City utilities make case for rate increase

Columbus City Utilities is looking to increase its rates, in large part to replace aging water mains that are older or close to 100 years old.

The city water company held a presentation yesterday, outlining the need for the rate increase and the costs to customers. Scott Dompke, head of the utility, explained:

He said that the new rates, if approved, would be phased in and for an average residential customer using 4,000 gallons of water a month, would go from $9.82 a month for water service to $17.97 a month after all the increases are phased in. He said that is still less than nearby cities like Bloomington, Carmel, Indianapolis and Greensburg. The statewide average is $28.89 a month, almost three times the current Columbus rate.

The increased revenue will be used to improve the service over 20 years. A recent survey of the city’s 300 miles of water pipes shows that much of the infrastructure is aging. He said that a third of the city water mains are more than 50 years old, and 10 percent are nearly 100 years old or older.

The proposed rate increase would allow the city to replace just under two miles of water main a year. Even with $50 million dollars in 43 different planned projects, the city will only be addressing a small portion of the city’s total needs.

Dompke said the last time the city had a water rate increase was in 1992.

Under a tentative time line, the first increases would go into effect in August of next year. The utility board would consider the increase at its regular meeting next Thursday and go before City Council at the council’s July 21st meeting for their first consideration. After local approvals, it would go before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission for approval.

YES Cinema to give away children’s bikes after weekend shows

YES Cinema will be giving away six children’s bikes today, Saturday and Sunday. The bikes will be given out after each weekend showing of Inside Out at the cinema on Jackson Street. Each person who buys a ticket will be entered to win. You must be present to win and the bikes must be taken home after the drawing.

YES Cinema is owned and operated by the Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Family Center. For more information you can go to yescinema.org or call 812-379-1630.

Compost, mulch sales start again today at Recycling Center

The Bartholomew County Solid Waste Management District is restarting its compost and mulch pickup program today.

From 2 to 4:30 you can get a pickup sized load of mulch or compost for $10 at the center off of Mapleton.

Due to COVID-19, you must bring exact change and deposit your payment into the black cash box on the porch of the center. Then take the ticket to have your mulch or compost loaded. The program is for Bartholomew County residents only and not for businesses. For more information, call 812-376-2614.

IUPUC streamlines MBA program for fall

IUPUC has revamped its MBA program with the first students to see the changes this fall.

According to the university, there are curriculum changes, a reduction in the number of credit hours and new course delivery formats. Required credits are being reduced from 45 to 36, which will allow the program to be completed in 21 months.

The program is increasing its focus on data analytics, marketing, and supply chain management. there is also a new “Student Choice Pathway” providing the opportunity for in-depth study in a specific area of interest.

Ryan Brewer, director of the MBA program, says the changes came about after nearly two years of planning. He said it means an improved program overall, but also a way to deliver high-quality education during the pandemic.

The deadline to apply for the fall semester is August 1st. You can get more information at iupuc.edu/mba or contact the Program Assistant, Amy Kleinert via email at akleiner@iu.edu

Truck driver dies after crash in I-65 construction zone

Photo courtesy of Indiana State Police.

An Ohio truck driver was killed in a crash yesterday morning in the construction zone on Interstate 65 near Seymour, after his truck suffered a mechanical problem.

Indiana State Police say that 41-year-old Daniel Cosma of North Royalton, Ohio was driving southbound about three miles north of Seymour at about 9:30 a.m. when he appeared to encounter a mechanical problem. In that section of the work zone there are no shoulders and he stopped his truck in the right lane, where he got out to work on his vehicle.

A second truck, driven by 31-year-old Donald Nicholl of Decatur, Georgia, struck the first trailer, pushing the truck into Cosma, who suffered fatal injuries.

The southbound lanes of the interstate were closed for nearly four hours for crash investigation and cleanup.

