The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office has applied for $102,000 in Bureau of Justice Assistance grant funding to purchase drug-detection equipment, Sheriff Randy Retter told Wayne County’s commissioners during an April 5 meeting.

The Ionscan 600 is a highly sensitive trace detector that utilizes litmus paper to show the presence of and identify narcotics, including fentanyl. The litmus paper can be wiped on the outside of a closed container or on any surface to detect a drug’s presence. That means officers don’t have to open containers when they’re unsure what’s inside.

They also can quickly identify what drug caused an overdose so the proper treatment is provided.

Major Alan Moore said that during a test, the equipment identified the presence of narcotics on a scale and table in the department’s evidence area, even though the table is cleaned daily.

The Ionscan 600 can also be used in Wayne County’s jail. By wiping bunks, tables and other surfaces, officers can learn whether contraband has been present.

The Target-ID illicit drug analyzer identifies drugs, right down to the recipe of the drug’s composition, Moore said. That will aid investigations by enabling composition comparisons that can indicate a common source.

Currently, sheriff’s officers carry drug test kits that the new equipment would supplement.

Commissioners unanimously supported the department’s application for the reimbursable grant that does not require a local match.

Sheriff’s vehicles

Retter received permission to accept delivery of eight Chevrolet Tahoes from among 15 he has ordered.

He had prior approval from commissioners and council to spend the $43,300 per vehicle. Only eight are ready for delivery.

Commissioners also voted 2-1, with Commissioner Jeff Plasterer opposing, for Retter to purchase an available silver Tahoe for $43,710 from his commissary fund to replace the department’s animal control vehicle. The current vehicle is high mileage and using oil so quickly that a supply is kept inside the vehicle.

Plasterer said he was reluctant to give approval because the purchase circumvents the county’s fleet management committee. Commissioner Brad Dwenger, on the other hand, said the county should grab the vehicle because it’s available.

HELP progress

Beth Fields, the Hoosier Enduring Legacy Program’s community coordinator, told commissioners that the program’s pathway committees are knitting together information gathered from the public and other data.

Commissioner Mary Anne Butters challenged why the committee meetings have not been considered public meetings. She said she has received complaints from people about the closed meetings.

“There are many, many people who would like to participate more fully,” Butters said.

Plasterer said he would research whether the meetings should be public.

Fields received unanimous approval to submit a $20,000 bill to the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs to offset some of her salary. OCRA required participating communities hire a community coordinator and promised to provide $20,000 toward the position’s 2023 salary.

Per diem increase

County employees traveling on government business now will have a $50 daily meal allowance.

Commissioners voted 2-1, with Plasterer opposing, to increase the per diem from the previous $8 for breakfast, $14 for lunch and $18 for dinner that was adopted in April 2018.

The $50 is not broken down by meal and includes up to a 20% gratuity.

HVAC bids

Two bids were received to provide an HVAC system for First Bank Expo Hall at the Wayne County Fairgrounds.

Bader Mechanical bid $473,058.11, and Carroll Electric bid $525,000. The estimated project cost had been $367,500, meaning the lower bid came in 28.7% higher than the estimate.

DLZ, the county’s consultant, will consider the bids and provide commissioners with a recommendation.

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A version of this article appeared in the April 12 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

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