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Visitors center construction on schedule

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Works board tables decision on selling Humboldt Street firehouse

By VINCE LUECKE

Editor

TELL CITY – Construction of Tell City’s new visitors and event center is on schedule for a completion early next year, Tell City’s mayor announced Monday. 

“The cooperation among everyone involved has been tremendous and we are definitely where we want to be as far as our schedule,” Mayor Barbara Ewing told the city’s common council. 

Funded by state grants and proceeds from the sale of homes built through a multimillion dollar Neighborhood Stabilization Program, the visitors center is modeled after the city’s former train depot and will house offices for the Perry County Convention and Visitors Bureau and will include a meeting room for gatherings and room for displaying and marketing locally made items. 

In the future, the center may serve as a point of arrival and departure for passenger trains that would allow tourists to travel to and from towns in Spencer County, including Lincoln City. The Hoosier Southern Railroad line runs adjacent to the new building. 

Ewing announced a major gift to the visitors center project from the family of Ruth Ann Werner and her late husband, Ralph. According to a resolution announced by the mayor and approved by the council, the family has given the city 4,803 shares of GE stock that it will sell and apply to the project. 

The value of the stock is approximately $100,000. 

The family requests the gift be used toward the center’s pavillion, an extension on its south side that will host farmers markets and other outdoor gatherings.

“We are overwhelmed by the Werner family’s generosity and their support of the project,” Ewing said. 

A plaque will commemorate the gift to the city. 

The city had money to fund the entire project when bids were awarded this fall. However, the Werner family’s gift toward construction of the pavilion will allow the city to devote its money to other aspects of the building not included in the bid.

“Like most projects, there were items that had to be removed or set aside because of funding,” Ewing said. 

The council extended its appreciation to the Werner family for its generosity. 

In related visitors-center business, Councilman Gary Morton asked about a concrete sidewalk that had been torn up at the site. The problem, Ewing said, was with sidewalk that was not at the proper grade required under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The mistake, Ewing added, was made by a subcontractor, not the project’s general contractor, Kleeman Masonry of Troy. The extra costs will be shouldered by the subcontractor. 

No Decision Yet on 

Former Firehouse

The city’s works board opened and tabled for review two bids on the former firehouse on Humboldt Street in the city’s downtown.

Brian Cail, brother of City Councilman Chris Cail, bid $34,379.63 for the building. Nita Claise offered to swap eight lots she and her husband own near Roy Fenn Park Park. 

Claise submitted the same offer last month but the city turned down that bid because the legal advertisement required a cash offer. All of the four bids submitted in November were rejected because they failed to reach 90 percent of the building’s appraised value. 

The works board is no longer required to meet any minimums but member Gary Morton wanted to know what the lots were worth. Councilman Tony Hollinden, who owns Hollinden Realty, said the lots were listed for sale at approximately $35,000. 

Ewing said the lots’ location adjacent to the park makes them attractive to the city as a possible expansion of youth soccer. However, she did not endorse a land swap. 

Morton said he wanted more information before deciding. Fellow works board member Gerald Yackle was inclined to make a decision Monday night. 

“We need to move. We’ve been sitting on (the building) for too long. We have two offers in front of us,” he said. While not making a motion to act then, Yackle said he was inclined to seek a cash sale of the building. 

Either way, a delay was costing one of the two bidders an opportunity to move ahead with their plans for the building. 

A decision is expected at the works board’s Dec. 17 meeting.