New county commissioners take office

OATH OF OFFICE — County officials elected in the November 2020 elections swear their oaths of office on Dec. 31. Elected county officials serve for four-year terms. Pictured, from left, are Southern District Commissioner Tom Meyer, Northern District Commissioner Matt Flake, County Surveyor Robert Lewis, Sheriff Kevin Harrison, Public Administrator Melissa Dempsey, and Coroner Mark O’Neill. Adam Rollins photo.
Adam Rollins
Staff Writer

Two new members have taken their place on the three-person Warren County Commission, beginning a new chapter for the county’s top governing body.

Matt Flake, representing the county’s Northern District, and Tom Meyer, representing Southern District, swore their oaths of office Dec. 31 and sat in their first session as commissioners Jan. 4. They join Presiding Commissioner Joe Gildehaus, who was elected to office in 2018, in guiding the direction of the county government.

The Record asked both of the new commissioners to discuss their preparations and goals coming into office.


Tom Meyer

Of the two incoming commissioners, Meyer is the less experienced in matters of government. He and Flake have both been sitting in on commission meetings since their August 2020 primary wins.

“I’m ready to go,” Meyer said, commenting that he has learned a lot from his predecessors and fellow commissioners.

The first order of business will be to approve a county budget for 2021. Meyer and Flake have been observing budget planning, and will vote on a final document in about a month.

Meyer said another upcoming priority is review of permit applications for solar farms when they’re eventually submitted.

“That’s number-one (priority). It’s going to be good for the county,” Meyer said, explaining that it will be the new commission’s job to ensure proper oversight of the projects.

He added improvements to operations at the recycling center on South Highway 47 as another short-term goal.

Meyer said he’s already been receiving public feedback about issues for the commission to resolve, notably issues with state roads that residents want the county to take up with MoDOT.

For long-term goals, Meyer said he wants to focus on projects that improve the county’s infrastructure and plans for future growth.

“We’ve got to get ready. If this economy stays good, (growth) is going to come. It’s going to be good for the county,” Meyer said.


Matt Flake

Flake comes to the commission after years of experience as a member of the county’s planning and zoning committee, and then as county sanitarian. He said he’s familiar with a lot of issues the county deals with, and has added to that knowledge through recent budgeting discussions.

Flake said his early priority will be to meet with each county office and begin discussing opportunities to find more grant funding for projects, facilities and equipment. He said regional economic development is another priority.

“I’d like to work with the Economic Development Council or Boonslick (Regional Planning Commission) to get some more industry in the county, and I believe we’re working toward that right now,” Flake said.

Long-term, Flake said one of his goals will be to maintain county roads and facilities while conserving funding for future needs. Another is to make sure the county’s planning and zoning rules are fair for everyone while accommodating future growth.

“I look forward to it. We’ve got a pretty new commission, two who just got elected and one who’s only been here two years,” Flake commented. “I think we all have open minds and all want to do what’s best for the county going forward.”


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