“I’d like today to bring in front of you the approval of the 1300N overpass project, the drawings. There’s a cover sheet you have to sign,” he said. “One is for the road construction itself and one is for the bridge going over the railroad.”
He said Michael Baker International is the engineering firm that is part of that, and USI originally helped with the drawings and finalized them “so they’ve been looked over a couple times.” Norfolk Southern has been a big part of the process, making sure that the clearance for them is good, he said.
The Commissioners unanimously approved the drawings.
The project includes proposed improvements of CR 1300N over Norfolk Southern Railroad and North Main Street. It goes from just east of Old Ind. 15N to North Ind. 15. The project is estimated to cost $10 million, with nearly 80% of the cost funded by a grant from the Local TRAX Rail Overpass Program. Construction could begin as early as this spring, according to information presented at a public meeting April 29.
Next, Moriarty presented a Local Public Agency (LPA) contract with VS Engineering for right-of-way services for the bridge 161 project. The bridge is at Ind. 15 and CR 200S, next to Walnut Creek Church.
“We’re to the point in the project where we need to go with right-of-way services, so I would like to sign the LPA consulting contract for VS Engineering to do the right-of-way contract servicing for that,” he said.
The Commissioners approved 3-0.
County attorney Ed Ormsby presented the Commissioners with a resolution and policy for consideration regarding unpaid leave related to COVID-19 precautions for county employees.
Reading part of the resolution, he said, “The Board wishes to adjust the county employee leave policy regarding COVID-19 so that county employees may have more certainty when planning for time off.”
The resolution states that a county employee off work for suspected COVID-19 illness may use up to five days of unpaid leave from the onset of the illness or positive test collection date instead of using paid time off. If an employee is in close contact with someone with COVID-19, the employee may take up to five days of unpaid leave if needed for quarantine based on the last exposure date. Employees have to provide a copy of the COVID-19 test results to human resources immediately upon receipt. The resolution and policy are effective retroactive to Jan. 1, 2022.
Commissioner Cary Groninger thanked Ormsby for working with human resources, County Auditor Michelle Puckett and others in the county to get the policy and resolution together. Groninger said the resolution really fit for what the county needed so county employees can have that time off to be safe and not worry about losing their jobs.
Commissioner Bob Conley said there’s been a lot of conversation and inquiries about it and it goes a long way to help the county “keep the quality employees that we have.”
Virtually, Commissioner Brad Jackson said, “I think, too, that … it’s really neat that basically one of our team brought this up … and kind of sparked this to get it going. I think it’s neat that one person can make a difference like that and it’s a good policy.”
The policy and resolution were unanimously approved.
In other business, the Commissioners:
• Approved the county’s $20,000 grant request through the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) to help pay part of the salary for the Hoosier Enduring Legacy Program (HELP) coordinator salary.
“We’re excited about his program and what it’s going to bring to our county, the opportunities it’s going to bring,” Groninger said. “We talked about this back at the September meeting, and we just need to bring it in front of the commissioners for a vote this morning to finalize the grant request for OCRA.”
Kosciusko County Commissioners announced Dec. 1 that the county was awarded one of three first-round HELP grants in the state through the OCRA.
The grant will provide partial funding for Kosciusko County to hire a community coordinator/director to help the county’s rural communities to build and complete projects which will make lasting and resilient changes in the small towns, using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars and other possible grants, according to a news release Dec. 1 from the county. Included in this award is a matching $1 million grant for projects that are identified by the communities, which will help bring the selected projects to reality.
• Approved for the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office to apply for a $15,000 Indiana Department of Natural Resources 2022 grant. It is a federal and state grant, according to Chief Deputy Shane Bucher, and when it is dispersed, half is in advance and the other half is reimbursement.
The grant helps the KCSO Marine Patrol Division with law enforcement on the lakes, he said, specifically salaries and supplies. The Division currently patrols Lake Wawasee, Syracuse Lake and the Tippecanoe chain of lakes.
• Heard a report from County Treasurer Rhonda Helser on the Board of Finance organization and investment policy.
She said the interest that the county accrued for 2021 “wasn’t that great” as interest rates have “really gone down quit a bit.”
The county had $368,553.01 in interest for 2021, a decrease of $33,607.06 from 2020. “It’s not very good,” Helser said.
Helser also reported that Conley agreed to serve as president of the Board of Finance again for 2022.
The Commissioners approved the Board of Finance report.
Helser then asked for the commissioners to approve the cancellation of warrants, which they did.
“These are checks that are three years old that have not been cashed,” she explained.
• Extended to Feb. 22 two requests for proposals, as suggested by County Administrator Marsha McSherry. One RFP is for the replacement of the fire alarm system in the Justice Building and the second is for the county jail’s shower walls and floors.
• Recognized Kosciusko County Geographic Information System Director Bill Holder for receiving the Government Excellence Award on Thursday at the Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner and Awards Ceremony. Holder has worked for the county for 23 years.