Redevelopment Commission 06/28/2018

The Charlestown Redevelopment Commission met for a regularly scheduled meeting and advertised public hearing on Thursday, June 28, 2018 at 9:00 am. Following is a summary of the meeting with full audio at the end:

  1. Call to Order/Pledge of Allegiance – led by Eric Vaughn
  2. Determination of a Quorum and Roll Call – In attendance were John Spencer, Ted Little, Eric Vaughn, and Bob Hall. George Roberts was absent.
  3. Approval of Minutes from previous meeting, current claims, and payroll allowance docket from 05/20/2018 to 06/23/2018 considered in one motion.
    • Motion to approve made by John Spencer
    • Seconded by Eric Vaughn
    • No Discussion
    • Unanimous approval
  4. Ordinances and Resolutions – Resolution No. 2018-R-6 – “A Resolution Confirming the Resolution of the Charlestown Redevelopment Commission (NCCH)” – Jon Anderson, Tax Credit Finance Attorney for the North Clark Community Hospital, was present to speak on behalf of the hospital for this public hearing regarding the agreement to create a TIF district that encapsulates the hospital property and provides a bond to the hospital for final renovation of the property. These issues were previously brought before the Redevelopment Commission on April 12, 2018 (available HERE) and the City Council on May 7, 2018 (available HERE). No members of the public spoke in favor or against the resolution.
    • Motion to approve made by Ted Little
    • Seconded by John Spencer
    • No discussion
    • Unanimous approval
  5. Adjournment
    • motion to adjourn made by Eric Vaughn
    • seconded by Ted Little
    • Unanimous approval

Full audio (3:31) available here: 


The Grand Old Flag and Your Freedom of Speech – Friends or Foes?

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” – Constitution of the United States of America 

Americans take their constitutional right to free speech very seriously. One of the quickest ways to anger a person is to limit this right.

This weekend Charlestown’s Founder’s Day will celebrate the theme of the “Grand Old Flag” in seemingly stark contrast to the liberties that the flag represents, and people are confused and frustrated.

What is causing the current frustration?

I’ll give you two examples.

First, the parade rules remind participants that they are “strictly prohibited from participating in any form of political campaigning” during the parade. This rule prevents folks from displaying their campaign signs and literature, and from wearing their campaign t-shirts. The one exception exists for “the major political parties,” who are allowed to have riders and walkers display (but not pass out) their material. (Note that if you’re running for office and are not affiliated with one of those parties then you’re out of luck.)


The second example involves the use of political signage in town. Yesterday the owner of this sign was asked to remove it from the private property on which it was placed, else be subjected to a fine from the city.




Yesterday’s removal struck a nerve because folks remember seeing THIS sign placed only one lot over in 2015. Eric Vaughn’s campaign sign was supported by Mayor Hall without incident.

So what changed? Zoning rules.


Zoning regulations changed in 2016 now prohibit signs on parked vehicles, but this rule was not clearly explained at the time the owner was asked to remove the Neace sign yesterday.

Screen Shot 2018-06-22 at 2.07.36 PM

Are these cases of limited freedom of speech? Maybe, maybe not, but maybe we should ask what harm political signage causes? Do the restrictions come from a fear that political content is inherently controversial or offensive? Because it doesn’t have to be. Which creates more harm? Political opinion and signage or a government that restricts people’s right to express themselves?

When a City sets out to determine what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable messages, then it grants itself the ability to restrict those messages in inappropriate ways…ways that tread closely the line of unconstitutional government restrictions.

You can find the full 2016 zoning regulations here: 2016 Charlestown Zoning Regulations

Is the Sports Complex to Be or NOT to Be?

During the City Council meeting on August 22, 2017, the council passed a motion to approve a consulting agreement with Klipsch-Card Athletic Facilities, LLC. With this agreement (available in its entirety below) the City hired Klipsch-Card to “create a detailed facility recommendation and business plan” for a Sports Complex intended to be used by the residents of Charlestown and “to drive economic growth by attracting out of town visitors” (Agreement p 1).

The project was expected to take 120 days. For their consulting work, the City agreed to pay Klipsch-Card $60,000 in four installments: $15,000 due within 16 days of the “effective date,” then another $15,000 at 33% completion, 66% completion, and 100% completion.

Today marks the 280th day since Klipsch-Card received their first $15,000 payment…

…yet the citizens of Charlestown have not received an update on the status of the Sports Complex, and the Council has not addressed the results of the study in any meetings.

In fact, my request for public records at City Hall revealed that only ONE $15,000 payment was ever sent to Klipsch-Card.


