As paving began Aug. 6 on the Highway 5 resurfacing and widening project, the Morgan County R-II School District in Versailles benefited from the project's asphalt plant being set up close to town.

As paving began Aug. 6 on the Highway 5 resurfacing and widening project, the Morgan County R-II School District in Versailles benefited from the project's asphalt plant being set up close to town.

Magruder Paving of Troy, Mo. was selected in a competitive bid process in November 2012 by the Missouri Department of Transportation to resurface nearly 28 miles of Highway 5 from Versailles to the Niangua Bridge, adding four-foot shoulders where the roadway is now lacking. The $6.43 million contract also includes resurfacing three miles of Hwy. 54 in Camden County.

The Highway 5 project was begun Tuesday. With a variety of asphalt mixes needed for the project, the company had to do a test batch - or flash - on a couple of specialty mixes. The 150 tons of asphalt from each flash were donated to the school along with the labor and preparation work to lay the material.

Magruder employees repaved much of the main campus' front parking lot as well as a roadway through the back parking lot Tuesday afternoon.

Company owner Mark Magruder estimated the value of the 300 tons of asphalt at approximately $20,000-$25,000. As a test batch, it could not have been used on the highway project though and so would have otherwise gone to waste.

The donation is fairly standard for the company when it is doing a project like this.

"We try to be a good neighbor," he said.

When the temporary asphalt plant was proposed to be located in Sunrise Beach at the Magruder Limestone quarry, Magruder had planned on donating the asphalt within the Sunrise Beach community to the fire department and Christian school.

The quarry in Sunrise Beach along with an asphalt plant formerly at the site has been the subject of controversy beginning around 2004 with nearby residents complaining about blasting and dust from the quarry and fumes from the asphalt plant.

The quarry was taken over by Magruder in 2007. Since then, the company has tried to rehabilitate the quarry's image but without much headway, he said, despite repairing damage caused by the former operator and cleaning up the site.

The old asphalt plant, also under a different operator, eventually shut down with the slowing economy and lost its grandfathered status with the village.

In early 2013, Magruder sought to open a temporary cleaner-burning asphalt plant for the project.

The Sunrise Beach Planning Commission recommended approval of the conditional use permit which would have allowed the plant to operate for six months, but the village board of trustees ultimately denied it citing public health and safety concerns.

Since the permit was not approved, the temporary plant was ultimately located in Morgan County at Highway 5 and Route J south of Versailles, and so the donation was made in the Morgan County community.

As a small crew completed the work at the school, several workers manned dump trucks and equipment on Highway 5 between Versailles and Gravois Mills.

"People here have been excited to see us. It's been nice to get a reception instead of rejection," Magruder said.

MCR2 Superintendent Dr. Joyce Ryerson said the school was happy to get the donation.

Funding has been continually tightening since the 2008/09 school year, so the district has really crunched down on its budget and become more selective in how it spends money, said Ryerson.

The district has been patching the parking lot to get by.

"We were very excited and thankful about the offer. It's let us repair more of the damage than we could have otherwise," she said.

A stretch of the southbound lane was ground down to base Tuesday. Paving was supposed to begin Wednesday morning but was delayed by rain.

Magruder said they would get the northern portion of the Highway 5 project done first then switch over to the three miles of Highway 54 before coming back to do the southern portion of Highway 5.

He estimated that the road work would be all wrapped up by mid-November though that may vary depending on the weather.

The contract included 258 calendar days beginning in July to complete the work, including excavation and other dirt work.

As construction continues, motorists should expect lane closures and minor delays during construction.