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Animal control maintenance directors get part-time help

The Harrison County Council Monday night approved funds to hire part-time help for animal control officer Mike Gentry and building maintenance director David Simon.
The council also increased Gentry’s salary by $4,640 to bring it to $29,640 yearly, about the same amount as the lowest paid sheriff’s deputy.
Gentry’s increase ‘is a small amount compared to the amount he will save us,’ Commissioner James Goldman told the council. Because Gentry is qualified to euthanize animals, the savings in veterinary bills is expected to be about $18,000 a year, Goldman said.
Gentry told the council he had taken in 13 animals Monday and adopted out three. ‘Adoptions are picking up,’ he said. In part, that’s because Orscheln Farm and Home Supply on Gardner Lane in Corydon is allowing pets suitable for adoption to be housed there temporarily in the public eye.
The animal control facility off Quarry Road north of Corydon has stayed at maximum occupancy (36 dogs, at two per kennel, plus puppies, cats and kittens) since opening the first of the month. Currently, a Saint Bernard is staying in the euthanasia room because none of the kennels is large enough, Gentry said.
Responding to a question from Councilman Alvin Brown, Gentry said he is keeping animals as long as space allows before euthanizing them, but he’s required to keep pets with identification for seven days and those without for five. Aggressive or otherwise dangerous animals can be ‘put down’ immediately, and some have been.
Simon needs help because inmates are no longer allowed to work outside the jail, Goldman said. The inmates had been providing substantial help with such things as mowing and other outdoor gardening chores, but that is no longer allowed by the sheriff because someone tried to sneak in cigarettes, Goldman said.
Simon is in charge of maintenance of all county-owned buildings, including the justice center, courthouse, annex, highway garage and animal control facility.
On a motion by Kenneth Saulman, seconded by Rhonda Rhoads, the council unanimously approved $15,000 for a maintenance worker. Then on a motion by Saulman, seconded by Alvin Brown, and approved by a 4-2 vote, $15,600 was approved for an assistant animal control warden. Also voting in favor were Carl (Buck) Mathes and Chris Timberlake. Rhoads and Ralph Sherman were opposed.
Both motions stipulated that the hours be kept to 28 or less weekly so the positions would be part-time and not qualify for the usual benefits.
In another matter, the council approved $1,000 for overtime at Lifelong Learning but turned down a request for $200,000 in riverboat money to help get a larger Lilly Foundation grant. The money would be invested in an endowment and the earnings would eventually help with Lifelong Learning’s operational costs.
Saulman’s motion to approve the request, seconded by Timberlake, failed 4-2, with Mathes, Sherman, Rhoads and Brown opposed.
Mathes later said the problem with an endowment is that the money is taken out of circulation. The principle could not be used, even if the agency ‘fell on hard times,’ he said.
Lifelong Learning director Doug Robson said curriculum participants cover the cost of those programs, but other ‘revenue streams’ are needed to cover such items as rent and utilities. ‘The programs pay for themselves and then some,’ Robson said. ‘But they don’t include overhead or (students who) couldn’t afford to come to our classes.
‘We need a steady stream of income.’