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January 5, 2019

Meeting was called to order by Vice-Chair, Mary Martin who welcomed the group of approximately 50 people to the first meeting of the year. State Senator Sue Glick led in the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag and County Councilman Ken Shelton gave the invocation. 

Following an enjoyable buffet breakfast, our speaker of the day was Steuben County Council President Rick Shipe. In providing a little historical information, Mr. Shipe shared that he had been on the council since 2011, when he was caucused in to fill the spot of John Hughes, who has passed away. He stated that he relies heavily on the county auditors and gave kudos to past Auditor Pam Coleman and current Auditor Kim Myers. He serves on the county with six other unique people who have been elected to serve for the betterment of the county. To be financially responsible is their primary job. He has been President of the Council for four years.

To explain the duties of the Steuben County Council, he provided all attendees with an informative brochure (available at the Auditor’s Office): “There When You Need Us – County Government”. Shipe reviewed the operating budget, which is approximately $23 million this year. In discussing this year’s goals, he stated they hope to streamline the workforce and was pleased to report that the number of employees hasn’t changed. The Council wants to find ways to get county wages up without having to raise taxes. They also have some big projects on the horizon. The Courthouse renovation project which will encompass a new Judicial Building is a major project. The council has given the Commissioner’s financial guidelines to work with. The possibility of a casino locating in Steuben County was mentioned and that will have to be investigated. Shipe stated that will bring in revenue to our county but also a different class of people. He was asked about the Event Center and how it is working. He looks at it as an amenity for the county. Some area very pleased with it and some are not. Rural Broadband was mentioned, and he stated there are no plans at this time until the commissioners bring it to the council. State Senator Glick made comments regarding this and stated there are going to be some funds available she believes, and it will come through the Lt. Governor’s office. Glick will be attending a briefing on the Aquafer situation. The Legislature is just now seeing bills and will be working on the budget items including water/natural resources, child services (2018 budget was spent by March; had to ask for additional funds three times); education and pay raises. Biggest issue will be how to fund all the many needs.

State Representative Denny Zent took the floor to add that there is a lot of media coverage going on to help keep people aware of the what is going on in Indianapolis. As the bills are presented, legislators will look over, study and get feedback. Broadband to rural areas is really needed. Economic development is always a priority. Northeastern corner is a favorite destination for our Governor and Lt. Governor, which is very good for our area.

Vice Chair Martin introduced and thanked Kraig & Mary Whiting for their volunteering at the headquarters during the Fall Election period. She also asked everyone to remember Bob Grygienc, another of our faithful volunteers, as he is recovering from open heart surgery.

2019 Century Club letters will be forthcoming, and we encourage everyone to become a member and support our local Republican Party. 

At the end of the meeting, all newly elected/re-elected officials were asked to come to the front of the room to be introduced and thanked.

LaGrange County Lincoln Day Dinner will be held on May 9th and the Governor will be their guest speaker. The Steuben County Lincoln Day Dinner details will be announced as soon as speaker details are confirmed.

See you all on February 2nd!!!

Karen Shelton, Secretary