Parks dept. seeks funds for office repairs
Kaitlyn Clay, Staff Writer, [email protected]
Superintendent of the Harrison County Parks Dept. Larry Shickles approached the commissioners at their meeting Monday morning to request approval for two riverboat fund additionals for the department to help with repairs on their recent move.
After giving their previous office location in the government center to the newly-formed Public Defender Commission, the parks department moved to the Ethel Wright Interpretive Center in downtown Corydon. The parks department has been leasing space in this building, which is owned by the Friends of Corydon Capitol, for the past four years.
The additionals he is requesting are $131,000 for repairs to the building structure and $35,000 to cover furniture, network wiring and other minor fixes.
“We are trying to keep the building as in tact to its original condition as it is a historic building,” Shickles told the commissioners.”The pews have all been removed already and will get some work and be repaired and then will go right back into the auditorium.”
He said he hopes to create a video showcasing attractions throughout Harrison County to constantly be played in the auditorium to encourage visitors to explore the county. That space will also continue to be used by the Harrison County Discovery Center.
Commissioner Jim Heitkemper questioned if Shickles planned for the department to stay in this space long term after requesting so much money, to which Shickles replied he has no intention of leaving. He said they have agreed to a 25-year lease, with a 25-year renewal agreement after that lease is up. He also noted that eventually the building will become county property, although he wasn’t specific about when that would occur.
The commissioners unanimously agreed to a motion made by Heitkemper for Shickles to take this matter to the county council at its meeting Monday at 7 p.m.
Eric Wise from the Harrison County Plan Commission asked the commissioners to amend a zoning ordinance the commissioners had asked him to look into in November. In the planned employment center zone near the Lanesville interchange of Interstate 64, it was required that buildings be set back 100 feet, but, after discussion, the commissioners were interested to see if that could be moved to a shorter distance of 35 feet to allow businesses to have more space to build.
Wise said after the plan commission reviewed the request, it was deemed appropriate and moved to have the commissioners sign off on an amendment to that ordinance. This amendment was approved 3-0.
Wise also presented that the plan commission had discussed at its recent meeting the option of updating the comprehensive plan, which provides the framework for the planning and implementation of public improvements and decision-making regarding land use and zoning issues.
This plan was last updated in 2008, and Wise said that these are normally done every 10 years.
Wise requested the commissioners give approval for his team to start looking into financing options for a plan to begin moving it forward in the process. He said a rough estimate for the cost of this plan is between $80,000 and $120,000.
Wise noted that many grant programs organizations in Harrison County apply for require that a comprehensive plan be submitted along with the application and state it has to have been updated in the past five years. He said this is the best way to set the county up for more fund eligibility.
The board voted 3-0 for Wise to move forward with the comprehensive plan.
Wise’s final item for the commissioners was a request to approach the council for $2,500 to complete an income survey.
Cory Cochran, executive director of River Hills, approached the commissioners prior to this meeting to request to do an income survey to help apply for a grant to provide broadband service to the county.
Wise noted River Hills was approved to do this survey and now requires money for postage and administrative costs that will go along with it.
The commissioners approved this request 3-0.
Julie Moorman, CEO of the Harrison County Community Foundation, reviewed for the commissioners what was accomplished in 2020 for the Foundation. She touched on the various scholarships, grants and resources they were able to provide local businesses, staying she was most proud of the essential worker child care program the Foundation was able to provide.
Derrick Grigsby, the Foundation’s CFO, presented an update on the Foundation’s financial status. For the fourth quarter of 2020, the Foundation’s community fund received $993,096 from the casino. Compared to years past, this is greatly reduced, according to Grigsby, as he said the fourth quarter normally generated close to $2.5 million. The ending balance for the year to date for the Foundation was about $132 million. Of that amount, the county has about $24 million available to spend. He did note that they continue to trend upward, which is a good sign to him.
Tom Fields, director of Harrison County Lifelong Learning, also approached the commissioners to give an update on the recent year for his organization.
He explained they were able to offer Zoom trainings once the pandemic hit to help employers better understand the program to communicate with staff. He was also proud of the fiber-splicing certification they were able to create after partnering with Mainstream Fiber Networks. He said Lifelong Learning was able to add multiple certification offerings, including phlebotomy and certified clinical medical assistants.
Fields said he was excited to announce that the Commercial Driver’s License program should be up and running by the end of the month. Lifelong Learning will work with a truck driving school to teach the course work. The state has seen the application for the program, and Fields said they just have to work through a few clerical things and then it should be ready for students to apply.
The commissioners’ next regular meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 16, at 7 p.m. at the government center in Corydon.