“I’m just not that into politics”


Did anyone else grow up learning not to discuss politics, religion, or money? The basic idea behind banning these topics stems from the belief that they’re too emotionally provocative and, let’s face it, nobody wants a food fight at Sunday supper.

Unfortunately, banning these topics also produces a culture in which we learn that disagreement should be stifled and hidden away, rather than recognized and discussed in healthy conversations that have the potential to broaden our understandings of the world.

If I surround myself only with people who agree with me, I limit my ability to learn how people develop different opinions.

I don’t get to hear how my neighbors, friends, and family have experienced life differently than me. I don’t get to consider how I might be wrong. This is dangerous because then, when we do disagree, I can just believe other people are stupid, misguided, mean, or stubborn…a belief that is unfair and irresponsible.

In this environment, anyone who disagrees with me becomes an enemy.

In this environment it is much easier to bully, call people names, and issue personal attacks that fall outside the scope of the original disagreement.

In order to avoid the tension of disagreement that we’ve been taught is bad, we often proclaim,

“I’m just not political!”

But we are. We have opinions, beliefs, values, and ideas that speak to our needs, wants, and desires. Silencing these opinions, or worse, only sharing them with people we know will agree with us, removes us unfairly from our communities and does us a personal disservice. Because, guess what, the people making decisions about laws, ordinances, and the government of our town ARE political. And the only way they know what matters to us is for us to tell them. And the only way that our neighbors know what we want is for us to tell them.

It’s time for us ALL to become political. There are lots of ways to make this happen. Here’s one.

Public comment is available at the Council meetings each month. All you need to do is visit this LINK to sign up. You have three minutes to let the Council and everyone in attendance hear your voice.

Do you like something you see? Tell them.

Do you think something needs to change? Tell them.

Do you disagree with something? Tell them.

Will you always get what you want? No. There are over 8,000 of us in Charlestown. Pleasing everyone is impossible. But being political means monitoring the government process, letting your voice be heard, calling those who represent us out when they have wronged us, and commending them when they do good things.

You’ll see me often at council meetings. Occasionally I’ll make public comment. Often my public comment will be one of disagreement. But you’ll also see me being kind in my disagreement. I can oppose the decision of a council member and still demonstrate compassion for his sick father. I can dispute the Council’s lack of action on deserted homes in Pleasant Ridge and still thank them for improving our sidewalks. I can disagree with the Mayor’s plan for redevelopment, and still appreciate kind words of condolence he offered when my family suffered the loss of a loved one.

But you will not see me call names, speak over, or make fun of anyone with whom I disagree.

I AM political, but I will never step over your right to be political, too.


Charlestown City Council Meeting 12/04/2017

Following is a summary of the City Council Meeting from 12/04/2017:

