Picnic tables could help the southeast corner of the county courthouse square become a gathering space if enough donations are collected.

Warsaw Community Development Corp. Director and Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Rob Parker elaborated on the renderings that were presented to the Kosciusko County Commissioners Tuesday morning. The drawings showed a series of picnic tables in a fan pattern around the cannon statue on the corner, along with flowers and other landscaping.

“The idea is to create a gathering space on the courthouse lawn that can be used permanently for picnic tables and can enhance the beauty of the downtown, the beauty of your courthouse lawn,” Parker said.

He said the WCDC has been in discussions with Patronicity, “the engine that allows us to access (Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority) funds. When we do that, we can maximize the fundraising capabilities from the public. So it’s a public-funded project.” IHCDA would match up to $50,000.

Parker said he believed the courthouse project could be done with $60,000, “which means we would have to raise $30,000, and then the IHCDA would match that.”

Commissioner Cary Groninger asked if there was some different pricing for the project including material cost.

“I don’t want to give a firm estimate because we don’t exactly (know), but we know it’s going to be in that ballpark range and I think we’ll be able to make it happen,” Parker responded. He said he hasn’t made it a competitive bid process yet because “we’re not doing anything yet.”

Groninger asked what Parker was seeking from the county.

“There’s two things that we need to discuss. One is, who owns the project, and whoever owns the project, their monies that they would donate would not be matched at 100 percent. So, if the WCDC owns the project and they made a contribution, they would not get that dollar-for-dollar match. If the county owned the project, kind of like how the city did with the alleyway, then those would be monies that would not be matched at a dollar-for-dollar rate,” Parker explained.

“So to maximize that grant, who needs to own (the project)?” Groninger asked.

“Whoever makes the largest contribution,” Parker replied, adding that could be discussed. “But if we say the public, what that is then neither one of those could say we’re definitely doing this, then according to the rules neither one of those are going to be matched by IHCDA because it’s a public pre-funded agreement. So we’re just having a very preliminary discussion about how much money we want to put toward this project.”

Until the project goes live, Parker said, “We can’t really say we’re going to do this.”

He said he was happy with WCDC running the project. However, if the WCDC does that, its contribution toward the project would not be a dollar-for-dollar match. The maximum any individual could make and still get a dollar-for-dollar match from the IHCDA would be $10,000.

Parker said the commissioners could decide at their next meeting who would make the most sense to run the project, WCDC or the county, and put their name on the application. “As long as we have that in here by the end of the month, we should be fine,” he said.

Groninger said from the county’s perspective, the main thing he wanted to see was that it would be aesthetically pleasing, and if the county put some money behind it, the project was something the county wants to see.

No matter whose name was on the application, Parker said the WCDC would be the driving force behind getting public funding for the project.

Groninger said he didn’t see the downside to the county having its name on the project, which would also maximize WCDC’s financial contribution to the project. He made a motion for the county to be the “owner” of the project, with Commissioner Bob Conley providing the second to the motion to approve it. Commissioner Brad Jackson was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

Parker said the county could add to the project later on if it wanted to.

At the end of the commissioners meeting Tuesday, Groninger said the county did get its numbers back on health insurance for its employees. A decision was made Monday on what the benefit changes were going to be.

“The increases are going to be a dollar per pay period for an employee, $2 for an employee and child, and $3 for an employee and family. We tried to make the increases as minimal as possible,” Groninger said, adding the county was trying to be as fair as it could be.

In other business, the commissioners:

• Approved a bid from Masonry Solutions to clean the Justice Building for $23,280 as recommended by County Administrator Marsha McSherry. The other bid received was over $4,000 more.

• Heard from County Highway Superintendent Scott Tilden that about mid-April he sent to INDOT a Request For Proposal to be posted on its website for engineering services needed for the bridge on South Hand Street over Walnut Creek.

“We have received five. So the scoring team will go through there and score them and rank them, and send the information to INDOT to make sure we followed procedures correctly,” Tilden said.

At a future commissioners meeting, Tilden said he will bring a recommendation of the No. 1 ranked firm by the scoring.

• Also heard from Tilden that it was his intent to bring forward to the commissioners at their next meeting an ordinance making the intersection of CR 200S and Ferguson Road an all-way stop.

• Approved a proclamation naming May as Poppy Month and “ask that all citizens pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom by wearing the Memorial Poppy” during May. County Council President Sue Ann Mitchell made the request for the proclamation on behalf of the American Legion Auxiliary.

• Approved the Indiana Department of Transportation quarterly report for the first quarter of the year as presented by Amanda Landis, Kosciusko Area Bus Service. In the first quarter of the year, Landis said KABS provided over 15,000 rides to the public in the county, covering roughly 71,000 miles.

• Approved the appointment of Brad Newcomer to the Nappanee Public Library Board.

• Announced the next commissioners meeting is at 9 a.m. May 29.