Dublin became the latest community to approve Wayne County’s Hoosier Enduring Legacy Program strategic investment plan.

Commissioner Jeff Plasterer shared during the Oct. 11 commissioners meeting that Dublin was the final participating town to vote its approval, doing so during an Oct. 10 meeting.

That leaves only Richmond among the eight participants — also including the county, Cambridge City, East Germantown, Economy, Milton and Spring Grove — to consider the SIP. Richmond Common Council had the SIP on its Oct. 16 agenda.

The SIP includes three projects for Dublin totaling $849,800. The town is contributing $50,787 from its American Rescue Plan Act dollars and another $55,000 in town funds.

The projects are:

  • Improve the playground surface at Wilson Park and install new playground equipment.
  • As part of an overall sidewalk replacement, extend the South Milton Street sidewalk to Wilson Park and replace sidewalks on three other streets.
  • Assist the town’s overall water system project with money for lower-priority items not included in a USDA grant, such as a security system, GIS system and replacement of meters and valves.

Dublin also has asked the county to forgive a $30,000 loan it received for engineering work on its water project. The town is moving forward with portions of the project that improve its water delivery system, Plasterer said.

Commissioners asked Ron Cross, the county attorney, to review the agreement entered with Dublin when the county lent the money, then they’ll contemplate what to do with the loan.

Animal welfare

The county has made annual donations to Animal Welfare League, then dropped off captured or seized animals at the shelter. The 2023 donation was $42,000; however, Animal Welfare League has refused to accept animals from the county’s animal control officer because its facility is full.

Commissioners lean toward entering into a contract for 2024 that ensures animals will be accepted; however, Plasterer said Animal Welfare League will not commit to accepting animals whenever the county wants.

Commissioners are now exploring whether another shelter would enter into a contract. The proposed 2024 budget includes $50,000 for animal welfare.

Plasterer also shared that the process for hiring a consultant to study the county’s animal welfare situation has slowed. 

During the Oct. 4 meeting, commissioners voted 2-1 to have Wayne County Foundation select a consultant, with a countywide task force having recommended two possible consultants. One consultant had an Oct. 6 deadline to schedule the county’s study yet this year. The rushed process between the county and foundation was not completed by that deadline.

Because the study is a HELP project, Plasterer indicated the process will now wait for Richmond to approve the SIP. Richmond and the county are both funding the study.

Commissioner Mary Anne Butters, who Oct. 4 voted against working with the Wayne County Foundation, said that the county doesn’t need a consultant, because it makes sense for the county to build and oversee a shelter.

“It makes sense to you,” Plasterer said, adding an independent review is necessary and there should not be preconceived notions about what the county should do.

Bridge projects

Brandon Sanders, the county engineer, told commissioners that the Fountain City Pike bridge project is complete and the road has reopened.

Commissioners approved the final plan for the G Street Bridge in Richmond. That project will patch underneath the bridge and put a new concrete overlay on top of the bridge. The project is expected to cost about $3 million.

Sanders expects the project to go out for bidding in February, so work begins in March.

Sanders has also expressed to commissioners that rising construction costs could deplete the county’s bridge fund more than expected the next couple of years. A depletion was expected during this phase of the county’s aggressive 10-year plan, but Sanders said worst-case could be an additional $2.6 million drain on the fund, but would not completely deplete it.

The Indiana Department of Transportation funnels federal funding for 80% of approved projects, with the county providing the other 20%. INDOT, though, does not guarantee that additional funds will be available for cost overruns if projects exceed previous expectations. The county currently has eight federal bridge projects in progress.

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A version of this article appeared in the October 18 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Mike Emery is a reporter and layout editor for the Western Wayne News.