Government Committee Annual Report for 2020
Top actions from Putnam County officials and local offices include Putnam County EMS, COVID-19 response by PC leaders, and consideration of Clear Creek Conservancy District (CCCD) plant expansion at the Heritage Lake dam to comply with IDEM mandate to minimize/eliminate high discharge levels seen in recent years after extreme rain events.
Putnam County Emergency Medical Services formally began operating on January 1, 2020 after Putnam County officials agreed to take over the fledgling non-profit Operation Life, which the county had been subsidizing in the amount of $4ook for several years. OL had consolidated 3 county base locations into 1. This had created increased response times to remote areas of the county (such as Heritage Lake) to average response times of 22 minutes. Additionally, OL had significant troubles keeping more than 2 crews equipped and staffed to serve the county. For these reasons, our County Commissioners, led by President Rick Woodall, embarked on a plan to take over the OL business by mutual agreement. As of this writing, PC EMS has re-established 24/7 operation by 3 crews at the former 3 locations – Greencastle, Cloverdale and Bainbridge, as well as procuring additional equipment for a 4th backup emergency vehicle. While the costs to the county have come in well above the estimates made by OL officials, County officials have managed to make financial ends meet. More importantly, emergency response times to remote areas has improved to 10 minutes or less, well within national averages. Since PC EMS is a government agency, they now can work with state government to collect unpaid fees (amounting to more than $1m) by garnishing tax refund checks of persons in arrears. The COVID pandemic also contributed to budget overruns, and hopefully 2021 will show better financial position for this new county agency.
Covid-19 issues were delayed in reaching Putnam County compared to more populous counties in the state. PC was one of a few counties that remained in safer blue and yellow risk status, yet due to an abundance of caution on part of county officials, the Courthouse was locked down in April and May. The pandemic surged in late summer/early fall to affect county risks and restrictions by state government officials. County government offices were closed to walk in traffic for a time in the fall, but now are re-opened, with some restrictions in place, such as limited access, screening, mandates to mask up and distance in any government properties. PC Health Board reports that case rates and positivity continue to fall, vaccinations in the county are increasing, and more locations are opening. However, staffing these locations may be an issue, and the Health Board encourages volunteers to step up and help, even just checking folks in and helping with administrative duties. PC-CERT, Putnam County Community Emergency Response Teams, are now involved with assisting this effort. Heritage Lake’s own Chris and Darcy Schafer lead the effort from our community to assist PC-CERT in vaccination needs. If you are willing and able to assist, contact the POA office to connect with Chris/Darcy.
Another item close to the hearts of this community is road conditions. Due to Covid, our Commissioners worked with the Highway Department to conserve resources after the State of Indiana announced cuts to counties in gas-tax credits, initially projected to be cut by 30% for the year. This spawned a decision by County/Hwy to eliminate all chip-and-seal projects scheduled for 2020. All Heritage Lake roads are chip and seal, so all projects for HL were postponed. The final reported shortfall to PC in gas tax revenue was less than 10%, so I will be continuing to press County Commissioners and Hwy to provide badly needed resurfacing for our community. The 2021 resurfacing plan will be discussed in a special meeting at the Highway Department on Thursday, Feb 18th at 2pm. Decisions on this will be reported in the March 2021 Government Committee report to HL POA Board of Directors. One other related item is that the Hwy Dept continues to wait for readiness of 6 new dump trucks, replacing the entire existing fleet. Delivery has been delayed by the dealer providing the trucks.
The Heritage Lake Marina reconstruction became a county government issue, but only after the new construction was well underway. County Commissioners Attorney James Ensley initiated notice that Commercial Zoning was required, in light of the fact that a public restaurant became desired as part of the plan. The County had waived this requirement in the past for the sale of gas, bait and incidentals. Ultimately, the commercial zoning request was approved, and we may have a restaurant here at the lake in the near future.
Monthly Gov Committee reports are delivered at the monthly HL POA Board meetings, and posted on the HLCS.online website. Monthly Gov Comm meetings occur on the 4th Thursday of each month at 10am in the Clubhouse.