Ruth Baker

Ruth Baker

Virtual court is here to stay in Cass County.

“It’s becoming very clear that virtual court is not leaving any time soon,” Cass County Information Technology Director Cj Gilsinger said at the Cass County Commissioners meeting Monday. “We’ve decided to start working to permanently mount all the equipment in the courtrooms instead of having a cart with wires laying around everywhere.”

Gilsinger said work will likely begin soon in Cass County Circuit Court because it is the least-used courtroom.

“Any downtime in the process will be less noticed, but we’ll still be able to get a good idea if it’s the way to go or not,” he said. “We’ve started ordering stuff, and we’re going to get started installing that hopefully sometime this month.”

Cass County Economic Development Director Christy Householder said at the meeting that READI funding from the state has been allotted toward regional projects. Broadband expansion is a high priority, and Householder said the region is currently ensuring all state and federal project requirements will be met.

Additionally, the commissioners voted to amend three ordinances during the meeting. Commissioner Ryan Browning was not in attendance, but the remaining two commissioners provided the majority needed to approve two of the amendments.

The first amendment made changes to the county’s animal control ordinance, particularly in the regulations for animals that seriously injure humans. Commissioner Ruth Baker said the amendment will also increase the penalties for residents who violate the ordinance.

“I think it makes a lot of sense,” Commissioner Mike Stadjuhar said. “It tightens up and strengthens our animal control ordinance. The penalty is fine; it’s greater than what (the penalty) is currently, but nothing terribly onerous. I think these changes make a lot of sense.”

The next amendment was to an ordinance that details off-road vehicle restrictions.

“The current ordinance says that ATVs and off-road vehicles can’t be closer than 300 feet to a residence,” Baker said. “We will be changing the 300 feet to 100 feet.”

Stadjuhar said the main reason behind changing the ordinance was to better adhere to state code.

The last amendment proposes changing the county’s conflict of interest policy. The current policy limits vendor gifts to $5,000.

“I think it’s unreasonably high,” Stadjuhar said. “I just would suggest dropping a zero and going to $500, which I think is still plenty high. I worked in the financial services industry, and I think our limit was $50. If you adjust for inflation, let’s say $100. I think $500 is plenty generous, but let’s just review it and ensure that we’re all on the same page.”

Baker and Stadjuhar voted to table the amendment until the next commissioners meeting to review it further before voting on the change.

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