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Firefighters seek funding for gear

The Harrison County Board of Commissioners approved an additional appropriation of $310,000-plus to be sent to the county council for turn-out gear for all county fire departments. The funding for the gear was approved last year but was not paid for before the calendar turned to 2017, and the council did not encumber the funding. Therefore, the process has to start over again.
The actual gear, however, has arrived and is just now beginning to be put to use, said Tony Combs, past president, now vice president, of the Harrison County Fire Chiefs Association, who presented the request Monday evening.
Chris Woertz, chief of Ramsey Volunteer Fire Dept., is now president of the association.
The funding request is part of the three-year plan (2016 to 2018) of riverboat spending consistent with the county’s ‘gentleman’s agreement’ to provide an average of $500,000 each year of riverboat gaming funds for fire departments.
The county’s fire chiefs’ association determines the uses for the funding then county government approves the appropriations.
The county paid for turn-out gear for all fire departments in 2007.
‘Unfortunately, all turn-out gear is obsolete,’ Combs said. ‘Technically, it should be taken out of service after 10 years.’
The new gear, according to Globe Fire Gear representatives, is much better for firefighters because it is more athletic and ‘breathable.’ While it isn’t technically much lighter, the weight has been shifted to areas where it feels lighter, they said.
The new boots and helmets have been used (they arrived earlier than the full gear), Combs said, and the Lanesville firefighters ‘really like the boots,’ he said.
‘These are leather boots as opposed to the old rubber ones,’ Combs said. ‘They fit and wear just like a comfortable shoe. No more blisters from the rubber.’
Combs, whose day job is coordinator of the Harrison County Health Dept., also requested funding for mosquito trapping in the amount of $8,738.
Traps are placed in each of the county’s 12 townships and then sent to the state laboratory for testing, he said.
Tests include West Nile and St. Louis encephalitis (SLEV).
‘I don’t know if they’ll test for Zika or not,’ he said. ‘I’m sure they will sometime in the future.’
Combs said they haven’t had to spray for mosquitoes since 2007 when it was a warm, wet year.
‘We didn’t have much of a winter this year, so I’m not sure how it’s going to turn out,’ he said.
In other business, Crandall town councilman Fred Wattula said there’s ‘not a lot we can do’ in regard to the vacant, dilapidated property along Hill Street in town.
Wattula said the town council be looking for a new attorney soon and will go from there.
County commissioner Charlie Crawford told Wattula, who previously had come to the commissioners for help, he should pursue meeting with the health department to see if the property can be condemned and then relay that information to the property owner. The property owner is based in Florida and attempts to reach him have been unsuccessful.
‘It started as just an eyesore,’ Wattula said of the property, which has no electricity and has an open cistern in the middle of the home. ‘Now, it is a safety issue.’
The commissioners’ next meeting will be Monday, March 20, at 7 p.m. at the Government Center in south Corydon.
RSD sets planning meeting
The board, along with the county council, was invited to a workshop for future plans for the Harrison County Regional Sewer District. That workshop is set for Friday, March 17, at 9 a.m. at the Harrison County Community Foundation conference room in Corydon.
The sewer district’s regular monthly meeting will take place before that, at 8:30 a.m. (the board has moved its meeting date from the third Wednesday of each month to the third Friday, still meeting at 8:30 a.m. at the Foundation building).