Official county government web site of Lawrence County, Missouri
You will find a wealth of information here related to your county government, including links to officeholders' individual web sites. This site was launched in 2016 and is a work in progress, so please check back regularly for updates and new information. Your suggestions are welcome.
Events & Announcements
County offices will close at noon Dec. 24 and remain closed Dec. 25 for Christmas.
Official results announced in Nov. 5 special election
The office of Lawrence County Clerk Tammy Riebe has released the official results of the Nov. 5 special election.
Collections on 911 sales tax begin Oct. 1, 2019
(Updated 9-17-19) The Missouri Department of Revenue has advised the county that the voter-approved half-cent sales tax for countywide 911 services will take effect Oct. 1, 2019. "Prior to the effective date, the Department (of Revenue) will mail notification of the new tax rate to all businesses registered in your county," the notice said. Revenue from the 911 sales tax does NOT go to the county; it goes to the new 911 board for operation of a countywide 911 system. The board is its own governmental entity and is named the Lawrence County Emergency Services Board. It expects to receive its first revenue in November 2019. Lawrence County voters approved the tax in April 2019.
Census workers begin collecting information
From the Southwest Missouri Council of Governments:
You may notice Census workers in your community this month as they canvass addresses.
From August 4 through October 18, you may see employees walking your streets with a Census Bureau badge, laptop, and bag as they verify addresses. It is critical to have a complete master address list so the Bureau can reach every person living in the country and invite them to respond to the 2020 Census.
It is important to note that this is not the census count and no personal data on individuals will be collected.
How to identify Census Employees Canvassers will always have official government badge with photo ID, an official bag, and an official laptop with the 2020 Census logo. Canvassers will attempt to knock on every door in the neighborhood they are canvassing.
If you have any questions about these operations or the individuals conducting the canvassing in your community, contact the Chicago Regional Census Center at 312-579-1500. More detailed information on how to identify a Census Employee may be found online at the 2020 Census Website.
You can see where In-Field Canvassing will occur by using this interactive, online map.
How does the Census Bureau build its master address list?
First, by working with the USPS – this decade, more than 5.3 million new addresses were added using data from the USPS,
Second, by validating more than 106 million addresses using information from tribal, state, and local governments
Finally, the address canvassing operation is conducted – in the past, the Census Bureau would wait until the end of the decade to do most of this work. In preparation for the 2010 Census, the Bureau hired 150,000 people to walk around every block in the nation. But in preparation for the 2020 Census will only hire 40,000 In-Field Address Canvassing workers as 65% of the 140 million households in the U.S. were validate in-office using satellite imagery.
The 2020 Census is on track to have the most complete address list in history which will help ensure a more accurate count.
It is important to remember that when you respond to the census, you shape your future and the future of your community.
Initial Lawrence County 911 Board of Directors named
With passage of the half-cent 911 sales tax, Lawrence County Commission has named the initial members of the seven-member Lawrence County 911 Board of Directors.
Representing the Eastern District are Jim Carson, Rick Witthuhn and Amy Buffalow. Representing the Western District are Brad DeLay, David Hubert and Bonnie Witt-Schulte.
The member at large is Mike Palmer.
“The selection of individuals to serve on the Board to govern the Lawrence County 911 emergency and dispatch service has been a very difficult, strategic and, at times, daunting task. We, the Commissioners of Lawrence County, have not taken our responsibility of appointing members of this board lightly. We have considered the comments and opinions of many Lawrence countians, especially those who are direct stakeholders in this entire process,” said Presiding Commissioner Bob Senninger. “It is the consensus of this Commission that the citizens of Lawrence County desire to have the very best possible 911 emergency communication system possible.”
Based on Missouri State Statute 190.335, the County Commission is charged with appointing a seven-member Board of Directors, who in turn will become its own political entity.
The members of this board are responsible for carrying out the design, set-up and management of 911 response and all other dispatching for the entities of the county who rely on emergency dispatch and other like services.
The Statute requires that there be three members from the Eastern District of the county and three from the Western District, with one individual chosen at large from either district. In addition, the statute indicates that there be representation from the sheriff’s office, fire, ambulance/EMT, emergency management and municipalities.
“Considering those specific requirements and a number of well qualified individuals to choose from, we believe that we have selected individuals who are very capable and highly motivated to plan, develop and implement the finest 911 dispatch center in all of southwest Missouri, located right here in Lawrence County,” Senninger said. “We want to thank each one of these individuals for their willingness to serve.”
These individuals will serve as the 911 Board of Directors from the time of their appointment and swearing in, until the April 2020 election is certified and those who have been elected are sworn in.
Those serving on the initial board, as well as any other citizen of Lawrence County, may file and run to be elected to the 911 board when filing for the April 2020 election opens. Those who choose to file must also choose the length of term for which he or she will run.
Road commissioners gather at Historic Courthouse
Lawrence County Commission hosted approximately 60 road district commissioners and personnel at their annual road commissioners meeting April 11, 2019, at the Historic Courthouse. Newly elected and re-elected commissioners were sworn in. After presentations on equipment, culverts, road oil bids, road signs, maintenance and next year's renewal of the road and bridge sales tax, the group enjoyed a lunch catered by Maggie Mae's. Murphy Tractor and Diamond Motors displayed equipment.
