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City's EDC signs off on SuperATV, Sunrise Crossings
  • Updated

Madison’s Economic Development Commission approved two resolutions on Tuesday that will advance a pair of multimillion-dollar bond issues supporting industrial and business development at the proposed SuperATV industrial and Sunrise Crossings commercial developments on the hilltop.

Unlike most city boards, the commission meets only as needed and had last convened more than three years ago. The members — Tim Armstrong, Gayle Spalding and Louis Gottsponer — are charged with considering applications to stimulate redevelopment and increase employment through the issuance of tax abatements and economic development revenue bonds to support business, industry and infrastructure. The resolutions endorsed Tuesday will now go before Madison City Council next week.

Both projects have been the subject of much discussion by the city’s Redevelopment Commission, Board of Public Works and Safety, Plan Commission, Board of Zoning Appeals and City Council but approval by the Economic Development Commission is required in order to issue the bonds that will help finance the developments.

The SuperATV project is a $60 million investment that is expected to create 315 jobs with an annual payroll of $17 million and a $6.9 million investment by the city while The Shoppes at Sunrise Crossing is a $54 million retail development projected to create 250 jobs with a $10 million annual payroll. The second phase of the Sunrise project, a housing complex called the The Residences at Sunrise Crossing, will be developed to address some of the city’s housing shortages and both projects will include engineering and infrastructure to help mitigate storm water issues impacting the city’s Crooked Creek watershed.

According to the city’s bond consultants, both projects carry a lot of upside and very little downside for the city. The SuperATV project will be funded from within its own Tax Increment Finance district. The city’s share of the Sunrise Crossings development will essentially be to provide the roads, sidewalks, traffic control and other public infrastructure needed to redevelop the former Madison Plaza site at Michigan Road and Clifty Drive into the new Sunrise Crossings.

The city’s return on its investment for SuperATV will be pretty much immediate through tax revenues related to that project and the fact that the development will establish its own Tax Increment Finance district and pay money annually into the city’s Redevelopment Commission to be reinvested elsewhere.

The city’s risk is minimal on the Sunrise Crossings projects because in addition to creating jobs, destination shopping involving national retailers, public infrastructure and housing, the city will retain all the infrastructure funded by and for the developments.

Madison Mayor Bob Courtney spoke in favor of both projects noting that Madison is a growing community with rising income, population and tourism and projects like SuperATV and Sunrise Crossings will continue that growth through investment that continues to grow the city’s tax revenue.

He said The Shoppes at Sunrise Crossing — national retailers currently not represented in Madison or the nearby area — will serve as destination shopping on a regional scale and bring in more visitors to the city.

Since the Economic Development Commission had not met since March 30, 1999, the first order of business Tuesday was election of officers to preside at the meeting. Armtsrong was elected president, Spalding vice president and Gottsponer was named secretary.

Trimble County High School held its prom on Saturday, April 23, at City Place in La Grange, Kentucky, with Trey Ferguson (left) crowned prom king and Lauren Haney (right) crowned queen.

Raider Royalty

Search warrant leads to arrest, seizure of drugs
  • Updated

Patrick Eric Otten

Madison Police seized prescription medications — including more that 30 suspected Fentanyl tablets — along with marijuana and marijuana wax after serving a search warrant at a local residence on Tuesday.

Madison Police Detective Kyle Cutshaw and Patrolman Cameron Blankenship began the investigation based on information that a Madison man was the source for illegal prescription medication sales in Jefferson County.

Several controlled narcotic purchases were conducted during the investigation which led the search warrant that was served at the man’s residence Tuesday. Police recovered methamphetamine, marijuana and marijuana wax, a handgun and $1,100 in US currency Otten’s residence in which numerous prescription medications were located including more than 30 suspected Fentanyl tablets. The search also led to finding methamphetamine, marijuana and marijuana wax. A handgun was also seized during a search of the property, along with $1,100 in U.S. currency.

Patrick Eric Otten, 26, Madison, was charged with Dealing in a Schedule IV Substance, a Level 5 felony, and Dealing in a Schedule IV Substance and Possession of a Legend Drug or Precursor, both Level 6 felonies. The case is still under investigation and Otten may face additional charges. Otten was lodged in the Jefferson County Jail without bail.

Madison Police Patrolmen Curtis Shelpman, Graham Heffelfinger, Josh Nolan, Trent Smith, Jared Sweet, Capt. Season Jackson, and Chief John I. Wallace assisted in serving the search warrant and in the investigation.

