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Purcell says criticism tied to road advisory board position

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Cape Girardeau County Commissioner Jay Purcell wants the public's help to block fellow Commissioner Larry Bock's bid for a seat on a new county road board.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Purcell said Bock was using underhanded tactics to win the seat. During a discussion of the County Road and Bridge Advisory Board on Monday, Bock said Purcell and Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones hold private meetings to discuss county business without informing Bock or the public.

"I am very disappointed that Commissioner Larry Bock would make these timely, baseless accusations when he is not getting what he wants pertaining to a seat on the citizens advisory board," Purcell said in his statement.

Purcell declined to comment further on his statement. Another discussion of the board is on the commission's agenda for Thursday. The meeting begins at 9 a.m., but no specific time has been set for the discussion.

'Two separate issues'

Bock denied he is attempting to push his way onto the board by accusing his fellow commissioners of violating the state open meetings law, commonly referred to as the Sunshine Law.

"It is two separate issues," Bock said. "Those guys are having their own meetings. The road and bridge board is another issue. They both just happened to be talked about at the same time yesterday."

The County Road and Bridge Advisory Board was approved by the commission July 13 in an attempt to shore up public support for a tax increase to accelerate paving projects. The tax passed by 131 votes Aug. 8 and will take effect Jan. 1.

The board will have one member from each of the 10 townships in the county and one at-large member. The county highway administrator will have a non-voting seat. Bock wants another non-voting seat for the First District associate commissioner, a job that represents most unincorporated areas of the county.

In his statement, Purcell said having the highway administrator on the board will provide all the expert help the panel needs. "I believe it would be inappropriate to make changes to this board without public input," he said. "I further believe that this board will be most effective by acting independently of the commission and would allow for fresh sets of eyes to review all standards, practices and criteria related to our county roads."

Putting the commissioner responsible for overseeing the road program on the board will only enhance its work, Bock replied. "The road and bridge administrator can answer technical questions. I could answer questions relating to the county commission, what we have paid for, what we have done. The farthest thing from my mind is to try to sway the board."

rkeller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 126


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