News From Terre Haute, Indiana

December 26, 2013

Wabash Valley counties saw new leadership, new plans for future

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — On the heels of a national recession in which home building and sales plummeted, Vigo County experienced a 7.4-percent drop in its overall assessed value, much of that in taxing districts of the city of Terre Haute in 2013.

Overall, Indiana experienced a 1.1-percent decrease in the median assessed value following a statewide general assessment. Only one county in the Wabash Valley saw an increase in assessed value. That was Vermillion County, with its increase attributed to the addition of land that formerly had been government property, which is now the Vermillion Rise Mega Park.

Because of that, Vermillion County saw a 7.1-percent increase in assessed value. The statewide assessment was to be the last such assessment undertaken every 10 years.

Indiana now requires county assessors to reassess 25 percent of property parcels each year as an attempt to eliminate such a lag in assessments.

n The year also brought a transition in the Vigo County Parks and Recreation Department. Long-time Superintendent W. Keith Ruble stepped down after leading the department since 1973. He was just the third person to hold the title of superintendent since the department was formed in 1967.

Kara S. Kish, who had been assistant parks superintendent since August 2009, took over midyear. She immediately implemented changes, including adding a natural resource programming to offer recreational activities and events in the county parks.

n The county Parks Board approved a final master plan for a Dewey Point Trailhead to include a pavilion, bathroom and canoe/kayak launch into the Wabashiki State Fish & Wildlife Area. The first phase of that project, including a paved parking lot, will start in 2014. Also, the Vigo County parks system saw a 42-percent expansion with the acquisition of about 822 acres formerly owned by Pfizer in southern Vigo County. The county obtained the property for $50,000 and initially plans to develop walking and bike trails and a dog park, among other activities.

n Vigo County’s Election Board approved the use of vote centers in the county for the 2014 election. The move eliminates voting in precincts. The county had 87 voting precincts in 56 polling places, but starting in 2014, the county will provide 18 voting centers on election day.

n A new color arose in 2013 atop the historic 19th Century French neo-baroque style Vigo County Courthouse. The copper-skinned small and large domes were leaking and in need of repair. The county undertook a project to re-solder all breaks in the roof seams and repair and ornamental iron catwalk fence. It also included a heavy coat of metal primer to close pinholes in the roof, making the once dull green-colored domes a brilliant gold color.

n While nowhere near the scope or magnitude of a 2008 flood, April showers still brought nearly annual flooding of Vigo County roads, especially in the southern portion of the county. Vigo County Commissioners used the aid of inmates from a federal correctional facility to fill sandbags. County highway trucks delivered between 1,200 and 1,500 tons of sand for used in sandbags.

Flood waters closed sections of 36 county roads. Of those, eight roads along the river bottoms of the Wabash River were completely covered. The Prairie Creek area was hit hardest.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or

Editor’s Note

• Beginning today through year’s end, the Tribune-Star will review the major news events of 2013. Among the categories reviewed will be city government, police and courts, business and the economy, and general news.

Today’s year-end review features top county government news.