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DECEMBER

PMH limits visitors due to flu epidemic

Pulaski Memorial Hospital is temporarily limiting visitors to the hospital in an attempt to stop the spread of the flu.

Hospital officials say this is due to a high number of flu cases in the area and is an effort to protect patients, their families and hospital staff.

Children under age 18 are not permitted to visit unless they are the parent of a patient, and only two visitors at a time are allowed to see a patient.

PMH is also not allowing visitors who have any flu-like symptoms or have been diagnosed with the flu within the past seven days. Additionally, people with flu-like systems are urged to only come to the hospital if they personally need medical treatment. These include fever greater than 100.4 degrees with a cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, headache, fatigue, body aches, vomiting or diarrhea.

All visitors may be screened for flu-like symptoms. If a visitor has any of these symptoms, they will be asked to leave the hospital.

If a patient has any of these symptoms, he or she will be asked to wear a mask and wash their hands or use alcohol gel immediately. The patients will be asked to wait in a special area designated for patients with flu-like symptoms.

If a patient is critically or terminally ill, a nurse manager or charge nurse for the unit may make an exception to these restrictions. Anyone visiting as an exception to these restrictions must wear a mask and perform hand hygiene.

The restrictions took effect on Thursday, Dec. 20.

(Pulaski County Journal - December 26, 2012)

Monterey bridge project under way and under bid

Pulaski County is getting a bargain on the long-awaited bridge over the Tippecanoe River on CR 625 E. heading north out of downtown Monterey.

LaPorte Construction Company was the low bidder on the project, according to project engineer Jeff Larrison of Indianapolis-based United Consulting. Their bid of $1,257,770 was $278,000 below the estimated construction cost. A total of 10 companies bid on the project, with costs ranging from LaPorte Construction’s low bid of $1.2 million to a high of $1.9 million from Albion, Ind.-based Pioneer Associates, Inc.

The Indiana Department of Transportation has also approved a design credit of $125,700 for the project. Normally the county would have been responsible for covering 20 percent of the cost, in this case $251,555. With the design credit the county’s cost for the bridge is reduced to $125,777.

United is working out preliminary planning for the project with INDOT and the construction company, according to Larrison. He said some minor work may be done at the site after the first of the year, but he doesn’t anticipate any major activity out there until sometime in early March.

The bridge will replace an existing structure, built in 1946, that has significant structural problems. It will remain open to vehicle traffic during construction and will be converted to a pedestrian bridge once the new one is complete. It has been deemed “historic” by INDOT and cannot be removed.

(Pulaski County Journal - December 26, 2012)

Winamac Town Park a possible wi-fi hot spot

Patrons at the Winamac Town Park may soon be able to enjoy the convenience of free wireless Internet access. Rensselaer-based TV Cable has approached the town about adding a wi-fi hot spot at the park. They propose adding an antenna at the park superintendent’s building to transmit the wireless signal at no cost. Town manager Jim Conner told the council at their December meeting the town would need to bury the line for the cable company. No action was taken.

Conner also reported that the town received $15,841.93 from the Pulaski County Community Foundation’s Winamac Park Fund’s 2012 annual distribution.

Park superintendent Rick Dilts advised that the park has been closed and winterized and the snowplow is working. He said there are a lot of moles in the ball diamonds that need to be taken care of.

In other business, John Julian with Umbaugh and Associates spoke to the council about refinancing and combining the town’s previous outstanding debt and the water improvements. No action was taken, and Julian will provide more information at the January council meeting.

Electric superintendent Doug Shorter advised that Tom Bonnell’s pallet company has been taken care of, the area at Dr. Gudas’s property has been cleared and the contractor for West Win addition will soon be providing a bid.

Shorter’s crews are working on replacing poles and line clearance and will start an inventory in the next few weeks. He added that interviews to fill a vacant lineman position will be scheduled after the first of the year.

