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Plan Commission OKs hilltop storage, downtown subdivision applications
  • Updated

Madison’s Plan Commission approved applications for a new self storage facility on Madison’s hilltop and a variance application and final plat to allow five historic homes owned by Trilogy Health Services LLC to form a subdivision in downtown Madison.

Joshua Ford was before the Commission first to ask for a modified setback requirement to allow a 6.5-acre tract that he and his wife own at 3369 Chicken Run Road to be developed into a self storage business is an area zoned General Business.

Ford said the couple has owned the property for several years and has finally developed a plan for its use. With other businesses and storage facilities already located in the area, they want to start out with one or two buildings and grow as business allows. The setback considerations are needed to provide landscaping and fencing and still have space to accommodate storage of larger campers, trailers and boats and access for the boxed trucks that some customers are likely to use.

Robert Black, a resident of North Bocherding Road, said his mother’s property borders Ford’s planned development and the concern is that light, noise and traffic from the business and storm water runoff will be a burden to her and other nearby property owners.

“I’m against it because of the drainage issue,” Black said, noting that as more and more land is developed there are fewer places for water to be absorbed and that causes nearby farmland to flood.

“It’s in that buffer zone where nobody wants to take responsibility and we get dumped on,” Black said.

Plan Commission Chairman Darrell Henderson, said the concerns voiced by Black are not in the Commission’s scope of authority and that the board can only consider what it controls and that is to vote on the setback application. He suggested that the issues be brought up with the city’s building inspector to see if the property is zoned correctly and whether light, noise and drainage can be considered through other channels.

Ford said he plans to be a good neighbor and is proposing allowing the facility to be open only from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily to control activity and noise and to install downlighting to reduce the amount of light escaping the facility. He said landscaping will be designed to make the facility less obtrusive from the road and to adjoining property owners.

The Commission unanimously approved the setback application by an 8-0 vote but urged Black to speak with the city’s building inspector to make his concerns known so that they can be checked as applications for building permits and other approvals are considered.

The variance application and final plat for the five homes in downtown Madison were also approved by 8-0 votes, allowing former duplexes and homes originally purchased during an expansion by King’s Daughters’ Hospital and later acquired by Trilogy when the former hospital was developed into the River Terrace Health Campus to be deeded off the Trilogy property and repurposed once again as homes or office space.

At the center of the request is the fact that one of the homes now has a zero setback due to development of the hospital and health clinic and that once the properties were combined with the KDH property they were no longer platted individually.

In the Commission’s final business of the night, the members elected their officers for 2022 since Tuesday was the first meeting of the year.

Henderson was re-elected chairman, Josh Wilber vice chairman and staff member Joe Patterson was named secretary — all by unanimous votes.

SuperATV buys California's Assault Industries
  • Updated

SuperATV’s plans for expansion continue to move forward with the acquisition last week of premier off-road manufacturer, Assault Industries, based in Garden Grove, California.

The acquisition of Assault Industries, which was completed Jan. 6, fits SuperATV’s strategy to expand its dealer and consumer reach using Assault Industries’ innovative product lines and West Coast dealer presence, according to SuperATV President Lindsay Hunt.

“We have built SuperATV from a hobby in my father’s garage to global leadership in the ATV/UTV aftermarket parts and accessory business. Assault Industries shares SuperATV’s passion for both its customers and products, which will be a tremendous asset as we all work to wow our customers, dealers, and each other,” Hunt said.

The acquisition of Assault comes after SuperATV in November announced a $71 million capital investment project at its Madison, Indiana, headquarters located at 2753 Michigan Road. The company, established in 2003, has now broken ground on a 120,000-square-foot facility for new production, warehousing and logistics. Additionally, there are plans for the development of an Innovation Center, located at 1200 Clifty Drive which is the Armor Plastics facility in Madison. The two projects combined are expected to create 373 new jobs.

Marcelo Danze, chief executive officer and president of Assault Industries, said the company has contemplated its long-term plans for many years.

“After meeting with SuperATV’s leadership, it was apparent to us that SuperATV was the right partner and an ideal future steward for the Assault Industries brand,” he said.

Assault Industries Inc. got its start at a small family-owned machine shop in Garden Grove, California, in 2013, and gradually gained a following of patrons wanting to customize their vehicles. The company employs about a dozen workers at one manufacturing location and makes products for the off-road, military and aerospace industries, among others.

“We have been hard at work building Assault Industries up over the last nine years and take a great deal of pride in where we came from,” Assault Industries said in a statement on their social media. “Today we embark on a new journey that is both surreal and intensely exciting. We look forward to continuing to develop awesome products that drive the off-road enthusiast community with our new broadened reach as part of the Super ATV family.”

Both privately-owned companies, SuperATV and Assault Industries did not release financial terms of the deal.

