The Jefferson County Board of Commissioners on Friday passed an ordinance that will increase penalties for those found damaging county property with motor vehicles.

The ordinance comes after more than one incident of property damage reported at Krueger Lake in the Jefferson Proving Ground. The commissioners said the most recent damage at the lake appears to have been created by trucks and off-road vehicles, such as four-wheelers. The damage is expected to cost between $3,000 and $4,000 to repair.

Commissioner president Tom Pietrykowski said the county parks board asked the commissioners to step in and establish an ordinance.

The ordinance prohibits motor vehicles in any area other than designated roads and parking lots and calls for a $500 fine for each offense and possible forfeiture of the vehicle. The county also would request a restitution order from those caught and prosecuted for damaging property.

Under the ordinance, foot traffic and bikes are still allowed.

"It's something that we really didn't want to have to do, but it's the second year that this has happened," Pietrykowski said of Krueger Lake.

Sheriff John Wallace, who has upped patrols in the problem areas and written citations, said the ordinance "will definitely give law enforcement a marker to go by."

Also at the meeting, Aaron Bell of the Southeastern Indiana Waste District, presented his annual recycling report.

He said the trend this year is that all seven counties in the district are recycling items more difficult to dispose of, such as household hazardous waste. In addition, he said the collection of pharmaceuticals has more than doubled this year.

The district started a recycling grant program last year in schools. The district tracks items collected from each school - there are about 50 schools throughout the region it covers - and provides grants back to the schools for the amount of recyclable materials processed.

The grant funding must be spent for environmental purposes.

"That was very successful, and I think we've seen our schools increase their efforts because of that," Bell said.

In Jefferson County, the Southeastern Indiana Waste District drop-off site is at the Jefferson Proving Ground.

The district accepts standard recyclables like glass and cardboard, but also items such as pharmaceuticals, batteries, electronics, motor oil, antifreeze and tires. The district charges $1 per tire if it is off the rim.  

In other business:

• The board approved a reimbursement grant from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security for $19,770. The grant helps cover the salary of Dave Bell, the county's emergency management director.

"This is a wonderful deal," Pietrykowski said.  "And Dave is one of the top EMA directors in the state."

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security bases the reimbursement off an annual evaluation.

• Colby King, of FPBH, presented updated design plans for a drainage overhaul project at the Audubon Park housing division.

The company plans to hold a public-information meeting for homeowners affected by the project in the next two to three weeks.

"We've got a lot of people surveying backyards, and we need to let them know what's going on," King said.

Construction for the project is expected to start in late summer and be completed in the fall.

• The commissioners approved the closure of the Courthouse parking spaces for the spring and fall Old Court Days. The event, which is the Pilot Club's only fundraiser of the year, will run from May 23-26. The fall Old Court Days is scheduled for Sept. 26-29.

This is the 40th year that the Pilot Club has hosted the event.  

• Deputy Auditor Steve O'Rear announced that property tax bills have been sent out to residents. The due date is May 10.