Wastewater superintendent Brad Zellers told the council the blower is here and will be installed soon, and a telemetry antenna has been installed on the tower. Catch basins and paving have been done, and Zellers is working on making the plant compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

In other business, police chief Mike Buchanan told the council he’s still waiting on the computer system and hopes to have it online by mid-January. He said the officers are working on their training, and some have completed taser training.

Council members also passed two ordinances, one at the request of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the other to amend zoning at the recommendation of the plan commission.

Council members also approved a contract for fire protection with Jefferson Township and the reappointment of council president John Plowman to the solid waste district board.

(Pulaski County Journal - December 19, 2012)

Christmas wish comes true for Winamac woman

MaryLou Smith of Winamac has one wish – that her sons would not have to suffer from the skin cancer that has made her life a living hell for the past four decades.

She has Basil Cell Carcinoma Nevus Syndrome, also known as Gorlin Syndrome. It’s a rare genetic disorder that may affect all systems of the body and makes affected individuals more susceptible to various types of cancer, especially Basil Cell Carcinoma (BCC), which is a form of skin cancer. The condition is hereditary, but people born with a cleft palate, spina bifida or bone abnormality are more prone to suffering than others.

“My dermatologist said I can live my entire life in a cave and still get it,” Smith said of her cancer. She shaved her head two years ago in order to have 54 cancerous lesions removed from her scalp, including one that was four centimeters in diameter.

“He stuck needles every millimeter. That was the most painful I’ve ever had,” Smith said. “I lost my nose to cancer.”

“I felt like a Blackfoot Indian got ahold of me,” Smith said of that procedure. She explained that members of the Blackfoot tribe were the meanest tribe and “would rather scalp you than look at you.”

Smith also had an eyelid removed as a result of her cancer, and complications from the surgery scarred her retina, causing her to go blind in one eye.

Her dermatologist finally sent her to the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., which is one of the premiere cancer treatment centers in the world.

“We went in, and three doctors came in,” Smith recalled. “One was a dermatologist, and he was teaching two students. They looked at my entire body. You see where it looks like I have measles, that’s untreated cancer.”

Smith told the doctor her priority was her eyes, as she did not want to lose her sight in her other eye. He told her they would never operate on both eyes due to the risk involved, then went to speak to the surgeon who had done the procedure on her nose.

Smith said he was gone for several minutes before both doctors returned and told her that she had too much cancer to operate.

“I remained calm, I didn’t break down or anything,” Smith said.

It was then that the doctor told her about a pill that will kill her type of cancer.

“My arms flew up in the air, and I grabbed the first medical student, I think I scared the crap out of him,” Smith said. “I heard about this drug, but they told me I had to go to New York.” She said the doctor assured her that wasn’t the case.

Smith’s oncologist gave her a pamphlet on the drug, Erivedge, which received approval earlier this year from the federal Food and Drug Administration for treatment of adults with BCC that has spread to other parts of their body, has come back after surgery or that their health care provider decides cannot be treated with surgery or radiation.

Patients who take the drug cannot get pregnant due to a risk of birth defects, but Smith said her doctor jokingly told her “we won’t have to worry about that with you.”

She will have to take the drug for the rest of her life, and a 29-day supply costs $7,500. Smith faxed her 11-page application for financial assistance to the Patient Access Network Foundation on Dec. 12. On Dec. 17 Marylou received word that she was been approved.

Meanwhile, Smith agreed to allow the doctors at U of M to photograph her cancer-covered body as part of their research.

After returning from having her picture taken, Smith said she started to cry. One of her nurses put her arms around her to comfort her and told her it would be alright.

“You don’t understand,” Smith told the nurse. “I’ve been praying for a miracle, and God has answered my prayer.”

She said she’s grateful that she will never have to go under a knife again but is especially glad that her children will never have to suffer the physical pain and mental anguish she has endured as a result of the disease.

