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White County Board Covers Copious Amount of Ground at February Meeting

An hour and 45 minutes.  It’s lengthy for a board meeting, but when you only meet as a board once a month, it’s also important to give yourself time to discuss important matters avoiding a breeze through of decisions with at times, weighty impact.  The White County Board tackled more than 2 dozen agenda items Tuesday night in addition to hearing reports from 7 county officers.

Highlights included Sheriff Jordan Weiss who says he’s successfully sold the excess equipment (Humvees) getting for them a bit over $13,800.  Weiss also says the board needs to start looking at the cost and implementation of body cams and storage as mandated by the state.  The date offices have to be outfitted is January 1, 2025.  It will be an investment, says Weiss.

He says he’s looking into potential grants to help offset some of that cost.

States Attorney Denton Aud says he’s still searching for an Assistant States Attorney and the county has a new Public Defender. The former public defender was splitting time between White and Edwards County.  Myra Yelle-Clark started her duties with White County on February 1st.

Highway Engineer Brian Ray says his office is staying busy and is about halfway through bridge inspections.  Additionally, the red snow plow dump truck is broken down again and he feels it’s getting to the point it’s costing more to have it than to replace it.  Furthermore, Ray says the Federal Highway Administration is handing down a requirement.

The County Board then moved on to agenda items approving the appointment of Ronald Cowles to replace Wayne McKenzie on the 911 board.  The board decided to hold pat on keeping County Board meetings at 7pm rather than moving them up to 6pm.  They will move their monthly board meetings from the current 2nd Tuesday of each month to the third Tuesday.  This move was suggested to help County Treasurer Mike Baxley provide a more thorough and better financial report to the board each meeting.  Work on the former Carmi Times building is well underway, but the board decided just Tuesday night to create a building committee and appointed Chairperson Cassie Pigg and Clint Spencer to that committee.  The board approved payment of the second installment of the renovation in the amount of $74,232.

Also in regards to that building renovation, the board tabled adding data cabling for the building after the IT director for the courthouse said the work needed was beyond his scope instead moving to approve County Clerk Kayci Heil to get bids on a new telephone system with the hopes they can bundle that and the data cabling together to save costs.

The board locked in fuel bids for the Highway Department which includes Ray’s office as well as the Sheriff’s Department, Ambulance, and also Animal Control.  They had an option to go with fixed prices or to “gamble” and go with a percentage over the current rate.  Only once in recent memory has the board elected to go that route and board member Ken Usery loudly exclaimed that was a mistake.  For on road gasoline, the county will pay $3.125 per gallon.  That’s an increase from the current $2.325.  For diesel, they’ll pay $3.430, an increase of just under .91 cents per gallon.  Off road fuel will cost the county $2.932, up just over .87 cents a gallon.  Wabash Valley was the only provider to submit a bid.

White County board members unanimously agreed to a federal aid agreement and resolution to resurface shoulders and marking along Epworth Road from County Road 1300 North to 100 North.  Ray says the project will cost about $1.2 million with the feds picking up a million on that tab.

The only piece of business that drew a solitary “no” vote was on consideration of appointees to the Board of Review.  Supervisor of Assessments Gary Baxley made his recommendations of Republicans Mike Brown and Ron Wooten along with Democrat Jim Taylor.  Mike Ray will no longer serve on the Board prompting Amanda Cannon to vote against the motion.

Highway Engineer Brian Ray asked for the board to go into Executive Session at about 8:25 to discuss personnel.  After about 20 minutes, the board re-convened with no action following.  The White County Board will next gather on March 21st at 7pm.

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