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Unloosing a logjam?

It’s been a long time coming, but the county commissioners and county council have finally unloosed a logjam of sorts by voting substantial funds, $4.5 million, to remodel the old Harrison County Court House on the historic square in Corydon and renovate the old abandoned county jail that faces the square.
We’re prejudiced and self-centered on this issue because our business, O’Bannon Publishing Co., faces the square. We earnestly, perhaps unrealistically, want the town square to remain a viable business and tourist area. The First State Capitol (1816 to 1825) across the street from us is the heart and soul of historic Indiana. Corydon is the county seat, the heart of Harrison County. The town square is the geographical, political and spiritual heart of Corydon as well as Harrison County. We think it’s only appropriate that the old Bedford stone county courthouse, built in 1927, stay in the center of the county seat town, even though it’s inconvenient for those who have business at various offices in the courthouse and other county offices at the Harrison County Justice Center west of town, or the county annex building a couple of blocks to the south, or even Harrison County Hospital (think of the health department) even farther away. It would be nice if they were all located in the same spot for ‘one-stop shopping.’ But that’s not gonna happen.
However, as the population continues to grow ‘ one fellow who watches such statistics thinks Harrison County’s population will number 80,000 people in 10 years ‘ having county offices spread all over the place will be increasingly irritating.
The old county jail building is still a handsome brick building, even though it has been unused for six years. It had become an embarassment to a proud town and reflected county government plagued occassionally with inertia. Converting a dismal jail with a rotting roof into a modern, attractive office building is a daunting task. Perhaps the only thing that can be done with it is to convert it into office space (‘Hey, your office area used to be the holding cell’) or county record storage. Another option would be to level the building, start over or make it into a parking lot. The latter would represent another blow to the viability of downtown Corydon.
Not all the details of the courthouse remodeling and jailhouse renovation are complete. We don’t know if all the offices at the annex (emergency services, Purdue Extension Service, park department) will be removed from the flood plain alongside Little Indian Creek and into the jail. We’re not sure if the highway engineering department will move out of the courthouse to the county garage north of town, or if some offices need to be removed to an expanded Justice Center.
But the council finally did itself proud last month by reversing an earlier decision. The council, as it sometimes does, had sought to scrimp and save and inadequately fund a remodeling job on the courthouse and jail. However, prompted by councilmen Kenny Saulman and Carl Duley, both of whom can be quite persistent, the council voted again and gamely reversed itself, this time providing enough money for badly needed work to begin on the courthouse and jail. Perhaps the county and commissioners are learning that they can only debate a subject for so long until no decision becomes a bad decision.

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