“They have seen my nose be replaced and made over again. They have seen me shave my head twice and all the cancer removed,” Smith said. “My children have seen a lot. No mother in their right mind would want her children to suffer.“

“One time I went to my dermatologist in Kalamazoo, and he operated on my face,” Smith continued. “They don’t like to cover them up with Band-Aids. I went into a market [in Kalamazoo] to buy a tomato. I was approached and told ‘put down the tomato and buy it, or get out.’”

Smith returned to her doctor the next day and began to cry in his office. She said he asked if she was having a bad day, and she replied, “Sometimes the emotional pain is greater than the physical,” and told him about the incident the previous day. She said the doctor told her he would have told the man to “put the tomato where the sun doesn’t shine.”

Smith is a member of an Ohio-based support group for BCC patients. She said one member shared a story of a cashier who put her change down on the conveyor belt and told the woman, “I don’t want to touch you.”

“When people do that to me, I just pretend like I didn’t hear them,” Smith said.

She added that her doctors don’t want her to wear makeup until her skin heals. “All I want to do is cover up the scars. I don’t want to look like Tammy Faye Bakker,” Smith said, referring to the late wife of televangelist Jim Bakker who was known for her heavy makeup.

Smith adds that God has blessed her with wonderful doctors, including her local family physician, Dr. Rex Allman, who is equally excited about the drug’s possibilities. She also sees Dr. Andrjez A. Dlugosz, the scientific director of cutaneous oncology, and Dr. Christopher Lau at the University of Michigan Health System.

(Pulaski County Journal - December 19, 2012)

Olson’s gives back through annual charity auction

If you’re looking for an unusual Christmas present or just want to give something back during this season of giving, head to Olson’s Auctions, Inc. on Saturday around 2 p.m.

That’s when auctioneer and president Gary Olson will pause the consignment auction and start selling items for charity donated by dealers, customers and area businesses.

“We distribute the money to families to help provide Christmas for the kids,” auction coordinator Sheila Broeker said.

The annual tradition started several years ago after school employee and others that see firsthand children who are in need of clothes or otherwise may not have a Christmas due to family circumstances.

“We go through mainly the schools or people we hear are in need and send them gift cards or things like that to help them with their Christmas,” Broeker said.

She added that donations will continue to come in until the auction starts. In the past they’ve sold everything from trucks to toys to raise money for families in need.

This year’s donations include a John Deere wood pedal tractor, toys, gloves, tools and more.

Olson’s consignment auctions are mainly known for selling farm implements and vehicles, so Broeker said the donation of a new rocker-recliner one year was among the most unusual donations received.

She said a donation of homemade food items was also a huge hit.

“We’ve just had a great response from those that donate and those that bid on it, because their hearts are just huge that day. They come with a big heart, and they show it,” Broeker said.

(Pulaski County Journal - December 12, 2012)

IRS offers tax tips for “the season of giving”

December is traditionally a month for giving generously to charities, friends and family. But it’s also a time that can have a major impact on the tax return you’ll file in the new year. Here are some “Season of Giving” tips from the IRS covering everything from charity donations to refund planning:

If you plan to take an itemized charitable deduction on your 2012 tax return, your donation must go to a qualified charity by Dec. 31. Ask the charity about its tax-exempt status. You can also visit IRS.gov and use the Exempt Organizations Select Check tool to check if your favorite charity is a qualified charity. Donations charged to a credit card by Dec. 31 are deductible for 2012, even if you pay the bill in 2013. A gift by check also counts for 2012 as long as you mail it in December. Gifts given to individuals, whether to friends, family or strangers, are not deductible.

You generally can deduct your cash contributions and the fair market value of most property you donate to a qualified charity. Special rules apply to several types of donated property, including clothing or household items, cars and boats.

You need to keep a record of any donations you deduct, regardless of the amount. You must have a written record of all cash contributions to claim a deduction. This may include a canceled check, bank or credit card statement or payroll deduction record. You can also ask the charity for a written statement that shows the charity’s name, contribution date and amount.

