ANDREA HOWE

Editor, The Daily Clarion

PRINCETON—Gibson County Commissioners Tuesday finalized a second, streamlined boundary for an economic development corridor along U.S. 41 from Patoka to Interstate 64.

The expansion of the economic development area that was originally confined to Toyota property was approved by the Gibson County Redevelopment Commission Monday night.

Commissioners originally forwarded a proposed 118,000-acre EDA west of U.S. 41 to the redevelopment board, but after it was approved, commissioners rescinded the action to make way for the scaled-back version.

The area includes a half mile on both sides of U.S. 41, widening to include the former Emge Packing property near Fort Branch and the 2nd Avenue area in Princeton.

An EDA is a first step to creating a tax increment finance district, which would allow the redevelopment board to capture a portion of property taxes within the TIF district’s boundaries to finance infrastructure and other projects benefiting the district.

The board also approved change orders of nearly $14,000 for demolition work in the first round of buildings razed in the county Blight Elimination Program.

Commissioner Steve Bottoms said five of the first batch of properties are razed. Cutting down dead trees and filling in an old well wound up costing $9,136 more than estimated at a 527 South Gibson Street parcel. There were also extra expenses in the demo work at 616 North Harrison and 241 South Gibson, he reported.

Bottoms said the change orders still fell within the limit of money allocated in the program.

Bids will be let for the next group of 12 to 14 properties slated for demolition in February.

Commissioner Gerald Bledsoe said he still receives calls from people interested in participating in the program and they’ll be added as long as money is available. The county received a grant to partner with private property owners to demolish eyesore buildings.

In other business at the board’s first meeting of the new year, members elected Bledsoe as president and Bottoms as vice president.

Highway Superintendent Chuck Lewis asked the board to take a look at the county’s ordinance regulating culverts. He said he’s noticed farmers putting in some field entrances and in some cases, culverts don’t meet the county’s 15-inch standard.

Commissioner Alan Douglas, a farmer, said the board should check the ordinance to verify the specifications. “You have to understand, us farmers just want to make sure we can get in the field,” he said.

Lewis said highway crews will also be doing some tree trimming along roadways.

Gibson County Emergency Management Agency Director Terry Hedges said river levels are about to crest or are dropping. The Hazleton was at 24’5” and the Wabash should crest at 29’3” Thursday. “Once it drops, it’s going to drop like a rock,” he predicted.

Lewis said the quick drop in water levels tends to wash away portions of roads in low-lying areas.

Sheriff Tim Bottoms reported the Gibson County Jail’s 2015 census was 2,774 inmates, with an average daily census of 89 inmates. Work release census for the year was 1,226, with an average daily census of 40.

Commissioner Bottoms also reported that Mulzer Crushed Stone is donating 400 tons of rock to create a parking area at the county-owned Hopkins Family Park just south of Francisco.

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