The first round of renovations will soon begin for a joint county-city owner-occupied housing rehabilitation project.

The project, which will provide renovations to 18 houses in the city and county, is funded by a $400,000 federal grant approved to assist low- to moderate-income families.

The Jefferson County Board of Commissioners on Thursday night awarded six of those rehabilitation projects to three area companies.

While the project is a joint effort of the city of Madison and Jefferson County, the county is the lead applicant, making the Board of Commissioners responsible for approving the contracts.

The average price of the 18 projects is expected to be between $20,000 and $23,000.

The Pettitt Group Inc. was awarded projects at 4098 Interstate Block Road ($45,740), 821 W. Third St. ($35,455) and 116 Searing St. ($21,200). Jackson Construction was awarded projects for 1810 Telegraph Hill Road ($17,433) and 2236 Crescent St. ($34,259). Ol House Experts was awarded a project at 110 E. Main St. for $5,047.02.

This is the first year the county has participated in the project, which is overseen by the Southeastern Indiana Regional Planning Commission.

The next round of bids is expected to come in early May.

The entire rehab project must be completed by November 2014. Once a bid is approved, the contractor has 90 days to complete the renovations at the property.

Following each project's completion, a three-year lien will be placed on the property. In that time, the owner must maintain the location as a permanent residence or face repaying a prorated portion of the renovation costs.

Also at the meeting:

• The board agreed to a one-year contract with Pettitt & Associates Inc. for land surveying. The contact is state-mandated because Surveyor Jeff Daghir does not have his surveyor's license and Pettitt is the only licensed company in the county. The contracted service will be at a rate of $140 an hour.  

• The commissioners proclaimed April as Prevent Child Abuse Month and allowed Prosecutor Chad Lewis to place pinwheels on the Courthouse lawn to draw awareness to the cause. There will be candlelight vigil at 7:30 p.m. on April 8 at Madison First Baptist Church.

• The commissioners heard proposals from Gardner Insurance and Travelers Insurance for commercial coverage, which would include the county's facilities and vehicles. Travelers is the current provider. The board will hold a special meeting Wednesday at 5 p.m. to decide which proposal to accept.