Northern Clearing, a pipeline company, will reimburse the county for police vehicle use.
County attorney John Ertel told commissioners at the April 29 meeting he had a response from Steve Bogart, the attorney for Northern Clearing in reference to negotiations over the amount to be reimbursed for use of the sheriff's vehicles as escorts in their pipeline detail. Northern Clearing will pay the county $11,625, which averages out to $125 per day for 93 days worked by officers.
Ripley County Commissioners met first at the highway department and then at the annex building in Versailles. Commissioners Robert Reiners, Mark Busching, Gary Stutler and auditor William Wagner were present.
At the April 15 meeting, it was reported that Sheriff Tom Grills had submitted $1,155 to the auditor to be placed in the sheriff's garage and motors account. This was money collected from deputies working the off-duty detail to pay for fuel. Commissioners determined at that time that the amount was insufficient to cover fuel costs, wear-and-tear, insurance, etc. in comparison to the amount of time dedicated by officers for the detail. A fuel log from the sheriff's office showed that a total of 297.6 gallons of fuel was used for the pipeline detail.
Ertel made a recommendation that commissioners accept the amount, as it would be expensive to litigate it. Northern Clearing requested a release from all claims once the amount has been paid. Commissioners unanimously voted to accept the $11,625 and sign the release. Money will be deposited into the County General Fund.
Stutler then made a motion to put the sheriff on the agenda for 9 a.m. at all future commissioner's meetings at the annex building, adding that five other office holders are already on the agenda every two weeks. Bushing told Wagner to advise the sheriff that "he's been put on the agenda and that's his time" and if he or someone from the sheriff's office will not be attending during his scheduled time, Wagner is to be notified. The motion was unanimously approved.
Reiners then said as long as they were on the subject of the sheriff, he wanted to make a statement regarding an article that ran in the April 23 issue of the Osgood Journal titled "Sheriff's office investigating daytime burglaries in Adams, Franklin Twps." In the article, Sheriff Grills stated "Commissioners are cutting costs to the sheriff's office in several ways." Reiners defended commissioners by saying that they do not have the authority to change the budget of any department or county office.
"Commissioners have to fill out a budget and send it to council for approval and changes before it is sent to the state for final approval, just like all other departments. We have no authority to change anyone's budget. We have to approach council like everyone else," said Reiners.
County council members Edward Armbrecht and Brenda Wetzler, who later joined the meeting, were asked by Reiners if they had ever been approached by commissioners with a request to change the sheriff's or any other budgets beside their own. Both council members responded that they had not taken such a request from commissioners. Stutler informed the councilmen of their decision to put the sheriff on the regular meeting agenda and that $11,625 had been recovered from Northern Clearing.
Residents vs. bar
A proposed tavern in Rexville has some area residents upset. Dave and Donna Hamilton presented commissioners with a petition containing more than 75 signatures opposing the opening of the Honey Jug Bar & Grill. Tad Brinson with the Area Planning Department advised that Dwight Bauman, building inspector, had visited the site and informed the owners that state permits for the septic and building improvements would need to be obtained. Brinson said the county cannot issue any permits until approval from the state has been received, which during the timeof the meeting, it had not.
Earl Sebree was present with his wife, Freda, and expressed worries that the tavern will be a hangout for biker gangs and the noise will be a nuisance to residents, as well. He said that most of Rexville's residents have been there close to 50 years and it's a big concern, adding that Cincinnati just closed a place down that was frequented by bikers and notorious for problems.
Another concern was parking for the tavern, as the tavern is situated on eight-tenths of an acre, which could propose parking issues. Stutler advised the residents to attend the meetings of the liquor board to voice concerns.
Kelly Vollet updated commi sioners on the issue with the fiber cable to the phone lines being cut between the annex building and the sheriff's department. Vollet said that Boyer had reshot the fiber and was doing the splicing that day, followed by the reconfiguration on April 30. She told commissioners that she was not yet sure of the cost, but reminded them that it will be expensive. She also reported that the door issues at the annex have been resolved.
Toni Stinson, APEX, told commissioners she has been researching employee dental insurance. An increase in premium for the June 2013 renewal was also addressed by Stinson.Stinson told them that it may be to their advantage to use the HSA premium as the base and those wanting the $750 plan would be required to pay the difference in the cost.
Commissioners agreed to make insurance renewal meetings mandatory for all employees who are not on the HSA plan to better explain its advantages.
Lucy Houchin of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development advised commissioners that there were 10 counties and seven cities in Region 9 that make up the new Region 9 Workforce Investment Board (WIB). She presented commissioners with an agreement that will divide the liability of the WIB between participants. The participation percentage is determined by the population of each participant. Ripley County will share at the rate of 7.4 percent of the expenses over those allowable. The percentage rate was determined by county population. Commissioners unanimously approved the agreement, along with the agreement that identifies the commissioner who will serve as the county liason.
Johnnie Lohrum, maintenance, informed commissioners that he had taken it upon himself to replace the key locks on the probation office. Other business included:
• Jim Corbin, EMS director, presented commissioners with two applications for two open positions for their review. Lisa Jennings was approved for the position of EMT and Jason Eckhoff was approved for hire as a paramedic, to take effect immediately.
• County Highway Superintendent Owen Heaton reported the gate rollers for the recycling side will be replaced during the fence installation at a cost of $900.
• Heaton reported the price for oil has decreased and asphalt costs may follow suit. Commissioners advised Heaton to contact suppliers and lock price with the lowest bid.
• Bids will be open for work on Bridge 14 on May 24.
• Holly Rose advised commissioners that the sign project had been scrapped due to conflict with a town sign ordinance.
• Prosecutor Ric Hertel advised that an intern approved for hire by commissioners did not accept the position and requested permission to hire the next person in line. The request was approved.
Following a walk-through of the courthouse with Maxwell Construction to see renovation progress, the meeting was adjourned. The next meeting of the Ripley County Commissioners will be Tuesday, May 13. As always, commissioners meet at the highway department at 7 a.m. and the annex building at 8 a.m.