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Highway garage complete; $188K under budget

Since Harrison County approved the riverboat coming to town in the late 1990s, county government has heard a continual knock, knock, knock at the door for a piece of the gaming fund pie.
Monday night, however, the Harrison County Board of Commissioners heard something as rare as a sunbathing hellbender salamander in Blue River: a request for a change order to return money back to the county.
Mark Shireman of Shireman Construction informed the board the highway garage project, which is now substantially complete, came in more than $188,000 under budget.
‘We’re here to give money back,’ Shireman said.
From land acquisition to completion, the total appropriated funding for the project, before the deduction, was $4.3 million.
‘It’s always good news with the savings of dollars,’ Commissioner George Ethridge said. ‘I’m glad to see we’ve come in under budget. The timeline was very aggressive too, and I think we’ve met that. The quality of work out there is exceptional. I’m very pleased with it.’
Shireman said it was a privilege to lead a good team in the public-private partnership.
The facility, on 18-1/2 acres south of Corydon along Old S.R. 135 near Shiloh Road just east of S.R. 135, has a main garage (100 feet by 170 feet by 22 feet tall), a salt building (100 by 175 by 20 feet) and a wash bay (20 by 75 by 16 feet).
The main garage facility ‘ a tornado-resistant, energy-efficient structure ‘ houses a repair shop, office space and a mezzanine area.
The new highway garage project is something county officials have worked toward for years.
The old garage, in the Harrison County Business Park north of Corydon, lacked the space needed to adequately and efficiently perform the department’s duties, according to county officials.
It also had issues such as drainage into a sinkhole and diesel fumes in close quarters with no exhaust system. The department’s main storage, including salt, was outside with no protection from the elements.
The engineer’s office and staff have moved to the new garage site from the Government Center in south Corydon.
A ribbon-cutting and open house event will take place at a later date.
In other business, the board took its final step to provide funding for the Town of Corydon to become ‘stellar.’
The board approved a resolution for $4 million during a four-year period, beginning next year, for the town contingent on it receiving the Stellar Designation from state officials.
The $4 million appropriation will have to pass the county council as well.
Main Street Corydon executive director Catherine Turcotte and Corydon Town Council President Eva Bates North presented the commissioners with a detailed plan for the downtown area and the former Keller Manufacturing Co. site, which is the focal point of the $31 million collaborative initiative application due to Stellar representatives on July 1.
‘In talking with our local business leaders … we have never before seen this interest in bringing this large amount of money into our town,’ North said. ‘The Town of Corydon, for the first time in a very long time, is investing in its own future, along with its partners.’
North said Corydon, due to its history and local partners, is in a very strong position to team up with the state to become the preferred place to live in Southern Indiana.
‘We think we’ll get it,’ Turcotte said.
‘We think we’ll become stellar,’ North added.
The mixed-use project at the Keller site will include a 1,000-person event center, a park along Big Indian Creek, brownstone housing, upscale apartments and a 600-space parking garage.
The Stonecipher and J.J. Bulleit buildings in downtown Corydon will also be revitalized for a destination restaurant and boutique shops on the ground level and apartments upstairs.
Also a part of the initiative is the completion of the Indian Creek Trail project, the Harrison County Discovery Center and downtown lighting and facade improvement.
Corydon is one of three finalists (less than 6,000 population) for the Stellar designation from the state, and the only one of six overall to be located in Southern Indiana.
‘Even just being a finalist raises visibility,’ Jill Saegesser, of River Hills Economic Development District and Regional Planning Commission, said. ‘Being named a finalist is a big deal. Sometimes we don’t toot our own horn.’
On July 14, visitors from multiple state agencies will visit the town to help make the Stellar designation decision. The winning sites (one also for population of more than 6,000) will be announced in August at the Indiana State Fair.
Other than the $4 million requested from county government and town funding, the plan has secured potential funding from the Harrison County Community Foundation ($4 million), from the state through the Stellar designation (about $6 million) and Luckett & Farley, a Louisville-based architecture, engineer and interior design firm, ($5 million to $10 million).
Turcotte also said another potential investor has expressed interest in joining the project with a $7 million investment.
A Stellar question-and-answer session, open to the public, will be Tuesday evening, May 31, from 6 to 7:30 at the Harrison County Community Foundation in Corydon.
More information about past Stellar designees, timelines and contact information is available online at www.ocra.in.gov/Stellar.

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