After hearing an explanation from Matt Boren, Cardinal Services executive director, the Kosciusko County Commissioners on Tuesday approved for Cardinal Services to use its 2022 nonprofit funding differently than originally proposed.

“When we initially completed that application, we requested for funding for our Head Start, Early Head Start program, the bus service and our employee services,” Boren said. “As you know, last year we had some funding for our ... professionals who work in the community with individuals with developmental disabilities. That really helped us address staffing concerns that we were having.”

However, he continued, the Head Start program was not included in that and their wages were not increased. He said their wages are “substantially” lower.

“Recently, with the vaccine requirements coming out and being required for federal programs, and just the general staffing shortages we’ve identified, there’s some pretty severe staffing concerns in that program,” he said.

To address those concerns short-term, Boren said he was asking “that the full amount from the county be able to be used this year for Head Start and Early Head Start funding. That gives us some time to adjust some wages and temporarily address sort of the issues that exist in the program. And then we’re already starting a process to look for some additional funding that could be used for Head Start, or to really look at a change in scope to say, ‘How do we best serve this community?’ and adjust the hours of the day or the number of classrooms we have, just to make sure we have competitive wages to attract the talent that we need to support those (clients) in Kosciusko County.”

He said he knows that the county typically just gives Cardinal Services a grant award, which it received, for the full amount they requested. And while there’s no language in there designating how the money has to be spent, Boren said he knows in Cardinal Services’ application they said they were going to do it a certain way and he didn’t feel right just changing that without coming to the Commissioners first for their permission to do so.

Commissioner Cary Groninger asked if there was a waiting list to get in the Head Start/Early Head Start programs, and Boren said there was. Groninger said he saw those programs as huge assets provided to the community and he was in “full support” of Cardinal Services using that money where it saw fit.

The Commissioners unanimously approved for Cardinal Services to use the money from the county as it saw fit.

In other business, the Commissioners:

• Accepted a piece of land from Bruce Woodward that has been used as a drainage ditch since 1950s-60s. It is a leftover lot from a subdivision development on the east side of Fox Farm Road, north of the roundabout. It has 65 feet wide frontage, 210-220 feet deep and 45 feet in the back, he said.

• Accepted all the 2022 bids for supplies for the Kosciusko County Highway Department, as recommended by Highway Superintendent Steve Moriarty.

He also requested, and the Commissioners approved, to order two trucks for 2022. One will be a single-axle for $224,475; and the second will be a tandem dump truck for $259,235. Both will be bought through National Auto Fleet Group.

• Approved the rezoning of a small tract of ground, originally zoned commercial, in the area of Wooster from commercial to residential for the purpose of a home. There were no remonstrators, and the Area Plan Commission unanimously recommended it be rezoned.

• Approved to refer a rezoning request for property just outside of the town of Silver Lake back to the Area Plan Commission, as requested by the petitioner to Commissioner Bob Conley. It is on the northwest corner of Ind. 15 and Dixie Drive.

The petition was to rezone it from residential to commercial, but the petition has faced some remonstration. The Area Plan Commission unanimously recommended at its November meeting that the rezoning not be granted as they felt the highest and best use for the property was residential.

The next Plan Commission meeting is Wednesday, Dec. 1.

• Approved a resolution to allow a private sewer line to be installed in a public right-of-way on EMS T48A, as requested by attorney Steve Snyder on behalf of his clients, the Matchetts.

• Approved the 2022 contractual services agreement between Purdue Extension and the county.

• Was introduced to Emily Luc, the new Purdue Extension assistant agriculture natural resources educator.

• Approved the reappointment of Amanda Fretz to the North Webster Community Public Library Board.

• Announced the next Commissioners meeting is Dec. 7.