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Hardy Hills solar project advances

“Very significant” is how Clinton County Commissioners President Josh Uitts described the Hardy Hills solar project at Tuesday’s County Commissioners meeting held at the Courthouse prior to a series of unanimous votes in favor of advancing the project to its final step – the Area Plan Commission. The Clinton County Council had previously unanimously voted in favor of the project last Tuesday, Sep. 8.

The favorable votes lead to the possible construction of a solar field that would primarily occupy land around Kilmore, extending as far west as N. Co. Road 130 W., as far east as N. Co. Road 100 E., north just beyond E. Co. Road 500 N., and as far south as E. Co. Road 250 N.

An attorney representing the county, Kostas Poulakidas of Taft Law, addressed the three-member board of commissioners to outline the key items contained within the project agreement of the $200 million investment.

Tax abatement. 10-year abatement with the first eight years being 100 percent with the final two years at 75 percent.

In exchange for the abatements, the County will receive $3.1 million in non-restricted economic development payments paid in equal installments over those 10-years.

For every $10 million in additional investment over $200 million made by Hardy Hills, the County will receive an additional $155,000 in non-restricted economic development payments paid in equal installments over those 10-years.

A $15,000 contribution to the EMS project

Poulakidas also explained the assessment methodology used in this project and why it was a challenge. “In the state of Indiana there is not a defined assessment methodology for this type of project.

“It’s new, it’s unique,” Poulakidas said. “Clinton County is kind of leading the way. The Department of Local Government Finance, their guidance is we are going to defer to the locals to provide guidance. Indiana statute allows for what is called ‘Home Rule’ ordinance.”

Uitts asked Clinton County Council President Alan Dunn to speak to the financial impact this project will have on the County.

“From a council’s perspective when looking at this as an economic development project, first of all we did put a lot of time and effort into this,” Dunn said. “Let me put this into context here to scale. This is a $200 million investment in Clinton County and put that into some context – that’s larger than the ConAgra investment, which was near $150 million investment, and that’s five times the NHK investment that is going on out at I-65 and State Road 28. This is a massive project.

“The land on which the project sits on is not abatable,” Dunn continued. “So when we changed that from being farmland to being kind of a modified commercial – industrial, this new class … they’re still going to pay $2.1 million in taxes over that 10-year period that is not being paid currently.

“The County wins in form of the economic development payment of $3.1 million that’s paid at $310,000 per year during the 10-year abatement. We’re not getting nothing during that initial 10-year period.

“So over the course of the projected 35-year project, the project receives an $11 million cumulative tax abatement, but they’re going to pay tax bills that total $41 million for a net payment of $30 million to the County in property taxes paid.”

After the four votes were taken – approval of the project agreement, approval of the ordinance establishing an assessment methodology, approval of the road use agreement, and approval of the decommission agreement – Uitts explained the significance of the actions taken today.

“Today was a very important day for Clinton County,” said Uitts. “We were able to bring in the largest investment in the history of Clinton County in terms of a solar project from Invenergy, the Hardy Hills project. It represents a $200 million investment in Clinton County.

“At a high level what that represents to the folks of Clinton County, that is a lot of tax money they are not going to have to pay for the next 35-years,” Uitts continued. “For the foreseeable future we’re going to have economic development payments for the next 10-years that are going to be discretionary.

“A considerable amount of funds that are going to be over $300,000 plus per year that we are going to be able to spend on anything in our budget. Then beyond that from year eleven through the end of the project, they will pay approximately $2.1 million per year in tax. That is an incredible amount of money for the people of Clinton County.

“This is a project that respects property owner rights – that the farmers can use their land for what they wish to. It’s not really that big of an imposition on fellow property owners. The project itself includes a tremendous amount of planting of trees, natural grasses. It’s going to be very nice.”

Anytime Fitness celebrates Grand Opening

Anytime Fitness celebrated the grand opening of its new location in Frankfort with a ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday at 2410 E. Wabash Street. Members of the Clinton County Chambers of Commerce and City of Frankfort Community Development Director Annie Bacon were on hand to celebrate another new business in Frankfort.

“The grand-opening events and even just opening in general is a fabulous feeling,” said Nicole Cianci, regional director for Anytime Fitness. “It is one thing to sign everyone up and get everyone excited to be in here, but the faces and the reactions of getting to see what they get to finally work out on and get into – it is the best feeling in the world. To be able to change people’s lives and see the reactions of their new journey – grand openings are about that.”

The new Frankfort club opened in late May under the guidance of Facility Manager Kaylie Davids and Assistant Manager Charles Ballard.

