County to drain lake, reopen road near club


HUNTINGBURG — After being closed more than a year, County Road 100 West near the Huntingburg Conservation Club will soon reopen after the nearby lake is drained, a culvert is installed and repairs are made to the road.

The Dubois County Commissioners previously gave the club until Aug. 1 of this year to raise $35,000 to pay the engineering costs, but after members failed to do so and the commissioners heard their updated timeline moving forward, commissioners Chad Blessinger and Nick Hostetter voted Tuesday to move forward with the culvert installation and repairs.

“I was hoping to at this meeting we’d know whether or not you raised your money, and if you didn’t raise the money, I was prepared to say, ‘Put the culvert in,’” Hostetter said before the three commissioners voted to do just that.

He later added: “I think we’ve kicked this can down the road far enough.”

Commissioner Elmer Brames opposed adding the culvert and voiced his support for waiting until the club receives the results of soil sample testing to make a decision.

Heavy rains that hit the area in late April and early May 2017 exposed a problem with the dam’s drainage. Because there was too much rain for the dam to handle, the water washed away some of the bank around the dam and underneath the road. For safety reasons, the section of the county road that includes the dam was closed indefinitely.

In February, County Engineer Brent Wendholt explained that repairing the dam to Indiana Department of Natural Resources standards is incredibly expensive work because the spillways and pipes are required to be a specific size to protect against the strongest of strong storms.

To facilitate the road’s reopening, the dam’s existing spillway will be removed, the culvert will be installed and the road will open to traffic in one to two months. The culvert — which Wendholt estimated will cost about $16,000 — can be removed if the club raises enough funds to make their repairs and the commissioners approve its removal.

The club is awaiting soil testing. Dirt from the lake and other areas on the property would be sold to the Huntingburg Airport if the soil testing comes back OK, and the money the club nets would cover the costs of the engineers and a contractor to complete the dam repair work.

The total cost of the required fixes at the lake are estimated by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to cost as much as $500,000. The county agreed to pay $150,000 of those costs.

Bernie Main, president of the club, spoke at the commissioners meeting on Tuesday. At this point, it’s not known how much dirt the club would need to sell to raise the necessary funds. He said he’s heard that the dirt sells for $8 to $15 per cubic yard. Dirt would not be sold or removed until October of next year, meaning the road would have remained closed into next fall if the commissioners waited on the club.

“If you figure $5 a cubic yard, 100,000 cubic yards, I mean, we’re talking numbers that would help us get to the point that we need to be at,” Main said before the commissioners’ vote.

Main also said the club will know if it can save the lake when the members receive results of the soil samples, but Brames pointed out that even then, the dirt will be bid on and that will determine how much money the club receives.

When asked if the club has a plan B if the dirt can’t be sold, Main said there are other options, but they have not been discussed. Hostetter encouraged Main to keep moving forward on the dirt sale and said that hopefully the dam will be rebuilt in the future.

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