Charlie’s Beat
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Astute readers may recall I did a story on Beck Devito back in February of 2019. At the time he was visiting his parents here in Madison (Jane Vonderheide and Joe Devito) after some time in Bloomington, and he was planning his next life chapter, fixing up an old van to tour the country. But he was still focused, relentlessly and single-mindedly on honing his musical craft.

What is that craft? Well it’s not the typical singer-songwriter path so many take. His style of music is often called “chill” or “wave”. And he alternately describes himself as either a “producer” or an “Internet musician.”

He doesn’t sing. He doesn’t write lyrics. He doesn’t play an instrument, in the traditional sense. But he creates, make no mistake about it, and it’s all done on his computer.

Beck performs under the stage name BACKWHEN. Just go on YouTube, Soundcloud or Spotify and search for “backwhen” and you’ll discover some of the depth and originality of his work. On Spotify alone he’s been streamed almost 2 million times in 147 countries.

“When we first talked back in 2019, I was still building my stuff from a lot of samples,” says Beck. Sampling is where you go online and grab snippets of existing music and weave it into something new.

“I actually had a crazy thing happen as a result of sampling. There’s this guy named Michael E who I really admire, and I sampled some of his work in a project. Out of the blue he messages me and says how much he likes my music. We start talking and develop this relationship, which is wild, because he’s kind of an idol of mine. He’s actually using some of my new mixes in his new album!

“Anyway, my work is 100% original now, no copyrighted sampling. I picked up a MIDI keyboard so I can input melodies a lot easier now, and probably most significantly, I’ve developed an understanding of basic music theory. I have a grasp of keys and scales and how music is structured. It’s really streamlined the creation process.

“Another thing that energized the process is I switched computer programs. For years I used FL Studio to build my music, but I switched to Apple’s Logic Pro. And something about the workflow and the tools available, it just made it so easy to create from scratch and keep it original.

“I’ve made two albums now on Logic Pro, and I’m starting to mess with adding vocal sounds and phrases. It’s not really lyric writing in the traditional sense, but rather using snippets of words and choruses that evoke a certain feel. There’s a plug-in called Arcade that lets me access all these great vocal sounds.

“Anyway, I have this feeling that things are starting to fall in place. I’m starting to get some notice and doing a lot more live performing, not just putting it out on the Internet. I’ve been doing more and more gigs in Denver where I live now, and I even had a gig in Seattle recently where they flew me out and put me up.

“Since I don’t really play an instrument or sing, people might wonder what happens at a live show. It’s more like a DJ experience, where I spin my songs and keep the transitions and flow going. I actually got to perform at the Electric Lady on New Year’s Eve in Madison this year, so that was pretty cool.

“I think 2022 might be a big year for me, getting to travel and play more shows. That’s what I’m hoping and working for, anyway. Whatever happens, I’ll be in my little studio, nose in the computer, creating new music. That’s my life now.”

Hot Tip of the Week

If you are looking for something completely different and uniquely fun, check out the drag show at Mad Paddle Brewery tonight (Thursday.) Playfully named “Drag Yourself To Madison,” this annual show is always over the top and outrageously awesome. The inimitable Snaps for Sinners are at The Taproom on Friday. And Saturday there are a couple of shows of note: Jhonnie & Sallie will be bringing their groovy Hippie Show to Mad Paddle, so be sure to wear your tie-dye. And at Red Bicycle Hall you can enjoy a full night of great roots music with the duo The Hammer & The Hatchet followed by headliners Kevin Dalton & The Tuesday Blooms. This show is well worth the ticket price, and you can check them out on YouTube if you want proof!

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, January 13

Mad Paddle — Madison Drag Show

Central — Patriotic Karaoke

Friday, January 14

Off-Broadway Taproom — Snaps for Sinners

Mad Paddle — Tracy & Elaine

Central Hotel — Madhouse Moxie

Saturday, January 15

Off-Broadway Taproom — Darryl Hewitt

Mad Paddle — Jhonnie & Sallie Hippie Night

Central Hotel — Old Man River

Red Bicycle Hall — Kevin Dalton & The Tuesday Blooms.

Tuesday, January 18

Off-Broadway Taproom — Open Mic Night

Judge proposes getting court's psychiatric evaluations done by MSH
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Hoping to save Jefferson County money spent on psychiatric evaluations related to insanity and incompetency pleas filed by defense attorneys, Superior Court Judge Blaine Goode informed County Council at its meeting on Tuesday of an effort to approach the state legislature about utilizing the staff at Madison State Hospital for those services.

Goode said statute allows the court to appoint “competent, disinterested psychiatrists and psychologists endorsed by the Indiana State Board of Examiners in psychology as health service providers” with language added in 2004 that “none may be an employee or contractor of a state institution.”

He explained that Jefferson County “is in a little different situation than most of the counties in that we have Madison State Hospital in our backyard.”

