Commissioners make speed limits changes, approve billboards, paving to begin

BEDFORD – Lawrence County Prosecutor Sam Arp asked permission to spend money from his budget to advertise on two billboards, one on US 50 East and the other on Mitchell Road.

Arp secured a contract with Johnny Signs to do the billboards. One will advertise on both sides and the other on one side. Both billboards will advertise the Child Support Division services and the Lawrence County Prosecutor’s Office tip line 812-545-4700.

Sam Arp

“This contract is a one-year lease agreement,” said Prosecutor Arp.

The commissioners heard from Jason Semler of Tilly Baker, a municipal advisor, to better the commissioners on how to spend the American Rescue Plan funds. Lawrence County has received its first disbursement of more than $4.4 million.

Semler says there are a lot of regulations in place and those regulations change daily.

Jason Semler

“The information is about a clear as mud and changing daily,” Semler said. “We are here to help in the process and see all requirements are met and reporting and documentation are all in place.”

County officials are currently in the planning stages on how and what project they will spend the money on.

Rodney Fish

“It may seem we are dragging our feet but we want to do this properly and use the money wisely,” said Commissioner Rodney Fish.

Semler says the county has until 2024 to obligate the funds and until 2026 to spend the funds.

The commissioner passed an ordinance to change the speed limits on several county roads.

  • Dixie Highway east of State Road 37 is now 40 miles per hour
  • Dixie Highway west of State Road 37 is now 35 miles per hour
  • Yockey Road east of Rabbitsville Road is now 40 miles per hour
  • Yockey Road west of Rabbitsville Road is now 30 miles per hour
  • Mill Creek Road east of Ball Road is now 35 miles per hour
  • Mill Creek Road west of Ball Road is now 25 miles per hour
  • Woodville Road is now 35 miles per hour

Lawrence County Veterans Affairs Officer Brad Bough reported the World War II Commemoration ceremony that was scheduled to be held on the courthouse house lawn is being moved to the education center at the request of WWII veterans.

Brad Bough

Bough reported officials are also working on plans for the Festival for Heroes, which is scheduled as an all day event on September 11 on the courthouse lawn. J Street will be closed to traffic.

The festival will honor veterans, police officers, firefighters, and emergency first responders.

The event will have vendors, food trucks, and a car show. The Prosecutor’s Office will also have a free DNA and fingerprinting booth for children.

Shance Sizemore, of the Economic Growth Council, requested the commissioner to issue a letter of support so the growth council can apply for an IU Health Hospital Foundation Grant. The Growth Council is requesting a grant of $1.7 million.

Shance Sizemore

“We have large community support with 33 community supporters including the Prosecutor’s Office, Public Defender’s Officer, Boys & Girls Club, Judge Cline, and COSMOS.”

Indiana University Health has stepped up its commitment to make Indiana a healthier state by investing $100 million in a fund that will address critical health issues affecting Hoosiers over the long term.

The newly established Community Impact Investment Fund will be administered by the Indiana University Health Foundation, which will use income from the fund to award yearly grants to address social issues affecting health outcomes across the state.

“Health care must go beyond treatments in a medical setting,” said Sizemore. “By pooling financial and other resources to combat negative social determinants of health, such as addiction, lack of education and literacy, poor lifestyle habits, and adverse childhood experiences and other traumas.”

Clerk Billie Tumey asked permission to move the voter registration office to the former Work One building.

Billie Tumey

More than 10,000 people voted at the building during early voting and another 6,365 on election day during the last election.

Wally Branham

“It makes sense,” said Commissioner Wally Branham. “It is a substantial cost to move the equipment back and forth.”

The commissioners took the request under advisement.

Tumey is also working on redistricting for both the commissioners and the county council. She is waiting on the updated census numbers which have been delayed due to COVID-19. She hopes to have the new numbers to finalize district lines by late August or early September.

Lawrence County Highway Department is patching roadways, mowing, and cutting brush.

David Holmes

Lawrence County Highway Superintendent David Holmes reports crews will begin paving county roads in Lawrence County on Wednesday.

Roads will be closed from 7:45 a.m. until approximately 4:30 p.m.

The following is a tentative schedule depending on the weather conditions:

  • Wednesday, August 4: Lawrenceport Main from Lawrenceport Road to Stonington Road
  • Thursday, August 5: Harrison Road from Hidden Valley Lane to Burton Cemetery Road
  • Friday, August 6: Burton Cemetery Road from Fleenor Road to Liberty Church Road
  • Monday, August 9: Burton Cemetery Road from Fleenor Road to Liberty Church Road
  • Tuesday, August 10: Grand View Road from Port Williams Road to Kings Ridge Road 

Work on Bridge 162 on Stonington Road continues. Work is progressing and on schedule for Bridges 150 on Mill Creek Road and 172 on Slaughter House Road.

“School starts tomorrow and we have crews out mowing and cutting brush but there is a lot to cut,” he added. “We are behind due to the past rains and we have a brush truck down for repairs. But we are working every day to get it taken care of.”

Holmes reported crews milling on Vinegar Hill Road to replace the pavement on the bridge discovered the concrete deck is deteriorating.

“We didn’t expect to find this,” added Holmes. “The bridge was built in 1984, so we didn’t expect to see this much damage.”

Holmes contacted bridge inspectors who were in Orange County to come to take a look at the damage.

“They advised us to go ahead and repave the bridge, but we will have to do something next year or the year after,” he added.

Valerie Luchauer

Emergency Management Director Valerie Luchauer reported COVID-19 numbers are “exploding” in Lawrence County.

“This morning 38 new cases were reported,” she added. “It is affecting everyone – public officials, children, teens, and adults alike. I look for us to be in orange by the end of the week or the beginning of next week. Since the start of the virus, Lawrence County has had 5,000 people test positive for the virus.

The commissioners opened two bids to approve communications with Lawrence County volunteer fire departments.

Those bids were taken under advisement.

Chief Deputy Gregg Taylor

Chief Deputy Gregg Taylor reported there were 170 inmates at the jail this morning, of those 134 were males, 36 females, four Level 6 felons, four Department of Correction hold, and one parole hold.