Grant will cover five hotspots in county

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

Five new hotspots will be available for public use in Dubois County once they are installed.

The hotspots are being covered with $127,743 the county received in federal funding from the Community Connections for People with Disabilities grant program. The county applied for the grant as a partner with Southern Indiana Resource Solutions.

“I’m happy that we will be able to get this done,” Dubois County Commissioners President Chad Blessinger said at the commissioners’ meeting Monday morning.

SIRS has been working in conjunction with Dubois County to install hot spots in different areas of the county, in particular remote areas where Wi-Fi accessibility is very limited

The hotspots would be located in Holland, Birdseye, Haysville Park, Dubois County 4-H fairgrounds and at the SIRS office in Jasper, Blessinger told the other commissioners. The funding will cover three years of hotspot availability, which will be open for anyone to use.

Blessinger said the different communities have all worked with SIRS and the county to make the hotspot areas available for use. “Everyone has been great to work with,” he said.

However, the money does not cover the purchase of tablets to lend out to individuals with disabilities, which would be no more than $10,000 and is a part of the grant stipulations. Also, maintenance service for two of the locations — Haysville and Birdseye — would need to be purchased as well. Matrix Integration is willing to offer that service, which would cost $150 per month for four hours of service each month. If the hours aren’t used in one month, they would roll over to the next month, Blessinger said. Over three years, the total cost would be $21,600 for the two sites.

Blessinger suggested that some of the $8.4 million American Rescue Plan money the county has received could be used to cover the additional $31,600 needed for the lending library and hotspot maintenance. “I think it would be a great investment,” he said. “And it would be a hands-off investment almost, for SIRS and Dubois County. We would know these things are in place, paid for and good for the next three years.”

The other commissioners were agreeable to this usage. “We’re looking for quality ways to spend this money,” Commissioner Elmer Brames said. “And this may be one.”

This is a way to use some of the money for the benefit of the entire county, Blessinger said.

“I want to find a way to use the money to serve the whole community, not just all of it go in Jasper or all of it go to Huntingburg,” he said. “This is one where it’s spread out. We’re getting into five different townships.”

Commissioners agreed to use $31,600 of the American Rescue Plan money for the lending library and maintenance service, so long as it is an allowable use of the money.

The commissioners also:

• Approved hiring for the highway department Braeden Haase of Celestine as a district 2 driver and Joseph Edwards of Ireland district 3 excavator operator. Both are scheduled to start Monday.

• Heard that Amber Harris, the county’s veterans service officer, is resigning. The county will look for someone to replace her.

• Discussed the vacancy on the Dubois County Tourism Board that the commissioners must fill; they are seeking people interested in the position and will discuss it at their Aug. 16 meeting.

• Approved closing a section of Ell Creek Road from Voelkel Road to north Phoenix Drive for road grader training. The road will be closed to from noon to 4 p.m. Aug. 18 and from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 19.

• Agreed to holding risk management training meetings for county staff on Sept. 29.

• Heard that a representative from the COVID memorial committee will come to the Aug. 16 meeting to ask that the memorial be placed on the courthouse’s southeast lawn and to establish a fund to which people can make donations for the memorial’s cost. The commissioners are still favorable to the idea, but Blessinger and Commissioner Nick Hostetter noted that they have heard from people who don’t like the idea of having the memorial.

• Listened to an update of Dubois Strong activities from President Ed Cole.

• Declared as surplus equipment owned by the 911 department, to be disposed of or given to another entity for use.




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