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National Avenue plans on indefinite hold, says mayor-elect

Monday, November 17, 2003

Mayor-elect Tom Arthur spoke Saturday at the Clay County Optimists meeting. The group met in the American Legion post on S.R. 59 on Brazil's south side. Following Arthur's presentation, he fielded questions and suggestions from the Optimists.

No one knows when the U.S. 40 widening project through Brazil will be completed, said Mayor-elect Tom Arthur at the Optimists meeting Saturday.

"I heard it would be 2007 and then I was told it has been put off indefinitely," Arthur, who is also a city councilman, said.

But streets are important to the incoming mayor.

"I want to pave every street," he said. "Can we do that in the next four years? No. But I want to have a plan so we can pave them one at a time. When we run out of money, we'll wait until the next tax money comes in and do some more streets."

He also hopes to get grant money for the paving project, similar to the large grant the City of Clinton, Ind., recently received .

In response to a question from the audience, gathered in the American Legion Post on SR 59 Saturday morning, Arthur agreed it should not be a big job to apply weed killer or otherwise clean away the grass growing between bricks on some streets and in sidewalks.

Speaking of sidewalks, Arthur would like to make National Avenue much more attractive.

"That's our city's living room," he said. "I may not care as much about the back rooms of my house, but I want my living room to look nice when company comes to visit."

In the same way, he would like to improve the appearance of Brazil, especially along U.S. 40.

Arthur said he has been criticized for wanting to make Brazil big like Terre Haute, but what he really wants is to improve Brazil.

"There is no reason we can't look as good as Greencastle or even Plainfield," he said. "Plainfield is actually a little smaller than Brazil."

He thinks the way to improve Brazil is by improving the retail business base; the key to doing that is to build the industrial base.

"Once we bring in industry and have a stronger job base, then retail will follow," he said. "We're sitting on a gold mine at the intersection of S.R. 59 and I-70. I-70 is the key."

He has met with Rep. Andy Thomas and hopes to work with Thomas and other leaders to bring more industry to Clay County.

Another issue he is concerned about is youth and their relationships with adults in the city.

The high school math teacher has already heard a great deal from youth and adults, even though he doesn't take office until Jan. 1.

Teens complain there is nothing to do in Brazil, but Arthur said he complained about his hometown when he was their age as well.

Adults complain the youth hang out in parking lots and turn their music up too loud.

"But, Mr. Arthur, we turn it down when the police arrive," the kids told him.

"Yes, but you turn it back up again when the police leave," Arthur said he told students at Northview High School. "You have to be respectful."

He plans to form a youth advisory council, to plan solutions for the conflict between youth and adults. The council will include five students each from Northview and North Clay Middle School and two students from Cumberland Academy.

But the council will not just develop a wish list for Arthur to fulfill. Instead, the students will also be challenged to do their homework and find ways to implement their ideas, including fundraising and then to promote the programs they worked with city officials to develop.

While he plans to continue working with youth as Brazil's mayor, he also plans to resign his high school teaching position.

Arthur does not plan to annex neighborhoods adjacent to the City of Brazil, though that might change. He would like to straighten out the existing boundaries, which do not include all houses in the same block.

City police are patrolling those streets anyway and if those residents are receiving city services, they should be inside the city limits, he said.

"This is a great community," Arthur told the Optimists.

Arthur's family was vacationing out of state when July storms downed many trees in the city. Arthur's sister-in-law from West Terre Haute checked on the Arthur home and was impressed with the many people who were helping one another clean away limbs and downed trees, the mayor-elect said.

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