“They are both raised here and live here, so they know the community very well,” Cianci said. “Honestly, (Frankfort) needed it. When we looked around, this town had the YMCA. I think, from my understanding, another gym had closed down – a ‘mom and pop,’ which is sad. The biggest thing is to make sure that any town has the resources. This was a good town. The demographics were good and to see that it was a very limited list of where you could go to get healthy. That was something we wanted to make an impact on.”

Cianci says that things have been great at the Frankfort location since it began signing up members several months ago.

“We have a couple hundred members,” she said. “The nice thing about Anytime Fitness is it is 24 hours, and it is worldwide. So, we have a lot of members who have joined and they travel, which is great. They can use it anywhere they go. For people who work the crazy-schedule business hours where they can’t make it in until 1 a.m. or 2 a..m, they are still able to come here. Just being able to give everyone the convenience factor was huge. So, opening up, we have done really well.

“Now, obviously, we anticipated opening much sooner than May,” Cianci added. “Luckily, we have been able to open, and it went great.”

The coronavirus pandemic and Governor Eric Holcomb’s resulting stay-at-home order put Frankfort’s Anytime Fitness in a holding pattern for a few months.

“We started (work on the club) in the winter,” Cianci said. “With permits and contractors, there is so much that goes into it. But everyone worked really hard. It got pushed back a little and, as soon as we were getting ready to open, coronavirus hit.”

Cianci said that, once the governor lifted the restriction on gyms, people were ready to work out.

“People were coming in with open arms,” she said. “People want to work out. People want to stay healthy, and people were ready to do that when we opened.”

Cianci said that providing a safe workout space during this pandemic became the top priority for Anytime Fitness.

“When all of this happened, we sat down as a team at our corporate office,” she said. “We had to make sure that these clubs were safe. So, the biggest priority was that we closed down, and absolutely everything got disinfected. We wiped everything down from head to toe. First, we started with cleaning and then we took extra precautions. We stopped things like towel service, unfortunately. We did things like Fresh Fruit Monday and Thirsty Thursday, which will come back. We unfortunately did have to take a few of those things away, but we put in the safety precautions. We added more hand sanitizers around all the walls. There are fit wipes everywhere, sanitation wipes, we added a whole table with microfiber rags and sanitation spray so that members feel more comfortable being able to grab their own sanitation, their own rag and really being to wipe things down before and after. We did obviously implemented the 6-feet social distancing. We have decals on our floor, and we did space out the cardio to every other being able to be used for right now. After this slows down a little bit, all of the cardio will be accessible.

“It was a smooth transition,” Cianci continued. “Everyone is abiding by it. Everyone is wiping down their equipment. We are constantly cleaning. Bathrooms are checked every half hour. It is the top priority. The last thing we want to do is close a club and have people not be able to exercise because I know during this entire thing a lot of people that never even struggled maybe emotionally, mentally, physically, struggled, and it was very hard. So, for us to be able to open and make people feel safe is a top priority.”

Cianci says that Anytime Fitness’ convenience and staff are what set them apart.

“The no-excuse factor really goes into play because it is 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year,” sje said.

“There are no excuses. You have to have time for yourself. We have made it available to you. It is a key fob swipe. Our security is high-end. You have a key to access the facility. You have private facility restrooms, which is great. You don’t have to go in a locker room and change and shower in front of anyone else. You go in, change privately, come out and do your thing.

“It is the convenience factor that sets us aside from everyone else,” she continued. “You can go to any gym and find a treadmill. You can go anywhere and find a bike. But, not only do we have the top-of-the-line equipment, what sets us aside is our staff. It is me, it is Kaylie, it is Charles. It is the people who are working in our clubs with our customers and our clients to make sure that when they walk through that door, they are comfortable. That when they come here for their first workout and they are nervous, we are here to help them. That is what we have that other people do not have. We get to know our members like family. When people walk into this gym, we want them to feel like this is their separate home.”

Cianci also mentioned that Anytime Fitness has a “Silver Sneakers” program.

“It is for people who are 65 and up, through their insurance, and it covers their gym membership,” she said.

Thought Anytime Fitness had its ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday, the celebration of its grand opening will continue with a Health Fair from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day through Thursday.

“Kaylie partnered up with the Humane Society, and we have been collecting cleaning supplies and different supplies (cat and god food, pet toys, bleach, HE laundry detergent, etc.) to give to the Humane Society, We are doing a dollar raffle right now, and all the proceeds are going to the Humane Society. They are also going to be coming here so that people can possibly adopt a little pet if they want.”

