Cape Girardeau County Commission to decide on food safety ordinance

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

After more than a year of negotiating and some debate, the fate of a proposed food safety ordinance will be decided by Cape Girardeau County commissioners Thursday.

Amy Morris, environmental public health specialist for the county health department, will be among the county health workers appearing at the meeting.

She said the only significant changes since a September review by commissioners was a reduction in fees that would be charged to grocery stores. The stores, which pay $120 annually, were originally set to pay an additional $30 per department. The department fee, Morris said, was reduced to $10.

Restaurants that have their own food safety handling classes will be given a waiver, she said, providing the corporate classes meet or exceed county standards.

The commissioners said they were likely to approve the measure.

"The No. 1 thing is food safety," said 1st District Commissioner Larry Bock. "Whatever kind of food a business serves, it's got to be safe."

Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones said meetings between the health department and members of the business community have helped tailor the food safety rules to satisfy both parties. If they are satisfied, he said, "I'm happy with it."

The commission will also resume budget hearings and review a technology request for network services by the county's technology director, Eric McGowen.

Bock said he and the other commissioners were likely to continue questioning plans for 2009 spending, but he did not see making a change in the proposed 3.5 percent pay increase for county employees.

"The employees are the backbone of the county, and you want to compensate them the best you can," he said.

After an intense but ultimately successful campaign to retain office by 2nd District Commissioner Jay Purcell, the working tone among the three commissioners has been cordial.

"The facts are we have to cooperate with one another to get anything done in the county for the next two years," Jones said. "That doesn't say I have to like him. What he did to me was uncalled for and it was really devious," Jones said, referring to the Feb. 6 recording Purcell made of a car trip to Jefferson City. "... But I'm going to get along with him."

The commissioners meet at 9 a.m. Thursday on the third floor of the administration building, 1 Barton Square in Jackson.

Thursday's agenda:

Routine business

* None at this time.

Action items

* Purchase orders/bills.

Discussion items and appointments

* 9:30 a.m. Eric McGowen, Information Technology, request to award bid on network upgrade.

* 10 a.m. Consideration of Ordinance No. 08-02, food safety.

* 11 a.m. Budget hearings.

pmcnichol@semissourian.com

388-3646

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