Coming in 2014: Annexation moves in Elkhart, school referendum debate, Prairie Street overpass

These things will likely happen in Elkhart County in the coming year.

Posted on Dec. 31, 2013 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Dec. 31, 2013 at 5:15 p.m.

ELKHART — Few things in life are certain, but when it comes to local events, here’s a few things that will be happening in 2014:

Ÿ The city of Elkhart will begin considering a series of annexation proposals that could continue for several years.

Beginning in February, city council is expected to consider groups of annexation areas.

Mayor Dick Moore has already identified 16 areas targeted for annexation, but that represents the first phase.

The first group includes four areas: an industrial area north of the Elkhart airport; Remington Park, an industrial park along part of C.R. 6 east of Decio Drive; an industrial and commercial stretch along C.R. 17 and south of Middlebury Street; and a small industrial area that includes Borg Road and Pierina Drive.

Ÿ Elkhart Community Schools will ask the community to support a referendum — meaning that taxpayers might pay a little more in taxes, allowing the school to use the extra funds for some specific needs. On Jan. 6, the school board will hold a public hearing to go over what might be included in the referendum. It’s also expected that the board will decide how much money to ask for at this time. If all goes as planned, taxpayers will vote on the referendum questions in the May primary election.

Ÿ The Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds should feature a few new elements by the time next year’s fair begins July 18.

The Fair Board hopes to have two new restroom buildings constructed, new wings installed on the grandstand and an alarm system installed throughout the grounds.

The board has budgeted $945,000 for the improvements combined but hope bids for the projects come in a bit below that estimate.

Ÿ Also affecting the fairgrounds, the Monroe Street Trail will be completed sometime in the spring of 2014.

The trail will run from the intersection of U.S. 33 and Monroe Street down to the fairgrounds’ entrance.

Ÿ Work will begin on the Prairie Street railroad overpass in spring 2014. The project is scheduled to be completed sometime in late 2015 and will eliminate the frequent traffic backlogs on Prairie north of Main Street that occur when trains pass through the area. It is estimated about 53 trains pass through the area and block traffic for up to four hours a day.

Ÿ The upgrade of U.S. 20 will continue in earnest, from east of C.R. 17 to S.R. 15, once the weather warms. The Indiana Department of Transportation project calls for widening the busy roadway from one lane in each direction to two with the addition of a center turn lane as well. The aim is to ease congestion, and the work should be done by fall 2014.

Ÿ Steve Neff will retire after 37 years of coaching girls basketball at NorthWood High School. Heading into the Black Swish’s next game, Saturday, Jan. 4, at home against Fairifeld, Neff is No. 1 on Indiana’s all-time girls basketball victory list with 644.

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