(WASHINGTON) - Beginning early next year, Daviess County will have a distinct presence on the web.
Currently Daviess County is one of only a handful of counties in the state not to have a website, but that will change in 2013 thanks to action taken by the Daviess County commissioners.
Blake Chambers of the Washington Times-Herald reports that following a recommendation from Dale Quakenbush, head of the Daviess County IT department, the commissioners approved a contract with eGov Strategies, an Indianapolis-based company specializing in developing websites for governmental entities.
Quakenbush, who has been exploring the idea of a county website for close to two years, said he has had discussions with other companies and also tried to develop a site on his own but eventually choose eGov because it offered both a web design project and a content management system.
"It allows people to go and change things on the fly," Quakenbush said. "You just click on a little pencil and its just like changing a word document. So each department can change and add information. It has a public side and an employee side."
The company gave Quakenbush a demonstration of the program six weeks ago and previewed it for department heads earlier this month.
Referring to the demo, county Auditor Gail Doades told the commissioners she was "impressed by it and all it can do. It's very professional."
Doades also said she is asked frequently if the county has a website and people are surprised when she tells them no. She added, "I think it will help the county."
The cost of the eGov contract is $18,375 plus $3,600per year for maintenance.
After discussion, the commissioners voted to approve the contract pending review by county attorney Grant Swartzentruber. Assuming the contract goes forward, a representative from eGov will meet with department heads in the coming months and the site should be up and running sometime in the first quarter of 2013 according to Quakenbush.
In other business, the commissioners heard requests for grant approvals from Kathy Sullender of the health department and Jack Miles, Daviess County Airport Superintendent.
Sullender sought and received approval for two grants totaling $40,096, and Miles received approval for $115,000.
Miles explained the airport grant is needed to fund an environmental study in connection with a proposed extension of the runway and taxi way, which will eventually allow larger aircraft to land at the airport. Currently the runway is 4,800 feet long but the airport has plans to lengthen it to 5,001 feet. If completed, the longer runway will allow a 727 to land at the Daviess County Airport.
The environmental study represents phase 1 in a multi-phased project involving design, land acquisition, and construction, and which will cost roughly $700,000 when completed. According to Miles, the design phase will begin in 2014 and the construction phase will begin in 2016.
The grant provides for a local match of $8,625 which Miles said will be paid out of the airport budget.
In highway business, highway Superintendent Phil Cornelius sought approval of a claim for $17,576 to pay for design work completed in the past month on phase 2 of the Cannelburg Road project. Eighty percent, or $14,061, of the claim will be reimbursed to the county from federal highway fund.
Cornelius went on to tell the board that he recently received an award letter from INDOT approving additional funding for phase 2, but said he needed to talk with the county's engineering firm before disclosing the amount of the new award.
Swartzentruber reported on the status of bridge 284, commonly known as the "overhead bridge" on 15 th Street in Washington. Swartzentruber wrote a letter to CSX last month threatening litigation if the railroad continued to ignore the county's demands that they work with county officials to address the bridge's structural problems.
Swartzentruber reported that a representative of CSX has been in touch with him and has asked for various records and bridge reports.
"They haven't given us a time line," Swartzentruber said, "but they realize they own it and that it's in disrepair so we're not going to have to file suit at this time. They say all the right things. I don't know if they're just blowing smoke."
Commissioner President Tony Wichman thanked Swartzentruber for his efforts thus far but cautioned, "You have to stay on 'em."
Swartzentruber assured him he would.
Doades advised the commissioners that Kenneth Solliday had resigned from the Community Corrections Advisory Board and that another member of the county council needed to be named as his replacement. However, after discussion, the commissioners decided to table the new appointment until after the meeting of the county council on Wednesday.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Wichman commented on the burn ban and said he saw no reason to lift it. Commissioners Larry Wilson and Michael Taylor both agreed.
Taylor said, "We've had spotty rain showers here and there but that's not enough to change anything."
Wichman went on to say: "Until things get green, we need to leave the burn ban on. These corn fields are going to get worse and worse and until they're either plowed under or disked, we will have this problem until late fall. I anticipate the burn ban being in effect for an extended period of time."
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