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Infrastructure and expansion

By DARREL RADFORD - dradford@thecouriertimes.com

Celebrations and remembrances of history. New fire stations and infrastructure. An educational expansion. State-of-the-art radio equipment.

Wednesday’s Commissioners meeting touched on all of those topics for a busy county that arguably is not only on the go, but on the grow as well. 

Here’s a recap:

Raintree County and the wall that heals

Commissioner Kim Cronk announced that an 8-foot tall Golden Raintree official planting/unveiling will take place at 2 p.m. on the East lawn of the Henry County Courthouse next Sunday, Oct. 7. 

Cronk said the tree was donated as a gift from the Ross Lockridge Jr. family. Former New Castle Mayor Jim Small will read an address written by the late Larry Lockridge, son of the famous author who penned the best-selling book entitled “Raintree County” that also became a 1957 movie starring Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift.

Meanwhile, Commissioners also announced and encouraged residents to visit “The Wall That Heals” – a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The wall – honoring more than 3 million Americans who served in the U.S. Armed Forces during the Vietnam War and the more than 58,000 who died during the struggle – will be on display at Dietrich Park in Middletown until 3 p.m. today. 

Infrastructure 

Blountsville, Spiceland and the entire Henry County area all have important infrastructure projects that received stamps of approval Wednesday from the Commissioners.

In Blountsville, where a new Stoney Creek Township fire station is being constructed, Commissioners approved payment of a $5,000 invoice for Mendenhall & Associates grant administration work.

Ground was broken on the project in May and officials hope the station might be completed before the end of the year. 

Commissioners also put a stamp of approval on a four-factor analysis Community Development Block Program for the town of Spiceland needed for officials there to apply for money to help improve the South Henry Regional Waste District sewer system and help prevent storm water from entering it.

Finally on the infrastructure front, Commissioners approved documents for payment bond and performance bond in the sum of $1,121,388 for Fredericks, Inc. relating to the Ivy Tech Henry County Campus Phase 3 construction project. Groudbreaking for the project – which will add a science lab to the local campus as well as needed classroom and office space, is scheduled to take place Monday. Once the science lab is built, the local campus will be able to offer a complete associate’s degree in nursing.

Construction time is reportedly six to nine months, according to Cronk.

State-of-the-art radio equipment

Commissioners voted to proceed with a multi-million contract with Motorola to upgrade county-wide emergency radio communications and broad band. The project, involving both New Castle and Henry County government funding, has been enthusiastically approved by all governing bodies it has come before.

The first step is addition of two new towers, one in Knightstown, one at Middletown.

“That will put us in line to apply for grants for new radio communications for our sheriff’s department, but most importantly, for our volunteer firemen,” Sheriff Ric McCorkle said. 

McCorkle said school safety grants are also being sought for boosters inside of the schools, each of which currently have “dead spots” that make radio communication difficult. 

“We want to make sure we have good communications inside those facilities,” McCorkle said. “Hopefully we can something moving ahead by school time next year.”

Other business

In other business, Commissioners:

Approved reissuance of redevelopment district taxable tax increment revenue bonds from 2011, a move that will generate $180,000 in savings according to Penny York, special projects coordinator for the New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Corp.Agreed to purchase a new Canon Image Runner copy machine for the Henry County Assessor’s office. Cost will be just short of $5,000, to be paid in 63 payments of $78.89. Auditor Pat French endorsed the purchase, saying the assessor’s office copier “is completely worn out.”Approved an agreement with property owners Jordan and Trista Pruitt, 388 South Homestead Drive, for a culvert to be constructed across that drive and onto the Pruitt’s property. Cost will be shared, with the Pruitts paying for all necessary materials and the county performing the construction work.Assigned two tax sale certificates to the town of Lewisville, one at 207 S. 1st St. and another at 108 N. 1st St.