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Cape County rejects medical examiner proposal

The Cape Girardeau County Commission unanimously voted on Dec. 28, 2023, to reject the one proposal the county received for a medical examiner, citing concerns with the proposal.

After going out for proposals in October, the county received one proposal for medical examiner services from Dr. Chad Armstrong, an emergency room physician at Saint Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau.

“We reviewed the proposal,” Presiding Commissioner Clint Tracy said. “It didn’t meet all the requirements that we laid out, so we decided to reject that.”

Due to the rejection, an election will be held next year for the county coroner, where Coroner Wavis Jordan could seek reelection. The coroner position will be on the Nov. 5 general election ballot, with a primary election scheduled for Aug. 6.

Tracy said the county would be open to revisiting the medical examiner question in the future. “We are open to having those discussions, but at this time, we just didn’t have one that met the needs of the county and that was going to be a win-win-win for everyone,” he said.

Cape Girardeau County currently has a coroner position, despite the majority of first-class counties in the state having a medical examiner. When Cape Girardeau County became a first-class county in 1997, the county successfully lobbied for a change in legislation that would allow them to keep an elected coroner position.

Tracy said that as a first class county, they could decide to make the change at any time. “We’ll keep those lines of communication open if there are folks out there that are interested, who didn’t apply or didn’t seek us out, to have a discussion about a way to move forward.”

Commissioner Paul Koeper said the county had spoken to a St. Louis group that offered medical examiner services to several counties, but they were not interested in submitting a proposal for Cape Girardeau County.

“Forensic pathologists are very hard to find,” Koepersaid. “If anybody here wants to go back and get their degree in medicine and forensic pathology, I think it takes about 12 years. It’s just a hard thing to come by – there’s just not a lot of them out there.”

In other action

• The commission approved an ordinance authorizing the county to issue taxable industrial revenue bonds in conjunction with NextEra Energy’s Lutesville Solar Project planned to be built in Delta. The solar energy project is planned to encompass approximately 1,200 acres and produce up to 200 megawatts of energy.

The proposed Chapter 100 plan would allow the county to negotiate taxes at the local level instead of taxes related to the project potentially going to the state level if it is sold to a state-assessed utility company.

“We negotiate a payment schedule that goes directly to the Delta schools, the fire districts and other taxing entities in the area,” Tracy said, adding that the project only needed approval from the county for the special tax agreement but did not need county approval to be built.

The county will have no liability related to the bonds, and the agreement would provide tax certainty to NextEra over the project’s 30-year duration. Most of the taxes from the proposal will go to the Delta School District, with the district expected to receive $17 million over the next 30 years.

If the project was sold and the Chapter 100 agreement was not approved, the projected tax revenue for Delta School District was $362,000 over 30 years.

• The commission approved a proposal from Arnold Insurance for property and inland marine insurance for 2024.

• The commission approved going out to bid for a precast box culvert for County Road 453. Koeper said the county would replace a pair of metal culverts on the county road next year.

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 five years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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