RICHMOND, Ind. — Computer problems resulted in heated conditions inside the Wayne County Jail.
Wayne County’s commissioners heard a report Wednesday from Sheriff Randy Retter and Steve Higinbotham, the county’s director of facilities and development, during their weekly meeting. A temporary solution had the temperature back within a couple of degrees of the low 70s, where the jail normally remains, by the time commissioners met.
Higinbotham said the air-conditioning system would work appropriately with a manual override of the computer system. That occurred once, but the computer again took over and stopped the system’s water flow. The computer system was disconnected to return cooling to the jail, with the temperature adjusted by opening and closing the water control.
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Johnson Controls, which manages the HVAC system, was working on a permanent solution.
Retter said the temperature had risen into the upper 70s with a similar percentage of humidity. The situation had been uncomfortable and concerning, he said. The jail’s dress code was relaxed because of the heat, and inmates were provided with ice water, Retter said. Jail medical staff also monitored inmates for any symptoms of heat-related problems.
Higinbotham said the system’s chillers were purchased for about $100,000 apiece during 2010, and the end of their 15-year life expectancy was approaching.
Ron Cross, the county’s attorney, received authorization from commissioners to request proposals for the county’s ambulance service. Proposals would be due by 10 a.m. Sept. 8, with new contracts taking effect Jan. 1.
The county currently contracts with three ambulance providers selected for three years during 2018. Reid Health covers the southwest part of the county for $70,000 per year. Red Line EMS covers the east-central portion of the county minus Wayne Township for $125,000 per year. Culberson Ambulance Service covers the northwest portion of the county for $90,000 per year.
Richmond Fire Department provides ambulance service for Richmond and Wayne Township and is not part of the county’s contracting process.
Red Line EMS was the only respondent to meet the proposal deadline during the 2018 contract process. The deadline was extended, however, and that’s when Reid Health entered the picture to ensure the county had ambulance coverage.
Reid’s proposal for the southwest portion of the county was selected over Dublin EMS’s $150,000-per-year proposal. Red Line was chosen over Spirit Medical Transport, which requested $570,000 for the three years.
Reid also put forth a $110,000 combined proposal for the southwest and northwest portions of the county. However, commissioners split the territories between Reid and Culberson at a $160,000 total cost.
Health board appointment
Commissioners appointed Curtis Wright, the new superintendent of Richmond Community Schools, to the Wayne County Board of Health. Jennifer Ehlers, a vice president and chief quality officer at Reid Health, also was nominated.
Commissioner Ken Paust said that Wright’s connection with the county’s largest school system provides a perspective the health board needs. Commissioner Jeff Plasterer agreed that a school representative is especially needed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Wright was unanimously approved to fill the vacancy created by John Lebo’s resignation. The term expires Dec. 31, but commissioners indicated they expect to reappoint Wright for a full four-year term.
Commissioners also took a Wayne County Food Ordinance under advisement Wednesday for later action.
Christine Stinson, executive director of the Wayne County Health Department presented the ordinance to provide her department with a procedural mechanism for how to conduct food inspections.
Commissioners affirmed the denial of a driveway permit for a Porterfield Road property because sight distances were below the required 275 feet.
With the topography of the road, there is a maximum 214 feet of visibility north and 232 feet south from the property, which is currently vacant agricultural land. Neighbors also fall below the requirement, but their driveways were grandfathered in when the county adopted its standards.
Mike Sharp, the highway department supervisor, had worked with land owner David Spencer to find a solution that would enable a driveway on the property near the Turner Road intersection. They investigated acquiring additional land from neighbors, which did not work out, and lowering the area’s speed limit from 40 miles per hour to 30 mph.
A traffic study found that with average daily traffic of 549 vehicles composed of 82% cars and 18% trucks, the average speed to the south was 59.3 mph and the average to the north was 55.7 mph.
Seven neighbors were against lowering the speed limit, and three were in favor. Commissioner Mary Ann Butters moved to reduce Porterfield’s speed limit to 30 mph between Cook and Turner roads; however, the motion died for lack of a second.
Sharp also received permission from commissioners to have an arborist assess an old tree on Boundary Road near the Randolph County line. He said a plaque at the tree says it is 500 years old and the oldest tree in Indiana.
The tree, which is unhealthy in parts, needs trimming; however, the county does not want to undertake the work and then be blamed if the tree dies.
Commissioners unanimously approved allowing the Wayne County Soil & Water Conservation District to use one acre of land for a demonstration garden at the fairgrounds.
Raquel Baker, a district technician, said the district is applying for a Clean Water Indiana grant for the program, which would focus on urban gardening. The district would use the land to demonstrate things such as raised flower beds and cover crops during field days and field trips.
The acre that would be utilized is in the northwest corner of the fairgrounds near the Salisbury Road and North West L Street intersection.
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