Rescue plan

County of Vigo plans to use US bailout funds | Local News

The Vigo County Board of Commissioners is closing in on finalizing projects using US bailout funds.

Commissioners voted on Tuesday to create a fund for the county to hold and track ARP funds.

The US bailout was signed into law by President Joe Biden in March 2021. Vigo County will receive $20.76 million, and the county received half of that funding; the second half is to be received next month. The funds must be spent before the end of 2024.

The City of Terre Haute will receive over $35.93 million in ARP funds.

“We have a three or four page list of projects that qualify [for use of ARP funds]and we are in the process of scheduling meetings with county council members over the next 14 days to discuss these projects with them,” said Board of Commissioners Chairman Chris Switzer.

“We’re excited to start some of these projects, hopefully,” Switzer said.

The commissioners will meet with two council members at a time, so as not to form a quorum or a committee. They will also meet with Mayor Duke Bennett and members of the Terre Haute City Council — also in small groups so as not to invoke the state’s Open Door Law, Switzer said.

“We hope to be publicly ready to talk about things in the first or second week of May, projects that could potentially happen,” Switzer said.

Ruble Park opens April 30

In a separate matter, commissioners discussed Vigo County’s newest park – Ruble Park – which is set to open on April 30. Located on 822 acres of former Pfizer property near Ivy Tech Community College, the park is named after Keith Ruble, who served as Superintendent of Parks. from 1973 to 2012.

Tribune-Star/Joseph C. Garza Adam Grossman, Superintendent of the Vigo County Parks and Recreation Department.

“We have several speakers lined up, including Keith Ruble, who will be there to talk about the trees and prairie grass he has planted” in the park. “His son, Luke Ruble, will talk about aquatic plants and species and pond treatment,” said Adam Grossman, who has served as the parks department’s superintendent since April 2019.

Purdue Extension Vigo County will lead a hike through the property, Grossman said, and Vigo County Commissioner Brendan Kearns will lead a hike in which wildlife photography and hiking are topics.

“We have a fun day where the public can come and explore the property,” Grossman said. “We are hoping for dry enough weather to make it to the finish line ourselves as we are trying to do a one mile loop for an accessible trail. This is the only part of the property designed to be accessible, with the rest of the black diamond walking paths with log crossings.

“We still have to complete some walks and different crossings,” he said.

Additionally, Indiana’s Department of Environmental Management tested fish tissue and “everything went well,” Grossman said, so public fishing will be permitted. The tests were done because the site had been a Pfizer production property from late 1947 until its closure in 2008.

The new park, which is divided into east, central and west sections, will also offer deer bow hunting in the central section, Grossman said.

“We hope to have a draw of Vigo County citizens for bowhunting only from October 1 through January,” likely only on weekends during that time, he said. The plan is to keep the entire park open during the week.

Commissioners voted to close Carlisle Road at the southeast corner of Ivy Tech Community College from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 30 for a 5k run as part of the grand opening of the new park. A ribbon cutting is scheduled for April 30 at 9 a.m.

Vigo County parks include Fowler, Prairie Creek, Hawthorn, Griffin Bike Park, and Bicentennial Park, which is under development. The county also has smaller satellite parks which include Dewey Point at Wabashiki Fish and Wildlife Area, Lee Field Park and South 7th Street Park, both of which are in West Terre Haute, George and Ida Smith Park in Prairieton, and Markle Mill Park.

Opioid Regulation

In other cases, commissioners voted to join a state litigation settlement spurred by the opioid epidemic that will net the county about $1.4 million over an 18-year period.

The city of Terre Haute will receive approximately $2.5 million over 18 years from the settlement.

The state’s original litigation stipulated that 15% of a $507 million settlement would go to local government. The Indiana General Assembly changed that to 35% for local government with the majority of the state’s share going to the Indiana Family Social Services Administration.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or [email protected] Follow on Twitter @TribStarHoward.