The Jefferson County Board of Commissioners heard preliminary plans Thursday for a possible renovation and construction project at the animal shelter.

The proposal, provided by North Vernon company FPBH Inc, includes building around the existing structure in order to keep the facility operational. The estimated construction cost would be more than $570,000, with a total project cost about $640,000.

Bernard Hauersperger, president and engineer at FPBH Inc., said the current building has a number of roof, electrical and HVAC issues, along with several Americans with Disabilities Act compliance issues.

"There are a lot of function issues that need to be looked at in the very near future," he said.

The plan calls for a new garage, offices, quarantine and medical areas, cat area and two HVAC units. The design also would better separate the intake animals from the general population - which helps disease control - as well as small and large dogs in the kennel area, said Animal Shelter Director Jenny Slover.

Several of the existing facility features would be utilized and expanded for the renovation.

"One of advantages I like about this is being able to build around the structure and keep (the shelter) open for business," Hauersperger said.

Earlier this year, the commissioners decided on a renovation rather than a rebuild. The commissioners will appear at the next animal shelter meeting, which has yet to be scheduled, to discuss the project.

 Commissioner Tom Pietrykowski said he liked the idea of keeping the facility open during the renovation, instead of finding a temporary home for the animals.

"I think you're going in the right direction," he told Slover and Hauersperger.

In other business:

• Rumpke Co. agreed to hold its current contract price for providing county residents trash drop-off sites next year.

The company had proposed a 3 percent increase for next year during its contract renewal discussion with the county. The original contract was completed in 2005 at an annual rate of $185,100. Attorney Josh Stigdon said under Indiana statute, the county could not entered into a contract renewal with the proposed rate hike; rather the service must be opened to bidding.

Rumpke agreed to drop the increase and stick to the original agreement for another year.

The commissioners approved the contract by a 3-0 vote. County residents can purchase a card for the drop-off sites at the auditor's office for $40.

•The commissioners will begin looking at moving the probation office into the Courthouse Annex, which now houses the surveyor's office and veterans affairs office.

The probation office is currently located in a rental property on East Main Street along with the county Purdue extension office and soil and water office. However, the extension and soil and water offices will move into a new building on the 4-H fairgrounds in a few months, leaving the probation office in need of a permanent home.

The commissioners proposed setting up a temporary probation office inside the annex, then later renovating the building to permanently house the office. One of the big issues will be establishing a separate restroom for probation workers to conduct necessary drug testing.

Pietrykowski said the backside of the building has about 4,000 square feet to work with.

"We definitely have enough space," he said.

The commissioners asked the department heads to work together toward finding a short-term solution to house the probation office while a long-term plan is formulated.

• County resident Julie Brown asked permission to put up a gate 300 feet before County Road 1030 dead ends. Brown owns the property on the south side of the small stretch of roadway, which is not maintained by the county.

Brown said trespassers use the dead-end road and surrounding area as a dumping site. She has sent letters to the adjoining property owners about the possibility of adding a gate.

Stigdon said the county could vacate the property, thus giving ownership of the roadway to the residents.

• Don McKay, a member of the county parks board, said the board has been approached by a national remote-controlled hydroplane boating group that would like to use Krueger Lake at the Jefferson Proving Grounds as the site of a summer competition.

McKay said as many as 100 boaters could participate in what would be a four-day event. He added that the organization is looking for an annual location for the competition.

Before choosing Jefferson County as the location, McKay said the group is asking that the county widen the launch area, install steps, close the lake to the public for five days and then cut back a small peninsula to create a smoother racing track for the boats.

The commissioners approved the changes with a 3-0 vote, though the county said it will need to reach an agreement with the parks board regarding costs associated with the peninsula project.

The commissioners said they wanted to respond quickly and jump on the opportunity of bringing in 100 participants and their families to the area for an multi-day event.  

"You're talking several hundred people," Commissioner Bob Little said. "I'd hate to lose it. It could be a year-to-year thing."