Big money given by Tyson Trust
KAREN REYNOLDS PHOTO
Natalie Gilpin, president of the Tyson Trust, hands a check to Sue Meisberger, president of the Versailles Town Council.
By Karen Reynolds
Once again, Tyson Library hosted what would be James Tyson’s 157th birthday party with the usual fanfare on Saturday, September 14.
This birthday party celebrates the life of James Tyson and his ongoing generosity. This year, over $586,000 from the Tyson Fund was awarded to various entities.
The members of the Tyson Trust were on hand to help the town celebrate Tyson’s legacy: Bill Bradford, Aimee Cornett, Natalie Gilpin, James Leveille, Bob Meyer, Connie Morris, Kenny Sheets and Susan Underwood, as well as Mike Dixon, the pastor of the Tyson Methodist Church, who began the meeting with prayer.
The South Ripley Young Confederate Show Choir under the direction of Chris Lafary performed several numbers.
Natalie Gilpin, president of the Tyson Trust, felt that “Uncle Jimmy” will be pleased at the ways his money will be used this year. She reminded the friends gathered there that his goal had been to relieve the burden of taxation on the town where possible. James Leveille, Tyson Library board president, spoke about the fact that the library is the most altruistic institution there is and provides both recreation and knowledge for it’s patrons. Andrew Rowden, Tyson Library director for the past two years, reported that he was pleased to honor James Tyson, a native-born son who never forgot his community. Rowden reminded the group to be sure to renew those library cards this year.
The Tyson Fund gives money to various agencies and groups each year and this year a total of $586,575.42 was awarded. This amount was increased approximately $48,000 from 2012. The following lists the grant recipients and money awarded:
• Town of Versailles: $250,581.42. This will be used in a number of ways: $112,000 for water plant annual bond payments, $71,000 for sewer bond payments: $24,300 to pay off a John Deere tractor: $15,000 as matching funds for the Safe Route to School Grant: and $28,281.42 for sewer bond payment on principal
• Tyson Library: $132,000 for the ongoing support of the Tyson Library to provide the citizens of Versailles and surrounding community access to informational, educational, and recreational resources, programs and services
• The South Ripley Community School Corporation: $87,204 to pilot and develop a professional development program
• Tyson Community Advancement Foundation: $40,000 for miscellaneous renovations to the Tyson CAF Building
ª The Versailles Fire Department $30,000 to pay off debt on the department’s fire trucks
• The Tyson Manor, Inc.: $10,000 for improvements and appliance replacements
• The Versailles Lions Club: $7,500 with $5,000 to be used for the Pumpkin Show entertainment and $2,500 for starting a marketing program
• The Ripley County Probation Department: $5,000 for a substance abuse outpatient program
• CEF Child Evangelism Fellowship $4,040 to advance Good News Archery Clubs and provide scholarships for camp, etc.
• The Ripley County Historical Society: $1,500 to purchase an optic book A300 book scanner
Versailles may be able to pay for upgrading the entire storm drainage project at one time if a grant comes through. Mary McCarty, project development manager with Southeastern Indiana Regional Planning Commission, told the town board at the Sept. 12 meeting that disaster funding from the Columbus flood in 2008 may be available for storm drainage projects, and could be used for this. She emphasized it is not official but wanted the board to be aware of it so they would be ready to apply. “It’s coming, and we can’t wait until they tell us exactly what it’s going to be because it could be too late,” she said.
This funding may have a much larger cap than previous state grants, and could cover all three section upgrades. The initial plan was to make the improvements in sections mainly because of the cost. The need was emphasized from an engineer’s report that indicated the town’s stormwater and sewer system is basically processing “clean water” which is wear and tear on the equipment and results in undue expense to the town. One report needed for this application may be income level, which was already conducted for the planning grant. It’s likely, McCarty said, the engineer would need to define the need, plan, and economic benefit to the town for the grant. It was mentioned by the town board that the storm drainage upgrades would help from raising sewer rates, thus a benefit to the residents.
The grant would probably be due by next summer, which means they should get engineering involved soon, and be prepared. “I’m afraid if you wait you might miss an opportunity,” McCarty said. If they want to keep with the same engineers that is fine, she added. The board agreed to begin on the paperwork and other details.
The council also was informed about another free planning grant for the town. (See details in an upcoming issue of this newspaper.)
Several people have expressed an interest to form a Main Street committee. They will meet Oct. 10 at 5 p.m. at the town hall, and anyone who is interested in developing downtown Versailles is welcome to join.
McCarty also reported that she had met with Aimee Cornett with the Tyson Activity Center. They could get funding from the Indiana Office of Community Rural Affairs historic property for façade improvement. This could help fund electrical upgrades, bricks, and windows. This would be similar to other focus fund grants and the town would be the applicant and the center the recipient.
Superintendent Kevin Hensley wanted the board to discuss possible engineers for the storm water project. He suggested Curry and Associates, but council member John Holzer took exception due to past problems with the company and work on the water treatment plant. No decision was made, but McCarty said she could forward a list of reputable engineering companies to the town. They will then ask for at least three bids or proposals for the project.
Hensley also reported they had three water leaks in the past month, with two of those major. He said they “lucked out” finding the source of one. It was by the legion park and resulted in a loss of two million gallons a month. The leaks often occur due to the old pipes.
Holzer attended the Aug. 28 Hoosier Hills water board meeting. Hoosier Hills will soon be the new water source for Holton and Versailles. Bids have been granted to a number of companies for various work. Holzer told the board the bids were higher than original estimates due to the need to bore through rock. Their attorney called him Thursday and said the funding looks good, but they need an amendment to the contract for the completion deadline. Once work starts they have 210 days to complete it. He said it looks like Versailles will be finished by next summer, but the amendment lists September as completion to give them time in case of weather delays.
He also mentioned the town needs to buy a computer-type control program for it, which monitors the pumps, meters, materials and water level. Hensley confirmed their current program can’t be updated. The cost is about $28,000 and was not in the original bid. The board mentioned they could apply for a grant to help pay for it.
Sue Meisberger, president of the council, said they should apply for a Rising Sun Foundation grant to make renovations to the old firehouse. However, Holzer said he didn’t think they have agreed yet on what should be done. Nonetheless, Meisberger thought they could still go after the grant before the final design is finished.
No one contested the 2014 town budget so it will be submitted. Clerk Kiersten Libby did ask for approval of additional appropriations for the park and Motor Vehicle Highway accounts. Her 2013 estimate was short $15,000 for the park, and $82,800 for the MVH fund. The funds are there, she noted, but just were not appropriated. She believes there was a typo on the original budget of $16,000 submitted for MVH and it should have been $160,000. The council agreed to the appropriation changes.
Jeff French submitted the favorable recommendation from the planning commission to change zoning for a local business. He requested the town approve zoning for the former Butternut Store on US 50 from industrial to the Local Business (LB). Owner Lula Sizemore came with him to the meeting. The board approved it and French would submit it to the commissioners for approval.
Fire Department report
Chief Ben Sieverding reported they have a new member, Ryan Marcoux. He moved here from Westport and has all the certifications. The fire department had 35 calls this month: five vehicle accidents with one entrapment; two gas leaks and one house fire, which was contained to the kitchen.
Joe Mann, Versailles Police Chief, said he is ready for the upcoming Pumpkin Show and has been working on a disaster plan with EMA.