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Eighty-year old David Edrington got his first COVID-19 vaccine shot on Thursday afternoon at the Jefferson County Health Department and he couldn’t have been more thrilled.

“I want to get back to dancing. They have not had a dance at the Senior Center since all this happened,” Edrington noted.

The Jefferson County Health Department is administering the Moderna vaccine, which requires two doses administered 28 days apart with the return appointment schedule at the time patients receive their first dose. However, the shots are just a start, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention it typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after receiving the second vaccination.

After Edrington received his vaccination on Thursday, he was set up with an appointment for his second shot which brought a great deal of relief. He said “for more ways than one,” he is anxious to put the COVID-19 pandemic behind him and hopes the shot can accomplish that.

“I enjoy getting out of the house and being active,” he said.

Jefferson County Department of Health Administrator Tammy Monroe said the reaction has consistently been the same.

“For everybody, it’s a relief,” Monroe said. “They’re anxious to get their life back to normal.”

And the process looks to be easy and painless.

“I didn’t even know they gave it to me. I didn’t even feel it,” Edrington said.

Monroe said that’s the case with everyone they have given the shot. “Everyone says they didn’t feel it,” she said, also adding “we haven’t had any severe reactions. There have been no complaints.”

Getting vaccine doesn’t take much time. When arriving, each person registers, then gets the shot, and afterwards goes into a waiting room for 15 minutes to be monitored for a possible reaction.

“They are in and out in 20 minutes, and that includes the waiting time,” Monroe said.

She said the health department administers 100 to 110 COVID vaccinations daily — a rate of about two every 10 minutes — and they are actually capable of giving four to six shots every 10 minutes, a rate that is based on the vaccine available to the health department. Jefferson County is currently receiving 500 doses of the vaccine per week, and she doesn’t expect that to decrease, but would like it to increase so that more vaccine can be available and delivered sooner to more people.

COVID vaccinations are currently available in Indiana to residents age 65 and older. Appointments can be scheduled by visiting https://ourshot.in.gov. Those needing assistance scheduling their appointment can call 2-1-1.

Monroe is grateful for the support of the community in assisting the health department as volunteers have stepped forward to help give shots.

“The response has been overwhelming. We have had retired nurses and retired physicians come in to help,” she said, adding that even active nurses and physicians are volunteering during their off-work hours. “This helps us to carry on our everyday duties.”

In addition to the COVID vaccinations, the health department is still providing child immunizations, food service inspections, environmental health, and handling birth and death records. Thanks to the assistance from volunteers in the community, Monroe said the agency has been able to effectively carry on those tasks and tackle a major health crisis.

Administering the vaccine is a great opportunity for the Jefferson County Health Department, said Monroe.

“We’re excited and thankful to have it here,” she said. “We’re glad to have it here so they don’t have to travel out of the community. We’re glad people are able to get the vaccine and help our community to get back to normalcy.”

She went on to note that administering such vaccine in a time of health crisis is “what public health is. We have trained for this for years,” she said, and now is a chance for the community to better see the health department in action.

“We’re excited to be able to provide this service to the community,” said Monroe. “We’re excited for people to hear about what the health department does. This is our chance to show the community what we do.”

According to Indiana’s statewide COVID-19 dashboard, Jefferson County has now had 2,782 positive cases of the coronavirus and 60 deaths to date. There have been 635,171 Hoosiers contract the virus overall with 11,280 deaths.

Search warrant leads to four arrests
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Madison Police executing a search warrant at a small mobile home park at the north end of Walnut Street arrested two men and a woman Wednesday on drug and burglary charges and followed up that investigation with a fourth arrest on Thursday in connection with a recent break-in in downtown Madison.

The search warrant served at a mobile home located at 419 Moody Park Lane, was obtained as the result of an ongoing narcotic investigation led by MPD Detective Kyle Cutshaw with the assistance of Detective Ricky Harris, Patrolman Trent Smith and Patrolman Cameron Blankenship.

Madison Police executed the warrant shortly after 9 p.m. on Wednesday and searched the home, a vehicle and the area around the home while arresting Glenn O. Bordelon, Joshua Bryan Koons and Stephanie K. Patton, all of Madison.

Officers seized methamphetamine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia and recovered property that had been reported during a residential burglary reported on Jan. 29, in the 700 block of West Third Street, located about a mile west of the mobile home in downtown Madison.

Patrolman Jared Sweet, who investigated the burglary, was present for the search warrant and identified the property as items stolen during the break-in. As a result of his follow-up investigation, Sweet was able to establish probable cause to charge Koons with Level 4 burglary and also link that crime to another Madison woman, who was later arrested on Thursday.

