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Bison Will Find Home In Lawrence County
Updated December 30, 2015 7:33 AM | Filed under: Politics
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(BEDFORD) - Bison once wandered Indiana and were so common that it has been included in the state seal since its earliest incarnation.

While wild buffalo are long gone from the Hoosier State after being hunted to near-extinction nationwide in the 19th century, the land beast will make a comeback of sorts in 2016 to celebrate Indiana's 200th birthday.

Lori Hammer of the Indiana Association of United Way told the commissioners Tuesday morning about a bison-tennial public art project that aims to place uniquely-styled 5-foot tall fiberglass bison sculptures throughout the state starting in May.

"The goal is to have at least one bison in every county," Hammer says.

If chosen, Lawrence County's bison could be on display through the summer and featured along the route of the Bicentennial Torch Relay that runs from September 9 - October 15.

The nonprofit charitable organization is seeking artists to decorate bison sculptures and businesses and community groups to sponsor the project, which is endorsed by the Indiana Bicentennial Commission. Artist specifications and sponsorship information is available online at: iauw.org/bison.

"We understand this would be the first-of-its-kind statewide public art project in the country," Hammer added. "Local artist will be asked to submit their design that would highlight Lawrence County. What we are asking is that the county provide a permanent home for the bison once it is completed."

The commissioners agreed to discuss the placement of the bison and will render their decision at a later date.

In other business:

Circuit Court Judge Andrea McCord asked the commissioner to renew a four-year contract with Maximus, the consulting company that collects data and figures hours that employees from the courts, clerks and prosecutor's office works to collected and handle child support information. The company calculates the hours so the county can be reimbursed. The county also gets reimbursed the cost of the contract which did not change from four years ago. The commissioners voted to renew the contract.

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Veterans Administration Officer Brad Bough presented the commissioner with a letter of commendation to the commissioner for their support of local veterans.

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The commissioners approved the annual agreement to pay the White River Humane Society $45,000 for housing and caring for the county's homeless animals. The amount will be paid to the shelter in installments.

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Sheriff Mike Branham reported there were 112 inmates in the jail Tuesday morning. Of those 26 were females and 5 were Department of Correction holds.

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Sheriff Branham told the commissioners that he had some end of the year money left over to convert the indoor recreation area into a dormitory for prisons. Once that is complete the lower level of the jail will be used to house female inmates.

"That will bring our capacity from 168 inmates to an 180 bed facility," he added. "We are not seeing those numbers right now but we will again in the spring and summer months, but now we will be ready and not have the over-crowding issues we had last summer."

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Sheriff Branham also echoed Bough's letter of commendation to the commissioners saying he appreciated the working with the commissioners during his first year as sheriff.

"I do a lot of traveling and speak to a lot of sheriff's and I can't say enough about our commissioners," he added. "It has been a great first year for me and I look forward to it continuing for the next three years."

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County attorney Dave Smith presented a utility agreement between the Child Support Division and Bailey's Flowers & Gifts. The floral shop has agreed to let the county use their utility assess to hook up a 6-foot cable to hook up their computer system after the moved into the former Subway building. The contract is for a year, but Smith says the county can end the contract at anytime.

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Smith also presented an interlocal agreement with Monroe County allowing them to use the county's right-of-ways during their improvement project on Hunter Ridge Road. The right-of-ways will revert back under the county's control after the project is completed.

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Highway Superintendent David Holmes reported crews have been busy clearing storm debris.

"We had a lot of downed trees due to strong winds and the soil being saturated with rain," he added.

Crews have been busy doing cold patching and replaced six culverts.

Holmes also presented the commissioner a contract allowing monitoring and testing of the landfill groundwater. The testing is required by the state.

The yearly contract cost $24,899 and allows for at least 4 sample test each year.

Holmes says he and Emergency Management Director Valerie Luchauer have been watching the rising water.

"So far we only had River Road that is covered," Holmes says. "But the water is due to rise."

Luchauer says forecast call for the river to reach levels it did last March and July.

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Luchauer told the commissioner she and Sheriff Branham are working on safety planning and plan to hold an evacuation drill at the courthouse.

"We have not had one and we need to do that," she added.

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Holmes reported the bridge inspections are complete and the bridge inspection books are available for review.

"We will need to get together here in a month or so and come up with a plan on how to address the issues," Holmes added.



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