City, county officials hear reports of riverboat spending

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Ohio County Council, county commissioners, Rising Sun city council and Mayor Brent Bascom held a joint meeting on Monday, Nov. 14th to hear how riverboat funding is being used by numerous county organizations.

Life Squad calls down

Anthony Courter presented the Ohio County Life Squad report which included the replacement of the first response M.E.R.V. unit. It is used to pull the gator during responses to hunting accidents. The squad had been paying extra on a new squad payment last years and moved part of that payment for the new vehicle.

Courter said there are now only five volunteers which puts most of the responses on paid employees. The total number of runs are down from 871 to 519 which is good for the community, said Courter. Seventy percent of the calls are for those over 45 years old.

The squad is better off than a year ago when it was $87,000 in the hole.

The squad receives casino money as part of the city/county revenue sharing pie chart.

There is training class going on which the current membership paid for three new members to take.

Fire Department saves $200,000

Rising Sun Fire Chief Kevin Armstrong reported the volunteers received $8,288 from the county and $41,314 from the city for $49,602.

The department purchased a 2001 KME Equipment truck for $110,000 including lights and other accessories. They saved over $200,000 by getting it from Madison Township. It has less than 10,000 miles.

Other improvements included continuing the purchase of narrow banding radios.

The department’s three to five year plan calls for continuing to put money toward replacing its 1991 pumper (an estimated $325,000). The current pumper was bought with a regional foundation grant around 1987.

Other priorities include 800 MHz hand-held radios and a new boat. In the future looms a 10 year gear replacement plan.

Community Foundation Grants

Ohio County Community Foundation (OCCF) director Peg Dickson provided a budget of $236,600 from the Ohio County Today and Tomorrow.

The fund supplies scholarships as well as a variety of matching and competitive grants. An additional $7500 was invested as endowments in honor of three outgoing board members.

Library funding problems

Amy Hoffman gave a report from the Ohio County Public Library Board. The library no longer receives revenue sharing money from the city and county.

The library board was thankful to the county which took control of the former Carnegie Library.

Hoffman reported the library has been operating from a million dollar donation from the Harold Poehlman estate. The board uses $50,000 a year and the fund will be out in 10 years. The taxes collected by the library don’t cover the operating budget.

Hoffman noted that grant monies of $36,182.86 from the Ohio County Community Foundation and Rising Sun Regional Foundation have helped. She added that the city and county consider making the library a part of the revenue sharing pie in the future.

Park board

Park director Jamie Bell explained the mission statement of the park department: to enrich the community and lives of Ohio County residents by conserving and caring for significant natural areas, promoting understanding and stewardship of our unique natural and cultural heritage through innovative programs and services, and enhancing visitor experiences through well-maintained park facilities.

The park board oversees 127.75 acres which includes the newly named Denny Carrigan Trail at Denver Siekman Park.

Among the purchases were an AED for the Schroeder Building.

The senior center is getting dated and HVAC work is expected. There is a need for a new mower also.

Revenue is up from 2015. The biggest program is the after-school dance program which is in its 14th year. Among the events bike safety where all kindergarten students get helmets.

Bell noted that the summer softball league at Bear Branch park has been a success. County councilman Jeff Iceberg asked about getting new bleachers.

Port Authority report

Abbey Berkley reviewed the port authority income and expenditures with most money going toward insurance and attorney fees, including additional fees in making a contract with Mac’s Seaplanes.

The board has a $5000 grant for engineering if needed.

The current issues include support of the Ferry development, along with partner with Rising Sun Fire Department for a new boat tomake sure its equipped to respond (especially when the ferry is up and operating).

She complimented the board appointments noting Mike Northcutt knows a lot, Steve Melchers and Steve Johns are very mechanical, Don Thomason is a business professional and John Bunger is good at researching projects.

The port authority is looking for a better option on supplying boat docks.

Economic Development

Lane Siekman gave the riverboat for the Ohio County Economic Development Corporation and noted the Rising Sun Vet Clinic is about complete. Discussions about the use of the current location at High and Fifth streets are being considered for a possible fast food restaurant.

The announcement of a port in Lawrenceburg will benefit Ohio County, according to Siekman. There was a major project considering the Ohio County Business Park but they needed a port within 20 miles.

Siekman noted that pallet manufacturer is adding fabrication.

“We’re ready, willing and able to try to help anybody and everybody who wants to help develop jobs and economic development in Rising Sun and Ohio County,”added Siekman.

Battle to keep public schools

Superintendent Branden Roeder thanked city and county officials for riverboat funding which kept the school afloat until it received referendum money.

This year the school has seen a three percent increase in eight years and third in 15 years. There were 22 students more than last September and the school has gained more since then, including four more Tuesday.

Abbey Berkley (a substitute at the school) pointed out morale

With the funding from the OCCF with Ivy Tech, this year’s seniors will be eligible for Core 30 with college hours saving money for college freshmen

Freshmen and sophomores have a possibility of earning an associates degree, added Roeder

Roeder said the college credits are promoted at parent nights, on Facebook and the school’s website, newsletters and book night.

Roeder, who serves as elementary school principal also, said the principal position will be posted this week with a hire by March and to start July 1st.

Additional discussion revolved around charter and private schools.

Roeder encouraged officials to say no to Education Savings Account (being considered by state officials) which will have a huge (negative) impact on public schools. He added that statistics in Wisconsin show there is no benefit to charter schools.

The trend is to have school systems have 2000 students in grades K-12.