  1. Call to order
  2. Pledge of Allegiance led by Ms. King, a senior at Charlestown high school who will attend the University of Louisville in the fall.
  3. Invocation led by LC McCawley of Charlestown Church of God
  4. Roll Call – all present
    • Ted Little
    • Brian Hester
    • Mike Vaughn
    • Tina Barnes
    • Eric Vaughn
  5. Approval of Agenda
    • Tina Barnes requested to add a motion to the agenda that asked the council to submit a letter to Pleasant Ridge Redevelopment, LLC requesting that all vacant houses owned by the development company be removed within 60 days of the notice
      1. Motion not seconded
      2. Motion died
    • Motion made to approve agenda made by Eric Vaughn and seconded by Ted Little
    • No discussion
    • Motion to approve agenda as provided without the amendment passed 4/1 with Tina Barnes objecting.
  6. Approval of Minutes from 11/06/2017 meeting
    • Motion made by Mike Vaughn
    • Motion seconded by Brian Hester
    • No discussion
    • Motion passed unanimously
  7. Approval of Claims
    • Motion made by Eric Vaughn
    • Motion seconded by Brian Hester
    • No discussion
    • Motion passed unanimously
  8. Approval of Payroll Allowance Docket from 11/05/2017-12/02/2017
    • Motion to approve made by Brian Little
    • Motion seconded by Mike Vaughn
    • No discussion
    • Motion passed unanimously
  9. Public Commen
    • Darlene Williams – 1219 Lindsey Street – Began by reading scripture, Matthew 6:24 “no man can serve two masters.” Read email excerpts between Bob Hall and John Neace that discussed election of new council in 2015, campaign contributions from John Neace to the Charlestown Republicans. Noted that the Republican party has not provided a detail of spending and campaign contributions since 2014. Addressed the relationship that existed between Bob Hall and John Neace prior to redevelopment. Discussed the redevelopment plans for Pleasant Ridge. When notified that her time was out, she asked why people who come with plans for redevelopment are allotted more than three minutes but citizens only get three minutes.
    • Melissa Crawford – 344 Clark Road – Addressed the vacant homes in Pleasant Ridge that are owned by Pleasant Ridge Redevelopment, LLC (John Neace). Mentioned that the homes are safety risks. They fear fire. Addressed the Judge ruling of a preliminary injunction against the city for unfair fines levied on people in the community. Called for the city to send a letter to Pleasant Ridge Redevelopment, LLC requesting that the homes be torn down because the presence of the homes is a safety concern and the homes drive down property values. Challenged Attorney Gillenwater’s statement to WHAS that the conditions in PR today developed over years and noted that things are much more hazardous today than in the past few years. Asked that Tina Barnes make her motion to send the letter yet again to tear down the vacant houses.
  10. Mayor Response to public comment – Mayor Hall elected to respond to the public comments made.
    • He admitted that he and the council members campaigned and collected money from John Neace and from other supporters. He said this is standard behavior for political campaigns.
    • In regard to John Neace’s financial commitment, Mayor Hall said it related to the development of the road that will connect PR to 403.
    • In regard to the empty houses, Mayor Hall agreed that they are empty but denied claims that crime has increased in the area because of their presence. Said in the last year crime is down in Charlestown. Claimed that this is a result of a decrease in the PR neighborhood. Noted that there have been 24 instances of trespasses, with 36 and 25 in the last two years respectively. Mayor Hall noted that trespassing and squatting is an issue that the City has dealt with over the past several years.
    • Addressed “rhetoric” of the last 18 months. Noted that nobody has been evicted form their homes in PR. Properties have changed ownership and new owners have terminated leases. Noted that new owners have allotted extra time for tenants to save money so that they could transition more smoothly. Noted instances where new owners have helped with their tenants’ debt to help them get new housing.
    • Noted that over the past four years the homeowner’s association in PR has made public comment nearly every month to let the city know they disagree with their methods. Said that redevelopment is a city-wide issue and that the council must take into consideration the perspectives of all people. Said that the City will be careful to make sure that people who have to move will be able to do so.
    • Claimed that three methamphetamine labs, multiple drug dealers, and a murder for hire plan have been dealt with in the past four years in PR. Noted that a man died in a house of a meth overdose and that it took the police 6-weeks to identify the man because he was hiding in the neighborhood under an alias. Noted that animal control calls have decreased in the PR community.
    • Noted that the city has always been concerned about the safety of the PR community.
    • Said that he understands that people in PR association and those disagreeing with redevelopment. Assured that in one year things will look very different in Pleasant Ridge and that it will be an improvement. Noted that redevelopment is a process, not an event. Noted that he did not wish to criticize the right for people to object. Asked to move forward
  11. Treva Hodges asked to be recognized by the Mayor. Mayor Hall granted permission. Treva Hodges approached the stand with permission and asked
    • “Will you please send the letter that John Hampton outlined in his agreement requesting that those houses that they purchased be torn down in 60 days like they said that they would do?”
    • Answer from Mayor Hall, “What I will answer is what I answered a minute ago. That there will be a procedure with this and a year from now you’ll notice a huge difference in what is going on.”
  12. Council member Tina Barnes interjected in the attempt to move forward and challenged the Mayor to address the abandoned homes in PR. She expressed frustration that the Mayor indicated that it would take longer. She asked the Council members why they would not vote on sending the letter. Ted Little offered a response that the ordinance about PR does not address what she is asking. Tina Barnes corrected that she’s referring to a letter, not an ordinance. Mayor Hall noted that this is an issue for the Board of Public Works, not the City Council. Council member Eric Vaughn also commented and sought clarification. Mayor Hall clarified that the letter Tina Barnes is referring to is a letter that says Pleasant Ridge Redevelopment, LLC will tear down the houses within 60 days if they receive notice from the city but noted that the Board of Public Works is the place for that action. Mayor Hall claimed that in a year things will be different.
  13. Resolution 2017-R-9 that asks the city to commit to the development of an interlocal SWAT team that is a combined effort between Clark County Sheriff, Floyd County Sheriff Department, Harrison County Sheriff Department, City of Clarksville, and City of Charlestown. Would allow mutual aid and a joint team. Funding provided by each individual unit. Approved by Board of Public Works and Safety this morning and passed a resolution recommending that the Council approve. Noted that all other jurisdictions have approved.
    • Motion made by Ted Little
    • Motion seconded by Mike Vaughn
    • No discussion
    • Motion approved unanimously
  14. Mayor played a phone message from a resident from Deputy, Indiana who had visited town recently with her nephew and wanted to let the city know how much she appreciated the Christmas lights.
  15. Motion to adjourn
    • Motion made by Eric Vaughn
    • Motion seconded by Ted Little
    • No discussion
    • Motion approved unanimously

