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Funding for highway garage property OK’d

The Harrison County Council Monday night unanimously approved $155,000 for the purchase of land for a new highway garage near Shiloh Road between S.R. 135 and Old S.R. 135.
The 18.4-acre Windell property will include, assuming funding is provided, not only a new garage, but also a salt dome.
The goal is to have a salt dome in place by the end of the year.
The site is closer to Commissioner District 3, resolving a complaint about the current structure being too far from the southern most district.
Harrison County Engineer Kevin Russel thanked the council and commissioners for their approval of the plan.
‘I’ve been here 15 years, and it’s been something we’ve always been working toward,’ Russel said.
Paul Primavera and Associates will handle the engineering work for the project.
The current facility, in the Harrison County Business Park north of Corydon, lacks the space needed to adequately and efficiently perform the department’s duties, officials said.
It also has issues that need to be addressed such as drainage into a sinkhole and diesel fumes in close quarters with no exhaust system, among others. The department’s main storage area, including salt storage, is outside with no protection from the elements.
In other business Monday, the council discussed the $1.5 million ‘shortfall’ stemming from a successful property tax appeal by Horseshoe Southern Indiana.
Councilman Phil Smith asked that a letter be drafted asking each taxing unit effected whether they could absorb the shortfall or need funding from the county. He said Harrison County Solid Waste, which will lose about $16,000, could probably handle most, if not all, of the loss (Smith sits on the solid waste board).
‘There’s no harm in asking,’ he said.
The largest budget impacted will be that of the South Harrison Community School Corp., which would be in line for an $842,000 cut.
The $1.5 million request will be up for vote at the council’s next meeting, Tuesday, May 27 (moved from Monday, May 26, because of Memorial Day), but Council Chair Gary Davis said he expects it to be tabled so further research can be conducted.
Also, the council unanimously approved $10,000 for Prosecutor J. Otto Schalk for a death-penalty consultant.
‘We’re going to make sure we do what we need to do to get the result we want,’ Schalk said.
He said the consultant has worked nine death-penalty cases and has put eight of them on death row. The consultant’s cost is $60 per hour.
Schalk said he doesn’t want the county to have to pay for the trial and it end up in a loss or hung jury. He said he expects the first of two cases, that of Austin Scott, to go to trial in August 2015.
He also requested $2,500 for reimbursement for attending a death-penalty conference.
‘Our goal is to spend as little money as possible,’ he said.
Since Schalk plans to prosecute the case himself, with another in-office prosecutor, the cost for the county for the prosecution will be a ‘drop in the bucket’ compared to the defense costs, Schalk said.
Other unanimously approved additional appropriations out of riverboat gaming funds include $201,000 for police vehicles for the sheriff’s department; $12,000 for contractual services for the commissioners; and $10,000 for Harrison County Community Services.
The board also approved $19,370 for community drug-free grants out of the community drug-free fund.