New building projects may be on the horizon in Allen County.
District Judge Daniel Creitz, for one, was on hand at Tuesday’s county commission meeting, to again advocate for expanding courtroom facilities.
A combination of safety concerns and COVID-19 spacing issues were the primary catalysts for pursuing the project.
Creitz said that remodeling was not a feasible option, and so sights turned to the possibility of expanding facilities to the south, perhaps by adding another (connected) building, one that matches the overarching aesthetic of the courthouse.
“If I’m not proactive, and then something happens,” Creitz said, “I’m afraid then that people will say we’ve got to do something now, and then we haven’t planned for it, and then we’re really in bad shape because we’re spending a lot more money.”
Commissioners seemed to agree with the judge’s concerns, and so said the appropriate committee could move forward to obtain Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for the work.
There is also the possibility that the project could be at least partly covered by federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars, given the connection to COVID-19.
“I think it’s good to have a plan,” Creitz said, “even if maybe not for me but for whomever the next judge is.”
BECKY VOORHIES, health programs director for Thrive Allen County, was on hand to talk with commissioners about procuring a grant to assist with installing storm shelters around the county, specifically, in Mildred, Carlyle, Petrolia and Savonburg.
The specific type of grant at issue is a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) that will cover 50 percent of construction costs, and where part of the application process involves hiring an architect to select specific sites.
Also worth mentioning, is that in order to meet FEMA specifications, the shelters may have to have restrooms and appropriate plumbing installed.
It was clear commissioners desired to install the shelters, but were concerned with whether the grant would ultimately decrease the costs associated with doing so.
Hence, they requested that Voorhies obtain cost estimates both for hiring an architect as well as for the total cost of the project, prior to proceeding with the grant application.
DURING his weekly report, public works director Mitch Garner said that all scheduled dust control measures have been completed across the county.
He also said that crews were continuing to trim trees as well as mow, despite one of the county’s mowers being out of commission.
Garner noted that chip-seal road repairs likewise continue, and said that work on 4400 Road should soon be complete.
The county’s rock crusher is currently down, but just temporarily, following the replacement of specific springs and electrical maintenance.
PLANNING and zoning administrator Terry Call said that the planning/zoning board recently met, and discussed granting a conditional use permit to Wide Open Speed Park.
The board recommended unanimously to grant the permit, and so commissioners followed suit by providing their blessing as well.
TWO additional items of interest were that the county agreed to again assist with Farm City Days costs, specifically to the tune of $1,500, and commissioners also wanted to highlight the upcoming Family Safety Night event, which is scheduled for 5:30 Thursday on the Iola square.
At the time of this writing, Farm City Days events are still slated to continue, despite an uptick in COVID-19 cases across the county.
On this front, commissioners took a moment to pause and urge folks to take appropriate precautions and to follow advice from the local Multi-County Health Departments.
Lastly, although not yet official, commissioners seemed to reach consensus on what they thought the mill levy for the forthcoming year should be, following an increase in the county’s total valuation.
That magic number is 61.5 mills (a reduction of 1.3 mills), which as commissioner Symes put it, would “provide relief to taxpayers while keeping funds available to the county.”