As long as you’re gathering those records for your charitable contributions, it’s a good time to start rounding up documents you will need to file your tax return in 2013. This includes receipts, canceled checks and other documents that support income or deductions you will claim on your tax return. Be sure to store them in a safe place so you can easily access them later when you file your tax return.

If you are making major purchases during the holiday season, don’t base them solely on the expectation of receiving your tax refund before the bills arrive. Many factors can impact the timing of a tax refund. The IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 days after receiving a tax return. However, if your tax return requires additional review, it may take longer to receive your refund.

For more information about contributions, check out Publication 526, Charitable Contributions. The booklet is available on IRS.gov or order by mail at 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

(Pulaski County Journal - December 12, 2012)

Alliance Bank responds to recent phishing text scam

Recently a phishing text message appearing to be sent by Alliance Bank was received on a number of cell phones. These fraudulent text messages were an attempt by criminals to persuade recipients to divulge card information.

Non-customers of Alliance Bank, as well as customers, received these messages. There was NO compromise of information by Alliance Bank. The account number referenced in the text message is a common card number prefix – the thieves were attempting to gain the rest of the card number.

The criminals appeared to send messages only to cell phone numbers commonly issued in the areas that Alliance Bank serves. This type of activity is referred to as “phishing.”

Phishing is not a new scam; however this type of criminal activity has become more prevalent in recent years. A phishing scam is an attempt to utilize public or other known information in an attempt to persuade consumers to divulge additional private information that will allow access to personal accounts.

Phishing scams often target customers of financial institutions and retail merchants in an attempt to get account numbers, social security numbers, passwords, etc. with the ultimate goal of stealing cash from their victims. Alliance Bank follows common banking and business practices when verifying a customer’s identity or other information. We do not utilize account numbers or whole tax identification numbers to verify your identity. We strongly advise that you never divulge this type of information to anyone.

Even if you bank “the old fashioned way,” always be on guard as you are the target of these crimes and you are the best line of defense against this type of attack. As technology evolves, so do the methods used by these criminals. Each of us must be as cautious of unusual messages, whether by phone call, email or text, just as we would be of a stranger at the door.

If you receive a request for information in any manner, always call the banker you know at their bank phone number, thus derailing any attempts to gain your personal information.

Alliance Bank is proud to be your local Real Community Bank® with offices in Francesville, Monon, Monticello, Otterbein, Oxford, Rensselaer and Winamac.

(Pulaski County Journal - December 5, 2012)

Donations needed as holiday assistance deadline approaches

Families who wish to sign up for holiday assistance through the annual Coordinated Local Assistance Service Project (CLASP) need to contact Pulaski County Human Services by Friday, Dec. 7.

The program offers food, clothing and toys to local families who meet income guidelines. Parents can stop by either the Pulaski County Human Services Von Tobel Community Center at 115 W. Pearl St. in Winamac or the West Side Community Center at 125 S. Railroad St. in Medaryville to register for assistance.

If a school, organization, business or individual would like to adopt a family or purchase clothing or toys for the toy store, please let Pulaski County Human Services know as soon as possible. Forms with sizes and information will be provided to those who purchase clothing for children.

Specific food items are also needed to place in holiday food bags. These include instant potatoes, stuffing, cake mix and pudding, canned green beans, mushrooms, rolls and hams. Food donations need to be dropped off at the Von Tobel Community Center in Winamac by Thursday, Dec. 6 so items can be sorted for distribution. Please call first to schedule a drop-off time.

Food bags will be available for pickup Dec. 10-15. Households who are only receiving a holiday food bag are encouraged to pick them up prior to the toy store on Saturday, Dec. 15.

Gifts and donations for the toy store need to be dropped off by Thursday, Dec. 13. Setup is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 14, and the toy store will be open Saturday, Dec. 15 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Anyone who would like to help with setup or distribution is asked to call 574-946-6501.