Lawrence County 911 measure passes
Lawrence County's 911 half-cent sales tax passed with a little over 60 percent of the vote in unofficial election results Tuesday night. Unofficial count was 2,318-1,518. Complete unofficial results of the April 2, 2019, election can be found here.
Q&A on the 911 sales tax issue
On April 2, Lawrence County voters will consider a half-cent 911 sales tax to replace the surcharge on telephone land lines, For more information on the tax and what it would do, check out this "Question and Answer" sheet.
Cleanup continues at Historic Courthouse
Crews are continuing cleanup of smoke damage from a small fire which occurred early evening Monday, April 1, at the Historic Courthouse. Karla Deaver, a University Extension staffer who was at the courthouse for an evening meeting, discovered the fire before it spread. Mt. Vernon Fire Department quickly extinguished it. While the fire was contained to a public restroom in the basement, smoke traveled throughout the historic building. All offices are open, and business is continuing as normal.
Measure on ballot to replace 911 surcharge with sales tax
Lawrence County voters will have an opportunity in April to consider replacing the surcharge on telephone land lines with a half-cent county-wide sales tax to fund central dispatching of 911 emergency services.
If the measure passes, 911 services in Lawrence County will come under the control of a board made up of representatives of the fire protection districts, ambulance districts, sheriff’s department, municipalities, any other emergency service and the general public.
That board would be its own political entity and would determine how best to provide 911 services to the citizens of Lawrence County.
Lawrence County Commission voted to place the sales tax on the ballot, and by statute, it is responsible for appointing the initial board. After that, positions on the board would be filled by election. With the board in place, the county commission would relinquish its role in the administration of 911 services, according to the statute.
The action followed a series of meetings by the 911 advisory board to determine how best to fund 911 since the traditional revenue source – 911 surcharges on telephone land lines – has been drying up.
Currently, most emergency personnel in the county are dispatched by Monett-Lawrence County 911 through agreements with the City of Monett. Those will expire in 2019.
County commission approves 2019 budget
In its 2019 budget, Lawrence County is putting more money into public safety by increasing staffing in the sheriff’s office and prosecutor’s office; providing cost-of-living raises of 2 to 4 percent for those and other county employees; providing funds for the sheriff to upgrade his fleet of vehicles; and installing new software for the jail and a new surveillance system for the jail and justice center, among other things.
Those are among highlights of the proposed budget presented Thursday, Jan. 17, by Lawrence County Clerk Tammy Riebe. The county commission voted to approve the budget after the hearing.
It was a much cheerier budget proposal than other recent budgets.
In 2018, the county had focused on a “Year of Recovery” from 2017’s financial crisis – when public safety costs and reduced revenue drained the last of the county’s General Revenue reserve before money from the new Law Enforcement Sales Tax had started coming in enough to stop the bleeding.
During the “Year of Recovery” in 2018, the county was able to restore staffing and give cost-of-living raises, but left most budgets at their 2016 level to try to return the county to a more stable financial position.
The effort was successful; and the county was able to repay fund transfers and start rebuilding its reserve.
Now, with the county in a more stable financial position, the county commission is able to focus more dollars in the 2019 budget toward other goals.
One of those is increasing employee pay to make the county more competitive in this tight job market. Lawrence County’s unemployment rate is just 2.4 percent.
Commissioners also are continuing to study options for relieving the overcrowded jail. The county expects to spend $400,000 out of the $1.53 million Law Enforcement Sales Tax Fund just to house prisoners in other facilities. That figure was just $12,291 in 2013 and has grown dramatically each year since.
It expects to spend another $150,000 on electronic monitoring of prisoners, which it instituted in late 2016 to try to reduce the number of jail inmates.
Additional information on the budget is available from the county clerk’s office.
Municipal candidate filing Dec. 11-Jan. 15
Candidate filing for the April 2, 2019 Municipal Election began on December 11, 2018 and concluded on January 15, 2019.
Swearing-in ceremonies held Friday, Dec. 28, 2018
Swearing-in ceremonies for newly elected and re-elected county officeholders were held at 8:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 28, 2018, in the second floor courtroom of the Historic Courthouse. Those sworn in were Scott Sifferman, associate circuit judge, Division I; Robert E. George, associate circuit judge, Division II; Bob Senninger, presiding commissioner; Tammy (Cole) Riebe, county clerk; Pam (Mieswinkel) Fobair, circuit clerk; Gary Emerson, recorder of deeds; Kathy (Seneker) Fairchild, county treasurer; Kelli McVey, collector of revenue; and the newly appointed public administrator, Janice Martin. Sworn in at a different time were Circuit Judge Jack Goodman and Prosecutor Don Trotter.
2019 hours at the Historic Courthouse to be 8 a.m.- 4 p.m.
Effective in January 2019, the Historic Courthouse building is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. Most offices already have been open those hours; but the assessor's and recorder's offices opened and closed an hour later. With the new year, all county offices will be open the same hours - 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays - except the county commission office, which switched its hours last summer to Mondays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. until their agenda is complete. Mt. Vernon License Office, which is located on the second floor of the Historic Courthouse, will continue to be open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. After 4 p.m., visitors to the University Extension office will still be able to use the Extension's west entry.