Meeting duration 33:58

Listen to the audio of the meeting here: 

A Win for Pleasant Ridge!

Today Scott County Judge Jason Mount issued a preliminary injunction against the City of Charlestown. This injunction is a win for the residents of Pleasant Ridge who have sued the City in order to keep their homes. At the bottom of this post I have provided downloadable links to both the Order and the Findings of Fact in the case. Following is a summary of some of the important elements that are worth noting:

  • The Judge finds that a clear relationship exists between the City and developer John Neace despite the City’s repeated claims that such a relationship does not exist. Sections 29-38 on pages 6-8 cites several emails and meetings that occurred between the two and the Judge notes three times that “The Mayor could not recall sending an email to any other developer…There are no such emails in the record.”
  • The Judge finds that Mayor Hall has unfairly warned residents not to fix their homes because the long-term plan is to remove all of the homes, even those in good condition. See Sections 69-72 on pages 14-15. 
  • The Judge explains that the injunction is issued on three of the four merits/standards of the case. The only exception relates to Indiana’s Unsafe Building Law (UBL). Here the Judge notes that the UBL operates separately from the City’s Property Maintenance Code (PMC). It also notes in the following section that the City is unfairly applying the PMC. (See sections 77-94 on pages 17-20)
  • The Judge finds that the City’s PMC does not allow them to issue immediate fines. The City must offer owners a fair opportunity to correct violations before issuing fines to those who willfully refuse to comply with the PMC. The City cites public safety and “statistical risk of fire” as justification for the fines and demolition policy, but the Judge notes that allowing John Neace and Pleasant Ridge Redevelopment, LLC to leave their properties standing is “irrational” to meeting this goal. What is rational is to allow owners time to repair their homes. Furthermore, the Judge notes that allowing the vacant homes to stand for over a year “CREATES health and safety problems and acts to drive down the value and use of the properties.” See sections 95-111 on pages 20-23.
  • The Judge finds that the City treated its Residents differently and less favorably than the Developer. See sections 112-130 on pages 23-27. 
  • Finally, the Judge mandates that the City must either charge all fees to the Developer or waive the fees for everyone, including the Residents. The Judge notes that the fees on the Developer now amount to Millions of Dollars since the properties have been left standing for over a year and have accumulated fines daily.

