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Justice Center project continues

The Harrison County Council last week approved a number of additional appropriations, mainly out of riverboat gaming funds, totaling more than $281,000.
One additional, for $50,000, dealt with the renovation improvements at the Harrison County Justice Center that are well underway and will be completed before the end of the year, Sheriff Rodney (Rod) Seelye reported.
The council approved the additional, at its regular meeting July 22, for the placement of inmates in other county jails while improvements were made to cell pods, one at a time, at the Justice Center.
Last November, the council approved $1.2 million out of riverboat gaming funds for repairs to the jail, which were needed because it failed inspection multiple times.
The jail, which is now 18 years old, needed to undergo several maintenance projects including exterior and interior caulking, glazing and repair and replacement of sealant throughout the facility. Re-coating of shower walls and floors was also necessary because water was leaking through the walls and into inmate sleeping areas. Stainless steel shower units in all inmate areas also needed to be replaced due to abuse from inmates.
While the jail cell showers are being replaced, a number of inmates had to be, and still are, transferred to surrounding counties at a cost of $38 per inmate per day for approximately $800 a day. That cost was not built into the $1.2 million figure, so the additional appropriation had to be approved last week.
Council Chair Gary Davis said the additional will hopefully cover the cost for the duration of the project.
The council also heard a request from Seelye for an improvement in the retirement plan for the officers of the sheriff’s department, which hasn’t been modified for decades. The plan, which the council will vote on at its next meeting, Aug. 12 at 7 p.m., will help the department stay competitive with others such as Floyd and Clark counties.
Other additionals approved last week include $89,000 for a new ambulance chassis for EMS; $54,000 for telephone and communication repairs at the Government Center and courthouse; $35,000 for legal services and consulting stemming from a backlog of cases; $20,000 for building repair and maintenance on the Government Center; $15,000 for building repair and maintenance on the Purdue Building; $10,000 for unemployment insurance (cut from the requested amount of $20,000); $4,000 for software for the auditor’s office; $2,500 for building security equipment and maintenance; and $2,000 for dues, subscriptions and conferences for the board of commissioners.
The $54,000 additional for telephone and communications is for an improved system that will save money on land-line costs in the future, Commissioner George Ethridge said.
‘The monthly budget has already been cut by $700 to $800,’ Auditor Karen Engleman said.
Steve Gilliland, executive director of the Harrison County Community Foundation, invited all council members to attend the Aug. 5 board of commissioners meeting, which will begin at 8:30 a.m., to hear Mark Becker speak about the Bicentennial Nature Trust Program. The Harrison County Parks Dept. and bicentennial committee have joined to enter an application for the purchase of land around Morvin’s Landing in Mauckport for a potential park.