July 9, 2024 at 2:27 p.m.

Funds OK’d for recovery facility report

Engineering review will look at plans for site on Votaw Street


Progress on Jay County’s recovery home is on the way.

Jay County Commissioners on Monday approved utilizing $11,000 for a preliminary engineering report on the new prospective sober living facility in Portland.

Jay County Drug Prevention Coalition received the property at 422 W. Votaw St. in June as a donation from IU Health Jay with the intention to convert it into a recovery home. Both entities announced the partnership May 15.

Jay County Drug Prevention Coalition executive director Kimbra Reynolds explained Bruns Consulting of Fort Recovery will be conducting the study. The report is intended for a proposed 4,000-square-foot residence (the house) and a 1,500-square-foot community center (the garage) on the property. 

Reynolds noted the cost of the engineering report is less than one-third of the cost previously requested — $35,000 — for conducting a feasibility study on a house in Redkey. (After backlash in December from the Redkey community, Jay County Drug Prevention Coalition pulled its offer on the house and changed gears. It sought community input at public forums in January and April while looking elsewhere to put a sober living facility.)

The funding will come from National Opioid Settlement dollars. The county had approximately $277,000 in opioid settlement dollars available as of Monday.

Future construction plans call for renovations, including adding more square footage, reconfiguring bedrooms and communal living spaces, updating safety features, improving accessibility and ensuring compliance with state guidelines.

The facility will be able to serve between 15 and 17 male residents at a time. That includes one house manager who is in long-term recovery and oversees the facility at all times.

Jay County Drug Prevention Coalition hopes the recovery home will be operational within a year and a half.

“I just want to say, I’m happy to see this going finally forward,” said commissioner president Chad Aker. “Obviously, this is something we need. It’s no secret out there we need this.”

Jay County Drug Prevention Coalition has asked the community to help name the new recovery home. Its voting survey, which includes five options suggested by community members, is available until the end of the week at surveymonkey.com/r/97ZYQHM.

Also Monday, commissioners tabled decision on moving forward with additional work contracted through Ritter Strategic Services regarding emergency responder radios. 

Ritter Strategic Services completed a study for the county sharing information about the county’s current three systems and potential options to move forward with necessary repairs or upgrades. One of those options commissioners have been considering is a switch to the Integrated Public Safety Commission state radio system.

Commissioner Rex Journay pointed out representatives from local municipalities and townships met June 26 to discuss the potential switch. At that time, he asked representatives to respond back with an answer — whether their respective municipal councils and boards are comfortable with switching systems and if they are able to purchase new portable radios themselves — by the end of July.

Jay County Emergency Management Agency director Samantha Rhodehamel said she has heard from all six Jay County fire departments. They are on board with the switch.

Commissioner Brian McGalliard suggested Portland and Dunkirk put forth some funding for the project as well.

Jay County Sheriff Ray Newton noted the process could take anywhere from a year to 18 months to complete and stressed the county take action as soon as possible.

Barry Ritter of Ritter Strategic Services said it would likely take 60 to 90 days until he could give the county a hard number on how much the transition will cost. (It’s estimated at roughly $3 million.) 

Also, Aker noted Indiana Department of Transportation has agreed to install flashing stop signs and additional signage at the intersection of Indiana 67, county road 200 West and Tyson Road near Jay County Junior-Senior High School. (The flashing lights will be placed on the signs on 200 West and Tyson Road, and additional signage will be placed on Indiana 67.) Plans are for the work to be completed within a few months.

In other business, commissioners:

•Agreed to reschedule their next meeting to 9 a.m. July 29 and mentioned plans to host a joint session with Jay County Council at 6 p.m. July 31.

•Approved the following: an ordinance increasing meal reimbursement for employees attending training or conferences in-state from $15 to $20 for breakfast and lunch and $25 to $30 for dinner, effective retroactive to July 1; and an agreement with Steve and Marge Reier to resurface county road 850 East between county roads 400 North and 500 North, with the Reiers to pay $25,000 of the cost.

•Selected Air Xray of New Haven to conduct radon testing on homes being considered for projects through the owner-occupied rehabilitation program at $99 a unit — roughly $5,940 for 60 homes. The company also has its mitigation license if it is deemed necessary to a property. Community coordinator Nate Kimball noted applications for the more than $1 million grant program intended to help local residents make repairs to their homes are closed and being reviewed by Kleinpeter Consulting. The county received more than 100 applications.

•Paid a $16,581.25 quarterly claim from Jay County Humane Society.

•OK’d hiring Fort Recovery Lumber to complete roofing work on a salt building at Jay County Highway Department in lieu of B&M Construction of Decatur, which the county recently learned does not have the required certificate of insurance.

•OK’d a $367,032 state grant for LifeStream Services at no additional cost to the county.

PORTLAND WEATHER

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