It is also worth noting the following:

  • The Residents of Pleasant Ridge do not object to the fair application of code to promote the safety and wellbeing of Charlestown citizens. Sections 75-76 on pages 16-17.
  • The Judge notes that Indiana laws on Eminent Domain do not allow for the City to use the process and turn the properties acquired over to a private developer. Section 126-128 page 27.

Read for yourself what an objective, non-biased member of the judiciary has to say about the abuses occurring in this neighborhood:

The Finding of fact discussed above is here: Findings of Fact and Conclusions

Order is Here


Won’t you be my neighbor?

Katrina doesn’t worry about money. She budgets and stays within her means, but decisions about going to a movie, eating at a nice restaurant, where to shop for an office party, and which brand of cereal to buy are all based on her preferences rather than her bank balance. When Katrina’s parents pass away, she will inherit a sizeable amount of money and property from assets earned by her father during his successful legal career and from multiple generations of his relatives who owned coal mills in western Pennsylvania. In addition to this monetary inheritance, Katrina will inherit the valuable social elite status of her mother’s upper class family who have passed along huge fortunes and important community connections through seven generations. Katrina’s family knows all the right people and throughout her life she has benefitted from all the right moves.[1]

Diane’s phone rings as much as 20 times a day and sometimes the only peace she gets from collection agencies comes when she stashes her phone in the dishwasher for an hour. Only a few months ago Diane was a dream customer for lenders. A steady income allowed Diane to manage two mortgages, a car loan, and a few credit cards. To maintain her two-bedroom ranch house, keep up maintenance on her Kia, and treat herself to the handbags and knickknacks that brought her joy, Diane was willing to take on a second job. She knows that luxury items require extra commitment and she worked hard. Overtime? No problem. Holiday time? Sure. Then, last year, back-to-back medical emergencies depleted Diane’s emergency savings and her absence from work cost her the jobs she depended on to make ends meet. Now her home is in foreclosure, her credit profile is in ruins, her car was repossessed, and the phone just keeps ringing.[2]

Katrina and Diane are not from Charlestown, but they could be. If they were…

Where would they live?

      How would people talk about them?

            Who would be the role model for our children?

                  Who would be the product of poor life choices?

As Charlestown faces the growth that is projected to come to our area with new development we must pay careful attention to what happens to the Dianes of our community. Why? Because it is the morally right thing to do.

Our community health depends upon the social bonds we maintain.

You see, there is a big difference between wealth and income.

Katrina has both. She benefits from the economic capital of her family fortune, the social capital that makes her career path a little easier, and the intellectual and cultural capital of a quality education and access to good health-care.

Diane’s situation is more tenuous. She had income, but without wealth reserves, one serious life event has set her back in ways from which she might not recover without assistance.

People have a tendency to believe that if others just work hard enough they will be fine. This meritocracy mindset fails to account for economic disadvantage, social inequities, and challenges experienced by people with disabilities or those who are pushed to the margins as they age.[3]

Who hasn’t fallen down and needed a hand up?

So what can we do to help make sure that our Dianes don’t get pushed aside?

love-your-neighborFirst, we can recognize the constraints of working class citizens and stop shaming and blaming them for every hardship they face. Instead of turning to examples of people who represent the worst case scenario, we can see that each person’s story is different and we can begin to listen when people share with us.

After we stop judging, we can develop sympathy for working-class issues. When we see people being pushed around or treated unfairly we have to stop looking the other way and we have to turn toward their distress. But that requires giving up control. We can’t come into challenged neighborhoods with our super hero suits on and tell them how they need to get their acts together. We have to listen. We have to ask questions such as,

“What resources do you need to recover?”

Finally, we have to act. We need to honor one another and support the cause of those in need. Maybe it means a financial contribution, or maybe it means helping clean up garbage in the neighborhood or offering to babysit, or attending a meeting or rally.

