During Monday's meeting of the Clay County Commissioners, an ordinance was passed on the first reading, with suspended rules, prohibiting littering.
"Unfortunately, there are some people who do not care," Commissioner Paul Sinders said. "We needed to come up with something which would encourage them to take responsibility and help deter littering throughout the county."
The ordinance sets a $500 fine for the first offense and $750 for the second and all subsequent offenses should the matter be settled "without the necessity of court action." Should the matter not be resolved and court action is required, a conviction for littering would carry maximum fines of $2,500 for the first offense and $7,500 for the second or subsequent offense. The collection of any and all funds from fines will go into the county's General Fund.
Commissioners' Attorney Eric Somheil said there is also a state statute prohibiting littering, which carries its own punishments.
"Should someone be cited for violating the county's ordinance, they would go through me in an attempt to come to a resolution, but if that doesn't work, the matter would have to go through the court," Somheil said. "However, if they are cited for violating the state statute, it would go to the Prosecutor's Office and they would determine what action to take."
Commissioners' President Charlie Brown said the Clay-Owen-Vigo Solid Waste District plans to purchase anti-littering signs, with grant money, which will be placed along county roadways.
Meanwhile, the commissioners also discussed the potential of working with the City of Brazil to sell as many as eight parcels of property which was not sold in the county-wide tax sale or the commissioners certificate sale.
SRI, Inc., Indianapolis Vice President Joe Edwards said both the county and city would have to pass a joint resolution approving the purchase of the properties.
Brazil City Planning Administrator Stacy Gibbens said the city has been interested in purchasing the parcels, most of which are vacant lots, and improve them through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant funding.
Sinders said the commissioners will have to meet at another time to determine the price for each of the parcels and the matter will be discussed further during the September meeting.
"We want to work with the city because what they want to do is good and justifiable," he said.
Edwards also explained once the resolutions are passed, the city will have to go through the normal process of sending out notices and conducting a title search within 120 days before a deed for the parcels would be granted.
In other business during Monday's meeting, the commissioners:
* Received a petition with 35 signatures from residents on County Road 750 North, between State Road 59 and Harmony Road, requesting speed limit signs be set up in the area for either 35 or 40 miles per hour. Brown said the commissioners would look into the matter and make a decision during the September meeting, but wanted to remind residents that residential areas without a posted speed limit are 35 mph in residential areas and 55 mph in rural areas, according to state statutes,
* Heard a request from resident Vicki Rainbolt for a fireworks ordinance to be drawn up, which stipulates maintaining a specific distance away from livestock in which they can be shot off. Rainbolt said neighbors were shooting off fireworks in close proximity to her residence July 4, which frightened the horses she owns.
"I don't want to tell people they can't shoot them off because everyone loves fireworks," she said. "I would like to see this done so there aren't problems with people having to chase down livestock that get frightened by them going off so close."
The commissioners agreed to consider the matter and plan to speak with county farmers and livestock owners for additional perspectives before deciding a plan of action to take, and
* Decided to request an additional appropriation from the Clay County Council in September to pay for the potential cost of renovating and repairing the columns inside the Clay County Courthouse. Michael Conly, AIA Principal for Architura Corp., Indianapolis, said he has been in discussions with Garland Guild, Indianapolis, about the repairs and received an estimate of $17,500 for the work. The repair work would have to come from a specialized company like Garland Guild because of the scagliola technique in the columns.
Due to the Labor Day holiday, the next meeting of the Clay County Commissioners will be 9 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 8, in the Commissioners' Courtroom at the Clay County Courthouse.