Derelict Building, Street Paving, Utility Rate Study Occupy Council

An over 100-year-old building at the stoplight corner in Crothersville will be the focus of a court injunction to enforce the town’s derelict building ordinance, the local town council decided last week when they met. The brick building is deteriorating and the fear by local officials is that the structure will collapse into the street and onto adjoining private property.

According to Jackson County property tax records the property is owned by Environmental Awareness Reached Through Helping Hands (EARTHH). Nathan Ray is the contact, according to town attorney Jeff Lorenzo.

“It is in sad condition,” said council member Lenvil ‘Butch’ Robinson. “We have tried to meet with the property owner, sent him letters, but he has not attended any meetings.”

The council unanimously approved fining Ray $5,000 under the town’s derelict building ordinance and seek a court injunction for emergency repairs.

“If nothing is done, it’s going to fall. I fear we’re going to have to take it over and tear it down,” said council president Ardell Mitchell.

He acknowledged that the cost of razing the building will exceed the cost of a vacant lot in the middle of town.

“But this is a public safety matter,” said Robinson. “We have done everything we can for more than a year an a half and have gotten no response.

Lorenzo said that if the owner refuses to make repairs and stabilize the structure and the town must tear it down for public safety, the cost of the razing would go on the property owner’s tax bill.

“And the town, more than likely, will eventually become the owner of the property,” he said.

The two story brick building was build in 1881 and remains as one of the last original business structures in town. It was originally built as an Odd Fellows Lodge Hall which met upstairs. The lower portion housed a pharmacy and later served as the town’s library until the present library was built.

In other business, the council awarded the contract to mill and re-surface three streets to Dave O’Mara Paving of North Vernon at a bid of $64,467.

Main Street from US 31 to Preston, Dixon Street from Kovener to the Railroad and Marshall Drive from US 31 to Moore Street will be milled down 2 inches and have two inches of new paving installed.

Bids for the paving, opened at the council’s July meeting, were received from Streigel Asphalt ($67,560) of Floyd Knobs, All-Star Paving ($65,722) of Seymour, and Sedam Contracting ($68,725) of Salem.

In another utility matter, the town agreed to hire the consulting firm of Therber Brock to conduct a study of water and sewer rates for town utility customers. The Indianapolis based firm was one of three which ranked the highest in experience and past job performance. The town will be paying $6,900 for the study.

Other proposals came from O.W. Krohn  ($7,000) of Westfield, Umbaugh & Associates ($7,500) of Indianapolis, Crowe Horhath of Indianapolis and Reedy Financial of Seymour.

In a final matter, town employees will be seeing a 50¢ an hour increase in their pay beginning January 1. The discussion focused on a flat monetary increase for each or a 3% increase.

The council voted 2-1 for a 50¢ increase with Robinson and Derick Minton voting in favor.