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Lawrence County Commissioners passed an ordinance for American Rescue Plan funds

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LAWRENCE CO. – The Lawrence County Commissioners ,Tuesday morning passed an ordinance creating a new fund for the receipt of funding from the American Rescue Plan (ARP).

According to Commissioner Rodney Fish, the ordinance was necessary to establish a new fund in the Auditor’s Office into which proceeds of ARP grant funds could be deposited and then distributed.

The funds can be used in response to a public health emergency with respect to the coronavirus or its negative economic impact including assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits or to aid the impacted industries such as tourism, travel, and hospitality.

It also can be used to aid workers performing essential work during COVID-19 by providing premium pay to eligible workers, non-entitled units of local government or county that are performing essential duties, or by providing grants to eligible employers who employ essential workers and for a provision of government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue due to COVID-19.

It also can be used for necessary investments in water, sewer or broadband infrastructure as approved by the US Treasury.

Funds will be appropriated by the county’s fiscal body before use. All expenditures of funds will be approved by the commissioners with any and all claims paid from the county’s APR fund.

The Board of Commissioners will establish a plan, conditions, and rules upon which the funds are requested and used. Any unused funds must be paid back to the United States Treasury.

In other business:

The commissioners appointed Elizabeth Freeman, the coroner, manager of the Forensic Center, which is standard procedure.

Highway Superintendent David Holmes reported crews are gearing up for the paving season.

Crews are patching roads, ditching, replacing culverts and mowing.

“We should begin paving in mid-June around the 10th -15th depending on the weather,” Holmes added. “We will be paving roads with Community Crossing funds and local funds all at the same time.”

The county received $552,240 in federal transportation funds to replace road signs to meet the latest national retro-reflective standards set by the Federal Highway Administration. These funds will not replace road name signs. The signage is completed in District 1. Holmes is meeting with INDOT officials today to review the work completed. Now crews will move to the other districts to replace signs.

Bridge 124 on Huron Williams Road should be open by the end of next week.

“We are going to be working on the approaches and put up the guardrails,” added Holmes. “If all goes well the bridge should be open by the end of next week or the beginning of the week after.”

Once that bridge is complete crews will move to Bridge 62 on Stonington Road to begin work.

Work continues on Bridge 150 on Mill Creek Road. Bridge 172 has been accepted into the federal aid program and preliminary planning has begun.

Proposals for bridge inspections will be released this week. Holmes hopes those proposals will be back by July.

Emergency Management Director Valerie Luchauer said county employees will need to take part in a cyber attack awareness training. In February 2020, Lawrence County’s computer network was attacked. Multiple critical systems were impacted in all county offices.

The training will take between 5 to 15 minutes to complete and would be executed twice a year.

“This is an awareness training to improve levels of security,” she added. “This is a requirement of our insurance and for the grant funding we received.”

Luchauer also stressed the importance of not calling 911 and requesting an ambulance for falls and lift assist if not necessary.

“This has been a problem for several years,” she added. “People needing help from their bed to the bathroom or from their vehicles into their homes. Some of these calls are legitimate, but others are unnecessary and tie up an ambulance when needed for a true emergency run, like the accident on Huron Williams Road. People need to better manage their home health care and come up with solutions before calling emergency services. If they need help finding services or assistance we are here to help.”

Lawrence County Chief Deputy Gregg Taylor said the jail population continues to climb. This morning there were 147 inmates in the jail, of those 117 were males, 30 females, six Department of Correction holds, two Level 6 felons and two parole holds.

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