PALMYRA, Mo. -- The Marion County Commission learned Monday that the new Mark Twain Transmission Line in Northeast Missouri it slated to be energized this week.
Randy Cox of Ameren told commissioners that the 96-mile transmission line -- which passes through Marion, Lewis, Knox, Adair and Schuyler counties -- is scheduled to "go hot" on Wednesday, barring any unforeseen issues.
The Ameren Transmission Company of Illinois (ATXI), a wholly owned subsidiary of Ameren Corporation, broke ground on the long-awaited project in May 2018 at the site of the new Zachary Substation adjacent to the existing Adair Substation in Adair County.
The new substation will transform high-voltage electricity from the transmission system to lower-voltage electricity, which it then supplies to homes and businesses through distribution lines.
The new 345,000-volt transmission line essentially goes from Palmyra to the Iowa border and primarily follows the right-of-way of existing power lines maintained by Northeast Power and Ameren Missouri. ATXI had to acquire about 12 miles of new right-of-way in Marion and Adair counties to complete the needed connections.
ATXI officials say the project offers several benefits, including greater energy reliability, economic growth, increased tax revenue to governmental entities, and improved access to renewable energy sources, such as wind.
Cox said Ameren crews have been making repairs and cleaning up roads and other properties that were disturbed when the transmission line was being installed.
"I believe we've got everything done in Marion County," he told commissioners.
In other action Monday, the commission heard about plans to open a Small Business Development Center office in Hannibal to provide assistance to new and existing businesses.
The SBDC office will operate in association with the Hannibal Regional Economic Development Council, based at 3817 McMasters Ave. The office will serve Marion, Clark, Lewis, Shelby, Ralls and Pike counties.
Cory Mehaffy, executive director of the HREDC, said the council plans to hire an "entrepreneurial specialist" to work in the SBDC office. The specialist will be available to give personalized assistance to help business owners in various ways.
"This really is a counseling position," Mehaffy told commissioners, noting how the specialist will provide guidance to help businesses owners succeed at every stage of the business life cycle.
Mehaffy said his office has already provided counseling services to six to eight small businesses through a SBDC counselor from Moberly. "We have probably four or five more in the pipeline" who will be transitioned to the Hannibal office once the new specialist is hired.
Mehaffy said the application pool has been narrowed to six individuals, and interviews are slated to begin this week.
"We hope to have somebody hired in that position full time as soon as we can," he said.
Mehaffy said small businesses are vital to the local economy because of all the jobs they create.
"More than 90% of the new job creation in rural areas comes from small businesses," he said.
In other action, the commission awarded a $145,600 contract to Martin Equipment of Palmyra for a new end loader for the county's Highway Department.