County extends disaster declaration


The county’s local disaster emergency declaration has been extended to July 4, which is in line with the state’s final phase of reopening the economy.

The Dubois County Commissioners approved the extension Monday, and kept in place rules that visitors to county buildings must wear a mask. Employees who are interacting with visitors or are stationed within 6 feet of another person must also wear a mask.

The commissioners are following a request by Dubois County Health Officer Dr. Ted Waflart, who has urged all businesses to require people in their buildings to wear a mask.

“If the Dubois County health officer is making this recommendation for businesses to do it this way, then we, as the county agency, need to follow his recommendation,” Commissioner Elmer Brames said. “We have control over what happens in the courthouse, or the annex, or the sheriff’s department, in places like that.”

Shawn Werner of the county health department, who heads the local coronavirus efforts, said Dubois County is the highest in its district as far as population percentage of people who have COVID-19.

“About 83% of the individuals who have it are at the workforce age. Those are the people going to work, going shopping,” he said. “So we want to get the people where they are going out.”

The idea of asking all businesses to require masks would make the practice universal, he explained. Some businesses, like many local factories, do require masks; but not all businesses make it a requirement, Werner said.

Waflart has the power to require masks to be worn if he believes it is a public health emergency, but he has not done so, Commissioner Chad Blessinger noted. Until he sees a dire need for that, Waflart will not enact any rule more strict than the state has, Werner said.

“Right now, all we have now are masks and social distancing. We don’t have a vaccine,” Werner said. “So if you can wear a mask, you won’t be spreading this to others when you’re out shopping or in close contact with someone else.”

The commissioners also:

• Approved for their 2021 budget funding they give to different organizations each year. That includes $125,000 for the 4-H Council, $37,000 for Southern Indiana Resource Solutions, $20,000 for the Older Americans Center, $13,000 for Ride Solutions and $5,000 for Tri-Cap’s Retired and Senior Volunteer Program.

• Designated $378,235 to LifeSpring Health Systems. The contribution is mandated by the state, and is determined based on the county’s population. This amount will likely increase once the state determines the updated population growth, called growth quotient.

• Approved an unofficial detour for upcoming work the Indiana Department of Transportation will do on State and County roads 400 South and 7000 East. INDOT is replacing a small structure on the state road, County Engineer Brent Wendholt said.

• Approved four paving projects that will utilize Community Crossings funds. C&R Construction was hired to pave the roads in the Town of Schnellville, including Schnellville Road for $386,996.95, Cuzco Road South for $189,987, Hickory Grove Road for $309,070.40 and County Road 100 West for $189,172.60.

• Continued discussing the county’s paid-time-off structure for its employees. This has been an ongoing discussion about how to make the system manageable for accounting purposes and fair to all employees. Discussions will continue at future meetings.

• Agreed to have County Attorney Greg Schnarr send Jessie D. Harrell of Loogootee a demand letter for the $165.50 bill he owes the county for the damage to two road signs. Harrell was in a car accident on Portersville Bridge Road near Portersville Road East on July 29, in which the signs were damaged. Invoices were sent to Harrell on Aug. 27 and Dec. 6, but there has been no response, Wendholt said.

• Learned that Ireland recycling site attendant Bill Powell is retiring. He has been the attendant at the site since December 2015.

• Heard that Steve Pieper has been hired as a floater for the sanitation department.

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