(Pulaski County Journal - December 5, 2012)

RETURN TO TOP

NOVEMBER

Automatic refund generates $111 per Hoosier taxpayer

Hoosiers who file individual returns next year will receive a credit of $111 and joint filers will receive a credit of $222 because of the state’s automatic taxpayer refund (ATR).

“We insisted on a per capita refund for two reasons: first, maximum simplicity, as seen on the new tax form. Second, to provide the most relief to lower and middle income Hoosiers, for whom $222 may be meaningful right now,” Gov. Mitch Daniels said. “Past a point of rock-solid fiscal strength, it’s better to leave this money in the pockets of those who earned it than to let it burn a hole, as it tends to do, in the pocket of government.”

Facts about the automatic taxpayer refund:

• Approximately 3.26 million eligible Hoosier taxpayers.

• Total ATR amount for individual taxpayers is $360.6 million.

• Typical taxpayer liability is $850; the taxpayer refund represents a median tax cut of about 13 percent. The credit will be applied when taxpayers fill out their 2012 income tax forms in 2013.

• There are about 335,000 taxpayers who will receive a refund in 2013 who otherwise would have owed taxes without the ATR.

• About 890,000 taxpayers will receive at least a 25 percent income tax reduction.

• About 460,000 taxpayers will receive at least a 50 percent refund (owe $222 or less).

• About 230,000 taxpayers will receive a 100 percent refund (owe $111 or less).

Indiana closed the 2012 Fiscal Year with reserves of $2.155 billion or 15 percent of the state’s budget. In 2011, the Indiana General Assembly approved the governor’s plan for an automatic taxpayer refund if the state’s reserves exceeded 10 percent at the end of the budget year that ended on June 30. In future years, the reserve threshold will be 12.5 percent.

The total budget surplus was $721 million. The other $360 million has been used to strengthen pension funds: Judges Pension Fund ($90.2 million); Conservation, Gaming, and Excise Officers’ Pension Fund ($14.6 million); Prosecutors’ Pension Fund ($17.4 million); State Police Pension Fund ($31.7 million); and Pre-1996 Teachers’ Retirement Fund ($206.8 million).

(Pulaski County Journal - November 28, 2012)

Rails to trails advocates share vision

Outdoor enthusiasts may someday be able to ride bicycles or hike from Richmond, Ind. to Chicago with stops in Pulaski and Starke Counties. That’s the long-term goal of rails-to-trails advocates at the local level. Representatives from the Panhandle Pathway, which runs from Kenneth in Cass County to Winamac in the former Pennsylvania Railroad bed, the North Judson-Erie Trail in the railbanked bed of the former JK Line Railroad and the Monterey Erie Trail, which is constructed along the same line, met with state officials last week at the North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library to solidify their vision.

Friends of the Panhandle Pathway President John Bawcum’s immediate goal is to extend the southern tip of the trail to France Park in Cass County and continue construction north of Winamac to reach Tippecanoe River State Park. The Town of Winamac recently received a $250,000 Safe Routes to School grant that will allow the trail to be paved to the town depot, hopefully within the next year. That section of the path will be maintained by the Town of Winamac as a linear park. Meanwhile, fundraising efforts for the Friends of the Panhandle Pathway to pave the remaining .42 mile of trail north to the town right-of-way continue. Bawcum said he has verbal blessings from all of the property owners north of town to allow the trail to come through. He just needs additional money to make it happen.

Land acquisition funds are available from the Bicentennial Nature Trust. It’s a statewide conservation initiative that encourages Hoosier citizens, businesses and foundations to join the effort with “donations of land or dollars in a continuing statewide surge of conservation.” A recent $10 million contribution by Lilly Endowment brings the fund to $30 million. A local match is required for each grant. Indiana’s first state park was established in 1916 to commemorate the state’s centennial. Gov. Mitch Daniels is carrying that effort forward to celebrate 200 years of statehood. So far 24 projects totaling more than $4.7 million have been approved. State officials say projects will continue to be announced until the fund is exhausted.

