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Church making sure former school continues bettering community
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When Madison’s First Baptist Church purchased the former Eggleston Elementary School building in the summer of 2013, they knew it would be a big undertaking for the church.

“We put the decision on hold for six months and prayed about it,” recalled FBC Madison Pastor Randy Crutchfield, before the members endorsed finalizing the purchase. “And when church voted, the business meeting was held at Eggleston ... there was a lot of enthusiasm.”

The building, located at 419 East Street, is now called the Eggleston Community Building because of the church’s hope for what it will do for the community.

“We felt God could use it for the betterment of the community,” Crutchfield said. “The main reason we bought the building is because of the vision we had in mind for the community.”

That vision was for the former school to continue being a place that helps people.

La Casa Amiga is the most recent organization to move into Eggleston. La Casa helps Spanish speaking newcomers to the community integrate and gain access to services they need along with tutoring, assistance in translation and teaching English, and much more. The agency had been on Madison’s hilltop behind Fashion Cleaners since it’s creation on July 26, 2003 but when the cleaners closed Las Casa was forced by financial considerations to move.

“It was home,” said Shirley Kloepfer, noting it was tough leaving the only place the agency ever knew but everyone is adapting to the new home. “We like it here. People are getting to know it better ... We’ve had a pretty good turnout.”

La Casa Amiga uses space in a former classroom that “seems bigger because it is wider” than the space the organization had at its hilltop location. There is also room for storage on the top floor and the move to Eggleston will provide a new location for the group’s Hispanic Cultural Awareness Festival, held in past years at the Broadway Fountain but slated for the streets around Eggleston this Sept. 18.

Kloepfer noted that having the event at Eggleston might “be good for this area of town.”

Second Stories has called the Eggleston building home since the organization began in June of 2015, providing educational services to mothers, fathers, grandparents or anyone raising a toddler.

“We’re here to help them have healthy pregnancies and healthy habits in families,” said Kim Taylor, executive director of Second Stories. Taylor said her motivation for the agency’s work is similar that of First Baptist Church.

“It’s my spiritual beliefs,” she said. “Jesus tells us to love our neighbors and that’s why I do what I do.”

Second stories provides assistance to help parents whatever their situation. She said there are people who have no family examples on how to raise a healthy child and Second Stories has programs to provide guidance.

The agency uses an “earn while you learn” program for parents, expectant parents, grandparents, or anyone raising a toddler where they earn “baby bucks” that can be used to purchase items in the Blessings Boutique. The curriculum teaches about prenatal care and parenting for babies and toddlers. Participants will discover that childcare experts will sometimes have different theories on parenting, and while each provides guidance, “each parent will have to figure out what works out best for you,” Taylor said, noting the focus is developing “a desire to improve parenting skills” and raise healthy children.

Another tenant of the building, Treasuring Small Spirits, is an organization founded in 2007 to help families dealing with grief after the loss of baby. In 2004, Kathy Stoner lost her infant son, Timothy, and because of the grief she had experienced, she wanted to help others going through situations like she did. Stoner and her sister, Debbie Anderson, put together resource bags that they send to grieving families.

Treasuring Small Spirits began working out of Eggleston when the demand for resource bags became so great they no longer had space to store them at home.

“We’d have 100 bags at a time,” said Stoner, and while most of the bags are delivered in this area, many are sent all over the United States.

She said they are “sad whenever we have to deliver a bag” but know how important it is to reach out to those who are grieving. “When I lost my baby in 2004, something that helped me get better was a pocket angel to hold onto, a picture of Jesus holding a baby.”

She hopes the resources included in the bag will help others with their grief just as she was helped.

A pair of 12-step groups — Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous — also meet in the building, providing a place were those dealing with addictions can find support.

Madison First Baptist Church, at 214 years old, is the oldest Baptist church in Indiana and affiliated with American Baptist Churches USA. The church has used the Eggleston building for Bible study, youth groups, and other church activities. Crutchfield noted that Eggleston has also provided the church a space for fine arts and crafts programs not available at their 416 Vine Street location.

