Batesville mayor asks commissioners to help with Merkel Road improvements

Cathy May, Contributing Writer

Batesville Mayor Rick Fledderman approached the Ripley County Commissioners at their July 2 meeting about partnering with Batesville on improvements to Merkel Road. The City of Batesville recently purchased 60 acres off Merkel Road from the Prickel Family and has options on other property in the vicinity.

The city wants to turn this property into an Industrial Park. In order to do that, they will need to widen the road and put an additional 2" binder for the expected semi traffic the park will generate. The city has already annexed this property.

The section of Merkel Road in question is between Highway 46 and Lammers Pike, which is about 3/4 mile long. Fledderman said about 60 percent of the road belongs to the city and 40 percent belongs to the county.

Estimates of the cost to widen the 18' road to 22' and put down a 2" overlay are about $94,460. This does not include the cost of culverts and pipe. Fledderman said, “There would be great benefits for the investment.”

Commissioner’s President Bob Reiners told Fledderman they would think about participating in the project, but not to get his hopes up that they would be able to. Reiners said they spent a lot of money on two miles of Merkel Road last year. This year they didn’t have the funds.

John Gause of APEX gave a bleak report to the Commissioners on the rising costs of their health insurance. Since September of 2006, $536,638 has been paid in premiums and $610,639 paid in claims. If this trend continues, the county would be looking at a 25 percent increase in premiums.

The county received a grant for $40,000 from the Rising Sun Regional Foundation to add parcels to the GIS system. GIS stands for Geographical Information System. Three years ago the county acquired the Base System, which shows roads, addresses and section lines. Later voter registration information was added. The $40,000 grant will only cover a portion of the cost to add parcels to the GIS system. The cost is $8 a parcel. The county will apply again next year for additional funds for the project. The parceling will be updated by the County Surveyor’s Office. There is a yearly $5,000 charge to use the software, which will be paid by the commissioners.

Mark Acree and David Boles appeared regarding a water problem caused by their property. The commissioners asked them to remove an elbow. They agreed. Rick Roberts had filed a petition stating the water is going over the road.

Marilyn Hunt, election deputy, asked that the rent at county polling places be increased from $25 to $50 in 2008. That will bring the cost to $5,400 The commissioners agreed.

All three commissioners were in attendance: Bob Reiners, Chuck Folz and Lawrence Nickell. County Attorney Neil Comer and Auditor Mary Ann McCoy were present to advise the commissioners. The next meeting of the Ripley County Commissioners will be July 16 at 8:00 a.m. at the Commissioner’s Room of the Ripley County Annex.