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Sheriff, prosecutor share restructuring ideas

Newly-elected Harrison County Sheriff Rodney (Rod) Seelye requested a change Monday night at the Harrison County Council meeting which would increase his chief deputy’s pay from just less than $41,000 to nearly $50,000. Seelye’s chief deputy is Wayne Kessinger.
Seelye did not ask the council for additional funds; instead, he requested the council to drop the jail matron from a full-time to a part-time position and to transfer more than $8,000 from the matron line to the chief deputy line. Seelye has not yet named who the matron will be, but he did say he will use the position as an investigator.
‘The matron position does have police powers,’ Seelye said, adding that the position should be filled this week.
The sheriff said the part-time matron will not be a merited position, which will allow the next sheriff to get rid of the position quickly.
‘Both individuals won’t require insurance,’ Seelye said. ‘We’re going to be saving money there.’
A salary ordinance will be created for council discussion at its next meeting, Monday, Jan. 24, at 7 p.m. at the courthouse in Corydon.
Another recently elected official, Prosecutor J. Otto Schalk, also asked the council to restructure his office. Schalk will do away with the trial deputy position, while increasing the two investigator salaries to $40,000, from about $31,500.
‘That will get them on par with other counties,’ Schalk said.
The investigator positions were hourly positions in the past, but Schalk said it makes sense to make them salary positions, since they will work 50 or 60 hours a week. He said the investigators will have expanded roles and responsibilities and will work in the field, alongside police officers. The two officers in the field will lessen the burden on other areas of law enforcement, he said.
The positions will be filled by Gary Todd Stinson, who is a police officer in Floyd County but lives in Harrison County, and Ross Rafferty, also an officer and former Casino Aztar surveillance employee.
The previous investigators under former Prosecutor Dennis Byrd, Joyce Young and Melanie Summers, were not asked to remain.
As a result of eliminating the trial deputy position, the county will see a savings of nearly $28,000 annually.
The council unanimously approved Schalk’s changes.
In other business, the council unanimously elected Gary Davis as chairman and Phil Smith as vice chair. It also selected Mike Summers as council attorney, with a 6-1 vote. Councilman Chris Timberlake was against.
Timberlake said he’s worked with Summers before, but he wished he lived in the county (Summers lives and practices in New Albany). Summers was not present at the meeting because he was at the Lanesville Town Council meeting, where he also serves as legal counsel. Davis said the town plans to move its meetings from Monday to Tuesday nights so Summers can attend both.
Davis also made a change to the voting method for the council, saying the chairman will vote on all matters, unlike the past.
The council tabled a request of $99,000 for Harrison County Lifelong Learning Center Director Doug Robson for rent and other expenses to fulfill its 2011 budget. The county council approved a $170,000 budget in September for Lifelong Learning with the thought that it would be housed in the new government center’s health and education building. However, Lifelong Learning and Harrison County Alternative School officials believe there’s not adequate space in the building for both entities. So, the additional request was passed to the council to help with rent at the center’s current location.
Councilman Smith questioned the purpose of the government center project if the county still plans to pay rent on other properties.
‘That’s $79,000 you’re going to spend that you wouldn’t have to if you’re up at the old hospital,’ Smith said.
Councilman Richard Gerdon said getting rid of the rental costs for the county was one reason he supported the government center plan in the first place.
Smith made the motion to table the matter, and Gerdon seconded. The group plans to take a tour of the government center and research the issue further before its next meeting.
The council approved an additional of $100,000 for sinkhole work on the Federal Drive-Pacer Court extension project. The project will connect Pacer Court to Federal Drive and Corydon-Ramsey Road, a length of about 6,000 feet behind Walmart Supercenter near the Northfield complex and Harrison County Hospital.
In July, the board approved a loan of $1.2 million to the Harrison County Economic Development Corp. for the project, which will be paid back by the property owners in a 10-year plan. The low bid, however, came in at about $1.5 million by Gohmann Asphalt and Construction, so the council had to approve an additional $350,000 for the project at its Oct. 12 meeting. All of the funding, including the additional $100,000, will be paid back to the county.
Also, for the engineer’s office, the council unanimously approved $48,000 for Appian for lobbying work on the new Interstate 64 interchange west of Corydon and just less than $20,000 for right-of-way acquisition for the Lanesville connector road project, which calls for a new road between I-64 and S.R. 64 west of Georgetown.
The council made the following appointments or reappointments to boards (votes were unanimous unless otherwise noted): Ralph Sherman, 4-H Council, Economic Development board; Harry L. Smith, Alcohol Beverage board; Phil Smith, Alternative Education Center board, Lifelong Learning Center board and Solid Waste board; George Ethridge, Board of Zoning Appeals; Richard Gerdon, Chamber of Commerce board, River Hills board; Gary Davis, Economic Development board; Chris Timberlake, Emergency Management Agency board; Jim Heitkemper, Family and Children board, Plan Commission; Teresa Sutton, Parks board (6-1 vote, Pendleton against); and Nina Faith, PTBOA board (5-2 vote, Pendleton and Timberlake against).