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Madison’s Carla Gaspar (20) controls the ball during the Cubs’ win over Southwestern at home in girls soccer on Tuesday.

City adjusts Main Street restoration plans
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Madison City officials are adjusting their plan for executing a $1 million Main Street highway restoration after initial efforts to keep traffic and pedestrians out of work areas proved unsuccessful, raising safety concerns for workers and potentially jeopardizing quality of work.

Madison Deputy Mayor Mindy McGee told members of the city’s Board of Works and Public Safety (BPWS) Tuesday that some motorists are completely ignoring— or choosing to defy — signs, barricades and traffic flaggers put in place to direct traffic away from work areas.

She said the problem extends beyond drivers ignoring temporary restrictions to also include vehicles speeding through work zones where workers are trying to patch the street ahead of next week’s liquid road application designed to completely seal the highway from curb to curb and extend the useful life of Main Street until more permanent repairs can be funded and completed in 2026.

McGee said the city and its contractor, National Pavement Maintenance, have so far tried to work on the project without enforcing total road closures by directing traffic around work zones but that’s left opportunities for some motorists to venture into work zones. The second phase of the project to seal all cracks and fill the most deeply damaged spots should be completed by Friday with the more sensitive liquid road application scheduled to begin on Monday at which time no traffic — vehicular or pedestrian — can be allowed on the treated surface until the product has dried.

“We have had issues with people driving behind barricades and moving barricades and there have been people walking and driving into the work zone,” McGee said. “Once they start applying the liquid road application we cannot have any traffic on the street until that is dry or it will damage the integrity of the product ... that means all cross streets, alleys parking lots and sidewalks must be closed. You cannot cross it until it’s dry.”

The initial plan for repairing the cracks and applying the liquid road application was to keep the street partially open by doing one side from curb to center line and then the other but working in a larger area. However, given the sensitive nature of the liquid road application and the amount of time the required two coats of the product needs to dry, that’s not seen as the best option now, especially if motorists and pedestrians have already proven they are likely to ignore area restrictions.

Board of Public Works members David Carlow and Karl Eaglin both said they witnessed motorists ignoring, moving or driving through barricades and were appalled by the disregard of street closures. Madison Police Chief John Wallace noted his department went so far as to locate a patrol vehicle in the construction zone with lights flashing but continued to receive reports of issues in the area.

McGee suggested an alternative work plan Tuesday and the BPWS agreed. That plan will close smaller sections of the street each work day but completely close those areas to insure the safety of workers and the integrity of the product being applied.

“We don’t want to interrupt our businesses any more than we have to but honestly they are going to be interrupted either way,” McGee said, noting that completely closing smaller sections could actually result is less restrictions for shorter periods of time.

She noted that since all side streets, alleys and parking lots in the work area will lose access to Main Street once the liquid road application begins, having a larger work area would shut down traffic in a wider area while closing a two block area daily from curb to curb would have less impact. She said sidewalks will remain open but pedestrians should not cross the street within the work area.

The plan is for liquid road application to begin daily at 7 a.m. and end at 7 p.m., weather permitting, with the finished road reopening to traffic and pedestrians at that time. Depending on heat and humidity, the product could actually dry sooner so the road might actually open earlier.

Garry Newman, representing National Pavement Maintenance, said closing the street curb to curb but for shorter distances should allow the work to be accomplished more quickly and result in a better product. He said it should also make work conditions safer for his crew and appealed to local residents to respect the street closures.

McGee said the Monday start date for liquid road application might also play favorably for downtown businesses because if weather cooperates the crews should complete the Jefferson to Broadway central business district by Tuesday evening — two of the slower days for business.

McGee plans to contact all business owners this week to explain the changes and assess if there are any special needs impacted by the change.

In a report to Madison City Council later on Tuesday, McGee said the business owners she had contacted so far have been “very understanding.”

