City Clerk Kim Demoss swears in council members Andy Queen, Gina Monson, Jonathan Shull and Debbie Darby. They were reelected to new two-year terms on April 4.

Council agrees to rejuvenate well that's been closed 15 years

Other wells are no longer able to keep up with growing demand

Bob Foos

Webb Citians’ increasing use of water caused the City Council on Monday to approve the repair of an existing well that hasn’t been in in use for 15 years.

The well, No. 15, was drilled when the city still had a standpipe instead of the large water tower that is located at Hall and Tracy streets.

According to City Administrator Carl Francis, the well, which was drilled in the 1960s, was a good producer before bent casing didn’t allow the pump to go lower than 750 feet.

Under the $388,040 contract approved by the council, Harper Pump Co. will remove the existing casing, and drill deeper, to 1,100 feet, and install new casing. Harper Pump’s was the lowest of two bids received.

If the water is of good quality and of a sufficient flow, public works will prepare to install new pumps and other necessary equipment.

Even with the city’s latest well, Francis said the city has lately had to purchase water from Missouri American through its connection in the Joplin/Webb City Industrial Park to meet the demand from businesses and residents.

Francis called the well repair a “$300,000 gamble. But I’d say the probability (of it turning out well) is pretty good.”

City prepares to condemn right of way for Zora Street roundabout if necessary

First reading was approved for a council bill that would allow City Attorney Troy Salchow to file a lawsuit to condemn property needed for right of way at the proposed roundabout at Zora and Hall streets.

Condemnation would only be used if negotiations to purchase the property are not successful.

Joplin has slated construction of the roundabout to start this year.

Marijuana enforcement updated

Amended regulations regarding enforcement of marijuana possession and public use of marijuana were approved on second reading.

Provisions include: 

• Anyone smoking marijuana in a public place can be fined up to $100, as authorized by the Missouri constitution.

• Anyone under 21 caught with marijuana can pay a fine up to $100 or take the option of attending drug education or counseling.

• The fine for growing marijuana in an unlocked space would be subject to a fine up to $250 and forfeiture of the plants. Plants visible from a public place could also draw a fine no larger than $250.

Farmers market reports record sales during 2022

Council members expressed appreciation for the thorough annual report they received from the Webb City Farmers Market.

Market board members Stefanie Thomasma, president, and Karen Scott, current past president, emphasized that vendors are selling more than ever. In 2022, an average of 22 vendors at each market had record sales of $871,655.

Customers taking advantage of Double Up Food Bucks, a program to enhance SNAP benefits, redeemed tokens on uncut fruits and vegetables valued at $21,368. And participants in the WIC program received $11,207 worth of vouchers to purchase eligible products at the market.

Mayor Lynn Ragsdale pointed to the fact that 34 percent of the shoppers live outside a 10-mile radius of Webb City.

Thomasma noted there were 800 customers at the market last week – and the spring growing season has barely begun.

The market representatives invited city dignitaries and everyone else to attend the official Spring Kickoff on Saturday, April 22. 

They also thanked the city for the $20,800 it contributes annually to help pay salaries of paid staff to operate the market.

Thomasma is leading a greater effort to recruit volunteers to improve the market.

Webb City Farmers Market is a certified nonprofit organization that is allowed to use the city-owned pavilion and commercial kitchen.

In other action, the council:

• Approved a budget amendment on both readings for the 2021-22 fiscal year.

• Allowed the police department to increase its staffing for the purpose of adding a third school resource officer. The school district reimburses the city for half of each officer’s salary.

Prior to reimbursement, the cost to the city will be the beginning police officer salary of $34,798 plus $13,223 in benefits for a total cost of $48,021. The cost could be higher depending on the officer’s experience.

• Allowed the police and fire departments to use up to $37,994 in American Rescue Plan Act funds to match any grants they receive that are funded with ARPA money.

• Voted to purchase a 2015 Vactor truck from Key Equipment in Kansas City at a price of $295,737. Vactor trucks are used by the wastewater department to clean and maintain sewer mains and lift stations. The current 1998 model is no longer fully functional but will be kept for emergency water evacuation by the public works department.

• Received an invitation to attend the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast at 8 a.m. Thursday, May 4, at First Baptist Church of Webb City. In addition to the host mayor, Lynn Ragsdale, there will be three other mayors in attendance: Alan Griffin, Carterville; Doug Lawson, Joplin, and Charles Wilkins, Oronogo. It is sponsored by the Webb City Ministerial Alliance.