The Commissioner’s room in the Courthouse was jam packed, causing a pile-up in the doorway and out into the hallway.

The small room was representative of the state of the area. With the county’s economy growing and expanding, residents are dealing with bigger and bigger projects. During the days the courthouse was built and designed, only a handful of people dealt with the county’s issues.

During Tuesday’s meeting, everyone from land owners to members of the Airport Board and city officials were anxiously awaiting the Decatur County Council’s response to Mayor Frank Manus’ push for the airport expansion project.

“I am here on behalf of the City to see if you’ll join us in this airport project,” Manus said to the Council. “While taking this project into consideration, keep in mind how Decatur County would be today if no one went along with Indianapolis about Interstates 465 or 74. Not everyone was for those major projects but look where we are today because of them. Not everyone is going to be for a project. If they were, it would make my job easier.”

After hearing what the mayor had to say, the Council didn’t seem to budge on its opinion about the project.

“We have never been approached by any CEO’s, or anyone else, asking for an airport,” said Council member Ken Owens. “If no one said they need it, it would be wise to spend the money on things this county does need.”

However, that wasn’t the only concern the Council had.

“I’m for an airport, but I do not like where it is,” said member Rheadawn Metz. “There are too many kids in the area with all the baseball and softball diamonds. I’m also very against eminent domain. No one should have to give up their land.”

The rest of the Council also agreed. The audience also had some things to add to the debate.

“The diamonds were built next to the airport,” said City Council member Gary Herbert. “That’s all I have to say.”

Other stake-holders contributed to the debate as well . Eminent domain was a hot topic brought up by many.

“Our land abuts the airport and we have been there for many, many years,” said Phil Goddard. “My mother asked if I would speak on her behalf, so I guess that forces me to do so. My father lost some property, and the house I was born in, when the Bypass came through. We don’t want to be forced to give more land away. We want to own our property for many more generations and sell it when we decide, as a family, we are ready to. I am going on the record that our land is not for sale.”

After everyone had their chance to speak out, the Council came to its decision. Council member Al Knecht made the suggestion to let the city go ahead on it’s own and not have the county get involved.

“I would like to make the motion to relinquish our part in the airport to the city so they can move ahead with the airport expansion,” Owens said.

The motion was passed unanimously.

“We would have preferred to have the county and city work together,” said Jon Dooley, Airport Commissioner president-elect. “We’re glad the county is letting us go ahead with the project. It wasn’t a big surprise though they didn’t want to take part.”

After the main item on the agenda was taken care of, the room emptied as quickly as it filled.

The Council, continued on with another big announcement.

“Our meeting today is a monumental occasion,” said Ernie Gauck, president.

Long time members Al Knecht and Tom Carroll sat around the table for not only the last time this year, but for good as they will be leaving the Council. Knecht served the County 24 years and Carroll eight years. Both have made a big difference, fellow members said, since while the two have been in office, the County has operated in the black the entire time.

“It has been a pleasure working with the two of you,” said Gauck. “I just want to let you guys know we will still call you guys when a decision needs to be made.”

Gauck also presented both Carroll and Knecht plaques for their service to the county.

Kenny Hooten and Larry Meyer will take their places as a members beginning next year.

Bud Ryle, president of the Animal Board, approached the Council to see if left-over funding from the construction of the Animal Shelter could be transferred back to a shelter account. The organization is a jointly-run establishment and both the city and county split the cost of running it. The left-over money was split in half and was put back into the city and county general fund accounts. Ryle would like to use money, totaling $4,900, for more cat cages and extra fencing.

“We’re having problems with people throwing their unwanted animals over the fence,” said Ryle. “We would like to extend the fence to further enclose the area.”

The Council passed his proposed idea as did the City Council at an earlier meeting. Ryle was appreciative and asked the Council to think about other ideas the Animal Board has come up with.

For the last time, Knecht motioned to adjourn and Carroll seconded it. Before the motion ,however, the Council members said some final words.

“I’m glad we got that motion over with,” said Gauck. “I was about to cry. You two will be missed.”

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