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Cape County looks at protective barriers for upcoming elections

Cape Girardeau County will be looking at having protective shields at polling places during the upcoming elections in June, August and November. The County Commission approved to advertise for bids during its regular meeting on April 27.

County Clerk Kara Clark Summers said the protective shields would provide a barrier between election judges and voters. She added that the election judges will have masks and other protective measures in place, but the shields will help everyone be safe.

There is some work being done at the state level to create these shields, but Summers said she isn’t confident that these shields would be completed by the June election or be compatible with the county’s electronic poll pads.

She hopes a local business will be able to manufacture approximately 100 shields to the county’s specific needs. Summers specified that she wants the shields to be lightweight and easy to store.

“We just were notified yesterday that we will be getting some grant funding from the state for election purposes,” Summers said at the meeting. She added that the grant funding has to be used for COVID-19 related costs.

In other action:

• Treasurer Roger Hudson presented April sales tax revenue, which covered retail purchases in March, to the County Commission. General sales tax, Prop 1 and use tax were all down for the month, although total sales tax for the year continued to be slightly up from this timelast year due to strong numbers earlier in the year.

The general sales tax collected was $573,794.12, which was lower than any other month this year. The report shows that the county received $731,626.14 in March, $626,568.83 in February and $679,507.71 in January.

The April total was also 6.15 percent lower than what the County collected in April of last year. The decline coincides to when businesses started to close due to the coronavirus pandemic.

• The Commission approved the purchase of an enhancement to the existing ID Badge system on April 23. Emergency Management Director Mark Winkler said the Portable Salamander System, which costs $3,000, will provide the ability to produce remote ID badges and track county resources during an emergency.

Winkler said the new system, which was already budgeted for this year, will track where volunteers and equipment are deployed and help streamline the FEMA reimbursement process.

• The Commission approved a telecommuting policy on April 13. Commissioner Charlie Herbst said that due to the coronavirus, some county offices have employees now working remotely from home. The policy was drafted by human resources and was adopted for the county personnel handbook, effective April 13.

• Despite Missouri Vocational Enterprises’ warehouse closing due to COVID-19, the county was able to transport courtroom furniture from MVE’s facility. The County paid Byron L. Lang LLC $800 to transport the furniture to the county.

• The Commission approved a Community Assistance Program agreement between the Missouri Department of Conservation and Cape Girardeau County on April 13. The fishing agreement allows MDC to provide fisheries management at the North and South County Park lakes.

• Former Missouri Department of Safety Director Drew Juden presented a donation of 200 N95 respirator masks for the Cape Girardeau County Sheriff’s office on April 2. Juden, who is running for sheriff in the primary election scheduled for Aug. 4, said these masks were from former Gov. Eric Greitens.

Juden said the former governor raised money to give first responders masks and put him in charge of passing out the masks to the Southeast Missouri region. He added that he had also passed out masks to the Jackson Police Department and rural fire departments.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past four years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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