Source: The Corydon Democrat

Brown flips vote; Morvin's project gets council's OK

by Ross Schulz

December 03, 2013

The Harrison County Council last week, after voting it down in October, approved an additional to purchase property at the Morvin’s Landing site east of Mauckport for preservation.

The first failed vote was 3-4, with Councilmembers Gary Davis, Phil Smith and Gordon Pendleton for, and Sherry Brown, Ralph Sherman, Richard Gerdon and Jim Heitkemper against.

However, on Nov. 25, the votes were identical except for Brown, who flipped to the “for” side, giving it enough votes to be approved.

The cost of the property is $372,000 with the county on the hook for $97,125. The Indiana Bicentennial Nature Trust, if the project is granted approval, will pay $186,000 and the Harrison County Community Foundation will provide up to $100,000.

The plan is to have the majority of the historic property leased as farmland and use the profit from the lease to pay for whatever maintenance and/or historical items associated with property.

The majority of the 93 acres will be perpetually farmed and a portion of the site will have interpretive history stops along a walking trail of some sort.

The site is most famous for being the spot where Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan and his raiders defied orders and crossed the Mason-Dixon line — and the Ohio River in the process — on their quest to distract Union forces. Morgan’s men met resistance from the home guard near Corydon in the Battle of Corydon, one of only two recognized Civil War battles on northern soil.

The history doesn’t stop, nor did it start, with Morgan. Long before Morgan’s raiders crossed the Ohio River at the site, early settlers such as Henry Heth used the area to cross into Indiana. Heth helped establish the town of Corydon. The location also served as a stop on the underground railroad, was the site of the Alice Dean Steamboat and was a ferry point up until 1966 when the Matthew E. Welsh Bridge was constructed.

One of the outspoken opponents of the plan, Kent Yeager of Mauckport, said he and others against the plan became less aggressively so since the park board committed to keep it in farmland forever or not do the project at all.

“I still think this is a really bad investment of public funds, and I say that truly hoping that time proves me wrong,” Yeager said last week. “We are most concerned that almost no one takes seriously the problems that will be faced with many of the people who frequent the area now or have the stomach for the cost of dealing with it.”

Yeager said the isolated rural nature of the site makes it a hot spot for trouble.

“I will continue to look at the long-time publicly-owned land around the Ohio River bridge, where three Morgan’s Raid markers, a Squire Boone marker, the Bill Fleace Memorial and the Welcome to Indiana sign exists, and the Overlook Park, and think about the opportunity missed to improve something hundreds, probably thousands, of people see every day,” he said.

In other business, the council and commissioners met together prior to the council’s regular meeting to discuss the riverboat spending “what if” analysis. The analysis, which does not include approved funding but only estimates for major project planning, includes $2 million for the Lanesville connector-road project for both 2015 and 2016.

It also includes a total of $4 million for a new highway garage ($1 million in 2014 and $3 million in 2015).

A boat ramp was also discussed, but no dollar figure was attached to the project.

“I’d like to see us build a new 4-H show building,” Councilman Ralph Sherman said.

The council said it will look into cost figures for the 4-H building and continue to modify the what-if analysis.

The council’s next meeting will be Monday at 7 p.m. at the Government Center in south Corydon.