It’s easy to think about the personal obstacles we might have overcome and hold ourselves up as model citizens because…well…I found a way out so you can too! The greater challenge is to own up to the ways that society keeps some people on the fringes, then to turn and walk out to them so they’re not out there all alone.


Equality vs. Equity

[1] Karen Pittelman and Resource Generation, “How To Stop Hiding Your Privilege and Use It For Social Change,” in Readings for Diversity and Social Justice 3rd edition, New York: Routledge, 2013, 205-207.
[2] Gretchen Morgenson, “The Debt Trap,” in Readings for Diversity and Social Justice 3rd edition, New York: Routledge, 2013, 207-211.
[3] Maurianne Adams, “Coming to Classism Awareness During the 2007-2012 Economic Recession,” in Readings for Diversity and Social Justice 3rd edition, New York: Routledge, 2013, 141-149.

The Golden Rule

Charlestown has a problem. No, I’m not talking about brown water or economic development (this time). Charlestown has a political problem.

When a woman must consider carefully who she sits beside at council meetings because her friendship with a Democrat marks her as an “enemy” to the Republicans she has always supported…

…when a concerned Democrat pulls a man aside after a meeting to warn him that laughing along with a Republican will make him look like “a Bob Hall supporter”…

…when citizens are afraid to attend council meetings or voice their concerns over new resolutions because they don’t want to face retribution…

…when we can no longer see past someone’s political affiliation to recognize the person within…

We have a problem.

The bi-partisan divide in Charlestown is hurting our community, our friendships, and our families. And we’ve been here before…

Around the time Charlestown was founded, legendary citizen Jonathan Jennings found himself at the center of a vicious and contentious political debate.[i] Jennings, who spoke against slavery in Indiana, found himself positioned against our first territorial governor, William Henry Harrison, who advocated for the politics and economic system of the plantation south. So intense was the hatred between these two sides that Jennings eventually challenged Harrison supporter and court clerk, Henry Hurst to a duel over an issue of slander and disagreements between the two parties sometimes resorted to physical blows.[ii] Although Hurst demurred and the duel never happened, this extreme reaction over political disagreement serves as an example of a system gone horribly wrong.

We need not continue in this path.

mahatmagandhi1We need to remember that civil disagreement is not a precursor for ending a relationship. In fact, disagreement and debate are a healthy part of our political process! We need to re-frame the purpose of disagreement. Instead of thinking that disagreement is a personal attack we should consider how healthy and respectful disagreement allows us to “define our individuality, give us our freedom, enjoin our tolerance, enlarge our perspectives, seize our attention, energize our progress, make our democracies real, and give hope and courage to oppressed people everywhere.”[iii] Engaging in disagreement in a respectful way allows me to speak out against policies that our mayor and council implement, while still greeting them with a cheerful smile when we pass in the produce section of the Jay C store. After all, there’s not a Republican Rite Aid or Democrat Dollar General…

This Friday, November 24, 2017, The City of Charlestown will Light Up for the yearly Christmas display. I’m asking everyone who can to come out in support of our city. Despite who you vote for, regardless of how you feel about city business, without regard to any of the things that divide us, come out! Let’s all come enjoy an evening of Thanksgiving for the blessings we have and for the hope of a future in which we can discuss our different opinions without name calling, hate, or personal attacks. Because I believe we can do it.

Golden-Rule-1I’ll be there. And if you come and find me, I’ll have a few small favors to pass out to serve as a token of cheer. For as we all know, a house divided against itself cannot stand so we should try, as much as we can, to do unto others the way we would have them do unto us.

[i] Wiki commons: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Jennings
[ii] John Northcutt, “Tippecanoe and Slavery Too: Jonathan Jennings, William Henry Harrison, and the Battle for Free Labor in Indiana, August 2017.
[iii] Bret Stephens, “The Dying Art of Disagreement,” The New York Times, September 24, 2017: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/24/opinion/dying-art-of-disagreement.html

Extra! Extra!

