City ready to close on Crawford property

After a long-drawn out process, city officials are ready to close the deal on purchasing the South Washington Street property that will become a trail head park. 

On Wednesday, the Crawfordsville Board of Public Works and Safety approved an Office of Community Rural Affairs grant in the amount $480,000 which is the purchase price for the property.

Mayor Todd Barton said the grant is possible due to the Stellar Community designation the city received two years ago. The property originally was going to be used for Fusion 54. However, when the city switched gears and purchased the downtown PNC Bank building for Fusion 54, plans for the soon-to-be acquired property changed. 

Barton said the city had to obtain two independent appraisals on the property. Due to grant requirements, the city must pay the average of the two commercial appraisals with no negotiations in price. The property at 510 S. Washington St. is owned by Crawford Food Stores.

There is no match of funds required for the city with the grant.

Barton said the plans for the lot include a park, possibly a shelter and a parking area.

The board opened up the only bid received to demolish a house at 1824 Fremont St. The bid was accepted in the amount of $3,900 to demolish the structure that had been previously deemed unsafe.

City code enforcement officer Barry Lewis received permission to have city street department employees mow more unattended yards. 

Two properties, 207 W. Jefferson St., owned by Ronda Smith and Roger Busch, and 1013 1/2 E. Pike St., owned by Carlos Garcia, will be mowed for the first time. 

Four other properties, 508 and 701 John St., owned by Sustainable Solutions, 515 S. Water St., owned by Thomas Dickerson, and 1100 W. Market St., owned by Mark Sipe, will be mowed under a continuing abatement order since those properties have already be attended to by city workers from previous board action.

In other business, the board approved:

• Two parking spaces at 116 S. Washington St. being made available for B&M Construction until July 28.

• The use of the north end of Whitlock Avenue by Montgomery County 4-H to unload swine today.

Real horsepower on display at Ironman

Even though the truck pull was rained out last week, there will be authentic horsepower this Friday on the track at Ironman Raceway. 

Beginning at 7 p.m., the third annual Montgomery County 4-H Horse Pull will take place. Alamo resident Joey Edwards is once again organizing the event and he is pleased with the support from fellow pullers and the local community.

Edwards, a member of the Indiana Horse Pullers, has anywhere from 10 to 12 teams of Belgian horses coming to compete and providing what he says is “real horsepower.” Horse owners will travel from all corners of Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.

“You go to some horse pulls and you might only get five or six teams,” Edwards said. “I am tickled to know we have a good group of horses coming and I know they will put on a good show.”

Edwards said the local pull is gaining popularity, not only with horse pullers, but also with local residents. He often hears from people who are pleased they do not have to travel far to see the horses pull large amounts of weight. By the number of comments he receives from local residents, Edwards knows there are more people chatting about horse pulling than before.

Growing up with his late father, Bill Edwards, going to horse pulls was only natural. Bill started participating in horse pulling in 1959 and was known throughout the Midwest for being one of the best horse pullers in the area.

He won several pulls and was even honored by the Indiana State Fair for participating in 30 consecutive state fair horse pulls. Being around one of the best horse pullers around, the younger Edwards learned a lot about the sport and enjoys participating today.

Edwards will enter one team instead of his normal two because one of his four horses is not 100 percent healthy. 

“For around five years I did a lot of winning,” Edwards said. “I have been finishing in the middle or below the middle of the pack this year. I just say that I am building character this year.”

He said the event will last approximately two hours. Teams will start competition with 4,500 pounds on the sled and build up to approximately 15,000 pounds before a champion is crowned.

Besides gathering teams of horses, Edwards has been pursuing donations for prize money. As of Wednesday, he has collected nearly $3,000 to be divided by all participants.

Gates will open at 6:30 p.m. and The Gigglin’ Pig will provide food. Admission is $10 per person with children ages five and younger admitted for free. 

All proceeds from the horse pull will be donated to Montgomery County 4-H.

