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Parks board may take over National Forest concessions

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By LARRY GOFFINET
Sports Editor

CANNELTON – A county official suggested to the Perry County Parks and Recreation Board Wednesday it might want to consider taking charge of concessions and collecting admission fees at area Hoosier National Forest campgrounds.

County Commissioner Tom Hauser told the board that such a move “would generate revenue” for the parks board and mean “more local control over our parks here.”

The current concessionaire’s contract expires at the end of this year and bids are being taken for a new five-year contract. As the News reported Nov. 12, details are available through a link at www.fs.usda.gov/hoosier, which notes applications must be submitted by Dec. 15.

Besides the three Perry County sites, the contract also includes operating concessions at Hardin Ridge campground near Bloomington.

County Recreation Director Adam Tempel said the four sites have generated $278,000 of revenue the last three years, but he did not have the figures yet for the expenses the company operating the sites incurred.

The contract would require maintenance and upkeep of the sites, including mowing, and staffing each entrance booth from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at each site during the camping season.

Parks Board President Dan Peter said the previous operator would give free camping to someone for a season in exchange for operating a booth.

Hauser also suggested the parks board might want to talk to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources about what the DNR plans to do with the land near Rome it recently purchased from former Gov. Edgar Whitcomb. Plans are to make it a state park, but exactly what kind of park and whether camping and other uses will be allowed there has not been decided.