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Council shows it 'CARES,' passes hat for youth program

OKs funding to repair Milltown 'curved bridge'

March 19, 2008
Short on county funds but not on a desire to help, the Crawford County Council literally passed the hat last Tuesday night for a fund-raiser for the CARES before- and after-school program in the county.

The councilmen, along with others in the audience, including county commissioners Larry Bye and Randy Gilmore, gave $40 each to purchase the "court" space for $400 on a Crawford County version of the popular board game "Monopoly" that CARES is making. Bye even threw in an extra $40 for Commissioner Jim Schultz who was absent, as did the council for Councilman Jim Taylor, who also wasn't at the meeting.

CARES Director Kim Grizzel said the organization, which serves Crawford County students in grades kindergarten through eight, is selling spaces on Crawfordopoly, being produced by "Your Town"-Opoly, in part because federal grant dollars that have provided the bulk of the program's funding are running out soon and future federal funding remains in doubt.

"I wanted to give you all the option of having the court space first," Grizzel told the council.

She said businesses have already bought the rights to other spaces, which will feature the businesses' names and photos.

"In light of the (difficult financial) position the county is in, we're going to personally do this," Council Vice President Daniel Crecelius said, taking off his red baseball cap and passing it around the table.

Grizzel said the naming rights will pay the manufacturing costs, allowing the CARES program to keep all of the revenue from the actual sales of each board game. CARES currently plans on selling 500 board games at $25 each, but may have to order additional games, as the response from the public has been positive, she said.

In another matter, the council voted 6-0 to provide up to $59,000 for repair of County Bridge No. 129, more commonly known as the "curved bridge," near Milltown that was recently closed following an inspection.

Bye told the council that the project engineer indicated the estimated cost for design of a temporary support for the beams in one of the spans will range from $5,000 to $9,000, while construction will cost another $25,000 to $50,000.

"I don't need the money tonight. I just wanted to give you an update," he said.

The council still must advertise the transfer, but voted to move $59,000 from the Economic Development Income Tax Fund for the work.

The council also voted 6-0 to give Hoosier Hills PACT $2,000 from the Riverboat Wagering Tax Fund.

The agency was one of a few that the council didn't include in the county's 2008 budget because of funding concerns.

Hoosier Hills PACT Director Jon Kuss offered a brief overview of the services the agency provides in the county.

"PACT is pretty bad at promoting ourselves, and I'm not sure many people in the county know what we're doing," he said.

The agency oversees a community service worker program that provided about $30,000 worth (based on a typical $10 per hour rate) of free labor in the county during the past year, Kuss said.

Other programs, he said, include working with youth and their families at Crawford County Junior-Senior High School, offering a victim's advocate in the court system, and providing the same substance abuse curriculum to Indiana Department of Correction inmates in the Crawford County Jail that they would receive if housed at an IDOC facility.

Kuss said the agency was requesting $10,000 from the county.

"We think it's a very reasonable amount considering the amount Crawford gets out of a small office," he said.

Council President Jerry Brewer asked how much the county gave the agency in 2007. Kuss said $5,000.

Brewer then asked how much other counties gave the organization. Kuss answered that it varies, as some, like Harrison, which gave it $8,000 for 2008, give just money, while others, like Washington and Orange, may give less but also provide the use of facilities at no cost.

Kuss said the agency doesn't need the money right now, and if it could get the funding anytime this year, he would be pleased.

"The timing at this point is not an issue," he said.

Brewer said the council would look to provide another $3,000, bringing the total it is giving to the agency in 2008 to $5,000, later.

The council, at the request of Prosecutor Cheryl Hillenburg and Sheriff Tim Wilkerson, also gave its commitment to include funding for the Indiana Data and Communications System in 2009.

Hillenburg said the system, which allows law enforcement officials to instantly access information via a database instead of having to call the Indiana State Police at Jasper, requires a $338 per month subscription fee.

She said her office acquired a $10,000 grant that will pay the start-up costs and monthly subscription fees for 2008, as well provide funding for equipment for police.

Hillenburg said her office provided the match for the grant and she and Wilkerson have agreed to pay the monthly fee out of their budgets, but they wanted to make sure the county will provide them with the funding in 2009.

"We sure don't want to spend this kind money and lose it" because of being unable to pay the monthly fee beyond this year, she said.

The council voted 6-0 to pledge its commitment to the IDACS program and to provide the necessary funding.

In other business, the council:

•Voted 6-0 to endorse the recommendations of a bi-partisan five-member committee appointed to find ways to strengthen Crawford County's finances.

The Crawford County Board of Commissioners later in the week also approved the recommendations. (See story, front page.)

•Voted 6-0 to approve $60,000 from the Orange County Riverboat Fund to be used to purchase a computer software system for the Auditor's Office that will help track finances, including issue payroll. The software itself will cost $44,665, but additional hardware will be needed.

•Approved, 6-0, the request of the Crawford County Council for a Drug-Free Community to transfer $4,000 of its funds so that it can use them to pay a consultant and for mini-grants.

•Voted 6-0 to make the $500 monthly payment on the Probation Department office space. The county had been using rent it collected from a car lot on the property to repay the Probation Department, which paid the upfront costs of the property, but the car lot recently left.

The council will discuss where to get future payments later.

•Transferred $4,477 from the sale of the old Probation Department office and land it had placed in the General Fund to Adult Probation, where it should have been placed initially.

•Approved, 6-0, the creation of a Child Advocacy Fund. The fund is needed for the receiving, depositing and distributing of money received by the Auditor's Office, upon disbursement by the Clerk's Office, for the child abuse prevention fee mandated by state law.

•Voted 6-0 to approve additional appropriation and transfer requests.

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