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Council sets field trip to old hospital

The Harrison County Council decided Monday night to convene for a tour of the old hospital campus in Corydon with the commissioners and government complex project representatives Monday, May 11, at 4 p.m., before its regular scheduled meeting at 7.
The council will take the tour, which will be open to the public, to gain further information on the $13 million to $15 million project, before discussing it further later that evening.
Joe Mrak and Bret Dodd of RQAW Consulting Engineers and Architects, based in Indianapolis, will lead the project and were asked to join the tour, as was county maintenance supervisor David Simon.
The proposed plan would remodel the two medical office buildings and the newest portion of the old hospital while demolishing the building’s old wing. It would also modify the courthouse, archives building and justice center.
The plan was endorsed by two of the three commissioners to fulfill the space needs of the county offices.
Commissioner Carl (Buck) Mathes did not vote in favor in the project.
Councilwoman Leslie Robertson asked the commissioners about other options they discussed before deciding to renovate the old hospital and medical office buildings.
Commissioner James Goldman said the board looked at building a new structure on the property south of the justice center, but doing so would essentially double the price tag of the renovation project. Commissioner Terry Miller added that they talked about purchasing land across from the courthouse on the north side of Walnut Street to clear out existing structures and construct new buildings. Goldman said the idea was thrown out because of the fear of the effect on downtown and the cost would have been extremely expensive.
The commissioners broke down the funding request for the project: $9 million from the Harrison County Community Foundation grant, $2 million from the CEDIT fund, $2 million from the cumulative capital development fund, $1 million from the cumulative courthouse fund and another $1 million from the community fund.
The HCCF grant would be paid back through the county’s community fund.
Councilman Gordon Pendleton said the two main questions he has heard asked are, ‘Do we really need this space?’ and ‘Is that the place for it?’
Councilman Richard Gerdon said he understands there is a need for space, with some of the offices ‘busting at the seams.’
‘I’d like to go up and actually see it; it would do a lot for me,’ he said.
Gerdon added he would like to see the medical office buildings completed first and then ‘see where we’re at.’
Goldman didn’t like the idea because it would leave a liability, the old hospital, near the newly renovated buildings.
‘We have this all-in-one package,’ he said. ‘It’s in the best interests of the county to make the total move. Is there going to be extra room? I think so, and there should be.’
The council will call to order at the courthouse at 4 p.m. before starting the tour at the old hospital campus.
In other business Monday night, the council approved $2 million for the three county school corporations to be split according to enrollment; $218,250 for Emergency Medical Services for a new chassis for an ambulance and updated equipment; $28,980 for updated computers for the prosecutor (Pendleton against); $7,000 for the Advisory Plan Commission for litigation; $4,000 for training for the Auditor’s Office; and $1,677.71 for contractual services for the health department.
The council also approved, with a 4-3 vote, a letter of intent to the parks department for its half ($90,275) of the funding for a new restroom at Hayswood Nature Reserve near Corydon. The other half of the project will be requested from the Harrison County Community Foundation. The grant from the Foundation, if approved, would be received in September.