County Council Supports Tower Grant Application

Kosciusko County Courthouse.

County Commissioner Gary Groninger updated the county council Thursday about the county’s radio communication tower project.

He advised the council that Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory is applying for a Assistance to Firefighters Grant through FEMA. The grant could garner up to $1 million in funds for improved communications, and require a 10 percent match. The City of Warsaw agreed to administer the grant at the Jan. 17 Board of Works meeting. The county council agreed to a memorandum of understanding with the city and fire territory.

Groininger said money for the 400-feet-tall towers would come from economic development income tax funds and tax increment financing money. Warsaw has agreed to paying $500,000 over two years. Groininger said three major towers will be used as the backbone of the county’s broadband installations, too.

The towers cost about $1 million each. They’re considered megasites and will vastly improve the communications system between all emergency and law enforcement units.
He advised the council $700,000 will possibly be used to upgrade equipment in central dispatch. Space can be rented to other businesses for income to maintain the towers.
“It’s a wholistic program,” Groininger said, “so everyone can communicate.”

Kosciusko County Community Foundation Executive Director Suzie Light and Associate Director Stephanie Overbey gave a Lilly Foundation GIFT VII update. The foundation staff has identified a need for an upgraded and coordinated comprehensive plan. They proposed a plan that would cost $264,000 with $164,000 coming from the Foundation using Lilly grant funds; $50,000 from the county and $50,999 from a private foundation. The council voted to fully support this effort and county auditor Michelle Puckett volunteered to be the county contact person through the project.

Sheriff Kyle Dukes’ request for a $26,500 appropriation for a motor vehicle was approved. This concerns the sheriff’s vehicle most recently involved in a pursuit, which was covered by insurance coverage. Dukes also asked for a commissary resolution, adding 20 additional items to the store, which was approved. He also presented the 2019 commissary report. Commissary funds in 2019 paid for three vehicles and covered the cost of training. Dukes and Courtney Jenkins, Jail Chemical Addiction Program coordinator, requested several additional appropriations for $10,661 for supplies, $97,400 for contractors and $6,800 for consultants, which were approved. This year, classes for males and female inmates will be presented at the same time. A K21 Health Foundation grant of $100,000 has been awarded for the continuation of the program.

Kosciusko County Convention, Recreation, Visitors and Commission President Jo Paczkowski asked for $100,000 for the Syracuse-Wawasee Trail System, an amount promised for additional construction as the system advances. Paczkowski said there are now 11 miles of trails and another link is about to be added. The grant award was approved.

Councilwoman and Redevelopment Commissioner Joni Truex requested $37,123 from the Dreyfus TIF account for land improvements at the Louis Dreyfus plant, which was approved. County Surveyor Mike Kissinger’s request for $6,500 for gas, upkeep and possible repairs for the surveyor’s second vehicle was approved. Kissinger said he just forgot to budget the fuel money last year. The amount represents the funds allocated to the operation of the other vehicle in the surveyor’s fleet.

Highway Superintendent Steve Moriarty presented a pay request of $232,090 for work done on CR 1000W between CRs 700S and 1000S, which was approved. The pay request is part of the state’s Community Crossings grant. Moriarity also shared that $1.2 million in federal funds has been awarded for future work on county bridge No. 30 on Beer Road over Turkey Creek.

Emergency Management Director Ed Rock received a $10,000 appropriations for Kosciusko Coalition on Drug Education hazardous material training costs of $3,000 and $7,000 will be used for exercises.

KCODE Coordinator Nicole Wallick introduced Kosciusko Cares Youth Services members Jackie Thornsberry and Melanie Wilhite. The women talked about the drug prevention programs available in schools, teaching youngsters how to be strong against peer pressure with a focus on social and emotional well being.

Wallick also talked about the faith-based program available to all inmates, LITE, which provides spiritual, educational and vocational skills, supporting Alcoholic’s Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings, general education diploma classes and parenting and life skills.

The council appointed Kim Hathaway as the Chapman Lake representative and Jeff Thornburg as the Tippecanoe Lake representative for the Tippecanoe-Chapman Regional Sewer District.

Bell Memorial Library Director Stephen Boggs said the council’s board of trustees representative, Sandi Schaeffer, is willing to serve another term on the board, which was approved.

The topic of changing the council meeting time was tabled until the next regular meeting at 7 p.m. March 12.