SELECT 2015 MONTH:
Winamac reviews utility rates
Winamac Town Council members gave their approval for the town to move forward with an Indiana Municipal Power Agency solar panel project during a special meeting on May 4.
During the meeting, council members talked utility budget finances and about the solar panels project.
Council members first heard from Eric Walsh of Umbaugh, who are financial advisors for the town. He reviewed each of the utilities including electric, water and sewer.
Cash balances for each utility compared with the rates were reviewed, along with operating expenses. The top 10 consumers for each utility were also pointed out.
He suggested that the town look to the future in regards to forecasted revenues and expenditures for the next five years.
“You are to the point where everything is running pretty smooth in town. You are doing a good job of getting a capital plan together and looking at a couple of big things a few years out instead of saying a year before it that ‘we are going to need a half of a million dollars,’” Walsh said.
He suggested that if the town decided that rate increases are warranted then they are done in multi-phases but approved at once, so only one public hearing has to be held.
He commended the town for working towards a positive financial status.
Council members were then presented the idea of hosting solar panels in the town limits. Dan Worhl, from the Indiana Municipal Power Agency (IMPA), said the panels will help with future costs to municipalities.
He said those municipalities that are hosting solar panels will receive pilot payments but the property must be in the town limits. If the town received payments it would benefit the general fund.
Town manager Brad Zellers said there were several different places that the solar panels could be constructed. Some were in town limits. Other proposed locations were in the town buffer zone.
Worhl said the number of panels will determine how many acres are needed. As part of the process, IMPA would first look to purchase or lease land and then work toward obtaining permits. They would ask for the standard tax abatement.
There was a question as to how the electric consumer will benefit from the solar panels. The answer, according to Worhl, is that it will stabilize the rates.
The council approved to establish a committee to research and make recommendations to the council in regards to the project.
(Pulaski County Journal — May 13, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)
Winamac Community High School names top graduates
Winamac Community High School has announced its top two graduates for the 2014-15 school year. Hannah Mae DeGroot, daughter of Perry and Katie DeGroot, of Winamac, has been named valedictorian and Francesca Niewiadomski, daughter of Richard and Sharon Niewiadomski, of Winamac, is the salutatorian.
While attending WCHS, DeGroot has been busy with various extracurricular activities including Student Council, Midwest Conference math team, STEM club, Sunshine Society, National Honor Society and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
She has also found time to be a three-sport athlete while attending high school with participation in basketball, golf and softball. She has been recognized as a 2014 golf academic all-state and 2014 MWC golf honorable mention. DeGroot has also achieved all-conference honors in basketball, golf and softball.
Her academic honors and awards are numerous including the Lilly Endowment Scholarship, 2012 Midwest Conference geometry champion and 2013 HOBY Indiana ambassador.
Upon graduation DeGroot plans to attend Butler University in Indianapolis and major in biology.
Salutatorian Niewiadomski has many extracurricular activities to her credit both inside the high school and outside in the community. She has been a member of spell bowl, English super bowl and Spanish quiz bowl as well as a part of the Midwest Conference writing team, Shakespeare Club, National Honor Society and Sunshine Society. The Winamac senior is a member of the St. Peter’s Catholic Church and has been an altar server, lector and vacation bible school leader.
She has accumulated several high school honors and her name has appeared on several awards such as spell bowl captain, member of the state qualifying spell bowl team, perfect speller ribbons, near perfect speller ribbons, distinguished honor roll, letter for academic scholarship and Voice of Democracy.
After graduation she plans on majoring in English literature at Saint Mary’s College of Notre Dame.
(Pulaski County Journal — May 13, 2015 • Story by Paul Hettinger)
Town, county take steps to secure fallen building
Monterey Town Council members along with Pulaski County officials gathered to discuss the best plan of action in regards to the collapsing of a portion of The Sportman’s Bar and Grill.
The building, once known as Kelsey’s Drug Store, fell on April 23 around 5 p.m. What was remaining, the north and south sections of the building, was quickly pulled down and a portion of Walnut Street has been closed for safety reasons.
The council called the emergency meeting on April 28, to discuss the best way to keep everyone safe as the collapsed building is in the road to the west. County commissioners Larry Brady and Terry Young were present with building inspector Dave Dare.
As the meeting began, Monterey Council President Jim Fleury thanked the Monterey Volunteer Fire Department for their quick response and the commissioners and Dare who arrived at the scene shortly after the building collapsed. He also thanked clerk-treasurer Linda McCune for all the calls she filtered on the day of the incident.
Town attorney Crystal Sanders said the emergency meeting was called to ensure that the town is doing everything they can to keep residents and visitors safe. The meeting was also scheduled to answer the question of what expenses the town is responsible for.
Dare said the owner of the building could not be contacted at the time of the collapse, so he instructed Zehner Excavating to demolish the north and south sections of the building that were still standing. An orange fence was also set up to secure the area off.
“I don’t think there’s any additional danger of anything falling in at this point,” Dare said during the meeting.
The next step, according to Dare, is to hire an asbestos inspector who will report if there is a presence of the fibers, the estimated amount of it and how to abate it. An asbestos abatement supervisor may also have to be hired when the debris is removed.
Fleury questioned if the town could clean up the roadway. Dare said cleanup shouldn’t occur until the site has been checked for asbestos.
A motion to have the asbestos inspection completed was approved by the council.
Dare later said the county would pay for the inspection at the cost of $1,500.
There was also a question of who owned the building. The property was recently part of a tax sale but it does not appear that a petition has been filed to take ownership of the property, according to Sanders.
The current owner, Courtney Hardin, who lives in Crown Point was contacted by Dare. Dare said at this time it does not appear that she will be able to financially help.
“She said that she actually closed the building in 2011 and at that time all of the insurance was canceled out as well,” Dare said.
Sanders said the town or county could file a civil suit against the property owner if needed.
“My recommendation would be that we contact the owner by letter and indicate to her that she has 30 days to provide some sort of financial assistance and to get these things done. I think we need to put her on notice, according to the statute, that there would be the potential for civil liability on her part,” Sanders said.
The council approved to give her 15 days to respond after the letter is delivered and that the letter be delivered to her.
Sanders said she wants to ensure that a 15-day notice is sufficient, according to state statutes.
Fleury said he is also concerned with the standing half of the Sportsman’s building and whether the outer wall is structurally sound. Dare said an engineer can be hired to look at the building.
A motion was also made to pay Zehner Excavating for the work they did on the day of the collapse. The cost was $500.
Fleury asked those in attendance if they had any questions. No questions were asked but some comments were made.
“Anything that the county can to do to help, we are here,” Young said.
The council will wait for the asbestos inspection results before they take any further actions. They also scheduled a meeting for Thursday, May 7 at 7 p.m.
(Pulaski County Journal — May 6, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)
West Central announces top graduates
West Central High School has announced the two top graduating seniors from the class of 2015.
Mickayla Mary Wenzel has earned the distinction of being named class valedictorian.
Wenzel has stayed very active in high school as a member of the National Honor Society where she was vice president her junior year and president this school year. She has also been involved in student council where she was treasurer her senior year and had been part of the Business Professionals of America.
An outstanding athlete at West Central, Wenzel has participated in cross-country earning varsity captain status, and basketball where she was junior varsity captain her freshman year and went on to be varsity captain her junior and senior years. She has also been a member of the track and field team and has been active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes organization.
The senior has accumulated many honors and awards including Academic All-State in track and basketball along with Academic All Midwest Conference in three different sports. She has been named MWC Runner of the Year twice, MWC Track Athlete of the Year and a MWC Match Contest Top 10 three years running. Wenzel has also received the Bausch and Lomb Honorary Science Award.
She is active in the Teaberry Hill Estates Church youth group and in her spare time enjoys running, reading, drawing and hanging out with friends.
Upon graduation Wenzel plans on attending the University of Indianapolis to major in accounting. While at college she plans on running cross-country and participating in track and field for the Greyhounds.
Mickayla is the daughter of Kevin and Natalie Wenzel of Francesville.
Grace Whited, of Francesville, will be the 2015 West Central High School salutatorian.
She has served as vice president of the Sunshine Society, secretary of the National Honor Society and has been a junior marshal.
Whited has also found time to be involved in several clubs and organizations including National Honor Society, Sunshine Society, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Business Professionals of America and the First Christian Church youth group.
After playing basketball her freshman and sophomore years, Whited went on to manage the team in both the junior and senior seasons. She was a member of the track team and has acted in the school play the last three years.
She has a passion for Broadway musicals and reading. Her other hobbies and interests are writing poetry, volunteering her time and mission work with her church.
She plans to attend Indiana University and study biology as a pre-med student with the end goal of becoming an anesthesiologist.
Grace is the daughter of Kimberly and Daniel Whited.
(Pulaski County Journal — May 6, 2015 • Story by Paul Hettinger)
Personal property filing deadline for 2015 is May 15
County assessor Holly Van Der Aa is reminding taxpayers (business owners, individual entrepreneurs and farmers) it is that time of year to file personal property forms. Forms can be obtained from the assessor’s office or online through www.IN.Gov/dlgf.
Indiana is a self-assessment state, thus, making the responsibility of filing the personal property forms the taxpayer’s responsibility. Personal property forms are needed for business owners and farmers. Forms are to be filed in the taxing district where the personal property is located on March 1 or the majority of the year. Failure to file the forms in a timely manner can result in penalties. Also, completion of the form is a must to avoid a $25 penalty. Some items usually overlooked are: signature, 911 addresses, federal identification number (Social Security numbers are no longer acceptable), taxing district and the business activity code.
Pursuant to legislation the township trustees no longer handle personal property or real property assessing. The assessor’s office will continue to help guide a property owner in the filing of the personal property forms during business hours. Office hours for the county assessor’s office are: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (If someone is in need of assistance through the office, plan to be in the office before 3:30 p.m.) Location of the office is in the basement of the Pulaski County Courthouse on U.S. 35, Winamac.
When filling out business or farm returns, if in need of help from the office please bring the federal depreciation schedule. Additionally while auditing personal property returns, the assessor’s office has noted that many returns have been filing “same as last year” for several years. Assessors are encouraging depreciation schedules to be brought in to assure proper filing of items are being reported in the correct pools and years.
Personal property forms are due on May 15. Extensions will not be granted due to the timetable placed upon the assessor’s office, by the State of Indiana, to get values to the auditor’s office.
