Housing, utilities highlight 2019 in Ferdinand


FERDINAND — Ferdinand is a small town with a lot going on, and 2019 was a big year.

New business moving in, housing developments going up, utility improvements and a couple utility rate increases were a few of the highlights of the action the town saw in 2019.

On the housing side, Town Manager Chris James and Town Council President Ken Sicard were both excited to see Country Ridge Estates — a Kerstiens Homes & Designs development — on the town’s north side begin to take shape. As of now, one house is being constructed in the roughly 15-lot subdivision, and several other lots sport “Sold” signs.

Across Industrial Park Road from Country Ridge Estates, father-son duo Randy and Dakota Begle is working on a second building in the Royal Ridge Apartments development, and near Monastery Immaculate Conception, Trilogy Health Services opened a new facility — Scenic Hills at the Monastery — which relocated their Ferdinand location and allowed for more room for elderly citizens to move into the facility.

James and Sicard emphasized the potential population growth the developments mean for the town.

“[Housing] has been a point of emphasis ever since I came on as town manager,” James said. He became town manager in 2014.

On the business side, Universal Package of Dale moved closer to opening a facility in the Jasper Seating building that includes a renovation to the site. At its meeting this month, the Town Council approved a nine-year tax abatement for the project.

“We’ve been working very hard with them,” Sicard said.

At the municipal level, town leadership got a lot done, too. The trail project around the Old Town Lake is nearly completed and expected to open in January. That project has been a major focus for the parks department this year.

“That’s another feather in our cap as far as parks in town,” James said.

Also this year, the American Legion, town and Ferdinand Chamber of Commerce — which will merge with the Huntingburg Chamber of Commerce in the new year to become the Dubois County Chamber of Commerce — teamed up to construct a veterans memorial along State Road 162 on the town’s north side. The memorial serves as a welcome into town for travelers entering from the north.

The utility departments also had a big year. Upgrades to the town’s electric infrastructure are ongoing, but work on one of the substations is almost complete. The upgrades bring both of the town’s substations to the same specifications so that one can back up the other in the event of a power outage, something Sicard said is big for the town and its electric customers.

Of course, utility infrastructure work doesn’t come cheap, so the town passed a couple rate increases this year, one for the electric utility and one for the water utility.

The town also said good-bye to long-time park board member Dolores Boeglin, who retired from the board after 20 years of service.

Looking ahead to 2020, both James and Sicard said the town will continue to utilize the Indiana Department of Transportation’s Community Crossings grant program to help pay for street work within the town. The men are also excited to see the Old Town Lake trail project come to a close and the continued growth of the town.

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