The buildup was strong, but the debate over ordinance 10-2-03 ended with barely a fizzle last night in the county courthouse.
After three months of debating, gathering information, and listening to their constituents, the Clay County Council decided to deny the ordinance, thereby keeping the Indiana Inventory Tax in place in Clay County, at least for the time being.
The tax, which would be shifted to Indiana's Property Tax, is set to be removed statewide in 2006.
"Whatever your decision is tonight, I support you fully," Rep. Andy Thomas said prior to the vote.
Les Harding then invited the rest of the council to debate, though talk was short.
"We haven't really discussed, nor do we need to, the fact that about 60 percent of the Inventory Tax has already been shifted due to a state ICC law. Nobody knows about this because nobody's felt it yet. What we were discussing is the remainder of this $604,000," Harding said, referring to the estimated amount of Inventory Tax paid by Clay County. "We had no part in that other shift."
Discussion quickly turned into a banter between onlookers and the council about the state of taxes in general.
"They've got a billion dollar deficit and we've never had to borrow money and they say we need to cut spending," Councilman Mike McCullough said with a laugh.
"We could fund everything in the county if we could get the government to stop giving itself raises," Harding replied.
"I'm looking for funds that come back to help Clay County with economic development," Thomas added.
With that, a motion was made to adopt the ordinance. The outcome was in favor of rejecting the ordinance and keeping the tax, Warren Stevenson and Larry Moss being the only two voting to adopt it.
Rita Rothrock, Les Harding, Mark Dierdorf, Tony Dalton, and Mike McCullough all rejected the tax.
The evening, however, was not ended with the vote. Council members were invited to speak on why they voted the way they did, though the topic quickly turned.
"We need to immediately initiate a plan to get funds for economic development," Moss said after the vote.
"We need slow, steady growth," McCullough added.
"I don't forsee us getting a Toyota plant," Moss replied, "and I don't even know if I want one. There are just some projects we definitely need to seek out."
Rita Rothrock then spoke up, saying that she "did not want any money going to our property taxes."
With that, the meeting was adjourned. After the vote, McCullough said that the council "probably would have voted to get rid of the tax if we hadn't found out about the cons.
"We were all for it at first," he explained.
Harding's reasons were different.
"I'm totally for removing the Inventory Tax," he said, "but this isn't the way to do it. I didn't want to get blamed for raising the rest of the county's taxes."
The County Council will meet again on Mon., Jan. 5 at 6 p.m. in the courthouse. The public is invited.
ATHENS AWARDED COUNTY CONTRACT
By EVAN WADE
Though discussion got heated on both sides of the bench, nothing much changed at yesterday's County Council meeting.
The competition between ambulance providers for a spot in Clay County's budget has been a topic for discussion both within and outside of county government recently. Athens Ambulance, Clay County's provider for 24 years, came out on top in a bid battle with Trans-Care after much discussion from both commissioners and spectators.
Trans-Care's coup came in the form of staffing. If picked up by Clay County, Operations Manager Faril Ward promised the board that his company would staff at least one paramedic (as opposed to other types of EMTs, which the county currently has) for the county.
"There is a scarcity of paramedics in the state," Ward said. "It's quicker and easier to get an intermediate here now and train them. Intermediate is good, but paramedic is top of the pinnacle. Don't get me wrong, though, an intermediate can do a lot."
In Ward's several-page-long presentation, he outlined the prices his company charged and other information. The rates were comparable to those charged by Athens, though the authority given to a paramedic is more than that of lower-level EMTs. Additionally, he said, a paramedic can "intercept" an ambulance, which means he can board the vehicle and use everything at his law-permitted disposal to care for the patient.
"For it to be an 'ambulance,' technically, the vehicle must have one EMT and one driver," he said.
He then discussed the proposed contract further, fielding questions from the crowd and the commissioners about the length of the proposal and the wording of certain parts.
"I don't see anything on the horizon that would change our prices," he said, referring to a clause in the proposal that would allow the company to reopen negotiations with the board. "But that's why we put the part about the negotiations in the proposal."
The talk quickly grew heated when Andrews noticed a shift in the audience and in his fellow commissioners towards Athens.
