MRPC News Release
Dec. 2, 2005
For more information, contact:
Richard Cavender or Bonnie J. Prigge, (573) 265-2993
9, 925 PEOPLE SAY "KEEP USGS IN ROLLA"
MRPC submits petitions to Rep. Emerson
ST. JAMES—The people have spoken—9, 925 of them—and they say "Keep USGS in Rolla." Acting on a request from Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, the Meramec Regional Planning Commission coordinated a petition drive to collect 10,000 signatures in support of keeping the United States Geological Survey in Rolla. Rep. Emerson, working to reverse USGS' decision to close the Mid-Continental Mapping Center in Rolla, will deliver the signed petitions to President George Bush during the Congressional Christmas party on Dec. 5.
On Tuesday, Nov. 29, MRPC delivered a four-inch binder containing 9,502 signatures to Rep. Emerson's Rolla office.
"We thought that was the final count, however, the petitions continued to flow in," said Richard Cavender, MRPC's executive director. On Friday, MRPC staff delivered another 423 signatures, bringing the total count to 9,925. "That is the final count from our office, and this is an excellent showing of support," Cavender added.
Bonnie Prigge, MRPC's assistant director who coordinated the effort, is extremely pleased with the numbers. "We appreciate the participation and hard work of businesses, organizations and individuals to secure so many signatures in a relatively short period of time," Prigge added.
The effort was a regional one, Prigge noted, as petitions came from Phelps County and its neighboring counties as well as out-state Missouri. Some of the petitions came in bundles so; at least 400 signatures from Dent County, 250 from Gasconade County, about 200 from Crawford County and about 200 from the Vichy area, Prigge said. She noted that Phelps County Bank turned in some 1,150 signatures while USGS employee Sheila Ruhl collected some 1,500 signatures.
"This demonstrates what we can do when we all work together," Cavender said. "We appreciate the commitment that was exhibited locally, and we appreciate the leadership and tenacity that Sen. Bond, Sen. Talent and Rep. Emerson have demonstrated as they work on this issue."
On Sept. 15, USGS announced plans to close its Mid-Continental Mapping Center in Rolla, consolidating operations to Denver, Col. This decision came after an independent evaluation found Rolla to be the most cost-effective mapping center of the four considered for consolidation. Approximately 185 skilled jobs with an annual payroll of $13.75 million will be lost along with local tax revenues of $299,476 and state tax revenue of $601,000. Thanks to the efforts of Sen. Kit Bond, Sen. Jim Talent and Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, the decision to consolidate USGS operations has been put on hold, pending an Inspector General's review of the decision-making process.
"Like countless others, MRPC recognizes the importance of USGS' Rolla office in our region," said Salem Mayor Gary Brown, MRPC chairman. "We see firsthand the value of its work and its expertise, not only locally but statewide and nationally. We are glad that we could coordinate this petition drive and hope that this effort will help influence decision-makers to keep USGS in Rolla," Brown added.
A professional staff of 27, directed by the MRPC board, offers technical assistance and services, such as grant preparation and administration, housing assistance, transportation planning, environmental planning, ordinance codification, business loans and other services to member communities upon request. The board meets the second Thursday of each month, except in July when no meeting is held. MRPC's officers are Chairman Gary Brown of Salem, Vice Chairman Bob Reed of Washington County, Secretary Mary Heywood of Bourbon and Treasurer Laura Cyr Antolak of Rolla. For more information, persons may call (573) 265-2993.
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