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Council OK’s $500,000 for jail rehab

The Harrison County Council Monday night officially approved $500,000 in riverboat funds to renovate the old, red brick jail in downtown Corydon. The building, constructed in the mid-1960s, has been empty since the opening of the new jail on Gardner Lane nearly seven years ago.
Councilman Kenneth Saulman’s motion, seconded by Carl Duley, passed unanimously with little comment. The main issue, hammered out at the council’s May 26 session, was whether to spend that much money to fix up the building or put it up for sale to the private sector.
The majority on the council ultimately decided the jail should be repaired in conjunction with the courthouse renovation, because of the added space the jail will provide for offices and an archive for old county documents. Some of the historically significant documents date to 1808.
The amount approved by the council is some $200,000 shy of that originally requested by the commissioners, which would have allowed the job to be awarded based on planned energy savings as was most of the courthouse project. Now, the jail project will be bid.
And as plans get underway to clear two storage vaults on the first floor of the courthouse so the vaults can be turned into offices, Circuit Clerk Carole Gaither told the council that funds will be needed to hire three people to clear out the vaults.
She is asking for three people to work 24 hours a week for an estimated eight weeks to handle packing and labeling of the items in each vault. Those contents will be stored in the old jail if renovation of the second floor has been completed in time, or elsewhere, if necessary.
The council will advertise Gaither’s request for $2,582, to be acted upon at its next meeting, July 14 at 7 p.m.
The council approved a $13.25 hourly rate for a secretary/receptionist in circuit court. Judge H. Lloyd (Tad) Whitis said the employee will work 10 hours less each week, but will receive the same pay as budgeted, $21,215.
Regarding another personnel matter, Commissioner James Goldman told the council the commissioners intend to hire a full-time, on-call maintenance supervisor to handle repairs at each of the county-owned buildings. Presently, only one maintenance person is available, but only at the Harrison County Justice Center. Goldman said the commissioners will return with a salary request after completing the job description.
The council also heard numerous other requests for funding at its planning session Monday night. Those are also expected to be acted upon at the council’s next meeting. They include:
‘ $50,000 to rehire the Indianapolis law firm of Stark Doninger & Smith to assist County Attorney Chris Byrd in drafting an agreement with Caesars Indiana. The gaming company is applying for a second five-year permit to operate in Harrison County. No extensive changes will be sought in the contract, said commission chair J.R. Eckart, but final details are yet to be decided.
‘ $300,100 in riverboat funds to initiate reconstruction of the first phase (9/10 of a mile) of Corydon-New MIddletown-Elizabeth Road. The funds would cover utility relocation, design costs and obtaining the necessary rights of way. ‘We would like to get those items done by the end of the year, and start construction early next year,’ said Eckart. ‘It is a very hazardous area.’