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By VINCE LUECKE
TELL CITY – Referencing ongoing annexation efforts, completion of a Seventh Street Depot, a $7 million downtown housing project awaiting a green light this month and other development in and near the city, Mayor Barbara Ewing presented a comprehensive review of city progress in 2013 last Monday.
The mayor presents her State of the City Address each year during the council’s February meeting. Her 40-minute speech also credited city employees for their cost-saving efforts that have preserved services amid tough economic times.
Ewing began her address by talking about efforts kicked off late last year to annex more than 1,700 acres into the city, a project on schedule for a March 3 public hearing. She pointed out that annexation was the top recommendation of a 2013 comprehensive plan.
“This proposed annexation will position the city of Tell City for future growth and development with the end result being community and economic development progress,” she said.
Ewing also credited a development project that wrapped up last year, the Tell City Depot. The project was funded by grants, proceeds from a housing grant and private donations from Ruth Anne Werner, Guy Neil and LaVerne Ramsey.
Dedicated in June, the building is leased to the county visitors bureau and Ewing said it has met its objective of serving as “the anchor in the redevelopment of the Seventh Street corridor.”
She also credited the $7.1 million proposed River Pointe project, an affordable multi-level senior living and mixed-use development along Seventh Street that was introduced to the community in 2013.
If awarded tax credits later this month, River Pointe will serve as a major redevelopment point for the area, as well as “provide affordable senior living and private condominium living along with commercial opportunities on the first floor,” she added.
Other housing development that took place in 2013 included the city being awarded a $400,000 Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority owner-occupied rehabilitation grant.
Lincoln Hills Development Corp. was awarded grant administration of what is the largest owner-occupied, housing-rehab grant given to the city.
Ewing also mentioned the following developments in 2013:
• Sale of the final Neighborhood Stabilization Program residential home and closeout of the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority grant.
• Certification by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District of the city’s floodwall system. This project was funded through a $250,000 Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs grant with a $25,000 local match.
“This classification of Tell City’s floodwall allowed the city to meet a major federal mandate on its floodwall certification, a necessary tool in continued community quality of life and economic development,” Ewing said.
• Work toward ensuring the Tell City campus of Ivy Tech Community College remains ongoing. Stories on those efforts are in today’s issue.
• The Tell City River Road Project broke ground, and is scheduled for completion this summer. It will provide access from Indiana 66 to the Tell City River Port.
• Development projects, including a new Perry County Memorial Hospital, Perry County Jail, new Oakwood Villas dedicated last week and the Dauby Lane Lighthouse storage unit project, Jon Scheer’s Edward D. Jones office completed on Main Street, the new Firehouse Printing, Team Central’s new building under construction on Tell Street, Perry-Spencer Communications’ Fiber optic build-out project in Tell City and continued investments at Waupaca Foundry and ATTC.
Ewing pointed to planned development in 2014 of craft breweries, a restaurant and other downtown projects.
She also spoke about the city’s hopes that a new hotel will be developed along Seventh Street. The past year, however, included the loss of a downtown landmark.
“We were saddened in October, when a major fire destroyed the historic Capers Restaurant. As a community, we, again, thank the Chris and Dotty Watts Family for their many years of downtown dining and enjoyment,” Ewing said.
Ewing said other quality of life promotions for Tell City in 2013 included:
• Tell City’s clean city initiative, in partnership with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management in promoting and implementing a more positive community environment.
• Tell City Regional Arts Council’s spring art show, Sunset Park floodwall mural restoration project and bluegrass concert in City Hall Park featuring King’s Highway.
• Downtown beautification led by the Tell City Beautification Committee and Downtown Development Committee, with the addition of Main Street planters and local Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops “who volunteered countless hours on Main Street clean-ups and landscaping projects,” she said.
• City Hall Park improvements, through the Youth Day of Caring volunteers and Perry County Leadership.
• Tell City-Perry County Wellness Committee activities for the promotion of a healthy Tell City lifestyle, which included 12 community wide walk-runs, city park yoga programs, community bike rides, William Tell Elementary Triathlon, the Tell City Junior-Senior High Mud Run and International Walk to School Day.
• Tell City also hosted a county Special Olympics day in May that drew athletes from several counties.
• Partners in Pride recognition within the city’s residential and business community, which took note of their efforts in beautification and community investment.
Ewing also credited accomplishments on the education front, namely Tell City-Troy Township School Corp. on achieving the area’s top ISTEP scores for 2013. Ewing said the scores were the highest overall in the school’s history. She also mentioned the cooperation of city employees in saving money, allowing the city to continue offering services in the face of reduced funding.
“Each of the city departments, through their employees, have strived and achieved efficient city government for Tell City,” she said. “By their many cost-saving measures of doing much of the city work “in house’ and making wise purchasing decisions, thousands of city tax dollars have been saved for the citizens of Tell City. As the city continues to face the many challenges of tax restructuring in Indiana and the effects of the circuit breaker, it is critical to continue the motto of “doing more with less.”
A full copy of the mayor’s 2013 State of the City Address will be published Monday online at www.perrycountynews.com.