St. Charles County Connection Header
A Publication of St. Charles County Government - August 2019

Top Five
Things to Know About St. Charles County This Month

1. Road Projects Keep St. Charles County Moving

I-70 at Wentzville
Partnerships are key when it comes to transportation. St. Charles County works with multiple jurisdictions—federal, state and local—to improve the county’s road and bridge infrastructure.

There are three distinct road systems in St. Charles County: state, county and municipality. The state maintains the interstates, freeways and lettered and numbered routes; the County and municipalities maintain the local roadways. One-half of the Road and Bridge property tax collected by the County is rebated to municipalities for work within their jurisdictions. The St. Charles County Highway Department uses the other half to maintain approximately 780 miles of roadways in the County road system. More than $1 million is spent each year to replace concrete slabs, fill potholes, patch streets, and replace aging curbs and gutters.

Eighty percent of the funding for major road improvements in St. Charles County comes from the County’s 1/2-cent Transportation Sales Tax approved by voters and 20 percent from the city in which the project is located. This sales tax has existed for over 30 years and must be reapproved by the voters every 10 years. The last time it was approved in 2012, it received 83 percent of the vote.

The County’s funding and participation in planning and developing new roads is crucial for major projects to come to fruition. A member of the East-West Gateway Council of Governments (EWGCOG) Board of Directors, County Executive Steve Ehlmann recently voted in favor of several major County projects in the EWGCOG Long-Range Plan (LRP) and for the projects to be funded in the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). The LRP for the region, called Connected2045, was approved, and the TIP was recommended for public comment prior to final approval. EWGCOG recently held open houses to gain feedback.

One key project in the LRP and TIP is I-70 and the Norfolk Southern Railroad. This plan outlines additional lanes to be added to I-70 under the railroad bridge in Wentzville (pictured above).

“I am encouraged and pleased that this stretch of I-70 is now in East-West Gateway’s 20-year plan,” says County Executive Ehlmann. “I have been pushing this effort—along with Sen. Bill Eigel, Sen. Bob Onder and the mayors of St. Charles, St. Peters, O’Fallon, Lake Saint Louis and Wentzville—to get additional lanes added. The Norfolk Southern Railroad overpass is rated high in three areas of an annual congestion report: severity of congestion, total impact to the traveling public and congestion variability. This is a detriment to quality of life, as well as economic growth.”

Read more about other projects in the LRP and TIP.

“As the population of St. Charles County nears 400,000, the projects in the LRP and TIP are crucial for us,” Ehlmann says. “I am grateful to all who work diligently to keep pushing for improvements, for those who agree with us that we need to plan ahead, and for those who ultimately make the decisions to allow this funding. We could not get this done without forming partnerships and working together.”

2. Your Help is Needed to Update County Registered Voter List 

Voting
Next year will be a busy one at the St. Charles County Election Authority. The department will conduct four elections: the Presidential Preference Primary in March, the General Municipal Election in April, the Primary Election in August, and the General Election in November. To update records and keep the elections process running smoothly, the Election Authority needs YOUR help!

This fall, the Election Authority is conducting a National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) Canvass. This canvass helps the department maintain the St. Charles County Active Registered Voter List and by law must be conducted every two years. Watch your mailbox this September/October: Every voter on this list will receive a Voter Identification Card in the mail. This card is a valid form of ID for voting, so please save it! 

What if you moved and haven’t had the opportunity to update your voter registration information with the St. Charles County Election Authority? No worries—here’s what happens:
  • By law, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) cannot forward Voter Identification Cards to new addresses; the cards must be returned to the Election Authority. If this happens, the Election Authority will mail a Residence Confirmation Notice (RCN) to the address, which CAN be forwarded by the USPS. The voter needs to return the RCN to the Election Authority and provide a new address or affirm in writing the address has not changed. 
    • If the voter responds to the RCN and confirms their address is now outside of St. Charles County, the voter will be removed from the Election Authority’s Active Registered Voter List. 

    • If the voter responds to the RCN and confirms they still live in St. Charles County, the voter will remain on the Active Registered Voter List.
Your assistance in keeping the Active Registered Voter List current and accurate helps ensure fair elections and faster lines at polling locations on election days. For questions, please contact the Election Authority at 636-949-7550. And by the way, if you’re interested in earning extra money and serving the community, election judges are needed. Visit the Election Authority’s website to learn more about these paid positions!

3. Behind the Scenes: Field Training for New Police Officers

St. Charles County Police Department Officers

Corporal Alexander Panagos (back), Field Training Officer, goes over details of a call with new St. Charles County Police Officer Stephen Schweppe.

