WARSAW — George Robertson, president of Kosciusko Economic Development Corp., gave a quarterly report at the Kosciusko commissioners meeting Friday, March 17. Robertson reported that last year there were a low number of announcements and expansions due to concern about the presidential election and global economy. He stated the good news is that we have started out this year on a very positive note.
Robertson said that the last eight years were the only eight years since the U. S. Census kept data that more small businesses closed than opened. Small business confidence was at an all time low. Robertson reported that the results of the National Federation of Independent Businesses confidence survey came out in February 2017 and that small business confidence level is now the highest it has been in twenty years. Robertson states he expects that we will see more small business growth. “There are positive signs in the workforce,” he reported, “We’ve had more prospects for the state in the first six weeks of this year than we had in the last six months of last year.”
Robertson added, “Success breeds challenges.” According to Robertson, the newest challenge is the shortage of skilled employees in two areas of northern Indiana – the South Bend and Fort Wayne workforce regions. He informed board members that there is a shortage of welders, over the road drivers and machine mechanics.
Robertson concluded by stating that overall last year was a healthy year for our county. He reported that currently there are approximately 40,600 people employed in our county, which is an all-time high.
Kosciusko County Highway Department Superintendent Scott Tilden recommended that they award the bid for a county pickup truck to Kerlin Motor Company, Silver Lake. Kerlin’s quote was for $31,283 with an option of $189 for a navigational system, for a total of $31,472. Tilden requested that the board members approve the purchase of the vehicle with the option, at the $31,472 price. This was approved by board members.
Tilden also submitted an interlocal agreement between the Warsaw Street Department and the Kosciusko County Highway Department regarding sharing pieces of equipment. This agreement was approved.
Dan Richard, area planning director, Kosciusko County Area Planning Commission, presented a request for two tracts of land located on the northeast corner of SR 13 and CR 350N, Pierceton, to be rezoned for commercial use. Mark Dillon owns Number 1 Stop Bait & Tackle and would like to expand his business. In order to do this, the property needs to be rezoned from residential to commercial. Dillon is also asking that the adjacent property to the east be rezoned from agricultural to commercial. Richard stated that the APC is recommending that both requests be approved, adding that the request includes some self-imposed covenants. A motion was made to approve the request and the motion was approved.
Immediately after the board members approved this rezoning request, Dillon approached board members and said he wished to make a formal complaint against the APC and wanted the complaint to be recorded and on record. The complaint included four different grievances, including not being happy with the way he has been treated by the APC, the length of time it has taken to get his property rezoned, feeling he has been given incorrect information and/or “deliberately been given the runaround” and frustration regarding a board member of the APC “nodding off” during a meeting.
Kosciusko Commissioners Vice President Bob Conley said he appreciated the fact that Dillon felt he could come before the board and air his concerns. Conley stated that board members will look into these concerns. Kosciusko County Attorney Chad Miner added that when it comes to zoning issues, there are a lot of state statutes and regulations.
In other news:
- Judge Sutton requested approval for a $4,500 interpreter grant. This was approved.
- Chad Miner requested a resolution to adopt an implementation plan to incorporate practices required by the federal government in order to continue receiving federal grants for highway projects. Miner stated if they do not adopt the plan, it could effectively put them out of the running for receiving federal grants. Board members made the motion to support this resolution and the motion was seconded and approved.
- Kosciusko County Emergency Management Director Ed Rock requested approval of a $27,360 one hundred percent reimbursable grant for ICS 300 and 400 training in the city of Warsaw, as well as implementing an incident management team and additional training that goes with that. Kosciusko County Auditor Michelle Puckett said this grant falls in line with the rest of the grants Rock has requested in the past. The grant was approved.
- Dan Richard reported some changes in drainage plan reviews. It was discussed that amendments may need to be made to the Kosciusko stormwater and erosion control ordinance.
- The next regular meeting will be at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, April 4.