Kosciusko County Commissioners approved a number of items on their agenda Tuesday, including a day care zoning ordinance amendment, grant applications and the expenditure of American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds.

Sheriff Kyle Dukes kicked off the meeting with his commissary report for the period of Jan. 1 to June 30. A commissary is a store within a correctional facility from which inmates may purchase products. The income is used at the sheriff’s discretion.

“When you look at commissary reports, some of our larger expenditures, you got to look at we were able to purchase three vehicles. Two of those vehicles went to the detective bureau, one went to the patrol division,” he said.

The cost of the three vehicles was $94,014. There also was the emergency lighting, computers and other equipment for the three vehicles and other vehicles that were purchased in 2020 and obtained in 2021 at a cost of $17,440.68.

The wage and benefit package for the Kosciusko County Work Release director comes out of the commissary fund. Dukes said a payment of $42,500 has been sent to the county general fund.

For $10,542.28, three new work stations were purchased for the front office of the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office, along with the painting of that area.

This year, the KCSO had to order new body cameras, including the cameras, wiring, software, download box and storage. That cost this year was $19,145.

Also this year, Dukes said they were able to purchase body armor to stop pistol and rifle rounds. Every merit deputy, reserve deputy, front office and administration was able to receive a bulletproof vest for rifle and pistol, he said. To equip everyone, the cost was $4,562.44. “Money well spent,” Dukes concluded.

Matt Sandy, Area Plan assistant director, presented the day care zoning ordinance amendment, which the Area Plan Commission unanimously approved July 7 to recommend to the Commissioners. The ordinance allows day cares to operate as an entity on their own and not have to be associated with a home-based business or home occupation type of use.

Under public use, child day care services (non-occupied home) is listed under permitted use. Under agricultural, residential and commercial, child day care services are listed under exception uses. Under limited industrial and light industrial (I-2), the services are listed under permitted uses, but under exceptional uses under heavy industrial (I-3).

Parking requirements for child day care services (non-occupied home) are one for each full-time caregiver and one for every two children approved for (as an example, 16 children requires eight parking spaces).

The Commissioners approved the ordinance 3-0.

Emergency Management Director Ed Rock requested to submit two grant proposals. One is the Emergency Management Performance (EMPG) salary grant, which pays for 50% of Rock’s and his administrative assistant’s salary. The amount is $49,819. The second one is an EMPG competitive grant for $40,000 for cybersecurity. Both grants are reimbursable, meaning the money is spent by the county first and then the county is reimbursed.

In making his motion to approve the nonprofits’ budget requests as presented for 2022, Commissioner Brad Jackson said that only Cardinal Services (3%) and Kosciusko County Home Care & Hospice (almost $1,000) asked for an increase. The other nonprofits “held the line.” County Auditor Michelle Puckett reminded him that St. Joe River Basin asked for an increase of $45. Jackson amended his motion to approve the nonprofits’ budget requests as presented, except for the $45 increase for St. Joe River Basin “to be consistent.”

Commissioner Cary Groninger said some of the county’s broadband/tower project qualifies for the ARP funds. He asked for approval to use some of the county’s ARP funds for the project, which would reduce the amount of money coming out of the county’s Economic Development Income Tax (EDIT) fund. He said the dollar amount is a little over $1.28 million that they know will qualify for ARP funds, but the ARP Committee is still looking to see if other parts of the project will qualify.

Ed Ormsby, county attorney, presented a resolution to authorize the County Commissioners president to sign all Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) contracts with electronic DocuSign method. This allows for the president to be the only one who needs to sign contracts and streamlines the process, Ormsby said. The president this year is Conley.

Jackson said his understanding was that the contracts would still need to be presented and approved by the Commissioners at a public meeting. Ormsby said that was correct.

Highway Superintendent Steve Moriarty asked the Commissioners for their approval of a financial commitment letter so he could apply for Community Crossings 2021-22 funding. He said they would be going for a little over $1.61 million, and the county would only have to pay for half of that if they got the grant.

The Commissioners approved that and the speed limit ordinances he presented next.

The speed limits have been posted for years, but the ordinances match the speeds that are posted now. They include: Ogden Point, 25 mph; Pickwick Drive, 20; Highland Avenue, 20; Kings Road, 20; Garden Avenue, 20; Grand Boulevard, 15 over Morris Island; Lung Lane, 20; Morrison Island, 20; Natti Crow, 20; and CR 1050N from Turkey Creek to Lung Lane, 20 mph.

Sandy and attorney Steve Snyder presented a petition from Michael Irving to vacate the public way on EMS D15 Lane. Snyder and Moriarty worked on coming up with the appropriate legal description for the turnaround easement There were no remonstrators and the request was approved.

Groninger presented Bowen Center’s payment request for COVID-19 testing at the fairgrounds. The county is paying two-thirds, $66,667, and the city of Warsaw is paying the other third. The money comes out of the county’s share of the CARES Act. The payment was approved.

Finally, Groninger said he’s been attending the meetings in Fort Wayne for the commissioners and mayors caucus for the 11-county region in northeast Indiana.

“Part of that is just a regional look at how we can work together and kind of have 11 counties with one voice and how we try to help our economic development in our area,” he said. “Part of that, there was a new commission that was just created last legislative session ... this new commission, it’s the Northeast Indiana Strategic Development Commission. And, about a month ago, I was elected to sit on that board along with nine other people in northern Indiana.”

He said it’s something the commissioners are excited about and they are still working on how they can continue to work in this region to promote industrial and residential growth.

The first meeting of the new commission will be later this week. The state budget will be able to allocate funds to the commission for economic development in the 11-county area. He said hopefully it means more tax dollars will be getting back to the area through it.