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Voters say no to new county jail

Posted on Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at 6:00 am

Lincoln County voters rejected a measure to raise the sales tax to fund improvements to county buildings, including the construction of a new jail, in last Tuesday’s election.

A total of 3,344 voters opposed Proposition Safe and Secure, according to official results. Meanwhile, 1,666 voters cast a ballot in support of the proposal.

The measure would have raised the county’s sales tax by one-half cent to fund capital improvements for county buildings, with an emphasis on the county jail and sheriff’s office.

Last Wednesday, Sheriff John Cottle released a statement lamenting the loss, but vowing to find alternate ways of keeping up with the county’s growth.

“Ultimately, I am disappointed with the results of Proposition Safe and Secure,” Cottle said, while promising to “continue to be fiscally responsible with your hard-earned tax dollars and seek out new options to generate revenue.”

Cottle said none of the community outreach programs currently conducted by his office will suffer cuts despite the tax increase’s failure.

He said the “most immediate issue affecting our county” was the lack of evidence storage space issues, and said the problem would have to be resolved by either building a temporary storage facility or renting commercial office space.

Cottle also said that he would pursue grants and other forms of funding to improve the county’s investigations of sex crimes, which he said have grown to “alarming numbers.”

Thom Artru, treasurer of the Lincoln County Republican Club which came out in opposition to Proposition Safe and Secure in the weeks leading up to the election, also commented on the proposition’s failure.

“The club, as a whole, was pleased with the outcome of the elections,” he said. “At our next club meeting on Tuesday, we will discuss the outcome and decide where we go from here.”

Besides the proposition, voters also chose a mixture of old and new faces to fill seats in a variety of contested races across the county.

For the Lincoln County Ambulance District board, voters re-elected Tim Ens and David Gulley to the board of directors. Ens and Gulley will represent Subdistrict 1 and Subdistrict 4, respectively.

Silex Mayor Bob Zeh emerged as the winner over Alderman Dorothy Ford in a close race. Zeh had 24 votes compared to 21 votes for Ford.

In the board of aldermen race,

For the Silex board of aldermen, David Rice Jr., son of late Silex Mayor David Rice, won alongside Justin Spanier.

In Troy, incumbents Ron Sconce and Dennis Detert reclaimed their aldermanic seats by wide margins.

In Moscow Mills, Ward 1 Alderman Mark Spence won his re-election bid over challenger Andy Techendorf.

In Hawk Point, incumbent Jenni Crigger and Adam Stanek won the two seats on the board of aldermen.

In Elsberry, Michael Short beat opponent Lawrence D. St. Cin, Jr. for Ward 2 alderman.

The Lincoln County R-III School Board added newcomers David Easterday and Sarah Toedebusch, as well as incumbent Dale McDonald. They received the most votes in a six-person race.

In the Winfield School District, Penny Zerr, West Burch and Josh Berry won seats.

For the Silex School Board, Steve Miller, Tommy Kreuger and Kay Hall beat out contenders Jack Price and Leslie Gruenloh.

In the Elsberry School District, incumbent Matt Jones was re-elected. Newcomers Margaret Byers and Matt Hartley won the two other seats vacated by retiring longtime board members John Boedeker and Mark Rhoades.

The voter turnout in last Tuesday’s election was 14 percent.