10:26 AM

Sales tax is down for the month but up for the year, according to Stone County Treasurer Kristi Stephens.

Presiding Commissioner Dennis Wood countered that statement at a department head meeting last week saying, "General revenue is up 4% which is good for all of us."

Over 990 certified letters have been sent out to delinquent taxpayers notifying them of the pending sale of their property, according to Stone County Collector Vicki May.  "That's twice what we sent out last year," she said.

Wood told county leaders the Use Tax is down 58% from last year.  Speculation is that the instillation of Silver Dollar City's new multi-million dollar roller coaster added to last years coffers.  "Departments all look to be in pretty good shape," said Wood.

Stone County Clerk Judy Berkstresser told those assembled that she has worked diligently with Standard and Poor's to get the county's annual appropriation rating upgraded two notches from A- to A+.  

The new rating could garner the county a quarter percent in interest on future bonds the county might take out for future expansion or other projects if the rating is kept.  "It would mean a savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayers money," said Berkstresser.  Currently, the county owes about $3 million in outstanding debt.

Wood said an expansion of the county's Judicial and Law Center "will have to be addressed in the next three to four years."

Sheriff Doug Rader says an explosion of female inmates in the county jail, which was designed to house 66 inmates but held 68 last week, has led to some remodeling of the jail.  "We have so many female inmates we had to make a bigger pod and build a wall so female and male inmates won't be exposing themselves to each other," he said.

"I wanted to bring something else up since we're talking about excellence," Berkstresser said.  

Berkstresser said she was contacted by a "citizen" after the county published its financial statement, which was prepared by commission assistant Denise Dickens and approved by commissioners, in March.  She said the citizen was concerned about some grammatical and duplicate errors they found in the report and wondered if the totals on the report were correct.

"I found over 500 [errors]," she said.

"I take full responsibility for the report," said Wood.  "You do not need to blame or say any other names, it's from the commission."

Berkstresser alleged that state statutes had been broken because the report sent to the state auditor's office contained errors.  She said information concerning interest on loans and rates on bonds had been omitted from the report.

A former state auditor employee, who reviewed the report at Berkstresser's request, expressed concerns "over duplication and the misspelled words and the overall organization of the report," she said.  "They were concerned and [said] if they had been the auditor that they possibly would have written their concerns up on this."  She said her office took the data and reworked the report to fall within state statutes and presented the corrected report to commissioners.

Wood then asked the outgoing County Clerk if there were any inaccuracies in the spending money totals.  "We found some," Berkstresser replied.

"I'd like to see the perfect examples of where it's misrepresented," Wood said.  Berkstresser did not have the correct figures on hand and told Wood, "I'll get with you later."

"I resent that you did not talk to us in advance," Wood said.  "You didn't come to the commission--you didn't come to anybody.  You made a grand entrance today.  I resent that you brought that today without first consulting with us and trying to work it out so that we can get this thing done."

"My whole purpose for this was to get us ahead of excellence," Berkstresser said.  "We did create a new format--we did not correct what was in here.  We did not take the time to correct the numbers, all we used was what the commission published and put it in the correct format."

Wood fired back. "The county is audited by the state and our own auditors and this has never come up in an audit before to my knowledge.  We will be delving into this and report back to the public."

"I did not plan this as an attack," said Berkstresser.  "I just believe that our county is a top notch county.  I believe that everything should be of excellence that leaves our offices...especially things that are published. "

Wood reminded Berkstresser that the county holds work sessions every Tuesday from 9 - 10 a.m.  "You could have come in and talked about it to us rather than doing it in the manner you've done."

"Again," said Wood, "audits have never ever criticized us in anyway for any of these reports."


