PRINCETON — Volunteers wage an ongoing battle with vandals at Gibson County's two historic covered bridges.
Gibson County Commissioners voted 3-0 Tuesday to up the game against vandals, approving the installation of security video surveillance at both bridges.
Red Bridge, built-in 1875 over Big Bayou Creek in southern Gibson County and Wheeling Bridge, constructed in 1877 over the Patoka River, are certified as historic bridges and the county receives a small amount of revenue for preservation each year.
Security consultant Jason Buchanan of BCS Services proposed a $17,118 plan for mounting solar-powered cameras at Red Bridge and electronic cameras at Wheeling Bridge to give a full view of activity. Buchanan also proposed a $30,798 plan that would include cameras inside the bridges.
Commissioners approved the pole-mounted cameras contingent upon working out the logistics with Sheriff Tim Bottoms.
Buchanan said the cameras can automatically send images to authorities and also store images.
"It's something we need," said Commissioner Gerald Bledsoe, who offered the motion to do the work. "The vandalism is unbelievable," he said, noting that people kick out panels and deface the historic structures regularly. "If this curtails it some, it will be helpful."
Commissioner Bottoms agreed. "We've had a lot of volunteer work on these bridges," he said.
Gibson County Master Gardeners cooperated with the county in a major rehab project for the Wheeling Bridge 19 years ago. Volunteers regularly paint over graffiti and maintain landscaping at the bridges.
Commissioners agreed to begin with the pole-mounted cameras and possibly add more interior cameras later. "This is a start," said Commissioner Mary Key.
The county can use money in the covered bridge fund to pay for the work.
In other business at Tuesday morning's meeting, commissioners:
• Renewed a $36,900 one-year contract with Weaver Consulting for landfill monitoring services.
• Approved claims that include distribution of $27,350 in innkeepers tax collected in August and $198,468 in Riverboat revenue.
• Learned from Sheriff Bottoms that the average jail census in August was 125 jail inmates and 39 work release inmates. Tuesday's census was 117 in the jail and 14 in work release.
• Gibson County Economic Development Corp. President/CEO Paul Waters reported the apartment complex project in Fort Branch is filling up as quickly as apartments are finished. He said about one-third of the new tenants are from outside Gibson County, and another one-third from Illinois.
Waters said a model home and three spec homes are in progress in the White Church subdivision project, and noted that the Baldwin Estates apartment project in Princeton is in construction.