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Officials Update Council Members On 39 Degrees North
Updated May 5, 2013 1:06 AM | Filed under: WBIW News
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(BEDFORD) - Kenna Hodges and Cheryl Blackwell of the assessor office, updated the Lawrence County Council on the 39 Degrees North Geographic Information System for the county.

The software system integrates the county's computer assisted mass appraisal and tax databases with geographic information, such as parcels. The program provides vital property information to county departments and the public

Hodges says there are about 5,000 mistakes on the mapping system, but those mistakes are being corrected daily.

To visit the site got to

In other business:

* The council approved the veteran's affairs office to purchase a new printer.

* Lawrence County Sam Craig provided a financial update to the council.

Craig has some concerns about shortages in his budget, but is working to correct the situation.

Currently he has spent about 84 percent of his garage motor funds. Those funds are used to repairs and upkeep the department's vehicle. He is hoping to add to the fund from commissary money.

Another concern providing nutritious meals to inmates.

He says food prices are soaring and has changed vendors to make ends meet.

He has meet with vendors and changed the menu trying to provide healthy meals at a reasonable cost. The new menu is awaiting approval of the dietitian.

Another concern was the high price of gas. Craig says the department has spent nearly 48 percent of the budget in just 4 months. He says he doesn't want to pull officers off patrols, but says the department will probably not participate in extra seatbelt, or operating while intoxicated patrols because the grants that fund those operations does pay for gasoline.

After the meeting Adjourned Lawrence County Coroner John Sherrill told the council that the county will need to find a morgue.

Currently the county is using the morgue at IU Health Bedford Hospital, but they have asked the county to find somewhere else to take the counties deceased or beginning May 11 the hospital will start charging the county $200 a day to house a body and $500 to allow Dr. James Jacobi to perform an autopsy.

Sherrill also checked what Terre Haute, who also has a morgue and found it would probably cost the county more than $34,000 a year and that does not count transportating the body to and from the facility and over-time cost of a police officer to accompany the body.

"When you have to deal with other facilities it can be a roll of the dice," Sherrill added. "You are at their mercy and there could be other costs and take longer to get results."

Sheriff Sam Craig says having a county facility would be a benefit in criminal investigation. He shared an experience when a child died from sudden death syndrome and within an hour Dr. Jacobi was able to perform an autopsy and confirm the cause of death.

"That saved the family the grief of having to wait and wonder," Craig said. "It also allowed police to know if the case was to be treated as a homicide. We were able to answer a lot of questions quickly."

Craig added that having an out of county facility could hinder criminal investigations.

"Most homicides are solved within the first 24 to 48 hours," he said. "If we use out of county facilities it could take longer to find needed answers."

Sherill told the council it will be cheaper if the county builds a facility and charges other counties to use it.

Sherrill received an estimate from Tri-County Builders, Charlie Meadows for $109,000 to convert a portion of a county owned building, located behind Dr. Craton's office in Dunn Plaza, into a morgue.

Council President Jim Edwards asked Sherrill to report his findings to the commissioners who will then vote on the proposal and send it to the council for consideration.

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