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Prosecutor requests reclassification for employee

Kaitlyn Clay, Staff Writer, [email protected]

The Harrison County Council met for the first meeting of 2021 Monday evening and voted unanimously at the beginning to have Donnie Hussung remain as council chairman and Kyle Nix to serve as vice chair.

J. Otto Schalk, Harrison County prosecutor, came before the council with hopes of getting approval on a reclassification of an employee’s title.

Prior to COVID-19, the council had approved for the prosecutor’s office to have a community outreach officer position filled, but the pandemic put a halt on fulfilling the vision of what that position would be able to accomplish. The funds for that position were refunded for the year.

Schalk said his department has seen a summer that brought a lot of change to the criminal justice system nationally, including the requirement of body cameras to be worn by police officers. He said that because of this, his department is having to put a lot more time toward reviewing this footage, a task he said is very labor intensive.

His hopes are to reclassify the prosecutor’s front office assistant and change it to a salaried investigator position. The new position would have the employee gathering camera footage, reviewing it and passing it on to the defense council. Schalk said the office assistant has already been doing a large portion of this, and they would prefer changing the job title and making it a salaried position rather than hourly.

“We hope to still have this position include the job duties that our community outreach position would have entailed when we first envisioned it,” Schalk said. “The position is already funded; we are not asking to create a new position. It is just a modification of a job description, job title and going from hourly to salary.”

The council will review the request and vote on it at its next meeting.

The council also voted unanimously to amend a salary request in the current prosecutor’s budget. Schalk had received approval at the 2020 budget meeting for a third deputy’s salary that would increase annually for three years, which was not adjusted as such in 2021’s budget.

Greg Reas, director of the Harrison County Emergency Management Agency, came before the council on behalf of the county commissioners to propose a new system for panic buttons to be placed in the courthouse since the previous ones were damaged when the building flooded. The panic buttons are used to alert emergency services of needed assistance.

The new system would require a control panel, a repeater and new buttons. Reas suggested also placing these buttons in the health department, which is located in the Health and Education Building.

In total, it would cost the county $13,400 for the new system and other fees, he said.

The council will vote on this request at its next meeting.

The board approved county Clerk Sherry Brown’s request for funds to pay previous chief deputy and bookkeeper Rilla Gerdon to remain on her staff through January and also for an additional 10 days of part-time work to help throughout the new employee’s transition.

Brown also received approval for funds to purchase a cell phone for the clerk’s office, a requirement of an account at First Savings Bank.

In other business, the council made appointments to various boards, including: Nix, 4-H Council and County Extension; Jeff Byerly, Alcohol Beverage; Ross Schulz, Alternative Education Center and Solid Waste Management District;  Don Smith, county Zoning and Appeals; Richard Gerdon, Chamber of Commerce of Harrison County; Hussung and Holli Castetter, Economic Development Corp.; Castetter, River Hills; David Lett, Emergency Management Agency; Jennie Capelle, Family and Children; Brad Wiseman, Lifelong Learning and county plan commission; Carolyn Lowe, county parks; and Patricia Badger-Byrd, PTBOA.

The council voted to table its appointment to the Regional Sewer District board, wanting to know first if it can change term lengths from four years to a possible one- or two-year term. Hussung agreed to look into the matter. The council is expected to make its selection at its next meeting after receiving clarification.

The council’s next meeting is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 25, at 7 p.m. at the government center in Corydon.