By Valerie Werkmeister
The future of the Wabash River bridge at New Harmony remains in question as Posey County officials await answers from the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT). During an August 7 meeting, the commissioners announced they had sent a letter to INDOT requesting additional proposals. Attorney Trent Van Haaften explained that the State of Indiana will give the county $10 million to build the bridge if White County, Ill., will match the amount and assist in the process.
“We need other alternatives if White County won’t take part in this,” Van Haaften stated.
Commissioner Jim Alsop stated that Posey County Sheriff Greg Oeth is working with the White County Sheriff to coordinate a plan to assist farmers in moving equipment along Interstate 64.
“There is really nothing to announce at this time. There is a lot of what-ifs, a lot of ‘I don’t understands’ and a lot of ‘I don’t knows,” Alsop stated.
Richard Porter of Wadesville appeared before the commissioners to discuss a nuisance complaint that had been lodged against him regarding his property at 7265 Main Street. Porter’s home was involved in a fire last year and remains partially standing. Porter stated that the house has been boarded up and he is reclaiming the wood off the deck and other areas that can be salvaged. He is also obtaining quotes for the remainder of the structure to be torn down.
In November, Porter asked for the county to vacate the alley near his property. The alley has not been used for years and Porter believed it would allow him to “square up” his property and place a new home and install an updated septic system. The commissioners asked for Porter to obtain approval signatures from his neighbors before they would grant his request.
Porter stated he was confused to recently learn that if they granted the vacation of the alley, it did not mean he could use the additional property to build on.
Commissioner Jim Alsop stated they had still not received all of the letters from the neighbors. Porter claimed he had mailed them to Keeley Winiger, who also stated she had not received them. Porter was able to produce copies of the letters during the meeting.
Alsop advised Porter that he would need to contact Denny Schaefer at the health department to determine if a new septic system can be placed over the vacated alley. The nuisance complaint was tabled and Porter was asked to return to their first meeting in September. Van Haaften ensured Porter they would continue communication to ease any future confusion.
A new comprehensive zoning ordinance for the City of Mount Vernon, Poseyville, Cynthiana and other unincorporated areas of Posey County was approved by the commissioners. Area Plan Director, Mindy Bourne, informed the commissioners that a new comprehensive plan was adopted in 2008 which called for an update of all the existing land-use controls. A committee was formed and started meeting in 2011. Members met 12 times for two to three hour meetings to revise the text and make it all conform into one plan. Bourne stated that only the text was changed and maps were not affected.
She asked the commissioners to only approve the zoning portion of the ordinance since a few minor clerical errors were found in the flood portion of the document.
A recent announcement that Welborn Health Plans will be discontinued at the end of the year caused commissioners to locate new health insurance for its county employees. They approved Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield to become effective September 1 through December 31, 2013. Alsop stated the rates are also slightly cheaper than what employees are currently paying. Currently, an employee is paying $59.75 per month under Welborn Health Plans. The new rate through Anthem will only cost $58.65 per month for the employee.
In addition, life insurance and short-term disability (STD) benefits will be enhanced. Employees will soon receive $25,000 in life insurance coverage and STD will increase to $300 per week. Anthem has also agreed to allow co-insurance match-ups and apply deductibles that have already been met this year.
In other business, the commissioners:
•Tabled a decision on the homestead verification agreement until their October 16 meeting. This will allow the commissioners to attend an upcoming meeting with other commissioners from around the state and discuss other options.
•Approved the $19,066.34 quote from Jeffrey A. Koester and Sons Construction for the Hovey House insulation project. The ceilings will be lowered approximately 10 – 11 inches so that insulation can be installed. Drywall, crown moulding and trim will be replaced to match the existing finishes. The entire project is expected to take approximately one month to complete.
•Tabled a discussion regarding a Fair Housing Ordinance. Van Haaften explained that a federal mandate requires the county to have an ordinance in place in order to receive funds from the Office of Community and Rural Affairs. There isn’t an immediate need for these funds, however the county wants to be proactive and create an ordinance in the event funds are needed in the future.
•Tabled a discussion on an inter-local agreement with Grayville, IL for Emergency Management Services (EMS). Grayville had asked for assistance on I-64 since Posey County staff has higher EMS certifications. Posey County sent a proposal letter to Grayville for consideration and is waiting for a reply.
The next regular meeting will be held on Tuesday, August 21, at 9 a.m. in the Hovey House.
By Valerie Werkmeister
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