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Council OKs spending for safety turn-out gear for firefighters

Harrison County Council members swiftly approved spending $1.3 million in riverboat revenue at the appropriation’s meeting this month.
Councilman Carl (Buck) Mathes’ motion to spend $481,818 for fire department safety equipment, seconded by Kenneth Saulman, sailed through the council unanimously.
The need was brought to the council’s attention and discussed at the planning session in October.
The funds will be used to purchase the latest in safety ‘turn-out gear’ for each firefighter who serves on the nine volunteer departments in Harrison County.
The request was made by the Harrison County Fire Chiefs Association, which will continue to research and recommend the best use of riverboat dollars for fire departments. The action will continue in support of a long-range spending plan which best suits the departments’ needs. About $500,000 a year has been earmarked for firefighters.
Rick Kerr, president of the Fire Chiefs Association, explained that the emphasis will be placed on safety again next year.
‘Thank you so much for supporting us with this,’ he told the council. ‘The safety of all firefighters in Harrison County is our Number One priority.’
J.R. Eckart, chair of the Harrison County Board of Commissioners, commended the fire chiefs for their work in coming up with the best way to spend the money. ‘It is a very good effort on their part,’ Eckart said.
Also without much ado, the council approved riverboat spending next year for the Alternative Education Center in Corydon. Funding for that purpose is not included in the annual budget.
Councilman Alvin Brown’s motion, seconded by Chris Timberlake, to approve the $198,728 in spending passed unanimously. The program is a joint effort between the schools in Harrison County, the juvenile court and child welfare workers, and county officials, keeps students with behavioral problems in school rather than suspended from classes.
Doug Dodge, vice principal at North Harrison High School and president of the alternative school’s board of directors, thanked the council for its continued support.
Asked the impact of the new N.H. Focus on Education incentive program, which includes a new Ford Focus giveaway, Dodge said attendance so far this year is up one percent and failing grades are down 20 percent. The new car will be given away on May 18. The names of qualifying students will be entered in a drawing.
The council also approved funding to expand the weather emergency siren system in Harrison County.
Five sirens will be installed in addition to those already stationed in strategic areas to warn residents to take shelter if a tornado is expected.
‘It’s the best money we could ever spend,’ said Brown, moving to approve emergency management’s request for $72,606. Timberlake seconded the motion which passed unanimously.
Others voting in favor were Mathes, Saulman and Ralph Sherman.
The council’s vice chair, Rhonda Rhoads, conducted the Nov. 13 meeting in the absence of the chairman Gary Davis, who was out of town. She took note of the Nov. 12 death of Mark Redden, chair of the Harrison County Democrat Central Committee. Even though he represented the opposite political party, his work was respected, she said, offering condolences to his family and fellow Democrats.