The federal Recreational Trails Program has also been funded for two more years and offers another source of funds. Money is administered through the State and Community Outdoor Rec Planning division of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

Eventually, advocates would like to continue development of a trail north of Tippecanoe River State Park to connect to the Monterey Erie/North Judson Erie Trail at U.S. 35.

Presently the North Judson section of the trail starts at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum on the west side of town and runs southeast for nine miles to U.S. 35 near the Starke/Pulaski County line. The trail picks up again in Monterey, where it’s paved for about half a mile. The nonprofit Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum owns all of the land, so acquisition is not an issue.

Engineering a safe crossing at the U.S. 35 interchange is one obstacle to extending the trail. A second, and perhaps more daunting, is the double-span bridge between the highway and Monterey across the Tippecanoe River. The cost to retrofit it could be upwards of $500,000 if federal money is used due to the strict historical and environmental guidelines. The bridge is more than 100 years old and has been identified as eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.

One option is to clear and grade the area east of 35 and lay screened limestone, similar to the spur from the Panhandle Pathway to Superior Street. It still offers a hard-packed, flat surface for pedestrians and bicycle riders. That approach raises a philosophical question of whether the route will be perceived as “not done.” Bawcum believes if enough trail is built, people will use it.

“The energy here is strong,” Mitch Barloga with the Portage-based Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission said. “You guys have created a logical corridor for us.”

Eventually the Erie trail will continue west of North Judson into LaPorte and Porter Counties. There’s also talk of connecting the trail in Monterey to the Nickel Plate Trail. It presently runs from Kokomo to Rochester. Barloga added that it’s not unfeasible to create an additional trail surface west of Monterey now if a backhoe operator or someone else with the ability to grade the land is willing to do so.

Local officials agree their priorities are to tie the North Judson and Monterey trails together and connect both the Erie and Panhandle trails to Tippecanoe River State Park. They are going to see what grant funds are available and continue to pursue the endeavor.

(Pulaski County Journal - November 28, 2012)

Winter Wonderland offers old-fashioned Christmas

Visitors to the Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce Winter Wonderland Festival can visit with Santa, enjoy sights and sounds of the season, shop for a variety of Christmas gifts and give back to the community.

The festival runs from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1 in downtown Winamac.

“The chamber’s goal is to offer people a festival with small-town charm and give them a family-friendly way to enjoy the day,” chairwoman Brandi Larkin said.

The train depot at the corner of Main and Logan Streets will be open, and model trains will be running. Santa will be visiting with children of all ages at the Pulaski County Human Services Von Tobel Community Center, where free children’s crafts will be offered. Pulaski County Human Services is also offering a craft and bake sale during the festival. Be sure to bring a new toy for the Winamac Lions Club toy drive.

Mrs. Claus will be sharing stories down the street at H&R Block. Be sure to drop in and see the gingerbread houses and holiday arrangements on display.

The Winter Wonderland Parade begins at 11 a.m. It will travel down Main Street from the courthouse to the depot. Santa will serve as the grand marshal. After the parade, John Swartzell will offer horse and buggy rides with help from the Boy Scouts. They start at the courthouse.

The Scouts will also be collecting coats, which Ladybug Cleaners will clean before providing them to families in need in the community.

Drop into the courthouse to warm up with cookies and cocoa, courtesy of Pulaski Circuit Judge Michael Shurn. New this year, photos entered into the Friends of Tippecanoe River State Park photography contest will be on display.

The ExPrEsS Choir will perform from 11:30 a.m. until noon at the Pulaski County Courthouse.

The Winamac Lions Club will be serving chili for lunch from 11 a.m. until noon at the chamber office, located at the back of Refined at 106 N. Monticello St. Maps of the various booths and attractions will be available there.

