By David Slone
WARSAW — If awarded two $150,000 grants, Emergency Management Agency Director Ed Rock told the Kosciusko County Council Thursday that one of them will go toward installing close-circuit TV cameras around the courthouse.
Late Wednesday afternoon, he said, “we received an email of the availability — it’s called a NOFO (Notice Of Funding Opportunity) — for the State Homeland Security grant program and it also is a reimbursable grant. In that NOFO, you find out that you can actually submit for two separate topics under this. Each of those can go as high as $150,000.”
Rock said the intent that the county EMA has, with the council’s permission, is to write a priority grant for increasing the county’s cybersecurity.
“This is something that, if we don’t do it, it’s going to come back and bite us, plain and simple,” he said.
If awarded a grant for cybersecurity, Rock said the money will go toward securing the county’s server rooms. He said they’re not as protected as they should be.
With the other $150,000 grant he wants to apply for, Rock said, it would be for “enduring needs.”
Any dollars that are under SHSP (State Homeland Security Program) has to be tied to terrorism. Rock said cybersecurity is an easy one to tie to terrorism. “The enduring needs that we have, that we had discussion on … one of the other topics that we would like to submit for under enduring needs is to install close circuit television cameras around the courthouse. It’s a project that we would have liked to have done already, but this gives us an opportunity to fund that because it’s not already on someone’s budget to do,” he said.
For the grant, it has to be a topic that isn’t already a budget item.
Councilwoman Sue Ann Mitchell asked if the $150,000 would cover all of the camera project or just start the project.
Though Rock had not seen the proposals yet as of Thursday’s meeting, County Administrator Marsha McSherry said she actually has drawings of it.
“We got proposals a couple years ago, and it was just put on hold,” she said. The cameras would integrate with the camera system the county already has. “We’ve had a few incidents around the courthouse that it would be convenient for, so hopefully this is something that can go through.”
A couple years ago, McSherry said the quote for the cameras and installation probably totaled around $130,000. Since then, she said the price has likely increased to $150,000 or more.
The plan would be to cover all of the exterior of the courthouse with cameras. The Justice Building is covered as far as external cameras, but there’s nothing currently on the courthouse.
“With the increased use of the courthouse lawn, with various activities, it would be a great thing to have,” McSherry stated.
The grant must be submitted by April 25. The council unanimously approved for Rock to apply for both $150,000 grants.
Attorney Steve Snyder returned before the council Thursday requesting they confirm the declaratory resolution that they approved in February “declaring the economic revitalization on the Beer area on the Beer dairy farm and approving the tax abatement provisions for the digester that is to be constructed there.”
At the Feb. 9 council meeting, Snyder presented a five-year tax abatement request on behalf of IGDB Biogas LLC. The $4.5 million project includes two digesters that will take manure from the Beer dairy farm and eventually convert it to renewable natural gas, which will be directly transmitted into the natural gas pipeline. IGDB will provide all the services, which will create three jobs at an average annual salary of $52,000. The property is at 9194 N. Orn Road, Milford.
“It is an unusual opportunity for a tax abatement connected to the agricultural industry,” Snyder said.
A public hearing was held for the tax abatement, but there were no remonstrators. The council approved unanimously.
Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Chris McKeand requested the council’s approval on several transfers.
“At the beginning of the year, we re-evaluated a lot of the functions of the sheriff’s department. I’d call it restructuring. The sheriff and I earlier approached the wage committee with the restructuring that we thought was needed to move forward successfully with the operation of our department,” he said.
To the wage committee, he said they presented multiple changes and job descriptions. They already approached the Merit Board about “replacing that into the merit rules, certain ranks. So we already went ahead and had those re-established within our merit structure, and we asked the wage committee for us to be able to reinstitute the rank of lieutenant as our division commanders in the department, which would be over the jail, over patrol and over investigations.”
Also being re-evaluated are the rank of corporal, lead dispatch, Jail Chemical Addiction Program coordinator, financial administrator and kitchen coordinator and cooks.
Mitchell said the recommendation of the wage committee was that the council approve it. “This is merely restructuring back to what it was,” she said.
The council approved the request unanimously.
In other business, the Council:
• Approved February encumbrances totaling $1,996,781.51, as requested by County Auditor Rhonda Helser.
Mitchell said, “I just want to say, remember in January when we got the last balance sheet and it looked like we were really, really strong with $2 million. There’s our $2 million right there. So these are things that have been spoken for, could have been paid for, but the bill didn’t come until after the end of the year (2022).”
Payroll also was a part of it.
“That’s really important to remember at the end of the year: Don’t look at your year-end balance in December and think we’ve really done great because encumbrances are coming,” Mitchell said.
• Approved the State of Indiana Opioid Settlement Match Grant application for $202,500, as requested by the opioid committee. The county commissioners approved the application Feb. 28.
• Approved the transfer of $103,785 as requested by County Assessor Gail Chapman to pay the vendor hired to do a portion of the county’s commercial/industrial assessments.
• Approved an additional appropriation request from Rock for a $19,900 grant the EMA wrote in 2022.
“This is the HMEP (Hazardous Material Exercise Program) grant. This will pay for training and exercise, and we split this grant up so that we can conduct some training. I think we’ve got three different trainings involved with that. Some directly hazmat related, others for incident command,” Rock said. “And then the exercise is to hire a contracted service to assist us with the evaluation and the facilitation of an exercise, a mock disaster if you will.”
• Approved McSherry’s request for an appropriation adjustment. The county received an insurance claim payment for $15,788 after a vendor damaged a limestone panel on the west side of the Justice Building.
• Approved signing the Senior Prosecutor HUB Grant cooperative agreement with the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, as requested by Prosecuting Attorney Brad Voelz.
The county terminated its contract with IPAC at the end of 2022 so Kosciusko County will no longer be the hub county in the future. The leftover 2022 grant funds will continue paying the county staff through 2023 until IPAC can find a new county to take on the role of the hub county.
• Reappointed Emily Shipley to another four-year term on the Lakeland Regional Sewer District. The term expires April 18, 2027.