Market Street Bridge opens

The Market Street Bridge opened on Saturday, Dec. 21, after more than a year of waiting and detours.

The bridge is not completely finished and there are some lane restrictions. Final touches will be made in April.

The bridge closed on June 28, 2018 ahead of its planned demolition and reconstruction. The about $5.5 million project was expected to take a year to complete.

The closure of Market Street Bridge took a toll on west side commerce as reported in the Pharos-Tribune in a Sept. 2018 article. An extremely cold winter last year and heavy rains this spring held up completion of the project. Adam Parkhouse, an Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman, said in an email that some delays in the bridge project were associated with Frontier Communications moving utilities.

In October, it was announced that Logansport received $177,343.65 through the Next Level Roads: Community Crossings Initiative to address streets that have been impacted by heavier-than-normal traffic during the Market Street Bridge replacement project. The repairs and paving will take place on Linden Avenue between Market and Sixth Streets and on Helm Street from Wilkinson Street and Park Avenue.

ReVere Homes

The city broke ground on the ReVere Homes project near the end of April. The project is part of an initiative through the Blight Elimination Program (BEP) — a statewide program that allows Indiana municipalities and communities to demolish blighted properties and offer a variety of end uses for the newly cleared properties, including green space and redevelopment.

In November 2018, the Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority recommended that tax credits be awarded to Indianapolis-based Crestline Development Co. to help fund a project that would add 30 new homes — 15 affordable three-bedroom homes and 15 affordable four-bedroom homes — on those formerly blighted sites.

According to city officials, 19 of the 30 city-owned lots were formerly occupied by dilapidated houses that were demolished through the city’s participation in BEP.

After a 15-year tax credit compliance period concludes, renters will have the opportunity to buy their homes at the cost of outstanding debt and taxes.

Melbourne Avenue project underway

Work has been ongoing on a multi-million-dollar drainage project in downtown Logansport. Once it’s complete, Logansport Municipal Utilities’ stormwater and sewer system will have fewer overflows into area rivers during heavy rains. The project is also expected to alleviate flooding downtown during heavy rains.

The two-year project happening on Melbourne Avenue spans five blocks between Eel River Avenue and Fifth Street. Indianapolis-based Wilhelm Construction is heading up the project.

“The Wabash Valley is getting more rain. The clear trend is that with more moisture in the world, we are going to get more rain here,” Logansport Mayor Dave Kitchell said. “We are getting water in places that we haven’t before — that’s what’s going to continue. This stormwater project is a timely one for us.”

Solar farms approved for west side

Roughly 80 acres on the west edge of Logansport will soon be providing power to the city.

Solar farms utilize a large-scale deployment of solar panels to generate renewable electricity for sale to utilities, government entities, individual customers and organizations.

In October, the Logansport Utility Service Board voted 5-0 to approve a proposal from Inovateus to install the solar farm.

Inovateus, which previously installed solar panels on the former Continental Steel site in Kokomo, is working with three Logansport lenders to secure funding for the project. In 2018, Indiana ranked 29th among U.S. states for installed solar power. It’s estimated that 18 percent of electricity in Indiana could be provided by rooftop solar panels.

Residents who live nearby the proposed solar farm had questions and concerns. The City of Logansport and Inovateus Solar held a “Pizza and Solar” event last November to present its planned solar project and to listen to concerns. Plans were revised to create a large buffer zone between the solar farm and adjacent properties.

Gothra opens

The north 800 block of Third Street between Miami Avenue and Ottawa Street had been totally abandoned as of spring of 2017. For two decades before that, half of the block stood empty.

The northwest area of town was also somewhat of a food desert. Now, the two businesses are proving popular with both residents and with people from outside Logansport.

It’s revitalization began earlier this year as Paul Gothra bought the two empty buildings and revitalized them, starting with a 24-hour Marathon gas station and Gothra’s Kitchen convenience store opening in March where Hook’s Drug Store once operated.

During the last week of August, he also opened up Gothra’s Neighborhood Market in the building that was formerly a Marsh grocery store until the chain went bankrupt in 2017.

When Gothra indicated his intent to buy and renovate the lots, The City of Logansport stepped up to help. It put $131,000 of Tax Increment Financing money toward improvements for the block in an effort to raise property values and taxes. Any increase in property taxes would go to pay for the improvements the city made.

The money went toward LED lighting, paving, parking lot striping, sidewalks and curbs.

There was another incentive for the inside of the store. Gothra was reimbursed $100,000 during the second week of September for improvements including new freezers, a 50-camera surveillance system, new registers and just about everything new a store needs. That grant came from County Economic Development Income Tax money.

