By Lasca Randels
WARSAW — Kosciusko County Administrator Marsha McSherry presented quotes for sprinkler head replacements for the jail during the Kosciusko County Commissioners meeting Tuesday, Sept. 1.
Kosciusko County Jail continues to have issues with their current sprinkler heads, which are easily broken.
Indiana Fire Sprinkler and Backflow Inc., Fort Wayne, submitted the lowest quote, in the amount of $24,000, to replace 160 sprinkler heads.
McSherry said five sprinkler heads were replaced over the weekend.
“It’s an ongoing issue,” McSherry said.
Inmates put towels around the sprinkler heads, pulling parts off and breaking the heads.
When one breaks, water floods the cells and goes down into the basement. McSherry said electronic equipment has had to be replaced in the past due to water damage.
Kosciusko County Jail Commander Shane Coney said the new sprinkler heads, which are a different type, will be an improvement but won’t eliminate the problem.
The option of installing a control valve, which would limit water flow to cells unless activated by an employee, was discussed.
McSherry said this is being looked into and quotes are being sought for water flow control systems, such as the one used at Indiana Department of Corrections.
Commissioners approved the quote from Indiana Fire Sprinkler and Backflow Inc., Fort Wayne, for 160 sprinkler heads.
In other matters, Chief Deputy Shane Bucher from the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office received approval to continue with the Stop Arm Violation Enforcement (SAVE) grant request in the amount of $10,000 through the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.
“This has been a wonderful program that started last year and continues this year,” said County Auditor Michelle Puckett.
The SAVE grant promotes a coordinated effort for improved compliance with school bus stop arms. The goal of the program is to ensure safe transportation routes to and from school, with the program promoting collaboration between law enforcement, school corporation and bus drivers.
SAVE helps prevent violations by having law enforcement follow school bus routes, enabling immediate enforcement for violations. Upon arrival at schools, law enforcement officers may assist with crosswalk violations and the enforcement of school speed zones.
Kosciusko County Assessor Susan Engelberth requested permission to purchase a vehicle for the county assessor’s office. Engelberth told commissioners that the department performs numerous field visits each year. In 2019, the department did 3,228 field visits.
“Every mobile home park in the county gets visited every year. We have 72 mobile home parks or campgrounds in 21 townships,” Engelberth said. “We have, right now, 3,215 personal property mobile homes we have to check on each year.”
“We probably do more site visits in a year than any other department,” Engelberth told commissioners.
Engelberth said the department currently uses rental vehicles for these visits, which is paid for through the reassessment fund.
The new vehicle would be purchased with money from an account designated for the assessor’s use. Engelberth said she spent just over $7,400 in rental car fees for one year and that amount does not include mileage that was paid for field visits and other trips.
This creates multiple problems because they are forced to take whatever vehicle is available on the rental lot. Low vehicles do not travel well on large rocks at building sites, Engelberth said, and it makes people nervous to see strange vehicles with license plates that are often from out of state driving slowly through their neighborhood.
When asked what type of vehicle she would like to purchase and what amount she plans to spend for the purchase, Engelberth said she has not planned that far ahead.
Engelberth was advised to meet with KCSO Chief Deputy Bucher for guidance with the process and return to commissioners with a dollar figure.
Kosciusko County Emergency Management Agency Director Ed Rock received approval to replace 5,000 N95 masks with CARES Act money in the amount of $25,000.
In addition, Rock explained that when wearing a respirator or mask of certain types, fit-testing is required, per OSHA regulations.
Rock said they have used fit-testing equipment in the past and said he currently has two units that were purchased with grant money in 2005.
According to Rock, those units have come to end of life. The cost to purchase a new unit would be $18,080. Rock said one of the outdated units could be used as a trade-in, bringing the price for the new unit down to $16,580.
“This actually is a better product than what we originally had and it’s faster and more efficient so I think I can get by with only one of them as opposed to having two,” Rock said. “It used to take 20 minutes to run each individual test and now it’s down to about three minutes per test.”
Commissioners approved the purchase of a new unit.
Lastly, Rock told commissioners that a local person has solicited funds from businesses and foundations for the purchase of a high-level drone for the county.
“The sheriff’s department already has the system in place that is required. They have people trained and they’re getting people trained to operate this drone,” Rock said.
Cost of the drone is $26,000 and total donations are expected to cover the expense. Rock requested approval to move forward with this purchase.
“The utilization of a drone just keeps growing,” Rock said.
The drone could be used by multiple agencies in the county. It could be useful in helping firefighters identify hot spots and assess property damage, assist law enforcement in pinpointing the location of a suspect when involved in a potentially dangerous situation and can be effective in locating missing persons.
Commissioners approved the purchase.
In other news:
- Terry Burnworth, owner of Pyramid Consulting Services, Indianapolis, received approval to move forward with documents and bidding for three public safety towers and an alternate of three broadband towers as the county moves forward with the public safety broadband system project. Documents will be available for bidders around Sept. 16, with bids due Oct. 13.
- Danny Boggs of Claypool was honored as Veteran of the Month.
- Commissioners approved the appointment of Brad Newcomer to the Nappanee Library Board.
- The next regular meeting will be 9 a.m. Sept. 15.