This begs the following questions:

  1. Have the Consulting Agreement and initial Plan of Work been terminated? If so, by which party and for what reasons?
  2. If the study is still in progress, why has it been so badly delayed?

Something smells a little fishy about this deal, especially since Klipsch-Card refused to honor an agreement to give me a tour of their facility after I scheduled it in advance and drove up to Westfield – for that story read here: Delay of Game – Road Trip to Westfield

Whether we’re excited about the idea of a Sports Complex or not, the lack of follow-through on this agreement creates a public trust concern.

Here’s hoping we all get some answers soon! 

Click Here for the: City Council Meeting Minutes 08/22/2017


Board of Public Works Meeting 06/18/2018

The Charlestown Board of Public Works met for a regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, June 18, 2018, at 9:00 am. Following is a summary of the meeting with full audio:

  1. Call to order/Pledge of Allegiance – led by Brian Hester
  2. Determination of a Quorum and Roll Call – in attendance were: Ted Little, Ben Ledbetter, and Mayor Hall. Also in attendance were Donna Coomer and Michael Gillenwater
  3. Approval of Minutes from the previous meeting, current claims, and payroll allowance docket from 06/03/2018 to 06/16/2018 combined into one motion for consideration.
    • Motion to approve all made by Ted Little
    • Seconded by Ben Ledbetter
    • During discussion Ben Ledbetter submitted three additional claims for consideration: Milling on Monroe, Bohart, and Greenvalley at $46,160.45, Clark County Highway for paving at $136,783, and Southern Concrete for $14,340. Mayor Hall entertained a motion to approve with these changes
      • Motion to approve new claims made by Ted Little
      • Seconded by Ben Ledbetter
      • No additional discussion
      • Unanimous approval
      • Mayor Hall noted that the interlocal agreement with Clark County has saved 50% on this paving bill.
  4. Approval of Contracts – INDOT Sweeping Agreement – This agreement renewal is a 48 month contract that allows the city to sweep Highway 3 for payment from INDOT.
    • Motion to approve made by Ben Ledbetter
    • Seconded by Ted Little
    • No Discussion
    • Unanimous approval
  5. New Business – Charge offs for Water, Wastewater, and Sanitation – the quarterly amount charge offs total $1,235.30.
    • Motion to approve made by Ben Ledbetter
    • Seconded by Ted Little
    • During discussion Donna Coomer noted that these represent customers from whom the city is not able to collect due to them moving away. Mayor Hall noted the amount is quite low considering the number of customers.
    • Mayor Hall entertained a motion to approve after discussion.
      • Motion made by Ben Ledbetter
      • Seconded by Ted Little
      • No further discussion
      • Unanimous approval
  6. Updates – Mayor Hall asked if there were any additional updates
    • Shane Spicer – would like to have quotes on work in Greenway Park by next meeting
    • Tony Jackson – no report
    • John Spencer – no report
    • Eric Vaughn – no report
  7. Adjournment
    • Motion to adjourn made by Ben Ledbetter
    • Seconded by Ted Little
    • Unanimous approval

Full audio of meeting (6:32) here: 


City Council Meeting 06/04/2018


The Charlestown City Council met for a regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, June 4, 2018 at 6:30pm. Following is a summary of the meeting with full audio (24:40) at the end.


*NOTE* – I usually publish these summaries without commentary for informational purposes only. Tonight’s meeting was different, and personal commentary follows the summary. 