(Pulaski County Journal — April 29, 2015)
Pulaski County Extension Office to expand garden, programming with second grant
With more grant funding than last year, the Pulaski County Extension Office is looking to expand their garden and educational programming.
The extension office has received two different grants for the raised garden — one for $2,000 and one for $5,000.
Extension family nutrition program assistant Deb Winter said the grant funding will be used to install a water line to the garden and adding more raised beds. A new agriculture educator will also get involved and Winter anticipates local Master Gardeners helping with planting.
“We are going to be doing more educational programs with it — teaching people to be self-sustaining if they grow a garden,” Winter said. “They will have some opportunities to receive a raised bed for their home, but we are still brainstorming there.”
The first year harvest produced more than 50 pounds of tomatoes, about half a dozen peppers, along with a few potatoes and onions. It was given to individual clients or frozen for classes for soups and pastas. Some of the produce was donated to the senior center, while other produce was taken to day cares as part of educational programs.
Winter said produce was also frozen and used for other extension educational programs.
The garden this year could consist of pole beans, cucumbers, zucchinis, tomatoes, strawberries and herbs. Some growing has already begun as the strawberries that were planted last year are breaking ground.
As part of the educational programs, Winter said local students are just finishing up a six-week course in Medaryville. The youth group consists of middle to high school students who come from low-income families.
“They do the entire meal themselves from start to finish. They clean up after themselves,” Winter said. “We talk about manners and we talk about why we do things the way we do to stay healthy.”
Students also plan the meals for the next class.
Winter said the “Yummy” curriculum focuses on MyPlate that teaches healthy servings of fruits, grains, vegetables, protein and dairy. The “Yummy” curriculum is offered by Purdue Extension and promotes healthy eating and food safety.
“They have blossomed,” Winter said in regards of how students are enjoying the class. “We are trying to teach the family aspect of it too. We want the family to get involved. We are trying to teach them life skills.”
Many times the parents may not understand what healthy portions are.
“This whole project was inspired by the amount of poverty we see in our community. Our programs and projects which include the community gardens, food safety programs, healthy living programing, poverty education, youth cooking classes, etc., all are small pieces that are helping to provide youth and adults in Pulaski County with the skills and education they need to live healthier lives,” said Natalie Daily Federer, Pulaski County Extension Director and 4-H Youth Development Educator.
Not only were students treated to locally grown produce, but aprons were made for the class and other cooking utensils were given to them. Students will also be given cookbooks that were purchased by grant funding.
Winter said planning is already underway for classes in Star City and Winamac.
With the first year of the community garden and programs coming to an end, Winter believed it has gone well.
“We are going to start out slowly but hopefully more people are getting involved and more people are becoming aware. More people are volunteering,” Winter said. “If we can make people aware that we do have a poverty problem in our community then they will be there to help.”
Looking forward to the future, extension office staff have been brainstorming on the best way to use the grant funding.
(Pulaski County Journal — April 29, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)
Construction of Safe Routes to School to begin
After more than four years, the Safe Routes to School project is not just being talked about but will soon be constructed.
The Town of Winamac, in partnership with the Eastern Pulaski Community School Corporation, applied for and received a Safe Routes to School grant from the Indiana Department of Transportation in 2011.
The federally funded Safe Routes to School program strives to make walking and biking to school safe and more appealing, as well as building connections between families, school and the community.
Safe Routes to School is using the railroad right-of-way that will be paved from Superior Street to the old depot at the corner of Main and Logan streets.
As plans for construction are underway, Winamac Town Manager Brad Zellers and clerk-treasurer Melanie Berger spent a few hours talking with Indiana Department of Transportation officials, engineers and contractors regarding the Safe Routes to School pathway on April 14.
“They walked the project to see where the trail will be placed and little things along the way that we need to take care of as far as notifying everyone along there that this is going to be happening,” Zellers said.
Residents along the route and those who use the railroad right-of-way to access their property will no longer be able to drive there. The property belongs to the town and is not considered an alley.
Zellers said further information regarding the closing of the property will be sent to residents.
As part of the Safe Routes project, sidewalks that are in poor condition along the west side of Riverside Drive from Pearl Street to Superior Street will be replaced. Intersections will also have Americans with Disabilities Act ramps installed.
Zellers said the sidewalks on the south side of Pearl Street from Riverside Drive to the Pulaski County Human Services building will be fixed.
“Everybody is on the same page with the way things are going to be,” Zellers said. “It will be really nice for us.”
Zellers anticipates in the next two weeks, the area being flagged and marked as to where the path will be laid. Construction will then begin.
“My understanding is that they will get the trail done first because the intersections with the roads, they will cut the pavement out and put concrete for the ADA approaches,” Zellers said. “They will block off the trail at the streets because the trail is not to be driven on.”
He said the project could be done by July, weather permitting.
The Safe Routes to School is one of three projects that also includes the Panhandle Parkway and Winamac Parkway.
The path of Safe Routes will connect with the Panhandle Pathway. The Winamac Parkway will landscape the path with shelters, park areas and picnic tables.
An additional grant of $50,000 will be used to pave from the old depot to SR 14 as a part of the Winamac Parkway project.
(Pulaski County Journal — April 22, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)
Commissioners approve to vacate road as safety concerns arise
Pulaski County Commissioners approved to move forward with vacating a road as safety concerns are raised.
During a regular meeting on Monday, commissioner Terry Young requested the county vacate CR 1150 W., between CR 900 S. and CR 1000 S. He said the road is not worth it and continues to cost the county money.
“It is basically a path between the two landowners. Someone could go down it and have an accident,” said Terry Ruff, Pulaski County Highway Assistant Superintendent. “I don’t know what we would get out of it. It is not suitable to plow.”
Commissioner president Larry Brady suggested discussing it a little more because the road is a dividing line between two properties.
Young indicated that further discussion wasn’t needed.
“We put more into that road than we could ever receive in a year,” said Young, who was indicating lawyer fees that accumulated because of disputed drainage issues in that area.
The road will now need to be officially vacated with the proper paperwork.
Ruff also gave an update regarding the status of the county roads. He said patching is underway but there is still a lot to be done.
According to Ruff, about 19 miles were repaired last year because of the winter weather. This year there’s an estimated 20 miles of roadway that are in poor condition.
“The bottom line is that most of it is in the southern part of the county. It seems like everything is worse down there,” Ruff said.
Ruff would like to fix the roads with chip and seal layers after fixing the damaged spots. He feels that grinding the roads will just make more work.
“We are basically going to have to repair all this and our regular maintenance is thrown out the window,” Ruff said.
The idea of a frost law was again discussed during the meeting. At a previous meeting, Young suggested the county move forward with a frost law that might prevent some road damage and also collect some revenues.
Ruff said the damage to the roads happened in about a two-week span. If a frost law was in place it may have prevented some of the damage.
“If word got around it would slow everything down,” Ruff said.
There was a question as to which county fund the frost law violation fees would go into. It was suggested that commissioners research the idea more this summer.
In other business:
• Pulaski County Community Development Commission Executive Director Nathan Origer said the county needs about 400 more surveys to complete an income survey for a potential EMS planning grant. Origer said 500 surveys are needed but only 100 have been submitted. The county is looking at grant funding to help build a new facility for EMS and the emergency management agency. Brady said maybe the county can encourage residents to complete the survey through the local media.
• The agreement with Sheila Hazemi Jimenez regarding the revolving loan funding for the Warrior Den restaurant was approved.
• Origer said changes to the zoning ordinance are in “full swing” and on schedule. Origer requested having the ordinances reviewed and changed several months ago. At the time he said the changes were needed because some of the ordinances could cause legal issues for the county.
• The young professionals organization that Origer has been working to get started will soon gather at an informal meeting. It will be followed up with a lunch and learn.
• The Pulaski County Assistant Building Inspector Dave Webber gave an update on a few properties that the county is watching. Work should begin soon on one of the properties located in Medaryville. Another property has several trailers on property causing a large amount of debris. Webber said a letter has been written to the property owner, prior to any orders being issued.
• Commissioners reviewed a letter regarding the demolition of the Countryside Bowling Lanes. The county has been in contact with the property owner who said she would work to have the building torn down. Webber said it appears that she is having problems paying for the demolition of it. He suggested that an unsafe building order can be issued or a warning of an order being filed could be done. If the county demolishes a building then the costs would be recouped by a property lien.
• The county continues to work toward equipping the transfer/recycling center with a credit card machine. The county is waiting to hear from the state on how to handle the money collected electronically such as which account the money would be deposited in and how to keep it separate from other accounts.
• Transfer/recycling center superintendent Brad Bonnell requested permission from the commissioners to try a trial period of picking up a number of county residents’ recycling. He would like to see if it can be feasibly done. Commissioners granted permission for a trial run.
• The county is looking to add cameras to the recycling/transfer center buildings to monitor illegal dumping. The county is having problems with the dumping of tires and trash. Violators could be prosecuted.
• Pulaski County Sheriff Jeff Richwine gave commissioners a heads up in regards to purchasing a new computer server and new 800 MHz radios. Richwine said there is money in the budget for the server. Purchasing new radios and upgrading others could come from the 911 funds. The county could then work on new radios for other emergency responding agencies.
• An agreement with Pulaski County EMS and Pulaski Memorial Hospital regarding inpatient transfers and returns was approved. The agreement had been tabled at the last meeting until county attorney Kevin Tankersley had a chance to review it.
• Conference requests for Larry Hoover, Shelia Garling, Holly Schultz and Ruff were approved.
• Several letters from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management were presented to the commissioners regarding information about a confined feeding operation farm, a concentrated animal feeding operation farm and a general permit for discharge water.
• Brady read a letter regarding the Pleasant View Rest Home as being entered in the National Register of Historic Places on March 17, 2015. He commended those who made that national recognition possible including Janet Onken, who made the honor possible.
• Claims were approved with the exception of one involving dry cleaning.
• Minutes from the April 6 regular meeting were approved.
(Pulaski County Journal — April 22, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)
Hometown Collaborative Initiative Team seeks community input
With Pulaski County’s selection as one of the six Indiana communities to be part of the new Hometown Collaboration Initiative (HCI), local residents are urged to share their thoughts on the key strengths and challenges of the county.
Residents are encouraged to weigh in on three major topics: (1) the quality of life in our community; (2) the local economy; and (3) local leadership.