David Stump said...

why don't you ask Dennis Wood why the Commission has a secretary when according to the Jefferson Commissions office the County Clerk is supposed to be the Commissioner's Secretary,,, and you should probably let people know that Denise made about 500 mistakes on the what 34-35 page report... that woman was busted in May of 2000 by the COMET SQUAD, Stone County Sheriffs office and Crane Police for Meth and endangering the welfare of a child,, just because she pleaded down to keep her record clean she shouldn't even be employed by the County at all,, what kind of message are we sending out to the taxpayer!!!! dig into both of them and you may find out more about than you want to know,,, we need them both off the County payroll,,,, thanks David Stump(Stone County 911 Board Member)

Anonymous said...

It needs to be stated that the errors did not come from the commission. Most of the errors were made at the printing end.

Anonymous said...

It needs to be stated that the majority of errors did not come from the commission. Most of the errors were made at the printing end.
Plus the statue issue have never been brought up before. Did Judy not know about the statues before? Why now??

native hillbilly said...

Mr. has had nothing but issues!the only issues that concerns mr wood!is wether or not his sand which is prepared correctly!57 days and hopefully there will be new leadership!and a house cleaning done!granpa always said never trust a smiling dog!bite you every time!

Anonymous said...

Wow! So it would have been OK for the county clerk to bring up the mistakes behind closed doors so no one would know there were approximately 500 mistakes in a 34 page report written by somebody running for the county clerk position?
That is an average of 15 mistakes per page?
If she can't run numbers or do reports any better than that why the heck is she running for the county clerks office? (The paycheck)
Seriously just the thought that Dennis Wood thinks this should have been brought out in closed meetings is enough to make me wonder what else he is doing behind closed doors.
A state audit several year back also brought out the fact that Denise Dickens position was illegal but former commissioner George Cutbirth, who actually hired her, said he didn't care and kept the position.
Wake up folks.....if she can't do one report (and blaming the printer is bullcrap as they only print what is sent to them) then how the heck will she run the county clerks office that is all reports.
I'm certainly glad there is more than one choice for county clerk and presiding commissioner office because neither Dennis Wood nor Denise Dickens will be getting my vote!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Stump, why don’t you ask the people feeding you all this crap what the truth really is? First of all, Dennis Wood did not hire Mrs. Dickens as his administrative assistant. She transferred from the County Clerks’ Office in 2007 to work for the County Commission Office. At that time, Judy Berkstresser was the County Clerk, George Cutbirth-Presiding Commissioner, Steve White-Northern Commissioner and Jerry Dodd-Southern Commissioner. I repeat, she transferred!! She was not fired by Mrs. Berkstresser. In fact, Judy Berkstresser, herself, hired Mrs. Dickens in 2003 to take over the accounting and payroll duties. As you mention, Ms. Dickens was arrested on drug charges and endangering the welfare of a child in 2000 but was never convicted or imprisoned. If she was trustworthy and competent enough to pay the counties bills and its employees for then County Clerk, Judy Berkstresser, why would she not be qualified to be the Administrative Assistant to the County Commission or furthermore hold a public office?
Why don’t you tell the truth yourself? The 500 mistakes you refer to in the counties financial statement were individual entries of paid jurors and election judges for 2013. I wouldn't crucify someone over giving to much information to the public. The financial statement has been prepared the same way for well over a decade. Mrs. Berkstresser is currently in her third term as County Clerk and not once has she mentioned any violation of how the financial statement was prepared. As far as the grammatical errors, ask to see the original copy submitted for publication. I would suggest the publisher of the financial statement turn on the spell check application.
As a Stone County tax payer for many years, I have to question your motives. Are you running for the office of County Clerk or Presiding Commissioner? I am sure that I am not the only one asking this question, as you continually bash Mrs. Dickens.
I would suggest to you, Mr. Stump, to follow your own advice and dig into the lives of the Berkstresser’s and her deputy, Cynthia F. Sturdefant Cornelison Cornelison Juarez Elmore and her husband John Elmore. The Berkstressers have cost the tax payers of Stone County thousands of dollars in law suits and just a few years ago, Mr. Elmore’s picture was plastered on the front page of the Crane Chronicle/Stone County Republican.
I also do not understand why this article is on a crime scene blog. I have to question the actions of Ms. Baird, who also happens to have an “Elect Cindy Elmore” sign in her front yard. Is this possibly a conflict of interest or maybe unethical?
Well educated voters are what we need, not a bunch or rambling idiots who are nothing more than a pawn in this political game.

