Rally shows opposition to Mid-States CorridorAugust 3, 2020
By CANDY NEAL
JASPER — Doris Salmon still lives on the Dubois farm where she was born.
Her home place is threatened by one of the proposed Mid-States Corridor routes.
“It will take the whole farm,” she said as she sat in a chair at a Mid-States rally on the Dubois County Courthouse lawn Saturday morning with a sign that read, “Don’t destroy the only home I know.”
Her daughter Charlene Rasche would lose her home if the route is chosen. “It will go straight through her house,“ Doris said.
Charlene was also at Saturday’s rally, holding a sign that said, “Don’t take our home sweet home.”
More than 100 people attended the rally, many holding their own signs and wearing shirts that expressed their opposition to the Mid-States Corridor project.
The Mid-States Corridor is a proposed, four-lane, limited-access highway that would run north from Owensboro, Kentucky, and through Dubois County to connect to I-69. The Lochmueller Group has been studying route options and different road types. They have been narrowed down to five route options: two running west of U.S. 231, one running somewhat parallel to the state road in Dubois County, and two running east of the road. Those options were shown at a series of community meetings in February. The options will be narrowed down to one proposed option this fall, which will be studied to determine a more specific single route, possibly by next summer.
Like the others at Saturday’s rally, Doris is against the project.
“There are already enough roads to bring business here,” Doris said. “They should fix the roads they got.”
Crystal Salmon, Doris’ daughter who lives in Jasper, is worried about crime increasing in the areas where the road will lie.
“It will bring more negative, activities," Crystal said. "This highway is going to be out in the middle of nowhere. People can just pull over and run to somebody's house and rob it, and then run back and be gone before they even know they were robbed. And drug trafficking and human trafficking. That's what I'm scared of.”
Saturday’s rally was for those who are against the project to come together to support each other, while showing the public that opposition to the project exists.
The first hour of the rally started with perfect weather. The rains came at the second hour. But people just put up their umbrellas and hats, stood under canopies or just braved the downpour.
Speakers stood on the porch of the courthouse to share stories of family farms being destroyed, livelihoods being lost and forest land being replaced with pavement.
Pretty much no one at the rally wanted any route. The general consensus was that the road itself is not needed.
“We just need to improve the roads we’ve got,” said Robert Jochum of Jochum Family Farm, which has been in existence since 1847. “We can’t hardly keep up the roads we’ve got. They’re so rough and got potholes and everything else.”
Part of the historical farm, which is still being farmed by family, would be in the path of one of the roads. But Jochum believes that none of the proposed paths should be considered.
“They don’t realize that that’s our livelihood, that farm is,” Jochum said. “It just ain’t like we can just pick up and go somewhere else and buy another farm and keep on farming.”
He doesn’t think the road would bring any new businesses to the area. “It won't bring in any more business than what we got here. It’s just like [I-64] when that come through,” Jochum said. “Ferdinand didn’t expand much, compared to back then.”
Holland Councilwoman Melanie Barrett said the Mid-States Corridor would hurt small towns.
“I don’t want people speeding by us. I want people to come in and enjoy our park, enjoy our small town,” she said. “You don't do that when you go 15 miles outside of town.”
Barrett, who is also on the town’s park board, talked about the town’s 78-acre park that was recently improved. “We just got a huge project done, taking down ash trees and replanting hardwood shade trees,” she said. “We’ve got lakes, and a walk path, playgrounds, shelter houses, a stadium, football field, basketball, volleyball, tennis. And people really have enjoyed it.
“You take that away when people drive by on a bypass.”
Two of the proposed routes will go through Kellams Family Farm, which is just south of Ireland. Cheryl (Kellams) Sermersheim said that it will go through her home and the homes of her parents, brother and two of her daughters. “We just don’t need this,” she said. “It’s going to hurt a lot of people.”
The Kellams Family Farm has been named a Hoosier Homestead three times: centennial, sesquicentennial, and bicentennial for being open and operating for 100, 150, and 200 consecutive years, respectively. Sermersheim and her husband, Mike, were at the rally with the farm’s Hoosier Homestead sign.
“Look at the bypass around Dale,” Mike said. “How many people go through Dale? No one goes through Dale anymore.”
They hope those making the decisions will abandon this idea.
“We don’t want it anywhere,” said Steve Young, who could lose the Stewart Road home he and his wife Monica just purchased in April. “It’s going to affect so many families, that we don’t see a plus side to this.
“We need people to move in. We need housing for people,” he said. “We don’t need an interstate.”
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