Commissioners say budget reductions mean less paving PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 11 June 2009 00:00
    The Washington County Board of Commissioners met in regular session on Wednesday, June 3, with all members present.  The minutes of previous meetings, the payroll and all claims were approved unanimously.
    After reviewing the Budget Approval Form 1782 from the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance, the Commissioners noted that over $400,000 targeted for road paving in the county have been cut.  The explanation from the State of Indiana is that revenues will be less than anticipated due to the recession.  That cut in the budget could eliminate between six and eight miles of paving this summer.  County Highway Superintendent Rick Graves said that he will make cuts across the board and hopes that a reduction in fuel costs over last summer will help to absorb the shortfall.
    In other business, the Commissioners took the following action:
Appointments to various boards.
Approval of Adult Protective Services Contract with State of Indiana
Took no action on direct deposit of county employee paychecks as requested by County Treasurer Bob Woodward. Results of employee survey shows strong opposition to the plan.
    With no further business to conduct, the Commissioners adjourned until their next regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, June 17.
Last Updated on Thursday, 11 June 2009 10:49
Property tax bills should go out in July PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 11 June 2009 00:00
    In a telephone interview on Monday, June 1, Washington County Treasurer Bob Woodward said that if everything goes according to plan, property tax bills should be in the mail to property owners no later than the last half of July.  Woodward explained that once the information comes back from the state, it should be a fairly quick process to get the bills out to taxpayers.  The bills will be due approximately thirty days after receipt by the property owner.  
    For the first time, taxpayers can use credit cards or debit cards to pay their tax bills this year.  A small fee for the service will be charged to the card holder for this service by the card processing company.  For additional information about paying with a credit card or debit card, contact the Washington County Treasurer's Office at 883-3307.
Last Updated on Thursday, 11 June 2009 10:50
Hospital plans to downsize PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 03 June 2009 00:00
      At a Friday afternoon May 22 meeting, Washington County Memorial Hospital (WCMH) Interim CEO Joe Roche spoke quite specifically about the need to consider either downsizing or eliminating certain departments/units at the hospital. Currently on the chopping block are Obstetrics (OB), Oncology (ON), and the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).  Although no decision has been made yet, the writing is on the wall.  
    An example of the tough realities facing WCMH is the ongoing problems with keeping the Obstetrics Unit open.  According to Roche, in order for OB staff to stay proficient in dealing with difficult births and for the unit to stop loosing nearly $1 million a year, approximately 300 birthing procedures would need to be performed annually.; in 2008 only  eighty-eights birth occurred at WCMH.  According to information received from the Washington County Health Department the last time that 300 births occurred in the county was 1982.
    Consideration is being given to consolidating the facilities currently being used for the Intensive Care Unit with the Medical/Surgery Unit.  According to Melissa Richardson, Public Relations Director for WMCH, only about 30% of all patients currently admitted to ICU are “true” ICU patients.  The rest are Medical/Surgery Unit patients kept in ICU for less than 24 hours.  If this  consolidation is made, all long term ICU patients will be transferred to other medical facilities in the area.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 June 2009 10:23
WCMH—Is bankruptcy the next step? PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 03 June 2009 00:00
      A special joint meeting of the Washington County Memorial Hospital (WCMH) Board of Trustees, the Washington County Board of Commissioners and the Washington County County was held on Friday afternoon, May 22.  All members of the three groups were present except for Council President, Mark Manship.  Earlier in the month, Manship recused himself from voting on any action involving WCMH, citing possible conflict of interest issues.  Only one item was on the agenda.  That one item was a resolution approving the transfer of all assets and liabilities of WCMH to a newly formed non-profit corporation, Critical Access Health Services (CAHS).  
    As stated by bankruptcy attorney Michael Hile, the move will allow the hospital more options in dealing with its current debt load estimated to be around $15 million.  When asked by representatives of three local financial institutions  (Regions Bank, Mid-Southern Savings Bank, 1st Harrison Bank) if the plan calls for the hospital to reorganize under the provisions of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Hile would only say that bankruptcy is one of the possible strategies.  Citing the lack of forewarning about this maneuver, the representatives for financial institutions clearly were caught off guard by Hile's comments.  
    In a May 27 telephone interview, Mike Smith of Mid-Southern said, “No doubt about it, we feel like we were blindsided at last Friday's meeting.  All three banks have been more patient with the hospital than we probably would have been with any other debtors.  No one at the hospital has been willing to talk seriously with us for a long time about how to resolve this problem.  We were simply told that arrangements were being made to work things out.  We didn't want to do anything to hurt the hospital or the community so we held off.  Unfortunately, that may not have been the best move on our part.”  Smith continued by saying, “We are currently exploring our options.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 June 2009 10:27
Summer food program offers free lunches this summer for children 18 and under PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 03 June 2009 00:00
    Bradie Shrum Elementary qualified for the Summer Food Service Program for the first time and all children, 18 and under  in Washington County are eligible to receive a free meal each Monday, Wednesday and Friday from noon to 1 p.m. at Southway Villa, beginning June 8 and continuing through July 31.
    “This is the first year we have qualified in the last eight years. For our school to be eligible in this program we had to be over 50 percent enrollment in the free and reduced lunch program and at the time of the deadline we were at 50.1 percent. Right now we are at a higher percent. Although Bradie Shrum was the school that qualified, this program provides for the whole community, all of Washington County. You do not have to be enrolled in  Salem schools to participate in this program, which is a benefit for all.” stated Karen Libka, Food Services Director, Salem Community Schools.
“If you have a child that is of school age and his little brother or sister wants to come and eat, that is perfectly fine to.” said Libka.
    “This program is just one example why all parents should apply for the free and reduced lunch program and other programs offered, it helps the school with many different grants available.” said Libka.
    “Everyone has went up in the free and reduced program based on the economy but mostly because of full day kindergarten. For full day kindergarten your income decides what you pay for lunch and other school fees. If you qualify for the free program you only pay $1 per week for kindergarten, if you qualified for reduced you pay $5 and if you did not qualify you pay $25 a week. This encouraged a lot more parents to apply and in turn helped us qualify for this program.” said Libka.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 June 2009 10:33
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