December 7, 2021 Camden County Commission meeting at 10:00 a.m.

All commissioners were present. There were about six people present who weren’t Camden County employees.

The chairs were rearranged to face the projection screen and the Auditor, Jimmy Laughlin, was sitting up on the Commission dais trying to get his laptop to work so they could have a Zoom meeting during the Commission meeting.

Presiding Commissioner Hasty asked for a moment of silence in remembrance of Pearl Harbor. After that ended, we went on to the first agenda item which was Road and Bridge IMS.

This was also the one year anniversary of the day the Commission met with the Gravelin’ Man without providing public notice and held a meeting in an office in the Commission Building where they discussed graveling a driveway that went through private property that had recently been purchased by another couple who was not present at that meeting. Camden County Road and Bridge graveled a road right through their property on the very next day. This incident became known as Gravelgate.

I noticed there was no moment of silence for that couple.

Back to the first item.

This was a Zoom meeting by a representative from IMS (Infrastructure Management Services). He went over their completed assessment of the Camden County road network.

Apparently, Camden County paid $60,000 last year for IMS to do a Pavement Condition Assessment of the Camden County Roads. This process is explained in this link:

They basically use special scanning trucks to drive all of the asphalt and concrete roads and record an assessment report of their condition. They give each segment of a road a Pavement Index and a Ride Score. The numbers range from 1 to 100. An 80 is good. 50 is an average score. 20-30 is bad.

I’m sure these trucks freaked some people out.

The representative from IMS said our asphalt network is in overall good shape.

They also give each road segment a Distress Rating from 0 to 10 with a 10 being the best rating. This includes a Roughness Index (or Ride-ability) vs the surface’s Distress Index. All of the results were provided to Camden County in an Excel spreadsheet so Road and Bridge can sort the results according to the various scores.

Squinting to read all of the tiny numbers on the projection screen, I believe a section of Waterfowl Road won the distinction of being one of our worst roads.

Commissioner Williams asked if Camden County should focus on improving the middle quality roads. The IMS Rep confirmed this, saying that those roads are the easiest to improve because they still have a decent underlay surface. The poorly rated roads need more significant repair since the underlay probably needs to be repaired or replaced.

The Road and Bridge Administrator said they have a $1,000,000 asphalt budget. According to the assessment, it will require $112,000,000 to fully upgrade all of Camden County’s paved roads. So in the year 2133, we should all have a smooth hover-car ride over those roads.

The IMS representative said they don’t usually make recommendations for gravel roads since they have to be rated on a case by case basis. The surface quality of a gravel road can change too rapidly over time due to weather conditions, surrounding terrain and water erosion. That’s why this assessment was just for the paved road network.

The second agenda item was for Sheriff Tasers.

Sheriff Helms requested the Commission approve a five year plan with Axon for $32,000 per year. This would provide a $90,000 savings for their Taser equipment. It would be coming from the Sheriff’s budget and it includes training, repairs, and used cartridge replacement.

Axon is a sole source provider for Taser. Axon is the same company that provides body worn cameras.

There was some discussion among the commissioners whether this item should be tabled for review. Commissioner Hasty asked if Axon was on the sole source provider list for Missouri. The Sheriff confirmed that Axon was on the list. At this point, the Commission decided unanimously to approve the item.

The final agenda item was the tax abatements for November. There was a huge stack of them that looked thicker than War and Peace. The abatements were approved unanimously.

The Commission then voted to go into closed session per Sunshine Law subsection #1 (Legal Matters).

And that was that.

It seemed like the Road and Bridge representatives weren’t surprised by the road grades in the assessment. After all, they work on these roads all day and they know them better than anyone.

However, it is good to have an unbiased third party conduct a scientific analysis of the road network. I hope the Commission decides to make this assessment available online because it might help people understand better why certain roads are being repaired while others aren’t. It also can be used as a justification for road repairs for people who suspect that road repairs are performed primarily on those roads that lead to the houses of people with political influence. Government transparency is good for Camden County. It’s much easier to understand that Road A was repaired because it is rated as a 41 while your road, Road B, is rated as a 57.

Unfortunately, the projected cost of $112,000,000 for a universal good rating means that improving the quality of the paved road network across the board is just never going to happen. And there was no good news in this assessment for those citizens who use gravel roads to get to and from their homes.

I also wanted to mention that I am a regular guest on the Daily Show with KB and Bill every Friday at 9:00 a.m. on Key Radio 89.3 FM. We discuss these meetings, the blog, Camden County politics and I try to entertain KB with my police stories. If you listen to the live show, you can call in to (573) 633-5395 and ask us questions. You can also listen online at:

My portion of the show repeats again at 5:00 p.m. and 1a.m. and even if you miss those re-broadcasts, the episodes are archived and you can listen to them at your leisure at this link:

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