UPDATED: Ground broken for DNR office complex/visitor's center at Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area

Friday, September 21, 2012
Gov. Mitch Daniels, center, helped officials turn the first shovels of dirt at the groundbreaking ceremony Friday morning for Department of Natural Resources Southwest District office/visitor's center at Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area, located south of Linton. The mutli-million dollar facility will serve as the center point for tourist who visit the 8,000 plus acre state-owned property. Helping with the groundbreaking ceremony from left is Kevin Orme, Director of the Division of Construction Services for the Indiana Department of Correction, Linton Mayor John Wilkes,DNR Director Rob Carter and District 62 State Representative Matt Ubelhor (R-Bloomfield). (By Nick Schneider)

It was heralded as a 'big, historic day' for Greene County as Gov. Mitch Daniels and state and local elected officials turned the first shovels of dirt on a picturesque knoll, the site of a soon to be built Indiana Department of Natural Resources Southwest Regional Office/Visitor's Center at Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area Friday morning.

Nearly 100 people ---- many who have worked behind the scenes and dreamed of someday having a visitor's center at the more than 8,000 acre marsh/wetlands state-owned property ---- attended the Friday morning ceremony.

The multi-million dollar 4,800 square foot facility will be constructed in two phases ---- the first being the regional office, according to DNR Director Rob Carter.

Architect drawing of the Department of Natural Resorces Southwest Regional Office and Visitor's Center at Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area near Linton. (Courtesy of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources)

As a show of support for the visitor's center the Friends of the Goose Pond organization pledged $25,000 towards its construction.

"The Friends through a variety of fundraising activities, and with the help of the Smithville Charitable Foundation and the Greene County Foundation has secured $25,000 to be pledged towards this project," Friends of the Goose Pond President Tom Ciscowski stated. "Within the scope of this project, it is a small sum, however, it certainly shows what a small group can accomplish, and it can go a long way in providing some of the 'extras' that will establish the center as a showcase."

The Indiana Department of Correction will provide some of the manpower for the construction of the facility, Carter said.

View looking east from the site of the visitor's center. (By Nick Schneider)

Peabody Energy's Bear Run Mine near Dugger has also committed to doing the grade work for the site.

The site overlooks the southwest part of the property off of County Road 400S.

Conceptual drawings for the visitor's center include floor-to-ceiling glass walls overlooking the wetlands. Final details await completion of a study to determine the appropriate displays, educational materials and other features of the visitor's center, according DNR Communications spokesman Phil Bloom.

Gov. Mitch Daniels. (By Nick Schneider)

Gov. Daniels lauded what he called the "brave and persistent" group that worked so hard over the years to make the visitor's center a reality.

"This is all your success and what we are here to do today is yours as well," Daniels said.

Daniels said he was pleased his administration has played a part in the conservation and protection of natural resources era in the state.

Guy Mattingly, of Washington, with Peabody Energy Company, presents Gov. Mitch Daniels with a personally monogrammed hat at Friday morning's ceremony. (By Nick Schneider)

"It's the best we've ever had. Anyway you measure it -- acreage, number of projects, the size of those projects. It really all starts with Goose Pond," he said. "I guess I'll always have to remember Goose Pond as sort of the bookends of my time in service. It was not that long into my first year in 2005 when we finally were able to pull the trigger and bring about the success that led to the 8,000 acres here. And now with 113 days left to go (in his term) we're going to put this structure here that I hope and believe will do everything that proponents have envisioned for it."

Looking out over the view from the proposed site, Daniels commented, "What a fantastic vantage point this is. I just can't wait until the structure is here and being used all the time by people near by and those not so nearby and for children and others who can learn lessons for life by coming here to Goose Pond. I hope by coming they will be captivated by quality of what is represented here."

The governor continued, "I am enormously grateful for everybody who has helped to do this. Goose Pond just sort of motivated some of us (in state government) to think even bigger and bigger ... I like to tell everybody that we got the inspirations for other projects from the folks here at Goose Pond seeing your long sought project come to success and completion."

Gov. Mitch Daniels delivered the keynote address at the visitor's center groundbreaking Friday morning at the Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area near Linton.

