As Jasper County rings in 2013, one new face and a shift in organization headlined the first meeting of the Jasper County Board of Supervisors yesterday morning.
While Jasper County Auditor Dennis Parrott was sworn in for another term, Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty was officially instated at the meeting following his victory in November and the retirement of former sheriff Mike Balmer.
“I want to thank all the voters for giving me another opportunity to serve,” Parrott said. “It’s a pleasure and honor and I’m very grateful.”
Parrott also thanked the seven employees that work within his office as well.
“I could not even begin to do this job without them, they are auditors as well,” he added.
“This is my first time around,” said Halferty. “I’m the new guy and I’m humbled and overwhelmed by the amount of support and advice I’ve received from the people I’ve worked with.”
“I don’t take this job lightly,” he added. “Anybody who knows me knows that public service is in my blood, and I plan on sticking around and continuing that investment that I’ve had here my entire life. I look forward to serving you and the citizens of the county for the next four years.”
As the first meeting of the year, yesterday’s session served as the organizational meeting for the board in 2013.
Despite the annual circulation of roles that the board typically employs (which would have placed Denny Carpenter up for chairman), it was moved that Denny Stevenson — who attended the meeting via phone due to travel delays — be appointed chairman of the board while Joe Brock take over duties as vice chair. Both motions passed by unanimous vote.
Board of Supervisors meetings throughout 2013 will remain on the same schedule, meeting the first four Tuesdays of each month at 9:30 a.m. in the Board Room of the Jasper County Courthouse.
Additionally, the board must designate three official newspapers within the county to serve as newspaper of record each year by publishing the county’s legal notices.
Details surrounding a court battle between two newspapers stemming back nearly a year, however, was the board’s main topic of discussion Wednesday.
In a case filed by Colfax’s Jasper County Tribune v. Sully’s Hometown Press, the Tribune argued that the tabulation of newspaper subscribers — the deciding factor in designating the county’s official papers — was skewed.
To be considered a subscriber, one must live in Jasper County and have subscribed to a newspaper for more than six months while remaining a subscriber over the last six months.
The case, which was originally filed in January of 2012 and cited the Hometown Press’ large readership outside of Jasper County, has yet to be decided.
Brock explained that, because the case remains undecided, “12,900-some odd dollars” are being withheld by the county from the two papers: $5,294 from the Hometown Press and $7,646 from the Jasper County Tribune.
The main reason for concern, Brock said, is the interest the county must pay on the withheld funds.
“It is costing us a half percent to withhold this money, so it is costing the taxpayers of Jasper County,” he said. “I’d urge everybody to contact your legislators to advance this a little bit.”
“It’s my understanding that after a whole year the courts did not address this and they’ve had a year to do it, so I’d urge the courts to get going on this and make a decision,” Brock added.
Newspaper of record for 2013 will be named at the next Board of Supervisors meeting on Jan. 8 following Monday’s 4:30 p.m. deadline for consideration. The current four applicants for the three slots are the Newton Daily News, the Jasper County Tribune, the Prairie City Times and the Hometown Press.
Additionally, the board approved five transfer orders as well as the minutes from the Dec. 18 meeting.
Staff writer Nicole Wiegand may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 422, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.