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Hospital could break ground this fall

If everything goes as planned, Harrison County Hospital could break ground in September or early October on an estimated $42 million facility northwest of Corydon.
The hospital will ask the county council at its July 11 meeting to appropriate the first of three annual payments of $4 million each toward the project, as previously agreed.
‘We plan to let bids in late July or early August,’ said HCH executive director Steve Taylor last week.
Taylor said hospital officials are cautiously optimistic that bids will come in under the earlier rough estimate of $30 million for construction.
‘The wild card is inflation,’ he said, adding that costs have gone up considerably for construction and for construction materials due to shortages, natural disasters and environmental protection issues.
The rest of the $42 million is for ‘soft’ costs, such as financing and engineering and architectural fees.
‘We hope our estimate is good,’ Taylor said.
Also, the Harrison County Community Foundation is preparing to pay the first of its three annual installments of $1.6 million to the project, making up its $5 million pledge.
Foundation director Steve Gilliland said yesterday the contract has been signed by the president of the Harrison County Commissioners and Foundation president Jane Kraft, and must yet be signed by the HCH board president, the county council president and attested by the auditor.
If those schedules are met, and there’s no reason to believe they won’t be, the county and Foundation will contribute $17 million to the project. The hospital is expected to pay the balance at the far end of financing.
Although no final agreement had been reached last week, Taylor said the issue of wastewater treatment for the hospital has been ‘conceptually’ resolved.
If an arrangement falls through with Corydon to provide the service, Taylor said the hospital would look forward to hooking up with Corydon’s sewer district, which would reach 10 miles in any direction. ‘We may be their first customer,’ Taylor said.
Taylor said he isn’t sure yet whether financing will include a bond sale.
The Harrison County Board of Commissioners’ president, J.R. Eckart, yesterday noted that the start of hospital construction will fast-forward a decision on what should be done with the hospital facilities that will be vacated on Atwood Street.
‘We have been waiting to see when the hospital will know exactly what it will be doing and when we can start planning.
‘It requires more planning than a lot of people have thought about,’ said Eckart. ‘It’s not just going to be (the whole hospital complex) vacated at one time.’
‘We will start moving as soon as we see the ground breaking,’ said Commissioner James Goldman. ‘Our thoughts will be turning toward the old hospital and what we will do there.’
Building the new facility is expected to take more than two years. Planning has been underway since January 2002, but the partial funding from riverboat revenue wasn’t approved by the county council until March 2005.
‘I think it’s been a long time coming,’ said Goldman. ‘Higher interest rates and higher construction costs have added to the bill. If we had gotten started earlier, we could have saved $4 million to $5 million in extra costs. That’s all the county’s fault.
‘But I am very happy we are proceeding.’