distributed from MoDOT to the County for each mile of County-maintained roads for routine maintenance of mowing, grading, etc., and (3) a ¼-cent sales tax, which was passed by voters in 2011 and is to be used to upgrade and improve road surfaces to a hard surface preparation condition.
Newton County also maintains most of the bridges on County roads. There are approximately 175 Bridge Replacement Off-System (BRO) bridges in the County. Ninety-three of those bridges have been replaced since 1996.
Not every County road is perfect, but each district has an active road inventory and mutli-year plan they diligently work from. This past winter was very destructive to many roads, and the County is taking every opportunity to patch them so that the road districts can continue with improvement projects.
Nearly every citizen in the County has an interest in County roads. Either they live on a county road or visit someone that lives on a County road. Thanks to a crew who works tirelessly to serve our County!