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District 1 Magistrate Resignation announced at Fiscal Court Meeting

The Hancock County Fiscal Court met on Monday morning, February 12th, and it was announced that District 1 Magistrate John Garner, who was elected in 2022 and began his service in 2023, has resigned due to personal reasons. Who will fill the vacated seat and how that process will be conducted was not yet discussed.

Sirens

Director of Hancock County EMA Kyle Veach reported that the new weather sirens (totaling approximately $55K) for the county are scheduled to be delivered this week. “Hopefully they’ll be going up before long,” Veach said, “and we’re looking at possible locations for some new sirens in the future.”

Dukes Fire Station

The pouring of the apron bath (concrete for the building to set on) has been happening this week for the new Dukes Fire Station. The building will be delivered on February 22nd. Once the concrete has cured, around the first week of March, the assembly will begin.

Ambulance Report

The court made the approval for a cot purchase at $29,202,065, as required by the state for securement in ambulances. The county has four ambulances and each must have one.

Nuisance Ordinance

The Nuisance Ordinance already in place required a change in wording, and was approved by the court. Judge-Executive Johnny “Chic” Roberts explained, “When a complaint was made it originally went to the building inspector, and they are removing that. It will now go directly to the Fiscal Court Office.” Having a person in the position to enforce the nuisance ordinance is the next step in this process. Even with enforcement though, if the owner doesn’t have the financial means then the problem can’t be corrected.

Sheriff’s Dept.

HC Sheriff Dale Bozarth reported on the budget saying, “We pay for our court security and the state pays us back. That is $65,392.50. That’s one of our big expenses. Our commissions is $225,165.49 on taxes, and the state advancement that they give me to run on in the short months is $51,000, which goes back to the state. We brought in receipts for $397,810.85. There is a court security of $80,242.50 so our expenses for the year was: $327,865.79. I have a check [that arrived late] for $69,945.06 – that is my excess fees.”

Senior Services

HC Senior Services Program Director Lona Morton reported, “We are getting ready to start our Bingo-cise activities tomorrow (Wednesday), where you exercise and play Bingo. They’re looking forward to that. I’m also excited about the exercise program called Drums Alive. It’s going to be really fun. It’s a big exercise ball and a bass with drumsticks, and it really gets you moving. We’ve gotten a lot of things from GRADD and a grant through their ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds.”

Occupational Taxes

The occupational taxes were down from last year at this time, from $3,153,000. It is down almost $700K from this time last year, Roberts said.

Treasurer’s Report

“The treasurer’s report, before we pay the bills today,” Roberts said, “is a total of $8,969,935. That’s down from a year ago, looks like about $600K.”

Economic Report

Director of Economic Development for the HC Industrial Foundation Mike Baker reported, “Our big industries are all doing well, and all seem very optimistic about the spring and the coming year. The unemployment rate is about 4 percent so that is staying steady. I talked to the Cabinet last week. The activity there has slowed a bit. What they’re seeing, primarily, is timelines being pushed out on various projects that are on the books right now.

It’s a presidential election year, the economy, all of those things – so we’re seeing some uncertainty there, and we’re seeing slow-down in activity out of the Cabinet right now.

Our small businesses are doing well. We’re continuing to push that ‘shadow strategy’ of looking for small to mid-size businesses, and creating jobs that way as opposed to waiting on the big project with a thousand employees. We’ll take that if it comes, but we’re really looking at the small and mid-size business opportunities right now.”

By Jennifer Wimmer

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