County considers land near community corrections


The county would like to keep the county security center and community corrections center where they are located now, but renovate and expand them, and create a justice center on the property.

For the project, the Dubois County Council agreed Monday to look into purchasing 1.23 acres of land just south of the community corrections center’s parking lot.

The renovation and expansion of the security center and community corrections center are meant to address ongoing overcrowding issues. The project, which a state-mandated feasibility study found would cost about $43 million, would include a justice center that encompasses the courts and all justice departments.

Dubois County Commissioner Chad Blessinger told the council that he has talked to the property owner about the land. The asking price is $300,000. But by law, the county would have to get two appraisals, and offer no more than the average of the two, he said. The county has the first option on purchasing the land and the owner could refuse the offer, he said.

Before appraisals can be done, the county council must approve a resolution stating that it is interested in purchasing the property.

“I wanted to get the ball rolling, but wasn’t sure if we had to wait until next year,” Blessinger told the council, “because we don’t have money right now for this.”

The money that has been allocated to the commissioners so far is for architectural and legal services pertaining to the project.

The council told Blessinger to use some of that money to get the appraisals, which is also a service needed for the project. A resolution stating that the council is interested in buying the land will be written and presented to the council next month, likely during a public hearing for the proposed 2020 budget at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8, on the second floor of the Dubois County Courthouse Annex, 602 Main St., Jasper.

The appraisals would be ready in 30 days, Blessinger said.

The commissioners have received proposals they requested from architect/design firms to create a design for the center, and from firms to serve as the county’s representative at the construction site. The deadline for the proposals was 8 a.m.. Monday, so the commissioners have not had time to review them, Blessinger said.

Also, representatives from the Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction will meet with a local group about available treatment programs to offer at the center, Blessinger said.

The council also:

• Learned that the proposed 2020 budget is about $580,000 more than what the state will allow. The council agreed to move from the budget to the local income tax fund $245,000 for the sheriff’s retirement fund, $231,000 for the Dubois County Solid Waste Management District’s budget, and $115,000 for the state institutions fund.

• Agreed to provide the additional funding needed for a school resource officer for the Southeast Dubois County School Corporation through the Dubois County Sheriff’s Office.

• Agreed to provide the estimated $42,000 needed each year to enter into a five-year contract with BodyWorn for body cameras and car cameras for officers.

• Appropriated the $1 million match funding for the Huntingburg Airport’s runway extension project, now that federal funding has been granted.

• Appropriated from this year’s budget an additional $250,000 to purchase an ambulance and $15,000 to the ambulance repair fund.

• Approved appropriating $31,680 to the county 911 department, which will be reimbursed through a state 911 grant.

• Told County Attorney Greg Schnarr to draft a new ordinance that will change how park board members are appointed, which is allowed by a new state statute. Currently, the county council appoints two park board members, the Dubois Circuit judge appoints two members, and the county commissioners appoint one member. The new makeup will have the commissioners and council each appointing two members and the Dubois Circuit judge appointing one. The council told Schnarr to include in the new ordinance that it is highly recommended that there be one board member living in each school district, which is the standard practice now.

• Said that it will approve a new community corrections commissary fund ordinance if the Dubois County Commissioners approve it. The new ordinance will mirror the state’s ordinance governing how the sheriff’s commissary fund can be used. The Indiana State Board of Accounts tends to reference the state statute when annually reviewing community corrections’ fund, Director Megan Durlauf said.

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