The organizations currently using the building are all on the second floor, but there is more space available on the other two floors.

“We are still under-utilizing the building,” Crutchfield said, adding he would like to have more community organizations there.

Eggleston Elementary School was named after author Edward Eggleston, who was born in Vevay before moving to Madison. The school was in its 100th year when it closed in 2006 but Madison Consolidated Schools continued to own the building for five years. In 2011 the school board wanted to sell the property before a new Indiana law took effect requiring school districts to lease empty school buildings to charter schools at a cost of $1 a year, according to articles in The Madison Courier.

First, the school corporation listed the building for bids at a minimum of $270,000 based on appraisals. When no bids were received, the building was auctioned June 30, 2011 with Kathie Petkovic of Madison making the winning bid of $30,000. Two years later, Petkovic sold the building to FBC Madison.

A sense of outreach has been a part of the Eggleston building from its beginning in 1906. The school’s principal for the first 27 years was Jennie Duncan, who was known to assist poverty-stricken Eggleston children and their parents with food, clothing, coal for winter heat and even rent, according to a July 1, 2006 article in The Madison Courier. “Her deeds while at Eggleston were legend,” the article said, with the school’s auditorium being named after her.

With the purchase, FBC Madison must not only maintain its own building on Vine Street, but also the three-story Eggleston building. However, Crutchfield noted Eggleston was “built really well. The infrastructure has been kept up well,” and the church has received community support in maintaining the building. He said workers from Madison Tool and Die pitched in to paint walls, workers from Rotary Lift have helped with flooring, and many others have volunteered to keep the building in good shape.

“This is God’s building, and we are happy to be stewards of it,” Crutchfield said.

US 421 closure to begin April 6
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The Indiana Department of Transportation placed a road closure sign on US 421 this week ahead of an estimated 90-day project to replace the Graham Creek Bridge in Ripley County starting on April 6.

According to INDOT, contractor Dave O’Mara Contractor Inc. plans to close the US 421 bridge over Graham Creek in Ripley County on or after Tuesday, April 6, for the bridge replacement project and the highway between Madison and Versailles could be closed to through traffic until early July.

The bridge is located approximately one mile south of State Road 129 in Versailles. The $891,000 contract was awarded in November and allows a closure time of 90 days, through early July, with additional work continuing until late August.

The official detour route will follow US 50 to State Road 7 to State Road 62 and back to US 421. The detour will turn a 25-mile trip from Madison to Versailles — especially for heavy trucks — into a 46-mile route north to North Vernon and then east to Versailles. However, local motorists will be able to utilize other route options.

Motorists are reminded to slow down, use extra caution and drive distraction-free in and near all work zones. All work is weather-dependent and schedules are subject to change.

Nucor announces $164M tube mill in Gallatin
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Nucor Tubular Products, a division of steel products manufacturer Nucor Corp., announced plans to build a $164 million tube mill near it’s sheet mill plant in Gallatin County, Kentucky, and create another 72 full-time jobs on the US 42 industrial corridor along the Ohio River from Carrollton to Warsaw.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear helped make the announcement in Frankfort, Kentucky, and said the plant will being well-paying, high-quality jobs to the commonwealth. Just last October Nucor announced plans to build a $1.7 billion steel mill in Brandenburg, Kentucky, a 1.5-million-square-foot operation expected to open in 2022 that will employ 400.

“Nucor continues making a tremendous impact in our state, serving as both a great corporate citizen and a committed partner in providing meaningful opportunities for Kentuckians,” Beshear said. “Today’s announcement that the company will create 70-plus Kentucky-resident jobs boasting average salaries over $70,000 is very encouraging news for the families in Gallatin County and the surrounding region. I appreciate Nucor’s commitment to Kentucky during such an important year for the commonwealth.”

Once operational, the 396,000-square-foot tube mill will provide capacity to produce 250,000 tons of steel tubing annually, including hollow structural section tubing, mechanical steel tubing and galvanized solar torque tubing. These products will serve the construction, infrastructure and renewable energy industries.

