Bill Barnes was strolling through the Madison Chautauqua Festival of Art in 2018 when he came across and acquired “an incredible piece of artwork” that he has been waiting for the right time to put on display in Madison with the feeling that public art is good for the community.
A couple of weeks ago, the sculpture, called “Spring Awakening,” found a home in Madison between the Community Foundation of Madison and Jefferson County Inc., located at 416 West Street and the 420 West Apartments.
“I have never seen anyone in our area do anything like it,” Barnes, the president and chief executive officer of the Community Foundation said, noting he was impressed with what the sculptor was able to create in cor-steel material.
The sculpture, designed by Dale Rogers, a full-time metal sculptor from Massachusetts who has participated in the Madison Chautauqua, features three birds made of painted steel, in a tree, made of cor-tel steel.
“I love trees and I love birds,” said Barnes.
Valecia Crisafulli, who owns 420 West Apartments with her husband, Larry, said the sculpture not only expresses spring, but also the nature and natural beauty of the Madison area.
“Nature is one of Madison’s assets with our natural beauty,” Valecia said, noting the artwork is much like the scenery found at Clifty Falls State Park and other places around Madison.
It also plays well with the sculptures just across the street in nearby Lytle Park.
Because of the materials, Barnes said the sculpture “will hold up well over time,” and he’s hopeful it inspires others to see what art they can create with metal.
Rogers, the artist, explains that “the tilted stainless steel surround of the tree satisfies my love for abstracts and the birds offer whimsical appeal. The shape of the tree is also very interesting in its simplicity; it is actually a large leaf.”
The sculpture’s cost was split by CFMJC Properties LLC, an LLC formed by the Community Foundation, and the Crisafullis.
In a sense, the project beings together of two properties severely impacted by fire on Aug. 25, 2006 but now restored and repurposed, making them beautiful again.
The 420 West Apartments had served as the Madison Elks Lodge from 1904 until ravaged by an early morning that extended into the 416 West Street building, which had served as Madison’s City Hall until 1993. Both buildings are now fully restored with the old City Hall now home to the Community Foundation on the first floor and Mires Dance Studio on the second floor. The old Elks building is home to seven apartments.
“We have great tenants,” said Valecia Crisafulli, who noted the building occupancy is full. “It proves the demand for nice residential living in downtown Madison.”
Crisafulli said the sculpture provides a “great amenity” for residents of the apartments, who she said many have expressed “how much they enjoy it.” But Crisafulli said the sculpture is also a great asset to the community. “Anybody who walks by can enjoy it.”
She hopes the sculpture continues a more recent trend in focusing on public art in downtown Madison. “I am very excited to see others develop the same thing downtown.”
Barnes agreed, noting the value of public art both downtown and throughout the city.
“Art can be a real driver for a community,” Barnes said. “I would love to see more public art on the hilltop, too.”
The sculpture is a continuation of an increased emphasis on the arts by the Community Foundation, said Barnes. “When I came to Madison in 2010, I saw that there were many artists” of all kinds, Barnes said, noting the Community Foundation needed to do a better job of participating and providing support to the arts.
“We were not funding the art like we should have been,” he said, noting that only 1.5% of the foundation’s grant dollars were going to the arts. That has since been increased to about 9% or about $20,000 annually, Barnes said, adding that the foundation has also supported performance artists by providing $8,900 to the Madison Music Movement for a trailer and portable stage. The group has also funded other art events and programs from school bands and choir programs to theater.
The Community Foundation’s commitment to arts has been increasing since it moved into the old City Hall in June of 2013. Prior to relocating to its current location, the Foundation was at 214 East Main Street, where there was space for a few paintings but not much more.
“When we came here, we had all this wall space,” he said, noting what started with a few paintings has gradually grown to 50 pieces of art mostly done by local artists. “Not a lot of people visit us and see inside of our building, but the sculpture is just one piece of our commitment to supporting the arts.”
A good portion of the Foundation’s artwork featured the work of local artists and was inspired by the Madison and Jefferson County community. In 2016, the Foundation commissioned 11 such paintings.