This morning I heard the familiar chime of my sister’s text tone and watched a video of her cat stealing Halloween candy out of her daughter’s bucket all the way in Alabama. A few minutes ago I received a notice from Facebook that a friend in Mississippi needs someone to take an old desk off her hands. I can make two clicks on my computer and get news from across the world. Technology in the 21st century puts information of all kinds at our fingertips with speed and efficiency.

Why is it so difficult, then, to access relevant information about the daily goings on in my city? 

In order to learn when our public meetings are scheduled (or cancelled) citizens either have to make a personal visit to City Hall or call the office. 

What of other news that might be useful, or just exciting?

Like the reopening of the local hospital. 

This week I drove by the old Saint Catherine hospital building that closed a few years ago. Imagine my surprise when I saw that the spray-painted-over sign out front was replaced with a new name, the North Clark Community Hospital.

Wait, is the hospital reopening?!? I came home and checked the regular sources for news…City website, Facebook…no news. Nothing to tell me the status of the hospital. I remember that the hospital is in Charlestown’s Comprehensive Plan for redevelopment, so why are we not hearing any news of its reopening?


Tonight on my Facebook news feed a notice from the Charlestown Chamber of Commerce asked me to take a survey for the “new North Clark Community Hospital.” 

I Googled it.

Yep! Looks like our hospital is reopening and will offer “multidisciplinary diagnostic and treatment mental health services to patients requiring the safety, security, and shelter of the inpatient or partial hospitalization settings.”

I wish I had more details to share, but I don’t.

It’s sad that in an age of instant communication possibilities people in Charlestown have to work so hard to find out what’s happening in our community.

In the mean time, here’s the link to the only web source I could find: http://npino.com/hospital/1174043293-north-clark-community-hospital/

P.S. Go to the Charlestown Chamber of Commerce Facebook page and complete the very short survey on the hospital for a chance to win $100! 



525,600 Minutes to Keep your Word

How do you measure a year? In school days? In seasons? In council meetings?

At the most recent meeting of the common council for the City of Charlestown, held on Monday, November 6, Council Member Tina Barnes made a motion for the City to send a letter to Pleasant Ridge Redevelopment, LLC to request that all boarded up and vacant properties owned by the company in the Pleasant Ridge neighborhood be removed. Ms. Barnes based her motion on a letter sent from PRR partner, John Hampton. In this letter, dated October 24, 2016, the company lists their responsibilities for 104 homes previously subjected to fines for violating the City’s recently revised property codes. Item #5 on Mr. Hampton’s list states:

“Upon the City giving PRR a sixty (60) day notice, all vacant and boarded up properties will be razed and removed.”

This letter and the proposed responsibilities were approved by the Board of Public Works on November 7, 2016 in a 3-0 vote.

Tina Barnes asked her fellow Council Members to support her in holding Pleasant Ridge Redevelopment, LLC accountable for the responsibilities they placed on themselves for properties they have purchased. 

Yet her motion died without support from even one other council member. 

You can hear the awkward silence following her motion here (skip to 17:15 to go right there): 


We can speculate all day about why no one else, not Mike Vaughn, not Ted Little, not Brian Hester, nor Eric Vaughn would second Tina’s motion…but that isn’t the purpose of this post. The purpose of this post is to draw your attention to the fact that the City and Pleasant Ridge Redevelopment, LLC reached an agreement over one year ago…525,600 minutes ago...to tear these homes down…yet our City refuses to hold their partner to the agreement. Instead the homes look worse every day. They attract squatters, provide haven for rats and stray animals, and become more of a safety hazard.

If you live in Charlestown, you should be angry that your council members are placing the financial interests of an outside business entity over the needs, safety, and interests of their own residents. You don’t have to be a resident of Pleasant Ridge to take action on this. Many people in Charlestown voted for these council members because they wanted some action on Pleasant Ridge…well now what? Hold them accountable, that’s what.