SW schools could see expanded spring break
  • Updated

A revised calendar for the 2022-2023 school year was approved by the Southwestern Jefferson County Schools board of trustees at its meeting Monday creating the possibility of two consecutive weeks of spring break.

Southwestern Superintendent Jeff Bates said the new calendar changes the school corporation’s guaranteed spring week to a week later which he said “will match up with Madison’s spring break” during the week of March 20-24.

Meanwhile, the week of March 13-17 that had been scheduled as Southwestern’s guaranteed spring break week will now be available to serve as a buffer for meeting the state required 180 school days in case of increment weather. Bates said the process for handling school make-up days would be to use three holidays on the calendar — Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day and Good Friday — as the first used make-up days. After that, there are up to three eLearning/virtual days available. Therefore, six days could be utilized as make-up days before school days will be needed during the week of March 13-17.

On March 15, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed legislation into law that limits school districts to three virtual instruction days, and Bates said that had much to do with the change in the 2022-2023 school calendar. “The main reason that I wanted to look at this was because with the state saying you can do only three virtual days that put us in jeopardy of having to move graduation back and tacking days on at the end of the year, so I wanted to see if we could get those days in before we had to do that.”

The calendar change also starts the new school year one day earlier with the first teacher day on Aug. 1 and the first student day on Aug. 3.

Brandon Frye, president of the Southwestern Classroom Teachers Association, said the teachers are supportive of the new calendar. “We talked about it, the committee talked. I think with some people (we’re) starting earlier in August than we would like but it balances out the calendar a little bit.”

Teacher Karla Thornton noted it was good to match Southwestern’s spring break to Madison Consolidated Schools and “was a big plus, too, because I know we have shared families.”

In other business:

• Approved adoption of the math textbook program from McGraw Hill’s Indiana Reveal program. Southwestern Elementary Assistant Principal Krista Chatham said the process of choosing the Indiana Reveal program began at the start of the current school year. “It was important for us as a school to be united for what do we want out of the textbook when we adopt” because it’s a six-year commitment with that textbook from kindergarten to fifth grade, she said. The first semester was spent determining what components they wanted, and that included: 1) clear standards focus; 2) math fluency; 3) use of hands-on learning activities; 4) classroom discussion; 5) real world problem solving.

Once defined, the math textbook adoption committee attended a textbook caravan event in which presentations were given on different textbooks and samples were received. Each of those textbooks were scored on the five components, and the pros and cons of each textbook program were then presented to the teachers.

“From there, our teachers actually started teaching with that” and testing out the elements of the textbooks from how they applied to what was being taught at the time in the classroom. She said the Indiana Reveal program “was getting the students more involved, it really aligned to those five key elements and the students were enjoying the math instruction, the teachers were enjoying and there were definitely some nice benefits to this program.”

Additionally, Chatham said the program comes with a digital component that doesn’t require Internet access for times when students might be working virtually. “They will be able to get on, and work and then their work will be saved when they come back online. So, for families without Internet access, this is a real pro with this program.”

• Approved Southwestern Elementary textbook fees for the 2022-2023 school year at $137.61 for kindergarten, $138.50 for first grade, $148.79 for second grade, $152.48 for third grade, $159.91 for fourth grade and $131.65 for fifth grade.

• Southwestern Elementary Principal Robert Adams thanked parents and families in the community for the Books Are Fun Book Blast from March 29 to April 8, in which more than $36,000 in donations were received to build student and classroom libraries.

• Adams said kindergarten graduations will be May 16-17, and fifth grade graduations are scheduled for May 17-18. Bates said graduation at the Southeastern Career Center in Versailles is on May 12 and Southwestern will have 28 graduates. Southwestern High School graduation is set for Friday, May 20.

• Approved tthe hiring of Robert Maust as a middle school math teacher for the 2022-2023 school year.

• Notified the board that last week contracted bus drivers were permitted to get 35 gallons of fuel weekly from the school corporation through the end of the school year to offset additional costs they are incurring due increased fuel prices.

• Recognized two Southwestern students participating through the Southeastern Career Center for excelling earlier this month at the Indiana Skills USA careers competition in Indianapolis. Braden Immenhort received a gold award for a Community Action Project and Collin Woolf received a bronze award for Employment Application Processes and a gold award for Building Maintenance.