Photo courtesy of Indiana State Police

Second bridge to west side of Columbus to close

INDOT says that both the Carr Hill Road and County Road 200S bridges over Interstate 65 will be closed at the same time, for about a two week overlapping period.

INDOT had originally planned to have Carr Hill Road finished, when work moved to the next bridge, but now Carr Hill Road is not expected to finish until late July. And work on County Road 200S will start next week.

INDOT says that you will see lane closures on the interstate next week near Columbus. Starting Monday night, alternating lanes will be closed south of the Columbus exit, while crews remove and transport existing barriers and equipment at each work site. That work will be done between 9 p.m. at night and 6 a.m. in the morning through Saturday morning, weather permitting.

Crews will also begin install guardrails on Carr Hill Road next week.

Crews will close County Road 200S on or after Monday, July 20th with work starting that night. There will be intermittent stoppages with traffic stopped for up to 20 minutes at a time, while the existing bridge is demolished. That work is also going to be between 9 p.m. at night and 6 a.m.  in the morning. The demolition work is expected to take about a week.

Time still left to seek help with school supplies

There is still time for families in need to apply for assistance with school supplies. The Bartholomew County School Supply Assistance Program is now taking applications through the United Way of Bartholomew County. Magen Pillar, spokeswoman for the United Way explains that he need is expected to be great this year.

The program is open to any Bartholomew County students in grades K-12, whether they attend BCSC schools, Flat Rock-Hawcreek schools, or one of the private or parochial schools in the county.

Those who request help by July 17th will be given priority.

To register your children for assistance call (812) 375-2216 or 812-375-9370 for help in Spanish.

Pillar said that if you would like to donate school supplies to the drive, you can go to Amazon and search for the Bartholomew County School Supply Assistance Program wishlist.

To donate money, which can be used efficiently to make bulk purchases, you can go through the United Way’s website at uwbarthco.org/bcssap

Coronavirus update for July 9th: State passes 49k cases

According to the most recent update from the Indiana State Department of Health, there are 49,063 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Indiana, an increase of 455 cases since Tuesday’s update.

There have been 2,539 deaths in Indiana as of Wednesday afternoon’s update, an increase of 15 since Tuesday.

Bartholomew County has had 591 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 45 deaths.

City approves annexation, rezoning for new retirement community

The city of Columbus is adding almost 40 acres on the northeast side of the city under an annexation and rezoning plan approved by Columbus City Council.

The developers, BHI Retirement Communities, are planning a 103-unit retirement community at the northeast corner of Talley Road and Rocky Ford Road or County Road 250N.

Council voted unanimously to approve the second and final reading of the annexation ordinance.

The Council also gave its first approval of a rezoning request that will change the property’s use from Agriculture to Multi-Family Residential.

Changes made to clean up control of old Columbus cemetery

The Columbus City Cemetery next to Donner Park would come under the control of the City’s Board of Public Works and Safety under a plan given its first approvals by City Council this week.

Mary Ferdon, executive director of administration and community development for the city, told the council that control of the old cemetery, dating back to the early days of the community, has fallen into limbo.

The city Parks and Recreation Department has operated and maintained the cemetery in conjunction with a cemetery board, but the exact origin of that arrangement has been lost to history. Ferdon said that there are frequent difficult decisions that must be made, such as when conflicting family members struggle over who owns and can use a long-ago purchased lot in the cemetery. And it has been unclear how the parks department has the authority to make those decisions, according to City Attorney Alan Whitted.

Although a 1997 state law gave control over city-owned cemeteries to City Councils, the law also allowed the control to be transferred to other bodies, such as the board of works. But Columbus never made that change, according to city paperwork.

Ferdon said the parks department would continue to maintain the cemetery after the change. After it goes into place one of the first tasks will be to review the cemetery policy manual.

Ferdon said that funding for repairs has also been a problem. The city would like to set up an endowment to maintain the cemetery and its monuments, many of which honor the founders of the city.

Council gave its first approval to the plan Tuesday.