“We’ve come a long way in two years,” Mayor Rick Fledderman told several hundred guests at the Mayor’s Appreciation Dinner at the Sherman House Dec. 18. He is at the midpoint of his term.

Fledderman said his administration’s push for Batesville’s economic development is an accomplishment “I’m really proud of ... That’s been a real priority of our administration.”

He noted three industries have opened or are poised to open on Lammers Pike either at Batesville Commerce Center (Med-Mizer and Advance Nitrating) or adjacent to it (Ricca Chemical Co).

Fledderman explained that three commissions – the Batesville Industrial Park Commission, Batesville Economic Development Commission and Batesville Redevelopment Commission – work closely with the city council to bolster economic growth.

Keeping the city’s infrastructure in good shape is another goal. A revised land use ordinance was approved this year that protects new development and spells out drainage guidelines for developers, he noted.

Fledderman added that 2005 saw “very big improvements of streets and sidewalks.” Speaking of Batesville Street Department workers, he said, “They work very hard.” The crowd agreed with a round of applause.

One of the most obvious additions has been a sidewalk on the entire length of Columbus Avenue between Mulberry Street and Huntersville Road. In addition, according to monthly reports filed by Street Commissioner Bob Hortemiller, workers began patching roads in February. In June they started prepping streets for resurfacing. Tasks included digging out soft areas, replacing pipe, putting in new storm sewers for drainage and replacing curbs and sidewalks.

The next month employees worked with Paul Rohe Co., Aurora, on street paving. In August they dug out and installed a parking lot behind the Batesville Area Historical Society Museum. Workers poured two handicapped ramps at Golden Villa in October. Last month they were still patching street potholes and repairing sidewalks.

Speaking of sewer improvements, the mayor observed that wastewater treatment plant superintendent “Randy Gibbs and his crew have done a tremendous job with that.” Delaware Road and Circle Lane gained upgrades.

He called implementing a small stormwater sewer fee in 2005 a “tough thing.” Money is being accrued to improve drainage systems in existing neighborhoods that experience flooding.

Fledderman praised Fire Chief Todd Schutte and Police Chief Dennis Wallpe, who he said “worked very hard” on getting a severe weather warning system installed. Seven sirens geographically spread throughout Batesville became operational in late June.

With firefighters spread out, “we set them off on a Monday evening in August,” reported Schutte. The sound was weak south of downtown. “It’s kind of like a hole there, not as loud as we want it to be.”

Officials ordered an eighth siren costing about $21,000. “We’re looking at trying to put it over where the old iron bridge used to be” where Main and Mulberry streets and Beech Grove Avenue converge. If there is a problem getting electricity to that location, it will be installed soon at the Liberty Park baseball field.

The mayor also revealed that the system will be tested more frequently. According to Schutte, “What we’re going to do” is the regular first Monday of the month test at 10 a.m. In addition, the sirens will sound every Saturday at noon. He explained, “On Mondays everybody’s at work.” When the sirens blast on Saturdays, “That way we can catch people at home and make them aware this system is out there.”

Recreation here continues to be bettered as well. Fledderman pointed out, “We’ve got a new concession stand out at the soccer field, in large part thanks to the soccer parents, who have done a tremendous job.” He hinted that “hopefully some big things” are on the horizon for recreation in 2006.

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