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Bid process nears for Old Hwy. 111 work

Fire funds move from Palmyra to Boone, E-beth
Kaitlyn Clay, Staff Writer, [email protected]

The Harrison County Highway Dept.’s Community Crossing grant project on Old Highway 111 may start sooner rather than later, as director and county engineer Kevin Russel told the Harrison County commissioners at their meeting Monday night. The project will take place from S.R. 211 to Rosewood Road.

Based on the Indiana Dept. of Transportation’s regulations, a bid needs to go out for a grant project within four months of the award. This means Russel will have to post the bid by April.

For the project to continue, the highway department will have to add $400,000 of its money, $200,000 coming from the MVH fund and $200,000 from the local road and street fund, which was agreed upon when Russel applied for the $1 million grant.

The commissioners unanimously approved Russel to approach the county council to request approval to use these funds for the project.

Russel also had two other additionals for funds to request. One was to move $50,000 from the MVH funds to their overtime account. He said because of the winter weather, particularly the ice storm that occurred last month, his team quickly blew through the overtime budget and he expects they will be at a shortfall once they pay out for the last couple of weeks.

He also requested the highway department be able to move $60,000 into the MVH repairs account to cover additional costs of repairs on trucks and tractors that carried over from 2020.

The commissioners approved Russel to take both requests to the council.

Finally, Russel was pleased to notify the commissioners that the work on Doolittle Hill Road is basically complete at this point. He said there is still some paving that needs to be finished, but that it should be done shortly and he couldn’t be more proud of the team for how quickly they finished this project.

Corydon resident James Yeager came before the commissioners with questions about a status update of a request he had made for the county to vacate an exclusion on Suellen Lane beside his property, located east of town, so he would be able to acquire that part of the land.

Attorney Chris Byrd explained that because that part of the land was on a pre-existing deed, the county isn’t able to vacate it without going through a particular process. He noted that the assessor’s office did not have a set price for the land; however, due to the deed, the land would be required to go out for bid.

Byrd said that he hopes that the bid will be advertised in the newspaper in the coming weeks, after which Yeager will be able to place a bid on the land.

The commissioners made a motion to dispose of their part in the deed and agreed that the best use of the track is to sell it to a land owner at a cost that is equal to a fair market value of around $1,500.

Jeff Hess, chief of the Boone Township Volunteer Fire Dept., approached the commissioners on behalf of the Harrison County Fire Chiefs Association to explain the association’s intention of reallocating funds already approved by the county.

He explained that the Palmyra Volunteer Fire Dept. was intended to receive $500,000 in funds from the county for the year but has decided to step back and allow Boone and Elizabeth fire departments to split those dollars as Palmyra VFD was “having trouble with architects on getting plans drawn up for their new firehouse designs,” according to Hess.

Now, in 2021 Boone and Elizabeth will both receive $250,000. In 2022, Palmyra VFD will receive $290,000 to provide for its firehouse with the department getting $500,000 in 2023. Any extra needed funds that might occur in 2024 for the firehouse will be set at a later date.

The commissioners unanimously approved Hess’ request to allow Boone and Elizabeth fire departments to split those funds for this year.

In other business, Don Smith approached the commissioners after Terry Smith from the Harrison County Plan Commission presented numerous zone changing requests, one being from Don Smith, who is requesting to change two acres of his land to be classified as an Industrial 1 zone, as he hopes to build a mini storage warehouse business there.

However, the commissioners were hesitant to this change due to what other businesses qualify under Industrial 1, particularly sexually-oriented establishments.

“I don’t have a problem with you putting your business there, but I do take offense to some other businesses classified under I-1 and, if we make it that, then it opens it up for the possibility it could turn into a sexually-oriented business,” Commissioner Nelson Stepro said.

Don Smith recommended the option of changing what zone mini storage warehouses are classified as in Harrison County. He said he had no intention of turning the storage facility into anything other than storage units.

The commissioners encouraged Don Smith to meet with Eric Wise, the county planner, to look into the possibility of a reclassification for storage units into either an agricultural or business zone and then they would reconsider the request.

The commissioners’ next regular meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 5, at 8:30 a.m. at the government center in Corydon.