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Council extends Lanesville schools’ loan

The Harrison County Council decided, by a 4-2 vote, Monday night to extend the building loan for the Lanesville Community School Corp. from nine years to 18 years, essentially cutting the yearly payment in half. However, the Lanesville school board must agree not to bring the issue back to the county before the interlocal agreement is ratified.
Commissioner Terry Miller represented the school.
‘It’s taking directly away from the students,’ said Miller. ‘The riverboat was put in to better the education in the county.’
‘To me, the school made its choice,’ said Councilwoman Rhonda Rhoads. ‘They made the choice; they signed the agreement. I don’t see why we have to go back to this. I thought we voted down the extension. I thought the vote was to do it or not and we voted it down. I thought that’s what voting is for.’
Rhoads was referring to the 4-3 vote the council took at its last meeting, March 10, regarding extending the loan.
‘The commissioners can send us the same request every meeting,’ said Carl (Buck) Mathes, chairman of the county council. ‘What you’re saying, I don’t think holds any water.’
Miller said he wants Harrison County schools to be the best in the state.
‘The people of Lanesville are getting short changed,’ he said.
‘They are using the gym; it was a choice they made and they signed the agreement,’ said Rhoads. ‘I don’t think it falls on you or me. They made the choice.’
‘That’s all water under the dam,’ said Mathes.
‘It’s not because they’re back,’ Rhoads replied. ‘I wish all of us had the opportunity to go back and change things we’ve done.’
‘It seems like a fair compromise the commissioners came up with,’ said Councilman Chris Timberlake.
Mathes agreed, saying, ‘It’s not going to hurt the county a bit.’
Rhoads made the motion to deny the request and Councilman Ralph Sherman seconded. The motion died with a 2-4 vote, with Timberlake, Mathes, William T. (Bill) T. Nichols and Gordon Pendleton opposed. (Councilwoman Leslie Robertson was absent.)
Nichols then made the motion, which was seconded by Timberlake, to accept the commissioners’ recommendation. The motion carried with Rhoads and Sherman opposed.
In other matters Monday night, the council heard a request from Anna Morris, executive director of the Harrison County Solid Waste District. She asked the council for about $100,000 that she estimates is needed for 2009.
‘In order to get a permanent fix on our income situation, the council must approve it before May 1,’ said Morris. ‘Whatever money you don’t approve, I’ll be back asking for that in some other form or fashion.’
‘We’ll try to get you an answer, a vote, on April 14,’ said Mathes.
‘We think we’re operating at a level history shows it takes to operate,’ said Commissioner J.R. Eckart. ‘What she presented to you is fairly accurate for a duration of time.’
In other matters:
‘ The council approved, with a 5-0 vote, $1,415 for the Harrison County Sheriff’s Dept. for vacation time.
‘I have feelings about how this all happened,’ said Mathes. ‘If all of the elected officials used the highway department’s policy, it would be much simpler and better.’
The council also approved $7,505 for utilities for the health department, although the department’s move has been stalled.
‘We’re not real happy,’ said Miller. ‘We’re going to have to have utilities wherever they go. It’s a valid request. I’m just not sure where it will be used.’
Other additionals unanimously approved by the council included $3,000 for emergency telephone training and $1,000 for work release equipment for the sheriff’s department.
The council approved, with a 4-1 vote (Rhoads opposed), $12,455 for county health insurance from the county’s General Fund, and, from riverboat funds, $318,439 for dependent care health insurance and $255 for Lifelong Learning health insurance.