Cindy DiFazio, Staff Writer
The Ripley County Commissioners met in regular session on Monday,
February 26. Commissioners Robert Reiners, Chuck Folz and Lawrence
Nickell were present. County Attorney Neil Comer and County
Auditor Mary Ann McCoy were also present.
Commissioner Chuck Folz reported that on February 16 representatives
of Ripley, Decatur and Jennings County met in Greensburg with
State Representative Cleo Duncan, the Indiana Department of
Emergency Management (IDEM), and members of various state and
local agencies to look into the possibility of forming a three-county
regional water district.
The purpose of forming a regional water district, according
to a January press release from Representative Duncans
office, would be to increase the residential water supply and
promote economic growth in the area. The memo also stated that,
by creating a regional water district, the region has a better
opportunity to receive federal funding than a single county
or municipality would. The press release reported that Duncan
encouraged, Many options were brought to the table and
I applaud everyones enthusiasm in helping to work in a
cooperative manner to provide increased water services to our
three counties. Working together we can get a lot more done
Folz said that, if approved, a board would be set up consisting
of one commissioner plus one council member from each county
and a utility representative.
Some of the first duties this board would be charged with would
be related to funding. The water district would require start-up
money, so the board would apply for grants and possibly Rural
Development money, as well as a 40-year federal loan. Folz stressed,
however, Until the board is formed, no decisions will
Ripley County Attorney Neil Comer, then opened a dialogue with
commissioners regarding what part Ripley County wishes to play
in the formation of such an entity. Comer noted that a joint
petition would have to be filed by the counties with IDEM and
posed the question, Is our county council interested?
Its a lot of grassroots preparation, he explained.
He also inquired what the states timeline is. Folz answered
that the state has fast-tracked the proposal.
Comer also asked, What other local group is working on
it, and who asked Ripley County to take the lead? Folz
replied, A Decatur County commissioner asked me to get
it started. Commissioners president, Robert Reiners,
questioned Folz, How did we get into the lead when its
Decatur County that needs the water? Comer concurred telling
the commissioners, Theres quite a bit involved with
it being a three-county deal. It is a pretty substantial undertaking.
Folz went on to say that $20,000 is being requested from each
county to be used as seed money. Comer advised that
an agreement is needed concerning who is taking the lead so
that claims can be paid by the county council.
Comer prefaced his next set of remarks with, I understand
the process. Ill leave the wisdom of doing it up to you.
He told commissioners that Ripley County must have some long-term
goal in mind to participate in this organization. Comer cautioned
that the question the county council will ask is Why do
we want to be a part of this water district?
Folz responded, My thinking is that first the water will
go to Greensburg, then come down 421 to Osgood and Versailles.
We would then have water to distribute. Comer speculated
that Ripley County would have to have a 40-year revenue stream
in place in order to pay for the piped-in water supply, stating,
So, theyd have to supply it, but wed have
to guarantee were going to buy it.
It was finally agreed that the engineering and feasibility studies
would answer a lot of questions. Folz cautioned, Ten years
down the road, we wont get this offer again.
In other business, Tad Brinson, executive director of the Ripley
County Planning Commission told commissioners that the matter
of disputed campsites in the Delaware Campground is to go before
the Board of Zoning Appeals on Tuesday, February 27. Brinson
stated that the Delaware Campground had been approved in 1990
for an additional 50 sites, but had since put another 92 into