The Switzerland County Council held its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, January 10th. Those present at the meeting included council members: Glenn Scott, Elizabeth Jones, Rachel Schuler, Lisa Fisher, Mike Bear, Andy Haskell, and John Gary Welch; Sheriff Nathan Hughes; and County Auditor Gayle Rayles.
The Council held its official reorganization for the year, and the group will be led by a new President, as Elizabeth Jones was elected to replace current President Glenn Scott.
Scott, as President, asked for nominations for County Council President, and Fisher made a motion to nominate Jones, with Bear seconding the motion. Bladen then made a motion to nominate Scott, with Welch seconding that motion.
When the vote was called for, Fisher, Bear, Jones, and Haskell voted for Jones; while Scott, Welch, and Bladen voting for Scott.
Scott then turned the meeting over to Jones, who called for nominations for Vice President. Bear made a motion to nominate Fisher, and Haskell seconded the motion. There being no further nominations, Jones called for the vote, with Jones, Fisher, Bear, Haskell, Welch, and Bladen voting in favor, and Scott voting against, so the motion passed.
In business discussed by the Council:
– Craig Beckley of Heart House explained the mission of Heart House, emphasizing that it is not a homeless shelter, but rather a facility where people can get back on their feet. They have from 70- to 90-percent employment of their residents. It serves five counties, and in 2017 had 14-15 residents from Switzerland County. It also has some low-income housing in Vevay. It is working with the Department of Corrections. For example, someone from Switzerland County incarcerated for opioids may be placed in its facility in Dearborn County after they are released to remove them from exposure to the environment they were previously in, so they won’t revert to old habits.
Heart House asked the Council for $7,500 to support its programs, which is the same support it has received in the past.
Later in the meeting, Scott made a motion to give Heart House $7,500, and all agreed.
– Sally Beckley of Life Time Resources told the council that the organization served about 370 residents in Switzerland County in 2017. It operates on a $250,000 budget, offering in-home services to prevent someone from going into a nursing home.
Sixty-percent of those it serves with their in-home services are eligible for nursing home admissions. Life Time Resources also operates Catch-A-Ride which is available to the public. Life Time Resources brought $151,000 in grant funds into the county. It provides the meals at the Jack Sullivan Senior Center.
Life Time Resources asked the Council for $15,000 in support in 2018. This amount was approved by the Council.
– Katie Collier gave a report for the Soil and Water Conservation District’s 2017 activity. There were payments of $64,113.20 with additional federal funding of $154,150.73. The district’s annual dinner will be March 1st at the TEC Center in Vevay.
– The Council heard a number of requests for funding:
• Keisha Morton, with the After Prom Committee said they had approximately 250 students attend the 2017 After Prom and would appreciate support for the 2018 event. They are asking for $1,000, which is what they received in 2017. Haskell made a motion to approve the $1,000 request, and it was approved unanimously.
• Connie Adams with the Hoosier Theater said that the theater is being utilized more. They have approximately three events a month at the theater. They are asking for $12,405.15 for upgrading, repairing and replacing exterior doors. Fisher made a motion to give the Theater $6,205.15, and that motion was approved unanimously.
• Sheri Works represented the Swiss Wine Festival. She described several capital improvements that need to be taken care of for the 2018 festival. They are asking for $10,000.
Rayles told the Council that, after the last meeting, she had checked and the Wine Festival is a not-for-profit organization, and it is permissible for the county to give the organization money. Bladen made a motion to give the festival $7,500, and that motion was passed unanimously.
• Nancy Barker, who is on the Cemetery Board, asked council for support in the amount of $15,000. She said they had no outside donations this past year. Fisher made a motion to give the Cemetery Board $10,000, and it passed unanimously.
• Tom Baxter, a board member for the Child Advocacy Center, introduced the new Executive Director, Stephanie Back. He said they had worked with over 3,000 children since they opened. 500 children were seen in 2017. The number of cases from Switzerland County doubled in 2017. Their request was for $10,000. Bladen made that motion and it was approved unanimously.
• Mary Mattingly with Safe Passage described their services for abused women and programs at the elementary schools; they must try to break the abuse cycle. They are requesting $9,024. Fisher asked where the odd amount came from. Mattingly said the average cost to assist/house a person is $98 (per the state’s calculations) and they multiplied that by the number of Switzerland County residents they had assisted. This request was approved unanimously.
• There was no representative for Shop-with-a-Cop, and the Council asked that Rayles contact Officer Pritchard and have him attend a future meeting.
– The County Council also made appointments to various boards:
• Bladen was re-appointed as the council representative to the School Endowment Board; and the council extended the appointment of Jim Phipps, who is the county’s citizen representative on the School Endowment Board, for a two year period.
• Fisher was re-appointed as the council’s representative to the Southeastern Indiana Regional Planning Comission.
• Jones was re-appointed as the council’s representative to the Solid Waste Board.
• Haskell was re-appointed to the Emergency Management Agency board.
• Bernie Gaudin and Fred Stave were re-appointed to the Economic Redevelopment Board.
• Bear was appointed to the Fire Chiefs Board.
• Alan Bear and Bruce Williams were both re-appointed to the Library Board.
– Bladen said that at the previous meeting there had been a discussion on the Council giving a donation to Katie and Lance Collier for their King and Queen of the Mardi Gras fundraiser for the Child Advocacy Center. After some discussion on supporting fund raisers, Scott made a motion to donate $1,000, and Bladen seconded the motion. The vote was 4-3 to approve the motion, with Scott, Bladen, Bear and Welch voting in favor; and Jones, Haskell and Fisher voting no.
– Scott made a motion to approve the Sheriff’s 2018 contract for $74,371; Fisher seconded the motion and all agreed.
– There was a discussion regarding supporting the YMCA with memberships for employees. The commissioners have already signed the contract with the YMCA for $15,000. Scott made a motion to fund the contract, Fisher seconded the motion, and all agreed.
– Haskell wanted to recognize Judge Coy for moving some of the money in funds he has control over to the General Fund at the end of 2017 to offset some of the costs of his departments. Rayles said that this is not something he has to do, but Judge Coy has done this voluntarily for the past few years.
– Commissioner Josh South said that Bill 1350 is being reopened in this session to fix technical issues. He felt that those issues had been taken care of in other bills and suggested we keep an eye on the issue. Representative Houston is again involved in the gaming revenue issues.
– Commissioner Mark Lohide went over the recent problem in the courthouse, when a fitting on the second floor that goes to the sprinkler system broke. Indiana Restoration was called and were on site in two hours to get the building in a condition suitable for reopening.