Union County Emergency Management director Jim Franklin presented the updated travel advisory ordinance to Union County Commissioners’ at their Aug. 5 meeting.

Franklin has recently been working on a revised multi-hazard mitigation plan for the county, funded by a state grant program. While working on the project, Franklin found the county's travel advisory outdated and suggested commissioners consider a revision to bring it up to state standards in May. The county's old ordinance only addressed snow and ice, where the new ordinance is expanded to enable to the county to issue travel advisories in response to a range of problems including flooding, high winds or tornadoes. 

The ordinance was updated so the county's travel advisories are in sync with the three levels used across the state of Indiana. A “yellow” advisory is the lowest level of concern, an “orange” advisory represents a moderate danger to motorists and a “red” advisory, indicative of the most hazardous conditions. Commissioner Howard Curry inquired about Franklin's plans to get the word of the new system into the community. Franklin replied he always sends out information about the county's travel advisory prior to the onset of winter weather and will work to inform the community of the update.

“It just clears up some terminology between what you guys had with your ordinance and what the state recognizes … back in the day, every county had their own. I think Franklin County's highest was 1, and ours was three. There was no uniformity around the state, so then the state stepped in,” explained Franklin.

Franklin will confer with county highway superintendent Jeff Bowers before deciding to issue a yellow advisory. If conditions deteriorate, Franklin would need to seek approval of commissioners to both declare an orange or red advisory, as well as to rescind the advisory. Commissioners voted to approve the updated ordinance.

Also discussed:

-Jenny Kress, EPIC Insurance Brokers & Consultants employee benefits advisor, discussed updates to the county's health insurance coverage. Kress has resolved issues that have occurred with the pharmacy service available to county employees and asked about a probationary period for new employees. County auditor Cheryl Begley reported high turnover has resulted in a lot of additional paperwork going through her office. Commissioner Tim Williams asked how long of a probationary period she would like to see. Begley replied 90 days is too long, but 30 is not enough; she suggested offering insurance coverage to employees on the first of the month after 30 days. 

Commissioners agreed to seek bids for their next commissioners’ meeting and requested quotes with different deductibles.

-Commissioners agreed to donate the county's remaining old courthouse clockface to the Union County Historical Society to sell in its upcoming Depot Days auction. Commissioners voiced support of the work the historical society is doing with the market at the former water works building in Liberty.

-Begley gave commissioners a preview of the proposed 2023 budget. With the requested budgets from all departments totaled, the 2023 budget is approximately $300,000 over the county's expected revenue. Union County Council will hold a hearing  Aug. 18 to review the budgets submitted by all of the county's department heads. 

-Commissioners had received an estimate to apply a fresh layer of asphalt to the parking lot at the Union County Health Department. The health department had previously sought quotes to repair cracks and apply a seal coat to the parking lot, but commissioners suggested seeking bids for a more substantial repair. The estimate to resurface the lot came in more than four times higher, so commissioners decided to move forward with the crack repair and seal.