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Engineer: Access needed to Ohio River

The Harrison County Council Monday night heard a request of about $39,000 from the board of commissioners for a feasibility study to be conducted for a boat ramp on the Ohio River.
District 3 Commissioner Jim Klinstiver said he sees the project as a part of economic development.
‘There’s more than 40 miles of shoreline in the county,’ he said. ‘We need to start using it.’
He said the company conducting the study, Strand Associates, will provide two possible locations.
Plans besides the ramp include a parking lot, boat loading pier, fishing area, shelter house, utilities, playground, amphitheater and recreational fields.
Harrison County Engineer Kevin Russel said the Ohio River makes up the entire southern county border and yet there’s no public access to it. He said the Harrison County Parks Department would be a stakeholder in the discussion, and the ramp and surrounding area could eventually become a county park.
Council Chairman Gary Davis said the county has trouble funding the parks department as it is, so he didn’t see how adding a park could help the situation. He said there’s a big difference in improving access to the river and adding a new park.
Davis said in his previous stint as a councilmember (eight years) not once did a constituent complain about not being able to get their boat in the water along the Ohio River in Harrison County.
Russel said Harrison County is the only Indiana county along the river without public access. He also said a ramp would be helpful for law enforcement and emergency management.
Commissioner Carl (Buck) Mathes said his long-term plan includes the county giving the Walter Q. Gresham Memorial Park in Lanesville to the Lanesville Heritage Committee and replacing it with the potential boat ramp park. He said state law does not allow a county to get rid of park land without adding at least the same acreage.
‘Find that state code for me,’ Davis said to Mathes.
Mathes said the boat ramp has been a long time coming and the county only takes advantage of the river in two ways: Horseshoe Southern Indiana casino and Mulzer’s Quarry in New Amsterdam.
Strand said the goal is to have the study complete by February.
The council will vote on the additional at its next meeting, Monday, Sept. 26, at 7 p.m. at the Government Center.
In other business, the council will vote on a $180,000 additional at its next meeting for unemployment.
‘We’ve had a lot of unemployment this year,’ Auditor Karen Engleman said.
She said only $20,000 was budgeted and $90,000 has already been spent on unemployment and $70,000 more will be needed.
An additional of $361,000 will also be voted on at the council’s next meeting, for a simulcast radio tower system to improve emergency communications throughout the county.
The council approved multiple transfers for Circuit Court Judge John T. Evans to purchase a server for computers he acquired through a grant. The computers will service his office and probation.
The council also agreed to allow the commissioners to sell the old Harrison County Annex building and property. By law, it has to be sold at an average price of two appraisals, which Mathes said is about $115,000.
‘I personally think it’s too high,’ he said. ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if we get no bids.’
Mathes said it will be sold with sealed bids but will include a minimum.