“Input from residents is critical,” said Pulaski County Community Development Commission Executive Director Nathan P. Origer. “The future of this community cannot be left to the hands of the HCI Coordinating Committee alone, but must be the fruit of a truly inclusive process.”
Residents have two ways to have their voices heard: complete the online HCI survey at www.indianaHCI.org/Pulaski or complete a paper version of the survey available at the following locations: Pulaski County Courthouse (auditor’s office), Pulaski County Public Library (Winamac branch), Pulaski County Public Library (Medaryville branch), Francesville-Salem Township Public Library, and Monterey-Tippecanoe Township Public Library. Please complete only one survey before Friday, April 24.
“We are partnering with local organizations to get the word out about the survey. We want to make it as easy as possible for anybody who lives or works in Pulaski County to make their opinions known,” said HCI local coordinator Krysten Hinkle. “HCI will serve as an opportunity to begin to turn vision into a reality.”
“It is important that we continue to invest in our county’s growth, retention and overall prosperity, but we can’t do this effectively without understanding the needs of those who have a vested interest in Pulaski County,” added Ryan Harrison, one of HCI’s 15 committee members.
Pulaski County residents will also have the opportunity to learn more about survey results and to share their opinions at the upcoming community forum on Thursday, May 7, at 5:30 p.m.
To learn more about HCI Pulaski County, to complete the survey, or to pre-register for the upcoming community forum, please visit www.indianaHCI.org/Pulaski.
(Pulaski County Journal — April 15, 2015)
State recognizes local dispatchers
Communication officers are the unseen voice heard on the scanner as emergency responders are called to action.
Many times they are the only connection a person has until help arrives. They are trained to stay calm and in radio broadcasting procedures and emergency medical dispatching.
Because many times communication officers are not recognized for their efforts, Indiana recognizes them during Public Safety Telecommunications Week.
Public Safety Telecommunications Week began in California in 1981 and was nationally recognized by Congress in 1991. In Indiana, it was recognized in 1999.
Public Safety Telecommunications Week, April 12-18, is a reminder to Hoosiers that help won’t arrive until the initial 911 call is made.
“I’m happy that a week each year is to recognize and appreciate our emergency telecommunication dispatchers. They are often unsung heroes in an emergency,” said Pulaski County Sheriff Jeffery Richwine. “After 32 years of working with them I can tell you from experience their voice is a welcome relief. Please join me in giving them the recognition they deserve on Telecommunications week.”
Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office Communications Director Steve Harvey said the dispatch center has a wealth of experience that combined totals 150 years.
“Dispatchers are the absolute center of everything that occurs in public safety in Pulaski County. Police, fire, and EMS could not get to your house to help you without the dispatcher,” Harvey said. “We are the voice behind the scenes. We don’t receive nor do we need praise when we help someone. It is without a doubt one of the most important and underappreciated professions. Pulaski County should be very proud of their dispatchers and the service they provide.”
The team of dispatchers at Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office includes Harvey, 911 coordinator Carrie Harvey, communications officer I Michelle Twellman, communications officer I Lori Sturgell, communications specialist Sheri Gaillard, communications officer I Carol Crist, communications officer I Patti Jo Rausch, communications specialist Donnetta Conley, communications officer I Laura McIntosh, communications officer I Tanner Prentice, communications officer I Rick Kain, communications officer II Lisa Dommer, communications officer II Alexis Jones, communications officer II Kara Aaron, communications officer II Leslie Oliver and communications officer II Tina Wagner.
(Pulaski County Journal — April 15, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)
Grund joins Journal team
A new member is being welcomed to the Pulaski County Journal and The Independent staff starting Monday, April 13.
The staff at the papers are excited to welcome Beth Grund as the new sales representative.
Grund is a Winamac Community High School graduate and attended Purdue University for advertising. She has worked for the Eastern Pulaski Community School Corporation for more than three years as a teacher’s aide.
“I’m very promotional. I love working for companies and promoting products. It’s exciting,” she said.
Because she enjoys promoting projects and products she believes in, Grund has blogged since 2009.
Beth, who is a lifelong resident of Pulaski County, lives in Winamac with her husband, Jacob, and four children, whose ages range from 13-6 years old.
She enjoys gardening and playing baseball with her children.
Beth can be reached Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 574-946-6628 or by email at email@example.com.
(Pulaski County Journal — April 8, 2015)
Van Buren Township Volunteer Fire Department receives grant
Taking a few minutes to fill out a grant application in hopes of helping a nonprofit organization was rewarded on Saturday.
Jean Ann Fox, of Pulaski County, nominated the Van Buren Township Volunteer Fire Department because she wanted to thank them for their countless hours of service.
“These brave men are community members that volunteer their time and spend hours in training to fight fires and be able to give emergency medical services when needed,” Fox said. “They are committed to saving lives. They are very deserving of this award.”
Fox’s application was selected as a winner in America’s Farmers Grow Communities that is sponsored by the Monsanto Fund. The program enrolls farmers for a chance to win $2,500 that is then donated to the farmers’ nonprofit of choice.
Pulaski County native Adam Deitrich, district sales manager with Channel Seed, said he was quite proud to present Van Buren Township Volunteer Fire Department with the grant funding.
“I come from a long line of firefighters in Cass County, so I know how much hard work you guys put in that is easily overlooked and underappreciated,” Deitrich said. “So from me to you — thank you.”
America’s Farmers Grow Communities launched in 2010 and includes 1,324 counties in 40 states.
Kevin Russell, district sales manager with DeKalb Asgrow, said since the program has started $1.4 million has been given.
“I love when it’s going to a fire department because I know it will be put to good use,” Russell said of the grant funding.
He thanked the firefighters for their time and service and Fox for applying for the grant.
The money will be used to purchase new bunker gear for the firefighters.
(Pulaski County Journal — April 8, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)
Health departments statewide watching Indiana HIV epidemic
As state officials react to the public health emergency in Scott County due to an outbreak of HIV, local health departments are watching and waiting for instruction.
On Friday, state health officials reported a total of 81 HIV positive tests which includes 74 confirmed and seven preliminary cases related to the outbreak in Scott County. Because of the outbreak, Gov. Mike Pence has declared a public health emergency.
According to state health officials, the public health emergency declaration was issued in Executive Order 15-05 that allows the state to coordinate a multi-agency response including Scott County Health Department, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug treatment facilities, academic and local medical providers, other state agencies and other partners.
Pulaski County Director of Environmental Health and Office Manager Terri Hansen said the outbreak was a topic of discussion at a recent health department officers meeting. The outbreak of HIV wasn’t something health departments have thought about as an epidemic but it’s something they are now discussing.
“If people have any questions at all we can direct them to the people that they need to talk to, whether it be AIDS Ministry or the state department of health. We would do everything that we could to help them get where they need to go,” Hansen said.
State health officials recommended that all Hoosiers know their HIV status.
Locally, AIDS Ministries Assist of North Indiana will hold HIV testing on April 16 at the Pulaski County Health Department.
(Pulaski County Journal — April 1, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)
Medaryville opens bids for lagoon project
Two bids were received and opened by the Town of Medaryville on March 26.
During the bid opening, the bids of $880,000 and $718,000 were opened. The bids were not approved, but will be reviewed and a recommendation will be made to the town council by the McMahon Group, an engineering, architecture and building firm, that was hired by the town to oversee the lagoon project.
The upgrading of the lagoons is needed for the sewer treatment system to be in compliance with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management guidelines. In 2013, the town was advised of being in violation of the wastewater permit in 2011.
According to town officials, the state made changes to the permit but the town did not receive it, causing the data to appear as noncompliant. Violations include the lagoons not consistently meeting the current E. coli limits because of excess algae.
Because of the noncompliance threat, the town has been a part of a pilot bio-dome wastewater treatment that has proven to work.
If the town fails to comply with the state then a penalty of $2,500 per day could apply.
On Aug. 19, Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann announced that Medaryville is one of 12 Indiana communities receiving grants totaling more than $5.4 million for wastewater and drinking water programs. The funding is managed by the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) and made possible by the federal Community Development Block Grant.
The total project is estimated to cost about $850,000. As part of the grant requirements, the town is responsible for a match of $400,000.
(Pulaski County Journal — April 1, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)
Medaryville Town Council to define what junk is
Questions of whether the current town ordinances would allow for enforcing someone to remove junk from a person’s yard, was a debated subject during a Medaryville meeting on March 18.
Councilwoman Corrie Hauptli said as the town has begun enforcing the garbage cart ordinance, some are questioning why the town is allowing properties to be cluttered with trash and junk.
“It’s always been an issue of who defines trash and what you define as trash,” Hauptli said. “What avenue can we take to get these people to move the furniture in their yards?”
She used the example of household furniture and mattresses being stored on residents’ front porches or someone who has a couch in their front yard.
Councilman Derrick Stalbaum voiced his concerns about how any new ordinances and definitions will be written.
“I don’t know how far I want to go with micromanaging and being overly descriptive,” Stalbaum said. “I’m all about defining what junk and garbage is. I don’t want to be overbearing with it either. That’s my biggest concern.”
He said there is a difference between items that are usable and items that are trash.
Hauptli said she would like to see what other towns or cities are saying about junk or trash.
“If you are going to cite people for not pulling their garbage cans back then you are going to have to cite them because they discard their furniture out in their yards. These are the complaints that we are getting and it is not a matter of micromanaging. It is a matter of the quality of your town. It is a matter of your property values,” Hauptli said.
County attorney Amber Lapaich said she would review the current ordinances and see what can be done to address the issues.
In other business:
• Minutes from the Feb. 18 meeting were approved.
• Claims from the general fund in the amount of $44,127.32, water fund in the amount of $11,787.50 and in the wastewater fund in the amount of $6,084.73 were approved.
• A utility report with two adjustments that total $491.20 was approved.
• A request to purchase new locks for the Medaryville baseball building at a cost not to exceed $600 was approved. It was suggested that more than five keys be purchased for those who may need access to the buildings.
• Council members questioned whose responsibility it is to make sure that a wastewater flow meter is calibrated annually, after they reviewed a letter regarding a violation. Councilwoman Corrie Hauptli questioned if the company that the town contracts is responsible or if the town is. “I think this is something that we definitely need to stay on top of.” Corrie suggested maintenance supervisor Keith Hauptli follow up on it and let the council know at the next regular meeting.
