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Council ponders multi-million dollar project

The Harrison County Council Monday night delayed a decision regarding the proposed government complex plan that includes the old hospital campus in Corydon.
The project, endorsed by the board of commissioners and created by RQAW Architects and Engineers, has an approximate total cost of $13 million to $15 million.
Bret Dodd of RQAW presented the entire three-phase project to the council. The first phase remodels the two medical office buildings; the second phase includes the newest portion of the old hospital and the courthouse; and the third phase remodels the old jail or Archives Building and also includes adding on to the justice center.
The first phase of the project will cost between $3.7 million and $4.3 million and, if approved, will be let for bids in August, ready for construction in September and completed by next April.
The second phase, which will take the most time and will be challenging, Dodd said, will cost between $8.4 million to $9.7 million. It will be ready for construction by November and completed by September 2010.
The final phase and the entire project would be complete by August 2011. The cost of the final phase is less than $1 million.
Councilman Richard Gerdon asked about the space-needs projection and if it is based on an increase in population.
Dodd said not to look at the population on a one- or two-year basis, but instead look out 25 years. He said with the property tax caps in Indiana, the county may become an attractive place to live.
‘We’ll have growth, based on projections,’ he said.
Councilman Gordon Pendleton said he would like to set a maximum funding amount, possibly $13 million, then have the project designed. He mentioned the dilemma with the Emergency Medical Services building, which had bids returned well over the estimated cost of the project.
‘We’re out there to protect your interests; we see ourselves as your partner,’ Dodd said.
The board discussed funding measures for the project, with the bulk of the plan to be paid for by a $9 million grant from the Harrison County Community Foundation to be replenished by the county’s Community Fund. Pendleton made clear the Foundation will not be giving the money to the county.
‘It’s not a free ride,’ he said.
Steve Gilliland, executive director of the Foundation, said the decision was not taken lightly.
‘I don’t know what would happen to the hospital if this plan wasn’t in place,’ Dodd said. ‘You’re turning an old derelict building into a valuable county asset.’
The council will discuss the matter further and possibly vote on the project at its next meeting, which will be Monday April 27, at 7 p.m. at the courthouse in Corydon.
In other matters, the council approved $235,000 for the Harrison Township Volunteer Fire Department for a rescue apparatus. The truck, a 2009 Ford F-550 4-by-4 light duty, will be used for firefighting support operations, EMS responses, vehicle and machinery rescue, rope rescue, water rescue and and confined space rescue operations.