Present: Ralph Thompson, President, Tom Orschell, and Jeff Hughes
Also Present: Cary Pickens, Auditor, Bryan Messmore, Departing Administrator, and G. Michael Witte, Attorney
The meeting was covered by Register Publications (Denise Freitag Burdette) and well attended by several citizens and some office holders.
Jeff Hughes held the election for President and Ralph Thompson was elected. He took over the meeting at that point.
The commissioners then voted to deny the Med Ben appeal that they had discussed in executive session preceding the meeting.
Sheriff Lusby presented his three bids for food service at the jail and asked to accept all three. Ellenbee Leggett, Gordon Foods, and US Foods were all accepted.
Bill Black- EMA- Service contract signed for $8,000 for Greater Cincinnati HAZMAT unit to respond as needed to spills in the county. Black serves on their Board also. Witte had reviewed the contract. Black is working on more grants and he reported on issues with the IN-KY Bridge icing up and the barge hitting it Christmas Day.
Bonds for Phil Weaver (Clerk) and for Gayle Pennington (Treasurer) were signed.
COUNTY APPOINTMENTS: (all unanimous unless noted)
Ralph Thompson thanked all the citizens who sent in resumes and letters for their interest in serving in the government.
County Administrator- Orschell motioned to leave the County Adm position open at this time and not fill it. Hughes wanted to reappoint Messmore- reading a long list of what he called his accomplishments, ending with the ideas that he had lowered costs( no mention of Vieste increased costs),worked on the jail expansion, made the offices a lot more public oriented and friendly, and was a trusted resource for many on a daily basis. [NOTE: The list sounded like a regurgitation of the items Fox and Hughes used in their campaign ads. Hughes denied a request for that list so that I could give all details here. Messmore’s inaccessibility to the public is legendary in some circles as is his long lunch “hour” workouts and jogs. Communications with ALL THREE commissioners was not equal. This position, or whatever version of coordination is decided upon, needs to be filled with a NON- POLITICAL HIRE- someone who is a conduit of information – not a political filter for it.]
Thompson and Hughes voted to not fill the position at this time. Hughes Nay.
Then Thompson turned to Messmore and asked the commissioners, if Messmore was willing, to fill out the rest of the week. Hughes pushed for a month. Orschell though a bit and then seconded that. Motion passed. Messmore is to serve until the end of January in order to transition the information to commissioners.
County Attorney- G. Michael Witte (Hughes abstained after saying, it seemed like he was already here.)
Director or Transportation- Todd Listerman
Building Inspector- Carl Fryman
GIS Specialist- Margaret Minzner
Animal Control Director- temporarily overseen by Thompson until the Animal Board goes over resumes etc. They meet on Thursday. Witte advised against Thompson being temporary director and recommended overseeing instead.
Emergency Mgt. Director- Bill Black, Jr.
Maintenance Supervisor- Eric Hartman
Veterans Officer- Bill Ewbank
911 Communications Director- Charles Ashley
Convention Visitors and Tourism Bureau- Dave Lorey, Charlotte Hastings, Debbie Morris, Maynard Barrett
Plan Commission- had to be a Democrat to maintain political neutrality- Jake Hoog
PTABOA (Tax Appeals Board) - 2 or 4 members plus the Assessor by law to make up the3 or 5 member board. Assessor does not vote. If there is a tie- it goes to the state tax board. Mary Booker and Gary Hensley are the only two certified. – William Hartwell, Ken Maddin, Mark Neff, and Mary Booker were unanimously reappointed to the board.
Alcohol Beverage Board- Jim Dole
Cemetery Board- Milton Massing
Park Board- Shawn Simonson
911 Communications Board- Ed Opp and Glenn Brandt
SE Regional Community Correction Advisory Board- Donnie Hastings, John Mallery, Hassell Brashears, Kevin Smith, and H Bruce Williams.
Health Board- Harban S Gill, MD and Jerold Miller
BOARDS WITH COMMISSIONERS ON THEM:
SIRPC- (Regional Plan Commission) – Hughes- with Margaret Minzner as alternate
Common Construction Wage Board- Hughes
Plan Commission- Thompson
Animal Control- Thompson
Juvenile Advisory Board- Thompson
Redevelopment Commission- Orschell
County Farm- Orschell (will be absorbed into Parks in 2 years as contracts expire)
Emergency Mgmt Board- Orschell
Solid Waste- all three commissioners
Orschell said he had talked to all boards and thought they did a good job. Thompson complimented Sue Hayden for handling resume paperwork and the list of appointments.
Transportation Dept- Todd Listerman gave a 10-minute report. Premier Ag and Laughery Ag Coop were both accepted for fuel bids.
INDOT letter telling the dept they had a grant award for RR crossing markings and bars. The application was for $9379. They will know the amount awarded at the end of January.
Bad news from the state is that the MVHA and Local road and street funds will need to be reestimated for budget due to the loss of tax revenue on gas tax. Last year we lost $100,000 and received $96,000 in FEMA funds to help prop that up. This year losses are projected at $186,000 for MVHA and 46,000 for local road and street. Cut estimates are 10.4% and 8 % on these two funds. HIGHWAY IS NOT GOING TO HIRE THE 1.5 PERSONS THAT COUNCIL APPROVED LAST MONTH. THOSE 1.5 PERSONS WERE REPLACING 3 THAT LEFT.
Orschell asked about getting survey holes filled in roads or having an ordinance or something to mandate they be filled. Concern was with enforcement. Hughes said Steuben County has one- they can check on that.
Pickens- Auditor- Covered Bridge certification signed to get $2000 from state on maintenance of it. Signed contract for software maintenance for Superior Court 1 with CSI.
Verbatim transcript of minutes section that Hughes was concerned with on Dec1 meeting was approved as were other minutes. Orschell abstained from all.
Messmore-Departing Administrator- discussed with Hughes and will have property and liability insurance renewals on the agenda for next meeting. Also heard from Daryl Sears, Architect for Animal Control Shelter and will get all involved to be at the next commissioners meeting.
County Attorney- Witte- nothing yet.
Thompson- would like to insert public comment again on the agenda. Hughes- I always listen to the people- so I will motion for it. Orschell 2nd. All ayes.
Report an American Farm Products (Mark Hall’s ag business) will be tabled till next meeting. Kate Rademacher, Enforcement Officer, was on vacation and she need to have time to research.
Orschell- would like the commissioners to send a letter to legislators to offer our support and to get the ordinance signed for the Artemis on I-275.
Hughes- talked to Aurora Clerk Treasurer to go to the county for all of their dispatch and not just late night. Still considering it.
Doug Taylor- wanted commissioners to make sure they consider the number of dispatchers needed when they add more areas to cover. He noted that on Friday and Saturday nights it is especially overloaded with just 3 dispatchers. [NOTE: Commissioners may need to get a printout of numbers of calls and the radio communications with police to see where they need to add staffing.]
Cliff Eibeck- Thank you for putting the comment section back- before this for the past administration you could not say anything.
Meeting adjourned at 8:07 PM
Christine Brauer Mueller