• A letter regarding the modification to extend the wastewater project bid deadline date was accepted by the council. The date was extended until March 26 when the bids will be opened.
• Ordinance 2015-03-01 concerning the construction of additions and improvements to the sewage works and the issuance of revenue bonds was approved.
• Some changes were made to the license for the use of the baseball diamond property including a spelling correction; changing the name of the baseball program to Medaryville Baseball Program; changing the insurance to read “additional insured;” the time period the baseball program will use the field; and that the town is not responsible if concessions are lost due to vandalism, fire or other reasons, were approved.
(Pulaski County Journal — March 25, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)
Weather not the cause of countywide travel advisory
A travel advisory has been announced for Pulaski County but it’s not due to current weather conditions.
On March 19, the advisory was posted to warn residents that the conditions of the roadways, both gravel and pavement, were hazardous due to potholes.
Pulaski County Commissioner Larry Brady said, “Due to the depth of the frost line this past winter, the conditions of our roads throughout the county have deteriorated with the spring thaw. Caution should be used when traveling throughout Pulaski County.”
He said there is “no rhyme or reason” for the damage that is on roads throughout the county and not in isolated areas.
Drainage issues in certain areas are being considered a factor in the deteriorating conditions. Because of the current conditions, CR 1250 W., north of SR 14 is closed.
Brady said highway department employees are doing their best to fill in the holes and smooth the gravel, weather permitting.
“Crews are doing what they can with the amount of money that they get from the state,” Brady said.
The money the county is bringing in may only be enough to make repairs to the roads, not reconstruct them because of high costs. Roughly 11 miles are showing signs of deterioration.
If a driver doesn’t think a pothole problem has been reported they can contact the highway department at 574-946-3942.
(Pulaski County Journal — March 25, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)
Council approved new officer, new firefighters
Winamac Town Council members took care of a few human resource issues during a regular meeting on March 9.
During the meeting, the council approved hiring of a new police officer and three new firefighters, plus discussed hiring summer help.
Police chief Mike Buchanan said those officers who were a part of the interview process unanimously decided to make Matt Pickens their recommendation to hire.
Pickens is currently a Pulaski County Sheriff’s Deputy and recently completed 40 hours of basic training. Before he was a deputy for the sheriff’s department he was a jailer.
Buchanan said Pickens has not attended the police academy but will begin in July.
“We feel that in that amount of time, Matt will be able to pick up on everything — the way we work, the paperwork. He will be fully trained so when he goes to the academy, he can go right on the road,” Buchanan said.
Pickens lives in Royal Center and moving to the area is not out of the question, according to him.
Fire chief Bill Weaver said the department interviewed four individuals for fireman positions. Three of those individuals, Cory Wank, Pam Ricks and Lee Neva were approved by the membership. Wank and Ricks are trained firefighters and first responders. Weaver said Neva will need training.
“This will put us up to 19 and our full roster is 23,” Weaver said.
The three firefighters were approved.
Council members also approved the fire protection contract with the Winamac Volunteer Fire Department. A contract for fire protection services from Franklin Township was also received.
Along with the new officer and firefighters, it was announced that park manager Rick Dilts is looking to retire in January of 2016. Town manager Brad Zellers questioned if the council would approve hiring a part-time person with the hopes of he or she becoming full-time when Dilts retires.
“I would hate to get into next summer and we hire somebody for that position and it just doesn’t work out,” Zellers said. “It would be nice if Rick could train somebody and get them going.”
Zellers said he thinks the funds are available to hire someone.
A suggestion was made that Zellers review the current applications he has and see if someone might be interested. There is also a position open at the wastewater department.
In other business:
• Minutes from the Feb. 9 meeting were approved.
• Claims were approved.
• Three bids for a new bucket truck were presented to the council. Heater suggested that Zellers and electric department superintendent Doug Shorter review the bids and use the lowest bid to purchase the truck if it meets all the specifications.
• A contract with Dan Vanaman for the mowing of the cemetery and Decker Drive was approved with Dan Vanaman abstaining from the vote.
• Town council president Ken McFarland volunteered to be the fifth member of the wellhead project.
• A section of ground in the park will be fenced in for a dog park after the council approved for funding a portion of it. The area is 150 feet by 100 feet. Fencing for the area will be about $5,510. The council approved $4,060 to pay for the fence, while the 4-H dog program will pay for the labor. Councilman Richard Denney made a pledge of $260 toward the project.
• A request by Angie Anspach to use the town parking lot for Germanfest on Aug. 8 was approved.
• Water and street superintendent Jeremy Beckner asked permission to attend the Indiana Rural Water Association meeting with Brett Beach. Council approved the request.
(Pulaski County Journal — March 18, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)
Monterey sets special meeting to discuss flooding, wastewater disposal
A special meeting has been set by the Monterey Town Council after two matters were voiced during a regular meeting on March 11.
Town councilwoman Chris Fox and council president Jim Fleury decided to schedule the meeting for March 25 at 7 p.m. after an issue of flooding was brought to their attention and there was a legal question regarding the disposal of portable toilet waste.
During the meeting on March 11, a few town residents voiced their concerns about flooding on Maple Street. Andy Zehner said the storm sewer drain appears to be clogged and the flooding is in his garage. Another resident, Josh Stacy, who lives in the same area, has a bit of moisture in his basement.
Zehner, who is part of Zehner Excavating that is contracted with the town, said the storm sewer drain would need to be opened and jetted with water. He suggested a camera be sent through the drain to see if there are roots.
“With spring coming we are probably going to be getting a lot of rain anyway and with the severity of what you find, we will need to decide how we are going to fix it,” Fleury said.
Along with the flooding issues, council members discussed how many portable toilets they want to rent for the parks; whether those units should be handicap accessible; and if the town would be responsible for the treatment of the waste from the units.
The town has received two quotes regarding the portable toilets. One quote is local but the company is waiting for their Indiana Department of Environmental Management permit.
As discussion ensued, there was a question if the town should rent handicap portable toilets that are a little more expensive.
Fleury said his concern is if the town is responsible for the toilet waste and how it is processed. The question will be forwarded to the town’s legal counsel.
The discussion was tabled until the special meeting.
Emily Bailey was absent from the meeting.
In other business:
• Fox and Fleury tabled the discussion of restoring the gazebo at Kleckner Park. The town would like to receive three quotes in regards to the project. Doug Denton said the project may be considered a public works project requiring several permits to be obtained or a commercial project. It was suggested that the council contact the Pulaski County Building Inspector to find out. Clerk-treasure Linda McCune suggested the council establish a plan so everyone is on the same page before receiving quotes.
• Minutes from the Feb. 11 meeting were approved.
• Two quotes were reviewed for the maintenance of the heating and air conditioning systems. Fox and Fleury reviewed the quotes and after some discussion decided to table the issue due to wanting more information. They want to ensure that both quotes include servicing three heating systems and Fleury wants to know more about the companies’ weekend and after-hour rates.
• Fleury voiced a few questions regarding trees that are near streetlights and causing traffic issues on the roads. He questioned if the town is responsible for trimming trees that are obstructing streetlights or if the property owner is. He also asked who is responsible when limbs are hanging in the roadway causing the road to be one lane. The questions will be forwarded to the town legal counsel.
• Zehner requested for his company to have an extra key to the buildings, in case he is not in the area to work on the sewer system. A motion was approved to allow Zehner to have another key.
• Fleury said people are parking in the handicap parking uptown but they do not appear to have a handicap tag in the vehicle or a handicap license plate. He said when there is snow on the roads then the blue handicap paint is covered. He would like to see signs and know how much it costs.
• McCune presented a Cummins Crosspoint contract to the council. McCune said the annual contract is for the inspection of the generator that served the sewer treatment plant and the town hall. The contract was approved.
• An annual contract of $1,400 with Keystone for the billing software was approved. McCune said the cost has increased about 3 percent.
(Pulaski County Journal — March 18, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)
Town offers user-friendly website, online bill paying
With the launching of a new website, the Town of Winamac is also offering residents another option to pay their utility bills.
Although the site has the same address, www.townofwinamac.com, it has a new look that went live on March 2.
“It needed an update,” said clerk-treasurer Melanie Berger. “It was discussed last fall by the council and they decided to move ahead with it.”
The idea of the site was to update and add information, while also making it more user-friendly.
Town manager Brad Zellers said the website “is really nice. It’s a lot simpler to navigate. I think more people will use it.”
Although the site is live, there may be a few additions or changes that the public may see. Berger said there may be a few other community organization links added.
One of the current links is to the Eastern Pulaski Community School Corporation.
Along with the new site look, Berger said utility customers can now pay their bills online. “There were a lot of people asking for it.”
When looking at the home page there is a “pay your bill online” link on the right side. The link opens to Invoice Cloud. Customers can then enter their billing information and pay their bill. Berger said customers will also be able to view their utility bills and their history.
Offering the online paying is costing the town about $50 per month. Users are charged $4.95 per transaction. Berger said the monthly cost will be paid for from the utility funds, but paying the additional cost per transaction is not feasible for the town.
Zellers said there are still a few bugs to work out in regards to using the online paying. He used the example of making sure the name on the billing is what is used when paying online.
Berger also advised users that no spaces are used when entering the account number.
Because of the newness of paying online, Zellers said the town will see how successful it is and decide if it is worth offering.
Customers still have an option of automatic utility bill payments from their bank account.
For more information contact the town hall at 574-946-3451.
(Pulaski County Journal — March 11, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)
Hospital celebrates National Patient Safety Awareness Week
Pulaski Memorial Hospital is celebrating National Patient Safety Awareness Week, March 8-14, by spotlighting ongoing efforts that keep patients safe.
Those at Pulaski Memorial Hospital exemplify this year’s theme “United in Safety” as everyone from the hospital board of trustees to the housekeeping staff takes a role in patient care.
Chief nursing executive Linda Webb said the hospital is doing a number of different activities with the staff “to showcase the processes that we have in place to improve patient safety.”
PMH has been recognized at the state and national levels for reducing patient harm and improving quality and safety outcomes for its patients.
“PMH recognizes staff members as patient safety advocates — this showcases how individual dedication to patient safety throughout the organization contributes to overall quality and safety,” Webb said. “All levels of staff are recognized for their efforts from physicians to nurses to housekeepers. Everyone plays an important role in patient safety.”
