Governor appoints Denise Massie recorder of deeds

Missouri Governor Mike Parson has appointed Denise Massie as recorder of deeds in Lawrence County. She succeeds longtime Recorder Pam Robertson, who resigned effective Aug. 31.

Massie won the Republican nomination for the seat in August. She is unopposed in the November election.

Robertson had been called out of retirement to help after the unexpected passing of her successor, Gary Emerson, in November 2020. Since then, she achieved two major goals she and Emerson had worked toward: digitizing land records back to the county's founding and moving the office over to a new software system.

Official election results released

Lawrence County Clerk Tammy Riebe has released official results of the Aug. 2, 2022, Primary Election in Lawrence County. Nearly 30% of the 25,085 registered voters cast ballots. Summary Precinct Breakdown

 

Businesses begin collecting 3/8-cent sales tax April 1, 2022

 

A 3/8-cent sales tax to fund a new jail and sheriff's office in Lawrence County took effect April 1, 2022. The new rate information is available from the Missouri Department of Revenue online. The form is under the heading "April 2022 Sales and Use Tax Rate Changes."

 

Starting in April 2022, the county and state combined rate will be 6.725. The rate for that portion of Lawrence County in the Barry-Lawrence Ambulance District will be 7.225%. Cities in the county with their own sales taxes will see their total rates increase by 3/8 of 1%. The City of Mt. Vernon approved a half-cent sales tax Nov. 2, so its rate will also go up that amount.

 

Oct. 12 is last day to register to vote in Nov. election

Absentee ballots for the November General Election began September 27, 2022. In person absentee voting is available in the County Clerk’s office during normal business hours.

 

The last day to register to vote for the November 8, 2022 Election is October 12, 2022.

Links: Absentee ballot request  Sample ballot   Fair ballot language

 

Missouri law requires that requests for absentee ballots must be received by 5:00 p.m. on the Second Wednesday prior to Election Day (October 26th) if the ballot is to be mailed. You must furnish your name, physical address, date of birth, last four digits of your Social Security Number, reason for voting absentee and your signature. Request forms are located on the lawrencecountymo.org website.

 

Requests for applications by guardians or relatives within the second degree by consanguinity or affinity must be made in person at the County Clerk’s office.

 

The Courthouse office of the County Clerk will be open for absentee voting

 from 8am to noon on Saturday, November 5th.

 

The deadline for absentee voting in person in the office of the Election Authority is 5:00 p.m. on the day before the election (November 7th).

 

NO EXCUSE EARLY VOTING begins October 25, 2022 in the County Clerk’s office during normal business hours.

 

Bid notice for Law Enforcement Center construction

Lawrence County is seeking bids for the new Law Enforcement Center project. A pre-bid meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday, June 1, 2022, in the Historic Courthouse (second floor courtroom), 1 Courthouse Square, Mt. Vernon, Mo. Public bid opening will be at 2 p.m. June 21. Nabholz Construction Corp. will be accepting sealed bids for concrete, masonry, steel, carpentry, waterproofing, doors, glass, drywall, flooring, painting, specialties, detention equipment, food service equipment, laundry equipment, pre-engineered metal buildings, fire suppression, plumbing, HVAC, electrical, low voltage cabling, access controls, fire alarm, earthwork, asphalt paving, fencing, landscaping and utilities. Bid responses and inquiries should be sent to Nabholz Construction, Jarrett Sims, jarrett.sims@nabholz.com. (Advertisement for bids with links)

 

Public testing of vote tabulating equipment set April 1

(Lawrence County Clerk, March 22, 2022) The Lawrence County Clerk will be testing the automatic tabulating equipment on Friday, April 1, 2022 at 1:00 p.m. at the Historic Courthouse. All interested parties are invited to attend.

 

 The Lawrence County Clerk ’s office will be open on Saturday April 2, 2022 from 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. for absentee voting.

Election Day is April 5, 2022

 

Absentee voting under way for April 5 election

Beginning Feb. 25, absentee ballots may be cast in the April 5, 2022, general municipal election in Lawrence County.

Voters must have registered before March 9 to be eligible to vote in that election. For election info, click here. You may also contact the county clerk's office at 417-466-2638 for more details.

 

State procedural audit results released Dec. 9, 2021

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway has released results of the routine procedural audit of Lawrence County Dec. 9, 2021, giving the county a “fair” rating. Her Citizen Summary and the complete audit with responses can be found here. (Audit #2021-120)

Lawrence County’s finances and operations are reviewed regularly through routine financial audits and state procedural audits. With the increase in federal funds that pass through the county for grants and Coronavirus relief, it now also has a more extensive Single Audit. Field work on that audit is nearing completion.