“All artists lived in the county,” he said, and each work reflected Jefferson County’s history and/or identity including scenes from the Lanier Mansion, the Farmer’s Market in Madison, the Milton-Madison Bridge, the Eleutherian College and Hanover College. “This collection illustrates the wonderful talent and diverse styles from artists” from Jefferson County, Barnes said.
The Community Foundation has also used art in creating a special donor recognition display in which local residents were utilized to design and create it using brick, cast iron, concrete, copper, glass, limestone, marble, plaster, slate, steel, tin and wood — all significant to Jefferson County’s story and found in many of the historic structures of the area.
Barnes said the art in the office extends to the meeting room where the conference table was made by Madison Table Works, and bowls and a wooden vase were created by the late Madison art teacher Gary Chapman.
“With this building being the City Hall for so many years, I am pleased for this to be a place for the community,” said Barnes.
Board members appointed to oversee Madison TV15 and the local cable television access channels that are assigned for local programming, want to start hiring camera operators as soon as possible to restore public access to local governmental meetings.
Facing a budget shortfall, the Cable Advisory Board voted last week to terminate the contract of station manager Aaron Paul Wood and, in the aftermath of that decision, the camera operators who had been video recording local meetings all resigned.
Members of the CAB agreed last week that some of the operation’s functions might have to be placed on hiatus for a few months while the group reorganized and rebranded as a more lean operation with some of the work shouldered by what would become a “working” board.
The CAB held the first of those reorganization sessions Thursday at Madison City Hall — there were no cameras or operators recording the meeting — and agreed that broadcasting and/or webcasting public meetings is important enough that camera operators need to be hired as soon as possible to get that portion of the operation back up and running.
The City of Madison, which withdrew from Madison TV15 over a long-running dispute over ordinances, contracts and content, has started providing its own meeting coverage on its YouTube channel and Hanover Town Board is considering the purchase of equipment to do the same there. Meanwhile, Jefferson County government has patched together some semblance of video coverage of its meetings typically through a Zoom format using either a camera and laptop or a laptop camera alone.
CAB member Stephanie Hellmann said Thursday that whatever route the board takes, the CAB needs to once again provide video coverage of meetings because boards, commissions, councils and committees are meeting ongoing on behalf of the county, cities, school corporations and tourism and conducting significant business that Madison TV15 should be at to make available to the public. She said the CAB needs to prioritize which of those meetings should be recorded and find a way to do that.
“We need to decide what is crucial,” Hellmann said. “There is stuff going on in all of them right now and even if there wasn’t we should probably still be there.”
“My whole hope is that we would have camera people hired by now,” said Lori Hedges, a Hanover resident who produces and teaches video production at Hanover College and is one of the CAB members who could be key to that “working” board.
“I’ve got two people willing and able to help out,” Hedges said, noting two of her sons are both skilled in video. She added that there are Hanover students capable of the work but that the board should not count on students as potential staff because most are already very involved with classes and college activities.
“I’d like to see us hire about four people,” said CAB member Debbie Kroger, who also serves on Hanover Town Board.
“Looking at the list of meeting we’ve got, we already need two camera operators and probably we need three or four to be safe,” CAB member Jim Bartlett, a Madison City Councilman said. “They are contractors so we only pay them to work.”
However, Bartlett also noted that at some point the CAB should be involved in more than just recording governmental meetings. He said the group’s mission should also be to promote local communities and the county’s events and people.
“We’ve been focusing on meetings but one of the things we really want to do is expand that operation and get out more in the communities — like the Chelsea Jubilee and Old Settler’s Meeting at Neavill’s Grove,” Bartlett said. “Immediately it may be difficult but ultimately that’s what we want to do.”
Where to feature that content could also be an issue at least initially because there is no one left at Madison TV15 who has uploaded content to the local cable access channels. Hedges said for the time being she could probably put the content on the Hanover College cable access channels, which have unused time slots from 6:30 a.m. to noon and 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. (Metronet Channel 2 and Spectrum Channel 370) as long as she can receive the content from the camera operators.
