Brownstown buys former Banner office for town hall, police department



It’s official: Brownstown’s town hall and police department are moving to a new building.

The purchase agreement recently was signed after AIM Media Indiana accepted the $60,000 offer for The Jackson County Banner office at 116 E. Cross St. AIM Media is the owner and publisher of both The Banner and The Tribune.

The town received two appraisals for the 5,200-square-foot building and couldn’t offer more than the average of the two, per state law, council President Sally Lawson said.

Banner Publisher Chuck Wells said AIM Media Indiana is thrilled with the idea of being able to help meet the town’s growing needs by providing a facility to do so.

“… while at the same time, putting to use a community asset in the depot that will allow us to continue in our role of serving the community,” he said.

Next on the town’s agenda: Putting together a bid packet for a remodeling project.

That work includes heating, ventilation and air conditioning, electrical, a new roof, a new floor, insulation and moving some walls. The council estimates that cost to be between $150,000 and $200,000.

Clerk-Treasurer David Willey said the money for the purchase of the building would come out of the town’s rainy day fund, and the council unanimously approved that method. Other money from that fund and a gaming fund could go toward the remodel.

In terms of selling the building that currently houses the town hall, police department and street department at 200 W. Walnut St., Lawson said she would check back with the Brownstown Volunteer Fire Department to see if it is interested in purchasing it. The fire department is adjacent to that building.

Lawson said fire department officials recently told her they might be interested if the price is right. If not, she said a couple of other entities have expressed interest in the building. The town will have to have it appraised.

“I don’t think it will be hard to sell,” she said.

The town decided to pursue The Jackson County Banner building because the current location for town offices was built in 1945, is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and does not have adequate space for the police department, which has grown to seven full-time officers.

Preliminary plans were drawn up for the layout of the new location. Town attorney Rodney Farrow said because it’s a public building, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security requires an engineer or architect to sign off on the renovation plans before the town does a bid packet.

In the new location, the town plans to have the clerk-treasurer’s office and a room for town meetings in the front portion of the building, while the back part would be occupied by the police department.

Inside the front entrance would be a foyer to allow people to walk up to a window to pay a bill or conduct other business. Behind that window would be space for two desks, and Willey’s office would be nearby in its own room.

Having a sliding walk-up window would make it more secure for those working in the clerk-treasurer’s office, Lawson said. People also often come into the office for police department-related inquiries.

For after-hours business, the building could have a double-door entry so people can drop off payments and a phone for people needing assistance to be connected to dispatch.

The police department would have three offices, cubicles in the squad room and an interview room.

The town’s street department, which currently is on the south side of the town hall building, will be relocated to the wastewater department on the west side of Brownstown.

Councilman Mark Reynolds estimated an 80-by-100-foot building, including office space, restrooms, concrete, electricity and heating, would cost more than $100,000.

When the current town office building is sold, officials plan to put that money toward the street department building.

AIM Media Indiana has expressed interest in keeping the newspaper office in town if it’s cost-effective, possibly moving into the Ewing Depot. In January, Brownstown/Ewing Main Street signed the deed of the that property over to the town.

If the company decides to make that move, Lawson said the town would need to offer what it would expect in rent and utilities.

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