The Hancock County Fiscal approved a Community Development Block Grant in the amount of $750,000 for the new Dukes Volunteer Fire Department. The community built the current Dukes station over 40 years ago, and it has simply become obsolete. The current station sits at 5130 Happy Hollow Road. The new station will sit at 4205 Happy Hollow Road. Like the current station, the new building will sit on land donated by the Phelps family.
The new station location provides easier ingress and egress to the building because it sits on a straight stretch of the road. The current station sits at the intersection of Happy Hollow Road and state Route 144, which makes it a little challenging when taking out the fire trucks.
The current building served the community well, but simply outlived its usefulness. When constructed over 40 years ago, fire trucks were much smaller and easily fit into the garage bays. Now, with the average truck being much larger, they barely fit in the bays. Once inside, almost no room exists between the trucks and the back wall or the garage door.
The new station design comprises 5,900 square-feet, contains a training area, office, kitchen, bathrooms and a storm shelter. It contains three bays, like the current station, but also is designed for future modifications. Once the new firehouse is completed, the old station house reverts to the original landowners, the Phelps.
When the county approved the grant, fiscal court then approved eight resolutions associated with the project. Some of the resolutions included one that said the project did not displace low-income homes; another one saying if the cost of the project exceeded the grant amount the county would be responsible and one saying the building would be a drug-free workplace.
Fiscal Court also approved the mowing bids for the upcoming year. The court divided the mowing bids between three different services. Elite Mowing and Landscaping received the contract to mow the Hancock County Senior Citizens Center at $70 per mowing, the Emergency Operations Center at $25 per mowing and the Hancock County Animal Shelter at $50 per mowing. Perfect Stripes Lawn care received the contract to mow the campground at Vastwood Park for $230 per mowing, and also the Hwy. 60 entrance to Vastwood Park for $140 per mowing and South Hancock Park for $130 per mowing. Jones Home and Lawn Service received the contract to mow the Hancock County Development Complex for $45 per mowing, the hancock County Administration Building and the old Hancock County Courthouse for a total of $40, the food pantry/Hancock County Thrift Store for $40 per mowing and the Hancock County Rescue Squad for $20 per mowing. They are to mow weekly, and the mowing season lasts approximately five months.
“We have so many properties I want to make sure…it does not overload anyone,” Hancock County Judge/Executive Johnny “Chic” Roberts said.
Fiscal court divided the mowing bid between three different services to prevent one service from getting too much work and not being able to meet its contract obligations. Magistrate Mark Gray said he received many phone calls last year about one particular company not doing its contracted mowing. The name of the company was not mentioned.
“We did have some issues,” Roberts said. “This way it (properties bid out) is pretty balanced to where they do not get overloaded.”
“If they do not do the job, they do not need the job,” Magistrate Wayne Hodskins said.
Magistrate LT Newton said he thought the county could save money by having county personnel mow at the Hancock County Emergency Operations Center, the Hancock County Rescue Squad and the Hancock County Animal Shelter instead of contracting it out.
“I think we could save several hundred dollars per year,” Newton said.
Judge Roberts said fiscal court could look into the matter for next year. He said if county personnel did mow these plots, the county needed to provide them the equipment to mow the properties.
“No more than it is, it is going to be hard to get the equipment and find somebody to mow it,” Magistrate Wayne Hodskins said.
County Clerk Fee settlement
Judge Roberts read the 2020 fee Hancock County Clerk Fee Settlement. Revenue totaled $1,844,339.52. Expenses totaled $1,729,943.52. Excess fees to Hancock County Fiscal Court totaled $114,396.
In other news
• Voted to rebid the Wireless links for the county communications system due to no one tendering a bid;
• Occupational tax receipts totaled $3,464,060.88, up from $2.8 million from this time last year.
• Treasurer’s report for January: $5,539,877.34. This amount is approximately $1 million more than January of 2020.
• Treasurer’s report for February: $6,329,775.58. This amount is approximately $2 million more than February of 2020.
• The ambulance report showed an outstanding balance of $126,026. This amount is moderately higher than normal. The outstanding balance usually runs around $100,000.
• Approved a motion to pave Petrie Lane in the amount of $21,656. Approximately one and a half years ago the county widened the lane and constructed a cul-de-sac on the end. This project brings the road into proper condition.
• Judge Roberts said the county’s unemployment rate stands at 5.4-percent. Hancock County Industrial Foundation Director Mike Baker added some context to the county’s unemployment numbers. He said the current unemployment rate in Breckinridge County is 6.4-percent and Daviess County’s rate is 5.5-percent. He said for all of last year Hancock County average 6.3-percent unemployment. The state averaged 6.85-percent and the nation averaged an unemployment rate of 8.1-percent last year.
“All-in-all, Hancock County has fared well the past year,” Baker said. “As for our existing industry, everybody is in pretty good shape.
• The Jailer’s report showed revenue of $925 last month.
By Ralph Dickerson and Dave Taylor