BY: DAVID SHEPHERD, NEWS DIRECTOR
JASPER -- Dubois County candidates gathered at VUJC Thursday night for a forum to discuss their views on issues impacting county voters this Election Day.
Many of the highlights dealt with tax dollars and how they should, or should not, be used.
“ I came in late to this race, and the driving factor for me was the Midstates Corridor,” explained Democrat Atalie Schroering She is running for Dubois County Council. There are three seats up for grabs in that race.
“The corridor is a risk to my home and to so many other people in the community,” she continued. “Do I feel like we need the Midstates Corridor? No. Do I feel like we just allocated $1.7 million to a study when we are talking about tightening the reigns, do I think we need to do that? Absolutely not. Do I think the corridor is part of a private entity stake-holding push? Yes.”
Republican Doug Uebelhor agrees with Schroering showing two things. One, that republicans and democrats don’t disagree on everything; and second, that rejecting the proposed Midstates Corridor has bi-partisan support.
“I’m against [the Midstates Corridor], and any further funding for it,” Uebelhor said. “But, we need to address the underlying issue. Why did the project start to begin with? It was because of connectivity and no one has really given a good alternative solution for that issue. Atalie has talked about US 231 and I agree. We have a current infrastructure in place that we can use and the state has already, in the past, said they would improve 231. I think we need to focus on that and make sure that we hold them accountable and make sure that 231 is improved to an adequate infrastructure for us to connect to the different parts of the state.”
The corridor wasn’t the only project candidates are concerned about.
“What I would recommend would be, basically, stopping any of the projects; especially the jail expansion,” said Democratic candidate Matt Brosmer. “I don’t think we should get too ahead of ourselves spending $25 million, essentially, on a jail.” He continued, “And, also the Midstates Corridor. That should be just stopped entirely. We should not have that at all because that would just destroy our community and split it. It would hurt our families. It will hurt our small businesses and we just don’t need it.”
Republican Mike Kluesner disagrees on the issue of the new Justice Center. He says our current jail is obsolete.
“It was constructed in 1990. It’s got a capacity of 67 beds. I checked this past Sunday evening and we had 77 inmates in there. So, it’s overcrowded, as far as state standards. There’s no space in the existing facility to have programing. Jail offers lack line of sight for supervision. They lack staff space for the Sheriff’s Department and any other activities that are going on. And the mechanical and lighting systems are obsolete. It’s just not an efficient operating system.”
Democratic candidate Todd Cassidy wants to make sure the county sees a return on its investment when it comes to projects funded by tax dollars.
“Matt’s opinion about projects going forward. Do we need them? They really need to be scrutinized especially at this time. If we are going to spend millions of dollars on a project, it has to have a return somewhat. I’m getting kind of irritated by spending millions of dollars on studies, honestly, especially during a pandemic. You need to be frugal but, at the same time, you need to keep your assets and you need to know where your assets are. There are a lot of people who work for the county that we need to keep around. When we’re reviewing our budget, we need to keep that in mind. These people are not just expenditures, they are assets.
Republican candidate Sonya Hass was invited to take part in Thursday night’s forum, however, could not make it due to a scheduling conflict.
We’ll be hearing more from the candidates who attended the forum over the next few days. That forum was sponsored by the Jasper Chamber, VUJC, and all of the county’s media outlets.
You can see the full program below…