"It's blowing me away that we're even having a discussion about this," Andrews said, referring to discussion of signing with Athens. "The answer is so obvious!"
After more borderline argument, Andrews put forth a motion to continue talks with Trans-Care instead of Athens. Neither President David Parr and Commissioner Buddy Knox would second it, however, leaving it to die on the table.
Discussion then turned to Athens owner Dennis Rose.
"He puts some BS proposal together and all he's going to do is a study," Andrews said, referring to Rose's reluctance to become contractually obligated to hire or train an EMT. "He doesn't want to reinvest the money Clay County has given to him."
Due to time problems, Rose himself then took the floor to show his proposal to the board. His contract renewal asked to revamp user fees to assist with expenses. When asked about his reluctance to agree to hiring a paramedic, Rose said that "with two weeks to get a proposal together and six weeks to look at paramedic contracts, it's certainly difficult to agree to that."
He did say, however, that the proposal said that he would work with the board on conducting a survey on paramedics.
"There's a paramedic manpower shortage in Indiana," he said. "To find one this quickly becomes very difficult."
Andrews then asked him if he would go back and commit to hiring a paramedic in front of the board.
"My contract proposal does not say that," he replied.
"I'm just disappointed that we've met for six hours and all we get is a study," Andrews rebutted, to which Rose said, "I think a study is a plan."
After hanging up a chart with information on both companies on the wall, Andrews once again explained his side of the story.
"Athens today is offering lower level certification at a higher price to our county and our residents," he said. "Do you want to upgrade your service to a higher level or not?
"I've asked Dennis to come with a plan to upgrade his service and he didn't."
In the end, the council voted 2-1 to review and negotiate Athens' proposal after a movement by Buddy Knox, a move which visibly displeased Andrews.
"I don't see anyone celebrating," Rose said, speaking to the small group that had come to support him.
"That's because we made the wrong decision," Andrews replied.
After the vote, President Parr said that several factors came into his decision to vote for Athens.
"I felt like both companies gave good proposals. I would have liked a third party with a paramedic so we'd have something to compare to. Dennis suggested that he may bring a paramedic into his company and has served our county well. He works well with fire departments and the families here, although I will say that we can't stay stagnant. To give Dennis a fair shake, I'm going to give him a chance to show that he can do that for our county."
Other items from the meeting included:
- Open bids for highway materials, highway trucks, and site demolition for the new Clay County jail. The board decided to take all highway material and vehicle quotes under consideration, while rejecting the two bids given for demolition in hopes that more businesses would represent themselves.
- An update from architectural firm Shelkle Shultz. The company, which is handling the plans for the new jail, came to the meeting to show a slight change they made to the initial plans. By removing one holding cell and making a few small trims a few other places, the company added nearly 1,000 square feet to the area the jail would take. Parr advised a representative of the company to work more closely with the board, saying that "in the end, the final decision comes to us."
- A five-year renewal of Clay County's franchise contract with Charter Communications, the county's main cable television provider.
- Another visit from Brian Vandenburgh of Wabash Valley Locksmith. After several talks with the board, a motion was passed to buy several card-scan locks and three "master keys" and locks for the courthouse. Materials for installation will cost around $ 7,500.
The next County Council meeting will take place on Mon., Jan. 5, at 9 a.m. in the courthouse. The public is invited.
MISSING CENTER POINT GIRL FOUND
By LINDA MESSMER
A missing Center Point teenager was found uninjured yesterday by the Clay County Sheriff's Department. Joanna Blackburn, a 16-year-old Northview student, was reported missing by her parents Nov. 23.
According to Clay County Detective Mike Heaton a tip was recieved from a Northview High School student Monday, who said he saw the girl at the Kroger's parking lot Sunday night at about 8:30 p.m. with Cody Eder.
The student reported the information to Northview principal Ken Wallace, who passed it on to Detective Doug Smiley, who was also working on the case.
Heaton and Smiley went to the home of Eder's grandparents, which was his last known address. Eder's mother happened to be visiting at the time. She took the detectives to CR 500 W, where Eder was living with a Summer Hoffman.
After identifying themselves, Heaton and Smiley questioned Eder about Blackburn's whereabouts.
