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Milltown examines fate of old bridge

Structure would be turned into covered walking bridge

January 30, 2008
Gordon Smith, owner of Cave Country Canoes in Milltown, asked the Milltown Town Council at its meeting Monday, Jan. 14, to consider leaving the old bridge up and turning it into a covered walking bridge.

Smith said not tearing down the single-lane structure when a new, two-lane bridge is built next to it makes sense from both a historical and financial perspective.

The town, he said, made a mistake several years ago when it tore down the mill, and he doesn't want to see it make the same mistake with the old bridge. Turning it into a covered walking bridge "would go a long way to making this town a lot more interesting," he said.

Smith explained that keeping the old bridge would also reduce the cost of the new structure, estimated at $1.7 million, by about $250,000 since utilities located on the old bridge wouldn't have to be relocated and the new structure would no longer need a utility chase and sidewalk. The project cost, he said, would also be reduced by not having to remove the old bridge.

New Council member Jeanie Melton said she also is interested in saving the old bridge and would like the town to explore turning it into a covered walking bridge.

For the bridge, which currently is in Crawford County's inventory, to be saved, the town would need to assume all maintenance and liability responsibilities. The Crawford County Board of Commissioners, which met the following day, Jan. 15, were noncommittal on the possibility, only saying they were uncertain if they could legally transfer ownership of the bridge to the town.

The Milltown Town Council was to meet in special session last night to further discuss the matter.

The cost of the new bridge, which will connect Crawford and Harrison counties at Blue River, is expected to be shared by the counties, with Harrison paying 60 percent and Crawford responsible for the balance.

The Crawford County Commissioners at their Jan. 15 meeting approved building the new bridge just upstream of the current structure. The Harrison County Commissioners agreed on the location at their meeting Jan. 22, but a spending plan must be approved by both counties' councils. The Crawford County Council gave its blessing to the project earlier this month, but did not provide specifics.

In another matter, the town council voted 3-0 to approve up to $13,000 to have Alonzo Jenkins repair a culvert on Main Street. The project was not expensive enough to require being bid.

Jenkins estimated the work will take six to 10 days, depending on the weather. However, the road, because of time needed for settling, will need to be closed for about two weeks, he said.

The culvert will be able to handle the weight of a semi tractor-trailer, which will be necessary once the new bridge, which will be highway-rated, opens.

The culvert needs to be completed before the town begins street paving in the spring.

In a related issue, Town Manager Jim Pevlor discussed the 2008 street paving list, as well as purchasing a new truck for the town, with the council.

"I think we're going to need to know where the money is going to come from," Council President Curt Hudson said of purchasing a new truck.

While the town's riverboat gaming fund is a possibility, Hudson said he doesn't want to use those dollars for every project. He suggested doing more research before making a decision.

The transaxle for the current truck used for the town's sewer department has gone out and repairing it would make little financial sense, Pevlor said.

Regarding the street paving list, Pevlor and the council discussed several streets, including Hill Street and Indiana Avenue. The council seemed to favor installing manhole lifts on Indiana Avenue, which would smooth the road and negate the need for repaving right now.

In other business, the council:

•Voted to reappoint Hudson as president and to appoint Melton as vice president. Hudson and Melton abstained from their respective votes.

The meeting marked for the first for Melton and Jerry (Monty) Garrett, who were elected in November. Melton previously served on the council in the early 2000s, but chose not to run for re-election in 2003. Garrett also previously served on the council. Hudson is beginning his second four-year term.

•Voted to pay a bill regarding the town wastewater treatment rehabilitation project.

•Voted 3-0 to accept a proposal from the Milltown Masonic Lodge to build a 36-foot-by-97-foot building behind the town-owned building on Hancock Street.

In her motion, Melton called for the town and the Masons to enter a lease agreement whereby the Masons will pay $1 for 75 years. However, the proposal must be reviewed by the town's attorney. If those terms are unacceptable legally, then the agreement will be for $1 per year for the 75 years.

•Announced that former Clerk-Treasurer Linda Pevlor has been hired by the town on a part-time basis until new Clerk-Treasurer Evanelle Goss, elected in November, becomes familiar with her duties.

•Reappointed, 3-0, Bill Byrd to be the town's representative to the Harrison County Regional Sewer District Board.

•Reppointed, 3-0, Stan Pennington to serve as the town attorney.

•Voted 3-0 to have Pevlor remain as town manager for 2008.

•Reappointed Phil Stowers, Kathleen Roggenkamp and Byrd to the Milltown Cemetery Advisory Board.

•Were told by Byrd that he was resigning from the Milltown Parks Board.

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