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Stellar plans at Keller site a go, despite railroad

Corydon Town Council President Eva North presented an update on the Stellar plans and projects Monday morning at the Harrison County Board of Commissioners meeting.
The biggest news from the update is the Stellar officials plan to continue with development of the former Keller Manufacturing Co. property with or without the support of Forrest Lucas, owner of Lucas Oil Products and the rail line which runs directly through the Keller property.
The Keller property is the main focus of the town of Corydon’s Stellar Communities plan.
In August, Corydon learned it was selected as the Stellar designee for division 2 (population of 5,999 or less) and was one of only two towns in the state to receive the designation for the year.
The Stellar program, launched in 2011, is a multi-agency partnership designed to recognize the state’s smaller communities that have identified comprehensive community and economic development projects and activities as well as next steps and key partnerships.
It will lead to millions of state and private dollars spent in the town, the county’s seat.
The conceptual plan for the Keller site shows a park/green space on the west side of the tracks leading to Big Indian Creek; and a hotel, event center, housing and parking areas on the east side of the tracks.
North said the project is progressing, and they’ll keep Lucas informed as they go along.
In June, Cathy Hale, who works for Lucas Oil Rail Lines Inc., addressed the issue of the rail line running through the property.
‘I think Mr. (Forrest) Lucas has been very clear that he thinks the highest and best use of the railroad is as is,’ she said. ‘I have met with three or four individuals in reference to this; our position has not changed.’
Monday morning, North said there’s a company interested in constructing a boutique hotel with 30 or 40 rooms, which also would operate the event center.
‘A hotel? I caution you on that,’ Commissioner George Ethridge said.
North and Stellar representatives will provide a quarterly update to county officials, as agreed upon after the county approved a total of $4 million to go to the Keller site portion of the Stellar program.
North said the J.J. Bulleit and Stonecipher buildings (in downtown Corydon along Chestnut Street) continue to be remodeled, renovated and historically preserved.
State officials visited Friday and North said they validated all of the projects and ‘are very excited to get started.’
She said the application for the senior lofts at the Gerdon Youth Center building has been sent to the state.
In related matters, Corydon resident Blake Cromwell asked the commissioners if they were aware of the historical district implemented by the Town of Corydon, which will require any property owners downtown to go through a commission to make changes to their building/property. The county owns the courthouse and the Discovery Center in downtown.
He advised the board to ‘seriously discuss how that’s going to affect any properties down there.’
The commissioners received the annual timber sales check from Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources officials from the Harrison-Crawford State Forest in the amount of $46,337.56, much of which usually is passed along to the fire departments in the county.
The commissioners next meeting will be Monday, Dec. 19, at 7 p.m. at the Government Center it south Corydon. It will mark Ethridge’s last regularly scheduled meeting. Ethridge opted not to run for re-election after one term in office as the District 1 commissioner.
Highway department ready for winter
After a mild November, colder temperatures are finally hitting Harrison County. While no snowfall is in the immediate forecast, engineer Kevin Russel said the department’s new salt building is essentially full of salt.
He also said the brine-making machine should be ready to go at the end of the week.
‘The guys are working hard to be ready if it does decide to snow later this week,’ Russel said of highway department drivers preparing their trucks with plows.
He also said leftover cinders will be used when needed, but, after the supply is used up, only salt and brine will be used in Harrison County.