PMH is part of the American Hospital Association’s Hospital Engagement Network that was created in 2011 with three-year goals of reducing patient harm by 40 percent and readmissions by 20 percent.
With new processes, technology, standardization and continual monitoring, PMH has realized an 84-percent reduction in patient harm since 2011.
“Even though it was a formal program in 2011, these are processes that we have always looked at. Being involved with the Coalition for Care has really given us more opportunity to look at best practices and implement processes,” Webb said.
There are 10 categories of harm reduction: adverse drug events, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, central line-associated blood stream infections, patient falls, obstetrical events including early-elective deliveries, pressure ulcers, preventable readmissions; surgical-site infections, ventilator-associated pneumonia and venous thromboembolism.
The hospital staff reviews how the hospital compares statewide and nationally. PMH has an active performance improvement committee that meets monthly and reports progress and process changes to improve quality and patient safety.
“There are areas that we are well above the state or national initiatives and there are some that, because our volumes are so low, if you have one or two things, we kind of fall out. That is the importance of doing it right the first time,” Webb said. “Looking comparatively we are doing very well and just the different things that we have implemented to help our patients and our staff.”
Along with implementing certain processes the hospital uses technology to safeguard against patient harm. Examples include bedside barcoding of medication, safety alerts built into an electronic medication administration record, computerized physician order entry, IV smart pumps that are programmed with standardized IV medications, medication reconciliation process and automated medication dispensing cabinets.
As hospital staff focus on patient safety, they are implementing bedside shift reporting to keep the patients well informed of their plan of care. The pharmacists also make rounds on patients to provide education on new medication.
“Patient and family engagement in reducing errors is critical,” Webb said. “All patients should speak up if they have a question about a medication or treatment.”
When the hospital staff is discharging patients, they are given all the information they need to take care of themselves. Nurses provide follow-up calls after a patient goes home to clarify any questions about their care or provide any assistance needed.
(Pulaski County Journal — March 11, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)
Commissioners eye new downtown business with revolving loan funding
Downtown Winamac could soon be seeing a new restaurant in town as the Pulaski County Commissioners approved to loan money for the project on Monday.
During a regular meeting, Pulaski County Community Development Commission Executive Director Nathan P. Origer presented a revolving fund loan to the commissioners. Origer said Sheila Hazemi has successfully made it through the first step of the application process.
Hazemi said she is interested in establishing a fine dining restaurant on West Main Street. She has worked in her family business for about 15 years. She would like to open the business sometime in May.
“I sat in the initial meeting with the finance board and I think that I related to Larry (Brady) that she has a heart in it and I think that we need some businesses here in town. I would 100 percent grant this,” Young said.
County attorney Kevin Tankersley pointed out that there will be very little collateral in this loan. Hazemi said the money will be used to purchase stoves, ovens, freezers and a craft table.
Tankersley said if the money is used in “fixtures” then those items become part of the real estate. Hazemi is renting the space, so in turn any improvements made to the building would belong to the landlord.
“Collateral was the biggest concern, I think, of the discussion. All the members of the committee were cognizant of that,” Origer said. “The restaurant business is always a bit of a higher risk than most other start ups.”
Before the application was presented to the commissioners it was presented to the revolving loan fund board that is made up of two bankers, one CDC member and two elected officials.
Origer said the committee took into consideration that the landlord is reasonable with his rent, compared to some of the other asking prices he has seen in Winamac.
“He is really interested in getting a tenant and has been a lot more flexible,” Origer said.
The vote to approve Hazemi’s application was split, according to Origer. He said the CDC member pushed the application forward.
“Even those who voted ‘no’ were not opposed to it, they just had understandable concerns about the risks given that the collateral will be in personal property and not real property,” Origer said.
Hazemi requested about $20,000, which would include upgrades to the interior of the building and appliances. Origer said he is confident in presenting it to the commissioners. The loan is for five years at a 3-percent interest rate.
Paperwork will need to be completed as the next step of the revolving loan funding.
In other business:
• Emergency Management Agency Director Larry Hoover requested the commissioners’ approval to accept an annual grant that covers about 50 percent of Hoover’s salary. The funding is based on job performance. The request was approved.
• Conference requests made by Hoover were also approved.
• A board of finance meeting was held with the commissioners and county treasurer Lynn Wilder. During the meeting, members of the board approved the minutes from the Feb. 17 meeting and also discussed an investment policy. Wilder presented the policy to the board during a previous meeting and said that having a policy is strongly recommended by the state. Tankersley reviewed the policy and questioned if the risk of investing would create better returns. Wilder said at this time the county investments are certificates of deposit. Board members approved the investment policy. Wilder also presented the board with a review of two cash management system bids that were accepted by the board during the Feb. 17 meeting. Wilder suggested that the board approve the bid from First National Bank as the cash management system because of a higher return. Her suggestion was approved.
• Willie DeGroot of DeGroot Technology presented a proposed plan to the commissioners in regards to upgrading the Internet bandwidth. He said the Indiana Office of Technology is requiring a larger connection. Commissioners approved for DeGroot to move forward with a network switch and do a fiber-optic upgrade. DeGroot hopes that after the initial cost that the county will save money on monthly costs.
• Commissioners approved an official bond for Mark W. Boer of the Pulaski Memorial Hospital.
• A lease agreement with the copier company the county contracts with was approved. Several departments recently received upgrades of copiers in hopes of saving the county money.
• The Pulaski County Medical Service Billing Policy was approved.
• Conference requests from the auditor’s office, commissioner Larry Brady, and the sheriff’s office were approved.
• Commissioners approved to resign a rezoning request that was submitted to them last month. The property in question is north of Winamac.
• Commissioners approved the block hours for DeGroot Technology.
• Auditor Shelia Garling submitted a claim to the commissioners that she had concerns about. She said according to the policy handbook, the county will not pay for tips and will not pay more than the daily food allowance. The claim was presented last year but they denied it. It was then presented to Garling again. She brought it to the attention of the commissioners, who approved to pay the amount of the food allowance. That does not include any extra cost or the tip.
• Payroll and claims were approved.
• Minutes from the regular meeting on Feb. 2 and Feb. 17 and minutes from the executives sessions on Feb. 9 and Feb. 18 were approved.
• During the public comment of the meeting Larry Rausch said he appreciated that the commissioners approved to pay the county home employees two-week severance pay. “I have a concern for them — what the closing has done for them out there.” He is aware that the council must approve the request. He would like to see them change the severance pay to four weeks. Tankersley said the county may not be able to pay the severance because the county doesn’t pay for work that isn’t done. The issues will need to be addressed by the state board of accounts.
(Pulaski County Journal — March 4, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)
West Central work session reviews the strategic plan
The West Central School Board was recently enlightened as to where the school is headed in the future and how the corporation is moving forward to meet the state educational expectations.
During a work session on Feb. 19, the board heard from school principals, Dan Zylstra and Pat Culp, the technology director Kris Aschbrenner and superintendent Don Street.
The strategic plan that was developed in 2011, addresses issues such as technology, academics, buildings and grounds, the corporation vision or mission, educational goals, financial goals and policy goals.
Street said the plan is “revised based on the needs of the district. Then in a year or two we will revise it again.”
One of the main topics regarding technology was the 1:1 program that students, staff and parents are learning the benefits of. Students are using Chromebooks or iPads as educational tools.
Street said the 1:1 program is one of the items in the strategic plan that has been accomplished by the district.
In regards to academics, school principals are looking at inclusion practices in regards to special needs students and middle school students.
Inclusion practices for middle school students include changing the student schedules to eight periods in a day. Students will continue to receive 80 minutes of math and language arts. It allows for students to receive 40 minutes of instruction and then return for 40 minutes of additional assistance.
“The labs will allow kids to get some remediation if they need it or if they are high-ability they can have some advanced work,” Street said. “It shouldn’t take away. It should get the same amount of instruction.”
Board members also reviewed the Capital Projects Plans for the next three years. Street said the aging of the buildings is being taken into consideration and updates will soon need to be done.
Some of the areas that need a serious look include the sewer drains, electric panels, lighting, windows, doors, security system, restrooms, storage, locker rooms, sidewalks and fitness facilities.
“We need to take a closer look at updating because eventually these things are just going to wear out,” Street said. “We probably got our money’s worth out of quite a few of them.”
Of the items that were mentioned, some are in the Capital Projects Plan, while some are not, according to Street.
A few of the projects such as the electric panels that are original and sewer drains will need to be reviewed by professionals because of the extensive updating.
“Maybe a few things can be done in the next couple of years but we are looking down the road maybe five years,” Street said.
The strategic plan will now be revised and presented to the board for approval.’
(Pulaski County Journal — March 4, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)
Medaryville council talks problems with trash
Medaryville Town council members voiced their concerns about trash and trash carts in the town limits.
Town councilwoman Corrie Hauptli said there have been several complaints about the accumulating trash in residents’ yards.
“Since we are getting the garbage cart ordinance rolling, citations are being written, that has been the biggest complaint that I hear. So I thought before the spring season, before everything hits and people are outside we can attempt to have people clean up their yards,” Hauptli said.
She questioned if the current garbage ordinances address issues with cleaning up yards. She was going to ask town attorney Amber Lapaich regarding the situation but Lapaich was not present at the meeting.
Councilwoman Carolyn Hager said she was curious about what is considered trash and what is considered what other people use.
“That is why I wanted to talk to Amber about how we can make definitive descriptions as to what is acceptable and what is not acceptable,” Hauptli said.
She cited the ordinance regarding trash being on the properties in the town limits and how it is unlawful to store, dump or accumulate any kind of garbage.
Councilman Derrick Stalbaum said before it was that the council didn’t want to define what trash is, but now the council may want to move forward after some discussion.
Several ideas were discussed about cleaning up the town and how it can be done without an extra expense to anyone including a townwide clean-up day.
The council will wait to talk with Lapaich.
In the meantime, council members remind residents that if they are concerned with garbage in someone’s yard then they need to let town officials know which residence or yard needs to be cleaned up.
There was also a question of if a resident can cancel their garbage collection service with the town. According to Stalbaum, who cited the town ordinances, “if you accumulate garbage whatsoever you have to have a garbage cart provided by the town. There is no way of going through a third-party vendor except the one the town is going through.”
