The burn ban for LaGrange County will remain in effect until July 16 unless rescinded by county commissioners before that date. Commissioners passed the resolution at Monday morning’s meeting.
Fireworks displays at both Wolcottville and Topeka have been cancelled. People of the county were warned that should they cause a fire, they will be held responsible for the damages.
“A simple sparkler can produce a spark that will cause a fire that could spread and consume a house. A pretty large liability that could be your responsibility,” cautioned Commissioner Chairman George Bachman.
A report from Arron Knisley from the county communications (911) department showed there were three grass fires reported over the last three weeks in 2011 and 44 so far this year. “It is extremely dry and fires start and spread very rapidly,” stated Stewart Bender, county emergency preparedness director.
Commissioners heard 2013 budget requests from Emergency Medical Services (EMS), ARC, and the Council on Aging (COA).
Bruce Coney noted that there will not be a need for a remount of ambulance body or the purchase of a new ambulance in 2013. The EMS budget request is $324,325 for next year.
Debra Seman of ARC asked for $120,000 for 2013, which is up from $109,000 in 2012. She noted that the county has supported the ARC program for the last 46 years and that the local money determines the amount of state and federal funds received. The total ARC budget for 2013 will be $1.8 million with a negative balance for the year of some $164,000. “At this rate of operating in the red, we will run out of funds in four or five years,” she said.
Seman also noted that the ARC money is not a part of the county general tax levy and that the statute allows a maximum levy of over $600,000 for the program. She also noted that the agency is opening a thrift shop on the south edge of Shipshewana that should be open soon. A ribbon-cutting ceremony with U. S. Representative Marlin Stutzman planning to attend is scheduled for the middle of August.
Cheri Perkins presented the COA budget request of $40,000. This has been a standard request for the last few years. The request was $25,000 14 years ago and has been steady at $40,000 for the last five or six years.
Perkins noted that the agency operates eight vans that produce some $410,000 (51 percent) of the annual budget of $697,000.