Perryville to request statewide quarantine

Monday, August 12, 2013
An Emerald Ash Borer pictured inside a tree. (Photo Courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation)

PERRYVILLE, Mo. -- As Perry County looks down the barrel of a possible quarantine that could put local firewood dealers out of business, local leaders plan to contact state officials to request the quarantine be expanded to the entire state.

At its regular meeting last week, the Perryville Board of Aldermen discussed the potential effect of a countywide quarantine on wood products after a field agent from the Missouri Department of Agriculture found emerald ash borers in a Perryville park.

According to the department's website, the emerald ash borer is an Asian species of beetle whose larvae feed on the inner bark of ash trees, eventually killing them.

The department has quarantined wood products in 10 Missouri counties in an attempt to contain the beetles and could add Perry County to the quarantine list this fall when it completes its annual study of the insects.

Scott Sattler, economic development director for Perry County, last month said a quarantine could force hundreds of firewood dealers -- many of whom sell their products in St. Louis and Chicago -- out of business.

At the meeting last week, Sattler told the board the Missouri and U.S. departments of agriculture still are studying the insect and likely will render a decision about the quarantine in September or October.

Alderman Gary Schumer suggested the board send a letter to the department, asking that the quarantine be expanded to cover the entire state of Missouri, which would allow local businesses to continue selling firewood in the St. Louis market and other parts of the state.

"I think it really would say a lot to the people that are in the industry," Schumer said.

City attorney Thomas Ludwig said a resolution from the board might have more effect than a letter, and Perryville Mayor Debbie Gahan proposed working with Perry County officials to develop a joint resolution between the city and the county.

Such a resolution would not have any legal authority to prevent or expand a quarantine, Gahan said, but it nonetheless would be an appropriate step that would send a message to the state about the effect of its actions on local business.

"It's logical to do that when you consider how much interaction there is with our contiguous counties, and we're not the only county that's getting hit by this," Gahan said in a telephone interview Sunday.

Ludwig and city administrator Brent Buerck will draft a resolution and bring it to the board for approval, Gahan said.

Alderman Curt Buerck said a quarantine on Perry County wood products would have a ripple effect on the local economy.

"It just snowballs," he said.

For instance, Jay Stortz, owner of Jay's Firewood and Mulch, has said he employs five full-time and two to three part-time, seasonal workers and spends $25,000 to $30,000 a year on maintenance and repairs to his seven trucks and three trailers.

"It's really going to affect a large portion of our economic group in our county, because we do have so much in the way of wood that's processed," Gahan said.

epriddy@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

Perryville, Mo.

Map of pertinent addresses

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