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JANUARY

Pulaski County gets boost for placemaking

Pulaski County will soon begin to capitalize on its community assets, as the county has been named a finalist in the Hometown Collaboration Initiative.

The Hometown Collaboration Initiative (HCI) that is administered by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs in partnership with Ball State and Purdue Universities, has offered the county a chance to improve the quality of life in small communities through strategic economic and community development.

To become a part of the initiative, representatives from local communities applied for the collaboration. Pulaski County Community Development Commission Executive Director Nathan P. Origer represented Pulaski County after he approached the commissioners and county council for their blessing.

As part of the application process, it was decided the collaboration would focus on placemaking or capitalizing on a community’s assets that will promote people’s health, happiness and well-being.

Several questions were asked about the community. The questions ranged from providing a list of the committee members and their occupations to letting HCI understand the weaknesses and strengths of Pulaski County.

Those questions gave Origer a chance to talk about the “base that we do have. The really strong opportunities — natural resources, outdoor recreation, quality of life opportunities.” He gave examples such as the paintball field, the Tippecanoe River and the state park.

He also mentioned the building structures that have multistories and could house more economic growth in the downtown areas of Pulaski County communities.

“For the last year, we have been emphasizing the whole capacity building thing — focus on not just trying to get businesses to come here but making it a place where businesses want to operate and people want to live; where entrepreneurs want to start; and where people want to visit as tourists,” Origer said. “We are working on all this and have this opportunity to focus on placemaking, it would be stupid for us not at least to try.”

In the application the idea of a project was not detailed. Origer said the details of the project and the exact project itself will be what the committee decides on.

“As we work as a committee, of 12-15, with our community coach who will assist from the outside, we’ll get into that and figure out in which direction we want to go,” Origer said.

Origer will now wait for further instruction from HCI in regards to the timeline of the project and what will be involved in a community coach being assigned to the county.

He also anticipates expanding the committee to fill in some gaps that are not covered. Members of the committee are from several areas of the county. Origer said the members are not those in the community that are typically on several other community organizations.

Out of that committee, a core committee of three or four people will be created to work closely with him and CDC project coordinator Krysten Hinkle.

Origer also wants there to be a diversity in age of the committee members, from high school students to retirees. He will soon be asking high school students to join the committee.

If someone is interested in being a part of the committee, he or she can contact Origer.

As for now, Origer said the tentative plan is to have someone from the HCI program speak at this years economic development seminar on March 3 in Francesville.

(Pulaski County Journal — Jan. 21, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Income survey needed for water well field study

Winamac residents are being encouraged to complete the income survey sent to them by the Town of Winamac, sooner than later, as it is needed for a grant application process.

Water customers should have recently received an income study that asks some basic financial questions about households. The survey is used to determine if the town can qualify for grant funding that will be used for a well study, in the hopes of locating an area where a new wellhead can be drilled.

Town manager Brad Zellers said the wells are in good shape, but the town is hoping to find another well field because the current wells use the same aquifer. The wells are about 400 feet deep and began supplying water to the town circa 1898.

He said a new well “will get it out of an area for a contingency to where you have backup.”

Water superintendent Jeremy Beckner said the wellheads are about 200 feet apart and supply the town with about 101,380,000 gallons a year.

“If we lose one well then we are more than likely going to lose two,” Beckner said.

Not only does the town have to worry about the well becoming contaminated but also with a low water table.

“If those wells go down then we don’t have water,” Beckner said.

Beckner said he doesn’t remember a time when there was a concern of the water being too low. The recent drought did have the area conserving water but the wells were not tested at the time.

The new well field will be part of the wellhead protection plan that is required by the state, according to Zellers.

“The plan is basically, what will you do if this happens? It needs to get out of that area for another well,” Zellers said. “You have to be prepared for what can happen.”

At this time, Beckner said the town hasn’t discussed where potential sites could be for the wells.

There must be a certain amount of land alloted for the well fields and it must be decided what distance the town is willing to go for a well field.

“Drilling the well and the amount of land needed for the field, those costs and the pump are pretty easy to figure. But is it going to be 2 miles away? Three miles away? That’s the huge cost difference - putting the pipes in the ground,” Zellers said.

The study will include discovering which way the aquifers draw from.

(Pulaski County Journal — Jan. 21, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Zellers named town manager

Winamac council members didn’t waste time appointing the new town manager during a regular meeting on Monday.

During the meeting, councilman Richard Denney nominated Brad Zellers as the new town manager. The motion was approved but not without opposition from councilwoman Judy Heater.

Zellers will continue to serve as the wastewater superintendent. He will start the position of town manager immediately.

As part of the motion, Zellers’ salary of $2,077 will be bi-weekly. The new rate will begin with the new pay period on Jan. 19.

Other appointments made by the council include electing a vice president. The council has not elected a vice president in the past, but during the meeting on Jan. 5, council members expressed an interest.

