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Man asks commissioners NOT to fund a bridge project

It’s unusual for someone to ask the county commissioners not to spend money, but that’s what happened Monday night, following requests by two volunteer fire department to help pay for new trucks.
Brian Bauer of Corydon told the three commissioners he had been listening to the funding requests from various groups before his turn on the agenda.
‘I’m going to put a different twist on things tonight and ask you guys not to fund a project,’ he said.
The project is the replacement of the Rothrock Mill bridge on the Harrison-Crawford County line.
‘I haven’t had a lot of time to work on this project,’ said Bauer, who’s back from a recent deployment overseas. ‘I’m against the building of the new bridge, which will benefit only a few.’
He said he had already approached the Crawford County Commissioners about canceling the project and was told it was the Harrison County Commissioners who were pushing the project.
Bauer said reallocating the funds for the bridge project ‘could be used to benefit more people.’
Crawford County’s portion of the project’s funds could be used in other ways, such as the school corporation, he said.
Bauer said he moved to property near the county line about a year ago. The through-road invites illegal dumping and deer poaching in the area, he said. As part of his presentation, Bauer submitted a petition signed by about 100 persons who support keeping the road closed.
‘I do sympathize with you that people come out here and abuse your property,’ said Commissioner Jim Heitkemper. ‘I think it’s a pity … that you feel it’s best to keep it closed.’
Heitkemper said there is at least one farmer there who owns property on both sides of the bridge. Traveling an alternate route while the bridge is closed ‘puts a hardship on him,’ he said.
Harrison County Engineer Darin Duncan said that detour is ‘fairly substantial’ compared to others that have been needed throughout the county.
Cost of the project, which is split 60-40 between the two counties, is about $600,000.
J.R. Eckart, who chairs the board of commissioners, said Bauer raises an interesting issue. ‘How do you justify any bridge?’
During the initial phase of the bridge project, the commissioners were given a petition with about 300 signatures of people who want to keep the road open, Eckart said. ‘Not to put you off, but this seems to be a Crawford County decision,’ Eckart told Bauer, because counties are responsible for bridges on their east and south boundaries.
Prior to Bauer’s request, Mike Riley of the New Middletown Volunteer Fire Dept. requested funds to purchase a new rescue truck.
‘Our current one is overloaded,’ he said.
The commissioners agreed to ask the county council for $125,000 to fund the project from the riverboat human services fund.
John (Bill) Lyskowinski, representing the Lanesville Volunteer Fire Dept., asked for $60,000 to fund half of a new mini-pumper. The Franklin Township Trustee (Lyskowinski) will fund the other half.
The commissioners will ask the council for the matching funds, also from the human services fund.
In other matters, the commissioners:
* Heard from C.J. Louden, who reported on behalf of the Farm, Forest and Open Space Preservation Task Force. ‘There’s been a lot of people who have contributed information,’ he said. Louden encouraged others to give input.
* Signed a 24-month agreement for Harrison County Lifelong Learning to rent space at the 101 Building in Corydon, where the adult education program is relocating. Doug Robson, HCLL director, said they hope to move equipment from the Quarry Road facility near Thanksgiving and re-open their doors Dec. 1.
* Signed an interlocal agreement with the Town of Corydon for $51,768.80 for the clean-up of the old Keller Furniture Co. plant in Corydon.