Council asked to support possible business coming to Versailles

Wanda English Burnett

Barry Lauber, representing the Ripley County Redevelopment Commission, came before the Ripley County Council Monday, March 15 to request their support for a new business interested in locating in the Versailles Industrial Park just south of town on US 421.

The new business would be a definite boost to the area bringing about 75 jobs. Lauber said the jobs would pay $18.00 per hour and up. He said the company will need from seven to 10 acres to accommodate their business operations.

With the negotiating process in place, the nature of the business was sensitive and was not disclosed at the public meeting. However, Lauber assured the county the business would be an asset and could potentially bring in many other businesses with it.

Lauber, who was bolstered by Ripley County Economic Director Gary Norman, told the council they are in the process of applying for various grants and needed the council’s support to proceed.

He told the council that economic development has pledged $25,000 for the new company and asked the council for up to $120,000 in financial support.

Although limited information was available about the proposed company, Council President Dephane Smith polled the members and all were in agreement to support this request.

Some council members questioned the progress of Belletech, who they also supported to come to the same industrial park.

Lauber assured the council that Belletech has every intention of coming to Versailles, but has been delayed due to the economy. He reported that he has been in contact with Mark McIntyre, vice-president of the company, and said their progress is contingent upon Honda. Belletech will supply parts for Honda at Greensburg. The update on the progress is that Belletech has purchased all the steel for the building at the Versailles site and are hoping to have more visible work by January of 2011.

Lauber also explained the safeguards the county has in writing should Belletech never come - something no one wants to happen. Attorney Neil Comer said the county is protected.

Ripley County Recorder Ginger Bradford was granted unanimous approval for a salary ordinance. This is for a project her office will embark on to preserve and make records more readily accessible to the public.
Bradford explained right now the records in her office are on the computer for the public to view back to 1987. With the new project, records will be scanned into the system making it possible for the public to look at records back to 1959. Eventually, she wants to get all of the records on the new system. She explained that the work on the computers are backed up (saved) daily and stored at an off-site storage facility.

Jeff French, Ripley County Surveyor, came before the council asking for their support to add the cost of the annual maintenance for the new GIS program to be online. He explained the long-term benefits saying it would reduce employee cost, copy machines, paper supplies etc. “It’s simple and easy to use,” he noted.
The new system would eliminate many calls his office receives for records and would allow the public to view them online. French said he can absorb the initial start up and one year maintenance cost, which is around $8,000, but wanted to know the council would continue the maintenance annual fees, which were quoted at $3600 per year. The council agreed to support the request.

Council members accepted the recommendation of the park board to have Rachel Curl serve as a board member. Curl was in attendance at the meeting and thanked the board for their nomination. Council member Ed Armbrecht noted that it was important to have board members on the park board from various sections of the county, and was pleased with the recommendation. Curl is from Holton. All council members agreed with the nomination except Smith, who said her vote was with Charles Baylor, who was also considered for the position.

In other business:

• Unanimous approval was given to the highway department for an additional appropriation of $1800.33. This was to appropriate monies left in the solid waste fund to be used for disposals.

• The highway department was also granted approval for $60,000 to be taken from the cumulative bridge fund for additional construction on a bridge on County Road 1000 North near Sunman. Commissioner Robert Reiners said this project should help with the water problems in the Town of Sunman.

• Also approved for the highway department was $20,000 for the “scour plan of action” a state mandated program concerning the structure of bridges. This is the 20 percent the county has to pay with the state picking up the other 80 percent.

• Clerk Mary Ann McCoy was denied her request for $3,000 to be taken from the clerk perpetuation fund to hire someone to do filing in her office. Council member Ed Armbrecht questioned the fund she was requesting the money to come from. McCoy said her staff was overwhelmed and needed the help now, however, the request was tabled until next month.

• McCoy also requested an additional appropriation of $35,625 from the HAVA Title III Fund to pay for Accu Vote OS Tabulation with ballot box memory card and base. This was approved.

• Ripley County Sheriff Tom Grills came before the council concerning the purchase of two vehicles. One of the cars was already in the budget, but paying for the second car was in question. After much discussion the council instructed the sheriff to submit an additional appropriation at the April meeting for the second car. The sheriff noted that he has paid for a lot of things out of his commissary and home incarceration funds and they are nearly depleted.

• Gandy Browning was in attendance at the meeting and introduced himself as candidate for sheriff for the primary on the Republican ticket.

The council meeting lasted approximately two and a half hours. The next meeting is scheduled for April 19 at 7:00 p.m. at the courthouse annex in Versailles.