“Neither solution was ideal,” said Madison Mayor Bob Courtney. “We appreciate everybody’s patience ... We will see how it works out on Monday. On Tuesday we may come back with a different plan.”

56th Canaan Fall Festival this weekend
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Being a small community doesn’t keep Canaan from putting on a great festival annually, and this year’s Canaan Fall Festival is coming up this weekend.

“We have a very close-knit community,” said Rod Asher, president of the Canaan Restoration Council, who’s members all take on different duties with various parts of the festival. “We all work together” to make it happen.

With last year’s even canceled by COVID-19, Asher said everyone is excited to be back with the 56th Canaan Fall Festival this year. “We have a lot of improvements,” he said. “We have been planning for two years.”

This year’s honorary mayors are Dick and Candi Risk, lifelong residents of Jefferson County, who will participate in the parade at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday. The Risks follow Jim and Bonnie Colen, the 2019 honorary mayors who with last year’s event being canceled became the first to ever to serve for two years.

The 54th running of the Pony Express Mail Run begins at 1 p.m. from Canaan to the downtown Madison post office. All mail carried on horseback will have a special cancellation stamp commemorating the Pony Express.

The festival opens Friday with a Country Western attire contest in which children from one day to 12 years will compete. Registration begins at 5:30 p.m. with the contest at 6 p.m.

There will be music from 7-11 p.m. daily with the Bee Camp Bottom Boys Band performing Friday and the Dusty Road Band performing Saturday.

Cowboy Posse Productions will perform the “Conflict in Canaan” reenactment from noon to 12:30 p.m., and again from 3-3:30 p.m., plus there will be singing on the stage from 2-2:45 p.m.

There will be activities and games throughout the day for children. From noon to 7 p.m., a bracelet can be purchased for $5 allowing children to enjoy the obstacle course and bouncy house.

There are other activities from noon to 7 p.m. also requiring tickets — the basketball inflatables, the gladiator jousting, ski ball, hungry hippos and a dunk tank. Participation can be purchased for $1 per ticket for each activity, or $15 for 20 tickets, $35 for 50 tickets, or $75 for 100 tickets. The dunk tank will feature various local people with Madison Consolidated High School staff in the dunk tank from noon to 2 p.m. and 6-7 p.m.

There will also be a money machine in which participants have a chance to see how much cash they can grab. Tickets are $15 with a $5 discount after the first purchase. The tickets will be sold by Canaan Community Academy, which will receive 20% of ticket sales.

A corn hole tournament begins at 4 p.m. with registration at 3:30 p.m. The festival will also have a flea market, food vendors and more.

On Sunday morning at 11 a.m., there will be a church service conducted by the Hebron, Indian-Kentuck, Mount Pleasant and Westfork Baptist churches. There will also be a community pitch-in meal after the church service.

Charlie’s Beat
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If you’ve ever seen Michael Cleveland perform, you can stop reading now. I know you already have this Saturday’s show circled in red on your calendar. I’ll see you there!

For the rest of you, allow me to provide a little background. Michael Cleveland was born in 1980 in Henryville, Indiana. He was born completely blind, but he picked up the fiddle at age four and has been a prodigy and phenom ever since. He’s played the Grand Ole Opry, A Prairie Home Companion, and before the United States Congress. He’s won just about every award a musician can win, including a Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album in 2020, with his band Flamekeeper.

In other words, Michael is the real deal, and he’s coming to our neck of the woods this Saturday, Sept. 11, at Hanover Park. The show starts at 6:30, with doors opening at 5:30.

Keith Mefford, the Town Manager of Hanover, has been the vision and the energy behind the newly renovated outdoor concert venue at Hanover Park, and the ongoing music series, now in its second year. “Michael Cleveland has been on my bucket list for a long time, so I just contacted his people to see if it was even possible,” Keith explains.

“I’m happy to say we were able to put together the event, and I’m really excited about this one. Michael has a huge following, so it should be a well-attended show.” I should also mention that Golden Shoals is opening for Michael, along with Maria Carrelli, the pint-sized folk music dynamo out of northern Kentucky.