Based on Sweets’ ongoing investigation into the burglary, Stephanie Michelle Kloss, 33, Madison, was arrested Thursday on preliminary charges of residential burglary, a Level 4 felony, and theft, a Class A misdemeanor.

Koons, 33, is also charged with possession of methamphetamine, possession of a syringe and maintaining a common nuisance, all Level 6 felonies; as well as theft, a Class a misdemeanor, and possession of marijuana, a Class B misdemeanor.

Bordelon, 49, has been charged with possession of methamphetamine and possession of a syringe, both Level 6 felonies, and visiting a common nuisance-controlled substances, a Class B misdemeanor.

Patton, 40, has been charged with possession of methamphetamine, possession of a syringe and maintaining a common nuisance, all Level 6 felonies, and possession of paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor.

All four suspects were lodged in the Jefferson County Jail without bond pending their initial hearings.

Cable board members turn out strong but Courtney steadfast in making change
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After failing to produce a quorum at its previous meeting, the community-wide Public Video Service Board had a full house of previous and new members Thursday but still took little official action on a proposal to reorganize, rename and rebrand the group moving forward.

However, the group did elect officers for 2021 — Debbie Kroger will serve as president, Jim Bartlett secretary and Denise Buxton Treasurer — and began plotting a strategy for moving forward in the future and finding a new home for Madison TV15’s equipment and staff when they have to vacant their longtime office space in the basement of Madison City Hall.

The path forward will most likely involve reverting to a Cable Advisory Board rather than a Public Video Service Board since an ordinance establishing the CAB may be the last operating agreement reached by all three governmental entities that fund the operation through franchise fees on local cable TV operators Metronet and Spectrum.

Members of the CAB had apparently agreed to move to a PVSB several years ago but never brought that proposal before Madison City Council for adoption, therefore rendering the move legally void to the city. It is not known if the same proposal ever went before the other partners — Jefferson County and the Town of Hanover — so that too must be determined if the group is to function as a CAB or PVSB.

Apparently, the difference between the two boards is in the reach of their control or the control they were exercising. Both rely on funding from the cable franchise fees but the CAB had been a liaison between the cable providers and local customers while the PVSB was engaging in programming decisions and operation of the local access channel on the two cable TV systems.

Problems started arising last year when incoming Madison Mayor Bob Courtney had audits conducted throughout the city and the lack of an operational agreement between the city and PVSB was identified. The longer Courtney and his staff looked into the agreement the more issues they found including a frustration over the board’s lack of urgency in bringing the PVSB proposal before the city for approval, the fact that some board members appointed to serve on the board often did not attend meetings and the PVSB’s ongoing efforts to enter into contracts and memorandums of understanding and operation even thought the board technically did not exist.

Courtney gave the group a deadline late last year to resolve its ongoing issues with the city and then last month announced that the city of Madison would continue to allocate some funding to the CAB but not recognize the PVSB. In addition, the city would begin producing and creating its own content on a format that targets video streaming services like YouTube more than the local cable access channels while at that same time giving Madison TV15 — which he says is attempting to function as a TV station — until March 14 to vacate Madison City Hall and find its own offices at another location.

Thursday night, the Mayor repeated his demands moving forward in an effort to clarify his position to existing and new members of the board. He said Madison has pledged to fund the CAB at $1,000 per month for up to three months and then beyond that as long as other required provisions are met but that the city was going its own way either way.

“We’ll continue to support you financially if you follow our provisions,” Courtney, who was encouraged by board member participation, Thursday said. He noted the city’s support will initially be for a term of 90 days with the remainder depending on the CAB and its efforts.

The CAB and Madison TV15 have already been allocated $12,000 annually by Jefferson County and $11,500 by Hanover so whatever the group decides operation will include a shoestring budget. Courtney has said he was prepared to budget more money for TV15 if there had been more movement toward the kind of programming he thinks is in the best interest of the city. In addition to meeting coverage and public affairs, he wanted more effort on supporting local business and industry as well as tourism and economic development on a platform that can reach far wide than the two cable channels can offer.

“I tried to steer the group for over a year. We wanted a lot more focus on content management and a lot less focus on Channel 15 as a TV station,” Courtney said Thursday. He said data shows that trying to provide a lineup of shows on the CAB’s cable channel would have the least amount of impact locally.

“We think this has gone very, very stale and there is much more potential there than is being exploited ... we need to focus the content on our community and not compete with 300 other channels on cable TV,” he said. “We have data that says that nobody is watching Channel 15. Out of 1,700 Metronet cable TV customers in the county, less than 1,000 of them per month go to Channel 15 and 82% of them stay for less than two minutes.”

Madison TV15 manager Aaron Paul Wood asked Courtney where he found that data and the mayor said it was provided by the marketing director at Metronet.

