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Horse rescue bill to county nears $20K

The Harrison County Board of Commissioners were presented Monday morning with two invoices totaling nearly $20,000 from Buck Creek Valley Rescue Farm in Elizabeth for board and care of horses seized by the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department.
The request was presented by Harrison County Auditor Karen Engleman, who said the invoices were sent to the sheriff’s department, which, in turn, gave them to the auditor’s office. The auditor’s office sent the invoices to Harrison County Animal Control Officer Bruce LaHue, who gave them back to the auditor’s office.
The first invoice includes the care of seven horses, one of which was received in February 2011, three in September 2011, one in November of last year and two in January 2012. The total invoice, including $352.70 to Corydon Animal Hospital, was $11,352.70.
The second invoice includes the board and care of two horses seized by the sheriff’s department from Depauw resident Samantha Sue Lee.
Commissioner Carl (Buck) Mathes said he thought the cost to care for a horse should be $10 per day, not $20 like Buck Creek Valley charged. Mathes asked that the board have Buck Creek Valley representatives visit the commissioners in a public meeting to explain the invoices.
Mathes said he thought a deal was made with the prosecutor, superior court and Buck Creek Valley regarding the care of the horses. He also asked Engleman to get a copy of the minutes from when such a deal was made with Buck Creek Valley.
Commissioner James Goldman said the county needs to be proactive and put a policy in place for future situations regarding animal seizures by the sheriff’s department.
The commissioners agreed more information needed to be collected before any action could be taken on the matter.
In other business, Gary Roberson with Indiana Caverns LLC informed the commissioners of the preliminary cost estimate of the improvement project for Green Acres Road south of Corydon, site of a future public entrance to Binkley’s Cave. The county engineer’s office said the road-widening project would cost about $56,000.
Mathes said he thought the cost estimate was on the cheap side and it will actually be more like $100,000 with resurfacing included. He also said he didn’t think the project funds should come out of his District 2 budget, but, instead, out of the countywide riverboat gaming fund budget.
The board agreed in consensus to ‘do their part’ on the project as long as a few legal items are resolved.
‘We have continued to seek zoning approval for the Town of Corydon Plan Commission to establish the cavern entrance off of Green Acres Road, and they suggested that this road be improved to handle the additional traffic our project will create,’ Roberson said.
Roberson said he hopes the Indiana Caverns business will be open for the 2013 business season in late spring or early summer.
The entrance will lead to a newly found, large room with many cave features, including a 50-foot waterfall.
Roberson is the author of ‘Fifty Years Under the Sinkhole Plain ‘ The Story of Binkleys Cave and the Indiana Speleological Survey.’
The cave is the longest in Indiana, at 34.72 miles, and the 11th longest in the country. It is located beneath the town of Corydon and beyond with openings at the fairgrounds springs, across from the Constitution Elm and several privately owned entrances.
The board approved donations from the Drug Free Community Fund to the following entities: Afternoon ROCK, $500; Lanesville High School after-prom program, $500; Corydon Central High School after-prom program, $500; Coordinator Training-Indiana Association of Prevention Professionals/Certified Prevention Professional certification classes and registration fees, $1,000; Community Education including literature and materials for the Harrison County Fair, Fall Down on the Square and school festivals, $2,207; Brandon’s House, $2,170; Hoosier Hills PACT, $1,200; and The House of New Beginnings, $4,000.
A total of $18,831.34 was deposited into the fund from the auditor’s office, with $4,707 going to administrative costs, leaving $14,000-plus for programming.
Jeff Skaggs, Harrison County Substance Abuse Coalition coordinator, presented the program funding and said it was down this year. Normally, there’s $24,000 to $25,000 available, he said.
Skaggs said North Harrison High School turned in a Harrison County Community Foundation grant application, not the correct drug-free community application, requesting $3,000 for 110 drug-test kits and prevention teacher salary. North Harrison also did not have a representative at the interviews held for the grant applications, he said.
‘I realize they’ve had some turnover in administration, but it’s still disappointing we couldn’t fund them,’ Skaggs said.
The board also discussed hiring a new employee to fill a vacant full-time position in the maintenance department. Maintenance Supervisor David Simon recommended moving part-time employee Bonnie Coffman to full-time.
Mathes, however, made a motion to have the position advertised for two weeks in the newspaper, as has been the process the last few years.
Commissioner Jim Klinstiver seconded and said he hoped Coffman would apply for the position.
Goldman voted against, saying Coffman should get the job because of her good employee standing and for the ‘opportunity to advance.’
Mathes said they need to be consistent and transparent. He also said he knows Coffman does a fine job.
The board accepted three asphalt bids from Gohmann Asphalt, even though it was only the low bidder on one of the three. Mathes said the other bidder, MAC Construction, provided shoddy work in the past.
Klinstiver seconded Mathes’ motion to approve Gohmann.
All Harrison County employees’ checks will be direct deposit soon after a motion made by Mathes and seconded by Klinstiver.
Engleman said she’ll give employees plenty of time to set up an account before making the switch to direct deposit and will also notify employees in the next pay cycle. First Harrison Bank will provide an account for employees unable to open a checking account, she said.
‘Everyone does it,’ Goldman said. ‘It’s a sign of the times.’
Pam Bennett Martin of Bennett & Bennett Insurance informed the board of a 7-percent insurance increase this year for property, multi-class liability, wrongful employee practices liability, employee benefits and automobile. She said, with all of the claims and pending claims, she was very pleased with the cost not being much higher considering the amount the county’s carrier paid out last year.
Harrison County Community Foundation executive director Steve Gilliland gave an update on the county’s community fund and said $359,957.25 was deposited from Horseshoe Casino in April, which is more than last April. He also reported that the HCCF building expansion project is 98 percent complete.
The board heard from William Kellogg, a Verizon representative, who said he’d like to look at the county’s cell phone plan to see if he could save the county money.
There was discussion about generators for local schools for emergencies and emergency shelter locations led by Lanesville resident Dale (Chip) White.
The board sent a request of $15,000 to the county council for autopsy fees for coroner Rusty Sizemore.
The board’s next meeting will be Monday, May 21, at 7:30 p.m.