County's 3/8-cent likely to begin April 1, 2022

 

Lawrence County will be working with the Missouri Department of Revenue to set up the 3/8-cent sales tax that unofficial election results indicate passed in the Nov. 2 election. Based on preliminary information, the county expects collection of the 3/8-cent to begin April 1, 2022.

 

The current sales tax rate for Lawrence County is 6.35%, which includes the state's 4.225% portion. Starting in April 2022, that rate would increase by 3/8 of 1%, making it 6.725. That portion of Lawrence County in the Barry-Lawrence Ambulance District would go from 6.85 to 7.225%. Those cities in the county with their own sales taxes would see their total rate increase by 3/8 of 1%. The City of Mt. Vernon approved a half-cent sales tax Nov. 2, so its rate would also go up that amount.

 

A complete list of current sales tax rates in Missouri can be found at the Dept. of Revenue web site.

Reporting changes as pandemic shifts to endemic phase

(Lawrence County Health Dept.) On March 30th, Governor Mike Parson announced an end to the COVID-19 crisis in Missouri and stated the state will be shift to an endemic phase of the pandemic as of Friday, April 1, 2022.

The Department of Health and Senior Services also changed their dashboard to now provide weekly updates that will include 7-day case rate data, activity by region and county, statewide data on COVID-19 hospitalizations, and circulating virus variants.

Because of this change our own county dashboard was also affected. We will no longer have access to use certain data we had previously relied on to support our dashboard. From now on, we plan to share information on local case counts IF we see there is a concerning shift. In the meantime, you can access the state's dashboard below.

health.mo.gov.

Commission approves 2022 spending plan;

all officeholders finish 2021 within their budgets

 

Lawrence County’s general operating fund should end the year in the black with the budget proposal presented to the public Jan. 12. It expects to take in $4.79 million while spending $4.73 million.

The county is entering 2022 in good fiscal shape, said Presiding Commissioner Bob Senninger;  but it will continue to spend conservatively.

Two other funds the county uses to operate – the Judicial Fund and Law Enforcement Sales Tax Fund – are both expected to outspend revenues in 2022 but have reserve funds to allow it. The Judicial Fund operates the Justice Center and pays bailiff and maintenance costs. The Law Enforcement Sales Tax Fund supports the sheriff’s office and jail.

In the 2022 budget, the county proposes to:

  • Focus new spending on capital projects;

  • Bring employee pay levels up to the point where the county can comply with upcoming minimum wage increases and remain competitive; and

  • Continue with only modest increases in spending for overall county services.

 

Every officeholder finished 2021 within budget.

Among highlights of the 2022 budget:

  • In addition to increases in the salary schedule, the county commission opted to absorb a substantial increase in health insurance costs rather than pass the increase on to employees.

  • The only positions added were in the public safety sector. A position was added in the Judicial Fund and a second one added in the Law Enforcement Sales Tax Fund. These were needed for bailiff and prisoner transport duties.

  • Sales tax – the biggest source of revenue for county operations – has been up both years of the pandemic, thanks in part to an influx of stimulus money. For 2022, the budget calls for a conservative $1.67 million in revenue on a half-cent sales tax.

  • Together, the county’s three main operational funds – General Revenue, Judicial Fund and Law Enforcement Sales Tax Fund – represent $8.5 million in potential spending in 2022. That includes $1.668 million for general county operations (commission, clerk, elections, building and grounds, employee benefits, treasurer, collector, circuit clerk, recorder, court administration/electronic monitoring and public administrator); $4.746 million for public safety (sheriff, jail, justice center, prosecutor, juvenile office and coroner); $863,048 for health department; and $680,507 for other county costs (child support enforcement unit, surveyor, emergency management, insurance/bonds, publications, University Extension and dues). Also included are transfers of $400,000 to other funds (capital projects and equipment replacement) and $150,000 for the emergency fund.

 

Questions about the budget can be directed to County Clerk Tammy Riebe, 417-466-2638.

 

Didn't make the tax deadline? Here's how you can pay

Lawrence County real and personal property taxes were due by Dec. 31. But if you missed that deadline, you can still pay in person, by phone or online

You may check how much you owe and pay online at www.lawrencecountycollector.com. You also have the option of paying by phone (1-800-652-0405). Follow the prompts. There are extra charges for credit card payments.

Failure to receive a tax statement does not exempt you from paying taxes by the Dec. 31 deadline. You can see how much you owe at www.lawrencecountycollector.com.

 

Both issues pass in Nov. 2, 2021, general election official results

 

Lawrence County voters approved a 3/8-cent sales tax to fund a new jail/sheriff's office by a vote of 1,312-1,277. Voters in the Mt. Vernon city limits approved a 1/2-cent sales tax for parks by a vote of 340-180. Official election results will be released Friday, Nov. 5.