Contact your council person today. Let them know you want them to do their jobs and put Charlestown First. There is no reason why, ONE YEAR after the agreement was reached that the City should not hold Pleasant Ridge Redevelopment, LLC (aka John Hampton and John Neace) to their agreement.

District 1 – Mike Vaughn – (502) 558-9567 – mikervaughnsr@gmail.com

District 2 – Tina Barnes – (502) 598-9403 – tinamdean1@yahoo.com

District 3 – Ted Little – (502) 396-0603 – ted.little7217@aol.com

District 4 – Brian Hester – (502) 643-6878 – chscoach24@gmail.com

At Large – Eric Vaughn – (502) 773-7296 – vaughnatlargectown@gmail.com

Copy of full letter here: Agreement with PRR, LLC and City


River Ridge Update 09/21/2017

Today the River Ridge Development Authority gave an update at the Arts and Entertainment center at 12:40 PM. The following are notes from the meeting:

  • Demolition Plans for old Ammunition Plant
    • Phase One boarders highway 62 in Charlestown. People can see the absence of buildings as this area is completed. Total cost to complete $1.5 million.
    • Phase Two is the next strip behind phase one and will begin soon. Estimated cost to complete is $1.5 million
    • Although the Army removed a majority of hazardous materials, many of the building materials contain asbestos. The process of removal is slow to ensure safety.
    • One of the first things they have to do is cut down overgrown vegetation before they can begin building demolition.
  • New Construction (See Pic 2 and 3 for construction work and roads)
    • A thoroughfare through the center of the industrial area has been completed. The goal is to reduce traffic on Highway 62 by providing multiple entry points.
    • International Drive connects to I265
    • Duke Energy has installed a new substation
    • A proposed traffic signal would be installed in Charlestown at Gate 19 on Highway 62 to help with traffic flow. (See image of Charlestown Closeup)
    • River Ridge Parkway connects to Highway 62. Offers four lanes of travel with a median. Has been completed.
    • Paul Garrett Avenue connects to Highway 62 and joins Utica Parkway. Should be completed in 2-3 weeks.
    • Salem Road connects to Salem-Nobel Road and will connect Highway 62 to International Drive. Not yet complete.
    • Utility extensions have been completed.
RRDA Charlestown Closeup
Charlestown Closeup with proposed new traffic signal
RRDA pic 2
Image 2 closeup of construction
Image 3 Close up of construction
  • RRDA Gateway
    Gateway Center

    Gateway Center

    • Objective is to “create a sense of place” where people will want to hang out before and after work and on weekends.
    • 80 acre core with eventual 300 acre completion of offices and retail mixed use located one mile from the new East End bridge.
    • Includes a five acre lake that functions as a storm water collection space. Will have a waterfall, island, and fountain.
    • Developing an amphitheater and event space. Rocks used around the site came from the lake dig.
    • Includes 6.7 miles of mixed-use trails.
    • Construction of the roads includes a bridge to divert industrial truck traffic away from car traffic visiting the site.
  • Newer Developments in the works or completed
    • America Place – office space being constructed just north of Amazon facing Highway 62.
    • American Fuji Seal – currently expanding
    • Autoneum – 140,000 sq. ft. expansion underway
    • Cross dock Development – new building with 668,000 sq. ft.
    • DA, Inc. – 57,000 sq. ft.
    • OPUS – group from Minnesota. Building is over 400,000 sq. ft. Looking for tenant
    • Van Trust – 598,000 sq. ft. – seeing some interest in the building
    • EXETER – have acquired several buildings. Construction on 84 acres just beginning
  • Q&A Session
    • How many jobs are currently offered in the River Ridge Park? 7,200 with Amazon planning an expansion for the holidays on October 1st. 
    • How many companies are currently in River Ridge?42
    • What is the expected economic impact?$1.47 million 
    • What is the average wage of the workers employed by the companies in River Ridge?Unknown 
    • Will you open a retail mixed-use facility in Charlestown?answer unclear with a possible yes.
    • When will you open a retail mixed-use facility in Charlestown?must complete demolition first 
    • Will you connect the trails at the Gateway to the trails on the new East End bridge? would like to, but there is a private developer in between. 
    • Are you hoping to get the new Amazon #2 site here? – uncertain
    • Will we be able to fill the jobs?most likely, people will come from other national and international locations 
    • Will the rail lines remain?yes 

