Monday morning, at the regular meeting of the Decatur County Commissioners, County Highway Superintendent Mark Mohr announced the temporary closure of County Road 950 East due to a sink hole.
The hole, Mohr explained, was discovered and reported to the Highway Department Friday morning.
“It’s big enough to fit a small pick-up truck,” the superintendent said.
Mohr didn’t specify a time frame for the repairs and reopening of the road, but noted that the hole would need to be excavated and the road replaced before reopening could commence.
Mohr also announced the closure of Base Road later this year so INDOT can replace the bridge deck of the overpass located along that road.
“This is all rural traffic that’ll be affected,” Mohr added. “So it won’t be a big impact. Any damage along the roads used as to detour traffic will also be repaired by INDOT.”
Also on Monday, the Commissioners accepted bids for the Decatur County Owner-Occupied Rehabilitation Program.
According to the bid sheet presented to and signed by the Commissioners, a total of eight bids were submitted by three local companies for repair work on eight Decatur County homes — one in St. Paul, three in Westport and four in Greensburg.
The three companies who presented bids are Pettit Group (1), Tree City Electric (2) and Schlemmer Construction (5). The eight bids total $207,620 in repairs and renovations. Those costs will be funded through the Southeastern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (SIRPC).
Greensburg-Decatur County Economic Development Commission Executive Director Marc Coplon provided the Commissioners with a quarterly update on EDC activity Monday morning.
Coplon characterized the recently-ended fourth quarter as somewhat disappointing and pointed to a handful of economic factors that conspired to drive many companies into a “wait and see” stance.
Those factors, Coplon said, are the fiscal cliff, the debt ceiling debate, implementation of pending healthcare legislation and the general economy.
As an example of real-world impact of the “wait and see” approach on Decatur County, Coplon mentioned the recent decision by Menard’s to hold off on expansion into Decatur County. He also cited a “major food processor” and an aluminum company, both of whom are holding off possible local expansion due to the factors listed above.
On the upside, the executive director noted, Decatur County’s own Hitachi Powdered Metals is currently adding 60 full-time positions and 100 temporary positions that offer full-time pay but no benefits.
He further noted that local company Valeo has committed to adding 209 local jobs to its workforce by the end of 2014. Honda, he added, hired 350 new workers in 2012.
All told, between those three employers, Coplon said, Decatur County will see an influx of 719 jobs between 2012 and the end of 2014.
“I often hear people say that manufacturing in Decatur County will never be what it used to be,” he told the Commissioners. “And I agree, because moving forward, I think manufacturing in this county will grow to be bigger and better than it’s ever been.”
Coplon also laid out an informal vision for a 500-acre tract of land across from Honda Motors on the north side of Interstate 74.
The EDC, Coplon explained, is currently working in conjunction with the three separate families who own the land to get it certified as “shovel ready” through the state.
“We’re working with those landowners,” Coplon told the Daily News. “They’re completely on board with getting the land certified as shovel ready, and we anticipate that, eventually, they’ll sell the land directly to companies wanting to locate in Decatur County. Getting the land certified as shovel-ready is key. The shovel-ready designation makes the locations far more attractive for a business to buy and build on.”
Once the land is sold, Coplon envisions the area becoming a hotbed of economic and business activity, with industry, retail and restaurants all locating to the area.
Coplon also announced plans to hold an EDC-sponsored job fair in April and an auto expo in June.
Also on Monday, the Commissioners approved the use of the south Courthouse lawn June 7 by the Decatur County United Fund for its Annual Strawberry Festival, and appointed Dr. Mary McCullough to replace the retiring George Reiger on the Decatur County Memorial Hospital Board of Directors.
The next regular meeting of the Decatur County Commissioners will be at 8 a.m., Feb. 18, at the Decatur County Courthouse.
Contact: Rob Cox at 812-663-3111 x7011