Anonymous said...

Wait.....What??? Did someone get murdered at this County Commission Meeting?? Isn't this a crime blog?? I find Crime blogs interesting, but this.....not so much. Each voter has a responsibility to research each and every candidate to find out their good points and bad points. But seriously.....I wouldn't want some of the stuff that I did 13 years ago to appear in a blog....YIKES.

Anonymous said...

As stated in stumps post if that job is supposed to be county clerk then why wasn't she doing it? Especially if she didn't think it was being done right.why has it taken so many years for someone to notice this? There isnt just one commissioner so if they believe in denise dickens so do I. I've heard a lot about cindy Elmore past to. .pretty bad but both of the candidates should leave the past alone and just prove what they can do for the future

Anonymous said...

I commented on the Wood/Berkstresser article almost 5 hours ago. Funny how the truth doesn't get published!

Kathee Baird said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kathee Baird said...

@ anon June 19 @ 9:06 p.m.

I was having computer issues last night.

Most everything that is left as comment is published. That being said, if a comment is riddled with profanity it isn't.

In response to the question of why the publisher of the Financial Report did not correct the report, they can't. It is an OFFICIAL report they have been given to publish it is not their work product.


Kathee Baird said...

@ anon June 19 @ 4:06

If you will go back and read the blog you will see that I report on a lot of things in Stone County, not just crime.

As far as the sign in the yard, I live with my elderly parents and it is their property. They can support whomever they like.

I have not one unkind thing to say about Denise, or anyone running for that matter. Denise has always been kind to me as have Cindy and Matt Carr.

I reported exactly what happened at the commission meeting. I didn't editorialize anything.

As far as John Elmore, he's not running for anything and if one would look at the record you're referring to they would find that the state settled with HIM for moentary damages in that case his ex-wife initiated.

Bottom line, several people want the County Clerk job and two want the Presiding Commissioner gig. That being said, at the end of this election cycle we all still have to live in the same county together.

I think I have been very fair with what I have reported.

I HATE politics and the ugliness it brings out in people!


Unknown said...

Thank you Kathee. Too much is covered up. Don't appreciate Wood's bulling attitude!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Stump,
My parents taught me that if you don't have something nice to say about somone, don't say anything at all. Are you saying that if someone has made mistakes in their life and have a past, they shouldn't have a chance at a job?? At a future?? Who among us doesn't have something in their past that they aren't proud of?? Are you perfect?? I guess that you have cast the first stone.
(Lifelong Resident of Stone County and Stone County Tax Payer)

thats a fact jack said...

I could care less about the past also!how ever in the present wood is a piece of work and mrs dickens is his puppet!we finnaly have a chance to rid ourselves of mr wood,and just as we did with hill and his cronies,im sure enough voters will see that mr wood. For his true colors. I have delt with mr woods and know first hand how he works!even officals of our county want him gone!they appointed him commissioner to get him out of jeff city as our rep!we been stuck with him ever since!why did we the people correct problems with our law enforcement?is it not the commissions job to over see all county officals under them?is it not there job to see that were not treated as pesents!not if the commisioner treats us as such!id like to know when a q and a session will be available to the public!mr woods seems have 4 answers to a simple question!depends on who or which answer fits best!i admire mr stumps effort ,i will vote for him!at this point i would vote for elmer fudd if his and wood was only two on a ballot!i think all the wrong wood has done we know about!what about all we dont know!what goes on in all closed door discussions that are supose to be on minutes for public to see?why the sunshine laws he broke get swept under the rug?why did you treat the victims of police brutality like it was there fault they got beat!why do we have a stretch of road with median that cut off buisnesses!and got us sued for millions?i know you read this mr wood?id like you to answer these questions?we. The people would like see why you play mr right to our face and do us wrong behind our backs!you may have all those folks down at the baptist church fooled!but you dont fool me!and for the blind wood sopporters,you will be crying in your beer just like melody hill come august!

