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Government Round-up

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By Stephen Lega

Local governments will seek assistance

Local governments intend to apply for federal assistance to clean-up after the 2009 ice storm, according to Marion County Judge-Executive John G. Mattingly.

The Federal Emergency Management Administration could provide payments of up to 75 percent of the costs of removing debris from public areas and emergency measures to save lives, according to the FEMA website. Likewise, FEMA may pay up to 75 percent for hazard mitigation projects intended to prevent or reduce long-term risks to life and property.

What exactly will be reimbursable remains a question, however, according to Lebanon Mayor Gary Crenshaw. During Monday's city council meeting, Crenshaw said he has participated in conference calls with city, county, state and FEMA officials.

"It seems like if we refine it people are backtracking on what we can do, what we can't do," Crenshaw said based on the conference calls he's been part of.

Mattingly also said that it's unlikely that FEMA will be offering any individual assistance in the aftermath of the ice storm. People should contact their insurance providers about what may be covered by storm damage, he said.

Look for more on the Feb. 9 Lebanon City Council meeting online (www.lebanonenterprise.com) and in next week's paper.

  Bill could waive up to 10 make-up days for schools

State Reps. Mike Cherry, D-Princeton, and Melvin Henley, D-Murray, have introduced a bill that could affect school districts in counties that have been declared disaster areas. The bill, HB 322, would waive the requirement for those districts to reschedule up to 10 days of school. The bill still has to be approved by the House of Representatives and the Senate, and be signed by the governor before it would take effect.

The Marion County Board of Education decided last week that it will be in school Feb. 16, Presidents Day, to make up one of the 13 days missed to date. Today, Feb. 11 is an early dismissal day.

The board of education is waiting to see what the state government approves before making any decisions about the remaining make-up days.

Superintendent Roger Marcum has said the district may consider using all or some of Spring Break to make up days if needed. He also said the school board may want to consider the number of instructional days the district will have prior to CATS testing when making its decision.

  School board names architect for tech center renovation

After considerable discussion at its Feb. 3 meeting, the Marion County Board of Education named RossTarrant Architects as the architects for the planned renovation of the Marion County Area Technology Center.

Last year, RossTarrant created a preliminary design when the district was attempting to acquire state funding to assist with the renovation. No money was approved by the state last year, but the district will be attempting to acquire funds from the economic stimulus package that has been proposed by President Barack Obama.

During the discussion, board member Joe Mattingly initially proposed offering up to four architectural firms the opportunity to present proposals.

Board chairwoman Sr. Kay Carlew said RossTarrant has provided good service on recent projects, and board member Alex Ackermann noted that time could be a factor if the district wanted to have a chance at obtaining funds from the proposed federal stimulus package.

In the end, the board voted unanimously to ask RossTarrant to create a revised design that would fall within the district's bonding capacity of approximately $5 million.

  Fiscal court considering One Call Now

The Marion County Fiscal Court is considering contracting with One Call Now as a possible means of communication with its employees and the community.

The magistrates discussed the proposal during its Feb. 5 meeting. The magistrates have asked Marion County Attorney Joe Mattingly to review the proposed contract.

The cost for the first year of the contract would be around $8,500, according to Marion County Judge-Executive John G. Mattingly. The second and third years, the county would pay close to $7,200 each year for the service, and the fourth year would be free under the proposed contract.

One Call Now is the same service used by Marion County Public Schools to inform families of school cancellations and, after the recent ice storm, when school would resume. The service was also used during the ice storm to share information regarding shelter space.

Mattingly said the county could use the service to communicate information during an emergency. The concern for communication was heightened when the ice storm knocked out power for Marion County's two local radio broadcast stations, WLBN (1590 AM) and WLSK (100.9 FM), and disrupted the signal for the local television station Channel 6.

Mattingly said he thought One Call Now could provide an additional means of communication in the event of another disaster.

Magistrate John Arthur Elder III said One Call Now is a fine service, but he wouldn't want the cost of the service to affect the efforts to get Enhanced 911 in the county.

  County receives dump site clean-up grant

Marion County has been approved for $18,166.71 in grant funding to clean-up illegal dump sites for 2009. A similar grant was used to clean up Scott's Ridge and smaller dump sites in the past few years.

The grant will be used to clean up three sites: the Henry Brockman dump, the Swats Property dump and the Toodles Mattingly dump.

  - Prepared by Stephen Lega