While a couple of political big guys continue their political squabbles about the Taum Sauk reservoir collapse, the little people living near the reservoir are afraid of what will happen to them if the big boys can’t figure out how to play nice.
Lesterville is a little town not far from Taum Sauk Mountain, and the reservoir that collapsed more than 500 days ago. Governor Blunt and his natural resources department, and Attorney General Jay Nixon have spent much of that time disagreeing about who has the right to settle for damages with reservoir owner Ameren and whether criminal charges are filed.
Looking on with increasing uncertainty is Lesterville school superintendent Earlene Fox. More than half of her district’s local tax revenue comes from that reservoir and its power plant. The feud in Jefferson City, she says, has left her months away from having to close the school she calls "the hub" of the community.
Her students feel the uncertainty, too, but she says they’ve also learned some things–that they need to stick together and that they have to fight for things they want to keep and love. She says her students don’t want to become endangered species. But she says they’re on the endangered species list because of the actions of the Governor and the Attorney General.
Fox says she’s tired of the two blaming each other for the failure to reach a settlement with Ameren–a company she says is the best neighbor her district could have. She says the value of Ameren’s property in the county has hit bottom since the reservoir failure but the company has paid the district the equivalent of regular property taxes for the last two years. The payments run out at the end of this year. She says she could ask Ameren to continue the payments for another year and she thinks the company would respond in a positive way.