INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – The Indiana Supreme Court has cleared the way for construction of a coal-gasification plant in Rockport, Ind.
The state’s high court ruled unanimously Tuesday that an alteration of the contract the plant’s developers signed with the Indiana Finance Authority did not constitute a significant change. Opponents of the project had argued the contract should be invalidated.
Rockport mayor Harold Goffinet says the plant would have a big impact:
Goffinet says the potential for 250 new jobs and the $3 billion investment by the company will also be a big additon to the local tax base.
Under the contract, the state will buy the synthetic gas produced by the plant at fixed price for 30 years. The state would then resell the gas and consumers would either make or lose money. The state has not said how much it will pay for the gas.
Justice Mark Massa ruled in favor of the project after declining to recuse himself from the vote despite a close friendship with the project’s lead developer.
Though winter weather has put a stop to construction efforts on a Daviess County road project, the project is continuing to move forward behind the scenes.
Officials had been hoping to get pavement down for Phase 1 of the Odon-Cannelburg Road project between County Road 450 North and 550 North this year, but that work is now on hold. Daviess County highway superintendent Phil Cornelius points to the weather as the main source of the problem. He says work behind the scenes is currently going on for the next phase:
The application for federal funding of the project through INDOT has already been applied for and that was done this past Friday according to Cornelius. He says the highway department has high hopes that the project will score well with INDOT. He also says the goal is to prevent traffic issues in the future:
Now the next phase of the project (known as Phase 2A) will involve construction between County Roads 550 North and 800 North. The Daviess County Council has already approved more than 800 thousand dollars towards the purchase of right-of-way for the project. The project is set to cost a total of 11.6 million dollars.
Cornelius says the department hopes to hear from INDOT concerning its decision on project funding next month. He says the plans call for land purchases to be wrapped up by the end of March 2014 and for the next phase of the project to go to bid in December of 2014. Cornelius says construction on the next phase is expected to begin in the spring of 2015.
Another local school corporation is feeling some impact from the recent winter weather.
During last night’s Northeast Dubois school board meeting, superintendent Bill Hochgesang announced make-up dates for the three recent snow days that the corporation had to use.
Hochgesang says though there is some concern in the corporation about using 3 snow days this early in the winter season, he says the days are serving their purpose:
The Friday, December 6th snow day will be made up on Friday January 3rd, thus the last day of the upcoming winter break for Northeast Dubois students will be Thursday, January 2nd. The corporation will make-up its December 9th snow day on February 14th and the December 10th snow day will be made up on February 17th. Hochgesang informed the board that the district still has 3 snow days left in this year’s calendar. The Greater Jasper school board has also adjusted its calendar to adapt to the recent snow days.
Also last night, Hochgesang informed the board that the Department of Local Government Finance has approved the corporation’s budget for next year. He also announced that the tax rate for the corporation would drop by about 7 and a half cents per 100 dollars of assessed value this year due to an unexpected increase in the corporation’s assessed value.
Hochgesang says it should come as good news to the taxpayer:
Hochgesang says the assessed value increased by about 10 million dollars this year, which is 5 times more than what it usually does.
In final notes, the board approved the transfer of 100 thousand dollars to the rainy day fund. 55 thousand dollars will come from the transportation fund and 45 thousand will come from the bus replacement fund.
The City of Jasper has now finalized its membership in a statewide coalition geared towards clean energy.
During Monday night’s utility service board meeting, the board heard a presentation from Kellie Walsh, the executive director of Greater Indiana Clean Cities Coalition. In her presentation, Walsh highlighted that the coalition serves two thirds of the state of Indiana and has secured more than 22 million dollars in federal and state grants since 2004.
