Jasper Mayor Dean Vonderheide Covers May Revitalization Start, Youtube City Hall Exposé, in WITZ Interview

Quotes from the following story were given in a May 12th interview with WITZ's Charlie Wayne.

By Kris Norton

Jasper - In a monthly radio appearance, Jasper Mayor Dean Vonderheide covered a range of topics within the community - touching on everything from the upcoming Downtown Revitalization construction to a Youtube video alleging first amendment failures at City Hall.

To begin Thursday's conversation, Vonderheide highlighted the city's first Downtown Chowdown event at its new location. The Chowdown took place Wednesday evening at Dave Buehler Plaza at the Riverwalk, due, in part, to the long-anticipated Downtown Revitalization.

With the necessary paperwork completed, Vonderheide says residents may begin to notice construction equipment and materials rolling into the downtown area as soon as next week.

"Finally, all the contracts have been signed and received their insurance papers and bonds," Vonderheide said. "So, we expect the company to move their equipment and materials into the project by Memorial day, so I would think that we would see some movement probably next week. The initial work is going to be focused on the water line."

"That's really where it starts," Vonderheide added. "It's the oldest infrastructure we have there, and when we replace the water line it's going to be an incremental approach."

The project will be broken down into quadrants: Northeast, Northwest, Southeast and Southwest. The Northeast corner will be the first to see construction, with work to take place in front of City Hall.

One quadrant will be worked on from beginning to end before construction moves onto the next quadrant. Vonderheide says that this approach has been taken to minimize the effects on both traffic and foot traffic to businesses. 

"That quadrant will be barriered so it wouldn't have traffic going into it," Vonderheide said. "But, they will go in and do all of the storm water replacement in there and then do the resurfacing of the materials. So, we'll get the facelift and everything done in that quadrant before we move onto the next one."

Construction on the Downtown Revitalization in Jasper is set to begin later this month.

Construction officials believe that each quadrant will take approximately two to three months to complete each quadrant; two quadrants are expected to be completed by Thanksgiving. Construction crews will break for the holiday season to pick back up in the spring.

Another reason to shut down for winter - the holiday season, which Vonderheide doesn't believe will be heavily impacted by the pending construction.

"We don't think that this will impact shopping at all because we've got parking that's conveyable," Vonderheide said. "We'll have three quadrants that will always be available as exists today, plus, we're opening up the City Hall parking lot."

The City Hall parking lot is located just west of the City hall and contains about 20 parking spaces.

Downtown Revitalization construction is expected to wrap up in mid- to late-2023.

Switching gears, Vonderheide acknowledged that he, and individuals in City Hall, was aware of a Youtube journalist whom had video recorded his interactions with workers in April.

The video series, with 50,000 views on Youtube, was posted by an unnamed man whom has posted similar "First Amendment Audits" in the Southwestern Indiana region.

"He's been in the area, he's still coming around and these guys are making their money by getting the hits on Youtube..." Vonderheide said. "Most people don't walk through the whole thing, if you walk through the whole thing, our people handled it professionally - most do.

"It's just that they try to get the sensationalism out there, and with that sensationalism you have people that just go to the extreme.

"The worst part about it is the repercussions that our staff takes with phone calls, people calling them up and calling them every name in the book. It's just unfortunate that people make a living doing that."