Anonymous said...

First: Highway 13 ByPass was started by a member of 911 Board showing the figures on how many minutes it takes to go from South of the Bridge to Highway 76 by ambulance. Figures were presented on through the week and weekends especially in the summer. There was not enough space in certain areas to widen the road. The thought was trying to save lives of those who live south of the bridge.

Second: Why did Cindy send out the Crane Chronicle's article in her political packet? Sent to a specific group. Where is the whole story? Who will research this and give us the facts? I thought our Founding Fathers believed in "Innocent UNTIL PROVEN Guilty. Guess that's not how it is in Stone County.

Third: The Commissioners do not have control over offices in the Courthouse. Taxpayers hired the Department Heads and Judges; they answer to the taxpayers. It's interesting that some of us do not know how our County Government works.

juanita foster said...

the state can't come down because our lawmakers say they can't get involved in local issues. believe me i have contacted my reps,sen, ag office, sec of state and finally filed a pettition per state statue to have our election authorty investagated for disregarding state election laws. i listed 10 of 40 reasons based on documented information. i sat down with debbie scobbee and had her read the statue that stated exactly what was to happen once i filed the pettition. i was within my time frame and with help from ag office met all requirments. once filed judge blankinship had 24 hrs to have the pettition in jeff city. no if and or buts. i should have sat down and made sure he understood the statue. after he, judy, and bill, as usual, felt the law doesn't apply to them they decided to change it to a personel lawsuit and gave her the petttion. bill m filled for dismissle [this pettition could not be dismissed] and 2 yrs later i got a letter saying i needed to show cause why this lawsuit should not be dismissed. i couldn't do that cause it wasn't a lawsuit and petition couldnt be dismissed. so once again eveyones back got scratched and our voteing rights were trampled on. i submitted numerous sunshine requests to judys office, but handled by cindy, during last p&z vote. i was charges the max. not only was rose hultz not made to submit hers in writing cindy charged her nothing.i submitted request to see galena polling book. i was attacted by 1 of her employees, had to involve sheriffs office and sec of state before being allowed to see book. thats how we found out judy certified 49 more voters that was correct. if 49 in galena how many in abesville ponce hurly ect. judy told sec of state it would be ilegel for her to correct. nothing sec of state could do as not allowed to get involved. she allowed 2 rep to be judges at voting places instead of rep and dem. as per fed law. and on and on and on. maybe judy can't read or do math either. i live within city limits. my voter reg card says i live in ward one. i was against the sewer fraud deal.i tried to run for city council. judy declared i did not live in city. denied me my right to vote in city elections or run for office. theres more lots more. i still have all evidence proving every thing i have stated. saved them for my actual lawsuit against her as soon as she isout of office. the county commission did nothing wrong nor did the taxpayers. i want allow judy to cost taxpayers anymore than that family already has thats why i am waiting til shes out of there. if you really do want the truth my name is juanita foster i live at limberlost and my number is 830 0013. i'm also the proud mother of denise dickens. but, mr stump, i know the sort of person you are and that i will never see or hear from you. i welcome anyone to come read all this info just plan on spending the whole day. it will take that long to read everything. i would really be happy to see the owner of this blog at my door. instead of writing blogs she could write a book

Anonymous said...

For over 5 years we have tried to
get Rambling Rd paved and upgraded. Currently, the road is
only 12 feet wide in sections. Two cars cannot pass one another
without one backing down the road.
There are deep ditches on both sides of the road and if one backs up too far they would go over a cliff with a 100 ft. drop.
Been talking about the safety aspect to the Commissioners but
no help from Stone County, just stonewalling on their part.