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By KEVIN KOELLING
TELL CITY – The executive director of Grow Southwest Indiana Workforce provided the Perry County commissioners an update at a regular meeting March 4 to information he relayed at a Nov. 21 meeting.
The commissioners also designated Tony Pappano to represent them at meetings concerning funding for housing and community development.
As the News reported Dec. 6, Jim Heck asked the commissioners to designate a chief elected official to represent the county on a nine-county regional workforce board, and they reappointed Tell City Mayor Barbara Ewing to that role.
She attended a Feb. 7 meeting of that board by telephone, according to minutes of that meeting.
Heck also reported in November the state Workforce Innovation Council voted to require all 12 of its regional workforce boards to become workforce investment boards by July 1 and that responsibility for any disallowed costs incurred by the boards was to be shifted to them from the governor and state. How those costs would be allocated was to be determined, and “they voted to split it up based population,” he added. Those numbers come from the latest census, and put Perry County at 4 percent, Heck told the commissioners. He told them in November this region has never incurred such a cost.
Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke was re-elected the board’s chief elected official, Heck also told the commissioners. The board also voted to retain Chicago-based Crowe Horwath as its fiscal agent for grants.
Heck reported the transition to a 33-person workforce investment board was proceeding according to schedule, and its first meeting was scheduled for March 8. Recommendations for local staff members were to be presented then and a local plan would be offered at an April meeting.
Heck said he’ll try to attend commissioners meetings at least twice a year to apprise them of developments.
County Auditor Connie Berger notified him a month earlier, Pappano said, that the state’s Office of Community and Rural Affairs and the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority announced they would conduct a series of public meetings of local community-government officials concerned about housing and community development. Pappano’s company, Insight 2000, has worked since 1970 to secure grant funding that helps people make home repairs. More recently, he administered money received through the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
“They are putting a consolidated statewide plan together,” he said, and Berger had asked if he would be interested. He was willing to attend on the commissioners’ behalf, he added.
“I think it’s important that you stay tuned in to this if you’re interested in housing and community development in the county,” he told them. Tell City is making such efforts on their own, he continued, “but I’m talking about countywide and then if Cannelton and Troy and anybody wants to participate, they could.” He was volunteering to attend meetings, he said, and his main concern was “down the road … they’re talking about putting together a plan that is addressing affordable housing, community-development needs and market conditions, and to make data-driven, place-based investment decisions.”
The plan will guide decisions on “how they will spend money that they may or may not have,” he explained. “God only knows what’s happening in Washington (D.C.) right now.”
He wanted to ensure the commissioners remain informed “what this data-driven approach may be,” he said. The county could be declared ineligible for certain kinds of funding based on the data being examined, Pappano said.
“I’m willing to go on your behalf; it will not cost you any money,” he volunteered, and “if at some point down the road you want to get into some housing things, I’ll be happy to come back and talk to you about it.”
He attended classes and received grant-administrator certification through OCRA, he told the county leaders. Money for home repairs such as those to roofing, plumbing and heating systems is still available, but he’s not sure how it will be addressed in the plan, he added. “I just want to give you the opportunity to say, ‘keep us in there.’ ”
Emphasizing that his offer would mean no commitment on the county’s part, he offered to find out what the state is proposing and provide the information to the commissioners.
Their acceptance was unanimous.
In other business, the commissioners appointed Joan Hess to the Lincoln Hills Development Corp. Board of Directors to replace Chet Mathena, who resigned. Hers was the only letter of interest she received, County Administrator Teresa Kanneberg told them.
They also approved a $21,989.30 additional appropriation to the Perry County Substance Abuse Committee.
The money was collected through Perry Circuit Court actions in substance-abuse-related cases last year, she explained. If the county council also appropriates it, the money will be allocated into prevention and education, treatment and intervention, and law-enforcement-justice categories.
The fees go as grants to local agencies working in those areas, she explained. Applications for the grants will be accepted within the next couple of months, she added. The council also approved a $5,000 appropriation for unemployment compensation after Kanneberg explained expected claims would exceed the amount budgeted for the coming three or four months.
The commissioners will next meet at 8 a.m. Tuesday in the county courthouse.