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Tell City’s big year

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Ewing offers State of the City speech with look back at 2012

By VINCE LUECKE
Editor

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TELL CITY – As years go, 2012 was a historic one for Tell City. In fact, so much took place last year that it took Mayor Barbara Ewing more than 45 minutes to recap 2012 in her annual State of the City Address. Ewing offered apologies for the length of her speech but said there was much to recall – and to celebrate.

“It was year that changed our city and its future,” Ewing said after the Feb. 4 speech. She recalled the “many milestones” the city reached during the year, led by a new comprehensive plan that will guide the city’s development and quality-of-life improvements for several years. In other major events of 2012, the city received a grant to fund certification of its floodwall and a new visitors center evolved from mere idea to completion in just months.

A full copy of Ewing’s address has been posted as a Microsoft Word-format attachment to this story. To view it, scroll to the bottom of this story and click on its name. This story summarizes many of the projects that began, wrapped up or began during 2012.

Comprehensive Plan

The city’s comprehensive plan, funded through an Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs grant in the amount of $49,500, was based on community input gathered at forums and a committee.

As The News has reported, the comprehensive plan calls for annexing land into the city and developing the Seventh Street corridor to include new retail, commercial and senior-living projects. Other projects include a possible north-side fire station, municipal golf course and a new privately developed hotel.

“The comprehensive plan represents the collective vision for the future of Tell City,” Ewing said last Monday.

A major part of the Seventh Street plan is the new visitors center turned over to the city last week.

In May of 2012, the Tell City Board of Public Works and Safety authorized the awarding of the Tell City Visitors and Event Center engineering to Universal Design. The board further authorized Ewing to begin negotiations with the Perry County Port Authority to gain ownership of the former location of the William Tell Woodcrafters, on which the center is built.

Ewing announced Aug. 28 at a special meeting of the Tell City Board of Public Works and Safety that the city had been awarded a $550,000 forgivable loan from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority’s Affordable Housing and Community Development Fund. That funding allowed the city to move forward.

The city also received the support of private contributions to the project from Guy Neil and LaVerne Ramsey in the amount of $30,000, and from Ruth Ann Werner in the amount of $100,000 in support of the farmers market area of the visitors and event center project.

“On behalf of the city, we extend a very heartfelt thank you to each of these individuals for their support of this community investment,” Ewing said.

Seventh Street Land Option

In August 2012, the city received notification that Owensboro Medical Health Systems would not exercise its option on land along Seventh Street. That property reverts back to full city control. However, OMHS still has an option on land adjacent to its medical center on Seventh Street.

Port Authority

In partnership with the Perry County Port Authority, Cannelton and Perry County, the city continued to make progress on a River Road Project, funded through the Indiana Department of Transportation and a 20-percent local match from the port authority.

In 2012, the city was awarded an additional $380,000 by the Indiana Department of Transportation for the project, scheduled to be let for bidding this year. It will provide improvements to the road and allow the port to use Indiana 66 for much of its traffic.

“The River Road project remains a focal point in the economic development and growth of the Perry County port,” Ewing said.

New Businesses in the City

Tractor Supply located in the city in 2012 and opened a store on Indiana 66. Meanwhile the former Glow Room was converted into a restaurant. It opened last week.

Groundbreaking for the new Perry County jail took place last year and The Villas at Oakwood is nearing completion this spring. Also, Perry County Memorial Hospital’s finalized funding for a new hospital. Ground will be broken this spring.

The city’s Humboldt Street fire station, closed for several years, was sold by the city to Brian Cail for $34,379.63. It is slated to become a print shop.

Tell City’s downtown saw the installation of wayfinding signs and the Tell City Downtown Merchants Association, under the direction of the Tell City Development and Action Committee, developed red “open” and “closed” signs for businesses. The Tell City Development and Action Committee also achieved the designation of an Indiana Main Street Community late in 2012.

Last year also brought a downtown cleanup day, made possible by the efforts of many volunteers.

“Volunteer efforts expanded to other areas of the community through the volunteering of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, St. Paul Catholic Church and Perry County United Way’s Youth Day of Caring. Thank you to your commitment to a better community,” Ewing said.

Neighborhood Stabilization

Through its NSP funding of new home construction, three homes were sold in 2012 and the final NSP house is nearing a sale this month, Ewing added.

“Both cleanup and renovation were at the forefront of the city, through private investment, with the demolition and cleanup of the former William Tell Hotel site at Main and Washington Streets, renovations of the former Glow Room building and the demolition of the former Harvest House,” she added.

The Harvest House, a former shelter for homeless men, was demolished by a new owner.

Building Permits

Through the work of Tell City Building Inspector Bob Young, 232 building permits were issued in 2012, which included four commercial permits, four new-home permits and 224 miscellaneous permits. The city also saw demolition of homes, including two in the Fennhaven area, that were beyond repair.

Ewing recognized the donation by Bobby Bartlett of property at 703 13th Street, located adjacent to the Tell City fire station. “This donation allowed for demolition of the home on the property and potential expansion of the Tell City Volunteer Fire Department, if needed,” Ewing said. “Thank you, Mr. Bartlett.”

Floodwall Certification

At the conclusion of 2012, the city was preparing to submit $250,000, partnered with a $25,000 local match, to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to complete the certification of its floodwall, as required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The city hopes there are few, if any, needed repairs to the floodwall. The certification process is needed to maintain eligibility of federal flood insurance.

