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Old hospital renovation project gets go-ahead

The Harrison County Council last Tuesday night gave its blessing to the board of commissioners to move forward with the $13 million to $15 million old hospital campus renovation project for government offices.
The vote passed 4-2 with full support from Democrat council members and opposition from the two Republicans, Jim Heitkemper and Ralph Sherman.
The project, presented by Bret W. Dodd of RQAW Consulting Engineers and Architects, will transform the two medical office buildings and the newest wing of the old hospital into government office space.
The plan will more than double county-owned space for government operations.
‘This has been a pickle to figure out for me,’ Council Chairman Chris Timberlake said. ‘We outgrew the jail, hospital and this building (courthouse); the long-term benefits outweigh the short-term problems.’
Councilman William T. (Bill) Nichols said he would rather see new buildings constructed instead of remodeling old structures, but he would vote with what the majority of people have told him to support. He said the majority of people are for the RQAW plan.
‘To me, this is the best bang for the buck,’ Councilwoman Leslie Robertson said.
Dodd will begin the process of compiling bid specifics for the first phase of the plan in hopes of beginning construction later this year.
The plan was set into motion when a space-needs study performed in late 2007 by RQAW determined the county scored 4.5 on a 10-point scale for adequate space.
The Harrison County Hospital moved more than a year ago to its new location northwest of Corydon, and, after a few months of attempting to sell the old site, the commissioners pulled the old hospital property along Atwood Street off of the market. The board then decided to explore the option of alleviating the space-needs problem with the old hospital structures.
The government complex will provide office space for many county offices, including that of auditor, treasurer, assessor, recorder, health department, planning and zoning, Purdue Extension, parks department, emergency management, weights and measures and coroner.
In other matters last Tuesday night, the council heard an initial tax abatement request for Howard Packaging, located in the Harrison County Industrial Park, which plans to expand. The growth will add approximately 20 jobs, Derek Howard, plant manager, said.
The council will make a decision on the abatement at its next regular meeting, Monday night at 7.
The council unanimously approved $265,000 for Ramsey Water Co. and $240,000 for South Harrison Water Corp. for back-up generator systems and $6,000 for the Harrison County Spay and Neuter Program. All three additional appropriations were taken out of the riverboat gaming fund.