Maintenance supervisor Keith Hauptli said one resident is not using the trash carts. Stalbaum said in that situation the town can write a letter to the resident and after 10 days can remove the trash. A fine can then be applied.
“If there is no question whether it is junk or garbage, I have no qualms about us serving them. That’s my opinion,” Stalbaum said. “If there is trash, it’s a safety concern. It is a health violation for the town.”
Stalbaum advised Keith to start noting addresses and letters will be sent out.
In other business:
• Minutes from the Jan. 21 meeting were approved.
• Claims of $40,446.20 in the general fund, $12,942.27 in the water fund and of $45,417.03 in the wastewater fund were approved. Clerk treasurer Judy Harwood said the wastewater claim amount is substantially higher than usual because a payment of $40,064.44 was made to pay off a bond.
• Utility adjustments in the sum of $48.54 were approved.
• A request to purchase emergency lights for the new town truck was approved with the stipulation that not more than $750 can be spent.
• A request to rebuild two meter heads and assemblies for $1,817.50 plus shipping and handling costs was approved pending there would not be additional costs regarding the labor of the installing the equipment.
• The council gave Keith Hauptli permission to look into the expense of new water pumps and adding phosphate to the system to reduce the damage that iron and chlorine are causing on the system. Stalbaum told him to move forward with it and receive some quotes to present to the council.
• Stalbaum said the town is requesting permission to extend the letting of the bids regarding the wastewater treatment plant project by 30 days because there is a change to the one of the items necessary to the project. New bid specs must be sent out, according to Stalbaum. Stalbaum said the council is waiting for the approval of the 30-day extension to receive an efficient bid.
• Medaryville Little League representatives, Sue Nielson and Rob Connor, approached the council to cover concerns that council members were having in regards to the program and the town now owning the baseball field. Some of the concerns were the electric costs and how they’re paid, who will take care of the buildings and maintenance of the property, and who pays for the insurance for the building. Stalbaum said he would like to see a certificate of liability insurance and insurance that covers the players before the season starts. No decisions were made and a lease agreement is being created based on the discussion and will not be completed by the time the baseball season begins.
• The third reading of Ordinance 2015-02-01 creating a nonreverting fund titled “Ordinance Violation Fund” was approved.
• Council members agreed that if they are contacted again by Energy Efficiency Telamon Corporation in regards to future solar energy being produced on town property, they will proceed with the process of an application.
(Pulaski County Journal — Feb. 25, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)
Stinemetz named 2015 Halleck Community Service Award winner
A number of words could be used to describe this year’s 2015 Halleck Community Service Award recipient but the one most people may use to describe her is — selfless.
According to those who nominated Judy Stinemetz for the award, they consider her as being a person concerned more with the needs and wishes of others than her own as she volunteers numerous hours to different organizations and causes in the community.
Because of her selfless actions, Stinemetz was named as the 2015 Halleck Community Service Award recipient.
The annual award that is given to a Pulaski County resident who has demonstrated outstanding community service, was established in 1979. The inaugural award was presented to Winamac physician and surgeon and community leader H.J. Halleck. Halleck not only served the community as a physician for many years but was also a political and civic leader.
To receive the award, a person must be nominated by a community member or a member of the Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce. Committee members of the chamber then name the winner.
Stinemetz was nominated by Connie Reid, of Star City.
“Judy does so much for everybody and doesn’t want any recognition or doesn’t want anybody to give her anything. She just does it,” Reid said.
Reid has known Stinemetz for what she considers a long time. The two have worked at the food pantry together and as the Women of the Moose.
The idea of nominating Stinemetz came to her after she read in the Journal that nominations were being accepted by the chamber.
“She doesn’t think about herself. She thinks about everyone else. She is always there when something needs to be done,” said Reid. “She’s just a good person.”
Reid describes Stinemetz as giving, a go-getter, trustworthy, organized, determined, caring, generous and selfless.
Stinemetz, of Winamac, retired from Pulaski Memorial Hospital after 37 years as the food service manager. She continues to support the hospital as a member of the hospital auxiliary of which she has been able to volunteer time for the past four years.
While she worked for the hospital she felt she was serving others. Stinemetz retired about six years ago.
“I have to stay busy and there is always something to volunteer for,” she said. “I like to help other people.”
Her passion for helping others was influenced by her parents who helped her when she was raising her children. She in-turn helped her children in their times of need. Helping people “is what I have done for 40-plus years, with my profession and that. Helping people is keeping involved and doing for others.”
Stinemetz is currently the Pulaski County Human Services Food Pantry Coordinator and has been volunteering for the program for about two years.
According to the nomination submitted by Reid, Stinemetz organized Women of the Moose in Winamac, is a member of the cystic fibrous organization in Pulaski County, and helps with voter registration absentee voting and the poles on election days.
She was a past president of the Winamac Alumni, past president of “Women of Pulaski County” and has volunteered with Head Start for many years.
“Judy will always help her community for a cause she believes in by financial or moral support to get the job done in a great way,” Reid said in the nomination.
Stinemetz also volunteers her time for the Pack-A-Backpack fundraising and serving funeral dinners. She will also be helping the YMCA with a fundraiser.
Judy and George Stinemetz are the parents of six children and numerous grandchildren.
A banquet to recognize Stinemetz, along with 2014 Business of the Year Riverside Rentals, will be held on March 31.
(Pulaski County Journal — Feb. 25, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)
Grant funding allows manufacturing coalition to reach more students
Pulaski County was recently awarded in the second round of Innovative Career and Technical Training grants that are designed to target new learning opportunities at the regional level, with collaborations between local businesses and education partners.
The Innovative Curriculum grant supports key sectors of Indiana’s state and regional economics including agriculture, advanced manufacturing, energy, automotive, construction, precision machining, robotics and welding.
With the grant funding, more than 2,500 students will be served and the vast majority of students will receive dual credit to post-secondary study or industry recognized credentials.
The Pulaski County Community Foundation that is the fiscal agent of the grant will receive $82,354. That funding, along with a $28,195 local match, will be used by the recently formed Pulaski County Manufacturing Coalition which will lead proposed innovative curriculum, called RAM-Tech, through integration and alignment to business needs, state-approved standards, and Amatrol curriculum.
The idea of applying for the grant was introduced to Pulaski County Community Development Commission Executive Director Nathan Origer by one of the career cooperatives. The grant criteria follows the lead of the Pulaski County Manufacturing Coalition that is an informal group of local human resources and operations employees from local companies. Origer said the group meets once a month or every other month to discuss issues and offer incumbent workforce training on soft skills with Ivy Tech.
“We have known that soft skills are not the only thing that need to be addressed, but hands-on stuff is really hard for us to do with the group because we don’t have one centralized sharable location,” Origer said. “Maintenance and repair is something that everyone knows is a big issue. We started looking at the approved courses that the state has and saw it was there. We decided this is something that we wanted to pursue.”
According to the grant application, the RAM-Tech pipeline program “will introduce industrial repair and maintenance curriculum.” It will offer students a Workforce Investment Act and INtraining-approved certified production technician training program.
The matching funding for the project will come from CDC, PACE, private cash donations and in-kind donations. Origer said quite a number of local employees are making a contribution.
The cash donations will help fund the training modules and computers and the in-kind donations will come in several forms such as developing the curriculum, working with maintenance employees to ensure the curriculum ties in with local maintenance, and ensuring that the program offers dual degree opportunity and/or professional certification.
Origer said students will need to finish a few college courses before they will be able to attend the maintenance and repair classes.
“The final class will be where at least part of it will be an internship or other on-the-job opportunity,” he said. “That is another aspect of the in-kind matches that most of the employers have agreed at least tentatively that they will take on students in their final year of this. Their maintenance people will be shadowed.”
The curriculum that is proposed to start in the fall of 2015, will be offered at West Central but the hope is to make it available to students at both schools.
(Pulaski County Journal — Feb. 18, 2015)
Monterey holds public hearing regarding wastewater project
It was déjà vu for Monterey Town Council members at a regular meeting on Feb. 11.
Before the official meeting started, a public hearing was held in regards to the town applying for a grant that would fund improvements to the wastewater treatment system. The council is applying for a grant in the sum of $162,500 with a $40,000 match.
“The reason for the upgrade is that a lot of the equipment is getting old and some of the improvements that we want to make are just improvements,” said town council president Jim Fleury. “Some of the things are getting to the point that they are going to be major expenses if they fail on us.”
The wastewater system treats 31,000 gallons per day and includes an extended aeration treatment facility. The sanitary sewer collection system is a 100-percent separate vacuum system with no bypass or overflow points.
In the past the wastewater system has had several violations. Several improvements have been made but more are needed to ensure the system is within the Indiana Department of Environmental Management standards.
This is the second time the town applied for this grant. The first time the town financed an engineering study to determine what needs to be upgraded or improved.
The town is continuing to obtain enough data to finish an income survey that will be used in the grant application.
“We need about another 15 or so,” said clerk-treasurer Linda McCune.
Emily Albaugh, community development planner for the Kankakee-Iroquois Regional Planning Commission (K-IRPC), will be the grant writer for the project.
Albaugh had the council sign various paperwork for the grant including that a public hearing was done and no complaints were made.
There were a few questions made in regards to the grant such as if the town pays for the service of the grant writing. Albaugh said the town doesn’t pay unless the town is awarded the grant.
McCune asked if the town needs to do anything additional in regards to the grant process.
Albaugh said the grant may not have been awarded because of the technical wording in the application.
“These projects are very hard to explain in layman’s terms. When it is, you are dealing with very specific trade lingo, so we are trying to find ways to make it more understandable to the average Joe Reader but still be able to explain that it is a wastewater project,” Albaugh said.
Albaugh said K-IRPC is working on the wording.
In other business:
• Pulaski County Sheriff Jeff Richwine met with the council and said it appears that the county commissioners will allow the sheriff’s department to help enforce the proposed golf cart ordinance but it is being reviewed by the county attorney Kevin Tankersley. The council is reviewing the different options regarding how they will enforce the proposed golf cart ordinance. One option was working with the sheriff’s office. Richwine believes there is a way to do it but they are working out the details. “We are not making a decision on the ordinance, one way or the other, until we get some feedback,” Fleury said. The town has proposed the golf cart ordinance to allow golf carts on the roadways. Currently it is against the law for golf carts and utility vehicles to be driven on roadways.
