Friday, June 22, 2012

Lucas Case Joins Schultz & Summers Engineering



Lucas Case
Public Relations
Schultz & Summers Engineering is pleased to welcome Lucas Case to the Marketing and Public Relations Department at SSE.  Case hails from the mid-Missouri town of Richland but has lived and worked in Southwest Missouri for the last six years.  In 2012 SSE added a PR and Marketing division that will cater to professional services companies.  To better serve those clients they brought on Lucas Case, a social media guru and former Political Advisor to numerous Missouri candidates.  SSE Marketing Director, Rodney Jetton had this to say, “Lucas’ background in Public Relations, Social Media Management and Marketing were exactly what we were looking for to help us communicate our message with our customers.  He will also help the SSE’s marketing division provide, bankers, realtors, and other professional businesses build stronger relationships with their clients.”

Rodney Jetton,
Marketing Director
Case recently served as the Political Director for State Treasurer Sarah Steelman’s United States Senate campaign, and before that he served as an advisor on multiple state house and state senate races across Missouri.  In 2010 Case was a consultant for Majority Fund, Inc. (MFI) with the Missouri State Senate Campaign Committee and helped usher in wins for Senator Jay Wasson, Senator Bob Dixon and former House Speaker Ron Richard.  He was also involved in multiple races in the Springfield area as well as an advisor to Senator Jack Goodman’s Congressional race.  Earlier in 2008 Lucas was the Statewide Field Director for the Sarah Steelman for Governor Campaign. 

Soon after the elections were over Case moved into the private sector and managed a multi-million dollar venue in Branson on the World Famous Highway 76 Country Boulevard.  Along with managing the property he also founded the Sunday Night Gospel Concert Series at the Music City Centre Theatre.  Case was also a co-founder of the Branson-based Downing Street Boys Quartet.  In 2010 and 2011, Lucas also worked for Barbara Fairchild in her Marketing & Sales Department, which also allowed him to stay active in the Branson League of Theatre Owners & Show Producers.  Former CFO and Theater owner Debbie Caffrey said, “Lucas’s ability to use social media and oversee our operations greatly improved our attendance and profitability.  His expertise really helped our business thrive in a tough economy.”  Besides working in Branson’s entertainment industry Case also served as a Board Member on the Downtown Branson Main Street Association (DBMA), where his organizational and marketing skills helped to promote downtown Branson and the Tri-Lakes area. 

Stan Schultz, Principal/Owner
Case added, “It’s exciting to join a growing engineering company like SSE and also having the opportunity to use my social media skills to help their marketing division get going is something I am looking forward to.   Companies providing professional services can greatly benefit from using the social media techniques that the internet provides and working at SSE will allow me to help others grow their business. 

SSE has been recognized as one of the fastest growing companies by both Inc. 500|5000 and ZwiegWhite.  Founded in 1997, many consider them to be the premier rural engineering company in Missouri.   Owner Stan Schultz concluded, “Having someone with Lucas’s background will be a huge boost to our marketing efforts both here in Missouri and the federal marketplace.  His political background will be a benefit to our clients and his marketing skills will continue to help us communicate our desire to help communities all across Missouri build the infrastructure they need to improve lives.”          

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Now this is REAL Cajun food!
Things were hot and spicy at the Texas County fairgrounds with Schultz and Summers Engineering hosting a Cajun Shrimp Boil Tuesday night.  Over 75 business and community leaders from the region attended the festivities.  Velena Ingram, Executive Director of the Houston Chamber of Commerce said, “What a fun party!  SSE knows how to have a good time.  Everyone had a great time and the Cajun food was unbelievable.  I am already looking forward to next year.”   

Cajun Chef Ronnie!
Owner Stan Schultz said, “Business is continuing to grow in our mid-Missouri offices.  We love working in rural Missouri and to have so many community leaders show up and help us celebrate another great year of business was exciting.”

The festivities started at 5:00 pm with several people already waiting for the first batch of shrimp to finish cooking.  “The Schultz and Summers folks sure know how to cook Cajun style.  They put on a great party with some outstanding food,” added T.J. Lewis, Ozark County Commissioner.

