Lawrence County Council Denies, Tables And Approves Requests

(BEDFORD) – The Lawrence County Council did not put their stamp of approval on all requests made during their meeting Tuesday night.

The first person to meet resistance was Lawrence County Circuit Court Judge Nathan Nikirk. His request to appropriate $32,389 for the salary of full-time CASA employee Melissa Craig was denied.

That position was to be paid for by a grant. However, the grant states it cannot be used to fund full-time positions, therefore Judge Nikirk requested the council to fund the position.

“This was not what we voted on during last month’s meeting,” said Lawrence County Councilmember Jim Edwards. The other council members agreed.

Judge Nikirk apologized to the council and stated he did not mean to mislead them. He thought last month it was understood what would be done.

After much discussion and the talk of another grant being approved for the 2021 budget year, the council amended their motion to reduce the request to 50 percent of the salary to be paid. The council members voted to approve the motion made by Councilwoman Julie Hewetson.

The Lawrence County Council voted to table Deputy Prosecutor Bob Cline’s request for $10,000 to purchase a color copy machine and office furniture.

The request was tabled because the council members felt it would be better to rent the copy machine instead of purchase it. Rental agreements save money in the long run, especially if the equipment requires repairs and other servicing.

The prosecutor’s office will return next month and clarify their request.

Lawrence County Public Defenders Bruce Andis’ request for $20,000 was denied by the council with every council member voting against the request.

Three public defenders have left the office since January. Lawrence County Council President David Flinn stated there should be enough money in the budget to help fund the salary request.

Last month Andis was given permission to hire two part-time employees and two full-time employees.

In other business:

  • Lawrence County Probation Officer Chad Shew requested a grant from the Lawrence County Community Foundation for $3,386 to be placed in the Probation Department budget. That request was approved.
  • Shew’s request to place a $266,723 grant from the Indiana Department of Correction in the budget was also approved.
  • Nedra Brock Fleetwood’s request for a $10,000 grant to be placed in the budget for Problem Solving Court was approved. A $10,000 grant for Superior Court II Drug Court for case management and safety plans was also approved.
  • Veterans Officer Brad Bough’s request for a transfer of $300 was approved between budget lines.
  • Deputy Prosecutor Bob Cline’s request to extradite an inmate from Florida which will cost $1,941 was approved.
  • Juvenile Judge Ann Gouty’s request for a budget appropriation for a $10,711 grant for juvenile drug testing was approved. A $49,357 grant for the Juvenile Initiative to keep juveniles out of facilities was also approved.
  • Commissioner Rodney Fish’s request to hire a mechanic for the Lawrence County Highway Department was approved.
  • The Commissioners’ request for $26,520 to replace lighting around the jail was approved and will be taken from the Cumulative Capital Fund.

Deputy Prosecutor Bob Cline will be attending the graduation ceremony at Stonegate Arts & Education Center on Friday. The three-week program introduced job skills to adults in the community.

Sheriff Mike Branham gave council members an update that the repairs to the railing along the ramps at the jail are almost complete.

Sheriff’s Branham’s request to hire two part-time female corrections officers was approved. The council approved to allow the sheriff to hire two part-time employees as long as their salaries are under $20,000. The request came after three of the current six female corrections officers went on leave due to health issues and will be out for more than twelve weeks.