The Town of Versailles is expecting to have its new water by the end of the year, but if Hoosier Hills Water cannot obtain approval from commissioners to use highway easements for installation of the water lines, the project could be delayed. Representatives of Hoosier Hills Water came before commissioners during their Mar. 4 meeting at the annex to request the use of highway easements to install the water lines of Division G and Division H projects, which will serve Holton Water Corporation and the Town of Versailles.
Scott Stearns, Hoosier Hills Water, explained the issue of problems with Versailles' water and the necessity to provide the community with a new water source. Commissioner Rob Reiners told Stearns that landowners own and pay taxes to the center of the road; however, the county's easement only gives commissioners the rights to maintain the roads and ditches. Reiners said the county could only grant permission to cut the roads with the water line.
Attorney Peter King, representing Hoosier Hills Water, told commissioners that they had granted a similar easement in the past. He was referring to an easement granted in 2001 in which Reiners had been one of the approving commissioners. Reiners said at that time, he had no idea that property owners paid taxes to the center of the road. The 2001 easement also contained specific language about a bond.
Attorney John Ertel told King that the easement proposal is too broad and should be more specific as to each location to be involved. He said the easement being presented to commissioners is too general and doesn't specify what Hoosier Hills Water is doing. It also does not contain any language saying they will post a bond for the road cuts and for redoing the ditches.
Versailles Town Councilman John Holzer was at the meeting in support of the easement for Hoosier Hills Water. Holzer said that he was concerned about there being a delay, as the town had been promised water by the end of the year. He said that if the easement is not approved by commissioners, that eminent domain could take over and it could possibly delay the project for up to a year. He stressed that grant funding had been approved and issues need to be resolved quickly.
Commissioners, under the advisement of Ertel, did not approve the easement as written. Hoosier Hills Water will work with Ertel and Ripley County Highway Superintendent Owen Heaton, Jr., as well as the affected landowners, to resolve any issues.
The meeting promptly began at 7 a.m. at the Ripley County Highway Department where Sheriff Tom Grills discussed several issues with commissioners, which included personal use of county vehicles for second jobs, problems with inmates flushing items, and the nepotism policy, as reported in the Thursday, March 7 issue of The Versailles Republican.
EMS Director Scott Huffman announced to commissioners that he was resigning his position effective that day. Huffman said he had an opportunity come up that he couldn't turn down. He brought Jim Corbin, assistant EMS director, to the meeting with him to request that Corbin be able to take over as interim director in his place effective immediately. Huffman said he spoke with Margaret Mary Community Hospital about Corbin and they expressed no objections.
Commissioner Mark Busching then moved with regret to accept Huffman's resignation, seconded by commissioner Gary Stutler. Motion carried unanimously. Commissioners discussed the issue of interim director in an executive session following the regular meeting and agreed to appoint Corbin as interim EMS director.
Reiners said that this was a bittersweet moment, adding that Huffman brought the paramedic unit to unprecedented levels, beyond what they thought they would ever be at. He said the county wished him well and success in his new endeavor.
Paula Goodpaster approached commissioners about sponsoring LCC to receive a grant for the Drug-Free Communities Support Program from the federal government, which would allow them to operate full-time. Goodpaster explained the grant would be for 10 years, after which time the program should be self-sustaining. If not, the program would revert back to a part-time operation. Commissioners agreed to table the request until further information could be obtained.
Darrell Hoyer, a concerned citizen of Ripley County, spoke to commissioners about concerns he has regarding the TIF being pursued by the City of Batesville. He expressed the need for economic development in Ripley County, but felt people did not understand the workings of TIF. Commissioners thanked him for his attendance and comments.
Other business discussed included:
• QPH was unanimously approved to perform preventative maintenance at the courthouse and annex until the end of the year, at which time new quotes will be received for 2014.
• Commissioners approved a quote from Cintas for $5,327.00 for the installation of fire detectors, which will be paid from Cum Cap Building.
• Kelly Vollet reported the courthouse renovation required an additional $2,500.00 for the phone system. She said this was not part of Maxwell Construction's bid.
• Patrick Rose, Ripley County EMA director, said the revised cost estimate for the Town of Holton for repair and clean-up of the town hall is $1,596.27, broken down as $252.67 for utilities increase; $243.60 for cleaning; and $1,100.00 for floor cleaning and polish. Commissioners approved the request to be paid out of the Harrison County Tornado relief funds.
• Clerk Mary Ann McCoy announced that Paul Matthews resigned from the election board and David Green will replace him.
• Brad Rullman of Maxwell Construction provided information regarding changes for the courthouse renovation, saying a written change order is needed and he had submitted them to LWC. Commissioners said they would respond to the changes. Rullman will let commissioners know where they stand with the project so it can be determined without participation from LWC.
• Prosecutor Ric Hertel advised Title IV funds would be available through his department to furnish the child services office. Hertel also advised commissioners that he hires summer interns. Commissioners advised him to advertise positions and come to them with prospects for hiring approval.
• Minutes from the Feb. 15 meeting, claims, payroll and the commissioner's report were approved.
• Commissioners approved reappointment of Marianne Wiggers and Paul Sipples to the Board of the Ripley County Convention, Visitor and Tourism Commission.
• LWC's request for professional service in the design for the natural gas line for a future natural gas generator was approved. Also approved was a request from LWC to release the balance of retainage for Koch Material, Inc.
• Cardinal Pest Control, LLC's quote for $125.00 per month to treat specified areas of the courthouse was approved.
• Commissioners approved a request for the early release of previously approved funds for the infrastructure in the Osgood Business Park.
The next regular meeting of the Ripley County Commissioners will be Monday, March 18, at 7 a.m. at the Ripley County Highway Department and at 8 a.m. at the annex.