I asked Keith how the whole Hanover Park Music Series got started. “Well, about 3 years ago my wife was turning 40, and it also happened to be our 20th anniversary. So it was a special year for us. And I thought, what the heck, shoot for the moon. I reached out to Tyler Childers to see if he would come to Hanover and do a show.

“Now you have to understand the timing, it was summer of 2017, and his hit album ‘Purgatory’ hadn’t been released yet. So his people quoted me a price. It was a fair cost for a talent like Tyler, but it was a bit steep for my budget. I hesitated and told them I’d think about it. A couple weeks later the album hit the charts and Tyler’s price went up to $250,000 dollars!

“Anyway, that experience helped me realize that you can hire some really excellent talent from around the region for a reasonable price. And as Town Manager, it’s my job to make sure the park is being utilized and providing value for our residents. I thought music shows were a great way to accomplish that.

“We already had a kind of natural outdoor amphitheater at the back of the park, gently sloping down to a nice rock wall. It was just a matter of building a stage platform with some weather protection and electricity for sound and lights. It’s perfect, really.

“Michael Cleveland will be our fifth show since we started, and it’s been a great success. People really seem to like it. Our goal is to have eight to 10 shows a year, some of them free and some ticketed.

“I’ve enjoyed bringing in the regional talent, from Cincinnati and places like that. But we can seat as many as 1,000 in the venue, so there’s no reason we can’t eventually graduate to bigger, national acts. That’s my dream, anyway. It’s been a fun project, and there’s still a lot more I want to accomplish!”

Hot tip of the Week

We are getting into festival season, and the music calendar is all the proof you need. There’s the Shawe and Canaan Festivals. Carrollton BBQ & Blues at the Point. Music in the Park, and a big concert up at North Madison Christian. But the item that really caught my eye this week is the 175th anniversary celebration at the Washington No. 2 Fire Company on Third Street. Think about that number — 175 years! And their building is the oldest fire station in continuous use in the state of Indiana. They are featuring all kinds of celebrations and displays, but they will be having bluegrass and Americana music from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. Swing by and congratulate them!

This Week in Music

Thursday, September 9

Mad Paddle Brewery — Singo! (Singing Trivia Bingo)

Friday, September 10

Lytle Park — Live Lunch (11:30 a.m.)

Canaan Festival — Bee Camp Bottom Boys

Carrollton Point — Jordan Wilson Coalition

Bicentennial Park — Rusty Bladen, with Amy Noel

Shawe Festival — JD Shelburne

North Madison Christian — Zach Shelton & 64 to Grayson Band

Riverboat Inn — Joe Perkinson & Deano Crafton

Saturday, September 11

Hanover Park — Michael Cleveland (6:30 p.m.)

Canaan Festival — Dusty Road Band

Thomas Family Winery — TBD

Riverboat Inn — Joe Perkinson & Deano Crafton

Lighthouse — Amy Noel & Michael Fortunato

Mad Paddle — Jhonnie & Sallie Show

Moose — Country Bourne (open to public)

Shawe Festival — The Crashers

Sunday, September 12

Stream Cliff Farm — Gary Applegate & Joe Rock

Fire Station next to Lytle Park — Bluegrass (1 p.m.)

Monday, September 13

Crafted Coffee — Open Mic Night

Tuesday, September 14

Off-Broadway Taproom — Open Mic Night

County BZA OKs campground in Madison Township

Despite opposition by several neighbors, the Jefferson County’s Board of Zoning Appeals gave approval Tuesday for a proposed campground on 44.548 acres in Madison Township near Cozy Acres Golf Course.

The property, located at 4004 North Old State Route 62, was purchased in 2013 by Sam and Angela Sims, and while they have continued to live in Connecticut, Sam Sims says they have sold their Connecticut home and plan to build a house on the property while also developing up to nine cabins for a camping area.

