Commissioners to reconsider emergency levels

Beth Rumsey, Staff Writer

Ripley County EMA Director, Wayne Peace, addressed the need for the county to consider using the same emergency levels as the state at the regular commissioners' meeting on Monday, February 9. According to Peace, Ripley County’s level emergency definitions are different than surrounding counties as well as the state. The result of these differences caused some confusion during the recent winter storms, which required the closure of the county roads so that the county highway department could clear the roads.

For example, Ripley County has two levels. Level one is where conditions threaten the safety of the public, with traffic limited to essential travel to and from work or emergency situations. In a level two emergency, traffic is restricted to emergency personnel only. Peace says that since some surrounding counties have different levels, it is difficult for those who work outside of Ripley County to determine if it is safe for them to go to work.

Peace proposes the county consider using the same level emergency system as the state. “It would be so much simpler,” he said. By adopting the levels used by the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, it is possible to be in compliance for FEMA grants, according to Peace.

The commissioners agreed that the plan needs to be upgraded. They requested Peace continue to investigate the matter, by contacting other EMA directors in nearby counties for more information.
It was noted by Peace that the level emergencies declared by the commissioners are only effective for the county roads, and do not affect the state or town roads.

At the meeting at the Ripley County Highway Garage, supervisor Junior Heaton informed the commissioners of the sale of cinders for private use during the bad weather. According to Heaton, the load, consisting of approximately ten tons, will be paid by the individual, who was not named at the meeting. They were not hauled by the county. Heaton also noted that cinders have been sold to others in the past.

Commissioner Robert Reiners requested that the foremen and the supervisor consider a policy for the cleaning of private and public property. Reiners noted that their first priority is the county roads.
Acting as the drainage board, the commissioners heard an update regarding the agreed upon changes to a pond with insufficient drainage causing flooding issues to property in Milan owned by Arnold Bischoff. According to Philip Bowling, the adjoining property owner, they first agreed upon change to lower the spillway by one and half feet. That work has not been started due to the holidays and the bad weather.

Reiners reminded Bowling that he expects the entire project to be completed by April 1. He said if the required changes of the installation of a larger pipe as well as the lowering of the spillway are not completed, the county will do the work and place a lien on Bowling’s property taxes. “I want this issue resolved,” he said.

In other business:

• The motion to hire engineer Ron May for various road projects in the county was unanimously approved. According to Heaton, the county might receive federal funds to pay for a portion of the road repairs.

• The bid to replace outlets in the Superior Court offices to prevent the breakers from tripping, was unanimously accepted.

• The bid from QPH to repair a portion of the cooling system at the sheriff’s department was unanimously approved.

All commissioners were in attendance, along with county Auditor Mary Ann McCoy to take the minutes and Attorney Neil Comer to advise. The next meeting will be held on Monday, February 23 beginning at 7 a.m. at the Ripley County Highway Garage in Osgood and reconvening at 8 a.m. at the commissioners’ office in the courthouse annex in Versailles.