Council approves Sugar Creek tax abatements

Plant to install new equipment, enclose areas

Wayne County Council unanimously approved personal property and real estate tax abatements for Sugar Creek Packing Co. during its March 1 meeting. The tax abatement committee last month had considered the abatements for equipment and building expansions and recommended approval. “Thank you for being such good partners in welcoming Sugar Creek to the area,” said Ron Holbrook, the plant manager. “We’re happy to do business here and hopefully continue to invest as we have.

Dublin identifies water infrastructure, streets as HELP priorities

Council receives preliminary engineering plan for comprehensive water utility project

Joan Casey said she attended Dublin’s Hoosier Enduring Legacy Program public meeting to listen and learn. She learned that water infrastructure, housing, streets and sidewalks are priorities for the 11 people, including town council members and town employees, participating in the Feb. 28 session. “I wasn’t aware of some of the issues, and that’s why I came,” said Casey, who lives on a farm west of town. The meeting was the fifth of seven to receive resident input into how Wayne County communities participating in HELP should spend their American Rescue Plan Act dollars.

A photo of a pile of one dollar US bills

County urgently addresses issues identified in state audit

Consultant contracted to assist auditor’s office

An Indiana State Board of Accounts audit identified issues that Wayne County is scrambling to correct. Auditor Mark Hoelscher received the necessary approvals from Wayne County Council and commissioners March 1 to hire Hartman and Williams, a Bloomfield-based governmental accounting consultant. Hoelscher told commissioners Hartman and Williams would have a consultant on-site March 7. The primary issue is compliant tracking and handling of grants, where the audit identified a lack of internal controls. Some grants cannot be identified, and grants that ended years ago continue with either plus or minus balances.

$411,000 opioid settlement money addresses missing element

Commissioners support programs that will provide transitional housing

Wayne County lacks transitional housing for those recovering from addiction. The county’s $411,000 initial share of a national opioid settlement presented an opportunity to help fill that void. It’s an opportunity the county commissioners took. “The seven organizations that were awarded opioid settlement money are addressing an urgent need in Wayne County,” said Commissioner Mary Anne Butters after commissioners finalized their settlement funding commitments during the Feb. 22 meeting.

Collaboration, support key to historic preservation efforts

Valuable housing stock deteriorates despite 3 groups’ efforts

Historic homes stand out. They can be beautiful, even if they’re in disrepair, have boarded up windows, or are inhabited by people with nowhere else to go. These buildings represent the past, but their futures are in question. “Historic preservation is very important to a city like ours,” Richmond Mayor Dave Snow said. “We are surrounded by living history.”

Multiple reasons justify saving historic homes, but that takes support in the form of money, time and public interest.

More recycling participation could extend landfill’s life span

Only 41% of Richmond Sanitary District customers have recycling container

The Richmond Sanitary District recently opened a new cell at the New Paris Pike Landfill to help collect the 85,000 tons of waste deposited there annually. But city leaders would like to make the landfill last longer through an increase in recycling. Mayor Dave Snow told Richmond Common Council members Feb. 20 that the city can open enough cells in the facility’s remaining acreage to last 50 years at the current deposit rate. “The more that we divert from the landfill with recycling programs, the longer we can extend the lifespan of that acreage,” Snow said.

HELP group begins hearing residents’ ideas

Meetings remain for input into how ARPA dollars spent

Sidewalks, streetlights and playgrounds. Residents have requested those amenities during the first three of seven public input meetings for Wayne County’s Hoosier Enduring Legacy Program participation. HELP assists with planning for projects that spend American Rescue Plan Act dollars. Each participating Wayne County community has a public input meeting scheduled. Pershing began the meetings Feb.

County will charge RCS food provider food-permit fees

Board of Health passes policy requiring third-party vendors pay

Richmond Community Schools’ food vendor will be charged permit fees. The Wayne County Board of Health on Feb. 16 approved a policy that does not charge nonprofits or schools for their food-service permits; however, for-profit third-party companies that contract with schools will be charged. That would require Chartwells to pay the $250 permit fee for each of RCS’ 11 locations, resulting in an additional $2,750 in permit revenue. The health department only found out that RCS and Nettle Creek schools outsource food service to Chartwells when the company applied for and paid for permits for Nettle Creek’s two buildings, said Christine Stinson, executive director of the Wayne County Health Department.

7 programs selected for opioid settlement funding

Commissioners ask for financial, budget information before finalizing commitments

Wayne County’s commissioners are asking for a little more information from local agencies before finalizing awards from its 2022 opioid settlement money. Commissioners divvied up $411,000 among seven organizations from the county’s share of a national settlement with opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson and distributors Cardinal Health, McKesson and Amerisource Berger. The seven were selected from 23 applicants who requested $1,244,596. Four programs are slated to receive their entire funding requests, while the other three would receive 47%, 48% and 75% of their requests. During their Feb.

Parks department plans to polish hidden gem

Whitewater Gorge Park Activation Plan to feature river

On a recent Wednesday the Bayly family walked the Whitewater Gorge Trail, taking advantage of sunshine and unseasonably warm weather. “We love this trail,” said Josh Bayly, who was with his wife Brandi and daughter Charlotte. On most warm days, the Baylys use the trail or Cope Environmental Center trails because there are no sidewalks in their Salisbury Road neighborhood. And as a family that enjoys spending time outdoors together, they’re interested in more opportunities to do that locally. Soon, they’ll have some.