Goode said he and Jefferson Circuit Judge D.J. Mote have discussed a proposal to ask the Indiana General Assembly to “amend the statute so that we can appoint those doctors at Madison State Hospital to do these evaluations at no additional cost to Jefferson County.”

Goode explained that a statute has existed for many years allowing that if a county has a state hospital within its borders that the county gets a state-paid deputy prosecutor if the facility has a minimum of 350 patients daily. Goode noted that Madison State Hospital averages about 114 patients daily, thus making Jefferson County not eligible for the additional deputy even though to the court handles MSH cases.

“We have a hospital here, but we’re getting zero benefit from it, so that’s the pitch to legislators that we should be getting some benefit, and this would be a much cheaper benefit to us to have them do the evaluations for us,” said Goode, noting the county spent $42,854.18 last year for mental health evalutions which generally cost between $1,000 to $2,000 per defendant.

“It would save us a lot of money and not be a lot of extra work for the doctors there (at Madison State Hospital) since we only run 20 to 25 of these a year.” Goode said.

County Council members expressed universal support for the effort.

“I don’t know if we can get it done, but if you don’t ask, you’re definitely not,” Goode said. “And I know there have been accomodations for other counties within statutes where there’s exceptions written, so I hope we can get that done.”

Goode also provided a report on the recently completed 2021 calendar year — his first year as judge of Jefferson Superior Court after previously serving as deputy prosecutor — which he called “very successful.”

The case load is “down enough that the staff is not having to work a lot of overtime and actually we were able to let them burn a little bit of their comp time that has built up over the years,” the judge said. “Hopefully that will continue.”

“We started with a big running backlog, ” Goode added, noting the court is facing its lowest backlog in nearly 10 years. He said at the end of 2021, there were 1,005 pending cases, which he said is 39% lower than the average between 2014 and 2020 with an average of 630 more cases in 2021.

“It’s moving the cases through,” said Goode, noting that has been accomplished by establishing accountability measures for the attorneys and the court. He said there was a transition in the first month “but once they got used to it, things started moving smoothly” and he expects this year to be even more productive.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Dave Thomas pointed out that his budget request for 2022 called for 15 jail staff members, but the budget approved included funding for only 14 positions.

“I just wanted to come before you and tell you that the loss of one jail officer has been pretty difficult on us,” he said, noting that standards established by the Indiana Sheriffs Association (ISA) indicate that there should be 20 staff members so the jail was already stretched short at 15.

Council member Judy Smith said the reason for the decrease of one jailer was because Thomas “reclassified what they were called” and came back with the same overall staff. Thomas said he reallocated so the Council “knew for sure what numbers you have.”

Council member Ray Denning said the Council has given the sheriff’s office eight jailers over the last six years, and they have “been put in different places.”

Thomas, whose term as sheriff began in January 2019, noted he wasn’t sheriff six years ago, and “that’s what I’m trying to straighten out. All I can do is ask” for the additional jailer, and then leave it for the Council to decide whether to provide it.

Thomas said he is currently gathering information on operating costs for the new Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and Criminal Justice Center, which is slated to be completed in 2023. He is waiting on a report from Bill Wilson, ISA jail services coordinator, which he anticipates providing to the Council at its February meeting.

In other business:

• The board unanimously elected Denning to serve as the council’s president in 2022, replacing Pam Crozier, who has served as president the last two years. The group also elected Judy Smith as vice president, replacing Chris Shelton, the previous vice president.

Council members also made their board appointments for 2022 including: Shelton, Community Corrections Advisory Board; Smith, Southeast Indiana Regional Planning Commission (SEIRPC) and Emergency Management Agency Board; Denning, Animal Shelter Advisory Board; Crozier, Southeastern Indiana Recycling District; Heather Foy, Public Defender Board and Insurance Board; Ray Black Jr., 911 Communications Advisory Board and County Plan Commission; and Gary Copeland, Visit Madison Inc.

Additionally, Wendy Lawson was named as the Council’s appointment to the Jefferson County Board of Tourism and Smith was selected to participate in the Broadband Task Force that is being created by SEIRPC.

• Received a request from County Health Department Administrator Tammy Monroe for $64,329.48 to replace 18 windows with insulation on the south side of the Jefferson County Health Department building based on a quote from Kinsinger Custom Windows of Vevay. Windows were previously replaced on the north side. Because Kinsinger was the lowest bidder for the north side windows, other bids were not sought. However, the Council requested to see more quotes, but gave approval for the appropriation to be advertised since even with a lower bid, the cost would be less than the current known windows cost.

