Francesville Fall Festival remembers part of history
The Francesville Fall Festival will have a new attraction this year as the town remembers history.
During a regular meeting on June 1, Ron Schlatter approached the Francesville Town Council requesting permission to have a full-size replica of President Lincoln’s funeral train travel through town during the festival.
Schlatter said the replica train car is traveling across the U.S. to honor the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s death. One of the stops now includes Francesville.
“This has the potential to bring a tremendous draw,” Schlatter said. “It has the potential to be a really big deal.”
The train left on April 21, 1865, from Washington D.C., and traveled more than 1,500 miles until it reached Springfield, Illinois, on May 3, 1865.
The car was dubbed “The Lincoln Special” and carried Lincoln’s body through 180 cities and seven states. It is believed that the funeral train briefly stopped in Francesville.
Schlatter said the goal is for the train to arrive on Thursday and be placed on the tracks. Students will then be able to visit it.
“Hopefully, if we get the OK from CSX, it will be taken to Monon, early Saturday morning, and come steaming into town where we will have a ceremony much like they did when it came in 150 years ago,” Schlatter said.
Schlatter said he must obtain permission from CSX but he needs permission from the town also. He said a letter from the town endorsing permission would be helpful when he is dealing with CSX.
Along with the train, Schlatter said the plan is to have a Lincoln impersonator speak before the parade and be a part of it. The group is also planning on a Lincoln look-alike contest.
There may also be some Civil War items on display and there may be a periodic re-enactment by historical society members.
At this point, Schlatter said admission is free.
Councilman Kyle Trent was absent from the meeting.
In other business:
• Minutes from the May 18 regular meeting and from the public hearing on May 25 were approved.
• Fire chief Lance Gutwein submitted quotes for new firefighter turnout gear. Durham said the quote will be used when determining the 2016 town budget.
• One applicant was interviewed for the position of town marshal. The town is reviewing his background check and the town would like to do a financial background check. He would need to sign a waiver for the town to obtain that information.
• Water and wastewater superintendent Greg Stone said the town will attempt to flush a number of hydrants and change some of the water meters. He anticipates that new meters will need to be purchased this year.
• Streets superintendent Lynn Johns said at the time of the meeting, he has only received one quote regarding street repairs. He is still anticipating two other quotes.
• There was a question of whether rocks could be placed under a picnic area for EMS employees. Johns said it would be less landscaping maintenance. The council said they didn’t have a problem with it.
• Johns said he was contacted by a resident regarding a tree being planted in his yard. The council said they need to purchase a number of trees because several have been removed during the last couple of years. Durham said he believes the council has already approved that purchase.
• Antrim said a resident contacted her about the weeds in the downtown area. She questioned if the area has been sprayed with weed killer yet. Johns said they sprayed last week. Someone also talked to her about a corner lot that is an eyesore. She asked if a letter can be sent to the property owner.
• Claims were approved.
• Fire contracts with surrounding counties were tabled. There was a discussion of whether there should be an increase like there was two years ago. Durham said he wants to table the contracts until Trent can voice his opinion.
• Durham said the post office proposal for the sidewalk needs to be addressed. The council heard from zoning administrator Chuck Yeoman regarding the ramp and steps. The proposed change will make the entrance of the post office complaint with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Another alternative would be an automatic door. Durham said the concern is that the ramp takes up a majority of the sidewalk and even after the ramp is complete then an automatic door may still have to be purchased. The council suggested that they see another option.
• Durham said a letter was written by the town attorney expressing the concerns of the town to those who may be applying for a permit. At a previous meeting, council members voiced their concerns about an elevator being built in the town limits. Bennett said since the last meeting, the organization has picked up an application for a permit but she hasn’t heard from them lately. The building may be postponed because they are looking to purchase property outside the town limits. Durham said that “at this point if anything goes any further it would be denied.”
• Antrim questioned if the town has heard any information about how many dogs a resident is allowed to have. She understands that a property in town where there are a number of dogs is emitting a foul odor. Durham said he will contact the town attorney again.
• Antrim also asked whether a second letter can be sent to the property owner of a garage that is about to collapse.