The location, which is near Ghent, Kentucky, will position the new tube mill near expanding solar markets in the U.S. and the largest consuming regions for hollow structural sections tubing. Company leaders expect construction to begin this summer, with completion currently slated for mid-year 2023.

“We are excited to continue to expand our business in the state of Kentucky. With our recent investments to expand capacity at Nucor Steel Gallatin and add a galvanizing line, our Gallatin campus is an ideal location to build our new tube mill,” said Nucor Corp. President and CEO Leon Topalian. “We would like to thank Gov. Beshear, officials with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, and local officials in Gallatin County for their support of this project and our other investments in the state.”

With this investment, Nucor will add to its already significant presence in Gallatin County. The company recently completed Phase 1 of a massive, $826 million expansion project at its Nucor Steel Gallatin mill near Ghent, Kentucky. That mill, which produces flat-rolled steel coils, is now in the middle of Phase 2. In total, the Gallatin steel mill expansions are creating 145 full-time jobs.

Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, Nucor is North America’s largest recycler and the nation’s largest steel and steel products producer. The company employs over 26,000 people at more than 300 facilities, primarily located in North America.

In Kentucky, Nucor and its affiliates employ approximately 2,000 people at numerous facilities, including Nucor Steel Gallatin, Nucor Tubular Products Louisville, Harris Rebar and a 50% ownership stake in Steel Technologies. Nucor also owns the David J. Joseph Co. and its multiple recycling facilities across the state doing business as Rivers Metals Recycling that collect and recycle scrap metal.

Nucor’s Tubular Products (NTP) Group was formed in 2016 when Nucor entered the tube market with the acquisitions of Southland Tube, Independence Tube Corp. and Republic Conduit. Today, NTP consists of eight tubular facilities strategically located near Nucor’s sheet mills, as they are consumers of hot-rolled coil — including Nucor Tubular Products in Madison, Indiana, a 280,000 square foot facility located just off US 421 on Madison’s hilltop.

The NTP Group produces HSS steel tubing, mechanical steel tubing, piling, sprinkler pipe, galvanized tube, heat-treated tubing and electrical conduit. Total annual NTP capacity is approximately 1.365 million tons.

Nucor’s facilities are part of Kentucky’s robust primary metals industry, which encompasses more than 220 facilities employing roughly 26,000 people. The industry includes producers and downstream processors of steel, stainless steel, iron, aluminum, copper and brass.

Gallatin County Judge/Executive Jon Ryan Morris said Nucor continues making a significant positive impact in his community.

“We’re very excited about this expansion by Nucor, one of our region’s largest employers and a terrific community partner,” said Judge/Executive Morris. “In addition to the quality careers the company offers our residents, Nucor’s support for our first responders and schools is second to none. Our community is better because Nucor is here, and we certainly remain committed to supporting them and all our existing businesses here in Gallatin County.”

To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) on Thursday preliminarily approved a 10-year incentive agreement with the company under the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based agreement can provide up to $2.25 million in tax incentives based on the company’s investment of $164 million and annual targets of:

• Creation and maintenance of 72 Kentucky-resident, full-time jobs across 10 years; and

• Paying an average hourly wage of $45.50 including benefits across those jobs.

Additionally, KEDFA approved Nucor for up to $800,000 in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act (KEIA). KEIA allows approved companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development and electronic processing. By meeting its annual targets over the agreement term, the company can be eligible to keep a portion of the new tax revenue it generates. The company may claim eligible incentives against its income tax liability and/or wage assessments.

In addition, Nucor can receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network. Through the Kentucky Skills Network, companies can receive no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives.

More than 1 million in Indiana, 600,000 in Kentucky fully vaccinated
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Residents of Indiana and Kentucky are receiving COVID-19 vaccinations at a high rate, according to data released by both states.

On Thursday, it was announced more than one million Hoosiers are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19 while Kentucky has fully vaccinated more than 600,000 residents.

