Posted on

Council wants quick ditch fix

The Harrison County Council Monday night again discussed a request of $143,600 for study of the Elizabeth ditch threatening the town’s water supply.
The consensus of the council was it did not want to fund the proposal for a long-term fix, which would take 12 to 18 months before a remediation plan could begin.
Instead, it appeared the council wants a short-term fix to stabilize the ditch and protect the water supply as quickly as possible.
‘Our proposal is broader than that,’ councilman Gary Davis said. ‘We’d like to ask the parks department to narrow the focus of the project and bring a number back to us to our next meeting when we’re scheduled to vote on it.’
Previously, the board of commissioners passed the additional appropriation onto the council with the thought of a long-term fix in mind so it would not have to be addressed again in the future.
‘If I knew anything about county government and walked into this room right now, I would think there are seven county commissioners sitting here,’ Commissioner Kenny Saulman said. ‘This is not your job to do what you’re doing tonight. This is the county commissioners’ job. We’re supposed to bring you a job, and you’re supposed to fund it if it’s a good idea, a good thing. But, you all are trying to be county commissioners here, and I don’t think you should be doing it. You’re not giving the commissioners a chance to do what we need to do to bring something to you.’
Councilman Gary Byrne said the ditch is now parks department property and all funding has to come through the county council.
Councilman Kyle Nix said he could not vote to spend $143,600 for the study when it includes potential recreation elements.
‘I just want to protect the aquifer and water supply,’ he said.
Councilman Donnie Hussung questioned what county government’s role should be in the proposal.
‘That’s my issue with this thing,’ he said. ‘County government is being asked to pay for a permanent fix to a private utility owned by a municipality that serves 4,000 of our residents. We’re trying to accommodate the best we can a major employer (Horseshoe Southern Indiana) and 4,000 residents, but I don’t know if I’m willing to give several million dollars for a permanent fix on a private utility unless we’re all in this together.’
Later, Saulman said Hussung left out the part about the millions of dollars Horseshoe provides to the county.
‘If you don’t want to fund it, we won’t fix it,’ Saulman said. ‘You’re going about it backwards.’
Hussung also said the Town of Elizabeth could treat the water, if it is being contaminated from the surface.
‘We may be spending millions of dollars so the Town of Elizabeth doesn’t have to spend a little bit extra money on chlorine,’ he said.
Brad Derrick, of the engineering firm DLZ, said the cost of treatment would far exceed any repair costs.
‘That’s an expensive proposition,’ he said.
The council asked Larry Shickles, parks board president, to refocus the request and bring it to the council’s next meeting, Monday, Jan. 22 (7 p.m.), to be voted on.
Derrick estimated the short-term fix would be in the neighborhood of $500,000 to complete.
In other matters, the council reappointed the following people to the accompanying board: Nix, 4-H Council and Purdue Extension; Harry L. Smith, Alcohol and Beverage; Hussung, Chamber of Commerce of Harrison County; Davis, Harrison County Economic Development Corp.; Capelle, Family and Children; Steve Henderson, PTBOA; and Sam Day, River Hills and Harrison County Solid Waste.
The Alternative Education board appointment went to Byrne, who succeeds Holli Castetter.
Castetter was also appointed to the Harrison County Advisory Plan Commission, a spot previously held by Capelle.
Don Smith was appointed to fulfill the county’s board of zoning appeals term of the late Don Cooper.
David Lett was appointed to the Harrison County Emergency Management Agency board, succeeding Michael Smith.
Capelle took over the Harrison County Lifelong Learning center appointment previously held by Nix.
Tom Tucker has served the maximum 16 years on the Harrison County Public Library board and a successor will be picked at a later meeting.
Council chair will again be Davis for 2018, with Castetter as vice.