The request to officially support three projects designated by the Marshall County Crossroads Team for the READI Grant application was explained to the County Council on Monday.

Marty Oosterbaan, a member of the Crossroads Executive Committee and Ginny Munroe gave the Council the same presentation the Commissioners heard last week. 

There are three projects they proposed including assistance for a Simulation and Skills Lab to support the Bachelor of Nursing degree at the Marian University of Ancilla College, the countywide Blue Zones Initiative to improve the health and wellness of citizens and a Career Innovation Center.

Oosterbaan said, “These three projects are geared to one, address the acute shortage of professional nurses in Marshall County. The second will Improve the workforce productivity through reductions in sick leave and chronic illness and health insurance costs all while making Marshall County more attractive as a place to move to or a place to relocate a business to or start a business.  That’s the Blue Zones Initiative. The third is to improve workforce productivity through job simulation and training by establishing a Career Innovation Center that would be geared toward the needs of both the workforce in Marshall County as well as the workplaces in Marshall County.”

Munroe said the vision of the Crossroads Team is “Creating Great Hometowns.”  She discussed a study of Marshall County the team undertook.  They gathered 150 to 200 stakeholders from across the county for a meeting at Swan Lake where they surveyed participants looking at the challenges in each of the 10 quality of life areas and as a result, created subcommittees to address those challenges. They also went into all six communities at major public events and surveyed citizens one-on-one.  They were asked about the challenges they face and what they want to see for their quality of life, speaking to thousands.  They also went to the Neighborhood Center and spoke with people struggling with homelessness, living paycheck to paycheck.  They spoke to citizens from the Hispanic community too.  Munroe said, “What we’ve learned is that there are some major systemic countywide challenges that are difficult for any single entity to address on its own.” 

Munroe said speaking with the indigent population found their concerns are drug addiction and mental illness. They learned people want more outdoor recreation and want people to experience life such as trails and safe routes to schools and community gathering spaces.  She told the County Council, “Among those thousands of people, among all the stakeholders we talked to, among all the businesses we engaged with, not one person said fix my road, pave my road, it was a better quality of life.” 

The committee then gave individual presentations on the three proposed projects.  During the hour-long presentation, there were several questions from the council with answers from the presenters. 

Oosterbaan and Munroe closed out the presentation with a request to provide county support for the projects.  The Simulation and Skills Lab at Marian University at Ancilla College is a $750,000 project.  The requested match from the county for the READI Grant is 20% or $150,000.  The Community Health and Well-Being Initiative known as Blue Zones is a $6.1 million project over 3.8 years.  The requested match is 9% or $525,000.  The final project is the Career Innovation Center with an estimated total cost of $7.5 million.  The 20% match request from the county is $1.5 million.  The total share of the county’s match is $2,175,000. 

Last week the County Commissioners recommended approval with a 2 to 1 vote.  Commissioner Klotz voted in opposition with concerns about the Blue Zones Initiative although he was supportive of the other two projects. 

The motion was made by Steve Harper to support the resolution for all three projects and seconded by Heath Thornton.  At that point, Councilman Jessie Bohannon objected citing Indiana Code which states when an ordinance is presented for first reading it must be a unanimous decision.  He was informed that they were approving a resolution and not an ordinance so there could be no objection. 

The Council voted 5 to 2 with Bohannon and Councilman Tim Harman voting against the resolution with both mentioning the size, scope, and priority of the projects.