Bartlett said the City of Madison purchased the equipment and has the staff and skills to do its own video recording and production now and has established a way to provide that content to the public on YouTube.
He said Madison TV15’s equipment is old but mostly functional and could be used by the CAB’s camera operators to record meetings at other locations. Hedges said that could work as long as she receives the content on an SD Card for the uploads.
Camera operator pay and job responsibilities and requirements were other issues the board considered.
The CAB is still researching the pay issue but it was decided that camera operators would need to be able to stand at least two hours, carry up to 50 pounds have their own cellphone as a backup in the event that a camera stops working. They must also be dependable and able to pass both a drug test and background check.
The board agreed to continue holding working meetings with the next session scheduled for Thursday, April 1. Meanwhile, the CAB wants to come up with a statement for Madison TV15’s website, www.madisontv15.com, explaining the temporary changes as the group develops its plan for the future.
County Commissioners have signed a contract hiring a construction manager for Jefferson County’s new jail and work continues toward bidding a project that Commissioner David Bramer said will be called the Jefferson County Sheriff and Justice Center.
The contract with Shireman Construction of Corydon as construction manager on the project was officially signed at Thursday’s Commissioners meeting and Bramer said bids will “go out shortly.”
Commissioner Ron Lee said current legislation in the Indiana Assembly to create local Justice Reinvestment Advisory Councils to gather information and work to help solve Indiana’s jail overcrowding problems. On Tuesday, House Bill 1068 passed unanimously through the Senate, and Wednesday, it was returned to the House with amendments. The bill had previously passed unanimously in the House in February.
“It looks like it’s good to pass,” said Lee, who noted “we’re kind of in front of it” but “it’s going to help us.”
Jefferson County Chief Deputy Joshua Taylor said if adopted the bill would “make us do what we’re already doing.” He noted it’s information that the state is already gathering, but “it is putting it on to the county level of accountability due to the fact different counties may report all the information required. Others may not participate at all. They are taking what’s done at a state level and putting it to all 92 counties.”
Lee also provided an update on discussions for re-use of the county’s existing jail. One possibility under consideration is that it might be used as a place for treating substance abuse.
Taylor said the discussion involves “taking on the different levels of the holistic approach of the treatment aspect inside the jail, and preventative measures.” He said that would “take a whole circle wheel and buy-in from everybody to make it work.”
Bramer expressed support in the proposal, noting that dealing with substance abuse is a definite need in the community.
“It’s needed and it’s going to allow us to use this facility,” Bramer said, adding that while there may be other possible uses for the old jail “this is more needful.”
The next meeting focusing on jail re-use will be 3 p.m. on Thursday, April 15, at the Jefferson County Public Training Center on Green Road in Madison.
In other business, the Commission renewed the county’s contract with King’s Daughters’ Hospital for ambulance services at a cost of $100,000 for 2021 — double the $50,000 Jefferson County paid last year.
“We were very fortunate for 15 years of not paying anything for ambulance service, and my understanding is that costs have gone up,” Bramer said. “A lot of it is that the amount of repayment the hospital receives from some insurances was going down.”
Commissioner Bobby Little said that even with the increase the county is getting good value for its money because it would cost much more for the county to operate its own service.
“It seems like a lot but if we had to do it ourselves ...” the cost would be much higher “... it’s mind boggling knowing what other counties are paying for their ambulance service. “We’re fortunate.”
In other business:
• Held a public hearing as the county seeks a grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs for small businesses to retain low-to-moderate income jobs with an outreach emphasis toward businesses owned by minorities, women and veterans. Erica Cline, who is overseeing Jefferson County’s grant application, said the county is seeking $250,000 for the Jefferson County Revolving Loan program with a county match of $40,000. She said awards will be announced April 15 and that she is working to circulate information about the program to eligible local businesses who can be helped by it.
