Three takeaways from Greene County Commissioner Bob Dixon’s speech

In his annual “State of the County” address, Presiding Greene County Commissioner Bob Dixon said the past year has been marked by “silent and careful scrutiny” as the Commission “thinks at the level regional”.

“The state of the county is not only strong, it continues to improve,” Dixon told members of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce. “The region’s population growth continues to increase at around 3% per year. We are an attractive region and we are at the forefront of something big, especially if we think and act regionally. “

In his remarks, Dixon highlighted Greene County’s ongoing efforts to distribute federal coronavirus aid, plans to create a new county campus, and workforce challenges facing the county. as hiring slowed.

COVID help

Between the CARES Act, ARPA, and other federal funds, Greene County has handed out a total of $113.8 million in coronavirus relief. For most of last year, the majority of funding came from the $57 million allocated to the county by the American Rescue Plan Act passed last year.

Notable projects supported by county ARPA funds include a behavioral crisis center for youth in partnership with Burrell Behavioral Health, an 11,600 square foot production facility at the Jordan Valley Innovation Center in collaboration with the Missouri State University and a Center of Excellence for Airframe and Powerplant Maintenance Training at Springfield Branson National Airport in partnership with Ozarks Technical Community College.

After:COVID-19 outbreak closes Greenwood Lab School until Monday

According to Dixon, the Commission distributed $3.1 million in grants with an average grant size of just over $11,000. More than 300 small businesses have benefited, including 104 minority-owned, he said. Through small business assistance, the county is currently processing more than 100 requests for nonprofit assistance.

Dixon also praised the county’s distribution of housing assistance funds, which have been the subject of much mismanagement in many other communities across the country.

“Once finalized, we expect over $22.3 million in rental relief funds to be dispersed throughout the economy. As I mentioned last year, this is not happening everywhere. elsewhere. In fact, in many communities across the country, the program has been an abject failure and the subject of congressional hearings. But in Greene County, it has been a shining example of how success is possible. when we roll up our sleeves and work together,” Dixon said.

County Campus Overhaul

Construction of the new Greene County Sheriff’s Office and Jail was completed in April, relocating all GCSO staff to one building and opening up space in five existing facilities across the county. The campus plan proposes to renovate the Greene County Judicial Center and the Justice Center, and to construct new courtrooms at both facilities. An expanded single-entry secure lobby would be constructed for citizens to access both buildings.

The campus renovations are valued at approximately $19 million and paid for with bonds issued from the 2017 county sales tax.

Once the plans are finalized, the renovations should be completed in two to three years.

Under the plan, sections of the old jail would be turned into new courtrooms, and staff from Greene’s juvenile bureau and youth academy would move into the renovated justice center.

The campus plan also proposes to renovate areas of the historic Greene County Courthouse. When completed, the commission and public administrator would move into the historic courthouse and judicial center.

According to Dixon, the move will allow the county government to be more accessible to the public and save money on rental fees at its current location at Cox Medical Tower.

“We are developing an updated campus master plan that will creatively renovate the former downtown jail into a much-needed second-floor courtroom, relocate Juvenile Administration and the County Youth Academy from Green on the first floor, will see the construction of a spacious new connected Courts Lobby in the two buildings of the current courthouse car park and relocated many functions currently housed in rented space,” Dixon said in his speech.

“This means the county commission will be housed in the courthouse and even more accessible to citizens for the first time in decades.”

Labor struggle

Citing a nationwide labor shortage, Dixon said one of the biggest challenges Greene County has faced over the past year is maintaining sufficient numbers of employees to ensure the proper functioning of government.

Dixon specifically cited road workers where full-time staff are down 20% and seasonal part-timers are down around 90%.

“It makes certain tasks like mowing our 8,000 acres of resale rights and clearing brush almost unmanageable. But they continue to work hard and get the job done where it has the most impact,” Dixon said. .

After:SPS task force to recommend $220m bond in April, prioritizing specific projects

He also noted that road workers in the county recently disbanded their union – citing this as a vote of confidence in their leadership for the remaining workers.

“What might surprise some, but for us, is just another validation of our team-oriented county family approach, and a major endorsement of our highway and caring leadership team. they are taking, collective bargaining employees at (the highway) recently voted to end its affiliation with the Service Employees International Union and dissolve it. Of course, we will continue to work closely with them to ensure that they have the tools they need to deliver important services,” Dixon said.

Andrew Sullender is the local government reporter for the Springfield News-Leader. Follow him on Twitter @andrewsullender. Email tips and story ideas to [email protected]

About Christopher Easley

Check Also

Alaska Native nonprofit puts culture at the forefront of substance abuse prevention

CITC organizes berry picking outings for youth as part of its drug prevention services. (Photo …