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PETERSBURG, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Crews in Pike County are coming close to the finish line on construction of the $2.5 million Elmer Buchta Tech Center near Petersburg.

The Pike County Economic Development Center says the facility, which will include a coworking space, makerspace and business incubator, is set to open in early January.

The EDC says final installation of the exterior aluminum panels has begun and crews are continuing electric, painting and other work ahead of the opening.

The center is being funded in part by a $2 million grant from the federal Economic Development Administration. According to the EDC, the goal of the facility is to “enable regional talent to foster ideas to develop startup concepts and launch new businesses.” 

PETERSBURG, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration is awarding a $4.2 million grant to the city of Petersburg. The funding is intended to help improve and expand its water system to support existing businesses and attract new business.

The EDA says the grant will be matched with $2.8 million in local funds and is expected to create or retain nearly 100 jobs and spur $19.6 million in private investment. The department says the grant is to be located in a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Opportunity Zone.

The project was made possible by the regional planning efforts led by the Indiana 15 Regional Planning Commission.

“EDA encourages investment in Opportunity Zones to not only enhance return on investment for business interests, but also encourage the public/private partnerships needed to drive investment to distressed communities,” said Dana Gartzke, Performing the Delegated Duties of the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “Updated water infrastructure is essential for business development and will attract other transformative investment to Petersburg and Pike County.”

The project is being funded through the EDA’s Assistance to Coal Communities program, which provides funding for communities that have seen major impacts from the declining use of coal.

PETERSBURG, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Officials in Pike County have approved a $128 million solar project expected to create hundreds of construction jobs. Capital Dynamics in Switzerland is partnering with Nebraska-based Tenaska to build a 150-megawatt solar field that covers 1,200 acres near Petersburg.

The Ratts 1 Solar Project is being developed by Capital Dynamics’ Clean Energy Infrastructure business. The developers plan to break ground on the project next summer.

Ashley Polen Willis, executive director of the Pike County Economic Development Corp., says the project creates a “tremendous opportunity” for the county.

“It is a $128 million investment that will continue to pay dividends to the people of our county,” said Willis. “Not only will it provide hundreds of construction jobs during these difficult economic times, but it also will pump nearly $1 million per year into our county GDP for the next 35 years. Over the life of this project, Pike County will gain approximately $28 million in revenue. This is a win-win for Pike County.”

In addition to the expected 350 construction jobs, the project will create four full-time maintenance positions.

The solar field is expected to have a 35-year project life. The developers say the project includes a decommissioning plan that will returns the land to its pre-construction use. 

The solar field is expected to be operational in 2023.

CROZET, Vir. (WISH) — An Indiana lawmaker is being hailed a hero after a train carrying members of Congress and their families crashed into a garbage truck.

The crash happened late Wednesday morning about 15 miles outside of Charlottesville, Virginia in Crozet. The train was carrying dozens of Republican members of Congress, including several from Indiana, to their legislative retreat in West Virginia. The driver of the truck was killed. Six patients were transported to UVA Medical Center, with one in critical condition. All members of Congress on the train and their families were said to be OK, with the exception of a few minor injuries.

Indiana representatives Susan Brooks and Jim Banks, as well as Senator Todd Young were on board the train.

Congressman Larry Bucshon is a heart surgeon. He was also on board with his wife who is an anesthesiologist. Both stepped up with several others to help after the crash.

“We again came to a very distressing scene with obviously very severely injured people and the atmosphere was as professional as that setting could allow and I do think it made a difference, I think what the people on this stage did hopefully has saved a life,” Rep. Larry Bucshon said.

Rep Bucshon also offered prayers to the those involved in the crash and said he hopes it will refocus lawmakers in Washington.

“This does bring back thoughts of family and friends in a partisan Washington D.C. climate. Sometimes, I think some of us start to lose what really is important in life and this incident today really brings that back in focus for everyone,” Rep. Bucshon said.

As for the retreat, GOP lawmakers say it is going on as planned. It’s happening in West Virginia through Friday. President Trump is scheduled to speak to the group Thursday.

JASPER, Ind. (AP) – Authorities say a mother tried to save her 12-year-old son who died after falling through the ice on a pond in southern Indiana.

State conservation officer Joe Haywood says the woman was cooking dinner Thursday when her son and a 12-year-old girl she was watching asked if they could go outside to play. Haywood says when dinner was ready about 10 minutes later the woman went outside to call the children and saw her son flailing in the icy water.

Haywood said Friday that the woman entered the pond but couldn’t pull her son to shore.

A public safety diver retrieved both children, but they couldn’t be revived.

Haywood called the deaths “absolutely heartbreaking for everyone involved.”

The children’s autopsies are scheduled for Saturday.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) –  The NCAA partnered with local universities and schools to encourage reading.

To kick off the NCAA Team Work’s “New Readers Become Leaders Program,” a pep rally took place Friday morning. 24-Hour News 8’s Lauren Lowrey emceed the event.

The NCAA Executive Vice President for Education and Community Engagement and Chief Inclusion Officer, and student-athletes from IUPUI attended the pep rally at 10 a.m.

The program is for all third graders in Indianapolis, Lawrence, Pike and Warren Township. All third graders took a pledge to read 30 minutes a day between Friday, September 23 until March 2017.

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) – The Indiana Supreme Court is set to hear an appeal of the conviction of a schizophrenic man serving a life sentence in the death of his mother.

Thirty-nine-year-old Andrew Satterfield was found guilty of murder, arson and attempted murder. He was accused of killing his mother and burning her home near Petersburg in December 2011.

Satterfield’s lawyers for the appeal argue their client should’ve received a different conviction due to his history of mental illness. The Evansville Courier & Press reports they’re seeking to have the conviction either reversed or changed to guilty but mentally ill.

The case will be brought before the state Supreme Court on Thursday.