The signs of Yorktown
By Rick Yencer
YORKTOWN, IN - The Yorktown Town Council on Monday wisely dropped plans to install a $61,833 sign built by the brother-in-law of council President Bob Ratchford amid community outrage about the spending.
Council member Rick Glaub said it was time to rethink the elaborate brick monument and electronic signboard at Ind 332 and County Road 600-W. Last month, Glaub blew the whistle on Ratchford after his brother-in-law Scot Boyce, had the only bid for the work. Ratchford succeeded Glaub as president when council reorganized last month.
"It does not make sense fiscally to spend this type of money," said Glaub.
Ratchford said the sign would be a great improvement and supported by the town's chamber of commerce to help attract people to downtown businesses from the highway and along 600-W where the new multi-million dollar sports park is located. The town gave that facility to the Muncie YMCA to operate and also leases it to Munciana volleyball and other youth sports leagues.
Council member Laura Vise initially opposed the sign and its expense before she became a council member. Last month, Vise, who works at First Merchants Bank, got on board with the project after business owners supported it.
However, council members Steve Fields and Robert Flanagan had reservations about the project. Flanagan was afraid the electronic signboard would be vandalized and a maintenance problem. Fields wanted a comprehensive sign program addressing all gateways to Yorktown.
That translated into a 3-2 vote from the all Republican council with Glaub, Flanagan and Fields stopping the sign in its tracks. The action did not sit well with realtor Julie Bering who represented landowner Gordon Cox who wanted to give the town the land where the sign would be built. Cox also sold the land for the sports park and has a hand in other development deals in Mount Pleasant Township where he has a Meeks Mortuary chapel.
Representatives of business, Mount Pleasant Township Schools and other residents all spoke in favor and against the controversial project. It was a standing room crowd at Monday's town council meeting, probably because it is an election year and all five Republican council members face re-election by voters. A reorganization including the entire township in the town will create two extra council seats, making it a seven-member body.
Ratchford also found himself signing a conflict of interest form for government officials since his businesses Ratchford Properties and Ratchford Painting might do business with the town, Vise already signed a form because the town banks with First Merchants, and Flanagan also had a conflict because he does electrical work for the town. Flanagan's wife, Peg, is a member of the Yorktown Park Board, and his son, Dan, wants to join his dad on the council.