The Journal Gazette
Saturday, February 22, 2020 1:00 am

County to look for possible graves

Commissioners hire surveyor to study Byron property


The Allen County commissioners Friday decided they didn't want to disturb the dead – if there are any.

County officials recently have tackled the task of preparing the 120-acre Byron Health Center property at Carroll and Lima roads for sale by approving land surveys and other studies. The latest, approved for $800 to American Locating Services of Indianapolis, would use ground-penetrating radar to look for caskets or bodies.

The need for the study came a few months ago when a longtime area resident told county officials he remembered seeing a second graveyard on the site when he was a teenager in the 1960s to 1970s.

Byron served as a tuberculosis sanatorium in the early part of the 20th century and people who died there were sometimes buried on the grounds. Chris Cloud, the commissioners' chief of staff, said one site is known and marked, but the resident said he recalled another.

But there are no tombstones, so the study was commissioned, he said. “We wouldn't sell (land) over the cemetery, if there is one.” Cloud said. But any graves could be moved.

Byron plans to move to a new location on Lake Avenue later this year.

In other business, the commissioners agreed to take out a loan from themselves – and pay themselves back.

The move came in a request from the Allen County Highway Department to borrow $2.25 million to buy 10 dump trucks.

The money would come from the county's Rainy Day Fund and be paid back by the highway department. So the agreement, approved Thursday by the Allen County Council, amounts to taking money out of one pocket, spending it and putting it back, said Bill Hartman, highway department head.

“So basically we're writing a promissory note to ourselves,” said Commissioner Nelson Peters before he and Therese Brown, both Republicans, voted to approve the recommendation. Commissioner Rich Beck was absent.

The agreement is the third in a series to refurbish the department's fleet with dump trucks that are all from the same maker and with interchangeable parts, Cloud said.

About 10 years ago, the highway department made a request for about $1.5 million and made a similar request about five years ago, Hartman said. Both loans have been paid back, he said.

This loan will be paid back by 2025. The process “might be repeated” then to keep the fleet fresh, Cloud said, because of the potential difficulty of obtaining parts for older trucks.

The commissioners also approved highway department requests for $88,200 to Clark Dietz Inc. to replace a concrete structure on Prine Road with an aluminum box culvert and to spend $14,401.24 more for a striping project on Ryan and Bruick roads.

In addition, a border bridge agreement between Allen County and Paulding County, Ohio, was approved. The agreement makes Paulding responsible inspections and routine maintenance such as snow plowing for four bridges spanning the county line.

Allen County would repair the structures. Replacement costs would be split 50-50 under a separate agreement, Hartman said.

The commissioners also presented a Civil Service Award for outstanding work to Jodi Leamon, sustainability coordinator for the county's Department of Environmental Management.

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