LOCAL NEWS

City, Walmart reach agreement on road

Walmart Business Trust and the City of Crawfordsville have finally come to an agreement.

Mayor Todd Barton announced at Wednesday’s Crawfordsville Board of Public Works and Safety meeting that the city and the retail chain store have agreed on a price of $450,000 to buy the private road that runs between U.S. 231 South and the Walmart property boundary. The new road will become an extension of C.R. 200S.

“Finally, after a couple of years of negotiations, the Walmart corporation has agreed to sell us the land,” Barton said. “We are pleased that we can now get the road completed in an area that is ripe for growth.”

Barton said the agreed upon price was lower than the average of the two appraisals, which was $700,000. He also said a new road connecting the area from U.S. 231 South to Walmart’s western boundary would cost $2 million in land acquisitions, infrastructure costs and construction.

The mayor said that large projects sometimes take a long time to come to completion and at times takes a lot of patience.

“Actually this whole thing has taken barely two years,” Barton said.

Barton said the funds to purchase the land will come from the city’s riverboat fund. The fund is a product of the state sharing gambling proceeds with all municipalities. When setting up the fund, state officials said they hoped it would be used to improve communities. Barton said using the fund for the road is appropriate.

The county was able to complete its section of the road — the western portion — with the aid of state funds. If the county had missed the completion deadline, it would have lost the funding.

The complete project, which included moving the intersection of C.R. 200S and S.R. 47, was an example of private citizens working with the government to accomplish a project. Three landowners provided the land west of Walmart. The Indiana Department of Transportation and the city are now closer to seeing the area open to future development.

Montgomery County Commissioner Phil Bane helped lead the effort to get the county portion of the new road completed. He said the agreement between the city and Walmart was good news.

“Some people thought we just spent money on a road to nowhere,” Bane said. “We had faith that Mayor Barton would get a deal done with Walmart and are very pleased the road is going to be finished soon.”

After some technical issues like a title search and survey are resolved, Barton expects the city council to approve funding the purchase May 8.

Barton hopes the road can be completed by the end of June.

Firefighters help their own at poker run

The mother of one of their own will be on the minds of members from the Crawfordsville Fire Department. 

Lisa Mullett, whose son is Shift Lieutenant CJ Mullett, is battling breast cancer and will be the recipient of proceeds from Saturday’s Joe Mitton Poker Run.

Lisa’s battle with cancer began about one year ago. She has gone through all the necessary steps to fight the cancer and recently was proclaimed cancer free. However, after treatments, surgery and a planned reconstructive surgery, expenses have piled up.

CJ is pleased his fellow firefighters chose his mother as the benefactor of the poker run. His co-workers included his mother in the plans unbeknownst to him.

“It is awesome that the department is doing this for my mother,” CJ said. “In the past we have always helped someone in the community, but to help one of our own makes it even more special. They planned it all without me knowing it by talking to Mom and everything. It is a good feeling.”

The poker run will begin at 10:30 a.m. with the registration at the Backstep Brewery, 125 N. Green St. The final destination is Eagles Aeries #1005 at 920 E. South Blvd., which is the site of a countdown and mixed stag. The route and rules will be provided at the pre-ride meeting.

Cost per rider is $20 and $5 for a passenger. The registration fee provides a meal before the countdown.

Riders at five locations along the poker run will draw chips with different values. The rider with the most

accumulated points will win a Henry Golden Boy .22 Rifle. The rider with the least points will get a free ticket to the countdown.

A chili meal and drinks, including beer, will be served 5-8 p.m. An individual meal ticket is $5.

The count down and stag begins at 8 p.m. This is the first time in three years the union has had the countdown after having it for many years.

The price to attend the countdown is $20 per ticket. Cash prizes will be drawn throughout the evening with the next to last number being awarded $1,000 and the last number paying out $2,000. Prizes will also be given to the first ticket pulled out and every 25th ticket.

Of the 400 tickets printed, CJ said there are approximately 50 tickets still available for purchase. Contact CJ at 765-401-1179 or any firefighter to obtain a ticket.

Proceeds from the events will help finance community activities such as Shop with a Firefighter, Kids Day at the Pool and more.

The Crawfordsville Professional Firefighters Local #4143 sponsors both fundraising events.