“I think it’s a good idea. If you can’t be here, I think it would be a good idea to have someone to fill in and also have the capability of signing on your behalf,” Denney said to president Ken McFarland.

Councilman Tommy Murray was elected as the vice president. Murray abstained from the vote.

Clerk-treasurer Melanie Berger said John Simmermaker said he would continue as a Kankakee-Iroquois Regional Planning Commission representative for the town. Council members approved the appointment.

Berger said former town councilman John Plowman will continue on the Winamac Economic Development Commission. His term does not end on the Winamac Economic Development Commission until 2016.

Berger was appointed to the Northwest Indiana Solid Waste District.

(Pulaski County Journal — Jan. 14, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Emergency transfers approved by council

A number of emergency transfers were approved by the Pulaski County Council after several errors were caught at the end of the year.

Auditor Shelia Garling requested that the county council approve emergency transfers for the year end and revise the salary and wage ordinance. She said mistakes were found regarding the salary and wages.

The council previously gave Garling permission to take care of the emergency transfers. Those transfers include items such as employee overtime, equipment repair, miscellaneous services, Social Security and the Public Employee Retirement Fund. The transfers total $4,156.45.

She said she only transfered what was necessary.

In regards to the revised ordinance for salaries and wages for 2015, Garling said the auditor and treasurer revision of 1 cent was missed while the hourly rate for the emergency management agency director was calculated wrong. Although the rate was incorrect the right amount of money was budgeted for the year.

The salary rate change for the probation department was due to a state mandate. The increase wasn’t calculated when the ordinance was established.

“They will be coming to you again because she didn’t ask for enough money when it was figured. I’m thinking that it is off about $300,” Garling said.

Garling said the change to a recycling/transfer station employee hourly rate was wrong because it was budgeted wrong. A new position was asked for and the hourly rate for the position was less than what the employee would make.

“It means that this gentleman here took a cut in pay,” Garling said.

Along with the changes, an hourly rate was allotted to the part-time dispatcher position. Garling said the part-time dispatcher position was not on the justice center salary ordinance. She said money is in the budget for the position.

Her requests were approved by the council.

During the meeting, council members were reminded and made comments that each department must stay within that budget for the year.

President Jay Sullivan told sheriff Jeff Richwine that the budget this year is tight.

“One thing that we are going to have to really watch this year is the budgeted amount of money for the labor,” he said. “We talk about it every year, but this year we really have to.”

Richwine said he plans to stay within the budget and he wants to work with the council.

Sullivan said he wasn’t picking on the sheriff’s office but all departments must stay within budget.

In other business:

• An election of officers was held. Jay Sullivan was re-elected as the president, while Roger Querry was elected as secretary.

• Prosecutor Daniel Murphy approached the council with three different items. Murphy requested for the council to approve a resolution consenting to him being a full-time prosecutor. He also asked to transfer $6,000 to be used in the pretrial diversion fund. The final action he requested for the council to take was to approve an additional appropriation in the amount of $2,413.52 from a nonreverting fund to an equipment line item. The three items Murphy presented to the council were approved.

• A request was made by sheriff Jeff Richwine to release detective Chris Schramm and chief deputy Barney Rausch from the 90-precent wage reduction. According to the county policy, all new hires only receive 90 percent of their wages until after a probationary period of 630 hours. Both have numerous years of experience as officers. The difference is about $2. The request to waive the wage reduction was denied by the council. Council members said they did not want to make an exception to the policy because then others would want the same deviance from policy.

• Richwine informed the council that he has several of the employees “back on a time clock.” He understood that was a concern, so he wanted to implement a time clock.

• Richwine also requested officer Fred Rogers to be moved from chief deputy to sergeant. The change in title is not because of demotion but because he was the chief deputy under sheriff Mike Gayer. The change in title will also cause a decrease in Rogers’ pay. The request was approved.

• Richwine requested that the salary for the head cook be revised. The head cook salary was decreased in the 2015 salary ordinance because it was thought that Leesa Gayer would quit when former sheriff Mike Gayer finished his two terms in December. Richwine said Leesa decided she would stay. “She does do an excellent job. She always gets glowing reports from the jail inspections and the health department. It is a clean, well-run kitchen.” The request to retain Leesa at the same hourly rate as she was before with the hourly adjustments made this year was approved.

• A request by Richwine to transfer $6,000 from gas and oil to the part-time deputy line item was approved. Richwine said the department is at full staff but four of the deputies will have to attend academy training. The department will use a part-time deputy to help cover the hours that the deputies are training. Richwine said money is being saved because the deputies have not been given their vehicles.

• He also requested that $4,500 be transfered within the County Adjusted Gross Income Tax (CAGIT) to help cover any overtime that might occur for the dispatchers. Richwine said it’s an accounting issue. Council members approved the request.

