By Lasca Randels
WARSAW — Major purchases by the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office this year include two new K-9 units, firearms and ammunition.
Sheriff Kyle Dukes shared a commissary report showing expenditures for 2020 at the Kosciusko County Commissioners meeting held Tuesday, July 7.
The balance moving forward from December 2019 was $430,205.90.
Deposits from January to June totaled $471,373.64 while expenses for those six months came to $583,112.52, leaving a June 30, 2020, balance of $318,467.02.
“If you look at some of our major purchases out of commissary this year, you’ve got to start with our K-9 program at the sheriff’s office,” Dukes said.
Dukes made the decision Jan. 1 to purchase two K-9 units for the county.
The purchase of the K-9 units is just the beginning, Dukes said. Following that, there is a six-week training course for the K-9 and the handler that both are required to pass.
The expenses also include equipment such as cages for patrol vehicles, bulletproof vests for the K-9s, collars, badges, leashes and food.
Dukes said they discovered that the design of the 2020 patrol vehicles is not compatible with standard cages so new cages had to be ordered.
“Somewhere in the vehicle world and the dog cage world, there was no communication,” Dukes said, eliciting laughter from those in attendance.
New firearms were purchased for the SWAT team, Dukes said, and ammunition was purchased for both the SWAT team and the patrol division.
“We have done so much training in the firearms section that we were low on ammunition,” Dukes said. “I’m telling you, I did not think we’d come to the point where law enforcement would have a tough time finding ammo, but it is, especially 9 mm.”
Other expenses so far this year include uniforms, remodeling and COVID supplies, such as hand sanitizer and gloves.
The body armor had expired at the sheriff’s office so new body armor was purchased.
Commissioner Vice-President Bob Conley pointed out that the sheriff’s reserves also received new body armor.
An old squad room was converted into a training room, resulting in the need for remodeling.
Both the men’s and women’s Jail Chemical Addiction Programs resumed Monday, July 6, Dukes said. He expressed gratitude for a generous donation to the JCAP program made last month by Jim and Jean Northenor.
The jail population is now at 246, which Dukes called “a good number.”
Commissioners also approved Kosciusko County Systems Administrator Bob Momeyer’s request for renewal of a three-year contract with Intelligent Fiber Network, the company that provides internet connection for the county.
The only change to the contract is a $50 a month increase, Momeyer said. In exchange for the price increase, the county will receive quadruple bandwidth.
Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation CEO Alan Tio provided a KEDCo quarterly update.
Tio said there is a small business relief fund with money available for zero-interest loans to help companies with business recovery and job retention.
“We have a loan committee that meets weekly to review those requests,” Tio said.
Thanks to the involvement of the county, the City of Warsaw and the Town of Winona Lake, Tio said there is nearly half a million dollars available.
“We want to support small business and see businesses continue to flourish here,” Tio said.
KEDCo recently launched the Small Business Summer Innovation Series, which includes five one-hour sessions online to help business owners, business leaders and community leaders develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Tio spoke about talent initiative, including a partnership with TMap for talent recruitment and a dual career initiative.
This is focused on building a “talent pipeline,” Tio said.
TMAP helps by finding people outside the region who meet local job requirements and are willing to relocate.
“Dual career initiative means that if there’s a spouse or partner coming along, we’ll help that person open some doors, make some introductions, help them find a job. We don’t want someone to overlook or not consider coming to our area because there’s somebody else who’s worried about their career as well.”
The unemployment rate for Kosciusko County is among the 10 lowest in the state, according to Tio.
In other news:
- Rebecca Phend of South Whitley was honored as Veteran of the Month.
- The July 9 Kosciusko County Council meeting will be held at the courthouse due to heating and cooling issues at the justice building.
- An amended ordinance prohibiting firearms and other items at the county justice building County presented by County Attorney Chad Miner was approved by commissioners. The amended ordinance adds a provision that retired Kosciusko County law enforcement officers and retired law enforcement officers from any municipality located in Kosciusko County may carry in the justice building.
- Commissioners approved the appointment of Sally Cline to the Milford Library Board. Cline will replace Margaret Cousins. Cline’s four-year term will begin Aug. 1.
- Kosciusko Area Bus Service General Manager Tony Peterson received approval for the 2021 operating grant agreement voucher and for a purchase agreement voucher for a replacement van.
- Commissioners approved the 2021 county holiday calendar.
- The next regular meeting will take place at 9 a.m. July 21.