• Doug Denton requested for the town parking lot and the streets to be closed for the Monterey Days festival.
• Fleury talked with the council about making upgrades to the gazebo at the park. If work is completed on the structure, certain restrictions might exist because it is a historic site. Council members agreed that the idea can be further researched. Purchasing a plaque for the site was tabled.
• Minutes from the Jan. 14 meeting were approved.
(Pulaski County Journal — Feb. 18, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)
More data needed for town income survey
Winamac employees will soon be pounding the pavement, visiting a number of homes as they need more data to complete an income survey.
Winamac Town Officials said town employees will be going door-to-door in order to complete 240 surveys.
The town recently sent out 369 income surveys by mail but only received 129 back. 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 reminds residents that receiving grant funding can help save residents money. He said without the survey it cannot be determined if the town qualifies for grant funding.
“The more people that do that — it shows certain incomes — the more you qualify for when a project does come by,” Zellers said.
The survey asks basic financial questions and the information obtained will not be used for any other reason than the survey.
Clerk-treasurer Melanie Berger said the town has a list of people that need to be contacted and the town has until mid-April to get it done.
If the town does not qualify for grant funding, town officials will have to find other sources of income for the project or wait another year to reapply for the Office of Community and Rural Affairs grant.
When town employees go door-to-door they may be seen in a Winamac Town vehicle or will have their town issued identifications.
In other business:
• Minutes from the Jan. 12 regular meeting were approved.
• Vouchers #5740-5941 were approved but questions were asked regarding a handful of purchases. Most of the questions involved the purchasing of equipment. Councilwoman Judy Heater questioned what the amount is that a superintendent or town manager can spend to purchase various items without having it approved by the council before the purchase is made. Councilman Richard Denney said, “I would like to know if they spend more than what’s allowed for them to spend. That’s all I care about. That is why they are in these positions to make these decisions and if we allow them to spend $5,000 without asking then they can do that. If they overstep their bounds then we have work to do.” No solid answer was given. As discussion continued regarding the vouchers, Denney said he is not in favor of the town making a donation of $2,000 to Pulaski County Human Services because that is taxpayers’ money. “Human service is a county organization as far as I’m concerned and it should be supported by the county and not the Town of Winamac.” Heater said the organization does numerous things for residents in the town and county. “Right here in Winamac, there are an awful lot of people who need transport. They need the meals. They need the energy assistance. They do invaluable work for our elderly citizens.” Denney opposed the motion.
• Tim Murray was appointed as the town representative to the Alcohol Beverage Control Board. Councilman Tom Murray abstained.
• A list of uncashed and undeliverable checks was presented to the council. Berger asked permission to place the money back into the proper account. The request was approved.
• Berger asked if she could write off some accounts with the stipulation that if they want back on the utilities then they will have to pay the delinquent accounts. Her request was approved.
• Council members approved for American Legal to update the town codes for one year.
• Council members decided to auction a number of items including a few vehicles. One of the items that was suggested to be auctioned was the town garbage truck. Denney said there is no need for the truck. Council president Ken McFarland said he doesn’t think the town needs it either. The vote to keep the garbage truck was approved 3-2.
• A request by Zellers to be a member of the Indiana Municipal Electric Association for $8,500 per year with the stipulation that the town pay for the safety meetings as they happen and at the same price as was quoted. Denney opposed the motion.
• Council members approved a three-year contract with a 3-percent raise each year with councilman Dan Vanaman to mow the cemetery and Decker Drive. Heater opposed the vote because she feels it should be let to bid. Vanaman abstained from the vote.
(Pulaski County Journal — Feb. 11, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)
Francesville Town Council talks sewer permit, pumps
As the April 1 deadline for having a new sewer disinfection system operating approaches, the Francesville Town Council continues to move forward with purchases of equipment and changes to a permit.
During a regular meeting on Feb. 2, Jon Borgers, a representative from the company that designed the disinfection system, gave a report on changes that will need to be done to the disinfection system plan before a permit for the project can be issued.
A letter was given to the council regarding a few changes that include adding a ventilation system to the chemical room and showing how the drums can be stored on secondary containment pallets. If all the changes are approved it could take about two more weeks before the permit is obtained by the town.
“One thing that IDEM [Indiana Department of Environmental Management] talked about are these drum pallets,” Borgers said. “Those drums will need to sit on something and hold that chemical in the event that the drum was punctured or had a leak in it.”
The drums with different chemicals will need to be on separate pallets.
Borgers also gave the council quotes on new pumps for the system. Council members, along with water and wastewater superintendent Greg Stone, reviewed the quotes that ranged in price from $2,550 to $2,600. Borgers suggested purchasing three or four pumps.
“You need two and then you need a backup. A lot of times you will see four,” Borgers said. “The lifespan of these pumps is not great. You can get a year or two out of them and that’s about all you can expect.”
Borgers doesn’t think more than a gallon or two per day will be pumped.
Council president Andy Durham asked if Borgers knew anything about the quality of the pumps. Borgers said they work with both pumps in their designs and he doesn’t recall having an issue with any of them.
Council members approved purchasing three pumps that cost $2,600 each. It could take about three to four weeks before the pumps would be available.
The plan is to have the system ready by mid-March so any problems can be worked out.
Councilman Kyle Trent was not present at the meeting.
In other business:
• Minutes from the Jan. 19 meeting were approved.
• Clerk-treasurer Linda Bennett said former Pulaski County Sheriff Mike Gayer has been patrolling the town and making a presence at the school. Durham later questioned if Antrim thought they should take applications for a marshal. No decisions were made.
• Claims were approved.
• Durham said the security camera that will monitor the recycling center has been ordered. Approval to purchase the camera for about $500 was approved during the Jan. 19 meeting.
• Darlene Mellon was appointed as the Francesville representative to the Kankakee-Iroquois Regional Planning Commission.
• Mellon was also appointed to the Pulaski County Community Development Commission.
(Pulaski County Journal — Feb. 11, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)
Commissioners talk weather, saving money
Several inches of snow caused a bit of discussion at a regular Pulaski County Commissioners’ meeting on Monday.
During the meeting, commissioners talked about plowing snow, creating a snow delay for some employees and what to do when highway signs are hit.
As the meeting started, highway superintendent Mark Fox was asked how the plowing went during the recent snowstorm. Fox said there were a few minor issues with the equipment but nothing that couldn’t be handled.
Later in the meeting, commissioner Terry Young gave the public a reminder.
“We had an issue the other day, towards the end of the week. With this weather, if the public sees a sign down or someone hits a sign they need to report it to the county highway or commissioners for safety reasons,” Young said. “It was a really bad intersection and at night it would be a really bad deal.”
Young said Fox and the highway department quickly took care of the problem after they were notified.
In regards to a county snow delay, commissioner Larry Brady said county officials are talking about the options of a delay.
“If in inclement weather, do we shut down the county, the county offices? We are kicking around the idea of doing a two-hour delay,” Brady said.
According to Brady, employee safety would be the reason for the delay. He suggested that the delayed two hours could be used as comp time or employees could work during their lunch hour to make up time.
“Granted you have some employees who are here in the Winamac area and they may not be affected and they could still come in at the regular hour. But we have individuals living on the other side of the county and getting them on the road in the daylight is just a thought,” Brady said.
He would like to see suggestions made and possibly approved sometime soon.
In other business:
• Two bids for a new highway department truck were opened. Fox will review the bids and make a recommendation at the next commissioners’ meeting. A bid for an upfit on the truck was also opened.
• Kris Smith, from Copiers Plus, discussed a few different ways the county could save money on copies. Brady said the county has experienced several overages and officials are trying to find ways to fix the problem. Initially, the cost of copies per month was $4,180. In the last few months it has cost $5,353. There have been a few copiers added to the contract but the main costs are color copies. Smith made a suggestion of replacing some of the current color machines that will decrease costs. The savings could be about $1,500 a quarter. Young and Brady agreed that if there is a better way to save money then they should proceed. A motion made by commissioner Bud Krohn to proceed with changes was approved.
• David Webber, assistant building inspector, presented a recommendation to rezone 50 acres north of Winamac from A-1 to RR-1, or recreational use. Bobby Rugg wants to use some of the property to create a recreational park. Young said the planning commission didn’t have any negative comments in regards to the rezoning. A motion to rezone was approved.
• Holly Van Der Aa, assessor, requested to make changes to the assessor’s office staff. Pat Tiede is planning to retire on Feb. 27, so changes are needed, according to Van Der Aa. “I have a wonderful staff. They do a great job for the county.” A motion was made to approve the changes. The changes will now be presented to the county council.
• In regards to old business, commissioners have been discussing whether sheriff deputies can enforce a proposed golf cart ordinance in Monterey. The idea was brought to the attention of the commissioners during the last meeting by sheriff Jeff Richwine. Richwine questions under what authority can the sheriff’s office enforce the proposed town ordinance. Attorney Kevin Tankersley suggested tabling the issue until he can review it further. Young said he feels the county should support the town ordinances. Richwine said he will be meeting the Monterey council on Feb. 11. The issue was tabled until further review by Tankersley.
• An application for a buried telephone line in the area of CR 50 E., starting at CR 150 S. traveling south to Vander Hagg’s Inc. was approved.
• The Nordic Energy Service contract was approved. The contract allows the county to save money on natural gas.
• Commissioners received two letters regarding two feeding operations from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM). The letters are in regards to IDEM renewals of the operations. The renewals are for five years.
• Conference requests from the auditor’s office, animal control, dispatch and emergency management agency were approved.
• Minutes from the Jan. 20 meeting and the executive sessions on Jan. 26 and Jan. 30 were approved.
• Claims and payroll were approved.
(Pulaski County Journal — Feb. 4, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)
Eastern Pulaski takes precautions with lockdown
Eastern Pulaski Community School Corporation, along with Culver Community School Corporation and Rochester School Corporation locked down the buildings following a general threat made to area schools.
As per precautions at EPCSC, superintendent Dan Foster called it a soft lockdown with all the doors being locked and entrance into the buildings through one door. Students were not able to leave the buildings for recess or cadet teaching.
“It was just making sure that the outside doors were locked, like they are supposed to be already and a little more due diligence when someone rings the main buzzer that we know who they are. I think the offices did a great job of that,” Foster said. “Education went on and it was a pretty good day.”
The soft lockdown included locking down the perimeter of the school buildings. Officers escorted those students who left the school for the co-op program.