Public invited to town hall Oct. 28 on building proposal

 

(Lawrence County Commission, Oct. 21, 2021) The public is invited to a town hall meeting on the Nov. 2 ballot issue for a new Lawrence County Sheriff's Office & Detention Center. It will be held 7-8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28, in the second floor courtroom of the Historic Courthouse. For more about the building project, click here. For election details, click here.

County asking 3/8-cent for new jail, law enforcement facility

 

(Lawrence County Commission, Sept.. 14, 2021) Lawrence County voters will be asked Nov. 2 to approve a 3/8-cent sales tax to build a larger, more secure jail and sheriff’s office.  After the construction is paid off, 1/8 cent of the tax would be retired. The rest would be retained for maintenance and operation of the facility and other public safety related costs. The measure requires a simple majority to pass.

The action has been years in the making, and the county has been saving toward the construction cost. However, it received a huge boost recently when the City of Mt. Vernon agreed to provide an 8.52-acre lot south of Interstate 44 for a token $1. The caveat: The county must show progress toward the construction within three years and break ground within five or the property goes back to the city.

By acting now, the county also hopes some federal funds might help with the cost. It hopes to use a portion of federal American Recovery Act funds for the air filtration system and other qualifying construction costs.

The county commission has contracted with a seasoned jail architectural firm, Elevatus Architects, to develop plans for a safer, more secure facility designed for efficiency of operation and the ability to expand in the future.  Law enforcement offices that are now spread among three buildings would be combined under one roof.

The facility would be constructed within a new development area south of I-44 to be known as Mt. Vernon Commercial Park South.  Initial access would be from a road to be known as Missouri Drive off  the south outer road.

 

Damage in flood? Please let emergency management know

 

(Lawrence County Emergency Management, May 20, 2021) If you had any damage relate to this week's flood, send an email to lawemd@hotmail.com. Please include:

  • Full name

  • Address

  • Brief description of damage

  • Estimated cost of repair/replacement

 

Emergency management director Grant Selvey said as of right now, the flood doesn't qualify as a disaster but each report of damage gets us closer to that designation.

Public hearing on county tax rate set Aug. 19, 2021

 

The annual public hearing on the county property tax rate will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 19, in the Historic Courthouse. The proposed tax rate is lower than that set at least year's hearing - 0.1011 compared to 0.1216 - due to the sales tax rollback. Proposed levy for the Special Road & Bridge Fund is 0.0992 compared to 0.10 last year.

New emergency management director assumes duties

 

(Lawrence County Commission, March 1, 2021) Lawrence County’s new emergency management director is Grant Selvey of northeast Lawrence County. Commissioners hired him from a field of six candidates Feb. 25. He began duties March 1. His office is in the Historic Courthouse.

 

Previously the county contracted with the City of Monett for the service.

Commissioners expressed their appreciation to the City of Monett for its partnership over the past seven years, and particularly to Bonnie Witt-Schulte, who has served as emergency management director during that time.

The county began advertising the position after the City of Monett advised it did not want to continue the contract. “We believe this agreement has been a benefit to both parties; however, with the additional duties that have been assumed by the City’s Emergency Management Director relating to the provision of E911 and general dispatching services for all of Lawrence County, we don’t believe that we can continue to provide the service that is commensurate with your expectations,” said the letter from Monett Mayor Mike Brownsberger.

Prior to its contract with Monett, the county employed its own emergency management director to plan, direct and coordinate city and county emergency/disaster planning, mitigation, response, resilience and recovery activities, including grant submissions and compliance, and coordination with FEMA/SEMA.

Selvey retired from law enforcement after 10 years of service and has been self-employed the past 10 years.  He holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting and POST certification through the Springfield Law Enforcement Academy.

Governor appoints David Cole circuit judge

 

(Office of Governor Mike Parson, Jan. 29, 2021) Today, Governor Mike Parson appointed David Cole as Circuit Judge for the 39th Judicial Circuit. He will fill the Circuit Judge vacancy created by the appointment of the Honorable Jack  A.L. Goodman to the Southern District Court of Appeals. 

Mr. Cole, of Cassville, is currently a partner at Ellis, Cupps & Cole Law Firm. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Missouri Southern State University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Missouri – Columbia School of Law. 

 

Governor appoints Mathew Kasper associate circuit judge

 

(Office of Governor Mike Parson, Jan. 29, 2021) Today, Governor Mike Parson appointed Matthew Kasper as Associate Circuit Judge for the 39th Judicial Circuit. He will fill the Associate Circuit Judge vacancy created by the retirement of the Honorable Robert George. 

