Felicia Buechler, her husband, Vaughn, and their daughter, Aubrey, walk the 1-mile trail around Old Town Lake in Ferdinand in July. The trail opened to the public in the summer. Town Council President Ken Sicard said the trail has been well used since it's opened. Staff file photo by Cheyenne Boone
Felicia Buechler, her husband, Vaughn, and their daughter, Aubrey, walk the 1-mile trail around Old Town Lake in Ferdinand in July. The trail opened to the public in the summer. Town Council President Ken Sicard said the trail has been well used since it's opened. Staff file photo by Cheyenne Boone
FERDINAND — Despite the pandemic, the town of Ferdinand had a pretty good year in 2020, Town Council President Ken Sicard said.

Some projects were postponed and businesses closed down for safety, but when Sicard looked back at all the town had done, he realized quite a bit had changed, he said.

One of the most important issues in town is providing affordable housing for residents, Sicard said. In 2020, Ferdinand gained its second 12-apartment complex and two new duplexes. Additionally, a 14-lot housing division opened, and all lots were sold within a short period of time, he said.

The town’s first baby box was unveiled in October, allowing mothers a safe, legal and anonymous way to surrender a child. The project was put into motion after Jasper Middle School eighth-graders Isabella Harmon and Tori Hemmerlein gave a presentation about the boxes to leaders at Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center.

The town also continued with infrastructure developments despite the pandemic. A new electric substation was built and placed into service. Previously, Ferdinand had two substations, one that used current power and one that used old power.

“If we lived off the old one, we wouldn’t have enough electricity to power the town,” Sicard said. “Now, even if we lose one, we’re in good shape.”

Additionally, the water department updated its supervisory control and data acquisition system, or SCADA, to monitor the process of cleaning and treating water.

While some things closed during the onset of the pandemic, the parks department worked to keep parks open. It hired a company to clean shelters and bathrooms on a regular basis so residents could still safely enjoy time outdoors.

Additionally, the department opened the Old Town Lake walking trail in July, which Sicard said has been well used so far.

While Ferdinand Town Hall was closed to visitors, it underwent a renovation that was completed at the end of the year.

“We hadn’t really done anything to it since we moved into it,” Sicard said. “The last time something was done to it, I was not town council president, so that’s at least 17 years ago.”

Universal Package, which used to be in Dale, completed its move into the vacant Jasper Group Inc. factory. It also demolished part of the old building that will be used for future business offices.

“That changed the look of that whole neighborhood with that old building coming down,” Sicard said.

In 2020, $100,000 was set aside for the Economic Development Commission to offer a revolving loan fund for future street construction in new housing developments.

“The town would actually end up developing the streets but then they pay us back as they sell the lots, things like that,” Sicard said.

While the town continued to develop in 2020, the council made sure to get as much money from the CARES Act as possible, Sicard said. Although projects such as housing and infrastructure developments could continue because of this, not everything could remain normal.

Places such as the senior citizen center closed, which Sicard said is unfortunate but necessary because the health and safety of residents is prioritized first.

Sicard said he hopes the senior center and other businesses will be able to open again soon and Ferdinand residents will be able to meet at events again, but it’s unclear when that will happen considering how hard Dubois County has been hit by COVID-19.

“We can’t rush it,” he said.

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