By JOHN KLINE
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Elkhart County has a new school safety board.
On Monday the Elkhart County Commissioners approved establishing what is being referred to as the Elkhart County School Safety Commission.
According to Elkhart County Administrator Tom Byers, Indiana code for a number of years has set forth provisions for Indiana Safe School funds that could be accessed by counties with established county safety commissions.
“Up until recently, only a handful of counties in Indiana had such a commission,” Byers said. “But in the last legislative session, Indiana Senate Enrolled Act 1 was passed, which added an increase in the funding mechanism to school safety commissions. Elkhart County does not have a school safety commission, so for the past several months I’ve been in communication with the school superintendents who have expressed interest in having one created.”
By establishing a school safety commission within the county, Byers said, local schools will gain access to matching grants from the state that can then be used to purchase things such as door buzzers, cameras, metal detectors and other equipment related to school safety. That money will not come without a little work by school personnel, however.
“They established a state board now that will review applications for matching grants, but it also requires that school corporations come up with school safety plans in order to even qualify for such a matching grant,” Byers said. “Then, as school corporations do that, it’s presented to this local commission, and they must approve those.”
2013 paving program
Board members also approved two contracts for the county’s 2013 paving program.
A total of four companies submitted bids for the program during the board’s previous July 1 meeting, with each bid broken up into five individual sections, or “groups,” in order to obtain better prices for the overall project due to the geographic locations of the roads. All in all, a total of 21 miles of roadway will be paved as part of the 2013 paving program.
“When we bid the projects, we separated them into different areas of the county,” said County Highway Manager Jeff Taylor. “The contractors seemed to like that, and the low bidder on one of the sections was Niblock and then Rieth-Riley was the other low bidder.”
Unsuccessful in their attempts to secure a contract were Griffith and South Bend-based Walsh & Kelly Inc. and Milford-based Phend & Brown Inc.
Following the announcement of the contract awards, Taylor noted his pleasure over the fact the bids actually came in significantly less than he had originally anticipated. In the end, the total amount for the two contracts came to approximately $2.4 million.
“When we put these out for bids we really didn’t think we were going to have the money,” Taylor said. “We thought we were going to have to have a conversation with you about what we were going to pull off the program. Bidding it the way we did helped. It brought the numbers down to where they’re slightly over our budget, but if we have to get a little more money in the end we will, and we’ll make it all happen.”
The commissioners gave their blessing to the expansion of a Middlebury steel fabrication business that could bring new jobs to the area.
The commissioners approved a petition by Wilbur and Nora Sue Miller, represented by NuWay Construction, Goshen, for an amendment to a site plan/support drawing for Lot 3 of the A & R Machine Shop Detailed Planned Unit Development. The request was previously approved by the Elkhart County Plan Commission at its June meeting and sent on to the Board of Commissioners with a favorable recommendation.
According to Mark Kanney, planning manager for the county, the machine shop, located on the north side of C.R. 20, just west of C.R. 35, was founded in 1950 to provide steel fabrication services to the Amish community in Middlebury Township.
Through the petition, NuWay is requesting that the property’s site plan/support drawing be amended to permit the expansion of the A & R Machine Shop facility to include a new 80-by-100 foot building to be used as a powder coat facility to finish products from its current steel fabrication shop.
With the addition of the new building, Kanney indicated that A & R Machine is also requesting to expand its current work force of 30 employees by an additional five employees.
As an added benefit of the expansion request, Kanney noted that the original water retention area that services the northern half of the property was not constructed properly when the current fabrication building was constructed in 2001. With approval of the new construction, Kanney indicated that NuWay has also agreed to install the proper retention area within the easement to service both the existing and new construction as necessary.
Kanney assured the commissioners that the current makeup of the business will allow for the addition of several more employees without fear of outgrowing its current location. Along those lines, Kanney noted that the site was originally designed for a capacity of up to 50 employees.
“It is within the boundaries of the PUD that was established earlier,” Kanney said, “and within the boundaries of the previously established limits on employment.”
Kanney also noted that a majority of the shop’s workers are Amish and ride their bicycles to work, a fact which he said has significantly reduced the business’s traffic impact on the area.
In other business, the board:
• Granted permission for the County Highway Department to advertise for bids for a new truck storage barn at the intersection of C.R. 38 and C.R. 17 for storage of four highway trucks. Bids are expected to be taken during the board’s upcoming Aug. 5 meeting.
• Approved a request by Community Corrections Executive Director Tara Boocher-Whaley for a memorandum of understanding with Adult Education Services to pay for adult education instructional staff and GED testing at a cost of $60,342.