Charlie’s Beat
  • Updated

Before we dive into Jackson Snelling’s amazing story and his brush with fame on “American Idol,” let’s first do a quick reminder about the Mad Hop Music Fest coming up this Saturday.

I did a deep dive on the event in last week’s column, but just to review, Mad Hop is an all-indoor festival spread over seven downtown venues with five bands at each location. Starting at 11 a.m. you basically “hop” from place to place listening to as much music as you can in one fun-filled eight hour period. One wristband gets you into all of the venues. Visit or go to the Ohio Theater Saturday morning to get your wristband.

Jackson Snelling, 20, was born in Upton, Kentucky, but his family moved to Austin, Indiana, for the special school program available there. “My brother and I both have autism,” Jackson explains, “and they have this special program in Austin that really helped us. The community has been a great place to grow up and I really like it.

“I have this long relationship with the show American Idol. When I was very young my dad and I used to watch it together all the time. Unfortunately my father passed away in 2009, but I never gave up on the dream of singing on Idol someday.

“At age 15, I started going to American Idol regional competitions, like in Columbus, Ohio, and other cities around. I tried my luck three different times but never made the cut. Then when COVID hit they started doing the early pre-auditions by Zoom instead of in person, and lo and behold I made it through to the next round.

“In October of 2020 they flew me out to Hollywood and put me up in the Roosevelt Hotel. I filmed my audition in front of Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan. How’s that for a pressure packed audition! It was an amazing experience.

“That audition was aired in March of 2021, and while I didn’t advance any further in the competition, I got a lot of national exposure from that. I sang my original song ‘Please Listen,’ which you can view on YouTube if you want to see me perform.

“After the TV appearance I got the opportunity to do some traveling to spread my music and my message about suicide awareness. I’ve been to Iowa, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Chicago and lots of places in between. I should mention I’m not done with Idol, either. I’m going back in the fall to try again.

“Then not too long ago, Jerry Wade from Mad Paddle Brewery reached out to me about booking a show. I know it’s strange, with Austin just about half an hour away, but I’d never been to Madison before Jerry called. I have to say I’ve been shocked by the level of the music scene in such a small town.

“Anyway, I did a solo show with just my keyboard and my backing tracks and I had an awesome first experience here. Then Jerry invited me back to sing some songs with the madEssence band back in early April.

“That show went really well, I think. Hard to believe, but I haven’t sung with a full band very much at all. It was a very fun experience that I hope to do more of. Right now I’m working with Jerry to schedule some more shows in Madison. I’m really looking forward to it, and encourage everybody to come out and share the fun. I’d love to meet you!”

Hot Tip of the Week

The Madison Jazz Band and Madison Community Band will perform at 7 p.m. today at Madison Consolidated High School’s Opal E. Sherman Auditorium. If you like your music to swing with plenty of horns, this is the show for you. Tomorrow night at Off Broadway Taproom, a very fine band out of Brooklyn, New York, known as Charles Elsworth & The Space Force Deserters will be playing. This trio is on a national tour and we are very lucky to catch them passing through our little Music City. They describe their style as “jam folk to hard rock.” This show is the Official Mad Hop Music Fest Kick-Off event, so if you have a ticket to Mad Hop you get in free. You can also buy Mad Hop tickets at The Taproom on Friday.

Charlie Rohlfing is a retired advertising man and partner in The Red Bicycle Hall music venue. Look for his distinctive fedora bobbing above the crowd, anywhere live local music is happening.

This Week in Music

Thursday, April 28

The Central — Karaoke

MCHS Auditorium — Jazz Band & Community Band (7 p.m.)

Friday, April 29

Brown Gym — Old Goats and a Nanny (Senior Citizens Dance 6:30 p.m.)

Mad Paddle — Joe Perkinson & Friends

Central Hotel — Bee Camp Bottom Boys

American Legion — Dusty Roads

Rivertown Grill — Vaguely Familiar

Off Broadway Taproom — Charles Elsworth & The Space Force Deserters

Moose Lodge — Dallas Moore (open to public)

Saturday, April 30

All Over Town! — Mad Hop Music Fest

Mad Paddle — madEssence & Regional Singer Contest

Central Hotel — Crossfire

Off Broadway Taproom — Random Roots

Rivertown Grill — Memphis Reigns

Farmer’s Market — The Tradesmen (10 a.m.)

Tuesday, May 3

Off-Broadway Taproom — Open Mic Night