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Council endorses sale of property

Based on the Harrison County Commissioners recommendation to sell the 25.7-acre property known as the old Wenning Packing Co. plant in Central Barren, the Harrison County Council unanimously endorsed selling the acreage at its meeting Monday night.
‘I think it’s a win-win situation for the county,’ said Carl (Buck) Mathes, chairman of the council. ‘I’m tickled to death that someone will pay taxes on that property.’
The county took over the property in 2001, after it was unable to be sold because of environmental problems and back-tax issues, according to Commissioner James Goldman.
The potential buyer of the property is Hershel Smith of Floyd County, Goldman said. If the sale goes through, Smith’s business would bring 24 employees to Harrison County.
‘I know him real well,’ said Mathes. ‘I’ve got a lot of trust in him.’
‘He is a person I trust whole-heartedly with his business,’ said Goldman. ‘It’s environmentally safe. It will be an asset to the community. It’s not finalized, but I do believe it will end in a sale.’
The cost of the property will be in the range of $135,000 to $145,000. The property can be sold for no more than the average of two appraisals, said Goldman.
Goldman has pushed to get the former meatpacking plant cleaned up the last few years. In 2002, an environmental study was conducted to determine the level of contaminates and what needed to be done.
‘It covered everything,’ said Goldman.
In 2005, the Indiana Dept. of Environmental Management removed hazardous barrels and, a year later, seven underground tanks were removed with grant money received from the state level. Finally, in late 2006, IDEM informed the commissioners that the property was in compliance and was environmentally safe.
In other business Monday night, the council denied a motion to give Auditor Pat Wolfe another full-time second deputy. Councilman William T. (Bill) Nichols made the motion to fund the position, and Gordon Pendleton seconded the motion. Leslie Robertson, Chris Timberlake, Rhonda Rhoads and Ralph Sherman opposed the motion.
Robertson said she would like to see Wolfe go to the commissioners and ask for two part-time employees, and added that they would definitely revisit the request for a full-time position at their budget hearings at the end of the year.
‘It’s the council’s policy not to create a new position outside of budget time,’ said Mathes.
Also Monday night:
‘ The council heard a request for $20,000 for ongoing operations at the new Comfort House location in Corydon. The rent for the old location in Milltown was $350, and it is currently about $1,100 at the new location. Rhoads questioned Donna Lloyd Black, facility director, and Kathy Goldman, board member, about other sources of funding.
‘I’m just curious, because that’s like triple,’ said Rhoads. ‘A triple is a whole big difference. An agency that’s going to be using county tax money, we need to ask what their rent is going to be.’
‘Harrison County had a problem with us in Crawford County,’ said Kathy Goldman. ‘This is about the best we could do.’
This is the third year the Comfort House has requested funding from the council.
‘In my eyes, and hopefully in your eyes, we’re a small entity and we don’t require a lot of money, but our service is worth the money,’ Kathy Goldman said.
‘I hope you have a plan and continue to seek grants,’ said Rhoads. ‘I support it. I think people need to support it.’
The council will vote on the matter on Monday, Feb. 11.
‘ The council unanimously approved $3,700 for extra clerical help; $22,817, for a new maintenance vehicle; $500,000, stone and gravel for the commissioners; $1,150,000, contractual services for the commissioners; $26,917, Corydon-Ramsey/Sival Road intersection project; $10,000, Chaplains Association, $150,000, Gerdon Youth Center; and $208,000, Harrison County Community Services.
The council funded $404,075.64, with a 5-1 vote (Nichols opposed) for the Lanesville Interchange, which was an accounting procedure with no extra money paid.