Solar project approved, train tracks tabled

The Hamilton County Council, at its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, approved initial funding for what will be one of the state’s largest solar projects.

The Council approved $328,000 of the estimated $8 million project, which provided Hamilton County Building and Ground Supervisor Steve Wood the down payment required to order the solar panels that will power the jail.

Prior to the council’s vote Councilman Brad Beaver stated, “This is a lease to purchase agreement for approximately $8 million. We would substitute what we are paying annually for the lease to purchase payments. It will all be financed out of our current utility costs.”

The project passed the Council with a 6-1 vote. Councilman Fred Glynn casted the single opposing vote.

In other business, council members tabled a request from Hamilton County Tourism Director Brenda Myers. Myers, representing the Tourism Bureau and new railway operator of the Nickel Plate Heritage Railroad, was seeking a $750,000 loan from the council to repair 12 miles of track from Noblesville to Atlanta.

The Tourism Bureau serves as the technical advisor, fundraiser, guide, grant writer and marketing advisor for Nickel Plate Heritage Railroad.

Myers stated revenue from the railway would be used to pay back the loan and would be guaranteed by the hotel tax that currently funnels to the Tourism Bureau through the County.

Council members agreed they needed more information from their attorney before they could move forward with Myers’s request.