County Council approves funds for improved fire safety

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Citing improved safety for residents, the Switzerland County Council approved funding for two programs for county fire departments at its last meeting of December.

Chris See of Jeff-Craig Fire and Rescue came to the council meeting to talk about the problem that fire departments have with radio frequencies in the Lamb area of Switzerland County. He said that the fire department would like to put a link in Carrollton, Kentucky, to help provide better radio communication in that area of Switzerland County; and that the cost is $4,000, which includes the license.

Chris See said that the Jeff-Craig Department was asking the county council for $2,000; and that the fire department will be paying the monthly fee in connection with the link.

Chris See also spoke to the county council about the “Knox Box” system for county buildings. This system allows for fire departments and/or EMS workers to enter a county building if there was an emergency and no one was around to let them in.

He said that this would include eight or nine county buildings, and will cost approximately $2,475.

Council member Darrell Hansel asked if there would be any further cost in the future for the system, and Chris See said that if there was any additional cost, the fire department would take care of it.

Steve Lyons then moved to approve the funds, seconded by Jeff Darling; and all were in favor. Glenn Scott made the motion to approve the Knox Boxes, seconded by Jeff Darling, and all agreed.

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In other business discussed by the county council:

– Keli Gabbard of the Switzerland County Animal Shelter gave an update on activity at the shelter.

– Mark DePoy, the new District Conservationist, was at the meeting and introduced himself. He also discussed a new program being introduced by the Soil and Water Conservation District called the “Crop Assistance Program”.

– Carolyn Miller of the Cemetery Commission gave the council her annual update on what the commission accomplished in 2011 and what its goals are for 2012.

- County Recorder Darla McAlister discussed with the council the need for funds for county book binding fees. This was cut from her budget for 2012, and she needs to know how to cover those expenses.

– Meredith Luhrs of the Community Art Center asked the council for $6,000 for equipment for the facility, which is located at the corner of Main and Ferry streets in Vevay. She told the council members that she has applied through Tourism for funding; and council member Jeff Darling asked her if she had been to the county’s foundations, and she said that she planned to.

Steve Crabtree asked if she had been to the Vevay Town Council for a funding request, and she has. The council asked her to come to its next meeting for a decision on funding from the county.

– Randy See of Switzerland County EMS thanked the council for its support in the past; and also thanked Steve Crabtree for his more than 10 years of service as the council’s representative on the EMS board.

He told the council that he was concerned about the amount of casino funds going down. He said that it is his belief that the percentage was originally figured incorrectly. He said that the original percentage that EMS was to receive was 4.25-percent, and that he believes the error occurred when the percentages were decreased and then added back.

Steve Crabtree asked if the percentages were based on 100-percent of casino funds or 90-percent - noting that the agreement with other counties takes $1 million off of the total amount (10-percent) up front.

After a discussion, County Auditor Gayle Rayles will go back and find the original application, which was written in 1996 or 1997, and find out what that document says that the percentages should be.

– Auditor Rayles asked about paying the bill for services performed by Dr. Frankel as part of the failed county comprehensive plan. She told the council that the commissioners were in favor of paying the invoice rather than going to litigation.

Although they were not in favor of it, the council agreed to pay the invoice in the amount of $39,200 to end the matter.

– Mark Lohide has been the council’s appointment to the Switzerland County School Endowment Corporation; and since he is now a County Commissioner, there was a need for the council to make another appointment.

Steve Crabtree made a motion to appoint Pat Lanman to the corporation, seconded by Jeff Darling, and all were in agreement.

– Jeff Darling noted that a couple of years ago there was discussion about having two dispatchers on duty at the Communications Center in the Sheriff’s office at all times. He said that the fire chiefs association took a cut in its casino revenue funds at that time to help pay for the additional dispatcher.

He noted that the town of Vevay had also been paying for a dispatcher, but has quit doing so.

Mike Jones suggested sending a letter to the town council concerning payment. Gayle Rayles will compose the letter in conjunction with county attorney Cody Kendall.

– Steve Lyons noted that Gayle Rayles had said that there was money left in the bond issue, and was wondering if it could be spent on the Moorefield/Bennington Sewer project. It was noted that $80,000 of the funds could go to the sewer project; and $53,000 could go back into casino funds for infrastructure payments.

– Jeff Darling asked County Commissioner Craig Bond about the progress on the possible purchase of the house and property just west of the county jail. It was noted that two appraisals have been received, and the appraisal amount is approximately $37,000.

- The new Vevay Town Council has decided not to proceed with the grant application for the Streetscape Project. The county had previously appropriated funds to help pay for the project if the town received the state grant.