Franciscan Health sponsors day at the fair

Franciscan Health Crawfordsville and Franciscan Physician Network are proud to sponsor a wide variety of events at this year’s Montgomery County 4-H Fair.

Franciscan Health and Franciscan Physician Network will offer free cholesterol screenings and blood pressure checks from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday in the Expo Hall.

Other activities from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday include:

• Information booths – outside the Expo Hall;

• Stroke information and the giant walk-through inflatable brain — outside the Expo Hall;

• Kids’ carnival games sponsored by Franciscan Physician Network.

In addition, the Franciscan Health Stroke Team will be conducting a stroke demonstration at 1 p.m. on the outdoor stage, where a member of the team will present themselves with signs and symptoms of a stroke. The demonstration will involve first responders assisting the person.

The demonstration will be filmed for future educational uses and presentations throughout the area. After the demonstration, the team will talk more in depth about what people can do to identify signs and symptoms of stroke.

Franciscan Health Crawfordsville and Franciscan Physician Network are also sponsoring the 4-H Color Run this year. The run starts at 8:30 a.m. Registration for adults is $10 and children $5. Race day registration will be from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. outside the Purdue Extension office.

Storm downs numerous trees, power lines

Crews were cleaning up downed trees and thousands of residents are without power after a line of severe thunderstorms blew through the area.

There are numerous reports of downed trees and power lines.

As of 2:30 p.m., 990 Tipmont REMC customers were without power. Duke Energy was reporting 458 outages in Fountain and Montgomery counties.

The storm packed winds as strong as 60 mph, said Brian Campbell, assistant emergency management director.

Area streets have also flooded. Motorists are reminded not to drive through flooded roadways.

County council enters wind turbine debate

Montgomery County Council members discussed the ongoing issue of wind turbines in Montgomery County at its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday. Although the council has no official say in the matter, several members expressed their views on the existing county wind turbine ordinance and property owner rights and responsibilities.

Councilman Gary Booth started the discussion by expressing concern with the ordinance that was drawn up and adopted by county commissioners in 2009. Booth made a motion to have the council draw up a letter asking commissioners to place a moratorium on approving any building permits for wind turbines and to ask commissioners to review the ordinance.

County attorney Dan Taylor was in attendance at the meeting. He said commissioners cannot place a moratorium on any action that is already legal. He cited several recent court cases that counties have lost trying to contradict what an ordinance already allowed.

“If you already have a process, then people have the right to use the present law,” Taylor said. “Other counties have been faced with the exact situation, but the law is specific on what you can and cannot do. You cannot issue a moratorium on something you already said residents could do.”

Councilman Mark Davidson believes the officials who approved the ordinance in 2009 did “the best they could.” He thinks it is time to revisit the ordinance because “we know a lot more about (wind turbines) than we did in 2009.”

Council president Terry Hockersmith agreed with Davidson. Hockersmith was a commissioner in 2009. He admits, “There was a lot of stuff we didn’t know at the time.”

The motion to send a letter to commissioners failed by a vote of 2-5.

At the invitation of Hockersmith, Jason Semler of Umbaugh and Associates, presented information on local income taxes and property taxes. Local officials have been discussing the possibility of redistributing the local income taxes collected. Also, the discussion included the effects of changing the method property taxes are calculated by residential, agriculture and commercial land owners. 

County officials learned they have options to generate more income, one of which is to raise the local income tax rate, and having residential owners pay a higher percentage of property taxes collected.

Montgomery County Sheriff Mark Casteel reported his 2017 budget is being hit by overcrowding at the jail. Presently the jail, which was built to house 224 inmates, has 257 inmates. With a change in Indiana law, local jails are now required to keep more inmates who have committed lesser felonies. 

“At some point, the reality of building onto our jail is just down the road,” Casteel said.

In other business, the council:

• Tabled a request from West Central Solid Waste District for a committal letter for 2018.

• Approved five resolutions stating Banjo, Dubose Steel, IMPA, Nucor and Steel Technologies are in compliance with the tax abatements the companies received.