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Heth Township Fire Dept. gets $162,217 truck

Harrison County officials meeting in joint session Thursday night put the wraps on several pending issues before the year’s end.
A contract for a new fire truck for the Heth Township Volunteer Fire Dept. was awarded to the low bidder, Emergency One, based in Florida.
The $162,217 bid was the lowest of two that met the department’s specifications, firefighters said after closely examining the bids. Earlier, the council had appropriated $140,000 in Caesars’ riverboat taxes for the purchase.
In response to questions from the three-member board of commissioners, fire officials said they are prepared to make up the $22,217 difference. The purchase includes all the equipment necessary to operate the truck.
Commissioner J.R. Eckart’s motion to award the bid was seconded by Commissioner James Goldman.
The commissioners and the seven council members also entered into a contract with the sheriff for his 2002 income.
The $78,000 contract ensures the services of Harrison County Sheriff C. Wendell Smith, who in turn will give all profits in meal money from the jail and fees collected for serving state tax warrants to the county general fund.
Council OKs overtime pay for police, jail staff
The council approved transfers in the sheriff’s and jail’s budget to pay overtime this year instead of granting compensatory time off. It is practically impossible to find the time to take off and still leave the county covered with officers and the jail fully staffed.
Chief Jodie Wilson told officials the problem has been growing year after year, and, if it continues, will only get worse. “There are almost 700 hours (in compensatory time owed) for police officers,” Wilson said. “The commissioners told us they would be agreeable to paying overtime, if we could find it in our budget.”
Kenneth Saulman’s motion to pay overtime, seconded by Alvin Brown, passed 6-0.
By transferring the funds from other line items in the budgets, no new taxes will be used.
Harrison seeks money to outfit ladder truck
Harrison Township Trustee Cecil Trobaugh appeared before the council to explain the fire department’s request for $66,000 in additional funds to equip the new ladder truck. About one-third of the money had already been appropriated, but that will expire at the end of the year.
The council is expected to act on the request at its Jan. 14 meeting.
“Is this going to take care of it?” Brown asked Trobaugh.
He replied, “Yes — praise the Lord.”
Council adopts 7 p.m. as new meeting time
An apparent rift between Councilmen Carl (Buck) Mathes and Brown surfaced for a second or two Thursday night at the joint session.
The council had unanimously adopted its schedule for 2002, with meetings set for the second and third Monday nights of each month. Then, Brown suggested scheduling the meetings at 7 instead of 7:30.
“I believe 7:30 is an odd-ball time,” Brown said, adding that no one wants to meet that late.
“I do,” Mathes said. “I would like to meet at 9, especially in the summer. The commissioners meet at 7:30. I think we should keep (the meetings) uniform.”
Brown’s motion to meet at 7 was then seconded by Saulman.
Mathes interjected: “You’re just going to make trouble,” he told Brown. “If the council meets at 7, it will be 30 minutes into the meeting before people come in.”
“We can always change it, if it’s a problem,” Brown replied.
“That’s why we changed it last year,” Mathes said.
With no further discussion, council chair Gary Davis called for a vote by the six voting members, which was 4-2. Mathes and Councilman Ralph Sherman voted nay. Others besides Brown and Saulman voting in favor were Rhonda Rhoads and Carl Duley.
The council’s action included holding Monday night meetings that fall on a holiday on the following Tuesday.
The council renewed its contract with attorney Michael Summers for another year, and the council and commissioners jointly approved the salary contract with Sheriff Smith at $78,000 next year.
Haun urges officials to check Lucas’ environmental record
Concern over possible future environmental effects of Lucas Products Co.’s locating in the Harrison County Industrial Park, Warren Haun of Corydon questioned whether Chamber economic development director Brian Fogle had visited the company’s site in California to determine its compliance with environmental laws.
“Someone should go out there and look,” Haun said. “Chemical companies have a tendency to skirt the issue. That’s why I’m a little concerned.
“You need to put somebody out there that knows what they are looking for.”
Fogle said he considered making a trip there, but in light of the council’s recent objections to the tourism director’s travels, decided not to. Instead, he checked with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in California, which oversees the strictest of laws and regulations.
Lucas, which produces oil and fuel additives, has been in business there for 12 years, Fogle said. “We talked to the people in the business of regulating businesses in California,” Fogle said. “They came back and said, basically, ‘They’re not sinners’ …”
Davis made no commitment to do so, but said, “It might be appropriate to discuss the issue with the EPA and see what they think about having somebody go out there and look, a qualified person.”
In response to a question from Rhoads, Fogle said he’s not sure how the EPA follows up once permits have been issued, but he would find out.
Lucas wants to open a plant in industrial park, just north of the Harrison County Highway Dept., and is seeking $94,000 in economic development funds, to use along with a $94,000 matching grant from the state, to bring water, sewer and rail service to the site. The company expects to hire up to 40 production workers at competitive wages, $12 hourly to start.
Davis said the council will likely act on the request at its Jan. 14 meeting (at 7 p.m.).