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Funds approved for Wright Center work

Kaitlyn Clay, Staff Writer, [email protected]

The Harrison County Parks Dept. received its requested $166,000 — funds that will go toward renovation to its new office home at the Ethel Wright Center in downtown Corydon — at the council meeting Monday evening.

However, the funds will not be used for renovation costs until the lease is finalized.

Currently, the Friends of Corydon Capitol, which owns the building, is waiting for its organization to return to being active with the state before the lease documents are signed. The parks department will then enter into a 25-year lease at the building with provisions for a 25-year renewal.

Council president Donnie Hussung said that he believed it was important to notify the public that these renovations are occurring due to the Public Defender Commission taking the parks department’s prior home at the government center.

Before it considered taking over the parks department office, the newly-created Public Defender Commission had budgeted about $30,000 to rent a space and pay for utilities. Hussung explained that 40% of that cost would have been reimbursed by the state, but the county would still be responsible for approximately $18,000 a year to cover the remainder of the costs.

“That means that there is $18,000 a year we currently aren’t paying because the Wright Center is provided at no cost,” Hussung said. “The renovation costs for the parks department we are being asked for represents around seven years of rent we would have been asked to pay for the defender commission. When you take that into account with the 25-year lease the parks department has agreed to, this is going to save the county around $317,000.”

Councilman Brad Wiseman made a motion, which passed 7-0, to allow the funds to the parks department contingent on the lease being signed.

In other business, Kevin Russel, county engineer and director of the highway department, approached the council to request funds to purchase a new vehicle.

Currently, Russel has a 2007 Chevrolet Suburban that he said has seen better days. The oil pressure won’t stay at an operating level for the current vehicle and it has about 198,000 miles on it.

Russel is requesting the council approve a purchase of $29,730 for a Ford Explorer.

The council was interested in whether a pick-up truck would be an option, due to trucks having a better resale value.

Russel said he prefers the SUV style of a vehicle but would be content with whatever the council preferred.

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

Commissioner Nelson Stepro approached the council to discuss his hopes of transferring funds immediately for preemptive maintenance on a generator at the government center.

According to technicians who work on the generator, water has gotten into it and they advised taking immediate action to mediate this before losing the generator completely.

The solution, according to Stepro, to fix this issue currently is to purchase a new tank for the time being in order to prevent a larger cost if they lose the entire generator before they can get it fixed.

Stepro gave the council a couple of options but suggested the county go with a 2,000-gallon tank, which would provide about 7.3 days of consistent generator use if need be. All together, this would cost no more than $30,000.

The council unanimously agreed to transfer existing funds from the contractual services courthouse fund to the contractual services fund.

The council should know the full cost by its meeting on Monday, March 22, and will then be able to approve the exact amount to be paid. However, the council wanted to go ahead and make this transfer to allow funds to be available to use immediately.

The council’s next meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 8, at 7 p.m. at the government center in Corydon.