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Changes in store for 2012 elections

The Harrison County Election Board visited the board of commissioners Monday night seeking review and approval of a new voting precinct plan and redistricting maps following the 2010 Census.
One of the major changes, election board president Larry Shickles said, is each Harrison Township voter will now vote in the Government Center, located along Atwood Street in south Corydon. Harrison Township and Corydon precincts total 11, with two new ones: South Harrison and Corydon South.
‘This is a great facility for doing that,’ Shickles said.
In the past, Shickles said, if a voter went to the wrong precinct, they may have to go from the firehouse to the Harrison County Community Foundation building to vote. Now, they would only have to go down the hall if they initially go to the wrong precinct.
Shickles said it will cut down on rent costs, delivery of ballot material, will be more secure and any problems will be easier to address.
Also, he said, the ballot returns process after the polls close will be much more efficient in the Government Center because of enhanced technology. He said candidates and others waiting for results in the building will be able to follow the results on the three large monitors in council/commissioner room, and it will be immediately updated online as the precinct results file in.
‘We’re not going to be waiting on people to pass out papers,’ he said.
Another significant change was the combination of two precincts in each of Taylor and Washington townships. Now, all Taylor Township voters will cast their ballots at South Central Junior-Senior High School and Washington voters will vote at the New Amsterdam Town Hall.
All of Spencer Township will vote in the Frenchtown Community Center (Ramsey Fire House No. 3) next year. Election board member Edith Richards said they have received multiple complaints in previous years about the Spencer Township voting process.
A new precinct was added in Jackson Township, North Jackson, which will bring down the total registered voters in Northeast and Northwest Jackson. Northeast Jackson went from 1,391 to 852, while Northwest dropped from 1,087 to 807. North Jackson has 816 voters and will vote at the New Salisbury Lutheran Church, if approved.
All of the changes are unofficial until approved by the commissioners. After approval, Shickles said the process of notifying all residents of their new voting precincts, if it was changed, will begin. All residents with a precinct change will receive notification in the mail.
The election board will also have to redraw council and commissioner districts.
The commissioners will address the matter at its next regular meeting, Monday, Oct. 3, at 8:30 a.m. at the Government Center.
In other business, Eric Wise, the Harrison County planner, said the Land Conservation Committee plans to add another farm into the program, if approved by the commissioners. The 83-acre farm, owned by Denzil Ekart along Old Goshen Road near Laconia, only needs a soil conservation plan before it can be entered into the Harrison County Land Conservation Plan.
The program is a branch of county government dedicated to conserving agricultural land, forest land and open spaces in order to maintain a long-term business environment for agriculture and forestry in Harrison County, to protect the rural character of the county and to maintain the quality of life of county residents.
Wise asked for another farm to be approved, that of Virgil Jawtak along Hess Jawtak Road south of Lanesville. Jawtak’s farm will be the ‘back-up’ farm in case Ekart’s falls through, Wise said.
The program, which is funded through a grant from the Harrison County Community Foundation, only has funding for one farm per year.
‘I don’t follow the board’s thinking on that, Jawtak’s (farm) is much more apt to draw development,’ Commissioner Carl (Buck) Mathes said.
Wise said Ekart’s land contains 3,800 feet of road frontage, which makes it enticing for a mobile home park. Plus, he said, Ekart is not in good health and wants to sell the property soon. Also, Jawtak’s farm is in Franklin Township, where two other easements have already been entered into the program. The goal of the program is to spread the conservation easements throughout the county.
Mathes made the motion to accept both farms contingent on the soil conservation plan. Commissioner Jim Klinstiver seconded.
Ekart’s property will be the fourth entered into the program.
Harrison County Coroner Rusty Sizemore sent a request of $8,000 to the commissioners for autopsy fees. After forwarding the request to the county council, Commissioner Chairman James Goldman said Sizemore needs to attend the council meeting to explain the autopsy numbers in detail. Sizemore was out of town Monday night (the request was presented by Auditor Karen Engleman).
‘It sounds like a lot of money to me,’ he said.
Engleman also presented a request for direction from spay and neuter director Tanya Tuell, who said she needs about $5,000 to continue the program the rest of the year. Or, if it was the commissioners’ wish, she could discontinue the voucher program until 2012, when the new budget takes affect.
‘If we cut her short, we’ll wind up spending that at the animal shelter, or more,’ Klinstiver said.
The board sent a request of $5,000 to the council out of riverboat gaming funds.
Council continues budget process
The Harrison County Council continued its 2012 budget process last night (Tuesday) and will meet again today and tomorrow, both at 6 p.m. Last week, the seven-member board agreed to give county employees a 1-percent raise across the board.
CAFO public information meeting
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management will host a Confined Feeding Program public information session Tuesday from 4 to 7 p.m. in the first-floor conference room of the Government Center. The topic will be the Day family’s application for D Livestock Inc. Site 2 Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation proposal.
The open house-style meeting will include Confined Feeding Program staff who will be available to answer questions about state environmental regulations and receive written comments from the public.
Interested parties can stop in anytime between 4 and 7 p.m. There will be no formal presentation.