June 5, 2024 at 2:07 p.m.

Board, commissioners discuss expectations

Jay County commissioners met with JC Country Living Advisory Board of Directors on Tuesday


Jay County Country Living Advisory Board of Directors met with Jay County Commissioners on Tuesday to discuss expectations moving forward as well as for changes to policies.

They also shared hopes to begin a partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank.

“There has been decades of neglect and lack of oversight (at Jay County Country Living), and therefore this has been a daunting, hard task,” said advisory board president Cindy Bracy.

She noted the board’s recent inception — commissioners approved an ordinance creating the facility in February 2024 — and addressed communication issues.

Because Jay County Country Living’s board of directors is an advisory board, she said, commissioners have the final say in decisions. She asked that commissioners give their final decisions directly to the advisory board and suggested sending commissioners the board’s recommendations immediately after a meeting.

Commissioner president Chad Aker said that would be helpful, and noted the board could come with its recommendations to the next commissioners meeting for a decision. He also later committed to tagging all board members in emails he sends to Bracy regarding the residential center.

Board member Harold Towell pointed out Tuesday’s discussion stems from the board’s unanimous recommendation May 13 to not allow pets at the facility.

Members of the community discussed the decision on a Facebook post the following day, with several advocating for a dog, Kilo, who has lived at the residential center for a long period of time. Questions about the advisory board also came into play, and a few county officials chimed into the conversation.

Commissioners discussed the subject at their May 27 meeting and tabled it until they could do more research, specifically mentioning they would like to see if a dog bite would be covered by the county’s insurance. Commissioners then verbally agreed to not allow pets inside the building. (Kilo has lived outdoors and indoors at Jay County Country Living. Two cats had also been living at the facility, and one has since been removed.)

Commissioner Rex Journay said he believes decisions such as allowing a dog at the facility should be up to the director or board of directors. (Bracy pointed out if there was a lawsuit, it would be commissioners’ business.)

Although commissioners have the final decision on specific items, such as admission policies, budgetary problems or a new set of rules for residents — the latter is in the works — county attorney Wes Schemenaur said the intent of the board was to oversee regular management of the facility.

“I think there (has been) a misapprehension that this group is totally powerless, because I think the language of the ordinance gives you some of that authority to have some say-so in the day-to-day operation out there,” he said.

The current version of the lease agreement for residents states no pets are allowed at the facility. (Bracy pointed out it was created in 2022, and board member Jon Eads noted it was approved by current commissioners.) Aker suggested taking a closer look at the agreement for the future.

Bracy noted admission policies from Howard Haven Residential Center, a similarly owned facility in Kokomo. She suggested using its guidelines as a template for Jay County’s residential center moving forward, and later in the meeting she advocated for the board and director Kristie Delaney to visit Howard Haven Residential Center. She pointed out the residential home is partially funded through a nonprofit organization.

“Projecting forward, if we could do that with the long-term goal of … quality of life for the residents and to be a shining star for our community, and for our state, because there are very few facilities, and then to be fiscally responsible to our Jay County taxpayers,” said Bracy. “(Those are) my wishes, and I think that we all feel that way.”

Board members and commissioners, absent commissioner Brian McGalliard, also heard hopes to begin a partnership for meals through Second Harvest Food Bank.

Bracy noted Jay County Country Living meets the parameters required to be a part of the program, and she submitted a formal application on behalf of the residential center Monday. Second Harvest Food Bank would deliver food priced at a lower cost to the facility. The delivery fee would also be between $50 and $75.

“It’s, again, a new thing, but I think it will greatly help the budget,” she said, noting food and personnel are the two largest expenses for the facility.

Also Monday, Jay County Country Living Advisory Board of Directors members Chris Nixon, Becky Thornburg, Eads, Towell and Bracy:

•Learned Bug Free Pest Control has not yet treated the facility for bed bugs, which were discovered in two residents’ rooms during a pest inspection. (Commissioners approved a $3,250 contract and a $250 monthly fee with the company May 13.) Board members and commissioners said they thought the initial treatment had already taken place and told Delaney to coordinate with Bug Free Pest Control as soon as possible.

•Discussed having a resident-community outreach program for Jay County Country Living following installation of new flooring and pest control treatment. 

•Recommended commissioners elect either Cliff Moser or Laura Garringer to the seat recently vacated by Virginia Burkey.

•Heard there are currently 22 residents at the facility. 

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