Taxes may fall in South district

Property owners in the South Montgomery Community School Corp. could see lower tax bills if rates drop as expected, as a forecast gives the district’s finances a clean bill of health.

What a difference five years makes. That’s when the district was digging in to reserves to bring cash balances out of the red.

“They’ve come a long way,” financial adviser Mike Reuter said after a fiscal update at Tuesday’s school board meeting.

“They were struggling back in 2012, and they’ve taken all the steps to correct that, and there’s nothing but good conditions ahead.”

Using figures from the state’s recently passed budget, Reuter forecast South’s funding levels through 2020, giving board members a detailed look at the district’s entire budget.

The tax rate will likely continue dropping over the next few years, despite an expected drop in assessed valuation, Reuter said.

The decrease could be as much as 7 percent by 2020.

While that means residents would pay less property taxes, Reuter cautioned property owners from planning for the extra money just yet. 

Exact figures won’t be known until work on the 2018 budget starts this fall.

“So right now, we’re forecasting a decrease in the property tax rate, but... it may be until six months now until we can really start to put some real numbers behind it,” he said after the presentation.

To offset the decreases in the future, Reuter said the district could raise property taxes through general obligation bonds or a referendum.

The positive financial forecast comes as Reuter projects another drop in enrollment, based on recent trends.

South’s enrollment has fallen nearly 4 1/2 percent since 2012-13, according to state data. Reuter estimates a loss of 30 additional students this fall.

With lower head counts and a change in the state’s funding formula, the district’s general fund cash balance is trending downward, Reuter said.

But he said the district’s main cash pool is “more than in balance,” and expects to end the year in the black.

Board president Brad Monts said past budget cuts helped lead to the district’s current financial shape.

In other business, the board:

• Awarded a $1,096,028 bid to Montreal, Canada-based Field Turf USA for the multi purpose turf project at the high school. 

• Approved hiring Jacob Turner as high school English teacher effective this fall, pending a background check.

The board’s next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. May 8 in the high school LGI room.

CPD completes specialized training

The Crawfordsville Police Department recently finished a week of in-service training at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy.

The department sends all of its officers to the ILEA for a day of intense training to hone their skills and experience to advanced training scenarios. The ILEA has some of the best training facilities in the Midwest and it is often used by several agencies from both within and outside of Indiana.

The CPD is often solicited by the ILEA to send certified training officers to assist in specialized training schools. The department saves a notable amount of money when it lends the academy its training officers and that manpower credit is applied towards the department’s use of the academy’s facilities.

At the Emergency Vehicle Operations Course, vehicle and driver limits are learned and tested. At the ILEA range, firearms scenarios and skills are polished and enhanced through the use of various range equipment.

The CPD has firearms training every month but the ILEA enables to officers to train with equipment not readily affordable to most law enforcement agencies.

ATVs given green light

Riders of off-road vehicles can now use county roads after Montgomery County Commissioners approved an amendment to an ordinance. 

However, to use county roads, ATV drivers must meet a list of five criteria.

Previously, the ordinance had specific reasons anyone could operate their ATV on county roads and they were basically all work-related. Now, with the amendment, more off road operators will be able to legally use county roadways.

The following is a list of the five criteria: 

• The operator of an off-road vehicle must be at least 18 years old.

• The operator cannot have a suspended driver’s license.

• The operator must be able to provide proof of insurance on his off-road vehicle.

• The operator must have his off-road vehicle registered with the county and display his plates.

• The operator and vehicle must meet all the requirements specified in Indiana law.

DNR Regional Commander Blaine Gillan told commissioners the amendment was similar to what other counties have approved. Montgomery County Sheriff Mark Casteel asked advice from other county police departments about changing the ordnance.

“I checked with several other counties that have recently changed their ordinances and they said they aren’t seeing any issues since they changed their ordinance,” Casteel said.

Commissioner John Frey discussed the change with several law enforcement agencies and had decided he approved of the age being limited to operators 18 years of age and older. He previously stated that anyone with a valid drivers license should be allowed to operate an ATV on county roads. 

“After talking to a lot of police officers and others, I have decided that requiring a driver to be 18 years old is best,” Frey said. “It appears younger drivers do have more accidents.”

Commissioners approved the amendment unanimously.