The Boonville City Council on Monday evening heard several citizens’ comments regarding CMMG, the local gun manufacturer of the Armalite Model 15 rifle (AR-15).
Local resident Joan Read was the first to voice her concerns about one of Boonville’s newest businesses. Aside from Read’s dislike for the business itself, she feels that the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) and the Economic Development Director enticed CMMG to come to Boonville by giving them a $200,000 forgivable loan, to be dispersed in five increments of $40,000 annually. The loan, it seems, came with conditions; conditions that Read says has not been met.
Read also believed that secret negotiations had taken place between the company, the IDA, and hand-picked members of the council to change the conditions of the contract that had been reached between IDA and CMMG in August 2016. It was later disclosed by Mayor Julie Thacher and confirmed by a member of the council that the mayor and council members’ involvement at that meeting was for informational purposes only. No negotiations had been planned nor were discussed by either.
Connie Schneider, another Boonville resident, addressed the council next. Schneider said she and others had attended a city council meeting on July 5, 2016, to protest handing over $200,000 to this particular business. It was her opinion that the city was only concerned with filling an empty manufacturing building and allowing the IDA to show manufacturing jobs were beginning to come to Boonville.
Another concern was the possibility of Black Rifle, a high caliber gun store, might be moving to Boonville from Columbia and opening on Ashley Road. “I believe this is a strategic decision,” Schneider said, “by CMMG and our EDD to circumvent the employee requirements of CMMG’s contract. I ask that this council hold the IDA and our EDD accountable for the contract it made with CMMG and recall the money per the contract.” Failing this action, Schneider requested “an independent audit of the IDA and EDD, suspension of any current members being paid by the city until it can be shown that the IDA is fulfilling its intended potential and no special consideration has been given to CMMG or any other business in Boonville.”
Jane Lago and K. C. Green also spoke up against CMMG. They, too, felt the contract should be honored as originally written and the money be returned to the city.
Judy Stock, a ward three resident, was the last to speak. She remembered a few different details about the meetings in 2016, like whose idea it was. “CMMG wanted to come to Boonville for several reasons, access to I-70 being one. The biggest reason, however,” she recalled, “was, in Fayette, the company was in several buildings in at least two different counties. In Boonville, they could consolidate into one building.”  
Stock also reminded the audience that tourism had not suffered in the last year-and-a-half.
Other council business conducted during the evening included approving the parking restriction request from Nelson Memorial United Methodist Church for the Motorcycle Prison Ministry Event to be held on June 2, 2018. This ministry has been going on since 1989 and there were no changes involved in this year’s request.
The council voted unanimously to authorize a lease purchase agreement for the Rosenhauer Aerial Fire Truck with First State Community Bank.
Standing committee reports were routine except for Economic Development by Dr. Jim Gann. Gann reported that CMMG had indeed failed to meet their agreement on hiring; this was due in part to no clear formula had been set up.
Comments on Gann’s report came from Council Members Henry Hurt and Susan Meadows. Hurt voiced his opinion that he hadn’t voted for CMMG in 2016 and thought it was worse now. Meadows wasn’t happy about CMMG’s request that 1. their loan be forgiven even though they hadn’t met their hiring agreement, 2. that their contract be amended requiring team member counts be changed from 55 to 51 in 2017, and 3. that shareholders and corporate members be included in the count.
Councilman Steve Young, a member of the IDA, reminded everyone that IDA meetings were not held secretly, but were open to the public.
Mayor Thacher mentioned in closing that Black Rifle was a retail store in Columbia and that the IDA had no jurisdiction over its decision to relocate to Boonville.