Grant reimburses Noble County for summer projects

Article by Steve Garbacz of KPC Media

ALBION — Three of Noble County’s four Community Crossings grant projects were funded this year, meaning the state of Indiana picked up more than $725,000 of the tab to pave subdivisions and repair other county roads.

Noble County Highway Department engineer Zack Smith gave an update to the Noble County Board of Commissioners Monday about the grant award announced last week. The county received $725,611.53 through the program in its second year, after getting $1 million from the Community Crossings grant last year.

Noble County split its four applications by type of work: paving, microsurfacing, crack sealing and a bridge replacement. Doing it that way gave the Indiana Department of Transportation more leeway to fund the projects it wanted, since Smith expected the agency would get more applications this year than it had money to give away.

He said some other local governments that tried to lump different types of projects together didn’t receive funding.

The state chose to fund the county’s three maintenance projects, but opted not to pay for the replacement of Bridge 24.

“We gave them the flexibility to give us as much or as little as they wanted,” Smith said.

The grant money reimburses the county for money it spent out of its normal annual funding and rainy day fund, and is helping to keep the county’s long-term road plan on track.

Bridge 24, which is located on C.R. 950E over Bilger Ditch, wasn’t funded, but Smith said the county’s bridge fund is in good enough shape to cover paying for that replacement.

“Overall, not bad,” Smith said to summarize.

In other business Monday, the commissioners held hearings on multiple unsafe properties as identified by the county Planning Department.

Building inspector Norm Lortie presented updates on more than a half-dozen properties with unsafe structures on them that either need to be repaired or demolished.

Two property owners came in to give updates about the state of their properties, although both said they didn’t have money available to make improvements to the eyesore structures.

The county has limited money available to condemn and demolish problem structures, but the commissioners are continuing to push owners to make some fixes in an attempt to avoid having to pay for demolition.