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Bids to be due on Milltown bridge project in early May

Council also hears concerns about proposed renewable energy facility northwest of Milltown

February 18, 2009
The Crawford County Council Feb. 10 received an update on the upcoming Milltown bridge construction as well as a request for highway funds from District 1 County Commissioner Larry Bye.

Prior to the meeting, several Milltown area residents addressed the council concerning the proposed biomass plant to be built just outside the town by Liberty Green Renewables. LGR officials were at the last Milltown Town Council meeting, on Feb. 9, to address community concerns, but many believed too many questions were left unanswered, with several relating to the possible detrimental effects to the surrounding river and ecosystem.

The residents said they wanted to address and inform the council before LGR had a chance to request a tax abatement. The council listened to their concerns and said it would "be diligent" when considering any such abatement for LGR. However, the council also said it could do nothing until the company actually approaches the council, which it has yet to do.

Council President Jerry Brewer wanted the residents to be clear on his own intentions.

"I am for economic development, but I'm not for economic development at the expense of our environment," he said.

At the official beginning of the meeting, Shawn Scott requested funds for equipment for community radio station WBRO-FM south of Marengo. A receiver was recently struck by lightning, and the transmitter was running at half signal, he said. Overall, the station needs three pieces of equipment replaced for $5,000.

The council said it would consider the funding at the next meeting.

Scott, a county deputy sheriff, added the county is eligible for the Click It or Ticket program this year to promote seat-belt awareness. He said the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute reported that Indiana ranked 17th last year in the nation for crashes involving injuries related to drivers and passengers not wearing seat belts. The top 20 states in this category received federal funding to participate in the Click It or Ticket program, which involves two two-week blitz periods throughout the year where police officers take a more active approach to enforce seat-belt laws.

The county would receive $1,500 for the first blitz to cover overtime pay for officers, Scott said. The second blitz would be paid with county funds, with the county later being reimbursed by the state. Officers are supposed to write at least one seat-belt violation ticket an hour.

The council approved the program, 5-1, upon the condition the county attorney approves it. Bob Kellems was the dissenting vote.

Bye approached the council to inform it that all construction bids for the new Milltown bridge will be due by May 1 with construction to begin shortly after that. He also said that any trees in the way of the bridge will have to be removed by March 31. The total cost of the project will be $1.6 million.

The Milltown bridge will be a joint project between Harrison and Crawford counties, which the bridge joins at Blue River, with Harrison covering 60 percent of the bill and Crawford paying 40 percent.

Bye said there was an issue with utilities involving the project. Four utility lines run across the old bridge — two are sewer, one is water and one is gas. The gas company has offered to pay for relocating of the gas line, but that leaves three lines that have to but shut off and relocated, he said, adding that cost of moving the lines was estimated at $25,000.

He said Harrison County officials are not willing to pay for the moving of any utilities.

The council said it would look into the matter and asked Bye to return to the Harrison County Board of Commissioners to ask if the utility costs could also be split 60-40.

Bye also had some bad news for the council. He reminded them that the highway budget was cut last year and that some of the funds concerning the highway department were out of money. He also informed the council that the county had bills invoiced since Nov. 6, 2008. The total amount of the invoices is $23,229.99.

"It looks bad on the county's part if we don't pay them," Bye said.

The bulk of the bills is an $11,000 engine replacement for a highway truck in November.

The council allotted $50,000 from the Orange County Riverboat Fund to pay the bill and to give the highway fund something with which to work. The decision was approved 5-0-1, with William (Bill) Breeding abstaining because of a conflict of interest.

Emergency Management Agency Director Kent Barrow informed the council 180 people received shelter at Hillview Christian Church during the recent ice storm and 980 meals were served. Barrow said the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army helped and JayC Foods donated a semi-trailer full of frozen food to help feed those without electricity.

Barrow said, in order to prepare for any future disasters, he wants to create a countywide database using the School-Messenger service. At a cost of 50 cents a name, people who sign up can have emergency alerts sent to their home phone or cell phone. They would be on a separate list from the school closure announcement list.

He plans on running a form in the Clarion News that Crawford County residents can fill out and send in to him.

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