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County explores fire prevention ordinance

Kaitlyn Clay, Staff Writer, [email protected]

More than 370 critical violations of the Indiana fire code have been found by the Harrison Township Fire Dept. during two months of research, according to fire chief Jon Saulman and Capt. Todd Atherton.

The pair approached the county commissioners at their meeting Monday evening to discuss this issue, in hopes the three elected officials would help mitigate the issue by passing a fire prevention ordinance.

The ordinance, Saulman explained, is already a predetermined document created by the state of Indiana that all counties except 11 within the state have adopted and enforce.

“This is something we would like to be inducted into the Town of Corydon and Harrison Township by the commissioners,” Saulman said. “This is not creating any additional work, and we are not asking for any additional funding. We are just asking to be allowed to have input in the community when we are doing fire prevention in order to stop problems and get them corrected.”

Currently, the fire department must file violations with the state, which can take about three months to see action by the state fire marshal.

By approving this ordinance, according to Atherton, the fire department will be able to order repairs or inspections for businesses in the district.

Saulman gave an example of a recent sprinkler system they found within a church that had not been inspected in more than eight years as a violation they would be able to note if the ordinance was approved.

“A lot of the violations are simple fixes, that won’t come with a huge cost and just are things people haven’t done that would go along with our community risk reduction plan,” Saulman said.

Commissioner Jim Heitkemper sad this was something they needed to get taken care of immediately, as he seconded Nelson Stepro’s motion to take the ordinance under advisement as to give Attorney Chris Byrd time to look into the documentation.

Also at the commissioners’ meeting, Kevin Russel, county engineer and highway department director, approached the commissioners with an update on the Community Crossings grant-funded paving project. He said paving had started on Hancock Chapel Road in Morgan Township, expecting that to last until Thursday on that road. The next area to be paved will be Oak Park Road, which should begin on Friday.

Russel also expressed his hopes to approach the county council to request $900,000 from riverboat funds to be budgeted for the paving of more roads within the county. He said last year’s budget for paving projects was about $1.5 million, and that the county has appropriated around $600,000 thus far this year.

Russel said he recently gave the commissioners a list of roads for them to look over that he would create a paving schedule for.

Heitkemper said he would love to see even more money be appropriated for this but made the motion to allow Russel to request the $900,000 from the council. The motion passed unanimously.

The commissioners also approved numerous hires for open positions at county offices, including a maternal and child health nursing position with the health department, a kennel technician position with animal control and a highway crewman position at the highway department.

The commissioners’ next regular meeting is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 2, at 8:30 a.m. at the government center in Corydon.