Commissioners finish paying zoning advisor, under protest

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The Switzerland County Commissioners aren’t happy about it, but at their meeting on Monday, October 3rd, they agreed to pay the balance owed on the contract of Dr. Bruce Frankel.

Dr. Frankel was originally contracted when the county began to review and revise planning and zoning ordinances, but the work provided and the ordinances that were recommended caused county citizens to revolt and demand that the plan be rescinded.

The county and the towns of Patriot and Vevay did rescind the plan, and their is currently a group of volunteers going through the original plan and working on updates and recommendations.

Dr. Frankel became the eye of the storm because of his recommendations; and also when a letter that he sent that was seen a degrading to the county was made public. At that time, the county refused to finish paying his service contract.

At the meeting, county attorney Wil Goering asked what the commissioners wanted to do about the issue.

Through his attorneys, Dr. Frankel is asking for $59,200. Wil Goering told the commissioners that he has contacted the towns of Patriot and Vevay and has asked them to go ahead and contribute what each had agreed to give towards the contract, which is $25,000.

Wil Goering also told the commissioners that he had offered a settlement of $35,000, but, according to commissioner minutes: “…Dr. Frankel, through his attorneys, is very offended with the offer.”

The commissioners noted that the county council will actually be the entity to pay the bill; and attorney Goering told the commissioners that the expense of fighting the contract in court would be very costly.

The commissioners then agreed to sent a recommendation to the county council to pay the bill, but under protest.

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In other business considered by the commissioners:

– Carol Weekley of Level Road off of State Road 250 asked the commissioners about the legality of the Byler’s Sawmill business near her home. She noted that the property in that area is zoned residential/farmland, and that the business is causing a lot of noise, smoke, and odors.

She told the commissioners that she has spoken with Mark Archer, and that he said he would look into the matter. Commissioner Brian Morton told her that she would need to go to the Planning and Zoning board with this issue, and that board would then make a recommendation to the commissioners.

– There was a discussion about an ordinance that had been enacted by a former commissioners group with regard to not allowing any county road to be bored under by residents.

The current commissioners would like this ordinance amended.

To that end: The commissioners were asked if the county could supply gravel and pipe to help fix a flooding problem on Riverside Drive near Patriot. A resident of the area, Mr. Sippel, said that children living on the drive cannot get to school because of flooding during periods of heavy rain, because school buses are not supposed to drive through standing water.

He told the commissioners that if they would supply the gravel and pipe, he would acquire the needed equipment himself to install the pipe, but he would have to cut the county road to fix the problem.

He was told to get with County Highway Superintendent Chris Clerkin and Commissioner Craig Bond.

Doug Henry of J. Pickett Road asked for permission to run a waterline down the south side of J. Pickett Road for approximately 20 feet so that he can hook on to Patriot Water Company.

He was granted permission to do this.

- Chris Clerkin told the commissioners that there is a problem with an open cistern in the town of Florence. He contacted the homeowner, but that person does not have the money to fix the problem. The homeowner told Chris Clerkin that the county could fix it if it chose to. The commissioners gave permission to go ahead and fill the cistern in.

Chris Clerkin also told the commissioners that there is a school bus turn around on E. Scudder Road of of State Road 129 that needs to be fixed. He said that this is not the county’s turn around, but is where the driver normally turns around in a private driveway.

Commissioner Brian Morton noted that there is already a county-maintained turn around at the end of the roadway; and if the school wants a new turn around, the school corporation should pay for the gravel and the county will haul it.

– With regard to the Moorefield/Bennington Regional Sewer District, county auditor Gayle Rayles told the commissioners that since Lonnie Harris began doing the testing, the cost has gone down from $700 per month to $80 per month.

– Gayle Rayles told the commissioners that the State Auditor has suggested that the commissioners look at how the Scott County EMS is run, since it is pretty much self-sustaining. This was suggested because the auditor has seen the amount of money that the county has given to the Switzerland County EMS.

The commissioners thought this was a good idea, and asked Gayle Rayles to set up a meeting through the county council. Brian Morton also suggested that the boards speak with the Ripley County EMS as well.

Commissioner Robbie Smith asked Gayle Rayles if the state had the authority to audit EMS, since it receives county money, but is a 501(c)(3) organization. Gayle Rayles said that she didn’t think so, but she would ask.

– Gayle Rayles presented a letter to the commissioners with regard to Perry County asking Switzerland County to contribute riverboat funds to help fund a new jail there. The letter, signed by the commissioners, denied that request.

– Gayle Rayles received a bill from the attorneys who handled the Lozier lawsuit, and asked the commissioners which fund to pay it from. The bill is for $5,000, and there is currently $3,000 left in the commissioner’s budget for legal fees.

The commissioners told her to seek an additional appropriation from the county council.

– Gayle Rayles will draw up a memo of understanding for all non-governmental agencies who receive riverboat funds from the county. This will make the state auditing process easier.

– Cindi Wagner was appointed to the county health board.

- The commissioners noted that the county has a spot to fill on the tourism board after the resignation of member Lisa Fisher.