• A transfer of $160 in the airport budget was approved. Garling said the transfer is necessary to cover the cost of the fuel excise tax.

• A request to transfer $120 within the probation fund to cover the costs of Social Security was approved.

• The additional appropriation ordinance regarding the 90-day funding in the amount of $52,596 for the county home was approved. The plan to close the county home is still on task.

• Garling requested to advertise additional appropriations in the amount of $31,740. The funding for the appropriation will come from the CAGIT fund.

• An appropriation of $2,800 to cover elected officials conference and training fees was approved. Garling said a line item must be appropriated but it doesn’t need to be approved by the state.

• An ordinance for weapons to be given to retired sheriff’s deputies after 20 years of service was approved.

• The joint session schedule for 2015 was presented to the council.

• Minutes from the joint session and the regular session on Dec. 8 were approved as amended.

• Appointments for the 2015 year were approved with the change that councilwoman Linda Powers will replace Sullivan on the Americans with Disabilities Act compliance committee.

(Pulaski County Journal — Jan. 14, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Don’t become victim to the jury scam

An old telephone scam is making a resurgence in Indiana communities: the jury duty scam.

Here’s how it works: The potential victim gets a call from someone claiming to be with court staff or law enforcement. They inform the potential victim that he or she has failed to report for jury service and will be arrested unless they pay a fine immediately. The thieves may convince the victim to purchase a prepaid card to make the payment, in order to obtain cash without being traced.

According to the Indiana Attorney’s General Office, one Indiana consumer recently paid $800 to a jury duty scammer. The jury duty scam is just another trick fraudsters use to get cash fast. Don’t fall into their trap.

In 2014, the Attorney General’s Office received 20 complaints involving the jury duty scam.

If someone gets a call like this, hang up immediately. Attorney general Greg Zoeller said a caller demanding an immediate payment over the phone should raise a big red flag, especially if they are using fear tactics like threatening jail time. Being asked to use a pre-paid card to make a payment is also a common sign of a scam. Government offices will never use these tactics.

If a person is targeted by the jury duty scam, they should report it to the Indiana Attorney General’s Office by filing a consumer complaint online at www.IndianaConsumer.com or by calling 1.888.834.9969.

Zoeller reminds Hoosiers to sign up for Indiana’s Do Not Call list to help deter unwanted calls. Sign up for the Do Not Call list by visiting www.IndianaConsumer.com or by calling 1.888.834.9969.

(Pulaski County Journal — Jan. 7, 2015)

Winamac Town Council prepares for a new year

Approving a couple of ordinances and resolutions to start the new year was the work of the Winamac Town Council on Dec. 30.

During a special session, councilmen approved two ordinances regarding employees’ salaries, a resolution regarding end-of-the-year transfers, and a resolution to honor council president John Plowman. Councilwoman Judy Heater was absent from the meeting.

As the discussion ensued regarding two salary ordinances, ordinance #18 establishing salaries and wages of various town officers and employees for the calendar year 2015 and ordinance #19 establishing salaries and wages of the Winamac Police Department for the calendar year 2015, councilman Tom Murray opposed one of the ordinances regarding employees being paid on their birthdays.

“Nobody else pays anybody for their birthdays and gets the day off,” Murray said. “I feel that it needs to be done away with.”

The ordinances were approved but Murray opposed the motion.

Councilman Richard Denney said the council should readdress this issue in 2015 with new councilman, Ken McFarland.

Resolution #16, honoring John E. Plowman for service to the Town of Winamac, was approved after some confusion.

There was a question as to whether Plowman could vote on the resolution. Councilmen Murray and Dan Vanaman approved the resolution while Denney and Plowman abstained, creating a lack of majority for the vote.

Plowman said he didn’t want the recognition, but later agreed to the resolution after hearing it was something that has been given to board members in the past.

“I appreciate the past eight years that I have been on — seven as president. It has had its up and downs but I have enjoyed every minute of it,” Plowman said.

As for the end of the year transfers resolution, Vanaman questioned why there was still a line item regarding the county transfer station.

Clerk-treasurer Melanie Berger said there will also be a line item for the station because the town uses the transfer station for other things.

“Next year’s budget will show an actual line for garbage and recycle,” she said.

In other business:

• The minutes from the Nov. 19 executive meeting and the Dec. 8 regular meeting were approved.

• Claims in the amount of $401,407.19 were approved.

• Berger said Chris Smith made a request of the council to use the baseball field, such as last year, once a week for the 4-H dog training. Murray said the field wasn’t made for dog training, but baseball, and he doesn’t want to see it interfere with the baseball program. The group uses the ball field because it is fenced in. It was suggested that Smith talk with the leader of the baseball program and work something out to share the area.

• Councilmen approved an organizational meeting be scheduled for Jan. 5 at 6 p.m. An executive session will follow to review applications for the town manager position.

(Pulaski County Journal — Jan. 7, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

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