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Sheriff struggling to anticipate expenses as new jail completion pushed back
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As the original goal of completing the new Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and Criminal Justice Center by the spring of 2023 passes, County Council was reaffirmed this week that the project is going to take longer to finish and there’s uncertainty on what additional costs will be incurred with the facility.

The county broke ground on the 300-bed, $45 million jail, located at 1150 J.A. Berry Lane, in July 2021 with hopes of having the facility finished in less than two years.

The county still does not have an actual date for the jail’s completion, the Council was told Tuesday.

County Sheriff Ben Flint and Chief Deputy Laura Pickel were at Tuesday’s County Council meeting to seek approval for additional appropriations to cover higher jail expenses the department has see far this year. Pickel said the county is venturing into new territory with the new jail.

“We still don’t know the cost of running the (new) facility. We have no idea. It was never given to us,” said Pickel.

She said the county is already paying for water at the new jail but since the jail is currently not in use that cost is minimal. However, she noted that current water usage “doesn’t even give us a ballpark as to what we’re actually going to spend” once the jail is in operation. “I have no idea what that looks like” and JCSO probably won’t know that amount until the new jail has been functioning for a couple of months, and a pattern has developed for daily water and electricity usage.

Pickel said she has “pretty good numbers for what the medical will be in the new facility and what food will be in the new facility” but the utilities won’t be known until later in the year, which will make it challenging for the County Council when it begins planning the 2024 budget in August.

Because of higher costs so far this year, the Council approved an additional $25,000 in the jail’s medical/hospital budget and $160,000 for use of jail facilities (the fee to house inmates in other jails) and $190,000 to cover the medical contract for the new jails.

Pickel said there was $25,000 in the 2023 budget for medical/hospital expenses, but there were unexpected bills at the beginning of the year so, as of May 4, only $1,797 remained in that account. To ensure there is sufficient funds in the account for the rest of the year, the Council approved a transfer of $25,000 from the county’s general fund to the jail’s medical/hospital budget.

Pickel said the new medical contract will be $378,600 once the move is made to the new facility, which comes to $31,555 per month making the medical request at $190,000 to have enough funds to cover the last six months of the year.

Pickel said $210,000 was originally budgeted to house inmates in other jails due to Jefferson County’s insufficient space at the current Jefferson County Jail. “In January alone, we spent $59,000,” she said. With the extended date of completion for the new jail, she said “we’re pretty sure we’re going to run out of that money” since currently only $37,787 is left in that account.

She noted the Sheriff’s Department has had no control over the budget spent to house inmates in other facilities. “It’s not like we’re sending people out because we want to. We don’t have a choice. We’re above capacity,” she said.

With an additional $160,000, Pickel hopes that will provide enough funds to last through July with hopes that they may be in the new jail by then.

Flint noted that once the new jail opens the county won’t have the expense of housing inmates in other counties because there will be adequate space for all county inmates. The only exception will be if the county has to incarcerate an inmate who cannot be safely house with other local inmates.

At the same time, Flint said the county “will be drastically increasing the amount of inmates” in the county jail that will no longer be housed in other county jails.

Flint, who took office as sheriff in January, said he doesn’t think enough considerations were made last year to plan for new costs that are now showing up in this year’s sheriff’s department budget.

“We understand you didn’t make the budget for this year,” said council member Ray Denning.

In other business:

• Approved an appropriation of $5,000 to buy two AEDs (Automated External Defibrillator) that will be available in time for the Jefferson County 4-H Fair scheduled for July 7-14. Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency Director Troy Morgan said a work group identified 30 AEDs could be utilized at the county’s governmental buildings but recommended that only the two be purchased now, and then consider whether to purchase more AEDs in the future. Morgan said the cost for the AEDS is approximately $2,000 along with a $199 annual maintenance agreement. County Commissioner Bobby Little recommended including the maintenance agreement for liability reasons.

• Flint announced plans to purchase a new K9 for the sheriff’s department with a $10,000 grant from the American Kennel Club and a $5,000 donation from Jefferson County Prosecutor David Sutter. “That will hopefully help us get out and address the drug issue that we’re trying to be proactive about. Deputy Logan Gray will be the handler of the dog which Flint said is still completing training. Flint said the department currently has two K9 units and this will be the third.

• Agreed to allow for an update in the salary ordinance for the County Highway Department to add a garage foreman, a position that had existed in the past and is being brought back. In order to fund that position for the rest of the year, County Highway Superintendent Bobby Phillips asked for a transfer of $31,000 that was approved.

• Gave permission to move the County Auditor, County Treasurer and Human Resources departments to a new financial software with a three-year contract to Low Associates, a government software company based in South Bend. The conversion to the new software is expected to take place by the end of the year.

“We’re working with a dinosaur right now,” County Auditor Heather Huff said of the current software. She noted the new software is more up-to-date and will be easier to utilize. The Commissioners will have the contract on their agenda for final approval at the May 18 meeting.

• Agreed to appoint Sally Wurtz for a final term as the County Council’s representative on the Jefferson County Public Library’s board of trustee. Her current term ends June 30 with the new term ending June 30, 2027, which will be her fourth and final term on the board.

Frolicking at the Fountain
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Charlie’s Beat
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Jordan Antoine Wilson is front man for one of Madison’s favorite bands, The Jordan Wilson Coalition. He plays around town quite often, even more now that he has moved to downtown Madison, as opposed to Carrollton or Cincinnati or Louisville where he’s lived in the past.

But those of us who follow Jordan on Facebook or Instagram knew that he also has a frequent side gig up in Cincinnati, playing lead guitar for an indie-pop band called Knotts. We’d see him in the back of the photo as Knott’s was winning this award or that honor, or playing at some high-profile venue. It’s like he had a secret alter-ego.

