County agrees to Business 50 deal
Mar. 15—Daviess County officials have agreed to take over a little more that two miles of Business 50 west of Washington from the state after Tuesday morning's commissioner's meeting. As part of the deal, the county will receive $2.5 million to fix a bridge and put down new surface on the heavily traveled road between the White River and the west city limits of Washington.
"The number one thing is being a good neighbor to INDOT. We want to set a good example in Daviess County on how government entities should work with each other. This is a road we need to take over," said President of the Daviess County Commissioners Nathan Gabhart. "We also need to work on the intersection at CR 150 W."
Officials say there are more than seven accidents per year at that intersection. Many of them are t-bones.
"I don't think there is a priority by the state to improve that intersection," said Gabhart. "It will be for us. We can look at perhaps a federal highway project to make that area safer. That new road will tie in beautifully to the road the city is in the process of building. That will make a beautiful road from beginning to end and that is what we want people to see."
In other highway department projects, county highway Supervisor Chris Winkler informed the commissioners that the start of the Montgomery bridge project has been delayed.
"It is starting about a week behind," said Winkler. "They are starting by working on a road near the school. After that, they will do demolition on the bridge. The project still should be done in about eight months."
The commissioners have agreed to get out of the land business. The county has more than 100 acres near the airport that it leases as farm ground. Roughly 30 to 40 acres are going to the airport and there will be about 50 acres left to sell.
"I don't think the county should just hang onto land they don't need," said Gabhart. "We worked with the airport to make certain they have all the land they need."
They have now agreed to make a deal with the airport board for them to take over land that they project they will need for expansion. The county would also work on an agreement with Lighthouse Recovery for land it might need. The area also includes a large septic system.
"We need to get out of the farm land management," said Gabhart. "We need to let the airport have what they need and then we will sell off the rest."
The commissioners agreed to make a recommendation to the Daviess County Council for a $50,000 donation from the EDIT fund to help pay for pool repairs at the Daviess County Family YMCA.
"The Y is something that gets used by people from all over the county," said Gabhart. "It is part of a quality life thing. The Y is not a direct part of Daviess County and the county has not supported it with direct funding in the past. They are in a critical spot with the replacement of the air handling system. They serve thousands of people in Daviess County regardless of income."
The Y has approached both the city and the Daviess County Economic Development Corporation looking for assistance in a capital campaign.
"I have no problem with this request," said Commissioner Michael Taylor. "I know my kids spent time there growing up."
Both Taylor and Commissioner Ron Arnold voted in favor of the funding. Gabhart abstained because of his involvement with the Y's drive.
The commissioners gave verbal approval to supporting a sewer project in Montgomery. The town has been trying for a couple of years to put together financing for an upgrade to the sewer system. Officials say that without the upgrades they cannot add any housing projects or larger commercial projects to the system.
A new agreement is being worked out between the Daviess County Visitor's Bureau and the county commissioners and council.
"This is at the recommendation of a meeting we had with the state board of accounts," said county attorney Grant Swartzentruber. "Under it, all of the money the visitor's bureau was managing will now be under the direction of the county auditor. The bureau board will report to the commissioners for administrative actions and the county council will appropriate the money."
"The visitors bureau is an agency that has always existed, but rarely interacted with the county," said Gabhart. "Over the past three or four years it has been reinvigorated. We just needed to establish a chain of command. We just wanted to make it clear on who reports to who."