CLARK COUNTY — Plans have been put in place to relocate a Depression-era cemetery located on the property of the River Ridge Commerce Center.
In the early part of the 20th century, Clark County’s “Poor Farm” was located near the 4-H Fairground, just off Highway 62. The facility housed poor residents in the area who lacked economic means and a strong family network.
When residents died, they were buried in the Poor Farm Cemetery, which holds the graves of at least 27 people who passed away between the years 1923 to 1939.
Not much of the former site remains aside from a surrounding fence and plaque showing the names of those interred there. The land on which the facility operated all those years ago has undergone a major transformation recently, as River Ridge has developed into a major commercial and industrial hub.
At the River Ridge Development Authority Board of Directors meeting Monday, a contract was approved to move forward with the relocation of the graveyard. According to River Ridge Executive Director Jerry Acy, the process will involve contractors and historical teams to document the removal and reinterment.
“When you get graves that are that old, then you have a tremendous amount of deterioration,” he said. “We have the names, but we don’t know if the list includes everybody in there.”
Public notification will be made regarding the remains found, which will bring any potential next of kin into the fold. Another graveyard is now on the property, too.
That site is not set to see any commercial development. Once the proper documentation is made, remains from the Poor Farm Cemetery will be interred again at the other existing graveyard.
“It’s pretty detailed process,” Acy said. “It’s done in a very respectful, dignified way.”
The meeting also came on the heels of the groundbreaking for another major development on the site. VanTrust Real Estate recently got to work erecting a 702,800 square-foot speculative industrial building that is slated for a year-end completion.
The new building is on a 50-acre parcel at the intersection of International Drive and River Ridge Parkway, which was acquired by the developer last year. It is VanTrust’s second building at River Ridge.
With the new structure, the center will be able to expand its footprint of over 60 businesses and 10,000 workers.
“We are extremely excited that VanTrust is developing a second facility at River Ridge,” Acy said in a statement. “VanTrust’s decision to expand its footprint here reinforces the regional and national reputation River Ridge has developed as a preferred site for manufacturing and logistics operations. Pairing VanTrust’s exceptional experience and quality products with River Ridge’s superb location and advantages will make this one of the most sought-after industrial spaces in the nation.”
A new board member was introduced at Monday’s meeting as well. Replacing Pat Glotzbach as Charlestown’s appointment to the River Ridge Development Authority Board of Directors is Mayor Treva Hodges.
Acy said that having Hodges on board will be beneficial to all parties involved moving forward, as roughly a third of the land to be developed at River Ridge sits in Charlestown.
“We have a lot of moving parts to the redevelopment of the ammunition plant, especially what’s still left in the Charlestown area, which is hundreds of buildings and structures,” he said. “It could be hundreds of millions of dollars of site clearing and demolition to get the type of development we’re shooting for. We’re certainly glad to have the mayor on board.”
As a member of the board, Hodges will play a direct role in the growth of the complex. In a news release sent out before the meeting, she thanked Glotzbach for his service and expressed excitement about what the future holds for her city.
“Having Pat serve on the River Ridge Board has been a true blessing for Charlestown,” Hodges said in the statement. “Pat’s long-term commitment to our community has played a large role in managing growth in the area and he will be sorely missed. I look forward to continuing on with the same commitment to service as I join the board this month. Exciting changes are coming to Charlestown and I’m eager to advocate for our great city.”