After that the group tabled a Memorandum of Understanding that would have allowed TV15 to start featuring some Indiana Public Broadcasting System programming on Metronet Channel 15 and Spectrum Channel 377 and heard several reports on other PVSB business including forming a committee to find TV15 another office and designating members to go before the Jefferson County Commissioners and Hanover Town Board to check to see if similar gaps exist in the ordinances with those governments.

The board also voted to meet on the first Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. moving forward.

Revolving Loans have helped 12 businesses
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County Commissioners received an update Friday morning on the Jefferson County Revolving Loan program aimed at helping small business through COVID-19 pandemic.

A public hearing required for phase three of the program is set for 5 p.m. on Thursday at the Jefferson County 4-H Fairgrounds.

Erica Cline, the county archivist, has taken on the role of overseeing the program in which $25,000 loans were allocated to small businesses to retain low-to-moderate income jobs with an outreach emphasis toward businesses owned by minorities, women and veterans.

The county received a $250,000 grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs in which the county matched $50,000. Grants were given to 12 businesses including Brenda’s Digital Art and Photography, Red Pepper Inc., Kristen Quick Cosmetology, Lee’s Lock Service, Darrell’s Tire and Alignment, Attic to Basement, Midwest Gym Supply, Keepsake Consignment, Clifty Garden Center, Cozy Acres Golf Complex, Made with Fire and Steve Bickis Art and Sign.

“All the businesses have been great,” said Cline. “They have all cooperated and all provided what we need for what the state has asked of us.”

She said the county has so far had $2,604.32 returned on the loans. Cline noted that as long as the businesses follow all the guidelines in paying back half of the loan, they won’t have to pay back the other half.

In other business:

• Faith Weir, gave a year-end report for the Jefferson County Veterans Service Office.

“It was a tough year, but we got through it,” she said.

Weir said the office has “continued to play a key role in shaping office efficiency, accuracy and personalized service to our community’s veterans and dependents as well as equally positive financial results for our veterans and their families.”

In 2020, the total monetary benefit to Jefferson County veterans was $2,036,506.60. “That’s money that is spent in our county,” said Weir, the county veteran service officer.

In spite of COVID-19, the Jefferson County Veterans Service Office continued to transport veterans to medical appointments. “I am proud of our veterans transportation drivers who continued to get veterans to and from their appointments,” Weir said.

In 2020, there were a total of 1,780 claims and applications filed. “I am blessed to have this job,” Weir said. “I love working with the veterans, not just in our county but also in Kentucky. We don’t turn away anyone. If you are a veteran and you need help, we are going to help you.”

• Chief Deputy Treasurer Meghan Hoskins updated the Commissioners with an annual board of finance report. She reported on interest rates on county money, which has dwindled to a small amount as rates have dropped. For German American Bank the county’s return had been 1.21% and it is now 0.15%. For First Financial, it was 1.05% and is now 0.03%.

“You could put it under a mattress and get just a much,” noted Commissioner David Bramer.

• A special meeting will likely be scheduled in the next week to adopt a resolution on approving the lease of the old and new jail by the Jefferson County Building Corporation. Bramer said interviews for two candidates for project contractor manager were scheduled for Friday afternoon.

• Bids were received for paving funded by a Community Crossings Grant. The lowest bid was from Dave O’Mara Contractor of North Vernon for $1,024,093, which Highway Superintendent Bobby Phillips noted is more than $500,000 less than the state’s estimate. Other bids were All Star Paving of Seymour, $1,236,162.40; Wingham Paving, Charlestown, $1,405,063; MAC Construction and Excavation, New Albany, $1,420,960; Lib Paving, Floyd Knobs, $1,524,389.31; Hall Contracting, Louisville, $1,529,253.57; and Paul H. Rohe Company, Aurora, $1,567,803.35. The Commissioners took the bids under advisement in order to review them to be certain they meet specifications for the roads that are to be paved.

• Approved the purchase of a New Holland tractor with a boom mower for $90,500. “We have an additional two that we will be selling off to offset the cost,” Phillips said.

• Levi Gammons of Gammons Excavating and Trucking requested that the Commissioners vacate Moore’s Lane but Bramer said the road is owned by the county and cannot be vacated. “We can work an agreement with you so that you can take over maintenance,” he said.

• County Sheriff David Thomas reported on a waterline that needs replacing at the jail. “It’s all normal wear and tear,” he said.

Thoms also reportt the jail has spent $2,000 to replace security cameras that were no longer functioning properly.

• Troy Morgan, Emergency Management Agency director, said EMS has 23 pallets of various COVID-19 protective materials that he said “continue to come in and go out.” Morgan praised the highway department and sheriff’s department for providing assistance. “They have done a fantastic job.”