County, cities to consider trail master plan


Dubois County and the county’s two cities — Jasper and Huntingburg — have been talking about how a countywide trail system connecting all four of the county’s high schools could be done.

They plan to pursue a state planning grant to develop a countywide trail master plan.

“It would look at connecting all four high schools and the county park,” County Engineer Brent Wendholt told the Dubois County Commissioners Monday morning. “It could also utilize the cities’ trails and the trails at Patoka Lake.”

To do so, the county, Huntingburg and Jasper must agree to apply for the grant and search for a consultant. Jasper and Huntingburg approved doing that last week. And the commissioners agreed to the pursuit Monday, though Commissioners President Chad Blessinger was not in favor.

He stated that master plans can go unused, and this is not the best use of public funds. Plus, he said, the highway department would have to maintain parts of this trail, if it is built.

“The master plan is a great idea,” Commissioner Elmer Brames said, “not that we will be building this in the next year or five years. But if Huntingburg wanted to build a piece, for instance, it would have the plan.”

The $20,000 grant from the state health department is a matching grant and due by Dec. 19. But the goal is not to use public money for this match, Brames said.

“We want to do this without using public money upfront,” he said. Getting funding from other sources like Dubois Strong or the Dubois County Community Foundation are options, as well as private funds. Blessinger pointed out that Dubois Strong is partially funded by public funds.

Having a master plan would qualify the trail project for federal funding, if it is available. “You need to have a master plan to apply for federal funds,” Wendholt said.

Commissioner Nick Hostetter said that while he doesn’t want to put a lot of public money into the project, “trails are a big draw. And the ones here are used.” He said he will support the pursuit, “but ultimately, I don’t want the county to put a bunch of money into this.”

The commissioners also:

• Told the highway department to look into the damage that has been done to Kellerville Road. It seems that logging trucks have caused the sides of the road to crumble, which is not allowed. Berg said that he will look into it. The department has a policy that if someone damages a county road, that person or company has to pay for the damages.

• Heard concerns from resident Rebekah Atkins about public access to court adoption documents. Blessinger said that while he has a hard time believing courthouse employees are denying access, she can file a complaint with the Indiana Public Access Officer. “The same access I can get as a citizen, you should get,” he said.

• Gave the county weed board permission to use its $600 budget to put out information about landowners making sure that noxious weeds are not spreading in ditch banks and non-cropped areas that the landowner maintains.

• Hired Shireman Construction of Corydon as the construction manager for the justice center. Negotiations are continuing with RQAW of Fishers to be the architect for the project.

• Opened numerous bids for 2020 materials that will be used by the highway department. Those bids are being analyzed.

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