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One Week Of Snow Removal Cost County Around $73,000
Updated February 24, 2015 3:08 PM | Filed under: Politics
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(BEDFORD) - Snowstorms rocked Lawrence County this past week, but it also took from the county's coffers.

Around $73,000 was spent in a seven day period clearing county roads. That figure includes supplies, overtime pay and fuel costs.

"We were kept busy," says Lawrence County Highway Superintendent David Holmes. "I want to thank all the guys for the long hours they put in and their hard work. They did a heck of a job for what we had to deal with. I am very proud of them."

The mounds of snow not only covered area roadways, but cause huge piles when it was plowed off the roadways knocking down several mailboxes throughout the county.

"Especially Saturday evening," Holmes added. "It was a heavy wet snow that was coming off those blades. We run into this problem every year. I have received numerous phone calls about people's mailboxes being knocked down."

Holmes says the boxes weren't knocked down by the plows, but by the heavy snow coming off the blades and there is nothing the county can do about that.

"If the plow actually hits the mailbox it is a different story, but that has not been the case," Holmes says.

Commissioner Bill Spreen says residents are responsible for erecting a mailbox that can withstand the weight of the snow being plowed off the roadways.

"It is not something we can be held responsible for," Spreen added. "It is not the taxpayers responsibility to pay for someone's mailbox if it was poorly constructed."

Bridge Bids

The county received one bid to replace Bridge 89, which is located over Salt Creek on Guthrie Road and Bridge 82, which is on Judah Logan Road over Salt Creek in the Judah Bottoms. Each bid was from CLR Inc.

Both bridges are on the inspection list of county bridges to be replaced.

The bridges need to be replaced because of beam damage caused by salt used to melt ice on county roads.

Airport Runway

Virgil I. Grissom Municipal will begin runway improvements when the weather breaks.

Jeff Lytton of the Lawrence County Board of Aviation says the 4,500-foot runway was last repaired in 1973. Because of the rough runway, the airport and county has lost business.

Rehabilitating the runway with concrete (which has a longer lifespan) will cost about $3.1 million. That price includes not only rehabbing the runway but installing new lights and grooving the surface for safety.

An FAA grant will cover 90 percent of the cost and money from the Indiana Department of Transportation would pay for 5 percent. That leaves a local match of 5 percent -- about $200,000.

The airport already has about $120,000 in a runway improvement fund. The county council approved to pay the remaining $80,000 needed for the project.

Once the runway is done the aviation board is hoping to draw some business from the PGA Champions Tour planned in French Lick on May 21-24.

Comprehensive Plan

Janie Jones addressed the commissioners about developing a comprehensive plan for the county. She wants a comprehensive plan to stop people like Zionsville duck farm owner Erik Risman from building facilities in Lawrence County.

Risman has purchased property just off U.S. 50 near Bryantsville. He owns Duck du Jour in Zionsville and is building a facility on his new property. The unique farm raises and harvests French white Muscovy ducks. Foie gras, or fat liver, is popular in French cuisine. To fatten the livers, farmers use a feeding tube to force-feed the animals and that process has drawn complaints from animal support groups.

Risman says the ducks are barn-raised for the first 3.5 weeks and then pastured during daylight hours where they range and grow freely.

But Jones and some of the neighboring property owners don't like the idea and a comprehensive plan would stop other facilities like Risman's from settling in Lawrence County.

The commissioners say since there is no zoning code in the county, Risman does not need permission to do business here and Lawrence County is an agricultural county.

Commissioner President Chris May says the county addressed the issue of developing a comprehensive plan years ago and residents were against it.

"The majority of them feared it would bring zoning laws," May added.

Spreen also added that the 95 percent of the residents he has talked to are against zoning.

"They don't want to be told what they can or cannot do on their property," he added. "They just don't want any part of it."

Sheriff's Department

Sheriff Mike Branham reported there were 114 inmates in the Lawrence County Jail, of those 18 were women and 5 Department of Correction holds.

Sheriff Branham is still seeking bids to improve the parking lot on the north side of the jail. He currently has two, but would like a third.

He also requested that the commissioners look at the overtime pay definition.

Branham is going to change the shifts of several officers at the department to better serve the county.

He has done a study of when the peak times officers are needed on calls over a period of a year and found that having some officers on 12 or 10 hours shifts would help with quicker response times and better police coverage of the county.

"There will be some flexibility in the shifts," Branham added. "I just think this will be a benefit."

Branham also changed food vendors at the jail.

"We will save about 20 percent on each meal," he added. "And have better quality and more calories on the trays for less money."

Alerting Staff To Weather Delays

Commissioner May asked Emergency Management Director Valerie Luchauer to develop a plan to notify the staff and courthouse security when there is a delay or closing of the courthouse when there is bad weather.

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