In what has become an annual occurrence at this time of year, the Daviess County Commissioners enacted a 10-ton load limit on almost all county roads during their meeting yesterday morning.
While describing the load limits as “a necessary evil,” Highway Superintendent Phil Cornelius pointed out that the “pre-thaw” limits are necessary “to protect the roads that weren’t built for heavy truck traffic.” The limits, according to Cornelius, apply to roughly 90 percent of all county roads and interested persons are encouraged to contact the highway department at 812-444-5798 to find out where the limit applies and does not apply. The list of affected roads will also be posted to the county’s website.
In another annual process, representatives of four coal companies currently doing business in the county appeared at yesterday’s meeting and in conjunction with Cornelius, briefed the board on their ongoing operations. Personnel from Peabody, Black Beauty, Solar Sources, and relative newcomer Vigo Coal were on hand to answer questions from the public and from the commissioners. No citizens appeared at the meeting but Alex Messamore, land acquisition specialist with Vigo Coal, spoke at length about his company’s mining plans in the county. According to Messamore, “it’s too early in the permit process to be sure about haul routes,” but he assured the commissioners his company was looking forward to beginning operations in Daviess County and would cooperate with appropriate county authorities.
The annual meetings with the coal companies have been going on since the 80s according to Cornelius and are valuable “because they remind the coal producers to come to us and be pro-active.” Cornelius says he regularly deals with the coal companies and reported that the only problems he has currently are “some minor erosion and drainage issues.” which the companies assure him will be corrected in the spring. Cornelius also said, “I get together with them a couple of weeks before the meeting and we go out and actually drive the routes and determine what needs to be done.”
Such as the repair and resurfacing of CR 350E. The work, which carries an estimated price tag of $120,000, is a joint obligation of Solar Sources and White Contracting, and after citing some prior issues with White, board President Tony Wichman suggested Cornelius “might want to bump them a little bit.”
Solar Sources also asked the commissioners to approve an agreement to close CR 350 E between CR 200 N and 350 N. The agreement provides for a $240,000 payment by Solar Sources for upgrading the road and is in addition to the requirement that the company maintain a bond on that section of road. The agreement provides for the closing of 350 E for a period of 18 months, but the actual date of the closing is not known at this time. The agreement states the closing will occur “on or before August 11, 2014,” and if the road is closed for longer than three years, Solar Sources must pay $40,000 per year for every year after that.
In other highway business the commissioners approved an interlocal agreement allowing Daviess County to purchase brine from neighboring Knox County for 9 cents per gallon; agreed to release Ragle Inc. from a bond covering a portion of CR 200 S; and took under advisement the highway department’s 2012 annual report.
County attorney Grant Swartzentruber informed the commissioners that he has been in discussions with the Indiana State Board of Weights and Measures and because the county’s population now exceeds 30,000 based on recent census figures, the county must employ a weights and measures inspector.
The county has three options, Swartzentruber said: full-time, part-time, or create a district and work with the inspector from an adjoining county. No decision was made at Monday’s meeting, but the board authorized Swartzentruber and Wichman to determine which option is best and to report back at a subsequent meeting. Swartzentruber feels the full time option is “unnecessary” and also said based on his discussions with other counties, the inspector position would likely pay around $15 per hour plus mileage. The state will provide the county with the necessary equipment needed to perform the job and will also be responsible for training and eventually certifying the inspector.
In other business, the commissioners approved a natural gas purchase contract with Proliance, a subsidiary of Vectren Energy, locking in a price that can only fluctuate 25 percent during the winter months thereby protecting the county from potentially costly spikes in natural gas prices; approved a disaster plan submitted by County Health Officer Kathy Sullder; reviewed an information packet submitted by Greg Jones with SIDC; and scheduled a joint executive session with the County Council to be held on Feb. 25 to discuss the ongoing Bennington Levee litigation and mediation.