On Thursday evening two meetings were convened at the Perry County Courthouse. The first meeting was for the Perry County Solid Waste Management District sometimes referred to as the Perry County Recycling Management District. Here are some of the more important details of that meeting: First Randy Kleaving was appointed as Chairman of the Board while Gail Garner was appointed as Vice Chairman of the Board
Director of the PCRMD Kris Wheeler talked about water damage and frozen pipes at the Branchville Waste Site from the recent round of Artic Cold that blanketed the area. The building was not insulated when it was built and the only heat source comes from a small plug-in heater. The building is a small yard-barn-type structure that has no insulation. County structures like this do have insurance coverage but the insurance will not pay anything because the building was never properly insulated or had heat. The site has remained closed since as they tried to thaw out and get some repairs done. She was optimistic it would be open normal hours from 8 AM to 2 PM CST on Saturday. There are repairs scheduled to the Branchville facility coming very soon and a Portapotty is being temporarily placed at the site for County Employees.
She also explained about recent illegal dumping at the site not only since the recent closure but also in the past including needles from a diabetic that weren’t in a hazardous container but simply in a trash bag. Kris Wheeler had a solution for the illegal dumping at Branchville: A new system involving high-tech cameras These high-tech cameras can automatically zoom in on the license plate to give a clear picture as well as send real-time alerts when the gate is opened at the site to see directly who is entering and leaving. The proposed cost for these four cameras would be $4374. Branchville does have a camera system already in place but it’s very low-grade and low-tech. Wheeler also stated she would like to have the same system for the Cannelton location. The Board has agreed to look into these purchases. It was also made public knowledge how very frustrated the residents in the Branchville area of Perry County are about the closings at that site location.
Board Member Rebecca Thorn brought up the possibility of expanding the Branchville or Cannelton sites as this has been something that has been discussed and talked about in the past. The conversation then transitioned to the possibility of having a construction/training trailer put at one of these sites so Wheeler could have an office there full-time to do clerical duties with the “hands-on” portion of the solid waste jobs. The Board agreed to look into this as well and follow up on it at the next meeting held towards the end of February.
Tell City Mayor Chris Cail rounded out the meeting on Thursday evening with an interesting piece of business. He brought a motion before the Board to look into the dissolution of the Perry County Solid Waste Management District also known as the PCRMD. The motion was for the repealing of the county ordinance Title V sub-section 50.20 or to vote to consider becoming a member of joint SWMD of neighboring counties which is allowable under Indiana code 13213-1. If dissolved or joining an already established neighboring SWMD would allow the county to save taxpayers money and save the city and county EDIT funds. Again, this motion was simply for examination of what this would look like, in addition to the pros and cons, not an exact call to dissolve or join.
A big driver of this is believed to be from current backlash that has been ongoing in the county for several months about the $45 solid waste annual fee that is currently charged to businesses and residents of Perry County. Tell City residents in particular have had the biggest out-cry as they have curb-side pick-up for trash and recycling with most not even using the services. Wheeler did mention that the $45 fee equates to no more than .12 a day for the county residents.
The next PCRMD meeting will be held on Thursday, February 22nd at 4 PM CST.
That meeting was followed by the Perry County Council Meeting with several items listed on the agenda. Here are some of the most noteworthy items discussed:
One of the biggest items on the nightly agenda was the total overhaul and revamp of the county website: perrycounty.in.gov as the website is several years old now. County Auditor Kristinia Hammack stated that numerous times the offices receive calls from county residents requesting forms or help figuring out which forms they need. The re-design and relaunch of the website will present a more user-friendly interface. In essence, residents would be able to go directly to the website and find some of the forms and information that they need. Also, each department of the county would have their pages on the website that they would oversee and manage to help eliminate headaches and more user-friendly. The cost of this would be covered by using 120 hours of pre-budgeted funds followed by a cost of $3000 per year after that. This work would be performed by a local Tell City business “An Island, LLC” which performs consulting and IT services. The company has done work like this in the past for Rockport as well as the Tell City website. The Council did not seem imposed but wanted more information on this website revamping and tabled this discussion until the next meeting.
The next big discussion was the approval to purchase a new ambulance for Perry County which would make this the 3rd ambulance currently in service, something the county expressed was needed. The Council members specified the cost of a new ambulance was in the quarter of a million dollar range or $250K. It has been four or five years since the County last purchased a new ambulance. The Council approved the purchase using $180K from the Tribal Funds and $60K from the ARP funds.
The final piece of business was District 1 Councilwoman Kelli Harding asking the board to apply for an AFG Grant. Harding with the assistance of the Region 15 Planning Commission discovered this AFG Grant which is essentially a FEMA Grant for Firefighter Assitance but can be used with EMS. Some of the items listed as “high priority” for this grant are things Perry County needs: Automatic defibrillators, chest compressors, etc. To begin the process the Indiana 15 Regional Planning Commission would need $500 up front for the application and if awarded the AFG Grant the cost becomes 5% of the grant allocation to the County. For the immediate things Perry County needs their ask for AFG Grant would total around $175K. If awarded that asking by the AFG Grant they would be responsible for only paying $8750. The AFG Grant asking limit runs as high as $1M but the lower the amount a county asks for gives them a better chance. The application period runs from January 29th through March 8th. A motion was made for Harding to pursue this and it passed 6-0.
No mention was made of the recent lawsuit brought by District 3 Councilmen Keith Huck on January 18th against the Perry County Board of Commissioners: Randy Cole, Rebecca Thorn, and Randy Kleaving as well as Perry County itself. Huck is suing because the Commissioners have excluded Council members from the group health insurance plan. In the lawsuit, Councilman Huck is asking for him and his wife to be re-instated to the health insurance plan and awarded for costs incurred during this time.
The next Perry County Council Meeting will be held on Thursday, February 22nd at 5 PM CST.