Woodall named new president of Commissioners

Thursday, January 4, 2018
Rick Woodall


Assistant Editor

After three years, it was the president of the himself who wanted to see a change.

So shortly after opening the Tuesday meeting of the Putnam County Commissioners, David Berry, president since January 2015, nominated Rick Woodall to be the president in 2018.

Fellow commissioner Don Walton seconded the nomination and it passed unanimously.

"I just felt Rick's done a good job -- as well as Donnie -- but I felt like he was more than ready to assume leadership," Berry said.

Woodall has served as vice president to Berry throughout his three-year tenure as commissioner.

"I thank them very much for nominating me," Woodall said. "It's something I'd never thought about but Dave had asked me if I wanted to be president. I hope that I can be professional."

Walton then nominated Berry as the vice president, a motion Woodall seconded, and which also passed unanimously.

Berry, who spent three years as president, said he had reviewed county records and could find no evidence of anyone serving as president for multiple consecutive years, perhaps prompting his desire for a change.

The duo's time as president and vice president has been marked by some significant changes to the way the board and the county operates.

One major example is the allocation of road money. The commissioners used to divide road money into equal thirds for each of their three districts.

In recent years, though, they have gone away from this, instead depending on County Highway Supervisor Mike Ricketts to assess the roads and allocating based on need and usage, not district.

Additionally, the commissioners dug into skyrocketing healthcare costs and searched for means of savings. With a number of county employees switching from PPO plans to healths savings accounts, Woodall announced in July that the county cost for insurance premiums was going down about $300,000 for the current year.

On the heels of this news, the commissioners approved matching up to $1,000 for each employee's HSA during the current insurance year.

Other issues that have dominated recent months and years have included the choice to retain Operation Life as the county's emergency medical service provider, ongoing upgrades to the Putnam County Courthouse HVAC and communications infrastructure and attempts to save for a Courthouse Annex.

After the duo literally and figuratively switched seats, it was on to other routine matters of the meeting.

* The commissioners approved the annual contractual services agreement with Purdue Cooperative Extension. The contract is the same as last year, for $97,787.40.

The major change that came with last year's contract remains in place for 2018, with Extension Ag Educator Jenna Nees remaining full time through a partnership with the Soil and Water Conservation District.

Nees now fulfills some of the education duties for the SWCD, therefore $12,417.40 of her salary is drawn from the soil and water budget.

* Ricketts told the commissioners that the extreme cold of recent days has put three bridge projects on hold.

Bridges 135 and 136 in Marion Township will only be three or four days from completion once temperatures rise to the point that crews can complete the work.

Temperatures need to reach 30 degrees for concrete to be poured for Bridge 65 in Floyd Township.

Bridge 215 in Cloverdale Township is delayed until the arrival of a culvert pipe from Texas. Delivery is expected on Jan. 15.

Ricketts further reported that salting, sanding and plowing of roads went well over the weekend.

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