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City moving forward with Crystal Beach despite bid overruns
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The City of Madison is moving forward with plans to rehabilitate Crystal Beach pool despite the fact that all bids exceeded the $2 million grant that was awarded by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA).

Bids received during an April 19 meeting all ranged from $500,000 to $1 million over the grant amount. Poole Group of Dillsboro had the lowest bid at $2,527,000, and was awarded the contract. Other bids had come from Teton Corporation of Madison at $2,656,000 and Calhoun Construction of Louisville at $2,966,000.

Madison Mayor Bob Courtney noted the bids are effective for 60 days and said he wanted to act on them “because we do not want to lose the low bid even though it is over our projected budget. Secondly, we don’t want to do anything that will jeopardize the OCRA grant that requires the work be completed by the summer of 2022.”

Courtney said that even though the bid is over the project’s budget, the city will seek other funding to support the project. He said he spoke with Denny Spinner, executive director of the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs last week, and was told OCRA agreed to see if they can identify additional grant funds to offset that cost. Also, Courtney said he had informed the Redevelopment Commission that is providing match money for Stellar Community projects, there may need to be additional funds allocated.

“We need to be strategical and tactical in terms of reserving this project,” Courtney said.

Board member David Carlow agreed, “I think it’s incumbent that we move on this. We don’t want to jeopardize the $2 million grant. This is not a project that we want to take on or fund ourselves.”

In other business:

• Police Chief John Wallace asked for a change in Madison Police Department rules and regulations to allow officers to work 12-hour patrol shifts while non-patrol staff would still be on eight hour shifts. Previously all officers were on eight-hour work shifts.

The change allows MPD to implement 12-hour work shifts for officers following the Madison Regatta. “We will try for a six month trial to see how it works out,” said Wallace, who noted he structured his officers that way during two terms in office as Jefferson County Sheriff and it has continued to work well for county law enforcement.

“MPD has never tried this. I think it’s time that we did,” he said.

Wallace said the new structure benefits both the police officers and the city. “Now every officer gets every fifth week off. With this schedule, every other weekend will be a three-day weekend.” Wallace said. The new structure also benefits the police department because with working long shifts, the carry-over time provides “extra officers on duty to cover that busy time.”

“I think it’s a good plan and worth experimenting,” Courtney said. “Certainly there is going to be a benefit for the officers but the real benefit is going to be to have the manpower during the time when you need it” when they have seen that arrests are occurring. “You’re now able to put the manpower where you see the greatest demand.”

• Deputy Mayor and Chief of Staff Mindy McGee reported the purchase of a new snow plow truck to replace a 1995 model in which the frame is starting to rust, causing concern over the amount of weight it will be able to handle and if it will hold up for future snowstorms. She said the plan is to sell the old truck and purchase the new truck from Palmer Trucks of Louisville, a 2019 truck with a two-year 250,000-mile warranty, at a cost of $129,229. McGee said the city is also working toward a leasing arrangement on the truck.

“As part of acquisition of former Highway 56, we have inherited a lot of lane miles to maintain,” Courtney said. “... And this winter we inherited quite a bit of snow. We can’t afford to be without effective equipment like this.”

• Approved a request from Ann Lostutter and Robert Dean on behalf of WOW! What a Find LLC, for permission to close a portion of the alley between 215 and 217 East Main Street for a sale. Dean said 217 East Main Street, where WOW! What a Find is located, has been sold and the business has merchandise on the third floor that they need to move. “We are currently using all three floors,” he said, noting the new owners want to use the third floor for an event space. Dean said he is hopeful the sale will help decrease what they will need to relocate. The alley closure will be Friday, May 28, through Monday, May 31, from noon to 8 p.m. daily

• Sheila Coffin, executive director of the Jefferson County United Way, submitted a request for street closings in conjunction with the organization’s Golf Cart/UTV Parade fundraiser. The board approved closing Vaughn Drive between Ferry Street and Broadway Street for the event from 6-9 p.m. on Friday, July 23.