A total of 2,604,473 doses have been administered in Indiana since late December, according to the Indiana Department of Health. This includes 1,530,403 first doses and 1,042,768 individuals who have received a second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the single Johnson & Johnson vaccine and are fully vaccinated as a result.

“Hitting the one million mark is an exciting milestone as we look to put this pandemic in our rear-view mirror,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box. “As we prepare to open vaccine eligibility to people age 16 and older next Wednesday, I encourage every eligible Hoosier to sign up for a vaccine as soon as possible so that they can protect themselves and those they love.”

In Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear announced the pace of Kentucky’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts were continuing to accelerate. On Thursday, he said, “We’re right at 1.25 million Kentuckians who have received at least at their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. That is more than 36% of our adult population, which is really exciting,” Beshear said. “This is the pace we want to keep up.” Overall, 622,961 people or 13% of Kentucky’s population has been fully vaccinated.

Hoosiers age 40 and older, along with healthcare workers, long-term care residents, first responders who are regularly called to the scene of an emergency to render medical assistance, and educators and school support staff through grade 12 are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Beginning March 31, all Indiana adults ages 16 and older will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

In Kentucky, all of the state’s residents 40 and older are eligible all three COVID-19 vaccines, although sites will continue to prioritize older individuals. In a recent news conference, Beshear has announced plans to open up vaccinations for all Kentucky residents 16 and older by April 12.

“The message to share with the public is how important these vaccines are and just how well they work,” said Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health. “This is your shot of hope, it’s our shot of hope and it’s how we get out of this pandemic that has upended our lives for the past year and has taken so many of our loved ones from us.”

More than 14,000 have been vaccinated in Jefferson County with 5,965 residents fully vaccinated and 8,362 Jefferson County residents that have received at least the first of two doses of the COVID vaccine. Switzerland County has vaccinated over 2,500 people including 1,069 that have been fully vaccinated and 1,666 that have received the first dose of a two-dose vaccination series.

As of Friday, Jefferson County reported one new death to bring the total due to the virus pandemic to 78. Jefferson County also had nine new cases for an overall total of 3,008 COVID-19 cases. Jefferson County’s seven-day positivity percentage is currently 1.5% and the unique positivity rating is 2.1%.

Switerland County gained one new case of COVID-19 to brings its total to 763 positve cases. The total COVID-19 deaths remains at eight. The seven-day positivity in Switzerland County is 4% and the seven-day unique positivity rating is 10%.

The Indiana Department of Health announced that 1,136 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at state and private laboratories. That brings to 682,099 the number of Indiana residents now known to have had the novel coronavirus. To date, 12,596 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of 20 from the previous day.

In Kentucky, 726 new cases of COVID-19 were reported on March 25, according to the Kentucky Department of Health. There have been 423,414 positive cases overall and 5,970 deaths including 19 new deaths. There were also an additional 88 deaths added following a new audit.

Trimble County has reported 658 cases of COVID-19 and overall six deaths during the pandemic. Carroll County has reported 955 cases of COVID-19 with 16 deaths.

Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccinations will be available at the Jefferson County Health Department, 715 Green Road, in Madison, April 10, from 8 a.m. to noon. At all other times, Jefferson County Health Department is administering the Moderna vaccine that requires two doses administered 28 days apart. Vaccines will be administered by appointment only; no walk ins will be accepted at this time due to limited supply of vaccine. Switzerland County Health Department is operating a vaccine clinic at the Switzerland County Technology and Education Center, 708 West Seminary Street, Vevay.

North Central District Health Department announced Friday it is now making appointments for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine next Wednesday, and eligible persons who live or work in Shelby, Henry, Spencer or Trimble counties may sign up on the NCDHD website.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after the second vaccination. The vaccines have been found in trials to be 94% to 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 infections in participants. Side effects are temporary and are generally mild, including fatigue, headache and sometimes fever.

Appointments in Indiana must be scheduled by visiting www.ourshot.in.gov or calling 2-1-1.