Daniels called it a "great day".

"I can't wait to see what it looks like when it is here. I can't wait to see when it is full of people, young and old, who will get their own sense of the obligation to protect places like this," he added.

Rep. Matt Ubelhor (R-Bloomfield) was credited with helping to champion to project to the governor on behalf of local residents and members of the Friends of the Goose Pond organization.

Gov. Mitch Daniels, at right, chats with Linton Mayor John Wilkes, at left, and District 62 State Representative Matt Ubelhor, center, after the official groundbreaking ceremony. (By Nick Schneider)

In remarks Friday, Ubelhor thanks DNR officials and Gov. Daniels for what he called "the wisdom" to see this project to reality.

Daniels commented that "it was an easy sell to him."

Ubelhor called the DNR office and visitor's center a catalyst for economic growth.

"It took a long time and there were a lot of years to put this together and this is a successful beginning. This is something great for Indiana and Greene County and even the region," Ubelhor said. "When you come down here on hunting day it's not just Greene County license plates. It's not just our area here. They are coming from out of state to see what is happening in Greene County in Indiana. This is going to be an economic engine for our area. It's going to be good. This is big for Greene County. This is big for Indiana. It's the right thing to do."

Linton Mayor John Wilkes in remarks also thanks the Governor and DNR for bring this facility to the Linton area.

"This is a big asset to the county and the whole area. We have this going for us. We have so many things going for us in the area. I-69 will be completed by the end of the year. WestGate at Crane Tech Park is a phenomenal thing for us. NSA Crane itself is and then you put Goose Pond in with the mix and we really have a lot going for us in this part the state," Wilkes said. "As mayor of Linton, the largest city in the county, we will do everything we can to promote and make this Goose Pond and this facility as extra special as possible."

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  • At my age I have become negative about, well almost everything. There are few things that I could really give much care about. It's something I've accepted, it's just the way it is.

    But when it comes to the Goosepond project, I sincerely believe that at some point people may be amazed at the amount of asset this area has become to our community.

    Change comes hard for some, I included, but someday you may wish you were able to shake Mitch Daniels hand for his support.

    -- Posted by Ex-Pat on Sat, Sep 22, 2012, at 8:02 AM
  • Must be nice to be a bird! This is the most asinine thing I have seen in a while. We have people in our community who are struggling just to get by. I don't know about any of you but the first thing I think of when I go to pay at the pump is "Wow, it sure would be nice to have a multi million dollar birdhouse!". With all of the lay offs and people losing their jobs it sure is a sad day when we would rather use convicts to build a building then create jobs for law abiding citizens. This is a colossal waste of money! Our country might be falling apart but the birds sure are doing well. Good grief!

    -- Posted by jersey32 on Mon, Sep 24, 2012, at 8:02 PM
  • I have to agree with Jersey32! Where is the rest of this money coming from to build this multi million dollar complex? Are we going to pay more taxes at the pumps or more property tax or more state tax? Would like to know? The state has all ready spent millions of dollars on the land purchased for this wet land! Where did that money come from? Enough is enough! Do we really think this is a asset or a debt ! You decide!

    -- Posted by jdb on Mon, Sep 24, 2012, at 9:13 PM
  • lulu54

    "I'm sorry expat you are wrong!"

    About what?

    The only interest I have in this matter is my opinion as to the future benefit to the community.

    It sounds as if you have a devout monetary interest, for which there is nothing wrong, just a different set of priorities.

    -- Posted by Ex-Pat on Wed, Sep 26, 2012, at 8:03 AM
  • This is an excellent legacy we are leaving for the future generations. When we care for the environment, we care for each other. I drove past the area many years ago and always wished that it would become a treasured wetlands. And now with the building, we are saying, "yes" to our community and yes to wildlife. It is good for Greene County to have some of the finest to which people may invest in the future and visit for pleasure. Furthermore, jobs will be created and ongoing maintenance will be afforded to our public citizens out of work.

    Congratulations to all who have contributed!

    -- Posted by simone22 on Fri, Apr 18, 2014, at 12:26 PM
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