There is nothing more important to the St. Charles County Police Department than the safety of our community. When a new patrol officer joins the department, they aren’t just given a pat on the back, words of encouragement and told to start patrolling the roads. Instead, they are required to participate in the department’s field training program, an intensive three-month, three-phase process to ensure they are ready to keep our county safe.

“The field training program determines when a new officer is ready to patrol alone,” says Corporal Alexander Panagos, a 14-year veteran of the department and Field Training Officer. “We don’t put an officer on the street who is not prepared to be there.”

Cpl. Panagos and other seasoned Field Training Officers teach and evaluate new officers. They talk through situations, giving them guidance and feedback while working calls in their assigned patrol zones.

“As part of the program, there is a required task list for officers to complete. These tasks help them gain experience handling a variety of calls during different times of the day,” explains Cpl. Panagos. “For example, if we hear a call over the radio about a burglary or a domestic issue and the officer hasn’t handled these particular situations yet, we respond to those calls. Our goal is to make sure new officers know what they are doing and how to do it safely.”

Documentation is crucial throughout the training process and becomes part of the officer’s permanent record. “We conduct evaluations with them at the end of each day, going through how they handled situations and what can be improved upon,” Cpl. Panagos says.

Cpl. Panagos is currently training Officer Stephen Schweppe. A military veteran and former Correctional Peace Officer for the St. Charles County Department of Corrections and Deputy for the St. Charles County Sheriff’s Department, Officer Schweppe had a solid foundation in law enforcement; however, he still learns something new every day in the training program.

“I am pushed above and beyond in a good way,” Officer Schweppe says. “Every call is a new call, every stop is a new stop. If there are areas I need to work on, I go home and review Corporal Panagos’s notes and come back the next day and apply what I’ve learned.”

Training doesn’t stop for new officers after the first three months. All officers are required to participate in mandatory Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) and complete 24 hours of continuing education classes each year to maintain their Missouri Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) certification. Training also is a key component of the department’s Advanced Law Enforcement Accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA®).

“This agency is fortunate when it comes to training—we train all the time,” Cpl. Panagos says. “It keeps us growing and developing professionally.”

The field training program is part of the St. Charles County Police Department’s Bureau of Field Operations. The bureau includes the Patrol Division, which is directly responsible for maintaining a uniform presence 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in unincorporated St. Charles County and the contracted cities of Augusta, Dardenne Prairie, Flint Hill, New Melle, Portage des Sioux, Weldon Spring, Weldon Springs Heights and West Alton. The St. Charles County Police Department is primarily supported by the General Fund, the principal operating fund of St. Charles County Government that is supported by your sales tax dollars.




4. T.R.E.N.D. Helps Young Offenders Get Back on Track

Prosecuting Attorney

Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar goes over the file of a potential T.R.E.N.D. participant with Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Jennifer Bartlett.

Teens or young adults who break the law because of peer pressure or other negative circumstances often are given another chance through a program offered by the St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
 
T.R.E.N.D. (Taking Responsibility and Empowering New Direction) was implemented by Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar in October 2018 for first-time, non-violent offenders between the ages of 17 and 24.
 
“We felt a new approach was needed for these offenders as an alternative to traditional probation and incarceration,” Lohmar says. “The goal is to give the participants a second chance at keeping a clean record, while at the same time exposing them to basic skills that translate to better decision-making.”

Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Jennifer Bartlett is the Intake Coordinator for the program. “We work to identify eligible cases, such as trespassing and shoplifting, before they are charged,” Bartlett explains. “Referrals come from other prosecuting attorneys in our office and even defense attorneys.”

After going through an initial background check, Bartlett meets with the applicant and their attorney to evaluate if he or she will succeed in the six-month program. Often family members are present to offer support. If everyone agrees to move forward with T.R.E.N.D., the participant and Bartlett, as a representative of the Prosecuting Attorney’s office, sign an agreement.

“The majority of the young individuals and their families I’ve come in contact with are very eager and grateful for the opportunity. Everyone understands that if the participant doesn’t live up to their end of the bargain that their case will go forward,” Bartlett says.

The program is free, but participants need to fulfill several requirements to graduate. They must be enrolled in school at least part time or have a job, complete community service at an area non-profit, and write an essay on why it is important to respect people and their property. All participants regardless of their offense are required to attend a DWI Victims Impact Panel, and if applicable, pay restitution and attend a drug education program. All participants attend two program meetings every month on a variety of life skills topics.

“The County’s Workforce Development and Public Health departments provide staff to come to the meetings to talk to the participants about jobs and the importance of staying healthy,” says Bartlett, “and local financial institutions have taught them about budgets and banking. As word has spread about this program, community businesses and agencies have stepped up to donate their time and assistance.”

