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Council OKs parks department funding requests

Another half million dollars is going to fund parks in Harrison County.
On Monday night, the Harrison County Council approved funding for five requests tied to the parks department.
It includes $150,000 to demolish the beach house and for work at the boat house and bath house at Buffalo Trace Park east of Palmyra. The county has also funded the replacement of the water system at the park this year, where leaks have forced water bills up to as high as nearly $7,000 per month. That project is expected to cost $225,000.
The county also will spend $100,000 to fix the pool house at the May & Joe Rhoads Memorial Pool in Corydon. The building was damaged when a teenager, who was getting a driving lesson in the parking lot, hit the gas pedal instead of the brake and drove into a bathroom wall, doing significant damage to the building.
Larry Shickles, superintendent of the Harrison County Parks Dept., said he expects insurance to cover some of the expenses, but the work is on a tight schedule to get the pool open by Memorial Day.
At South Harrison Park near Elizabeth, the pool house will get $100,000 to replace water heaters and re-work plumbing while the pool deck is getting replaced. A total of $325,000 was previously dedicated to reconstruct the aluminum pool to address water leaks; the state had told the parks department the pool can’t be re-opened until the fix is complete.
The parks department also will spend $100,000 to replace old vehicles. Shickles said the money will go toward the purchase of four or five used vehicles.
‘I was actually going to park them out here tonight,’ Shickles said to the council. ‘But, I didn’t want the public to see them and half of them I would have to tow.’
Reliable vehicles have become an issue to the point that employees are now driving their own vehicles, and some are requesting mileage reimbursements.
Shickles said doing that can be a workers’ compensation issue because he has learned the parks department’s insurance won’t cover a claim and neither will the employee’s insurance.
The final request will fix lighting at Buffalo Trace Park. It’s a $50,000 expense that stopped the parks department from getting unanimous support for all the requested work.
Councilman Ross Schulz was the lone vote against funding the request, which was voted on collectively. Schulz said he didn’t think the lights needed to be replaced at this time.
The council did unanimously vote to spend $185,000 to settle a litigation dispute over property at Morvin’s Landing near Mauckport. The county will receive a $7,500 insurance reimbursement. The county also has crop revenues from the 35 acres that were in the legal battle. Shickles said crop revenues, which totaled roughly $58,000, couldn’t be used while the litigation was settled.
In other business, six council members approved sending $5,000 to the Harrison County Chaplains Association. The money will cover expenses the association had when housing displaced residents of the Harrison House in Corydon.
The Rev. Richard (Dick) Goodwin, the senior chaplain with the association, said he helped 22 people and a pet dog by paying for rooms at a hotel in the county for weeks. He reminded the council the county’s animal control facility was closed at the time, and he didn’t know what other options there would be for the pet.
Goodwin said dining expenses, with arrangements made at Frisch’s Big Boy, cost the association a little more than $1,000 during that time.
Overall, the expenses were a little more than $5,000, which is more than half of the association’s annual budget.
As of late March, six hotel rooms were still occupied by people who lived at the Harrison House.
Finally, the council found that the Harrison County Emergency Management Agency office will get its purchased truck in approximately two weeks. Greg Reas, the EMA director, appeared to not know the situation, but councilman Gary Byrne explained what he discovered.
‘They honored the price,’ Byrne said.
Soon after the county approved $38,773 to fund a new truck for Reas last July, Dodge shutdown production because it was changing the body of the truck. Reas thought he would have to start over on his truck search.
Byrne said the dealership or manufacturer agreed to make a 2019 model for Reas and the county.
The council supported the same amount it did nearly a year ago to cover the price of the truck and additional equipment to be installed with it.
The county council’s next meeting will be Monday, April 22, at 7 p.m. at the Government Center.