Sheriff, Commissions Praise Demonstrators Conduct

(BEDFORD) – On Tuesday morning, Lawrence County Sheriff Mike Branham and the commissioners praised the conduct of demonstrators.

A crowd gathered outside the Lawrence County Courthouse Sunday afternoon for a peaceful demonstration to support the Black Lives Matter movement and bring awareness to police brutality and racial issues.

Sheriff Mike Branham

Branham says that the demonstration went well despite a moment of concern due to a confrontation that officers stepped in to settle down quickly. “I want to thank everyone who was involved,” Branham added.

Commissioner Rodney Fish

“We would like to thank the public who showed good restraint, care, and concern,” said Commissioner Rodney Fish. “It made me proud to be a citizen of Lawrence County.”

Emergency Management Director Valerie Luchauer

Sheriff Branham bragged on Emergency Management Director Valerie Luchauer who had a response plan in place within hours of hearing about the demonstration.

Sheriff Branham also thanked Martin County Sheriff James Roush, Orange County Sheriff Joshua Babcock, Monroe County Sheriff Bradley Swain, Greene County Sheriff Michael Hasler, and Jackson County Sheriff Mike Carothers who had deputies available to help take calls and respond if needed.

Branham also thanked Indiana State Police Bloomington Post Commander Lieutenant Paul Bucher who allowed four state troopers to patrol Lawrence County this weekend and answer calls.

The highway department crew was also thanked for bringing barricades to the Sheriff’s Department in case they were needed.

Luchauer also praised the demonstrators saying no trash was left behind and there was no damage done to any property.

In other business:

Sheriff Branham reported there were 112 inmates in the jail Tuesday morning. Of those 88 were males, 24 females, two Level 6 offenders, four Department of Correction holds and there were no parole violators.

The commissioners also signed a contract to have the elevator upgraded and the fire alarm system in the elevator repaired.

Emergency Management continues to monitor local COVID-19 numbers.

“We are still seeing positive cases; it is not stopping,” added Luchauer. “But it is slowing.”

Luchauer has also ordered more personal protection equipment for the county.

“We are thinking about a second wave – we are learning as we go and we will be prepared,” she added.

The commissioners signed a contract with Barnes & Thornburg LLP legal service to help the county seek direct payment or reimbursement from the CARES Act.

The CARES Act provides fast and direct economic assistance for workers and families, small businesses, and preserves jobs. This over $2 trillion economic relief package delivers on the Trump Administration’s commitment to protecting the American people from the public health and economic impacts of COVID-19.

“We hired them to see that the county expenses are covered,” Luchauer added.

The cost to hire the law firm is $7,500 and will be paid for with EMS funds.

Luchauer is monitoring strong storms that could hit this afternoon.

The commissioners signed the insurance renewal contract with Miles Parker of Parker Group. Parker had some good news to share saying the annual policy decreased 1.6 percent.

Lawrence County Human Resources Director Brian Skillman asked the commissioners to update the COVID-19 employee policy. The update states an employee who tests positive for COVID-19 must quarantine for 14 days and must not have a fever or other symptoms without the use of medication for an additional three days before returning to work. When the employee returns to work they must have their temperature taken for seven days and must wear a mask in all county buildings. If symptoms re-appear they will be sent home immediately and must be retested and have a negative result before returning to work.

The commissioners signed an employment agreement to allow the Health Department to hire Josh Davis as the new Medical Reserve Core Coordinator. Davis, who is a paramedic, will be paid $500 a month. His salary is being paid through a grant.

Highway Superintendent David Holmes reported highway crews are busy mowing, cutting brush and patching, and paving roadways. Crews just finished paving Groundhog Road.

Highway Superintendent David Holmes

“We have three to four more roads to pave,” Holmes added. “Then we will reassess where we are and the money situation and see where we will go from there.”

Holmes is also applying for the next round of Community Crossing grants.

“The grant opens on July 1 and we will put in for the full one million but we will have to see how it goes. Those grants are based on gas sales tax and that revenue has been down since the pandemic.”

Bridge crews have been spraying weeds around bridges and helping out the highway crews.

Phase two of bridge inspections will begin next week. It should take around 10 days to complete.

Work on historical Bridge 150 in Heltonville is back on schedule.