So when Jordan suggested that Knotts should come and play a show at Red Bicycle Hall, it seemed like the perfect way to finally merge the rock/blues Jordan we know, with the indie/pop Jordan of Cincy fame. Knotts is playing tonight (May 12) at Red Bike at 8 p.m., with Jordan’s band opening. Tickets are at or available at the door.

I caught up with the

driving force behind the band, Adalia Boehne, as she was driving to Michigan, her home state. “We’re very excited to be playing in Madison,” said Adalia. “We’ve heard so much about it from Jordan over the years. Plus, we are introducing a new direction with Knotts, and I’m anxious to share it with new audiences.

“We used to be pretty much straight indie/pop, but now we are leaning into the soul sound and R&B a lot more. It’s a fun, dancey change for us. And people have been responding well to it.

“It’s like we are making the most of everybody’s best talent in the band now. Jordan with his bluesy style. Isaiah Cook our drummer, with his church and gospel background. And Antoine is steeped in the R&B and soul traditions.

“We’ve been on kind of a roll for a couple of years now. We won Best New Artist at the Cincy Entertainment Awards a few years ago. We had a song included in the NPR Tiny Desk Concert series. And we recently opened for the band Thundercat, which was very exciting.

“Our first album came out in 2018, right before the pandemic. Now that things are settling down again, we’ve been able to record our sophomore album, titled Ribbon Dancer. That’s what we are out promoting now with this series of new concerts, and we’ll feature a lot from it when we play at Red Bicycle Hall.”

I asked Adalia what people can expect if they come out on Friday to see the show. “Well, it’s basically an electric torrent of emotion. I’m really into emotive songwriting and getting people to feel something. And with our new soulful direction, people will also feel like moving their shoulders and getting into the flow of the sound. It’s definitely our goal to bring people into the vibe and make the crowd part of the experience. It will be a fun show, I’ll just say that.”

Hot Tip of the Week

The Riverboat Inn is now under new ownership. (And on that note, we should all give a big “Thank You” to previous owner Kathie Petkovic for supporting live music at her venue for many years.) The new owners are equally supportive, and they have already hosted numerous live music events as they reopen and get rolling this spring. They have shows Friday and Saturday this week, and all their shows are 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Go check them out. The other venue under new ownership is the Lighthouse down on the river, and they are all-in with live music, too. Go down there Saturday night, listen to the music, and see all the improvements they’ve made. If you are downtown this weekend from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., you’ll notice street musicians (buskers) in front of several stores. It’s all part of living in a genuine Music City! Oh, and be sure to tip the players.

This Week in Music

Thursday, May 11

Rivertown Grill — Ladies’ Night

The Drake — Joe & Deano

Friday, May 12

Rivertown Grill — Smokin’ Jokers

Riverboat Inn — Joe & Deano

The Central — The Last Resort

The Drake — Vaguely Familiar

VFW — L&L Karaoke

Red Bicycle Hall — Knotts

Saturday, May 13

Thomas Family Winery — Jimmy & Billy

Riverboat Inn — Joe & Deano

Rivertown Grill — Crossfire

The Central — Falls City Boys

Lighthouse — Anthony Michael Trapp

American Legion — L&L Karaoke

Sunday, May 14

Rivertown Grill — Hippie Fingers

The Black Olive — Joe & Deano

Hanover tennis court bids higher than estimates
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Plans to refurbish the tennis courts at Hanover Community Park moved a step closer to beginning with the opening of bids for that project on Monday.

The only bid received was received was from Tennis Technology Inc., of Louisville, at a cost of $216,114.

The bid was taken under advisement by the Hanover Town Council until their attorney, Devon Sharpe, reviews the offer to be certain all requirements are met. The council, which met in a special session for the bid opening, will hold its regular meeting on Tuesday when action could take place to either accept or deny the bid and award the contract.

The tennis court refurbishment is part of the park improvements being funded by a $574,412 Land and Water Conservation Fund Grant through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. The grant provides for a 50% match by the town, meaning the town will contribute $287,206 and the National Park Service $287,206.

Last week, Rick Schnebelt, who has been overseeing the grant projects for the park, estimated the tennis court refurbishment would cost about $190,000. Knowing that, town council members Debbie Kroger, Treva Shelton and Benjamin Sommer, who were in attendance at Monday’s bid opening, expressed concern that Tennis Technology’s $216,114 bid is more than the town’s available funding.

However, based on a later discussions with town council member Kenny Garrett, he reminded that the Southwestern Jefferson County Schools board of trustees had agreed to contribute $30,000 for net posts, nets and fencing because the court are utilized by the school’s tennis teams. Garrett said the $30,000 from the schools combined with the $190,000 the city anticipate, could provide enough funds for the tennis courts to be refurbished.

Other projects that are being funded by the grant include lighting for the park’s baseball/softball fields and tennis court, new storage/officials buildings and new walking trails.

Emergency drill planned for Saturday in Hanover
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Local emergency responders will participate in a drill Saturday in Hanover in order to test and improve the community’s overall preparedness for emergency events.

The drill, which will begin at 9 a.m., will simulate a chemical release from a truck delivering goods to Hanover College.

Troy Morgan, director of Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency, emphasized that the drill will be staged to look real but it is a simulation only and there will be no threat to the public. The actions of first responders and activities during the exercise will be practiced in a manner that is as realistic as possible with local police, fire and EMS responding as well as the hospital and health department participating.

Morgan stated the areas in the Hanover area where the exercise will take place will be clearly marked. For safety reasons, and in order to complete the exercise in a realistic environment, the exercise area will not be open to the public.

“We ask for your patience and support if the exercise disrupts your daily routine and inconveniences you in any way. We thank all area residents for their support of this important exercise.” Morgan said.

Anyone with concerns should contact Morgan at 812-265-7616 or