Fountain County Art Council awarded $50,000

The Indiana Historical Society announces one of its largest Heritage Support Grants to date is being awarded to Fountain County Art Council Inc. 

The organization will receive $50,000 to continue its “Put ‘Em on the Map” mural conservation project.

First started as a Bicentennial Legacy Project, the mural conservation project aims to preserve the Fountain County Courthouse murals, which were painted by 11 local artists between 1937 and 1939. The murals feature westward expansion of the United States, settlement of the Indiana Territory and the Wabash Valley, as well as a record of the history, development and industrialization of Fountain County.

“The Heritage Support Grant will assist in paying for the removal of the preservative varnish applied in the 1983 restoration project,” said Nancy Wagner of the art council. “Removal will make way for cleaning of the murals and allow for the original paint colors to be matched for repairs.”

The project’s total cost is $227,000.

Fountain Commissioners table jail decision

COVINGTON — For the past decade, Fountain County Commissioners have been discussing building a new jail. 

In an effort to move the $10 million project along, county officials conducted a joint meeting Monday with members of the Fountain County Council.

Although no one spoke out against building a new jail facility, two concerns did arise. The first concern was a request from council members for more financial information. The second concern arose between Commissioners Tim Shumaker and Don Hesler over which contractor should be hired to manage construction.

Shumaker preferes entering into contracts with Barnes and Thornburg for bond contracting; DLZ Inc. as architect; Umbaugh and Associates as financial advisor; and CCI Inc. as construction management.

Hesler wants to hire Kettelhut Contractors of Lafayette to oversee construction. The company is known for building large projects, but has limited experience in building jails. The company did recently construct the Tippecanoe County Jail addition.

Commissioners received proposals from both Kettelhut and CCI The estimate from CCI was approximately $78,000 less than the one from Kettelhut.

“I want Kettelhut as our construction manager because they are more local,” Hesler said. “They have a good relationship with local contractors and do a good job.”

Shumaker questioned Hesler’s choice by pointing out Kettelhut’s estimate was $78,000 more. He also claimed CCI is the number one jail construction company in Indiana. Shumaker listed many correctional facilities CCI has built compared Kettelhut.

“I think going with Kettelhut would be a mistake,” Shumaker said. “I know they are an excellent company for what they build. They just don’t have a lot of experience at building jails.”

Commissioners asked for input from council members.

Fountain County Council President Dudley Cruea said he was not comfortable with commissioners entering into contracts on Monday. He would like all council members to have an opportunity to see the financial numbers that only the commissioners had seen. He told commissioners he understood they had the right to enter into the jail construction contacts, but he hoped they would include council members before finalizing their decisions.

The question of whether or not a new jail is needed was not debated. The present facility only has room for 25 inmates. The county is currently spending more than $200,000 annually to house inmates in facilities outside of the county.

Commissioners agreed to provide the council with the financial reports and tabled the jail project.

Shumaker was disappointed that no decisions were made.

“We cannot keep putting this off like we have for the past 10 years,” Shumaker said. “The time is now and we need to get started on it.”

The next commissioners meeting is scheduled for July 5 at the Fountain County Courthouse, Covington.

Friends walking for park

Doni Welcher’s heart breaks when she walks around Milligan Park. With many fond memories, the local mother of two believes the park can be a valuable asset for families. However, what she recently discovered in the park has saddened her, and she wants to make a difference.

“I personally have found two syringes on the ground at the park and I know others have found them too,” Welcher said. “Some of the things I have heard from the kids in the park are very unpleasant. I think it is time we take back our park.”

Welcher’s first move was to organize the Friends of Milligan Park. She wants residents who also believe in the park’s value to join the group. Its first event will be Sunday with a “Take Back the Park Walk.” The free event will begin at Milligan Park’s baseball diamond. Participants will then walk through the park as a show of support.

“We are just going to show power through a quiet walk,” Welcher said. “We want the drug addicts and dealers to see that we are going to do what is needed to take back the park for our kids and for families. We have a beautiful park and we want to be able to use it.”

Welcher said the park is no longer a preferred destination for her children, ages 16 and 10. They do not want to be around some of the rowdy people, including teenagers who cause trouble at times. Welcher said there are too many fights, youth using vulgar language and other disturbances she does not want her children to be around.

Welcher, who is a single parent, hopes other residents who want to stand up for the park will participate in Sunday’s event.

“We need our park to be a safe place for our children, both mentally and physically,” Welcher said. “It is time that we as a community do something.”

Besides bringing awareness, Welcher hopes Friends of Milligan Park will eventually have more fun events such as crafts, games and other children’s activities. All monetary donations presented to Friends of Milligan Park will be used for park improvements.

For more information about the walk or new group, visit its Facebook page Friends of Milligan Park.

Local woman finds humor in final resting place

When her time comes and loved ones gather at her gravesite, Delores Thomas-Farley will have the last laugh.

Her headstone is already one of the most unique in the cemetery: It’s the one with the parking meter that reads, “Time Expired.”

After the city removed the meters from downtown, Thomas-Farley bought one as a keepsake. Years later, she came across a photo showing a ran-out meter next to a woman’s headstone, and wanted her final resting place to look the same.

The elaborate idea almost didn’t come to be.

Digging the meter out of storage last spring, she put in a nickel, twisted the handle and waited half-an-hour. It never budged.

“The parking meter’s supposed to be expired, because I’m expired — or will be,” said Thomas-Farley, known as “D.J.” to family and friends.

Her husband, Gordon, went to the police department, where meter department manager Cyndy Fields had the keys to the device. Fields unlocked the meter and flipped it to “expired.”

To prevent more coins from being fed in, Moore’s Gold Jewelry & Repair sealed the meter shut.

With the help of Jerry Link, Gordon hunted down a metal post from a scrap pile in Lake Holiday. Once the post and meter were locked in place, they called on friend Don Gould, co-owner of Gould Body & Paint, who had painted the sprint car the couple sponsored at Lincoln Park Speedway.

For Gould, it was just another day on the job.

“He got a kick out of doing it and telling people why he painted it for her,” said Gould’s wife, Diana.

By late May, Thomas-Farley was ready to bring the meter to her family plot. She doesn’t want the name of the cemetery published due to vandalism concerns.

She helped Dennis Olin pour the concrete and set the meter in place. Olin told her it was the first time the “deceased” was there to assist.

“There was a lot to it, a lot of steps, and really he needed another set of hands,” Thomas-Farley said.

The headstone, which she designed and Crawfordsville Monument Co. made, reads, “Her Humor Lives On.”

Setting up her eventual resting place wasn’t morbid for Thomas-Farley, who is 79. This week, she was back in the cemetery putting mulch around the headstone.

She said purchasing the marker was one less thing for her family to do after she’s gone.

But Thomas-Farley isn’t done with her slice of the family plot. The common funeral phrase, “Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” gave her another idea.

Next to the headstone, she wants a plaque with the words, “Big deal. I’m used to dust.”

Semi Fire

A semi tractor-trailer fire briefly shut down Interstate 74 between the 37 and 38 mile-markers Tuesday afternoon. The driver, who was en route to Nucor Steel, said the fire was caused by a mechanical issue. After trying to put out the blaze with a fire extinguisher, he called the fire department. Crawfordsville Fire, Montgomery County Sheriff's Office, Indiana State Police, Montgomery County Emergency Management Agency and Froedge's, Inc. towing all responded to the scene.