Jefferson County officials will open bids for two major construction projects later this month.

Project planners submitted final designs and cost estimates to the Board of Commissioners on Friday morning for the drainage overhaul project at the Audubon Park housing division and the construction of a new extension office.

The extension office will house the soil and water employees and extension office staff. The 3,000-square-foot building will be constructed on the fairgrounds and carry an estimated hard construction cost of about $329,000.

The bid opening is set for June 27 for the extension office. The plans include seven alternate bids on items such as the brick veneer, carpeting and propane tank and furnace to help lower the construction costs, said Bret Dodd of RQAW, the Indianapolis architectural company handling the designs.

The County Council has approved appropriations for the project up to $350,000.

"We have a whole bunch of alternates structured to protect us," Dodd said.

County officials have said they feel they can keep soft construction costs minimal because the county already owns some of the materials, furniture and fixtures that would be needed.

Also on Friday, the commissioners established a June 15 bid opening for the Aubudon Park drainage project.

Earlier this year, the county obtained a $500,000 federal grant to cover almost the entire project.

Colby King, of the North Vernon engineering firm FPBH, told the commissioners that the project, which had been over budget, is back within its original cost estimate.

King said the final plans will be available within the next few days in time for the county to advertise to bidders.

In other business:

• Whitney Wyatt, director of Madison Main Street Program, gave a presentation to the commissioners about the program's advancement within the past year.

Wyatt said the organization has put a greater focus on its community outreach programs and events. It now offers 16 programs.

Madison Main Street Program also has signed up 21 local businesses for the new Shop Main Streets program, a website that offers virtual tours of shopping districts in small towns or historic areas.

"We feel like we really need to better promote our businesses," Wyatt said.

She said that the membership for the Main Street Program has increased to about 60 members this year.

• Community Corrections Director Amber Finnegan plans to add six staff members, including school counselors, case managers and field officers as part of a substance abuse treatment program.

The new positions will be paid for by a two-year $1 million grant recently awarded to the community corrections.

The grant will fund the Treatment Train, a project designed to lower substance abuse-related arrests and conceived by COCOA (Continuity of Care of Adults).

Finnegan wants to have the new hires, five of which will be full-time, in place by September.

The community corrections office plans to move into the Clearinghouse when the building opens later this year.

• The commissioners accepted a Department of Homeland Security grant for $6,250 that will go toward Hazmat equipment for the Madison Township Fire Department. Emergency Management Director Dave Bell, who applied for the grant, said there is no matching requirement to receive the funding.  

Bell also reported that he has begun working with school and local officials to obtain grants and proper training to begin using school resource officers within the county.

• The commissioners approved a mutual aid agreement that provides reimbursement to volunteer firefighters who respond to emergencies within counties in Indiana's District 9.

• Three commissioners from Harrison County spoke with the commissioners seeking suggestions for their Courthouse security project. This year, Jefferson County has added a walk-through metal detector and security officers, and officials are looking to add cameras inside the Courthouse.

The Harrison County officials said they have had concerns about who to hire as security officers, adding that they have considered running the security through the Harrison County Sheriff's Department and a private company.  

Sheriff John Wallace suggested that they have the local sheriff handle the security and hiring responsibilities. He also suggested taking a retired officer or reserves and giving them special deputy status so they have full arrest powers and proper training law enforcement training.