“I thank sheriff Richwine and the Winamac Police as well,” he said. “I think it went very well and I am sure that I will be talking to the sheriff or Chris Schramm that if they saw anything that they think we should do, we will certainly look at that.”
The “general threat” was not a direct threat to the schools but there was credible information that school corporations and police took seriously. Law enforcement was sent to the area schools as the threat was believed to have been generated in the Kewanna area.
Sheriff Jeff Richwine said it appears the message was posted online by a Kankakee Valley High School student in Wheatfield. Indiana State Police were able to track the message to him.
“I thought it went very well. The school called and the Winamac PD and ourselves posted officers at Eastern Pulaski and then we had two deputies at West Central,” Richwine said. “We got a lot of good feedback from the community on it.”
Police from the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, Winamac Police Department, Fulton County Sheriff’s Department and Rochester Police Department responded to area schools.
(Pulaski County Journal — Feb. 4, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)
Police coverage continues to be concern for Francesville
Pulaski County Sheriff Jeff Richwine gave Francesville Town Councilmen a little direction as they try to decide if they want to hire a new town marshal.
During a regular meeting on Jan. 19, councilmen Andy Durham and Kyle Trent discussed what would be the best option for the town to take in regards to police coverage.
The town has been without a town marshal since August of 2014 and has been relying on the sheriff’s department officers to patrol the area.
Coverage for the area has been slighted because the sheriff’s department has seen a large overturn of officers. Richwine said the department is at full staff but four of the deputies will soon be headed to the police academy for training.
Durham said there seems to be some interest in the marshal position but the council wanted to speak with Richwine to see if there were other options such as contracting coverage through the county or sharing an officer.
Richwine said he spoke with the deputies and two of them are interested in helping, but “I guess I can’t really give you a promise that they are going to come because it is volunteering for them. I can’t order them to come over and work. We can set up a schedule to make sure that the deputies come through here on their patrols to help out.”
At this time Richwine said he can’t give them a commitment. He did say that he is open to sharing a deputy but he’s not sure that they can force someone to live in the town of Francesville.
“There would be other people involved in that decision, that would be the commissioners and the council, but I would be willing to discuss that,” Richwine said.
The idea would be that the town would help fund an officer that would cover Francesville but also work for the county. As discussion continued, it appeared to the councilmen that it could be next year before a contracted officer could be a reality.
Durham said trying to schedule officers for a year wouldn’t help the town. Trent is concerned that if they hire someone that person may still have to go through the academy which will take more time.
“The problem I have with part-time people is if they’re working for another department and then something goes on and they take our vehicle to back up their guys — who’s liable for their actions while they are doing what they are doing? That’s the piece that kind of makes me leery,” Trent said. “If we were contracted through the county and if they had to go cover a county call — they are a county officer.”
Trent said he is also concerned that a new officer needs to have a good working relationship with the sheriff’s department.
“The thing that scares me is just turning them loose out there and not having a clue what they are doing. When I came into it, I had other people to work with. I had people at the county that I could depend on, who helped show me the way,” he said.
Richwine said future Francesville officers are welcome to train with the sheriff’s department. “That does a lot of things. That will put him in the circle of trust.”
Durham thinks that they need to see who is interested. He doesn’t have a problem continuing with the contracting idea but he’s concerned with the lack of coverage that is happening now.
Trent said if the town is going to hire someone then they need to create a job description that will help ensure the right officer is being hired.
“You don’t have a large pool to draw from. You will either find somebody you don’t want or you end up with someone you like but they don’t stay,” Trent said.
It was suggested that the town attorney look over the job description and a contract.
Clerk-treasurer Linda Bennett said former Pulaski County Sheriff Mike Gayer would be interested in working part-time. Durham told Bennett to contact Gayer and see if he is still interested in helping.
Councilwoman Pamela Antrim was not at the meeting.
In other business:
• Minutes from the Jan. 5 regular meeting were approved.
• Street superintendent Lynn Johns reminds drivers that when snow is being removed from the downtown area to be aware of the plows and equipment. Vehicles should avoid being in the same area as the equipment because it slows the process and causes safety issues. Town employees try to remove the snow at 5 or 6 a.m. and have had issues with trying to work around vehicles.
• Clerk-treasurer Linda Bennett asked the council if there is a way to help a woman whose water bill was overwhelming because of an unknown leak. The leak was found by town employees and water was running into a tile undetected. She approached Bennett to see if she could work something out with the town in regards to her bill that was more than $1,000 compared to the monthly average she uses. Bennett said other towns have an amnesty for issues such as this. The customer would pay what they typically pay and the rest would be written off. Durham said if it can be legally done, he doesn’t have a problem with it. He does not feel there was an issue of neglect by the resident because she would not have known about it until she received a bill. Bennett said she will further research it. Trent said as long as it can be done fairly he doesn’t have a problem with it.
• Quotes for snowplows were presented to the council for review in the hopes of preparing for the purchase in the budget next year. The town would like to replace two plows because they are not in good shape. No action was taken.
• A motion to purchase a security camera that will monitor the recycling trailer area was approved. The camera system will cost about $500 and will be installed by the town.
• Johns said they would like to see hand tools and other equipment that they use on a regular basis equipped on the new truck. Many times employees have to return to the shop while working on a project in town to get the equipment they need such as screwdrivers and wrenches. They would like to see one set of tools on the truck and the other tools to be left at the shop. Bennett said there is some funding in the budget for tools and additional money can be taken from the utility funds.
• Claims were approved.
(Pulaski County Journal — Jan. 28, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)
Medaryville Council talks baseball
Medaryville council members are preparing a lease agreement or memorandum of understanding with the Medaryville baseball program as the town has newly acquired the baseball field.
During a regular meeting on Jan. 21, council members were informed on how the baseball program and the American Legion collaborated. The program currently had 86 players and 10 baseball teams during their last season.
Medaryville Council President Derrick Stalbaum spoke with the baseball program coordinator Rob Conner. The two spoke about liability insurance and also about the annual donation the town makes to the program.
“I want to do a yearly lease, that way we always have someone on the council who knows what is going on,” Stalbaum said. “I wanted to make sure that if his position changed, it was consistently renewing that lease, with whoever is in charge. That way there is always consistent communication.”
Stalbaum said the program has liability insurance for the players, but insurance for the grounds was handled by the American Legion.
Clerk-treasurer Judy Harwood said she spoke with the insurance company and there will be an additional cost to cover the grounds. The council agreed that the insurance should be handled as if it were part of the town parks.
There was also a question whether other entities or individuals could use the field. Stalbaum said he feels that it can be worked out but it would not interfere with their schedule.
“I’m looking at this property as a park but it requires permission to use it. I do want it to be public and I do want other organizations to use it,” Stalbaum said. “I’m sure we will have to make some kind of procedure for that as well, like the shelter.”
Stalbaum said the buildings are currently being taken care of by Conner. The town currently mows the area, but some trimming may need to be done.
“I think that this is something that we should discuss with the maintenance department because if we are owning the buildings and are responsible for the buildings, we need to make sure that whoever we are giving permission to take care of the general maintenance is taking care of the general maintenance,” said councilwoman Corrie Hauptli.
Town maintenance supervisor Keith Hauptli was not present at the meeting.
There was a question of whether the town would get involved with the baseball board.
“I don’t want to micromanage their program. They are doing a great job as it is and I don’t want to get involved in that,” Stalbaum said.
At the time of the meeting, Stalbaum was not sure if the program is run by a board or by one person. Stalbaum said he will speak with Conner again to find out their management structure that will be needed due to the lease or memorandum.
Another concern was whether the town will continue to make a monetary donation to the program. The town may not make a donation because of town funding now being used for improvements to the grounds.
Stalbaum also questioned who would pay for the utilities at the property. Harwood said there may have to be an additional appropriation made to cover the costs of the electricity. Stalbaum said he will ask Conner about the costs of the electricity.
It was suggested that Conner or someone from the program attend a meeting to answer questions.
In regards to the purchasing of the property, the town received two cards of thanks from Susan Nielsen and Rob Conner.
In other business:
• Minutes from the Dec. 15, 2014, regular meeting and the Dec. 29, 2014 special meeting were approved.
• Claims in the general fund of $94,972.78, water fund of $40,650.68, and wastewater fund of $181,508.88 were approved. Clerk-treasurer Judy Harwood said the reason for the large wastewater claim amount is because of the early payoff of a bond.
• Harwood requested permission to make a monthly transfer of $1,000 from the wastewater operating fund into the wastewater replacement fund for 2015. The transferring of funds into the replacement fund for the lift stations that may need to be replaced in the near future because they are 20 years old. The recommendation to transfer funds was made when the town was applying for a recent grant.
• Bruce Breedon, interim president of Energy Efficiency Telamon Corporation, spoke with the council about a future solar energy project that the town could become involved with. If the town allows solar panels to be built on town property, the land would be leased with Telamon. Breedon said there are no upfront costs and the town would have to be chosen from a lottery for the project. Breedon said he will need to know if the town is interested in the project in February.
• Cheryl Stone, of the decorating committee, said the group is working on a few future fundraisers. One fundraiser is a sock hop that they would like to have in May. The council said the newly acquired property by the baseball field may be available to use as long as it doesn’t interfere with the baseball program. It was also suggested that Main Street could be used. Stone said if the council knows of anyone who wants to volunteer during the events.
• A motion to make an utility adjustment for the month of December in the sum of $33.17 was approved.
• A motion to pay for repairs of the police vehicle brakes and an oil change in the sum of $1,436.50 was approved.
• Resolution 2015-01-01, designating employees to appear for small claims court, was read and approved by the council. The resolution allows for Harwood or deputy clerk Jackie Hines to appear for small claims court on behalf of the town.
• Second reading of ordinance 2015-02-01 in regards to creating a nonreverting fund titled “Ordinance Violation Fund” was approved. According to the state board of accounts, the town has to establish an ordinance to direct the violation funding to specific funds.
• Council members gave Harwood permission to submit a press release regarding the Medaryville application being approved for the national flood insurance program.
• Stalbaum was appointed to be the Kankakee-Iroquois Regional Planning Commission Board representative for the town.
• An election of officers was held. Stalbaum will continue as the president, while Hager will remain as the vice president.
(Pulaski County Journal — Jan. 28, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)
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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