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Milltown bridge opening delayed


County approves $53,361 in additionals


January 06, 2010
The Crawford County Board of Commissioners last Tuesday morning approved a change order for $53,631 regarding the construction of the Milltown bridge, which it learned will not be completed until March, some three-plus months beyond the original Dec. 20 estimated completion date.

The contractor has been slowed by numerous factors beyond its control, including an exceptionally wet Sep-tember and October, said Greg Miller of Heritage Engineering, which is overseeing the project.

"Basically, we got double the rainfall in those two months," he told the commissioners.

The items resulting in the change order also has slowed construction and, like the rain, could not be foreseen, Miller said. Among them included running into mud seams during excavation, too little steel having been bid and the town requesting work on the dam be done while the river level is down, he said.

Harrison County Com-missioner James Goldman, who represents the town east of the Blue River, was in attendance and asked the Crawford County commissioners if the project's contingency fund would cover the additional costs. They couldn't provide an immediate answer. If they aren't, Goldman said, the funding will need to be approved by the Harrison County Council, since his county is paying 60 percent of the project costs, with Crawford County funding the remaining 40 percent.

"I've talked about these change orders with my two other commissioners and no one seems to have a problem," he said.

Bob Woosley, also from Heritage Engineering, reiterated Miller's earlier statements that the additional costs are unfortunate but couldn't be avoided.

"They were all unknown conditions prior to bidding," he said.

Crawford County Board of Commissioners President Larry Bye agreed, saying, "Once they hit the mud seams there, there wasn't much they could do but go ahead and fix it."

While the commissioners voted 3-0 to approve the change order contingent upon Harrison County voting to do so and the Crawford County Council authorizing the additional funds, if necessary, they tabled a request from the contractor for an extension to March 1.

In addition to the excessive rain that led to high water levels, which cost the project 34 days, and the change order items, the project, Miller said, was delayed by the relocation of telecommunication lines taking longer than expected and issues with existing timbers on the north abutment.

"Due to all those items there, they're requesting 71 days," he said, adding it's his firm's recommendation to grant the extension.

Before granting it, however, the commissioners want more specifics regarding the time needed for the work.

In another matter, the commissioners voted 3-0 to approve the Leavenworth Volunteer Fire Department's request to move forward with forming a fire district. The approval is contingent upon all legal requirements being met.

"The reason we're trying to go district is we've got a budget of $31,000 right now," LVFD Assistant Chief Jeff LaHue said. "We've got a debt of $118,000 on trucks and, by the time we pay our truck payments and paid for our insurance and all the other stuff, we don't have very much money to operate with."

The district would include Jennings, Boone and Ohio townships, and the department secured the signatures of at least half of the landowners after getting approval from the town, he said.

The property tax rate for the district would be 10 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, LaHue said, noting a couple of the county's other fire districts have a tax rate of 16 cents. He added that the townships currently pay the fire department for service, but, once the district is formed, the department's budget would come solely from tax revenue.

Bye said the Leavenworth department is the only one of the four in the county not to already have formed a fire district.

LaHue said the only significant issue is the town of Alton has balked at being part of the fire district, instead wanting to contract with the department. Legally, the district would not be able to enter a separate contract, he said, adding he is hopeful the town will come on board.

In other matters, the commissioners:

•Voted to authorize the Crawford County Health Department to use H1N1 grant monies for installation of an automated phone system. The monthly bill is not to increase.

•Approved purchasing Verizon Air Cards for the county's Emergency Management Agency director and economic development director.

The cards, at a monthly cost of $42.99 before taxes and fees, enable Internet access on laptops in areas where standard Internet service is limited.

The commissioners, however, did not act on a request from Tammy DeWeese of the Extension office to allow county employees to purchase the cards through the county at the special government rate. County attorney John E. Colin expressed concern and said he first would like to speak with a Verizon official.

•Opened and took under advisement supply bids for 2010.

•Established a speed limit of 40 miles per hour on Temple Road between S.R. 66 and the English town limits.

•Approved the following appointments: Josh C. Brown to the English Volunteer Fire District board, Phil Jones to the Blue River Regional Water District board and District 2 Commissioner Randy Gilmore to the Indiana 15 Regional Planning Commission board.

•Reappointed Eddie Hammond as the county's veterans services officer.

•Declared Purlee Road a county road.

•Approved the county employee holidays for 2010. Employees will receive the following days off: New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents Day, Good Friday, Election Day (May 4), Memorial Day, Independence Day (July 5), Columbus Day (Oct. 11), Election Day (Nov. 2), Veterans Day, Thanksgiving (Nov. 25 and 26) and Christmas (Dec. 23 and 24). Also included on the schedule is New Year's Day 2011.

*****

The commissioners on Monday morning conducted their reorganization meeting for 2010.

Bye again will serve as president of the board, and Colin will again be county attorney.

The commissioners will meet the last Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at the Crawford County Judicial Complex at English. Meeting dates are subject to change.

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Barbara Shaw
Schuler Bauer
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