The proposal came before the Jefferson County BZA in April, but was tabled in order to give board members more time to review after John Muessel, who owns adjacent land at 3816 North Old State Road 62, expressed his opposition. On Tuesday, Muessel presented a petition with signatures from 144 neighboring residents who oppose the development.

The property, which is zoned agricultural, was approved by the BZA for conditional use for “other recreation including camping and picnic areas.” The board approved with the conditions that all state and local laws and ordinances be followed, if the property is sold the new owner must come before the board, and that cabin stays may not be longer than 14 days with a minimum of 24 hours off premises before occupants may return.

Muessel expressed concern that if cabins are built they will become permanent structures on the property, and he’s worried what might become of the structures if the campground does not succeed. “If it doesn’t make it, what will happen to them?” he asked, noting the structure could become a nuisance to the area. He also expressed concern about renters living long-term with the cabins becoming residences, which board member Andy Crozier cited in his condition limiting stays to 14 days.

Madison attorney Rob Barlow characterized that by having nine cabins on the property, the site would become a “small subdivision” changing the “essence of the character” of the area.

“It’s taking a wooded area and an agricultural area and changing it to what we feel would be a residential area,” Barlow said, adding there are no fire hydrants in the area while also raising concern on how easily firefighters would even be able to access the campground in the event of a fire.

Barlow, who asked the board to deny the application, also noted that “water pressure is not good in that area” and, based on that, any septic system there would be inadequate for the nine units and that attempting to do so “defies logic.”

Sims said approval by the county’s BZA is just part of an overall process in determining whether the camping area becomes a reality. “We must have multiple approvals,” Sims said, noting “this is the first step.” He said if they don’t receive approvals for fire protection and from the health department on the septic system, then the campground plans are “a no go.”

Sims said hunting will not be allowed on the property nor will golf carts and all-terrain vehicles be permitted. However, he does plan to have walking trails on the property and all cabins will be one bedroom with a maximum of six guests per cabin. Although the cabins would be available year-round, he anticipates the heaviest use from mid-April to mid-November with the peak season being between Memorial Day to Labor Day. He also said that while the initial plan calls for nine cabins there’s a possibility the site could end up with fewer cabins with space set aside for recreational vehicles.

“We may have five cabins then four RV spaces,” he said depending how the campground progresses. Regardless of the mix of the units, he noted, “We’re capping everything at nine units.”

COVID cases at jail now at 55 after testing
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The number of COVID-19 cases in the Jefferson County Jail has increased to 55 after testing by the State Board of Health, according to Sheriff Dave Thomas.

Thomas said he anticipated COVID testing would show an increase from last week’s total of 31 inmates, and while the number increased by 24, he’s glad it wasn’t more than that.

“It didn’t double,” Thomas said.

Thomas said the jail staff continues to follow department policies and procedures concerning COVID-19 by screening inmates, checking temperatures, masking and sanitizing.

“We’re going to get this under control,” he said.

Meanwhile, Jefferson County is under an “Orange” advisory while Switzerland County is in a“Red” advisory.

So far in September, Jefferson County has reported 149 positive cases of COVID-19 while Switzerland County has 64 with 95.3% of those coming from among the unvaccinated. The positivity rate in Jefferson County is 13.8% while Switzerland County’s is 17.2%. On Wednesday, the State of Indiana reported 2,952 new positive cases of COVID-19 over the last day.

In Kentucky on Tuesday, Gov. Andy Beshear said Kentucky has recorded more than 13,000 new COVID-19 cases in four days. He also reported the 30,680 new cases during the week of Aug. 30 to Sept. 5 topped the previous record-high week reported a week earlier.

“We continue to see more cases than is safe by any means,” said Beshear. “The bad news is we had the worst week ever last week. Our hospitals continue to be pushed to the brink. If we have one bad week, we can very quickly run out of ICU beds.”