Several stores and booth sponsors are offering stamps, and shoppers who collect one from each spot and turn their completed maps back in will be entered into a drawing for prizes.

Vendor booths will be set up at the Vurpillat Opera House and at the former ballet studio next to Miller’s on Market Street. More than 50 vendors have registered, offering a variety of wares.

Head Start students will decorate the windows at the opera house for the season. In addition to vendors, live entertainment will also be featured there. The Sonshine Boys are scheduled to perform from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. and Band Over will follow from 1 until 2 p.m.

The Girl Scouts, Extension Chords, Greg Sanders and Taylor Smith will also be performing at various booth locations throughout the festival.

(Pulaski County Journal - November 21, 2012)

Friends of Tippecanoe River State Park photography contest

Amateur photographers who have captured striking scenes of the Tippecanoe River State Park are encouraged to enter their images in the inaugural Friends of Tippecanoe River State Park Photography Contest.

Photos can be of animals, scenery, people or anything else in the park and must be submitted as an 8x10 print. Entries are due by Saturday, Dec. 8, with a winner to be announced on Saturday, Dec. 15 during the Christmas at the State Park festivities at the nature center.

Entry forms and more information are available at the Tippecanoe River State Park office. Photos submitted by Friday, Nov. 30 will be displayed inside the Pulaski County Courthouse during the Dec. 1 Winter Wonderland Festival, sponsored by the Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce.

The winning photo will be displayed in the nature center at the park throughout 2013.

Friends of Tippecanoe River State Park is a volunteer organization that supports Tippecanoe River State Park in Winamac with conservation activities, education, recreation and historic preservation and promotes the park.

(Pulaski County Journal - November 21, 2012)

Winamac PD honored for enforcement blitz

The Winamac Police Department received Best in State honors for their efforts to improve traffic safety and save lives. The department received a plaque, certificate and $2,500 to purchase equipment from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) and the Governor’s Council on Impaired & Dangerous Driving during last week’s Operation Pull Over banquet in Indianapolis. The 2012 award covers a yearlong period that includes four enforcement blitzes.

“The success of Indiana’s Operation Pull Over initiative would not be possible without the unwavering commitment of the law enforcement agencies that lead these efforts,” said ICJI Executive Director, Mary Allen. “As a result of the increased enforcement and participation of these agencies, Indiana is making significant strides in traffic safety – including a current seatbelt usage record of 93.6 percent – a record high.”

Winamac Police Chief Mike Buchanan told the town council that the $2,500 will be used to purchase an in-car computer for the department’s white Dodge Charger patrol vehicle. The blue Charger is already equipped with one.

In addition to keeping the streets safe, the Winamac Police Department’s increased patrol presence in the town park has helped reduce vandalism, according to superintendent Rick Dilts.

He told the council that preparation for winter continues. Picnic tables and bleachers are in storage, basketball and volleyball nets are soon to follow, and leaf chopping is winding down.

Winamac Municipal Utilities workers recently trimmed trees at the park and took care of utility poles damaged in the wind. They’re almost finished with leaf pickup for the year and are prepared for the first snowfall.

Wastewater superintendent Bradley Zellers told the council that crews recently installed seven catch basins around town to deal with drainage issues.

In other business, Winamac Volunteer Fire Department Chief Bill Weaver received approval to add five new members to the department’s ranks. Jake Dommer is fully trained and ready to start, while Tyler Campbell, Aaron Spanley, Matt Zellers and Dan Thompson are undergoing training. The additional volunteers will boost the department’s rolls to 17. Weaver said their high was 23 at one time but has dropped considerably. He hopes to add four or five more within the next year or so.

Town council members also approved a salary ordinance with 50-cent-per-hour raise for employees despite a dissenting vote from councilman Richard Denney. He noted that the federal Cost of Living Adjustment for people on fixed incomes is 1.7 percent, which is considerably less than the raise proposed for town employees.

