County Seat Mania ? Live From The Gasconade Octagon
If you like studying government, covering politics, and writing about it all on a blog, then yesterday’s Post-Dispatch had a dream article about the dispute over the county seat in Gasconade County. Many Missourians are familiar with the historic county courthouse in Hermann, that county’s current seat government, from their trips to the many wineries in the area. At least, you remember it on your journey to the wineries. But some people in Owensville — and the article makes it seem like a very small number of people are behind this — want to move the county seat to their community, farther south. The Hermann Advertiser-Courier has an additional article about the issue, touching on why members of a committee looking at courthouse reconstruction were not told of an existing agreement between the county commission and the state.
But lets get down to brass tacks. From the Post-Dispatch piece, how often does this happen?
If voters approve the move, it would mark the first time a county seat has been relocated in Missouri since 1930 when construction of the Lake of the Ozarks inundated Linn Creek in Camden County. Prior to that, a county seat hasn’t moved since before the turn of the century. Hermann has been the Gasconade County seat since 1842.
Supporters say they want the move in order to save taxpayer money by moving county facilities into a recently closed school, rather than spending millions on renovating the historic courthouse. People in Hermann see a different motive:
Many opponents of the move blame Lairmore, one of three county commissioners, two of whom are from Owensville. Critics accuse him and a handful of other Owensville residents of orchestrating the move.[…] Many blame the commissioners for allowing the building to fall into disrepair so it can be condemned.
Some speculated that the proposed move was part of a push to get Highway 50 moved closer to Owensville. Still others believe politicians and power brokers some how stand to make money.
It certainly is interesting. It would be funny to see people claim that Clayton is too far east in St. Louis County, and try to move the county seat to Town and Country. I guess Gasconade could try to imitate Jackson County and have a split county seat, with facilities in both Hermann and Owensville. But, in the end, I must conclude that this is one of the most insane proposals I have heard of recently. Hermann, Mo., is the face of the county. That courthouse along the Missouri River is the face of Hermann. The people of the entire county should pay to renovate it, and the seat should stay where it is.