By CANDY NEAL
By CANDY NEAL
The vanguard group plans to create a memorial recognizing the COVID-19 pandemic asking the county if it would be willing to withhold donations for the project and pay the bills for building the memorial with the donations.
The members of the General Council of Dubois hesitate to do so.
Members of the COVID memorial group discussed the idea with county council earlier this week. They expect that the contributions will come mainly from organizations and businesses, explained Beth Waltz, a member of the group. Individuals will also be interviewed if necessary.
She said these entities need a means to make these payments: either a non-profit organization or a government entity.
“It’s a unique thing. It should be done in a year, ”said Waltz. “We’re not trying to create a 501 (c) (3) or go through the process of that.” A 501 (c) (3) is a nonprofit organization that has been recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as tax exempt under its charitable programs.
The group of volunteers came together for the specific purpose of creating the memorial. Dubois County Commissioners agreed to place the memorial on the southeast lawn of the Dubois County Courthouse. The memorial will be approximately 5 feet high at its highest point and will be approximately 10 feet in diameter. Its design will be circular and will include a black granite column surrounded by circular gray granite benches, sitting on a circular stamped concrete plinth. There will be inscriptions on the memorial, but no name will appear on it, project manager Chris Waltz assured the council.
Beth Waltz explained that the memorial will recognize an event that happened, which affected every person in the country. “It’s unlike anything we’ve known. Everyone has been affected, ”she said. ” And it’s not finished yet.
The estimated cost of the proposed design, which includes stone, lettering and installation, is approximately $ 11,300. Once the memorial is complete, it will be returned to the county and the county will take care of its upkeep.
Board chairman Mike Kluesner told the board that when commissioners approved the location of the memorial, it was declared that no taxpayer money would be used for the construction of the memorial.
Kluesner was the first to express his reluctance to be the place where people would submit donations for the memorial. He said the county attorney should draft the resolution to create the donation fund. More than that, he explained, the county auditor’s office would need to collect and track donations, pay construction bills from the fund, and then handle the state audit of the fund, which is mandatory.
“I just think we shouldn’t get involved in fundraising, owning and paying for any kind of construction,” he said.
Kluesner suggested setting up a fund at a financial institution, and people could deposit the donations into the fund. Chris Waltz said having the fund with the county would give it more legitimacy because the checks would be written to the county, not to an individual.
“We’re trying to have a little more formalization,” Beth Waltz said. “It legitimizes the project. We are looking for that legitimation and that support. She added that the number of transactions to and from the fund would be very low.
County Councilor Charmian Klem said she didn’t want the auditor’s office to have to do this extra work to track the fund. She said when word spreads that donations are accepted, people will contribute in large and small amounts.
“We would ask our employees to devote all the time it takes to receive it, follow it, audit it,” she said.
Klem also said he heard concerns, from people saying the county’s money should not be used for the construction of the memorial. “Receiving this by the listener could be a semblance of public money,” she said.
Kluesner said the council will consider the request for next month. The issue will be discussed at the September 27 board meeting. In the meantime, he asked the group to explore other avenues for the fund. City Councilor Becky Beckman suggested the group speak to the Memorial Hospital Foundation.
The advice also:
• Gave the Dubois County Health Department emergency clearance to use the $ 308,704 the state is providing for the local COVID testing site, which has reopened.
• Discussion of the Hoosier Enduring Legacy program, or HELP. Council members felt they did not have enough information to decide whether to create a new community coordinator position or contribute money to this position. Commissioners are trying to determine whether the county should apply for the program, in which the coordinator would specifically help determine how the county should use its federal American Rescue Plan Act funding. If selected, the county will add at least $ 20,000 and the Office of Community and Rural Affairs will help fund the coordinator position in the first year; in subsequent years, the county would fund the entire salary. The commissioners are checking to see if other municipalities are interested in applying together and talking about the program to the Indiana Regional Planning Commission.
• Made financial arrangements to keep the COVID clerk staff at the county health department next year by adding $ 139,531 to the department’s 2022 budget; the money will come from the fund for the rainy days.
• Creation of a courthouse fountain maintenance fund to accept money from an endowment from the Dubois County Community Foundation for the fountain.
• Agreed to support the Patoka Lake Watershed Committee in their search for a grant for a Watershed Coordinator.