Wayne County’s commissioners will discuss parking with county department heads during this month’s staff meeting.

The commissioners talked during their Aug. 2 meeting about the parking situation around the Wayne County Administration Building, Wayne County Courthouse, sheriff’s office and jail, and Wayne County Health Department. Parking sometimes becomes an issue for the public visiting the buildings, especially when extra spaces are utilized during jury trials.

“It comes down to, this is a public building, the courthouse is a public building, the public should have a right to park closest to the building when they want to conduct business,” Commissioner Brad Dwenger said, adding that employees are filling some of those spots.

Steve Higinbotham, the county’s director for facilities and development, presented commissioners with a count of available parking spaces, noting that there are enough spaces in a variety of lots plus on street parking to accommodate county employees and county vehicles.

Department heads and elected officials have reserved spaces outside the administration building, as do trustees. Commissioners debated reserving spots for the public and assigning a sufficient number of handicapped spaces for employees and visitors needing them. They also discussed temporarily reserving parking spots for jurors during trials. 

Ideas to add spaces include removing trees and bricks from the administration building lot and creating a new parking area on the northwest corner of Third and Main streets at the sheriff’s office.

Enforcement of parking policy and making sure employees park in the proper spots has proved difficult in the past, Higinbotham said, because there was no penalty. Commissioners then spoke about how issues could be enforced.

Commissioner Mary Anne Butters wondered if there really is a parking problem.

“Right now, it’s my feeling that we do not have a serious parking problem,” she said, adding that the county does “not have people going without a place to park.”

A summary of the discussion points will be drafted for presentation to department heads during the Aug. 9 staff meeting.

Business support

Karen Lloyd, regional director of the East Central Indiana Small Business Development Center, requested 2024 funding from commissioners.

Wayne County is contributing $15,000 this year to the center that assists entrepreneurs developing small businesses in 11 counties. Lloyd said the center would love to receive $20,000 in 2024, but would gladly accept $15,000 again.

One project the center hopes to develop in Wayne County is a pitch competition. Five or six workshops would prepare entrepreneurs to make business pitches.

Wrestling mats

Sheriff Randy Retter asked commissioners for permission to donate two wrestling mats to Stored Energy, a training and boxing gym.

The sheriff’s department had received the mats as a donation and used them for physical tactics training before acquiring new mats three years ago, Retter said. 

Letter of support

In a 2-1 vote, commissioners agreed to provide a letter of support as the Delaware County Mental Health Center seeks grant funding to develop a regional mental health facility.

Commissioner Mary Anne Butters opposed the support, worrying that the facility eventually wants to seek funding from Wayne County.

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A version of this article appeared in the August 9 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

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