Monroe county’s commissioners: GO, dog. GO bonds!

Cropped courthouse dog sign IMG_2565

The largest dollar-amount item on the regular meeting agenda for Monroe County commissioners on Wednesday morning was approval of a $5.17 million general obligation (GO) bond, to pay for a raft of projects. The two commissioners present on the three-member board—Julie Thomas and Penny Githens—approved the bond issuance.

Also at the meeting, a few ordinances regulating behavior on the courthouse grounds were revised, to add some additional punishments for violating the existing county laws on hours of operation, littering and camping. The new penalty allows for an escalating series of bans from the property, in 30-day increments.

The ordinance revisions were made, because of persisting “incidents of alcohol consumption during the day, fighting, and the deposit of trash, garbage, human waste, and used syringes on the Courthouse grounds,” according to the resolution approved by commissioners.

A separate ordinance revision, also related to the courthouse grounds now allows dogs on the grounds, if they’re on a leash and under control.

Downward dogs will also be allowed as a result of the approval commissioners gave to a contract to with a yoga teacher to give classes to county employees at no cost to them.
General obligation bonds

On the list of projects to be paid for by the bonds are:

  • highway vehicles;
  • fiber improvements;
  • Nat U. Hill meeting room technology improvements;
  • general county vehicle acquisition and improvements (including retrofitting for propane);
  • construction of a propane filling station; probation vests;
  • treasurer’s office software (will include interface for residents);
  • vending machines;
  • fans;
  • Alexander Monument improvements (veterans memorial);
  • sealant on parking garage;
  • justice building pin tuck;
  • election equipment;
  • roundabout design/landscape;
  • ADA paved seating area on courthouse lawn;
  • fair board (safety equipment);
  • purchase of land

President of the board, Julie Thomas said she wanted to see the Alexander Monument project get done. (The 35-foot tall limestone memorial is disintegrating.)
Thomas said it was her understanding that that some local quarries were willing to help out on that.

Additional penalties

The county has ordinances that define the hours when the courthouse grounds are open to the public, prohibit littering and prohibit camping there. The existing penalties are those for a Class E ordinance violation—$25 fine for first and offense and $75 for subsequent offenses.

The ordinance revision adds a ban, or “expulsion” from the courthouse grounds in escalating 30-day increments:

In addition to the penalties and remedies set forth above, a person who commits a second or subsequent violation of this chapter is subject to an escalating scale of expulsion from the Courthouse grounds (e.g., expulsion for thirty days for the second violation, sixty days for the third violation, 90 days for the fourth violation, and so forth). Those who are found on the Courthouse grounds during a period of expulsion, are trespassing on the property, and may be so charged, unless they are actively engaged in conducting County business (e.g., recording a document, attending a meeting, etc.). The provisions of this ordinance may be enforced by Monroe County Maintenance staff and by law enforcement officers.

The definition of “camping paraphernalia” was changed as a part of the ordinance revision to remove sleeping bags from the list of items that qualify as “paraphernalia.” The result of that change, county attorney Jeff Cockerill told commissioners, is that people will be able to bring sleeping bangs onto the courthouse grounds.

Dogs

Under the existing county ordinance, dogs weren’t allowed on the courthouse grounds. The change approved by commissioners on Wednesday will allow people to bring a dog onto the courthouse grounds, as long as it’s on a leash, under control of the owner, and the owner picks up after the dog.

The signs alerting people to the courthouse ground rules will be revised, and a dispenser with plastic bags for people to collect their canine’s waste produces will be installed, based on county staff remarks at the meeting.

Yoga

Commissioners approved a contract with Donna Barbrick to provide yoga Classes to county employees for $50 a class. Employees will not need to pay anything.

County attorney Jeff Cockerill told commissioners the contract doesn’t have an end date, but said the classes have to be scheduled through the commissioners office. The initial idea was to offer a 10-12 class course and see how popular it was and maybe extend it, he said.

Angie Purdie, the commissioners’ administrator said that she’d been inundated with responses to her preliminary email she’d sent out to gauge interest amount employees for a yoga class.

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