Mr. Kasper, of Mount Vernon, currently serves as the assistant prosecuting attorney for Lawrence County. He holds a bachelor's degree in history and political science from Arkansas Tech University and a master's degree in divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mr. Kasper earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Arkansas School of Law. 

Governor appoints Robertson as recorder of deeds

 

Governor Mike Parson has appointed Pam Robertson as Lawrence County recorder of deeds, filling a vacancy that occurred with the passing of Gary Emerson on Nov. 5, 2020.

Robertson retired from the position two years earlier; but she interrupted that retirement to help out in the office after Emerson became seriously ill from COVID-19. The county commission appointed her acting recorder of deeds after Emerson's passing.

Officeholders sworn in Dec. 31, 2020

 

On Dec. 31, 2020, Lawrence County Clerk Tammy Riebe conducted swearing-in ceremonies for those county officials elected or re-elected in the Nov. 3 General Election. They included (pictured, from left) Assessor Doug Bowerman, Public Administrator Janice Martin, Sheriff Brad DeLay, Western Commissioner David Botts, Eastern Commissioner Tim Selvey, Coroner Scott Lakin and Surveyor Aaron Austin. They all were elected to four-year terms.

175th celebration to be rescheduled

 

Lawrence County's 175th celebration event will be rescheduled. It was originally set April 9.

Road, bridge sales tax up for retention in June 2 election

 

The longstanding road and bridge sales tax in Lawrence County will be up for renewal on the June 2, 2020, ballot. Voters first approved the sales tax in 1984, and have voted in favor of renewing it each of the five times it has come up for renewal. This time it will be presented without an expiration date. The sales tax supports the 15 road districts in the county.

County clerk outlines 2020 election information

Lawrence County Clerk Tammy Riebe has announced election information for 2020:

  • PRESIDENTIAL PREFERENCE PRIMARY - MARCH 10

Register to vote before Feb. 12. Absentee voting: Jan. 28-March 9.

  • GENERAL MUNICIPAL ELECTION - April 7 (Rescheduled to June 2)

Register to vote before March 11. New deadlines for absentee voting: By mail until March 27; in person until June 1.

  • PRIMARY ELECTION - AUG. 4

Register to vote before July 8. Absentee voting June 23-Aug. 3

  • PRESIDENTIAL GENERAL ELECTION - Nov. 3

Register to vote before Oct. 7. Absentee voting Sept. 22-Nov. 2

 
Budget hearing Jan. 18
 

JAN. 2017 NEWS RELEASE FROM COUNTY CLERK GARY EMERSON

A public hearing will be held by the Lawrence County Commission on Wednesday, January 18, 2017, at 10 a.m. in the courtroom of the Historic Courthouse in Mt. Vernon, Missouri, on the proposed 2017 Lawrence County budget.

All documents are available for inspection in the office of Gary Emerson, County Clerk and Budget Officer of Lawrence County.

 
Monitoring system should save money  
 

JULY 2016 NEWS RELEASE FROM LAWRENCE COUNTY COMMISSION

Lawrence County commissioners signed an agreement Wednesday, July 27, 2016, that should help cut jail numbers and substantially reduce the cost of housing inmates in other counties.

The agreement with LBS Monitoring, a Lawrence County company, provides for 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week electronic monitoring of inmates approved for the program through the court system.

The numbers are dramatic. Initially, the prosecutor’s office estimated the program could be used for 24 people who might otherwise sit in jail while awaiting a court date or serving a jail sentence for a minor offense. That would enable the county to bring home 18 inmates county taxpayers are currently paying to house in Vernon County because of overcrowding at the Lawrence County Jail.    READ MORE >

Lawrence County launches central web site

JULY 2016 NEWS RELEASE

 

Lawrence County has a new central web site, lawrencecountymo.org.

 

Visitors will find information on elections, paying taxes, road districts and general county information, among other topics.  READ MORE >

Better bridges in Lawrence County   Released 5-26-16

 

UPDATE: Lawrence County Commission voted June 1, 2016, to accept the low bid of $619,750 from Hartman Construction for the next BRO bridge replacement project. Another contractor bid $809,358.

 

MAY 26, 2016 NEWS RELEASE

 

Lawrence County is making progress in its efforts to improve bridges across the county. The latest Missouri Department of Transportation inspection reveals that locally maintained bridges have improved “considerably” overall, according to Presiding Commissioner Sam Goodman.

 

Thirty-nine of the 126 bridges MoDOT inspected were placed on its deficiencies list, but none were rated lower than 4 on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the worst). Those bridges with worse deficiencies have all been rehabilitated or replaced over the years. (MoDOT only inspects bridges with openings of 20 feet or greater.)