Arts and Events

The Tell City Regional Arts Commission members continued to promote quality of life through the arts with the Shoot for the Stars events in City Hall Park, Movies at Sunset Park, a spring art show, restoration of the Sunset Park mural and the sponsorship of a holiday presentation of “The Nutcracker.”

Tell City bid farewell to 2012 in downtown Tell City with the inaugural Silvesternacht, German for New Year’s Eve. Through the volunteer efforts of the Perry County Quality of Life committee and the sponsorship of Waupaca Foundry and German American and the support of Tell City Electric, an 8-foot illuminated apple was installed 40 feet in the air at City Hall Park. Hundreds of people braved cold and flurries to welcome 2013.

Departmental Reports

Tell City Police Department
• Central dispatch received 22,603 calls in 2012 with Tell City police officers responding to 9,032 of them. That resulted in the following:
• 933 case reports
• 1,836 citations
• 345 adult arrests and 144 arrests of juveniles
• Patrolman Jason Shadwick was hired in 2012, replacing Sgt. Lynn Wooldridge, who retired after 21 years of service with the department.
• Communications Officer Micah Jackson was hired full time.
• Cpl. Marty Haughee completed a clandestine-laboratory certification program.
• An investment of $5,104 in security equipment was completed at the department. Funding came from the Perry County prosecutor’s office.
• Patrolmen Derrick Lawalin and Jason Shadwick continued the Gang Resistance Education and Training Program at William Tell and Perry Central elementary schools.
Shadwick’s participation was funded through the Perry County Sheriff’s Department.

Tell City Fire Department
• The fire department recognized the retirement of firemen Larry Kleaving, Dennis Howard and Ellis Howard.
• The fire department welcomed reserve fireman Blair Walsh to full-time status.

Tell City Parks and Recreation
• Playground equipment improvements were made at Sunset Park and Roy Fenn Park.
• Electrical improvements, bath house decking and pool furniture were purchased for the John F. Kennedy Pool.
• Little League Field improvements included a backstop retaining wall and fencing.

Tell City Street Department
• Billy Joe Kessans retired after 15 years of service. Tim Howe transferred to the wastewater utility while Jack Schroeder moved from the trash-collection department to the street department. Travis Harpenau and Kevin Damin were hired during 2012.
• Spring clean-up resulted in the collection of 76.11 tons of junk.
• The Tell City Street Garage Project was completed, resulting in the construction of a new facility through a partnership between the city and Tell City Boat Works.
• Concrete improvements were completed in-house, at the Tell City boat ramp.
• Maintenance work completed along Windy Creek to address slides and maintain the integrity of the creek within residential neighborhoods.
• The street department continued the mowing and trimming of the Windy Creek areas. Work took place this year without the assistance of the Branchville Correctional Facility. Correctional-department rules now restrict which offenders are allowed to work outside the fences at Branchville Correctional Facility.

Greenwood Cemetery
• Greenwood Cemetery, working through the Board of Public Works and Safety, entered into an agreement with the Tell City Historical Society to restore the original sexton’s building, one of the city’s oldest structures.
• Greenwood Cemetery expanded with the opening of Section 1-East fronting Indiana 66.

Tell City Water Department
• Through a cooperative effort between the town of Troy and the Tell City Water Department, the water tower, located in the Tell City Industrial Park at Troy was sold to Troy for $50,000. Ewing called the move a win for the city and its neighboring community.
• Annual well testing was performed on Wells 9 and 11, improving their pumping performance.

Tell City Wastewater
One of the year’s biggest stories centered on a huge hole at Ninth and Schiller streets. A Tell City Electric Department line truck fell into the hole during an Aug. 6 collapse.
Repairs, including relining of major arteries of wastewater flow, cost the city $306,370.
“The Tell City Wastewater Department would like to thank the residents of the 1000 Block of Ninth Street for their cooperation during this challenging repair,” Ewing said. “As mayor, and on behalf of the Tell City Common Council, the city further extends a thank you to the personnel of the wastewater department for their dedicated efforts in this extensive repair.”
• Wastewater-department employees continued to monitor the implementation of the plant expansion during the combined sewer overflow and plant expansion.
• The department recognized the retirement of full-time employee Joe Davis, the transfer of employee Jim Applegate to Tell City Electric and the employment of Chris Toothman and Tim Howe.

Tell City Electric Department
• The Northeast Substation Project was completed with the substation placed online.
• Completed a 13,800 volt tie line between the Eckley Substation and the Northeast Substation, providing for better service capabilities in altered conditions.
• Street lighting improvements were completed with the installation of eight additional lights along 19th Street.
• Fulton Street Pumping Station emergency backup service was installed, as well as the replacement of the primary service to the station.
• The department welcomed two new linemen and congratulated Mark Howland on his 32 years of service and retirement.
• Pole replacement and voltage conversion is ongoing as way to provide quality service.

2013 Goals
Ewing briefly outlined some of her goals for 2013 at the conclusion of her address:
• Tell City floodwall certification achievement
• Tell City growth and development through annexation
• The continued revitalization and expansion of the Seventh Street Corridor
• Utilization of the former National Guard armory building
• Tell City housing rehabilitation
• Economic development and growth and further emphasis on Tell City’s Quality of Life, “ a key component in attracting and maintaining business development,” the mayor said.

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