The towns of Versailles and Holton are on track to have their new water by the end of the year as promised. Scott Stearns and attorney Pete King, representing Hoosier Hills Water District, came before commissioners during the April 1 meeting with a new resolution proposal for consideration.
The new proposal adds bonding from Hoosier Hills to cover any possible damage to the roads; accepts responsibility for repairing a line in the county's right-of-way if the county damages the line and 811 has been called; and accepts responsibility for moving a water line in the county right-of-way if the roadway is ever widened.
Commissioner Rob Reiners told Stearns and King that he wasn't purposely trying to delay the project. His concern was whether or not commissioners have the authority to grant the request since landowners own and pay taxes to the center of the road.
Commissioner Mark Busching said this issue affects him as a Ripley County resident. He expressed that commissioners had delayed the project long enough. Busching made a motion to approve the resolution as presented by King.
Reiners said that he, too, lives in Ripley County and wants to see the water come in as scheduled, but was concerned about the authority they have as commissioners to grant the request. He then turned to county attorney Ertel for guidance. Ertel suggested a change in the wording saying that commissioners have no objections to Hoosier Hills using the right-of-way for the water project, along with a list of what is expected from Hoosier Hills in return. A $2,500.00 bond per open road cut will also be added to the amendment.
Busching withdrew his motion to accept and made another motion to accept the amendment with the bond and language changes, which was seconded by Commissioner Gary Stutler. The motion carried unanimously.
Commissioners continue to deal with issues from the Ripley County Sheriff's Office over properly following the county's employee handbook. Dennis Dunlap of Dunlap HR Consulting Group discussed Section 7K of the handbook, which applies to firefighters and law enforcement only. This section was included in the new handbook that became effective on Jan. 1. This section states that overtime for law enforcement officials, including jailers, is paid only when hours worked exceed 171 in a 28-day period. Office personnel, matron, deputy matron, janitorial, maintenance, nurse and cooks are all excluded.
Stutler made a motion to require compliance from the sheriff's office beginning Sunday, April 14, which is the beginning of the next pay period. Busching seconded the motion, which carried unanimously. Commissioners also unanimously voted to require timesheets for each employee, correctly showing the time in and time out for each day worked to be turned in with the normal payroll vouchers to auditor Bill Wagner.
Also discussed was the off-duty security being provided by sheriff's deputies in county-owned vehicles. Commissioners all agreed that they have no problem with off-duty officers having a second job; however, they said it must be done in accordance with the employee handbook, which states the following:
1. County insurance for liability, workers comp and law enforcement would not extend to any employee acting in a private capacity outside of employment of Ripley County. The individual would need to purchase individual coverage, per Dunlap.
2. Use of county vehicles for other than official duties is prohibited. This includes the use of those vehicles for second employment unless prior authorization is obtained from commissioners.
The sheriff's credit card was also discussed. It was noted that the credit card statement shows a high number of points have been redeemed. Commissioners plan to request a report of the redeemed points from Sheriff Tom Grills, to be provided at the next meeting on April 15. Also, county vehicle titles are to be kept in the auditor's office. Notification will be sent to the sheriff's office.
Tony Schneider of the Ripley County Health Department presented a drawing of the proposed site of the Delaware Fire Department. The county is looking at this three-and-a-half acre site for a possible future EMS location. Schneider advised that soil samples and a site drawing are needed before advising on the type of septic system that would be required. Due to the area being so flat, Schneider said the perimeter drain could be an issue. Reiners stressed that the county is only considering the purchase of the land for an EMS building if it can be worked out.
Ripley County EMS Director Jim Corbin presented job applications from Elizabeth Zeinner and Lucas Grow to commissioners, which were approved. Corbin also brought up an issue with the generator in the EMS building. He presented a quote for $390 to make the repairs, adding that the gas company would inspect the gas lines. The request was granted.
Bridge Foreman Nick Johnston with the highway department announced that he was retiring effective that day and turned keys into commissioners. Commissioners and co-workers thanked Johnston for his contribution to Ripley County and wished him a long and happy retirement. Discussion will take place on what to do about filling the position.
Josh Brand of Stat Flight presented a membership program to commissioners that would allow for the insurance-allowed payment to be payment in full for transportation by Stat Flight for transfer from one medical facility to another, or for transport from the scene of an emergency. The regular annual cost of the insurance per household is $50.00 for a one-year membership for those who are insured and $100.00 for those who are not. However, in order to promote their program, Stat Flight is willing to provide the program to Ripley County residents for an introductory offer of $40.00 for one year.
Brand said the average cost of an emergency flight transport is approximately $20,000.00. Stat Flight is working on membership cards and decals to put on vehicles and motorcycles to ensure that Stat Flight would be the service requested in the event of an emergency transport. Brochures are available in the auditor's office to anyone interested in the program.
Gary Norman with Ripley County Economic Development gave an update on projects for the Osgood Industrial Park. Norman said the town has been working on the TIF and a board has been created. He said the project is moving forward, adding that additional companies are in negotiations for the industrial park. Norman did not specify as to which companies have expressed interest.
Katherine Taul with the Ripley County Tourism Bureau requested the installation of two highway signs for the Historic Byway project for Michigan Road. Taul said the state will install the signs with the exception of one at the U.S. 421 cutoff point in Napoleon and the end point where it again meets South U.S. 421. Commissioners said once they receive the signs, they will make sure they are installed.
Attorney Ertel brought up discussion on the speed limit signs on county roads. Ertel advised that he would prepare a new ordinance for speed and weight limits and present it to commissioners for approval.
County Highway Superintendent Jr. Heaton informed commissioners that Northern Clearing has requested release of the bond they originally posted for road damage. Once a road inspection has been completed and no damages are found, the bond will be released at the next commissioners' meeting.
Jerry Smith of the Rising Sun Regional Foundation presented the 2012 annual report for the foundation. Smith reported the foundation has awarded 63 grants, totaling $1,098,685.00. Ripley County, which includes towns, cities and organizations, received 30 grants totaling $525,613.00.
Other business conducted included:
• Bob Wimberg of Texas Refinery gave a presentation on oil and hydraulic products they offer as compared to those of Laughery Valley Co-op.
• Johnnie Lohrum, maintenance supervisor, presented a bid to replace some electrical boxes on the second floor of the Annex, as they are being overloaded. He also advised the courthouse sidewalks are sinking and will need to be cut and repaired.
• The EMA advisory board meeting will be held April 15. Patrick Rose invited Ertel to attend due to mutual aid contracts will be discussed.
• Jodi Comer of the Southeastern Indiana Regional Planning Committee was granted a partial release of funds to complete the purchase of land for the Delaware firehouse project. Comer advised the bid from C&HM for the project which was accepted and copies of the bids would be forthcoming.
• Auditor Wagner presented a claim for an overnight stay and dinner for a meeting less than 50 miles from Versailles and a claim for items purchased at a one-day seminar. The claims were denied.
The next meeting of the Ripley County Commissioners will be at 7 a.m., April 15, at the Ripley County Highway Department and at 8 a.m. at the annex building.