SRO program takes one step forward and two steps back

    Just when it looked like the School Resource Office (SRO) program in the Cuba School District was taking a big leap forward, it took two steps back last week when Cuba Police Chief Doug Shelton informed the city council he was not recommending approval of a new SRO contract with the school for the 2022-23 school year.

    And while Shelton left open the possibility the Cuba Police Department and school district could come to an agreement for next year, it certainly didn’t appear to anyone attending or watching last week’s meeting that doing so is a real possibility.
    In recent years, Cuba has had two SROs, both provided by the city with each entity splitting the salary costs. This year, the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office and all three county school districts teamed up to bring a county deputy as an SRO to each district. The benefit of doing so was that now each district would have a county deputy who could escort staff members when they have to make home visits outside their city limits, and it would also allow Steelville High School, which is south of town, to have an SRO in the building.
    The school district looked primed to have the best of both worlds—one city and one county SRO to work and protect the school buildings. Now it looks like it will only have one from the county.
    Mayor Cody Leathers made it clear that he supports keeping a city SRO with the school. When pressed by the mayor and a few alderman as to why the city would not be moving forward with a new SRO contract with the school, however, Shelton was less than forthcoming.
    “Are we working to get an officer in the school again?” Alderman Sam Black asked Shelton after hearing his recommendation. “It’s not no, but it’s no right now,” the chief responded.
    Why is that? Doesn’t the school district deserve an explanation? Don’t city taxpayers—who will either be losing one of the two officers currently working as SROs or paying another full salary when the current contract with the school expires on June 20—deserve an explanation? Don’t school patrons and parents deserve an explanation?
    What is the big secret? Why can’t a discussion about why the city may no longer provide an SRO to the school be held in a public forum? Why can’t school officials simply be told what the problem is? If there is a problem, it’s certainly unclear what it might be.
    Having two SROs in the district has been working. There’s no reason why it can’t continue to work with one being provided by the sheriff’s department and one being provided by the city.
    There has to be a way to work together.
    There has to be a way to work this out.
    Parents, taxpayers, city residents, and school district residents should demand this gets worked out.
    Or, at the very least, they should be clearly told why the city can no longer provide an SRO to the school district.

Trash cans are for everyone
    Is there any reason it would take a city council three years to decide on replacing trash cans on Main Street? And could there be any good reason not to do so? After some recent action—or perhaps inaction—by the Steelville City Council, there are no good answers to those questions.
    Believe it or not, the council has been talking about replacing the old trash cans it removed from Main Street for three years now. That’s right, THREE YEARS! Most recently, they discussed the issue for two consecutive months with no resolution.
    It’s often been said it takes the government eight hours to make instant coffee, but everyone should agree this is ridiculous almost beyond belief. And the council’s latest reasoning for not taking action on a request from downtown businesses for new trash cans is almost as unbelievable.
    During a recent meeting, questions were posed about whether businesses should pay for receptacles on Main Street as trash service and whether having a trash can in front of a shop was just another cost of doing business. A local resident at the meeting also questioned why the city would supply receptacles for businesses when private residences were required to pay for monthly trash service. “If you’re going to supply to businesses on Main Street, it should be supplied to everyone,” he said.
    Alderman Bill Bennett said, “I see both sides of this.” He said his parents and grandparents had a business in Salem for many years and had picked up their own trash. “Even here, I pick up my own trash and pay for my dumpster,” he said. “I don’t ask the city to put a trash can in front and pick it up. If I had a business downtown, I would probably put my own out and take care of it.”
    Bennett said the local resident who spoke up was right in asking why the city should put trash cans on Main Street but not in front of city residences. “It needs to be talked about,” Bennett said.
    Again, really?
    It’s amazing that in a room full of people not one could wrap their head around one simple fact—trash cans on Main Street are not for the business owners, they are for the public to use!
    Every business on Main Street (including the one owned by me) already has trash service. Trash cans need to be on Main Street—and had always been on Main Street until three years ago—so the public can throw away their trash rather than just throw it on the street.
    Why should the business owners have to pay for that? Why would anyone even think business owners should have to pay for that?
    Keeping Main Street clean is a benefit for all city residents, not just the business owners who call Main Street home. Putting trash cans out for the public is no different on Main Street than it is in the city parks.
    The Steelville City Council has budgeted for new trash cans. It’s way past time to get them back on Main Street. Do it now before the busy tourist season begins.