A section of the Interstate 69 extension from just south of Bloomington to Martinsville is moving forward after Indiana received approval to use federal funds for the stretch, a state highway spokesman said Monday.
The Federal Highway Administration approval granted Friday will allow funds from the federal agency to be used to complete the design and acquire land for the approximately 21-mile Section 5, Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman Will Wingfield said.
The section will upgrade the current Indiana 37 – a four-lane divided highway – to interstate standards. Land must be acquired for the seven interchanges and five overpasses in the section, Wingfield said.
Under an initiative announced by Gov. Mike Pence in May, a team of contractors selected to design and build the upgrade will sign a public-private deal under which it will arrange its own financing.
Indiana would make payments for 35 years after its completion as the team maintains and operates the stretch. It will not be a toll road.
INDOT expects to select the winning team from among four candidates next February, Wingfield said.
New state auditor sworn into office
Dwayne Sawyer has been sworn in as the new state auditor, making him the first black Republican to hold a statewide office in Indiana.
The state’s chief justice administered the oath to Sawyer during a ceremony Monday at the Statehouse.
Republican Gov. Mike Pence appointed the Brownsburg Town Council president to complete the 16 months left in the term of former auditor Tim Berry, who was elected to his second term in 2010. Berry stepped down last week to take over as Indiana Republican Party chairman.
Sawyer is expected to seek a full term as the state’s chief financial officer next year.
2nd Mellencamp son surrenders on charges
The second of rocker John Mellencamp’s sons has surrendered for arrest on charges of punching and kicking a 19-year-old man in southern Indiana.
A Monroe County jail officer says 19-year-old Hud Mellencamp was released on bond after being booked early Monday on the felony battery charges. Eighteen-year-old Speck Mellencamp bonded out of jail on those charges Friday.
Authorities say Speck Mellencamp entered the porch of a man’s Bloomington home and punched him in the face July 29, believing that man had hit him earlier that evening.
Court documents say the brothers and another 19-year-old man punched, kicked and stomped the man, who suffered facial injuries.
Good weather helps state fair set crowd mark
Indiana State Fair has closed out this year with a record attendance topping 978,000 people.
Fair officials announced Monday that the crowds for the 17-day fair totaled 4,000 more than the previous record in 2009. This year’s fair that ended Sunday benefited from mostly unseasonably cool and dry days – a major change from last year’s heat and thunderstorms that saw the fair draw 120,000 fewer people.
Fair executive director Cindy Hoye says organizers knew they faced challenges drawing crowds with many school districts having already starting classes and fewer major events as the fairgrounds coliseum is renovated.