Newly-seated 1st District County Commissioner Eric Newport looks over rules of order during his first meeting Tuesday evening. To the left is fellow 1st District commissioner Blue Day; to the right is new 4th District commissioner Kenny Chadwell. (Independent Herald photo/Ben Garrett)
Newly-seated 1st District County Commissioner Eric Newport looks over rules of order during his first meeting Tuesday evening. To the left is fellow 1st District commissioner Blue Day; to the right is new 4th District commissioner Kenny Chadwell. (Independent Herald photo/Ben Garrett)

HUNTSVILLE — For the first time since the Aug. 7 general election resulted in sweeping changes, Scott County Commission met here Tuesday evening, setting about the task of determining the legislative body's direction for the next four years.

At Tuesday's meeting, 7th District commissioner Mike Slaven cautioned his fellow commissioners up front about compliance with the state's Sunshine Laws, which prohibits commissioners from meeting or discussing policy matters without notifying the public.

"We can't call the commissioners and set up a meeting," Slaven said. "There has to be public notice of at least five days before two or more commissioners can meet together or we'll be violating the Sunshine Law."

In all, nine of the 14 commissioners present at Tuesday's meeting were newcomers elected last month. Slaven presided over the meeting, as he, County Attorney John Beaty, and Finance Director Brian Strunk informed the commissioners and County Mayor Dale Perdue — also newly-elected — of the responsibilities of County Commission.

Slaven also provided commissioners with descriptions of the body's committees, which typically meet in the work session, and commissioners spent the bulk of the meeting assigning themselves to those committees — Building & Grounds, Intergovernmental, Community Development, Emergency Services, Finance and Budget. Those requests will be formalized by Perdue and presented to the commission when it next meets on Sept. 15.

In a related matter, Slaven said that the Scott County Airport Authority requested 2nd District commissioner Sam Lyles be County Commission's representative on that board, replacing former 5th District commissioner Paul Strunk.

D.A. lease: Newly-elected District Attorney General Jared Effler is interested in renewing his office's lease on space at the Scott County Justice Center, Beaty informed commissioners Tuesday evening. The D.A.'s office has leased office space in the justice center since it opened eight years ago. However, where the D.A. places its offices is left to the discretion of whomever is elected to the position. The cost of the D.A.'s office space in the justice center is $41,000 per year, based on a cost of $11.50 per square foot.

"I haven't gotten official confirmation (from Effler), but it appears they want to continue with that lease," Beaty said.

Juveniles housed locally: Finance Director Strunk informed commissioners that Campbell County is once again housing its juvenile criminal offenders in Scott County, beginning with three juveniles who were held at the Scott County Juvenile Detention Center over the weekend.

"That'll help us in the operation of our juvenile facility," Strunk said.

The juvenile detention center has been operating in the red recently — often as much as $75,000 to $90,000 per year. Each juvenile from outside the county housed at the facility generates $125 per day in gross revenue.

"I don't know if this will eliminate (the budget shortfall)," Strunk said. "It'll depend on how many they bring through here, and we do have a finite capacity. But it'll help."

Hospital matters: Beaty said that outgoing county mayor Jeff Tibbals received word Friday that Pioneer Community Hospital of Scott has "finally" received its critical access designation, the final step towards licensure of the Oneida hospital facility.

"That's good news," Beaty said.

Ironically, the hospital news came on the last day of Tibbals' term in office — which was dominated by the hospital matter. Tibbals took office in September 2010 to news that the parent company of St. Mary's was terminating its lease on the facility. Later, after efforts to secure an operator for the facility failed, the hospital was closed for 18 months. It reopened in December 2013 after the county struck a deal with Pioneer Health Services to transfer ownership of the facility to the Mississippi-based firm.

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