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Jennings Sunday: Learning key to new building inspector

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NORTH VERNON — Jennings County’s new building inspector said he wants to work with builders, not against them.

Chad Smith, 40, was selected March 5 from a field of 18 applicants by the Area Plan Commission. He succeeds Matt York, who left the position Jan. 16 after almost seven years.

Smith, who began work March 6, said he will strive to convince builders and property owners that he is their ally.

“My job is not to hassle them,” he said. “My job is to protect home buyers and assist them. I also hope to educate builders and motivate contractors to double-check their work.”

Smith, a 1991 graduate of Jennings County High School, earned a degree in business from Ball State University. He has owned Chad Smith Construction for the past 15 years.

However, Plan Commission Director Cheryl Trisler said Smith has agreed to give up his own company to accept the position. Smith said it’s a choice he was glad to make.

“The business of planning in Jennings County has changed for the positive,” Smith said. “It’s come to date, and I’ve been anxious to join them.”

Besides his business and construction background, Trisler said she recommended York for the position because he has demonstrated an appreciation for continuing education.

“State codes change almost monthly now. And when people come to get a building permit, there are so many questions you have to answer,” Trisler said.

As building inspector, Smith will be charged with checking the structural integrity of proposed residential and commercial developments to ensure they meet local and state codes. That includes soil conditions, foundation, building materials, electrical, plumbing, furnaces and air conditioners. He also is charged with examining safety conditions and issuing violation notices to building owners.

In order to keep up with continually changing codes, evolving technology and the variety of skills utilized in construction, Smith will spend a good part of the first five months of every year in training, Trisler said. She said one of her immediate goals is to have the new building inspector qualified as a master electrician.

Smith and his wife, LuAnne, have one child, 7-year-old Madeline.

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