Work on the expansion of a dark fiber broadband network into Marshall County could start this spring following approval by the county council of funds for the project. St. Joseph County Metronet wants to extend the dark fiber infrastructure into Marshall County. It will mean extremely fast Internet speeds for both business and residential customers. County officials say having that infrastructure in place will significantly boost economic development. The county has agreed to contribute $500,000 toward the project. St. Joseph County is also funding $250,000, and several local businesses are also kicking in some cash. The Marshall County Council yesterday approved the advertisement of the proposed appropriation, but final approval is still needed when they meet next month.
Auditor Penny Lukenbill explained that this claim comes around quarterly where the highway department is reimbursed for the fuel it supplies to the other departments in the county. The highway department purchases all of the fuel and all departments fill up at the highway garage. The department is then reimbursed every quarter with how much is spent on fuel.
The council members also approved an additional appropriation for Superior Court 1 for pauper counsel in the amount of $20,000. The county council were advised that this expense would be coming around this quarter to help keep the fund in the black.
The Marshall County Council members approved the Marshall County Grant Approval and Administration Policy Monday morning.
Auditor Penny Lukenbill explained that all departments who apply for federal funds should file paperwork with her office to better report to the state board of accounts. The paperwork will include a detailed description of what the grant money will be used for and include a plan of spending. The council and commissioners will look over the paperwork and pre-approve the grant request and it can be filed on the federal level.
The prosecutor’s office has acquired a new deputy prosecutor out of St. Joseph County and Prosecutor Holmes asked that the probationary period be waived so full status can be obtained. Holmes stated that she has had four years of experience outside of the office and does not need the normal training period for her duties in the office. The communication between the outgoing deputy prosecutor and the new deputy prosecutor is a little lacking, but that should clear soon. The council approved the request.
Sheriff Tom Chamberlin will also appear before the council to ask for a waiver of employee probationary period. Jay Bahr, the executive director of the Marshall County Economic Development Commission, will have an update for the council members.
During the Marshall County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 3, County Emergency Management Agency Director Clyde Avery was concerned that not all department heads had turned in plans for the Comprehensive Emergency Plan for the county.
Marshall County Sheriff Tom Chamberlin informed the Marshall County Council this week that the jail kitchen will be getting two new stoves.
He explained that the old stove was severely damaged when fire retardant had sprayed in the kitchen during an overnight incident in September. A settlement was reached to replace two commercial-grade stoves in the kitchen. When installed, the kitchen will have two stoves and four ovens to help prepare meals for the almost 200 inmates in the facility.
The Marshall County Council approved a request by Sheriff Tom Chamberlin to hire an officer to replace one who recently resigned. The council also approved a request by Clerk Julie Fox to hire a deputy clerk as Vicki Yost will be vacating the position when she moves to Alabama. Yost had worked in the clerk’s office for more than 10 years.
The Marshall County Council went through line items in the county’s budget on Monday morning and cut expenses where they thought necessary. Most of the cuts were discussed with department heads on Aug. 20 during an all-day budget hearing.
Approximately $37,000 was cut from the Marshall County Commissioners’ budget while $58,000 was transferred out of several line items in the sheriff’s budget to the certified shares budget. $20,000 was cut from county corrections’ budget as a jail nurse is no longer needed with the contract the county has signed with Quality Correctional Care. The prosecutor’s office was cut just over $40,000.
The council approved the Solid Waste, South West Lake Maxinkuckee Sewer District and Argos Community Schools budgets.
Plan Director Ralph Booker gave a non-binding review of the 2014 budgets for the townships, schools, libraries and cities and towns of the county.
Auditor Penny Lukenbill stated that the negotiations went very well and the advertised budget should be approved at the council’s next meeting. It has been advertised twice.
The council reviewed the $8.985 million proposed budget last week, which reflects a 2.6 to 3 percent increase. The department heads explained all of their budget requests to the council members. Lukenbill commented that the council made very few initial cuts.
County Prosecutor David Holmes requested a replacement for a deputy prosecutor. He explained that one of the deputy prosecutors accepted a job in St. Joseph County and will be leaving the office at the end of August. He told the council he wanted to interview for a replacement deputy prosecutor right away and the council approved that request.
Sheriff Tom Chamberlin requested to seek a new head cook and a turnkey/dispatcher. Chamberlin told the council that both positions are full time and were recently vacated. The council approved the sheriff’s request and he is now able to accept applications and interview prospective employees for those two positions.
The county will be reviewing the $8.985 million proposed budget, which reflects a 2.6 to three percent increase, with department heads on Tuesday, Aug. 20 and that could be whittled down by the time the discussions are over.
One budget that the council will be focusing on is the Jail CAGIT fund. The council will be watching the funding in order to feed the increasing amount of prisoners in the jail. Sheriff Tom Chamberlin just requested an additional appropriation for $80,000 to feed the inmates for the rest of the year. That appropriation was approved by the council this week.
Sheriff Tom Chamberlin was before the council Monday morning to ask for $80,000 in additional appropriations for prisoner meals for the rest of the year. He commented that just over the weekend the jail saw over 200 inmates in the facility which is the most that has been incarcerated at one time since the jail was built in 2006. The bed capacity is 238.
The ordinance was brought forth by Emergency Management Agency Director Clyde Avery. In the case of an emergency and funds are needed, the ordinance allows the funds to be approved by just the president of the Marshall County Commissioners and the president of the Marshall County Council. A special meeting with all members of the governing bodies will not need to be called to approve these expenses.
Jackie Wright, the director of Older Adult Services, requested the funds last month for this year only for the transportation program. Wright explained that a large share of their funding from INDOT was cut drastically this year due to the federal sequester. This shortfall will only affect 2013 as she expects the transportation bill to be back to full funding levels in 2014.
The health educator works hard in preparing paperwork for grants that are beneficial for the county health department which requires a lot of time. Burden explained that she works 20 hours a week in her regular duties as the health educator and to prepare the many grants takes more time out of her regular work days.