Martin elected mayor

On Nov. 5, Republican Chris Martin narrowly defeated incumbent Dave Kitchell to become the youngest mayor-elect in the city’s history at the age of 28.

Republican City Councilman At Large-elect Jonathan Nelms, just 19 years old at the time, became the youngest elected official in the city’s history.

Martin won 51.4 percent of the vote — winning by just 57 votes. Voter turnout for the election was 23.8 percent.

It was Nelms’ first time running for an elected office. Martin ran for the at-large council seat — and lost by three votes — in 2011 and lost a second bid for that seat in 2015.

Cass County’s first hemp farm

Chuck Stephenson operates Cass County’s first hemp farm. The 450-acre farm is located southeast of Logansport.

Hemp, which is related to cannabis but doesn’t contain enough THC to produce a “high,” has been legalized as a crop since 2018, when the federal farm bill allowed states to grow and regulate hemp for the first time since World War II.

“I just thought it was interesting,” said Stephenson, who’s also farming 250 acres of corn and 250 acres of beans.

Third Wave Farms and the Hemp Chapter of the Indiana Farmers Union held the symposium on his land to introduce farmers to hemp as a crop. Stephenson liked the idea of having the seminar in a tent among his crop because he wants to get others involved in what looks like a new industry.

“Right now, about 60 percent of what’s grown is used for fiber for cloth or paper, about 35 percent is for CBD oil and the rest is for grain — cultivating the seeds for farmers,” said Margerite Bolt of Purdue’s Department of Agrimony and the department hemp extension specialist.

Carousel celebrates 100 years

The Cass County Dentzel Carousel celebrated its milestone 100-year anniversary with a Carousel Fun Day at Riverside Park.

The Cass County Dentzel Carousel is one of three complete Dentzel carousels in the United States. Each animal was meticulously hand-crafted Gustav Dentzel, a German immigrant who took up residence the Germantown area of Philadelphia in the late 1800s, and his workers. Dentzel opened a cabinet shop but after seven years grew bored and decided he would try his hand at creating carousels. Dentzel’s father, Michael Dentzel, carved carousels back home in Germany. Cass County’s carousel was completed in 1885.

There are 43 animals and three chariots on the Cass County Carousel. Only one horse and one chariot are not original to the carousel — the horse was purchased as a replacement and was carved by Dentzel’s son and the chariot was added later to accommodate those in wheelchairs.

Before the carousel came to Logansport, it ran at Roberts Park in Fort Wayne from 1901 until it was bought by Duey Schmidt in 1919 for $1,000. Schmidt transported the carousel by urban line to Logansport. It resided at Spencer Park until 1949 when it was moved to Riverside Park.

The carousel ran until 1969 when it was put up for sale because the last private owner died. The carousel was ultimately bought by the Logansport Jaycees for about $15,000, according to Gasho. “The Jaycee’s never owned it. As soon as they bought it, they started the Carousel Corporation.”

The Carousel Corp. owns the carousel and is independently operated by a volunteer board of directors. It rents a space at Riverside Park and the 99 year lease isn’t up until 2094.

High Street paved, ADA ramps added

For the third time in four years, the City of Logansport received state matching funds for local road projects through the Next Level Roads Community Crossings Initiative.

Logansport Deputy Mayor Mercedes Brugh said the city signed a contract for the design of this 1.64-mile length of street in February.

High Street High Street — from the intersections of Third Street up to 24th Street — was one of the streets to benefit from the state funding. The street was paved and 59 handicapped-accessible ramps were installed.

Brugh says ADA-compliant ramps are a big part of providing accessibility for Logansport’s older citizens.

White fence gets celebrity status

The infamous white fence at 2900 High St. has been hit so often that it has become a bit of a local celebrity — now with its own Facebook page.

“The White Fence on High Street” Facebook page was created Saturday, Aug. 10 after, according to the Logansport Police Dept., a vehicle driven by Verladeen Turnpaugh, 89, of Logansport, collided with the fence located in front of the residence. Since then, the page has gained more than 3,400 followers with many local residents and businesses taking part in the fence’s folly.

The Record Farm, The State Theatre and Failure Records & Tapes created a fake “The White Fence on High Street Mega Concert” flyer; Mary Max Cinemas Logansport 5 went old-school and created a “Bad Luck Brian” meme; and Mike Almon went as far as recording a “Last Fence” parody song to the tune of “Last Kiss” by the Cavaliers. That song, recorded at Mix-It Studios in Galveston by engineer Dave Osenbaugh, received airplay on Classic Hits 102.3 FM The River.

The owner of the Facebook page — who chooses to remain anonymous — speaks almost exclusively from the fence’s point of view.

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