However, the request was amended to decline allowing a parade onto Main Street in conjunction with the event. “We’re setting ourselves for a precedent with future requests,” said Carlow, noting that golf carts are not allowed on Main Street. Courtney suggested that discussions could be held about other possible locations for that portion of the parade.

• Approved a request by Calhoun Construction for permission to close a portion of Main Street in front of the Ohio Theatre on Monday, June 7, through Wednesday June 9, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily while construction repairs are being made on that building. Cole Anderson, project manager, said there will be a crane in front of the building during the work and he anticipated they will likely be done each day no later than 7 p.m.

• Approved a request from the Madison Area Running Club for a closing of streets association with the 2021 Firecracker 10K Run/Walk from 7 a.m. to noon on Saturday, July 3. Courtney applauded the continuation of the event — previously contested as the Madison Courier Firecracker 10K Run/Walk since 1979 — due to “the history of the race and keeping it as a Madison Regatta tradition.”

Above: Madison Consolidated High School held its 2021 prom Saturday night with the king and queen and prince and princess crowned based on how well they individually raised money for their designated charities and causes. Those crowned and their charities or causes were (from left): Prince Jackson Kelsey for Habitat for Humanity, Princess Brooklyn Cornelius for Jefferson County Youth Shelter, King Connor Slygh for Ulster Project and Queen Taylor Tague for Jefferson County Animal Shelter. Left: Shawe Memorial High School held its 2021 prom Saturday night, crowning a king and queen and prince and princess including (from left): Prince Nolan Tandy, King Hiep Ngo, Queen Karina Orantes-Rodriguez and Princess Olivia Drumm. See A4 for additional photos.

PACE program down to $17K after latest round
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Madison’s Preservation And Community Enhancement (PACE) Review Committee met last week to score the latest round of applications for the city’s grant program to restore and preserve the historic structures that help make up Madison’s National Historic Landmark District.

The panel recommended matching funding for all 13 applications — just under $210,000 in total projects — to draw down that fund to just over $17,000 for the next round of applicants before the program is refunded in 2022.

Final approval came at Monday’s Madison’s Board of Public Works and Safety meeting when funding for all 13 projects was approved.

The PACE Committee members said all 13 were worthwhile projects so there was no reason to hold back more of the funding for the next round of grants because each improvement makes a difference in the community and to delay work does not make sense for the program or the property owners who are eager to beautify their buildings.

“Some of these places are now beautiful and they were nothing when they started,” said Committee Chairman Bill Ohlendorf. “There is no reason to prolong spending the money.”

Ohlendorf noted that the sooner property owners or investors can begin work, the faster the city can be beautified and its history preserved. Plus, the changes seen through the PACE program attract even more private investment while increasing property values and adding to the city’s tax base.

One of the 13 applications was initially scored too low to receive funding based on its intended future use as an Airbnb rather than as rental property or an owner-occupied home. The committee, noting that many Madison restoration projects start out as Airbnbs but eventually become rentals or are sold into owner occupation, agreed that the grant program’s metrics need to be change to not penalize Airbnbs, which not only add to the property tax base but support the local tourism industry.

“The whole goal is to improve Madison and make it look good,” Oldendorf said.

The Committee voted unanimously to adjust the grant metrics to where Airbnb and rental properties are both scored on the same scale.

One of the big projects before the review committee Tuesday was an application by Justin McGillian of McGillian Holding LLC to restore and revitalize the former Victoria Inn, 801 East Main Street in downtown Madison, as an apartment complex. The application easily scored high enough to receive a recommendation.

Shawe Memorial High School held its 2021 prom Saturday night, crowning a king and queen and prince and princess including (from left): Prince Nolan Tandy, King Hiep Ngo, Queen Karina Orantes-Rodriguez and Princess Olivia Drumm.

Madison, Sunrise golf pro reach separation agreement
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After meeting recently to work out terms, Madison’s Parks Board approved a separation agreement between the City of Madison and Sunrise Golf Course PGA Professional Jeff Bridgford on Thursday that will ultimately place the course under new management for the first time in more than 26 years.

