By Lasca Randels
WARSAW — Cardinal Services will be allocating 2022 nonprofit funds received from the county to its Head Start and Early Head Start programs.
Cardinal Services Executive Director Matt Boren requested a reallocation of 2022 funds at the Kosciusko County Commissioners’ meeting Tuesday, Nov. 23.
Boren told commissioners that when Cardinal Services completed the application for 2022 nonprofit funding, they requested funds for three areas: the Head Start/Early Head Start program, Kosciusko Area Bus Service (KABS) and employment services.
“As you know, last year we had some funding for our direct support professionals who work in the community with individuals with developmental disabilities and that really helped us address some staffing concerns we were having,” Boren said. “However, the Head Start program was not included in that. Their funding was not increased and their wages are substantially lower.”
Boren said that recently, with the vaccine requirements for federal programs and the general staffing shortage, Cardinal Services has identified some “pretty severe staffing shortages” in that program.
To address this situation short-term, Boren said, he would like to use the full amount of funding granted by the county toward Head Start and Early Head Start funding.
Boren said this would give them time to adjust wages and address issues that exist in the program. He said a process has already been started to obtain additional funding for the Head Start program. They are also looking at “a change of scope” to decide how best to serve the community, which could mean adjusting program hours or the number of classrooms to ensure they have competitive wages to attract the talent needed for the area.
“I know the county typically just gives us a grant award which we receive for the full amount we requested and there’s not specific language in there saying it has to be designated this way, but I know that in our application we said we were going to do it a certain way so I didn’t feel right just doing that on our own without coming and requesting your permission to do so,” Boren said.
Commissioner Vice President Cary Groninger pointed out that there’s a waiting list to get into the Head Start program. Groninger said he sees the program as a huge asset to the community and is in full support of Cardinal Services using the funding as Boren sees fit.
The request for allocation of funds was approved.
Commissioners also approved a railroad crossing closing agreement with Norfolk Southern.
The agreement addresses the proposed closing of the crossing at CR 400E. The crossing is west of Sidney, in the southern part of the county.
County Attorney Ed Ormsby said there are some conditions that have been negotiated with Norfolk Southern for the closure, which is being considered at Norfolk Southern’s request.
If the county passes the resolution supporting the closure within 120 days, Norfolk Southern will pay the county $250,000. Norfolk Southern will also pay for all labor, materials and equipment and reimburse the county for barricades erected by the county at the crossing and construct a suitable turnaround on the south side of the tracks to become part of the dedicated roadway. Norfolk Southern will also extend two existing culverts underneath the tracks. In addition, there are also contemplated future projects that will be subject to separate agreements. If those future projects are approved by all necessary government entities, Norfolk Southern will pay an additional $100,000 to the county.
According to Will Miller, Norfolk Southern public safety director, the project is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
The project has been under consideration for a couple of years but wasn’t funded until 2021.
“Every time we close an intersection between highway traffic and rail traffic, we certainly eliminate the incident of any accident happening at that location. This project does that, but it also really shifts our traffic where we need to hold traffic. This is a very busy corridor between Chicago and Fort Wayne,” Miller said. “Currently, we run about 32 trains a day on this line. As trains get longer, we have to have suitable places to store them without interfering with the traveling public’s mobility and that’s what this project does, really, it takes any future frustration off the table and it’s a win-win for the county and for Norfolk Southern.”
“It’s already a siding … it’s just not the length that we really need to accommodate the freight trains that are moving in this part of the country so we’re extending the existing siding to about three miles in length,” Miller said.
In another matter, commissioners voted to table a rezoning request after the petitioner asked for more time in order to provide additional information to the Area Plan Commission.
The petition is to rezone ground from residential to commercial on the west side of SR 15, at the intersection with Dixie Drive, just outside the town limits of Silver Lake. The property is owned currently by the Silver Lake Wesleyan Church.
The Kosciusko County Area Planning Commission unanimously recommended denial of the rezoning petition earlier this month.
In other news:
- Jaclyn Franks – Purdue Extension – A 2022 contractual service agreement between the county and Purdue Extension was approved. In addition, Emily Lue was introduced as the new assistant ANR educator for Purdue Extension.
- Commissioners approved County Highway Superintendent Steve Moriarty’s recommendation that all bids for 2022 annual highway supplies be accepted. Moriarty also received permission to purchase two vehicles for 2022.
- A petition was approved for Lori Lea Schrader to rezone one acre from commercial to residential in the small, unincorporated community of Wooster on Washington Road in Washington Township.
- The next regular meeting will be 9 a.m. Dec. 7.