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December 31, 2012

TOP 10: The biggest Southern Indiana news stories of 2012

Deadly tornado easily takes the No. 1 spot

(Continued)

The Indiana Department of Transportation announced last week that a final decision had been made on the contract that a state panel preliminarily approved last month.

Indiana is overseeing construction of the east-end bridge that will complete an interstate loop around Louisville with a crossing between Utica and Prospect, Ky. Kentucky officials are handling construction of a second bridge for Interstate 65 at downtown Louisville. Indiana highway department spokesman Will Wingfield said construction on the East End bridge is expected to start next summer and be completed in 2016. The agency says the deal with WVB East End Partners is nearly 25 percent below previous cost estimates

4. New Albany and Floyd County split parks

In early November, the New Albany City Council approved a plan brought to the body by Mayor Jeff Gahan, by a narrow 5-4 vote, to split the New Albany-Floyd County Parks and Recreation Department.

The city and county merged parks operations in 1994. However, Gahan said the county hadn’t shown a firm financial commitment to the department  — as the city had paid about $4 million more toward its operation over the last decade — and that it was time for New Albany to move forward with its own parks system.

Several residents, most against the split, voiced their concerns over the proposal at the city council meeting in November. However, the council agreed with Gahan and voted in favor of the split.

In the final six weeks of the year, the city and county finalized plans for separation, dividing property, equipment and employees. Longtime parks employee Kathy Wilkerson was named interim director of the city parks department while current parks superintendent Roger Jeffers will head up the county parks.

The two also agreed in December on splitting property. The county will take control of seven parks, which equal 370 acres, 13 shelter houses and the Southern Indiana Sports Center along with Woodland Trails.

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Amy Harpenau is the new director of theater arts at New Albany High School. Harpenau is a 2007 graduate of Floyd Central High School, has appeared on stage at both high schools and worked in theaters since she graduated college.

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