• Heard an update from Commissioner David Bramer on the county’s efforts to update its zoning ordinances after a comprehensive plan was completed last year. The County Plan Commission sought quotes from companies to assist the county in updating the ordinances but only one was submitted. Taylor Seifker Williams Design Group of Indianapolis, the same company that worked on the comprehensive plan, provided a quote for $74,960. Bramer noted that only $50,000 has been budgeted for the ordinance update this year. He expressed hope of getting the design group to lower its price, but indication are that unlikely of that happening.

MJHS going virtual through Monday
  • Updated

With COVID-19 cases on the rise in Jefferson and surrounding counties, Madison Junior High School will shift to virtual learning for the next three school days.

Indiana’s death toll during the COVID-19 pandemic is currently growing by more than 100 per day — Jefferson County reported its 122nd death Tuesday — and Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb described the state’s hospitals as “under siege” during his State of the State address Tuesday night with high numbers of positive cases throughout the state.

Jefferson County has had 292 new positive cases since Friday including 107 of those on Wednesday. The one new death reported locally on Tuesday gives Jefferson County 122 total out of 7,293 positive cases during the pandemic. The county’s positivity rate is currently at 15.8%.

Early Wednesday afternoon, Madison Consolidated Schools announced Madison Junior High School will switch to virtual learning on Thursday and Friday of this week and Monday next week before returning to in-person instruction on Tuesday.

Ashley Schutte, MCS communications coordinator, said the decision to go virtual is due in part to COVID-related issues among staff and students and staffing issues unrelated to COVID to where there are not enough workers “to cover the openings.” She said taking three days for virtual learning is based on calculations as they track when students and staff are planned to return. At the same time, all junior high extra-curricular activities are also canceled until students return on Tuesday.

“We’re going to do a deep clean, and keep everyone safe,” Schutte said.

On Wednesday, Norton King’s Daughters’ Health reported 17 hospitalized due to COVID-19.

“We continue to see a significant number of positives in our community and encourage everyone to be vaccinated and/or consider an appropriate booster vaccine,” Dave Ommen, the hospital’s public information specialist, said. “Anyone with questions about the vaccine or booster is encouraged to talk with their primary care provider.”

He also noted there is a COVID-19 hotline at 812-801-8010 available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for assistance with COVID testing and/or care management.

Meanwhile, Carroll County has reported 99 new positive cases since Friday with 53 in the last day, upping its overall total to 2,559. Carroll’s overall death total remained unchanged at 38 and the positivity rate is 27.11%.

Switzerland County has had 67 new positive cases since Friday for 1,794 overall. No new deaths were reported with the overall toll at 14 and a positivity rate of 17.0%.

Trimble County has had 34 new positive cases since Friday for an overall total of 1,656. Trimble had no new deaths and has a total of 30 overall with a positivity rate of 33.74%.

Indiana’s COVID-19 hospitalizations reached 3,467 on Monday, eclipsing the previous pandemic peak of 3,460 the state set on Nov. 30, 2020, according to an update posted Tuesday on the state health department’s coronavirus dashboard.

COVID-19 patients occupied 38.4% of Indiana’s intensive care unit beds Monday and the state had only 10.6% of its ICU beds available overall.

Indiana also reported 15,091 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday as the omicron variant continued spreading. Also, there were 125 newly reported deaths, increasing the state’s overall death toll to 19,319. Indiana’s positivity rate is at 27.8%. The overall number of positive cases in Indiana is now 1,393,574.

According to the Associated Press, Brian Tabor, president of the Indiana Hospital Association, said the surge in COVID-19 patients, combined with non-COVID-19 patients who delayed treatment earlier in the pandemic but are now seeking care, has created a “crisis” for Indiana’s hospitals.

“Indiana hospitals are overwhelmed with the highest number of patients on record and have reached a state of crisis with dwindling capacity left to care for patients,” Tabor said Tuesday in a statement.

Holcomb said, “If you haven’t been vaccinated, I encourage, I plead, I beg of you to speak with your doctor and do so. I say this, even if you’ve disagreed with every position I’ve taken. I want us both to be around to continue those disagreements.”

On Monday, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said Kentucky reported 52,603 new COVID-19 cases last week, the highest weekly total ever by nearly 22,000 cases. The second highest week for new cases was the week ending Sept. 5, 2021, when 30,680 cases were reported. The Governor also reported the states highest ever test positivity rate Tuesday, 26.79%.

“Omicron continues to burn through the commonwealth, growing at levels we have never seen before. Omicron is significantly more contagious than even the delta variant,” Beshear said. “If it spreads at the rate we are seeing, it is certainly going to fill up our hospitals.”

Beshear said he is deploying 445 Kentucky National Guard members to 30 health care facilities to provide support, beginning this week.

“We are now in a nearly vertical spike the likes of which dwarf all prior escalations,” said Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health (KDPH). “In just two weeks, Kentucky has gone from roughly half our delta variant surge peak to more than double our delta variant surge peak. At this point, essentially all COVID-19 in Kentucky is likely to be the omicron variant.”