  1. Call to Order/Pledge of Allegiance – Led by Christopher Early, rising 6th grader, who collected $809 for the Crusade for Children via a lemonade stand. He previously has collected $2,700 for Leukemia and Lymphoma of Louisville. Christopher will soon collect for St. Jude. Mayor Hall thanked Christopher for his passion for the community.
  2. Invocation – led by L.C. McCawley of the Charlestown Church of God
  3. Determination of a Quorum and Roll Call – In attendance were: Ted Little, Brian Hester, Mike Vaughn, Tina Barnes, and J.T. Cox in addition to Bob Hall, Donna Coomer, and Michael Gillenwater.
  4. Approval of Agenda
    • Motion to approve made by Ted Little
    • Seconded by Brian Hester
    • No Discussion
    • Unanimous Approval
  5. Approval of previous meeting’s minutes, claims, and payroll allowance docket from 05/06/2018 to 06/02/2018 combined into one motion
    • Motion made by J.T. Cox
    • Seconded by Mike Vaughn
    • No Discussion
    • Unanimous Approval
  6. Public Comment – Treva Hodges
    • I spoke tonight on behalf of both of my properties. I previously addressed these concerns at the 05/21/2018 Board of Public Works meeting. The first concern regards my home at 339 Oriole Drive where one of my neighbors, Daniel Brafford, has appeared before the Board of Public Works regarding flooding on his property due to inadequate drainage from the cemetery. The flooding has a significant impact on his property, on Oriole Drive, and on Market Street as the water has nowhere to go. I explained that, Mr. Brafford has not received any assurance that the issue is being corrected and I asked the Council to follow up on his behalf and for all of us who live on Oriole Drive.
    • The second issue I mentioned deals with my property at 1136 Main Street. The dilapidated building at 270 Madison Street that borders my property has been a health and safety hazard for some time. My husband and I have both addressed this concern at the Board of Public Works on two separate occasions this year with no response. I included pictures of the building and explained that it has fostered an environment of increased criminal activity. We have had to call the police five times in the past year to address theft and trespassing on the property. Additionally, graffiti has become offensive and I included pictures of the images I see when I stand in my back yard. (Included as files below – images offensive.) I asked the council to address this building.
    • Mayor Hall responded to my concerns – I address this more below in my commentary. He said that the problem on Oriole Drive is well documented, very expensive, and that it would be cheaper to buy the homes affected than to repair the problem. For the 1136 Main Street issue, the Mayor said that there was a buyer for that property but that the Plan Commission would not approve their business plan and make the proper zoning allowances. He said that the building is a problem and that the City cares about such structures. He said that there will be an announcement in a month or so that will end the problem.
  7. Ordinances and Resolutions
    • Resolution Number 2018-R-6 – A Resolution for Transfer of Funds – This resolution transfers $314,000 from the Capital Trust Fund to the EPIC Fund for Construction of Sidewalks, Installation of Street Lights, New Signage, and Repairs and Remediation.
      • Motion to approve made by Ted Little
      • Seconded by Mike Vaughn
      • During discussion Brian Hester and Mike Vaughn said they appreciate the improvements made in their districts. Mr. Hester said he has heard mostly positive comments about the improvements.
      • Unanimous approval
  8. Mayor’s Update
    • The Charlestown Volunteer Fire Department collected a record amount ($62,000) for the Crusade for Children this year. This placed them 8th out of 153 departments and was more than twice what Jeffersonville and Clarksville collected.
    • Paving and improvements on Monroe Street continue.
    • The dog park is planned to open in August. The Council can expect an ordinance about use in the coming month.
    • The High School boasted 20% of graduating seniors receiving Associate Degrees this year. Since 2008 the number of students who have acceptance into college, vocational, or military institutions has increased with this year’s number at 99%.
    • Charlestown currently has nine active subdivisions under construction. This brings about 1,000 new residents each year.
    • Summer activities in the park include movies, sports camps, and the water park.
    • Founders Day will be June 22-23. This year there will be a parade, fireworks, bands, helicopter rides, and amusements. Donna Coomer thanked the Chairmen who have helped put Founders Day tougher this year with a record number of sponsors.
  9. Point of Personal Privilege requested by Treva Hodges – Following Robert’s Rules of Order, a person may call a “Point of Personal Privilege” to address “matters of comfort, amplification, or safety.” My request was denied by Bob Hall. (Commentary on this is addressed below.)
  10. Adjournment
    • Motion made by J.T. Cox
    • Seconded by Ted Little
    • Unanimous approval

*Personal Commentary* – At the end of this meeting I asked for a Point of Personal Privilege as a matter of safety to repair damage done by the Mayor’s comments to my personal reputation. The Mayor’s response to my public comment implied that I lied in my statements. My direct words about the flooding that affects Mr. Brafford’s property were, “So far he [Mr. Brafford] isn’t aware of any efforts to fix this major flooding issue.” The Mayor responded to my statement by saying, “I seriously doubt that Mr. Brafford said that he’s not aware of any efforts.” I asked for a point of privilege to request that Mayor Hall correct his statement of doubt about my reporting of my conversation with Mr. Brafford so that any damage to my reputation would be mitigated. Such a response in a public meeting in front of my peers casts my character in an unfavorable light and can potentially damage my standing within the community. I did NOT misrepresent Mr. Brafford’s conversation with me, and Mr. Brafford knew of my intentions to pursue this matter as a fellow concerned resident of Oriole Drive. The Mayor should be more careful with his words and should treat citizens with the respect that he hopes to receive in kind. He should also run the meetings in full accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order, not with his own personal modifications or lack of understanding of those rules.  

