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Next Step gets riverboat funds to keep going

The Harrison County Council Monday night voted unanimously to bail out The Next Step, a self-help organization for recovering alcohol and other drug abusers.
Alcoholics and Narcotics anonymous groups meet regularly at The Next Step in northeast Corydon and also turn to it for support during and after recovery. The group plans to hold fund-raising activities and obtain grants to increase funds, but in the meantime faced a $10,000 shortfall in operating expenses.
Councilman Chris Timberlake’s motion to approve the funding, seconded by Carl (Buck) Mathes, passed unanimously, with Alvin Brown, Kenneth Saulman, Rhonda Rhoads and Ralph Sherman also voting in favor. As chairman, Gary Davis (reelected chairman at the start of Monday night’s meeting) did not vote.
The council also unanimously approved $333,046 in riverboat revenue sharing for neighbors and incorporated towns and $12,939 for Harrison County towns which receive two percent of riverboat revenue based on population.
Also, the commissioners received $500,000 in riverboat revenue for road work to make up for a cut in fuel taxes received from the state and split $1 million three ways for contractual services in the three districts.
The council also approved $116,000 in riverboat revenue for the New Middletown-Corydon Road improvements to straighten out a bookkeeping problem in the highway department, but not without friendly persuasion.
Highway engineer Kevin Russel stepped to the podium, fanning a thick stack of some 30 contracts, assured the council he is working to straighten out the process so that funds encumbered at the end of the year for contracts already awarded will be used to pay those contracts.
During Russel’s investigation, $75,000 due one of the contractors was discovered for work on New Middletown-Corydon Road, so those funds will revert to the county’s general fund account at the end of the year.
‘We will have to appropriate the $116,000, but the net impact will only be $41,000,’ Davis told fellow council members.
He asked the commissioners, all of whom were in the audience, to make sure such problems do not reoccur. ‘I was significantly chagrined,’ said Davis, a retired certified public accountant. ‘It’s just ridiculous.’
Looking none too happy, J.R. Eckart, chair of the commissioners, said, ‘Kevin has made some good gains toward our documentation. Now he’ll watch and make sure the payments are taken out of the encumbered accounts.
‘It’s been fairly frustrating.’