Local businesses have donated a variety of raffle prizes.

“We wanted to promote health and promote fitness, but also make it engaging,” Cianci said. “We are having fun little activities to get raffle tickets. These grand-opening events are fun. It is really just about getting to know the members and partnering up with the community.

“I want to thank Frankfort for welcoming us with open arms,” she added. “Everyone has been so great. Everyone who comes in comes in with a smile. This has been a great town to open a club in. I am really excited to continue to watch where this goes and hopefully help as many people in the community as possible.”

United Way kicks off 2020 campaign

United Way for Clinton County kicked off its 2020 fundraising campaign Tuesday with a proclamation recognizing the efforts of the campaign from Frankfort Mayor Judy Sheets. The United Way for Clinton County 2020 Campaign will continue through Oct. 31.

“Excitement is a good descriptive word for the United Way for Clinton County fundraising campaign,” said Carol Price, this year’s Campaign Chair.

A goal of $440,000 has been set for the campaign. The funds are needed to support 15 agencies and six community impact strategies.

“The needs in some areas are bigger this year due to the pandemic but United Way and its partners are handling current needs and preparing for needs we may not even be aware of that are still to come,” Price stated in a press release announcing the start of the campaign.

The board of directors, staff and campaign cabinet began work on the campaign in January. One of the first decisions made was that a Super Hero theme would be used for the 2020 campaign.

“They believe that every ordinary person can be extraordinary,” Price said. “You just have to step up and put on the cape!”

Anita Stewart, chief executive officer of United Way for Clinton County was excited to announce that this year’s early Pacesetter Campaign has been very successful with not quite complete numbers at $141,432.00 from NHK, Donaldson, The Farmers Bank, Healthy Communities of Clinton County, Kaspar Media and Wesley Manor residents. That represents 32 percent of the campaign’s goal.

“The rest of the campaign is so very important as volunteers reach out to everyone else and ask them to step up by giving today or making a pledge to give during the 2021 calendar year,” Price said. “Many campaigns are payroll deduction campaigns held at industry locations with employees making pledges to give their fair share (one hour’s pay per month) and have it deducted from their paycheck. And many of those employers then match those pledges for United Way.”

The mission of United Way for Clinton County is to fight for the health, education and financial stability of every person in Clinton County. They do that by supporting non-profits and partners who are experts in the work. Non-profit agencies that are officially supported in some way include American Red Cross, Camp Cullom, Clinton County Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, Clinton County Boys and Girls Club, COACH Kids, Frankfort Library Family Literacy Program, Food Finders Food Bank, Healthy Communities Youth RISE program, Open Door Health Clinic, Quinton’s House, Paul Phillippi Senior Resource Center, The ARC of Clinton County and the Salvation Army.

In addition to these agencies, United Way is busy with six additional impact strategies of early childhood education programs at Frankfort, Clinton Central, Clinton Prairie, YMCA and St Matthew.

Price and Stewart are looking for help this year in the form of volunteers and through donations. Call the United Way office at 654-5573 if you have time or a donation to give.

Hours set for Trick-or-Treat in Frankfort

The City of Frankfort Board of Works and Public Safety passed a measure to set trick-or-treating hours for 6-8 p.m. on Halloween during its regular meeting Monday evening in the Skanta Theatre on the second floor of the Frankfort Community Public Library.

“I had a suggestion of maybe two or three hours on the 31st,” Frankfort Mayor Judy Sheets said to start the discussion of trick-or-treating hours. “If a homeowner wants to be a part of that, they could turn the porch light on. (We will) kind of leave it to the discretion of the parents on whether they want their kids to go out and Truck or Treat.”

Megan Sheets, a member of the BOW, was in agreement with the Mayor that a two- or three-hour window would be appropriate.

“I think it is appropriate, at least the responsibly of the parents but also the participating residents if they are OK with leaving their porch lights on,” Megan said. “I think the city has been doing a great job of putting information on social media. When we do that, we can maybe suggest some measures to safeguard (trick-or-treaters) at the time.”

“It leaves an option for who wants to go out,” said board member Greg Miller. We are not going to hold everybody in their house. So, if resident want to leave their front porch lights on, I think 6-8 p.m. are appropriate hours.”

Mayor Sheets added that parents will be responsible for their trick-or-treating children, and that city police and fire departments will not have their lobbies open to trick-or-treaters. However, the Frankfort Police Department and Frankfort Fire Department are expected to participate in the Scary Safe Community Trunk or Treat hosted by Frankfort United Neighborhoods and 7 Lights of Trepidation from 5-9 p.m. at TPA Park.