Full audio (24:40) of Meeting here: 

Images of the offensive graffiti and damaged building that were presented to the Council tonight as evidence: (my apologies for the offensive nature of these)



Board of Public Works Meeting 06/04/2018

The Charlestown Board of Public Works met for a regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, June 4, 2018 at 9:00am. Following is a summary of the meeting with full audio (2:00 minutes) at the end:

  1. Call to order/pledge of Allegiance
  2. Determination of a Quorum and Roll call – in attendance were: Ted Little, Ben Ledbetter, Bob Hall, Michael Gillenwater, and Donna Coomer.
  3. Prior meeting’s minutes, claims, and payroll allowance for 05/19/2018-06/02/2018 combined into one motion for consideration. Mayor Hall added a legal fee claim in the amount of $651.00 to the existing claims document.
    • Motion to approve made by Ted Little
    • Seconded by Ben Ledbetter
    • No Discussion
    • Unanimous approval
  4. No updates from City Inspector, City Engineer, Technology, or Director of Economic Development
  5. Motion to adjourn made by Ben Ledbetter, and seconded by Ted Little. Unanimous approval.

Full audio of meeting available here: 


Privacy, Please! (Housing Decisions in Charlestown)

One month ago someone tagged me in the comments of a Facebook post about Springville Manor. The original post celebrated a widow’s acceptance of the City’s relocation program from Pleasant Ridge to Springville Manor, and also accused members of “the Association” (presumably the Pleasant Ridge Neighborhood Association) of harassing and bullying people like that widow who have made this choice. The person who tagged me asked me to investigate these accusations. I have spent the past month looking into the situation and I’d like to share what I’ve found.

I reached out to current residents of Springville Manor, people in the transition but who have not yet moved, and leaders of the Pleasant Ridge Neighborhood Association. First, let me say that the leaders of the Pleasant Ridge Neighborhood Association deny that they have harassed anyone about their decision to relocate. Their official position is that individuals have the right to make their own decisions and should do so based on their unique circumstances. If anyone who has chosen to remain in Pleasant Ridge has bullied folks who have decided to move it was NOT done by the hand of the PRNA.

Unfortunately, none of the current residents of Springville Manor nor those in transition are comfortable speaking on record. Some people never answered my request for an interview, others simply said that they don’t want to “cause any trouble” or become the subject of any form of “retribution.”

Has harassment or bullying occurred? My official answer is I don’t know. What I did find,  though not “harassment,” was far from encouraging.

In order to make my investigation as thorough as I could, I went to public Facebook posts  to see how people are talking about the relocation program. What I saw was discouraging to say the least. Negative comments about the Springville Manor houses are not hard to find. Some folks disparage the deal as a whole*, others express their distaste for the design of the houses. Words like “glorified garages” and “concentration camp” were found on posts. I imagine that for people who now or soon will own these houses, such statements are hurtful and cruel.

But before we jump on these statements as proof of harassment, it should be noted that for every negative post about the homes in Springville Manor, I found numerous hateful comments about the homes in Pleasant Ridge as well. How many years have the folks on the hill been subjected to the same scrutiny regardless of the actual condition of their homes?

Private-PropertyHere’s the crux of it: The choice to move is a PERSONAL DECISIONbased on individual circumstances that are NONE of our business. It’s sad that Charlestown has become so divided over issues of personal property rights. Do you live in Pleasant Ridge in a home that you want to keep? Great! Have you decided to leave Pleasant Ridge for a home in Springville Manor? Wonderful! Do you live elsewhere? Then it’s not your decision. May we all vow to keep better check on the words we use in public and be sensitive to how they might be interpreted by others.  

You don’t have to like the house in which I live and I don’t have to approve of your sense of style. It’s that simple. I sincerely hope that soon Charlestown can heal from the division that has evolved in the past few years. We’re a great group of people who just want to live, and work, and raise our families in small town Indiana. Here’s hoping we can keep Charlestown First.

*The deal works this way: Springville Manor homes are priced at $65,000 for people in Pleasant Ridge who own their homes. The redevelopment company (Neace) pays $10,000 for the Pleasant Ridge home, regardless of the condition of the house. The City provides a forgivable $20,000 loan (the new owner must live in the home for three years and other provisions are in place for death or nursing home placement). The new owner then assumes a $35,000 mortgage that accrues simple interest for the time they live in the home with all mortgage payments suppressed for the duration. Upon their death or move, the heirs or person responsible becomes liable to repay the $35,000 + interest.