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Council receives positive economic update

April 16, 2008
Crawford County Economic Development Director Don DuBois last Tuesday night updated the Crawford County Council on several projects, including announcing that the county's Revolving Loan Fund may be close to getting another $100,000 federal grant.

EMA director Kent Barrow addresses the Crawford County Council
DuBois said the grant, which would require a $5,000 local match, isn't official, but he has been told that the county's application is thought to be considered number one in the state.

The RLF program, which provides gap financing for start-up companies or existing businesses, has already loaned $235,000 and currently has $75,000 on hand, DuBois said.

The county's program is considered "the most successful Revolving Loan Fund in the state of Indiana," DuBois said. "They use us as an example."

DuBois also told the council about an Indiana Department of Transportation visit of the S.R. 66/Interstate 64 interchange at Carefree. He said that since the opening of the Pilot Travel Center, about 1,000 trucks per day get on and off of the interstate. If the other side of S.R. 66 is developed, "you're talking double that or more," he said.

"Crawford County may have its first stoplight," he joked.

DuBois also talked about INDOT's plans to pave I-64 from Carefree to Corydon. He said he has encouraged INDOT to not just lay new asphalt but to do more extensive work, otherwise the same problems will return in a short time.

DuBois also mentioned the county's involvement in the South Central Indiana Regional Partnership, including the $70,000 administration grant the county will receive through that organization, and plans to apply with the state to become a Shovel Ready site.

"I want to go after this Shovel Ready designation," he said.

Having Shovel Ready status will put the county "way ahead" of other locations in the state, DuBois said, because it will speed up the permitting at the state level. The county would work with various state offices to get the site certified.

Shovel Ready sites are few and far between, with only 30 in the state. The closest sites to the east are in Harrison and Washington counties, while the closest to the west is near Evansville.

At DuBois' request, the council voted 7-0 to sign a letter of support to be submitted with the application.

DuBois also informed the council that the Verizon Broadband Internet and cell phone tower at Patoka Elementary School is getting closer to becoming a reality, as is the county's tower at Marengo, which will also provide Broadband Internet and cell phone service.

In a related matter, the council and DuBois agreed to ask the Crawford County Board of Commissioners to designate him a contract employee.

DuBois had been working as a contract employee, but the IRS said he either had to be in control of the office's entire budget, including renting office space (the county has furnished him an office), or he had to be made a county employee.

Doing the latter would increase the amount of benefits the county pays DuBois, which, some say, would give him a pay increase, even though his salary wouldn't be increased.

After trying to find a way that wouldn't do that, but also wouldn't penalize DuBois financially, the council and DuBois decided it would be best for him to be a contract employee and be responsible for the office's entire budget. Regarding office space, the county would rent his current space to him.

DuBois is to address the commissioners at their meeting on April 22.

In other business, the council:

•Voted 6-0 (Vice President Daniel Crecelius hadn't arrived yet) to make a $35,217 payment on a grader using County Economic Income Tax funds.

•Approved, 6-0, the annual contract with Purdue University for two Extension Service educators. The county's portion of the salaries is $37,915. The council's approval is subject to its attorney's review of the contract.

•Received information from Dispatch Supervisor Beth Jones for equipment upgrades and training.

•Voted 6-0 to approve Crawford County Emergency Management Agency Director Kent Barrow's request for five severe weather pagers.

•Voted 7-0 to approve additional appropriation and transfer requests.

•Didn't act on requests from the Crawford County Youth Baseball/Softball League and Marengo Parks and Recreation Board for donations.

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