While the slow economy has negatively affected many Missouri businesses, SSE was just recognized as one of the fastest growing companies by Inc. 500|5000.  Marketing Director Rodney Jetton says they are bucking that trend, “Because our company listens to the needs and concerns of community leaders, we don’t try to tell them what to do.  Our engineers know the rules and are used to working with USDA and DNR officials.  They are experts at finding funding and designing projects that meet the community’s needs at the lowest possible price. Our projects consistently meet the short and long range government requirements while saving taxpayers money.”    

Tracy Guffey of West Plains
won the Fishing Pole
Shannon County Commissioner,
Dale Counts won the shotgun
The night’s activities also included several door nice prizes including a Remington 870 shotgun, a bionic fishing pole and an Android Tablet.  Robert Ross of Houston won the I-Pad while Tracy Guffrey of West Plains walked away with the fishing pole and Dale Counts, Shannon County Northern Commissioner took home the shotgun.  SSE Engineer Jim Fisher commented, “Seeing folks enjoy the food, and having fun made the whole party a success!  2012 is shaping up to be our biggest year ever and getting to say thanks to all our customers and visiting with our elected officials was very enjoyable.”

Robert Ross of Houston won the
Android Tablet

For the full photo album, click the link below:

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

SSE at work again to help with the Gravois Arm Sewer District:

For more information, full story here:

Gravois Trustees and sewer board meet face-to-face to discuss grievances

GRAVOIS MILLS, Mo. – Tension and legal maneuvering finally brought the Gravois Mills Board of Trustees and Gravois Arm Sewer District to the same room last week.
After the Board of Trustees discussed drafting an ordinance to mandate metered sewer in the village, members of the GASD attended the Trustees’ June 12 public meeting to discuss the issue.
Expert sewer rate analyst Carl Brown summarized the discussion saying, “Growth will cure the ills of the Gravois Sewer District.”
Sewer rates too high
Gravois Board Chairman Brad Vold informed the attendees that the sewer rates in the village were not affordable for the economically oppressed residents and businesses in the village of Gravois Mills. Vold added that many have moved out of the village because of the strain caused by their sewer bill.
He also said people will not relocate their residence or business into the village proper, due to the excessive rates and liens that GASD has placed on properties with unpaid sewer bills.
The sewer rate for residents is $56 a month. Businesses pay $61 a month, plus an additional surcharge depending on the type business and usage. There are approximately 100 residents in the village at this time.
The rate was raised 1.8 percent in 2011. According to the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development, the rates could have been raised equivalent to the 2011 standard cost of living increase which was 3.6 percent.
Misinformation clarified
As a public comment, Amanda Laporte a resident of Gravois Mills and former Gravois Mills Realtor®, asked if it was the board position that the only economical issue that was causing people to leave Gravois Mills was a $56 a month sewer bill?
“No, the sewer is part of the reason. This is what people have told me,” said Vold.
“The people of the village could afford the $26 rate that was advertised when the sewer was being voted on.”
McCaffrey reported that the amount that was announced from the start was $47.
“This fact can be verified through meeting minutes, engineering reports and published newspaper articles,” said McCaffree.
Rates based on median household income
Aldermen Bob Swengrosh said he believed the problem was the district used the 2000 census median household income of Morgan County, which was $30,659 annually, when setting the rates according to the two percent of the median household income as set by USDA, rather than the median household income of Gravois Mills.
“If you would have based your rates on the Gravois Mills $14,000 annual median income the district would never have been built,” said Swengrosh.
(Swengrosh was mistaken since the village’s median income in 2000 was $24,167.)
The Gravois Mills current median household income, according to the 2010 census is $20,000 and Morgan counties median income is $35,354. One of the reasons the Morgan County median household income was used is because the district originally planned to serve customers in Morgan County that are beyond the village of Gravois Mills.
Metering vs. flat rates
SSE Engineer Jim Fisher reported that he had completed quite a bit of research regarding sewer metering.
“The problem is there is no good way to do that for individual sewers. You would ideally want a meter for each home,” said Fisher.
City Meters, Co., has a patent on individual sewer meters, but Fisher has been unable to reach them. He reported that since the system is already built, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to implement the meters on the existing system due to the size of the meter.
“The meters are 4-foot long and 15 inches tall. They require 15 inches of additional vertical drop in the current service line, which is likely not available,” said Fisher.
There would also be an additional cost for installation, maintenance and to have employees read the meters each month. Fisher added that metering sewer would have a negative impact on full-time customers, causing them to pay the brunt of the costs, because they would pay by usage. Those that are part-time customers would pay according to their seasonal usage.
“If we meter rates in the village we may possibly be obligated to meter throughout entire system,” said GASD Attorney Bill McCaffrey.
Show me the money
The district has been operating in the red. In June they were $14,000 in the red. The district’s debt service costs, that which is obligated to loans, is $47 per customer, per month. This amount does not include operation and maintenance costs.
“The district has only one revenue stream and that is from users paying for sewer service,” said Taylor.
The district is close to bringing an additional 500 customers online.
“The additions will bring the district into the black and help keep rates from rising, but we will not earn enough revenue from the additional customers to lower the current rates,” said Taylor.
“I have been to your meetings and seen your finances. The problem is the project is too big for so few who are in this low income bracket,” said Gravois Board Trustee John Brooks.
“Is there a way to reduce the debt or extending the debt so payments are less and rates can be reduced to an affordable level?”
Legal battle vs. working together to find a solution
“The point is you are free to litigate this if you want to, but you will force us to litigate as well and we would prefer to find a solution,” said McCaffrey.
“We are available for you to come and speak with our financial people and poke holes in it to find a solution to this. This board is anxious to do the right thing. We could go to the Supreme Court if you want to but there are too many lawsuits with people who are mad at each other and no one benefits, but the attorneys.”
McCaffrey assured the Gravois trustees that they would make a sincere effort to come up with a scenario to collect from all customers on a fair and equitable basis.
“Whether that is metered or flat remains to be seen. The best way would be to set the rates based on averages, whether the customer is a resident, or a business and the type of business and usage. As more customers are added, the cost will be shared and this needs to happen as quickly as possible,” said McCaffrey.
The two boards agreed to set a meeting to discuss options. The village board was asked to provide information on the number of residents living in the village along with any information on certain areas where they felt there were unfair charges.
Estimated cost for a water meter:
  • Cost to install water meter: $500 to install
  • Cost to purchase flow meters: $1,500 - $2,000
  • 0 to 1,000 gallons: a decrease of $15 a month
  • 2,000 gallons: a decrease of $3.50 a month
  • 3,000 gallons: an increase of $8.25 a month. 
  • 4,000 gallons: an increase of $20 a month
Officials said the estimated amounts do not reflect debt service or maintenance and will have to be included.
Cost per customer for a sewer meter:
  • 1,000 gallons: a reduction of $7.50 a month
  • Over 1,000 gallons: an increase
  • The average flow is 4,000 gallons a month
  • The national average is 5,000 gallons a month
  • 4,000 gallons a month: an increase of up to $21 to $25.59 per month

    Trustees discuss sewer issues

The Gravois Board of Trustees discuss sewer issues with the Gravois Arm Sewer District at their board of trustees meeting Tuesday, June 12 in Gravois Mills. Pictured are,from left, Village Attorney Greg Williams, Trustee Bob Swengrosh, Trustee Jack Feller, Chairman Brad Vold and Board Treasurer/Secretary John Brooks.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

FERC approves new Lake of the Ozarks boundary

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    BY JEFFREY TOMICH • > 314-340-8320 | Posted: Tuesday, June 5, 2012 11:45 am 

FERC could force American Ameren UE to reclaim lake front property

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission today approved Ameren Missouri's request to re-draw the project boundary for the Osage Hydroelectric project at Lake of the Ozarks to exclude more than 1,500 lakefront homes and other structures in jeopardy of condemnation.
Ameren’s proposal would remove more than 28,000 acres of land around the lake from federal jurisdiction, promising to resolve some of the tumult surrounding a shoreline management plan issued by regulators last summer.
St. Louis-based Ameren owns and manages the lake, Bagnell Dam and Osage hydroelectric plant under FERC's oversight. Terms are spelled out in a 40-year license issued in 2007.
The license requires Ameren to submit a plan to manage land within the Bagnell Dam project, a narrow ring of shoreline encircling the lake. Around much of the lake, the project boundary is defined by elevation, varying from 662 feet to 678 feet above sea level.
The shoreline plan approved by FERC last summer required that homes and other structures built within the Bagnell Dam boundary be "removed, " igniting a furor among lakefront property owners who worried they may lose their homes. 
Banks and real estate companies warned it would damage an already fragile real estate market. And Missouri's congressional delegation proposed legislation to limit federal oversight of the lake.
After weeks of criticism, FERC clarified its order last fall, saying the original plan was widely misinterpreted. The agency also scolded Ameren for lax management of shoreline development and ordered a new plan.