The move is the latest development in the city’s overall strategy to reorganize and restructure the 18-hole municipal course in an effort to make Sunrise profitable after years of losing money and increasing the financial burden on the rest of the city’s park’s system.

Although Bridgford was not personally responsible for those financial losses — the course received almost 26,000 rounds of play last year and Mayor Bob Courtney has said the shortfall was due mostly to high maintenance costs and a fee structure too low for the product — the terms of the pro’s contract limited the city’s options for generating new revenue.

Bridgford’s management contact allowed him profits from operating the equipment shop and grill and a portion of cart rentals and greens fees, leaving the city’s options for balancing the course’s budget to raising usage fees and/or cutting expenses.

According to Madison Parks Director Matt Woolard, the city will look to retain more of those proceeds in all areas moving forward in addition to immediately adding alcohol sales at the grill and on the course through a three-way liquor license the city was granted a few weeks ago.

Bridgford agreed to terms of the “mutual” separation, but said he had “not yet wrapped my head around” a career change after a quarter century as head pro at the course. However, he added that “change is inevitable” just as it was when he took over for longtime pro Bob Rusk 26 1/2 years ago.

“It’s a very reasonable agreement on both sides of the fence — very amicable even though it was rapidly transpiring,” Bridgford said. “I’m going to do everything I can to make for a smooth transition for the next person just like Bob did for me. He made sure that happened then and I’ll make sure it happens now for the sake of the golf course, the players, the parks department and the events we have scheduled.

“This course has had two pros in the last 59 years and that says a lot about the people of Madison,” Bridgford added. “My wife and I love Madison so our plan is to stay in town. We’ll still be out there playing the course — and working with the Friends of Sunrise on projects — but I’ll stay out of the new person’s way so they can do their thing.”

Bridgford will manage the course through June 30 at which time he will transfer ownership of the pro shop inventory to the city for a sum of $85,218 and the grill and all equipment for a sum of $20,000. He will also receive $85,000 in prospective compensation over the next two years, $16,000 for prospective employment health insurance and retirement benefits and Bridgford and his wife will have free lifetime greens fees and cart pass privileges as long as the course is owned by the city.

A more immediately change will be the availability of alcohol sales on the course — to begin as soon as May 7 under terms of the separation agreement — and Bridgford admitted that was an area he did not look forward to dealing with.

“The mayor wants to sell alcohol, I was OK with that as long as I didn’t have anything to do with it,” Bridgford said, noting that alcohol sales may bring a whole different dynamic to the course and the grill, especially where middle school and high school players play a lot of their practice rounds and matches.

He admitted that being in a position to have to monitor alcohol consumption and/or be responsible for patrons who consume alcohol during their golf round or at the grill and then drive home is an issue he’s glad to avoid.

Woolard said the focus now is to find a PGA Professional who can manage the course and all of its operations from marketing to finance and event planning to player development. He did not have a time table for that search but said the course will remain fully operational throughout the process.

Having a golf professional at the course with expanded responsibilities is a continuation of the mayor’s improvement plan for Sunrise and part of that inevitable change.

“Sunrise Golf Course has been providing great recreation to the community for nearly 50 years. As we continue to make progress overcoming the fiscal challenges at Sunrise, it is our vision to reposition this regional gem to reach its full potential,” said Courtney.

A release issued by the city said the individual who will be hired to serve as PGA professional will be responsible for marketing, management, financial performance and player cultivation. Courtney said he will form a selection committee to search for and recommend that candidate and that changes to the day-to-day operations and fiscal management of the golf course, is just part of his plans to make improvements to the city’s entire park system.

“Our investment in improving course conditions, adding GPS systems to carts, and expanding services in the clubhouse are just a few examples that are already in progress. With the savings and revenue generated by the Sunrise course, we will be able to upgrade our entire park system for the enjoyment of Madison residents for many years to come,” said Mayor Courtney.

Madison Schools getting $5.5 million from ARA fund
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Madison Consolidated Schools will receive $5.5 million from the American Rescue Act — the third phase of COVID-19 relief funding provided by the federal government — and hopes to better define what that can be used for by next month.

