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Continued protection sought for riverboat funds

The Harrison County Council Monday night heard a request of $48,000 for lobbying services at the state legislature for Rick Cockrum, of Capitol Assets LLC. Cockrum was hired by Harrison County last year to help protect the county’s riverboat gaming funds.
‘The Indiana gaming industry feels it’s under attack,’ Cockrum said.
Neighboring state Michigan already has casinos and Ohio just last week approved gaming facilities for four cities including Cincinnati. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear has also made it clear that one of his goals in office is to bring gaming to race tracks to protect the horse racing industry.
Shawn Donahue, the council’s legal counsel, said Beshear is ‘picking off senators one at a time’ and the passage of the gaming legislation could ‘come a lot sooner than you might think.’
Add up all of the factors and it means one thing to the state and Harrison County’s Horseshoe Southern Indiana: more competition.
‘You’ve been isolated so far, but the Kentucky threat would be the most logical,’ Cockrum said.
Cockrum said the state has been looking for ways to make up the lost revenue and will continue to do so. He said legislation was filed this year to take away the county’s money and distribute it among all 92 counties in the state.
‘We fought that successfully,’ he said.
Cockrum said he and his team are at the Statehouse every day and report to the Harrison County Board of Commissioners on a regular basis, normally weekly.
‘We’re there all day, every day,’ he said. ‘If they’re there, we’re there.’
He said he would like to continue to work with the county in 2010.
‘You keep an ear to the wall for Harrison County, that is what we need,’ Councilman Jim Heitkemper said.
Commissioner James Goldman said he and the other two commissioners ‘ Terry Miller and Carl (Buck) Mathes ‘ believe it is important for the county to retain Cockrum for next year.
‘It seems like there’s always something brewing with these riverboats,’ Goldman said.
The council will vote on the additional, taken out of the riverboat gaming contingency fund, at its next meeting, Monday, Nov. 23, at 7 p.m. at the courthouse in Corydon.
In other matters Monday, Sgt. Bryan Byrne of the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department demonstrated the ability of the county’s wireless laptop system in police cruisers.
Byrne and Capt. Eric Fischer said the sheriff’s department will need 10 licenses to run the program and an additional will be requested once the company that runs the program, Cisco, provides a price quote.
The officers will be able to write reports from their cars and can communicate with dispatchers through the laptop without tying up the radios. The system also has a chat application available.
‘Dispatchers don’t always have the time to answer us,’ Byrne said. ‘This will make the dispatchers’ job a lot easier.’
Officers also will be able to pull up a picture of an offender if they have previously been in the system, which could come in handy at a traffic stop if a warrant is out for the offender.
‘If it’s the same guy, there’s no way he can say, ‘That’s not me’,’ Byrne said.
The mobile system does lose signal in portions of southern Harrison County, he said.
Heath Department Coordinator Tony Combs reported to the council that H1N1 vaccine shots have been given to specific age groups at North Harrison, Lanesville, St. Joseph’s elementary schools and he planned to provide the vaccinations at South Harrison schools yesterday (Tuesday).
‘We’re getting the vaccine a little at a time; we’re working through it slowly,’ he said.
Mathes sets public meeting
Commissioner Carl (Buck) Mathes announced Monday night that he will have a public meeting Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Harrison County Community Foundation building in Corydon to discuss and share information about the Corydon-Ramsey Road improvement and expansion project between state roads 62 to 337.
Mathes plans to have the road expanded to three lanes and eventually wants to take the expansion to Quarry Road.
He said all landowners are invited, as well as any interested parties.
‘It’s a project I’m really excited about,’ he said.
‘It’s something I’ve been looking forward to since Walmart came to town. It will be a bypass for the local people.’
Mathes did say to expect some ‘grumping’ from affected landowners, since the expansion may eliminate a number of trees.