"He first denied knowing where she was," Heaton said. "After confronting him with the information we had, he came forward and told us she was there at the residence. He said she was in the back bedroom. When we went back, we found her hiding in the closet."
Blackburn was taken into custody and transported to the Clay County jail. She was later released into the custody of her parents, who are going to get her into counseling. The prosecutor's office will determine later if charges are to be filed against Blackburn
Eder was arrested for contributing to the deliquency a minor. The A misdemeanor charge has a penalty of up to a year in jail and up to a $5,000 fine. Eder remained in jail as of 8 a.m. today.
Detective Heaton said that Blackburn had left a note at home saying that she had personal problems. Apparently the note said Blackburn felt it was best for her and her family if she was gone.
After interviewing Eder, he indicated to Detective Heaton that Blackburn had called him requesting his help. He picked her up and took her to the residence where he was staying.
Thomas Blackburn, Joanna Blackburn's father, said drugs were involved.
"A drug dealer got ripped off while Joanna was there," Tom Blackburn said. "The friends left so the drug dealer came after her. Joanna ran away to protect herself from the drug dealer's threats. There's a serious drug problem in this town that needs to be addressed."
MARIETTA HOME IS ON TOUR
Photo 6056PAPER (In Meg): The home of Nick and Julie Marietta at 1415 W. Slacks Lake Drive is one of the stops on the 2003 Tri Kappa Home Tour on Dec. 7.
By MEG GREY
The home of Nick and Julie Marietta at 1415 W. Slacks Lake Drive adds a touch of country charm to the 2003 Tri Kappa Home Tour.
The 3,100 sq. ft. home, finished in March of 1993, has three of everything; bedrooms, bathrooms and a three car garage. The Mariettas picked the location because Nick works in Indianapolis, Julie wanted to be close to Terre Haute, and they both liked Brazil. They built their home on spacious lakefront lot on S.R.59, near the I-70 exit.
Visitors are greeted by a cozy living room with a 7 1/2 Christmas tree decorated with statis and yarrow grown in Julie's garden and an assortment of wooden and tin ornaments. Connected to the living room is an eating area that overlooks Slack's Lake through French doors that lead out to the pool area. A fireplace is tucked away in the corner of the area, providing heat for diners at the table or anyone lounging on the couch. To build the fireplace, workers had to chop ice out of the lake to make water to mix mortar because there was no running water in the house yet. One may also reach the master bed and bathroom via the living room. The bedroom contains a walk-in closet, a sea of woven wooden baskets and a three-piece bedroom suite that pulls the room together with its antique charm.
The eating area flows into the kitchen, which encases a large island with seating for two surrounded by cabinets hand-crafted by Amish woodworkers, a built-in pantry and a Hoosier cabinet. The base of the cabinet came from Julie's parents and the top came from their antiquing skills and then the couple stained the top to match the base.
From the kitchen is a view of the formal dining room with an oak dining table, pie safe, copper boiler, and antique table holding wooden woven baskets. Outside of the dining room is the back hall with a full bath decorated in barns, coat closet and laundry room. The laundry room is equipped with a storage cabinet that encases a folding table. Down the hall and back in the kitchen is a door leading to the basement.
The basement is painted tan and has a family room, office space and game room. The family room has an overstuffed plaid couch and loveseat, oak antique table, bird's eye maple table and the office space set aside in the back corner of the room. The room opens into the game room that is complete with pool table and decorated in Coca-Cola and Nascar. An antique cash register and Coke machine came from Nick's Dad's barber shop. A pub table is perfect for snacking between pool shots.
The upstairs is dominated by the couple's children, Nicholas and Sarah.
The upstairs is dominated by the couple's children, Nicholas and Sarah. Nicholas' room is sports-themed and has a walk-in closet, window seat, desk and a Hot Wheels tree. Across the hall is Sarah's room with a four-poster bed, blue and yellow desk which matches the border around the room, a walk-in closet, a window seat sectioned off by a beaded curtain and a Beanie Baby tree. Separating the siblings' rooms is a full bath with a floral border and a balloon curtain over the window.
The 2003 Tri Kappa Home Tour is Sunday. After viewing all the houses, don't forget to stop by and the boutique at the Armory from 12 to 5. For ticket information contact Rogene at 448-1159 or Sandy at 442-1713.