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ANDERSON — As of this week, Madison County has received $1.3 million of the available $4.2 million in CARES Act funding.

Tom Ecker, director of the Madison County Emergency Management Agency, said Tuesday at the county council meeting that he is ready to submit another request for $400,000 in reimbursement.

Ecker said a decision on requesting hazard pay for employees of the Madison County Health Department and deputies working at the Sheriff’s Department has to be finalized.

He said the hazard pay is being requested for those county employees who may have come in contact with people testing positive for the coronavirus.

Ecker said he is waiting for the required form to be signed by Kelly Gaskill, president of the Madison County Board of Commissioners.

Pete Heuer, president of the county council, was told that he couldn’t sign the necessary form for reimbursement.

Gaskill has delayed signing the form because the county no longer has legal representation during a funding dispute with the council.

“That’s an administrative function,” Heuer said of signing the form. “It is not required to be reviewed by an attorney.

“I would encourage the president of the commissioners to sign the form,” he said.

Ecker and coroner Danielle Dunnichay-Noone said they are seeking funding for the construction of a permanent county-owned morgue and autopsy suite.

“We have been talking about this for six years,” Ecker said. “The state has approved funding from the CARES Act.” He said a request to begin the process of advertising for proposals was tabled by the commissioners.

There is a dedicated space in the EMA facility for a morgue.

“We know what equipment is needed,” Ecker said. “The cost would be between $400,000 and $500,000.”

At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, the county leased a temporary morgue, which was used for the remains of 30 people.

Ecker is preparing applications for reimbursement for expenses incurred by the county and local townships.

He explained the county submits a form and invoices to the Indiana Finance Authority for the funds that can be drawn to cover expenses.

Ecker said the CARES funding covers the period from March 1 through Dec. 30 and provides a 100% reimbursement for expenses incurred as a result of the pandemic.

CARES Act funding has been used to purchase 65 laptop computers for the Madison County Sheriff’s Department and 11 for Central Dispatch at a cost of $392,657.

Lisa Cannon, director of the IT department, said previously the current laptop screens cannot be sanitized. She said the new laptop screens do have that capability and only one company is manufacturing them at the present time.

The commissioners also have approved the purchase of additional radios and cameras for the Madison County Jail, as well as the purchase of two new vehicles for the Health Department to help distribute personal protection equipment.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter

@KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.

Senior Reporter covering Anderson and Madison County government, politics and auto racing for The Herald Bulletin. Has been working as a journalist in central Indiana since 1977.

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