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Commissioners: ball in school’s court

By John Estridge, Editor

Franklin County Commissioners said Tuesday morning, Dec. 5, they have done everything that can be done on River Road and now it is up to the Franklin County Community School Corporation.

FCCSC suspended bus service to patrons who live on River Road.

School officials said an inspector with the Indiana Department of Education out of Indianapolis drove River Road this summer and deemed the road unsafe for school buses.

Some River Road residents have attended school board and commissioners meetings in order to get service again on their road.

Now, they have to transport their children twice a day to a school bus pickup point at the bottom of Meyncke’s Hill on Highland Center Road. The parents claim it is not a good location either.

Commission Vice President Tom Linkel who is the commissioner of District 2, which includes River Road, said the county highway department repaved the road, fixed a slide and cut back brush along the road.

It is his understanding the FCCSC is going to bring or has brought another inspector from Indianapolis to look at the road.

Sara Duffy, a school board member, attended the commissioners meeting but did not make any comments regarding what is going on with the school’s end.

Linkel said there is one place along River Road where the county would like to enlarge the radius of a curve. However, there is a retaining wall on one side and a utility pole on the other. Linkel’s highway foreman is supposed to get in contact with the electric company and see about the company moving the pole back from the road to allow the highway department to widen the road at that point and make the curve less sharp.

In other business, the commissioners discussed bridge plans with Durham Engineering Director of Marketing Perry Knox. Durham Engineering is based in Anderson.

Knox had presented them a cost estimate for Durham Engineering to do hydraulic studies and bridge design for Richland Creek Road, Duck Creek Road and River Road.

County highway department employees entered Big Cedar Creek adjacent to Big Cedar Road over the spring and summer without getting permits from the state.

This caused a very bad problem with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the Army Corps of Engineers and could lead to significant fines. The area in question is under the auspices of District 1, which is under commissioner Eric Roberts.

Durham was hired to try to mitigate the situation. And that effort was involved with the discussion of the other bridges.

That is because the county now has to jump through more hoops to be able to enter any waterway in the county because of the Big Cedar Creek situation.

Knox said there was a meeting on Monday, Nov. 13, which included Roberts at the six sites where the state said the county did work on Big Cedar Creek without proper permits.

According to Knox, another Durham Engineering employ was delivering a 200-page report to state officials at IDEM and DNR on Tuesday.

A hard copy of the same report is being mailed to the Army Corps of Engineers, Knox said.

Links to the document will be sent to each commissioner’s DropBox, he continued.

The document includes a two-year, five-year, 10-year and 100-year stormwater analysis to get the permits.

“We are requesting the release of the moratorium on future permits as part of that document today,” Knox said.

Included in the document is a wetland study, designs for remediating any damage the county employees caused and a final design, Knox said.

The commissioners then got down to the nitty-gritty on each of the bridge projects.

At Richland Creek, commissioners want to eventually put a bridge at the site, but there are so many bridge projects ahead of it in the county, it may be a decade or more before a bridge on Richland Creek Road could be a reality, commissioners said.

As a stop-gap measure, Roberts said he would like to have two rail cars welded end to end and placed at the site that floods.

Thus, commissioners said they would go for the hydraulic study which is mandated by the state before a permit can be granted for any work in the creek.

However, a bridge design for the spot can be put off until much later, Linkel said.

The same situation was found for a bridge on Duck Creek Road. Commissioners said they were good with a hydraulic study, but said they did not want a bridge design at this time.

Also, Linkel asked how long a hydraulic study is good.

Knox said he would get back with commissioners on an answer.

Roberts said the various creeks discussed Tuesday were very different situations.

He said the drainage area for Big Cedar Creek is about 12 miles while River Road’s drainage area is around five and Richland Creek is about 3.5 miles.

“And it’s dry about 300 days (a year), Roberts said.

Knox is going to come back at the next commissioners meeting, Tuesday, Dec. 19, with a quote on what hydraulic studies at the various sites will cost the county. He will eliminate the costs of bridge designs.

In unrelated business, the commissioners:

*approved contracts with various contractors on a program to rehabilitate homes belonging to low income or disabled homeowners.

Southeastern Indiana Regional Planning Commission employee Patty Jackson read the contract amounts for the various residences.

Scott Cooper received the bid for 602 Rochester Street in Cedar Grove for $18,075, 8074 Shady Road was awarded to Darren Reynolds for $23,875, 640 East Fifth Street was awarded to Bob Crosthwaite at $13,400, 2174 State Line Road went to D.O. Corn and Sons at $36,620, 5104 Walnut Street went to Crosthwaite at $26,025, 22210 U.S. 52 was awarded to Crosthwaite at $37,695.

She said some of the bids were awarded to contractors having the second lowest bids because some contractors had the lowest bids on numerous properties and could not do all of the work.

Some of the bids were for more than the money available for the project. Jackson said a state official would prioritize the repairs at those homes.

Commissioners unanimously approved the contracts.

According to Jackson, anyone wanting to get on the waiting list for homes to be done in the future should call the SIRPC office at (812) 689-5505.

*heard from SIRPC employee Judi Comer.

She talked to the commissioners about updating the county’s multi-hazard mitigation program.

This was originally done in 2008-09 and is supposed to be updated every five years. However, there was no money available until now.

Comer said the Homeland Security Grant which is paying for the update does not require any matching money from the state.

IUPUI’s Polis Center is coordinating the program. There are currently five nearby counties involved with the same program, Comer said.

Meetings are part of the process, and several area residents will have to take part, she said.