FISHERS — The city of Fishers is making a major investment in public health.
The city recentlystarted requiring all restaurants to display their food inspection grades at their entrance — but creating those grades for restaurants takes time.
Dan Stuart is one of two full-time retail food inspectors for the Fishers Health Department. They also have a part time inspector, but with the increase in the number of restaurants opening in Fishers they all have a big job.
"We have 425 retail food establishments just in Fishers,” Stuart said. “So, if we did just two inspections on each restaurant a year, we are getting up to 900 inspections.”
According to Stuart, the FDA recommends that each food inspector do 285 inspections per year. In the Fishers budget they are investing heavily into public health, a portion of that will be adding a third inspector.
"Being able to staff it up appropriately will allow us to ensure that when that sign says a B or an A on the sign, that you truly feel like you are in a safe place to eat,” Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness said.
Determining those health grades can take time. Stuart took WRTTV’s Meredith Hackler along for a health inspection of Chao Vietnamese Street Food. He says having more staff will help the grading system be more accurate and up to date than it already is.
“We can focus on the restaurants that have a lower grade,” Stuart said. “We can get in there more often and help them get their score up then the restaurants that are higher risk we will be able to get in there more often as well."
For restaurant owners like Carlos Villagran, he welcomes the visits from Stuart. He feels that the visits help them with best practices.
"We don't see them as like they are trying to shut us down,” Carlos Villagran the Owner of Chao Vietnamese Street Food said. “We seem them more as they are helping us keep everyone safe, they are making sure that we have the right protocol and right safety."
The city is also adding another public health nurse. They can do so because of money they are getting from the state, which was made available to municipalities across Indiana. The mayor says they are taking a proactive approach to public health not a reactive one.
“If you think about public health the very nature of it is to be proactive,” Fadness said. “It's to swim upstream and be preventative and that's really been our approach around this. Let work together ahead of time and deal with the issues so we can assure that nothing bad happens."
Mayor Fadness says they're getting about one million dollars from the state to invest in public health. He adds they plan on hitting the ground running on finding people to fill these new positions by the first of the year. For a break down of other investments the city sent out the following.
Major Project Investments
Pivotal projects in 2024 include the completion and openings of the Fishers Municipal and Art Center, the Fishers Event Center, and completing the SR 37 and 141st Street Interchange. Also, construction for the Fishers Community Center at Johnson Farm is slated to begin in 2024.
Road & Infrastructure
The City will prioritize several infrastructure investments, including roundabout installations at 126th Street and Southeastern Avenue and 96th Street and Allisonville Road, as well as road widening projects including 136th Street from Southeastern Avenue to Prairie Baptist Road. Design for the new 116th Street and Allisonville Road roundabout will launch in 2024 with a 2025 construction.
Trail Connectivity & Engagement
Investments in trail connectivity and addressing trail gaps are central to the 2024 Budget. Three new trail connections are proposed alongside the establishment of a trail node at Hub & Spoke, enhancing connectivity and trailside amenities for residents.
Neighborhood & Community Vibrancy
Historic investments are planned for neighborhood vibrancy and long-term sustainability, including investments in sidewalk repairs across multiple neighborhoods, urban forestry with the planting of 2,000 trees, and the revitalization of the 96th Street corridor. Neighborhood Vibrancy Grant allocation will increase from $100k to $750k, funding projects related to entrance upgrades, pond and greenspace maintenance, sidewalk connections, and community spaces within residential neighborhoods.
Continued Investment in Public Safety & Critical Services
The 2024 budget underscores the City’s dedication to ensuring the safety and well-being of residents with the addition of three new firefighters and police officers, two School Resource Officers and a forensic tech. Additionally, the Fishers Health Department will add a new health inspector and public health nurse position.
In a first-ever initiative, the budget introduces a Teacher Innovation Micro-Grant Program for Hamilton Southeastern School District teachers, allocating $500K to foster innovative learning and professional development within the classroom.
Clickhere to read more about the budget.