• Heard an update by Bramer on the county taking over trash collection services, which were previously done by Rumpke, this week. Bramer said he knows “it’s change and that can cause people to be upset, but it’s good change in the long run,” especially with the cost savings it brings to the county. He also said the county is working with the Southeastern Indiana Recyling District to determine what the county might be able to do with recyclables and which items are eligible for recycling.
• Highway Superintendent Bobby Phillips announced that the bridge on County Road 1525 West has been completed and that road is now reopen to traffic.
• Approved the second reading of an ordinance establishing a broadband agreement allowing Ripley County REMC to bring broadband Internet services to the northern part of Jefferson County that it serves.
• Agreed to purchase on the county’s property and casualty insurance with Rick Sauley of RLS Insurance Group. The county’s premium for the year will be $208,901 with Travelers Insurance.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear Thursday announced that all Kentuckians 50 and older can begin registering for COVID-19 vaccinations on or after March 22. He also said Kentuckians ages 16 and older will be able to sign up for appointments by April 12.
“Kentuckians deemed most vulnerable should still get priority, and they will, but we can’t have these vaccines sitting in a freezer. We are in a race against the COVID-19 variants and we’ve got to get it out fast,” Beshear said in a press release announcing the move.
The announcement came on a day that also saw a significant increase in Kentucky deaths related to the virus. The state’s death toll was increased by 448; however, it was noted that 417 of those were determined to have been caused by COVID-19 after an additional audit of death certificates. Beshear noted that when similar audits were conducted in neighboring states, Ohio reported 4,000 additional deaths and Indiana reported more than 1,500 more deaths.
“The way that we normally get our information on deaths is through local health departments,” he said. “We then check the information, make sure it is a COVID-19 death — it goes through a committee — and then it moves onto our report. That’s why sometimes local health departments will report a death earlier than we do.”
On Thursday, 785 new cases of COVID-19 were reported, according to the Kentucky Department of Health. There have been 419,149 positive cases overall and 5,504 deaths in Kentucky.
However, the overall infection rate in Kentucky is showing improvement and Beshear announced an extension in his curfew on bars and restaurants by one hour. Businesses can now serve food and alcohol until midnight local time and can stay open until 1 a.m. local time.
On Friday, the Indiana Department of Health announced that an additional 878 Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19. That brings the number of Indiana residents now known to have had the novel coronavirus to 676,247. A total of 12,510 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of 15 from the previous day. To date, 3,205,024 unique individuals have been tested in Indiana, up from 3,199,074 on Thursday. A total of 8,592,072 tests, including repeat tests for unique individuals, have been reported to the state Department of Health since Feb. 26, 2020.
Hoosiers age 45 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 the COVID-19 vaccine.
On Wednesday, it was reported Jefferson County had one new case of COVID-19 with the overall total now at 2,984. So far 15,141 residents have been tested and the seven-day positivity percentage is currently 2.8%t and the unique positivity rating is 9.8%. The total deaths in Jefferson County attributed to the virus pandemic is 76.
In Switzerland County, there has been one new case of COVID-19 since Wednesday with the total at 758. So far, 3,877 residents have been tested. A total of eight deaths have been attributed to the virus pandemic in Switzerland County.
A total of 915,719 Hoosiers are now fully vaccinated which includes 878,989 that received a necessary second dose, and 36,730 that had a single dose vaccination offered by Johnson & Johnson. There have been 1,389,008 statewide that have received a first dose of a two-dose vaccination series.
Jefferson County has 5,396 residents that have been fully vaccinated while Switzerland County has 954 full vaccinated. A total of 7,447 Jefferson County residents have received at least the first of two doses of the COVID vaccine. In Switzerland County, 1,437 have received at least the first of two doses of the vaccine.
In information from the North Central District Health Department, Trimble County has reported 644 cases of COVID-19 with 19 active cases and overall six deaths during the pandemic. Carroll County has reported 944 cases of COVID-19 with 11 deaths.
COVID-19 vaccination appointments for eligible individuals in Indiana must be scheduled by visiting www.ourshot.in.gov or calling 2-1-1.