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Commissioners discuss bridges

By Marissa E. Lane, Staff Writer

Union County Commissioners and the Highway Department will be meeting with representatives from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday morning to discuss the damages to the Brownsville Bridge.

“We can fix our damage up to the way it was before pretty quick, but if we have another flood, we just wasted all of that money,” said Highway Department Director Jeff Bowers at the Union County Commissioners meeting on Monday, May 7.

The bridge, which crosses the East Fork Whitewater River in Brownsville, was damaged in the heavy rains and flash flooding Union County saw in early April. The previous construction of the bridge left it vulnerable to both flooding and erosion. At the rate that the riverbanks are eroding, simply restoring the bridge won't suffice. But between a lack of federal emergency funding and a tight county budget, there is no easy solution.

The Brownsville Avenue bridge project, on the other hand, is well underway and should be finished by the beginning of June. Almost all other roads in the county have been repaired since last month's storms, including the section of East Kitchel Road that washed out. The pipe alone for Kitchel Road cost roughly $15,000. Clearly, 2018 has already been a costly year for Union County roads.

At their Monday meeting, county commissioners also:

• heard an update from the Union County Redevelopment Commission about their 2017 finances.

• received the monthly ambulance report from Spirit Medical Transport CEO Brian Hathaway.

• agreed to allow Kleinpeter Consulting to conduct an income survey for Union County in an effort to receive a comprehensive planning grant. The expected survey cost is $5,000.

• heard the annual update from Centerstone, the county's mental health provider. Centerstone provides services for children and adults with mental health issues and support for people with substance abuse issues.

• opened bids for retired Sheriff's Department vehicles. The commissioners decided to give the highway department the Ford F-150 that was up for auction, and sold a 2004 Crown Victoria and a Dodge Durango for $351 each.

• appointed Trisha Persinger, Director of Union County Council on Aging and Aged and Union County Development Corporation President, to the county health board.

• discussed money-saving solutions for the county recycling program, so that the county is able to continue providing the service without losing money on it.