No decisions have been made so far about how the district might utilize the money, but Madison Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Studebaker provided a rough draft of possibilities at last week’s Madison board meeting with plans to firm up those details by the June board meeting.

Among the possibilities is earmarking funding for learning loss interventions to respond the students’ academic and emotional needs as impacted by the coronavirus.

Ventilation safety issues related to COVID-19 are also being considered with the possibility that some of the money might go toward improve heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) at Madison Junior High School and Anderson Elementary as the school corporation evaluates how to fund that work.

Some money might also be budgeted as a staff stipend for additional duties related to COVID management next school year.

That’s something the school board approved Wednesday for money received from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund of the 2020 CARES Act — the school corporation’s second round of COVID-related federal funding.

The one-time stipend was approved as a memorandum between the Madison Teachers Association and Madison Consolidated Schools for 2020-2021 in regard to additional work completed during the COVID crisis. Pay was set at $1,000 for bargaining unit members, administrators and professional certified while members who work part-time were pro-rated at $900 for 12-month full-time, professional non-certified, $700 for nine-month full-time, $500 for nine-month part-time, and employees hired after Jan. 1 will be reduced by 50%.

In other business:

• Recognized MCHS special education teacher DeAnn Klinedinst as Madison Consolidated Schools teacher of the year and MCHS head custodian Bobbi Jo Robinson as the school corporation’s non-certified employee of the year. Recognition also was given to the Rykers’ Ridge Elementary School math bowl team that was sixth in the state in its class and the Rykers’ Ridge science bowl team that was seventh in the state in its class. Additionally, special recognition was given to Jacob Smith, who has served this year as the student representative on the Madison school board.

• Hired new personnel including head wrestling coach Tyson Skinner on faculty as a business teacher and former Visit Madison Inc. event coordinator Katie Burress as Kindergarten teacher at Lydia Middleton Elementary. Other new hires included Whitney Mathews, Cub Enterprises coordinator; Jackie Sprong, cheer coach at Madison Junior High School; Alex R. Andrew Bell, social studies teacher at Madison Junior High School, and Lee Strassel, math teacher at MCHS. Additionally, Adam Dennis was retroactively approved for assistant varsity girls basketball coach for the most recent season. And the retirement of Sharon Sullivan at Lydia Middleton will be effective May 28.

• Approved purchase of digital curriculum from Apex Learning for $31,716. This software will take the place of Plato courseware and will be used for credit recovery and in the high virtual lab.

• Granted Studebaker permission to hire summer school staff since summer classes will begin prior to the next school board meeting. Board members will vote on those hires retroactively.

• Announced bids for cafeteria line items. Food service coordinator Judy Brooks said fresh produce will be purchased from Dattilo Fruit, which bid at market price. She said Dattilo Fruit is a local company and will deliver orders, no matter how small, promptly to the cafeterias. Dairy and bread bids for Prairie Farms and Klosterman were received through Wilson Center.

• Announced an increase in meal prices. Brooks said students will receive one free breakfast and one free lunch each school day based on an extension of the state’s meals program, but there is cost for purchasing a second meal and all are increasing by 10 cents.

• Approved textbook rental fees for the 2021-2022 school year which are then paid by Super ATV as a donation to the corporation and its students for the 2021-2022 school year.

• Approved an agreement with King’s Daughters’ Health to provide athletic training and consultation throughout the 2021-2022 school year at a cost of $9,600. The school district will be responsible for supplying facilities and equipment for the training staff including tape, pre-wrap and first aid supplies. The trainer has permission to use KDH supplies at their discretion when needed. Additionally, $2,000 will be contributed from the KDH Foundation to offset the cost of supplies to MCHS.

• Approved a $42,000 contract with Mad City CrossFit to provide fitness training with the program being increased from six school periods per day to seven periods per day.

• Approved an agreement with AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) for $10,679 for the 2021-2022 school year that assists students with study and organization skills.

• Approved $59,077.45 purchase from CDWG to purchase new firewall equipment, switches, cabling and installation.