Rural Carthage business owner Mike Cloud said the Jasper County Health Department unfairly blocked his efforts to expand his business into a new location just across Fir Road from the Carthage city limits.
Jasper County Health Department director Tony Moehr said Cloud and his son, Andy Cloud, misunderstood what the health department inspector was telling them about whether he could operate a business that makes and sells deli sandwiches, in addition to selling processed and packaged meat products from Cloud's plant, at a location that has inadequate septic service.
Cloud spoke to the Jasper County Commissioners and presented a letter in which he described his efforts to open a store at 535 Fir Road to sell meat processed at his plant on Fairview Avenue just west of Carthage.
He said he first contacted the Jasper County Health Department in April to discuss opening a restaurant in the location on Fir Road, but was immediately told the building's septic system could not handle the water usage.
Mike Cloud said he planned to open his new store on June 4, but started running into problems with the health department on May 11 when Andy Cloud took the new business application to the health department and was told someone would call them.
“We called back four more times in the next two weeks and asked for a return call,” Mike Cloud wrote. “Finally on the fifth try, I was able to talk to Steve (McKarus, health department environmental supervisor). I told him that I felt the business was about ready for inspection. That was when he told me he had not yet decided to allow us to even open the business. I was completely shocked by this statement and the arrogance of the way he said it.
“I had talked to the health department and received instruction on what was needed. I had done everything that was required and he had the audacity to say he had not decided, after sitting on my application for two weeks.”
Cloud said he called Jasper County Eastern District Commissioner Jim Honey about the conversation and Honey said he would check on the situation.
A few minutes later, McKarus called back and said he would allow him to open the market.
All was well until the final inspection on Friday, June 1 when McKarus told the Clouds they could sell processed, packaged foods, but could not sell deli products because of the impact on the septic system.
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“I said deli sandwiches didn't require any more water than the deli and it was all the same,” Cloud said. “He said well, if it's all the same then you can't do the deli either. He said it with the same arrogance that I had already heard before.”
Moehr said the main issue is the capacity of the septic system on the property and the best solution would be for the property to be annexed into Carthage and be added to the city's waste water treatment system.
Carthage City Administrator Tom Short, who attended the meeting, said the building is not in the city limits so the city cannot extend sewer service to the property.
Moehr, McKarus and Cloud all met privately after the commission meeting and both sides said they would work together to find a solution.
Moehr and Cloud said there had been miscommunication on both sides.
In other business, Blaine Mitchell, who is running for the Republican nomination for Eastern District Jasper County Commissioner, presented a letter to the commission in response to Prosecutor Dean Dankelson's letter asking the Missouri Attorney General to investigate allegations that Sheriff Archie Dunn had used county property to further his bid for reelection.
Mitchell asked for an investigation of what he said were past instances of county officials using county property in campaign ads.
He also asked for other investigations, including into whether Attorney Norman Rouse refused to take a random drug test and whether Commissioner John Bartosh held an illegal closed commission meeting on May 22.
Rouse responded after the meeting by saying he had never refused to take a drug test and had been tested before.
Western District Commissioner Darieus Adams said elected county officials are exempt from drug testing because a positive drug test result is not grounds to remove an elected official.
As for the closed meeting, Bartosh said there was no meeting, just an informal discussion which included Rouse and County Auditor Richard Webster. No other commissioners were with the group.
The commissioners also approved a $1,062,491 contract with Snyder Bridge of Joplin for eight bridge projects on county roads.