The city’s Board of Works on Monday awarded its final contract — again to Bicknell’s Rod Mullins — for the demolition of abandoned houses as part of a state-funded program to eliminate blight.
Mullins was the single bidder on the razing of 11 houses; the board awarded the contract for a total of $97,000.
The houses to be demolished are 812 N. 12th St., 1205 Perry St., 1503 Broadway St.,513 State St., 1327 Prairie St., 106-124 W. Jefferson Ave. (five houses total) and 1129 Busseron St.
Mullins has torn down all of the more than 30 houses the city has razed with grant funds from the state’s Hardest Hit Blight Elimination Fund; he has also performed similar work in Bicknell.
The city in 2017 received about $630,000, money gained as a result of two successful grant applications from a state fund aimed at eliminating eyesore houses and cleaning up cities.
City inspector Philip Cooper says 23 houses have already been razed; combined with these next 11, the program will have contributed to the elimination of 34 unsightly and often dangerous properties in Vincennes.
But state officials are calling it quits on the program and gave municipalities with remaining dollars until November to spend them.
City officials say they won’t slow down their efforts and will look, once again, to the $40,000 designated by the city council each year to an Unsafe Building Fund from which Cooper can draw money to rid Vincennes of unsightly and dangerous houses not in compliance with the local ordinance.
OTHER BOW BUSINESS
In other business, interim city police chief Terry Johnson told board members that officers have been riding on Vincennes Community School Corp. buses keeping an eye out for stop arm violators.
So far, he said, they’ve not had to issue any tickets.
“We can’t do it every day,” he told the board, “but we’re going to try to get that done as frequently a possible.”
Officials with the North Knox School Corp. placed cameras on five of its buses, and during the first three days of school caught six violators.
Tickets for $135 have been mailed out by the Knox County Sheriff’s Department for those violations.
A new state law does, however, allow for harsher penalties for stop arm violators. Judges can opt to suspend a driver's license for 90 days. It also increases penalties for repeat violators.
The bill — which took many forms this legislative session — is the result of three siblings who were struck and killed last October in northern Indiana by a pickup truck as they boarded a bus that had stopped and lowered its stop arm.
North Knox is the only local school corporation, however, to have installed cameras on its buses.
Lisa Ritterskamp, a resident of what is commonly known as “the Heights,” also addressed board members Monday about traffic concerns around her home on McKinley Avenue.
For one, she warned board members of the potential for accidents at McKinley and Washington avenues.
“I avoid it completely, if I can,” she said. “There’s an apartment on one side, a business on the other, and it’s just difficult to see oncoming traffic.
“I have not had an accident there, but I’m sure there have been.”
Ritterskamp, too, said a neighboring resident often blocks a large portion of McKinley Avenue, specifically between 12th and 13th streets, with his truck and attached trailer, and she said another resident parks a camper, which creates a similar traffic bottleneck, nearer to 14th Street.
Mayor Joe Yochum said he had already directed city engineer John Sprague to take a closer look at traffic at McKinley and Washington avenues, and he’d placed calls personally, he said, to the two residents blocking the street.
“We’ll see what we can do to remedy all of this,” he said to Ritterskamp.