Cape Girardeau County Commission sets date for hearing on deed transfer

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Cape Girardeau County Commission set a date to decide whether to deed two properties to the Cape County Board for Developmentally Disabled, formerly known as the SB40 board, at its Thursday morning meeting.

The commission will make the decision at a special night meeting Aug. 16 at 7 p.m. The two properties in question house Cape Girardeau Sheltered Workshop Inc., and the county's name appears on the property deeds.

In his presentation to the commission, board attorney James Marks said the properties should be deeded to his client because they belong to the board. He said the board purchased the properties exclusively with its money. He said no money from the county's general fund was used in the purchase, giving the commission no stake in the properties. The commission does appoint the board's members, however.

Marks said the board needs those properties in its name to be able to negotiate and does not want to have to come before the county commission every time the board wants to enter into a contract. He said at some time the board may want to borrow money and those properties are the only real collateral it has.

In addition to the practical reasons for wanting the properties in the board's name, Marks said the board would be able to rest easier knowing it was in charge of those properties.

"We need to have control over our own stuff. We bought it, we should have control over it," he said.

Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones said he did not understand why the board was in such a rush to have the deeds to the properties and said he was not ready to make a decision. He said he wanted to look at how other counties handle similar situations.

Commissioner Jay Purcell challenged Jones to name a reason the properties should not be deeded to the board. Jones did not offer him any.

Jones said part of his research would be meeting privately with Marks and board president Dory Johnson. Their meeting is set for Aug. 9.

After Jones said he would not entertain a motion to decide the deeding, members of the audience expressed their frustration over the delay. They said the commissioners have had ample time to consider the matter.

Sandra Cato of Cape Girardeau said she attended the meeting as an interested resident and felt the commission's lack of support of the board was "politics in the dirtiest sense of the word." While addressing the commission, she said Jones was an injustice as presiding commissioner and said honesty was not one of his virtues. She also expressed her displeasure at Commissioner Paul Koeper's lack of input on the matter.

Koeper later defended himself against Cato's comments, saying he listens before speaking and making decisions. He said he wants to make a decision that serves the best interests of all the groups involved and that takes more than just listening to a presentation.

"Let me have the time to do it. Why not let me get all my ducks in a row?" Koeper said.

He also said he would like to consult with Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle, who often serves as legal adviser to the commission, before making a decision.

cbartholomew@semissourian.com

243-8600

Pertinent Addresses

1 Barton Square, Jackson, MO

1330 Southern Expressway, Cape Girardeau, MO

5616 U.S. Highway 61, Jackson, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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