Walsh says obtaining that funding isn’t the only thing that the coalition does, though it is important:
Walsh says she believes the cleaner coalition as a whole is seen as a one-stop shop for cities seeking alternative energy sources. She says the goal of the coalition in its work with the city of Jasper is clear:
The Clean Cities Coalition, which was originally founded back in 1992 following the Energy Policy Act’s implementation that same year, has nearly 100 coalitions all across the country and almost 18 thousand stakeholders. Of those stakeholders, 52 percent of them are in the public sector. The coalition’s goals are to replace petroleum with alternative fuels, reduce petroleum consumption through smarter driving practices and improvements in fuel economy, and to eliminate petroleum use through reduction of idling and other practices and technologies in fuel-saving.
Walsh says her coalition will be holding a “Lunch and Learn” program on January 31st on the Vincennes University Jasper Campus to let people learn more about the coalition and what it does.
Now the Jasper utility service board originally approved becoming a member of the coalition at last month’s board meeting. The membership will cost the board 500 dollars per year and it allows for a feasibility study to be done for a compressed natural gas filling station for Jasper city vehicles.
Officials with the Jasper Municipal Gas and Water Department say that because of construction work on the Third Avenue water main replacement project, Third Avenue between Giesler Road and Herbig Lane will be restricted to one-lane traffic with possible momentary traffic stops.
These traffic restrictions will take place from 9 pm till 12 midnight both tomorrow December 18th and on Thursday December 19th.
Department officials asked the motorist be aware of traffic congestion and avoid the area during these times if at all possible.
At a special meeting at Ferdinand Town Hall last night town board president Ken Sicard formally introduced longtime local broadcaster Chris James as the community’s new town manager.
A native of Perry County, the 43-year old James is a 1989 graduate of Perry Central High School and Vincennes University. He began is broadcasting career at WTCJ Radio in Tell City before joining and spending 2 years here at DC Broadcasting. He has worked for radio stations WITZ/WQKZ for the past 16 years. He and his wife Trina (who is a supervisor for the Ferdinand Library) have two children.
James says he’s enjoyed his long career in broadcasting and communications but says now he’s looking forward to the new challenge. James says he’s excited to serve his community:
James will receive an annual salary of $55,640 based on a 45-hour work week. Now the position has been vacant since former Town Manager Marc Steczyk left the job in September to take a position with Kimball Office.
Sicard said that the interview committee consisting of himself, council members Ron Weyer, Debbie Johnson and Clerk-Treasurer Bev Schulthise wanted to make sure they found the right person they felt could do the job and serve the town best. Sicard said that the committee from day one did not want to rush into filling the position.
Sicard said since the search began the town had received 14 applications of which 9 were interviewed. That 9 was narrowed down to 3 who received a second interview.
Sicard says James who has been a resident since 1995 brings to the community the thorough knowledge of the town. He says his solid background in communications marketing and sales are big factors in his selection:
Students in the Greater Jasper school district are set to have their upcoming winter break cut short by a day.
Yesterday afternoon, the Greater Jasper School board approved a recommendation by superintendent Dr. Tracey Lorey to add a snow make-up day to the calendar for the current school year in light of the recent winter weather that forced the corporation to use 3 of the originally scheduled 5 snow days for this year. The change means that students will now start back on Thursday, January 2nd rather than on Friday January 3rd.
Lorey says the change was proposed due to the unexpected onslaught of winter. She says the change prevents students from having to go to school into June at this point:
Now the change allows the Greater Jasper district to save other remaining snow make up days on the original calendar. These include January 20th and February 17th.
In other business, the board approved the school improvement plans for all 5 schools in the Greater Jasper district. Lorey says the district has still gotten good perspective on what is needed despite delays at the state level:
The board heard a presentation from Ireland Elementary school staff about their specific school improvement plan at the meeting. In final notes, Lorey informed the board about changes that the Department of Local Government Finance made to the 2014 budget for the district. The final tax rate is actually set to decrease this year, down to $1.08 per $100 of assessed value. That would be a decrease of 6 cents from last year’s $1.14. Lorey says the district always advertises high in order to maximize funding for the district. She says the district has been able to do just that:
Lorey says there were no surprises at all, though the district is pleased that the assessed value of the district increased by more than 20 million dollars.