Charlestown City Council Meeting 09/05/2017

Charlestown Council Meeting – 09/05/2017

Meeting called to order 6:30 PM by Mayor Bob Hall.

Pledge of Allegiance led by Brittney Miller, student at Indiana University Southeast

Invocation led by Neyland McClellan from North Charlestown Church of God

Determination of a Quorum was made and roll call consisted of all council members in attendance.

Mayor Hall entertained motions to approve the agenda for the evening:

  • motion made by Ted Little
  • motion seconded by Eric Vaughn
  • passed unanimously

Mayor Hall entertained motions to approve the minutes from the previous council meeting on August 22, 2017:

  • motion made by Eric Vaughn
  • motion seconded by Mike Vaughn
  • passed unanimously

Mayor entertained motion to pay the claims:

  • motion made by Brian Hester
  • motion seconded by Eric Vaughn
  • passed unanimously

Mayor entertained motion to accept the payroll allowance docket from 08/20/2017 to 09/02/2017:

  • motion made by Ted Little
  • motion seconded by Eric Vaughn
  • passed unanimously

Public comment made by resident Treva Hodges, 339 Oriole Drive. Spoke on ordinance 2017-OR-12 and asked council to table the decision until more public input could be received. (Link to full text provided below)

Mayor Hall issued comment following and clarified that the $2.2 million loan and $2.5 million bond are the same fund. He offered clarification in the following breakdown: $800,000 for construction, the reminder is dedicated to the $20,000 per home forgivable note and $35,000 loan that will come back to the city. He said they hope to get the financing approved through a credit line to reduce interest costs. He also noted that some residents of Springville Manor have elected not to use the $35,000.

Old Business:

  • Susan Riley Pathway to Home Ownership Update – not issued, Susan Riley not in attendance

New Business:

  • Ordinance 2017-OR-12 (Bond Ordinance) – Mayor entertained motion to adopt
    • motion made by Eric Vaughn
    • motion seconded by Ted Little
    • passed 4-1
      • Ted Little – approve
      • Brian Hester – approve
      • Mike Vaughn – approve
      • Tina Barnes – opposed
      • Eric Vaughn – approve


  • Public Hearing on 2018 Budget was opened by Mayor Hall – no comments made


  • Ordinance 2017-OR-13 (Salary Ordinance) – establishes salaries for city employees (non-elected positions). Only change was a $500 raise for employees. Mayor entertained motion to consider:
    • motion made by Brian Hester
    • motion seconded by Mike Vaughn
    • during open discussion Tina Barnes noted a potential error in the increase amount for Parks Director, Rhonda Davidson. Davidson’s raise was listed as only 1 cent. After a brief pause for document verification, Mayor Hall ensured that her new rate of pay will be $716.21.
    • During this discussion Mayor Hall asked if the council had copies of the Ordinance 2017-OR-14 for the budget discussion that will occur at the next meeting. Council members did not have copies so during the brief pause, copies were made and distributed to council members. Mayor Hall asked council members to let him know of any questions they have about the budget as they review the document.
    • passed unanimously

Mayor entertained motion to adjourn meeting:

  • motion made by Eric Vaughn
  • motion seconded by Mike Vaughn
  • passed unanimously

Meeting adjourned.

For full text of public comment click here: 09.05.2017 public comment – By Treva Hodges

Click here for audio of the full meeting: