The Laurie Board of Alderman conducted their monthly business on Tuesday, October 12th at 6pm at Laurie City Hall. Mayor Allen Kimberling opened the meeting with the pledge of allegiance.

Donna Batliner gave the Parks and Recreation Department report, with a lighter than normal turn out than years past at the Annual Hillbilly Fair. Alderman Karen Dobbins agreed that her booth was down about 60 percent of visitors from normal. Approximately $5000 was the expenditures for the Hillbilly Fair, with a good portion of what was spent was on entertainment for the event, including music acts, the exotic zoo, as well as parking and bancard services.

Revenue gained was $20,359.18. Cayde’s Car Show in September made $399.77 for the Laurie City Park. In upcoming events, The Food Truck Festival on Sunday, October 24th should bring more funds to the park, as coordinator Ashley Hays has pledged to donate any monies from vendor space fees above the cost to put on the festival to the park fund.

This is when discussion went to rental of park to outside organizations putting on events that are not city sponsored. Alderman John Shephard suggested that a checklist be put in place for those applications for events. Batliner reported there was no such guideline at the present time. The board questioned whether these events should fall under their city liability insurance or should they be responsible for their own. Shepherd also suggested such groups putting on events should gain corporate sponsorship. In Village of Enchanted Lights news, Batliner reported that only a small percentage of business and organization sponsorships had been collected to administer the Enchanted Village to the amount of $5975.00. The Gravois Fire Protection District has been assisting with setting up the park on Saturdays. Park personnel will be installing the Village this week. The Laurie Enchanted Village of Lights will open on November 19th through January 1st.

Laurie Police Chief Mike Neinhuis gave a report on police department calls for the month of September with 135 calls, 50 stops, 12 citations and 41 warnings issued. Assist was given in 10 lockouts. 2 arrests were made with one being a subject on a felony warrant arrested working at a local business, and a DWI arrest in a separate case. Neinhuis shared with the Laurie Board that an Emergency Services Director is mandatory with the state, and Laurie does not currently have one. He says he has no time to do it, and no time to dedicate to training which is necessary. He suggested a couple of different candidates to the board. Aldermen requested Neinhuis to share state mandates on EMD status to the board.

On September 28th, new city water meters went online, with testing performed and new readings downloaded. The system is working properly with monthly utility bills being charged. Going forward, any need to replace the new meter must be updated on the respective account with longitude/latitude listed. The cost of Core & Main LP for electronic water meters was $129,000 which included service on site of any issues with the new system.

Jason Jones reported that a rate class review had been performed by CoMo Electric Cooperative determining that the City of Laurie had hit a high consumption rate for the city and would fall into a higher billing class. He suggested that Catalyst Electric could split the meter into two separate locations and that there was a $20,000.00 budget allowed for the project. Catalyst’s cost would be $13,600.00, and would eliminate high consumption. The board unanimously approved the measure.

A Bartlett & West representative gave news that a patch of concrete at an RV park needed to be opened allowing add ons to the water line. The board tabled action on the issue until more information could be gathered and the RV park owner could be notified.

Steve Dust of LORDEC presented to the board a plan to market the City of Laurie online with a commitment from the city of $2850.00 annually for a 3 year commitment to assist in economic development. Alderman Shepherd was not in favor, stating the city needed an economic partner like CoMo Electric Cooperative instead. “I have a hard time swallowing the need for this. It’s the same price as bigger cities such as Osage Beach but we won’t get the full benefit that they do,” Shepherd said. Dust advised that the Nexsite program puts Laurie properties into a national marketplace with the data gained from Nexsite. It tracks cell phone activity, telling the data gathers exactly what customers are spending and where, to assist in targeting marketing. 

Nexsite is an online marketing tool for cities to use complete with operations and management systems. LORDEC is a multi lake community partnership with a board of which Dust sits on, that brings those communities together in a think tank of business leaders to move communities forward and assist in population management.

Alderman Jeff Chorpering said the downside of Nexsite is having a one lane highway through Laurie and O Highway. “We need infrastructure updates before we think about adding more visitors,” said Chopering. Chopering and Shepherd were not in favor of the partnership with Nexsite that Dust was presenting. City Attorney Andrew Ranken and Alderman Pam Folker were in favor of using Nexsite. “It’s coming, the boom of population. There is massive interest from major hotels on the westside. $2850.00 is a bargain for this service.” Alderman Folker agreed, “We need to control the growth, we aren’t set for this-we need infrastructure plans that this program creates.” Dust agreed “That’s why the Lake Ozark Council of City Governments and Nexsite is here to present tonight. LORDEC is partnering with me on this concept.  It will manage the flow of information for Laurie and cities that are already using it in the lake area.” Mayor Kimberling questioned why this was a city issue, and not being addressed to the Westside Chamber of Commerce. Dust informed that it is solely a program for individual city governments.

At this point, a Lake Ozark Council of Local Governments representative stepped into the discussion, taking the podium and addressing the board. Brian Yansen introduced himself as serving four lake area counties with a program that also offers infrastructure planning with LOCLG. According to Renken, the addition of 65,000 new, full-time residents has affected traffic flow and infrastructure needs in the lake area over the past 18 months.

There has been no new data collection or numbers in how the population boom has affected the economy. Renken says the COVID pandemic has driven everyone to move from the city to the Lake of the Ozarks. Yansen admitted he was one of those that fled a large city due to COVID prompting him to move here and take his job with LOCLG. Renken discussed with Yansen the facts of traffic control. Renken told Yansen and the board that MODOT doesn’t even look at the traffic numbers until the growth is much bigger.

After Yansen’s presentation, the Laurie Board of Alderman adjourned into closed session to discuss personnel issues.

The Laurie Board of Alderman meets every 2nd Tuesday at 6pm at the Laurie City Hall.

This article originally appeared on Lake Sun Leader: Board considers plan to market community