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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Committee Weighing MODOT Options

The following story is taken from the Daily Dunklin Democrat and can be found in its original format here:

Committee Weighing MODOT Options

Sunday, June 3, 2012
A committee of Missourians, co-chaired by Dexter City Administrator Mark Stidham, is travelling the state hoping to answer questions for MoDOT regarding necessary infrastructure improvements and repairs.
(Photo by Corey Noles/SEMO News Service)
How important are good roads to you?

This is one of several questions the Blue Ribbon Citizen's Committee on Missouri's Transportation Needs is asking Missourians to think about.

Dexter's City Administrator Mark Stidham co-chairs the committee alongside Rod Jetton and Bill McKenna as well as 18 others from across the state.  The committee began meeting in April when they learned about the challenges the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) faces in years to come.

"Basically, by 2015, the Federal Highway Commission and the Missouri Department of Transportation will be out of money," Stidham said. "The surplus they have operated on through the recession is almost gone." MoDOT's funding is based primarily on income from the state fuel tax. Since 1992, MoDOT has received 17-cents per gallon of gasoline or diesel fuel sold. That revenue is the same whether gas is at two dollars or four dollars per-gallon. This money comes to MoDOT through the Highway Trust Fund, which has helped finance bridge and highway projects since 1956.

Over the 20 years since, the cost of almost everything has risen dramatically. Asphalt has increased approximately 175 percent. Concrete has increased almost 200 percent per cubic yard.

At the same time, the amount of money coming in to MoDOT has actually decreased due to more fuel efficient vehicles and people being more conscientious due to the price of fuel.

According to MoDOT figures, Missouri ranks seventh of the 50 states in terms of the amount of highway in miles. The state ranks seventh from the bottom in terms of fuel tax to fund highway maintenance and expansion.

What does this mean to the committee?

The committee is looking at several different things.

First, they are listening to groups and individuals share the needs for the roads in their region. These range widely from interstate expansion to dangerous curves to river port work.

All of these things fall under MoDOT's jurisdiction, but as the money decreases, so is the output.

Second, the committee is tasked with finding the solution to MoDOT's financial issues. Big projects take money. For instance, Stidham explained MoDOT plans to make I-70 three lanes across Missouri to alleviate congestion issues.

Another area of concern is I-44 from St. Louis to Springfield. Simply put, road work is expensive.

Does this mean more taxes?

It's possible, but they believe there are other options.

The most obvious option is to change the way the fuel tax is calculated. Instead of having it calculated by the gallon, have the tax be on the dollar amount.

This method, Stidham said, would allow for inflation to occur while keeping MoDOT functional.
"Could you live on what you did in 1992?" he asked. "That's basically what MoDOT is doing. Utiliities have gone up. Supplies and fuel have gone up and they're stuck at the same income."

There are several things the committee could recommend to the governor and legislature.

Another option is an increase in licensing fees when purchasing a new car.

A third option is the possibility of toll roads in some places. Other states have had success with this method, but there is some reluctance to bring the practice to Missouri.

"Missouri is the crossroads of the nation," Stidham said. "You can be anywhere in the country in two or three days from Missouri. Our highways are crucial to our economy and business not just within the state, but right here in Dexter."

After the board's scheduled seven public meetings, they will meet among themselves to discuss and determine what their recommendation will be.

"We really don't know what we'll recommend yet," Stidham said, noting that the group is only having its second meeting today, Friday, June 1.

On Friday, June 29, 2012, the group will have its only Southeast Missouri meeting. It will take place at the Show-Me Center in Cape Girardeau at 10 a.m.