Since last October, 40 individuals have participated or are currently enrolled in T.R.E.N.D. Only two individuals have not completed the requirements to graduate from the program.

“We have seen several young people emerge from the program as changed individuals, and we’re very proud of that,” Lohmar says. “This program is the first of its kind in St. Charles County, and we’ve had several other jurisdictions reach out to us in hopes of learning more and possibly starting their own version of T.R.E.N.D.”

The General Fund, the principal operating fund for St. Charles County Government which is supported by sales tax dollars, provides funding for T.R.E.N.D. and the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.


5. County Develops Action Plan for 2020 Census

United States Census 2020

You may have heard about the upcoming 2020 United States Census. While it is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, states and counties—including St. Charles County—play an important role in its success.

The U.S. Census Bureau encourages all states to form a Complete Count Commission with the goals of heightening awareness of the Census and encouraging the public to participate. To support the state’s efforts and ensure every St. Charles County resident is included in the Census, the County Council recently passed an ordinance to establish a Complete Count Commission. The commission's members, appointed by the County Executive, represent the county’s population and include representatives of school districts; municipal governments; businesses; churches and faith-based organizations; and non-profits serving social services, health and mental health needs. While the Census does not officially kick off until next spring, the Complete Count Commission already is working on an action plan.

“We want to ensure everyone in St. Charles County, regardless of location, language spoken and socio-economic background, is counted through the Census,” says Molly Dempsey, Chair of the Complete Count Commission. “We are taking extra steps to identify areas and groups that may need additional communication and outreach to make sure the Census is accessible to everyone and that they know the importance of participating.”

Why is the Census so important? The U.S. Constitution mandates that the country take a census of the population every 10 years to count every living person in the U.S. Participation in the Census is required by law. First conducted in 1790, Census results are used to determine state seats in the House of Representatives and boundaries of congressional and state legislative districts. Additionally, it helps allocate more than $675 billion in federal funds, grants and other support to states, counties and communities for schools, hospitals, roads, public works and other vital programs. Citizens can complete the Census by mail or phone, and, for the first time in 2020, will have the option of completing it online. Census staff also will go door-to-door in communities, distributing forms.

Watch for future e-Connections, the County website and social media for updates about 2020 Census efforts in St. Charles County. The Census is hiring thousands of workers to help with the count—visit the 2020 U.S. Census website to learn more and apply!


On SCCMO-TV in August...


Click on the images below, visit the SCCMO-TV YouTube channeltv.sccmo.org, or download our Roku Channel (search for SCCMO-TV) to watch recent County Council meetings, hear the latest local news and helpful information on County News Updates, see what's happening in County Parks, and more. Also, experience Stand Up Paddleboarding in the new "Adventures in St. Charles County Parks" series!

To view agendas and minutes from Council meetings, visit sccmo.org.

County News Update
County Council Meetings
Stand Up Paddleboarding

County Executive Steve Ehlmann

A Look Back with the County Executive


St. Charles County is fortunate to have decades of economic prosperity. The county continues to rank as one of fastest growing in the state and the third largest in Missouri for both population and economic share. Following is the first of a series on how St. Charles County, municipalities and businesses have managed and encouraged growth in the 1970s-2000s. This month, we’ll look at residential development...MORE                 


Council Comments

John White

John White, District 7

Last week, the St. Charles County Parks Department closed the lake at Indian Camp Creek Park in Foristell after a citizen reported possible blue-green algae in the water. Preliminary review by Parks staff of water samples indicate it was not blue-green algae; however, the samples were taken to submit to a lab and the lake is closed as a precaution until official results are in.

Situations like this are rare in St. Charles County Parks thanks to proactive efforts taken by the department. After this occurred, I talked with Ryan Graham, Parks Director, about how Parks staff monitor water and other natural resources to keep our 3,643 acres of parkland safe and vibrant. Here’s what I learned...MORE




Special Section: Help Plan St. Charles County Greenways

Centennial Greenway

Great Rivers Greenway (GRG) is leading a year-long planning process to prioritize greenway investments in St. Charles County. Greenways are outdoor spaces that connect people and places. Each greenway is unique, reflecting the character of the communities it connects. Greenways can include trails, conservation projects such as rain gardens and restored prairies, amenities like restrooms and drinking fountains, and connections to businesses, neighborhoods, parks, schools, waterways and transit.


With your help, GRG will develop an updated St. Charles County greenway map with prioritized projects and partnership models for building greenways. Visit the GRG Greenway Plan website to learn more and take a survey. Please share it with your network, as well!




Calendar

Calendar, Reminders and Directory



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