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Boar's Head 'deserving' of tax abatement

By DARREL RADFORD - dradford@thecouriertimes.com

Some people might not like the idea of tax abatements, but county officials agree that where Boar’s Head is concerned, there is some real meat to the matter.

Wednesday, the Henry County Commissioners approved a resolution paving the way for tax abatement on a new food processing facility new the current Boar’s Head facility on CR 400 South. The resolution calls for a final public hearing at this Wednesday’s 6 p.m. Commissioners meeting.

Commissioner President Kim Cronk said Boar’s Head has been a good corporate citizen and deserves the tax abatement.

“Boar’s Head has brought to our community many, many jobs and I foresee, not just with this expansion but possible expansion of other parts of this business, more jobs coming,” Cronk said.

Since opening here 2016, Boar’s Head, a Florida-based meat specialist company, has become one of the county’s top employers and its growth has been faster than previously anticipated. Earlier this year, Boar’s Head reported 476 employees, making it the fifth-largest employer in the county.

When it opened, officials said they hoped  to “potentially have as many as 345 employees by 2019,” so the company has easily exceeded those expectations.

The $80 million facility currently in operation at Road 400 S and Ind. 3 is a premium delicatessen product manufacturing and research facility.

While tax abatements are, at times, greeted skeptically, Cronk urged support of this one.

“We have to try and be more aggressive,” he said. “We just can’t stay in a regressive mode.”

In another economic development-related announcement, New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Corp. President Corey Murphy announced this year’s annual meeting is scheduled 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 11 at First Baptist Church.

Murphy said guest speaker for the occasion will be Eric Canada, author of “Economic Development for the Team” and a nationally-recognized authority on economic development marketing and business retention.

In other discussion at Wednesday’s Commissioners meeting, building permits, bids for heating/cooling maintenance, a change in auditor office business hours, county sign replacement and a variety of other matters were all topics of conversation.

Here’s a recap.

Building permits

Henry County Zoning Administrator Darrin Jacobs submitted an annual report that showed building activity here “consistent with what it has been over the past three years” – at least in terms of permits issued.

The report showed:

• 321 permits were issued, only two less than 2017;

• New homes were down, with 24 built here in 2018 compared to 32 in 2017; and

• Remodels and room additions were up by 23 permits in 2018.

Bids

The commissioners had much better luck with bids on heating/cooling and building maintenance than they did with renovations to the W.G. Smith Building.

While Smith Building bids were rejected again, as reported in Thursday’s paper, Commissioners were able to award two bids for heating/cooling and building maintenance. 

Local businessman Lynn Perdue was the low bidder for all county buildings except the former youth center. His bid of $13,500 will cover the courthouse, administration building, sheriff’s department, jail, CID and AEP buildings.

Swift Air Mechanical was awarded the bid for the former youth center at $3,236.

Auditor’s office hours

Henry County Auditor Debbie Walker announced the return of Monday business hours for her office.

Beginning Monday, May 6, the auditor’s office will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. For many years, the schedule has been Tuesday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Sign replacement 

Henry County Highway Supt. Joe Wiley presented a 17-page contract from the Indiana Department of Transportation for Commissioner approval regarding replacement of 7,991 signs in the county.

“A few years ago, we were notified there was some safety money available through INDOT for the purpose of replacement of signs,” Wiley said. “We asked about it, applied for it and received what was considered Phase 1 of that money. Then we applied for Phase 2.

“Years ago, we had to do a sign inventory, photograph and log all 7,991 signs we have on the county’s approximate 800 miles of roads,” Wiley continued. “In addition to the inventory, the next phase was sign replacement to make sure all were up to federal standards.

“We have never stopped replacing broken, stolen or knocked down signs,” Wiley emphasized. “We continue to do that, but this is going to be throughout certain areas of the county where they will replace all the warning signs and regulatory signs – like stop signs, speed limit and curb signs.”

Wiley praised the work of Henry County GIS Administrator Bruce Atkinson and credited him with helping the county save as much as $59,000 in engineering fees for this project. Wiley said $100,000 had been budgeted, but only $41,000 was needed.

“Bruce has layered all of that information on our GIS system, so we were able to provide the engineering firm with detailed descriptions,” Wiley said. “They were able to do a lot finer job of knowing where the signs were and what they looked like. That’s why the fees went down.”

Sign replacement won’t start until 2022, Wiley said. The federal grant to pay for it all is $639,000, with the county contributing a 10 percent match.

Other business

Steve Peckinpaugh was appointed to replace Dennis Kinser on the Park Advisory Board. Other appointments included Beth Pribble to the Henry County Cemetery Commission and Sue Elkins Wyatt to the Liberty Township Advisory Board.

• Commissioners approved the placing of pinwheels on the courthouse lawn in April to remember child abuse victims.

• Spiceland will continue to have Deputy Matt Pierce helping with its law enforcement efforts, thanks to Commissioner approval of a contract between that community and the Henry County Sheriff’s Department.

• Sheriff Ric McCorkle announced 14-year veteran Deputy Adam Bradley will be leaving the department to become the director of security at Lafayette’s Ivy Tech campus. McCorkle asked for and received Commissioner approval to allow Bradley an opportunity to purchase his service weapon just like a retiree.