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Fiscal Court: Roads, Bats, and Raises

Keith Daugherty and David Whittinghill (file photo)

The regular monthly meeting of the Butler County Fiscal Court was held Monday, July 14th, 2014 at 6 pm at the Butler County Courthouse. All members were present, and a handful of visitors were also in attendance. The agenda was short, but lengthened by requests to speak from Magistrates Chad Tyree, David Whittinghill, and Johnny Tuck, and also from County Road Department mechanic Anthony Perrin.

 The magistrates first approved the appointment of Brenda Jenkins to the Butler County Library Board. She was recommended by County Judge-Executive David Fields and approved by the Court by a 5-0 vote.

 Next the Court approved a blanket motion to make payments for the $100-Mile Litter Abatement Program. Payments were approved to; BCHS Girls Basketball-$600, BCHS Quarterback Club-$600, BCMS Girls Basketball-$656, 4th District VFD-$650, Butler County Rescue Squad-$663, Andreas Mission for a Men-$592, Andreas Mission for Women-$689, Butler County Shrine Club-$666, Woodbury Masonic Lodge #280-$691, Silver Spurs Riding Club-$320, and Scout Troop#636-$645.

The ongoing saga of the addition of Eric Young Road to the county road list was the next item of business. County Road Supervisor Timmy West was asked last month to present an amended report on the road to the Court at his month's meeting. West reported in writing that he had first inspected the road in October 2012 and found it in need of denser grade stone, needed some widening, and needed a turnaround for county trucks and equipment. His report stated that in March 2013 he inspected the road again and that landowners had made necessary changes.

A motion was then made by 2nd District Magistrate Johnny Tuck to add the road to the county road list, and was seconded by 4th District Magistrate David Whittinghill. The voice vote in the motion indicated a split amongst magistrates, prompting Judge Fields to ask for a roll call vote. Magistrates Tuck and Whittinghill voted in favor of the motion, with 1st District Magistrate Stevie Givens, 3rd District Magistrate Chad Tyree, and 5th District Magistrate Keith Daugherty all voting against the motion. The motion failed by a 2-3 margin. The vote marked the second time in three meetings that a motion to add the road failed.

 The next item of business was the purchase of surplus salt spreaders for the County Road Department. Supervisor Timmy West reported that he found three salt spreaders at the state surplus sale in Frankfort for $500 each. West said the spreaders were in good working order. Magistrates approved buying the spreaders by a 5-0 vote. West then reported that surplus snow plows would be available in October from state surplus, and indicated that he would ask for money to possibly buy some at that time. No action was taken on that matter.

 The Court next approved taking bids to build bathroom facilities at Reeds Ferry. Portable toilets are presently used. Judge Fields told the Court that an above ground system will probably be needed because of flood plain regulations. He stated further that specifics and guidelines will come from the Health Department.

 Magistrates approved Mark Hood and Patrick Daugherty for two-year terms on the Butler County Ambulance Board.

 A 2% annual pay increase plus a .50 cent per hour increase was approved for County Road Department employees, county secretary, and treasurer. Some discussion was had about the raises, mostly centered on state regulations that limit spending during election years. The measure passed by a 5-0 vote.

 Judge Fields then reported to the Court concerning several ongoing projects. He said that the McKendree Chapel Road bridge project is underway, with construction started on July 14th. He said that there were still issues concerning the relocation of Indiana Bats and Gray Bats, but that the road should still be finished on schedule. Road Supervisor Timmy West asked if the trees that the bats inhabit could be removed and the county pay the ensuing penalties. Fields said that shouldn't be necessary to meet agreed upon deadlines.

 Fields said that he has asked Occupational Tax Officer Sandy Keown to oversee and coordinate the state's Rivertowns initiative in Butler County. He said there is much involved with the project, which could conceivably involve the cities of Morgantown, Rochester, and Woodbury. The Rivertowns Initiative involves several state and local groups and agencies including tourism and arts, along with businesses and local industry.

 Next the Judge told the Court that recent issues like the landfill ordinances have exposed the need for a county ordinance enforcement officer. He asked Sheriff Scottie Ward if enforcement of ordinances could fall to the Sheriff's office. Ward said that it could, as sheriffs and deputies enforce both state and local regulations. No action was taken.

 Finally, Fields reported that more grant monies could be available for the ongoing boat ramp projects. He stated that funds could be available through a federal Water and Trails Grant program. No action was taken in the matter.

 After approving monthly bills and transfers and reports the meeting turned to discussion of items added to the agenda.

 Magistrate Chad Tyree reported that speed limits can only be out on roads where there are 600-feet of continuous residences, and that then the limit can only be 35 mph. He said that any other speed limit regulations require traffic studies. The report stemmed from a discussion of possible county road speed limits at the last Fiscal Court meeting.

 He then reported that repairs to three doors are needed at the Butler County Animal Shelter. Judge Fields told Tyree that the county had already received a quote from Norman Burden to repair the doors.

 Magistrate Johnny Tuck asked that Marie Vance Road be added to the County Road list. A motion to add the road died for lack of a second at an earlier meeting of the Court. At a special session in June Supervisor Timmy West reported that the addition of the road would be benefit several households. Tuck moved to add the road with second given by David Whittinghill. The motion passed 5-0, and counts as the first reading of an ordinance to add the road. The second reading will be at the August 11th meeting of the Court.

 Magistrate David Whittinghill moved that the Court make the job of Occupational Tax Officer a full time job and that Sandy Keown be made full time with benefits and receive a raise from $10.20 to $11.20 per hour beginning with the next pay period. Whittinghill said that Keown does a good job by all reports and that with the addition of more responsibilities a raise and full-time status should be given to her. The motion passed 5-0.

 County Road Department Mechanic Anthony Perrin asked the Court to hire another full-time operator for the ferries, and that Charlie Childress be made the Ferry Supervisor. Perrin said that much of his and Timmy West's time is spent dealing with ferry issues, which could be handled by Childress. West added that during summer months the ferries are open 16-hours per day, and that Childress could also be a relief operator during these months.

 Judge Fields stated that a Ferry Supervisor would be a good part-time position, but he doubted there was enough work to justify a full-time job. Discussion was had about the potential job, but no action was taken. A further report and discussion of the idea will take place at an upcoming Court meeting.

 June Howard, of the Butler County Rescue Squad, told the Court there will be an open house at the squad building on August 2nd from Noon-6 pm, and invited the squires and Judge to attend. Mike Porter, from the Butler County Animal Shelter told the court that there will be a fundraiser for the shelter on Saturday, beginning at 9 am.

 With no further agenda items the meeting was then adjourned.

 Story by Joe K. Morris, Beech Tree News

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