Town council president John Plowman noted that no raises were given last year and said the increase makes up for that.

Town manager Jim Conner is still compiling a list of improvements to sidewalks and buildings owned by the town necessary to comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Improvements must be made by June of 2013 or the town is at risk of losing its share of federal transportation funds. Conner said the state will take care of sidewalk improvements on U.S. 35 and SR 14 and 119, but the rest is up to the town. The inventory must be completed and on file, subject to inspection, by Dec. 31. Conner advised that the town is on track to meet the deadline for compliance.

He told council members he’s awaiting word on whether the town is approved for a grant to install energy efficient indoor lights at the wastewater treatment plant.

Conner also advised that the old railroad corridor qualifies for addition to the Indiana Brownfields list of potentially contaminated sites that may qualify for federal rehabilitation funds, which could be used to further extend the bike path from the depot to SR 14 and beyond.

(Pulaski County Journal - November 14, 2012)

American Cancer Society offers advice for holiday grieving

If you’ve lost someone to cancer, especially if you served as a caregiver, the holidays can be an extremely stressful time. In addition to the strain of the regular holiday hustle and bustle, you may be dealing with a deeper sense of loss that comes with missing a loved one. Although it may seem challenging, the American Cancer Society suggests the following tips to help make dealing with grief this season a bit easier.

Let yourself grieve. When you’re coping with the loss of a loved one, there’s no right or wrong way to feel. Allow yourself to experience your emotions without judging yourself, comparing yourself to others or putting yourself on a timetable. Cry or mourn as you need to, and don’t try to make yourself feel happy just because it’s the holidays.

Take care of yourself. It’s important to eat right and exercise every day of the year, but it’s especially important to keep up those healthy habits during times when you feel extra stressed. Physical activity in particular is a good way to release tension and avoid the symptoms of depression.

Focus on the present. It’s true that the holidays may not be the same without the person you care about. That does not mean you can’t appreciate the beauty and simple pleasures of what’s happening here and now. Take time to enjoy the things you love about the holidays, from a favorite food to a laugh shared with friends or family.

Create a new tradition, or embrace an old one. If you traditionally celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas at home, instead you might want to travel and visit family or friends or eat dinner out at a nearby restaurant.

“Being out of our routine and environment may help take your mind off things,” said Cindy Paquin, American Cancer Society Health Initiatives manager in Indiana. “While the pain is real and you may be experiencing sadness, sharing the holidays with family and new friends can make such a difference. Dealing with the loss of a loved one is never easy, but choosing healthy ways to cope can make the holidays a little less stressful.”

If you need more information about coping with the loss of a loved one, please call your American Cancer Society at 800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.

(Pulaski County Journal - November 14, 2012)

Republicans win big in Pulaski County

Republicans up and down the ballot emerged victorious in Pulaski County Tuesday night thanks to what party leaders describe as a “phenomenal” turnout.

A total of 5,511 ballots were cast, for a turnout of 58.32 percent.

“That’s pretty incredible,” Pulaski County Republican Party Chairman Blair Todd said. “I think that’s probably driven by the national election, but it’s also reflective all the way down the road to the local elections. I think we’ve got Senate and House races that we’re looking at pretty closely.”

Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney got 62 percent of the local vote versus 35 percent for President Barack Obama and 3 percent for Libertarian Gary Johnson.

Republican U.S. Senate nominee Richard Mourdock picked up 50 percent of local votes to Senator-elect Joe Donnelly’s 43 in the contest to fill incumbent Richard Lugar’s seat. Mourdock beat Lugar in the primary, but his recent comments during a debate about pregnancy as a result of rape drew sharp criticism from Democrats and some Republicans.

Donnelly gave up his seat in Indiana’s second congressional district to run for the U.S. Senate and is the first Hoosier Democrat elected to statewide office since former Sen. Evan Bayh in 2004. Republican Jackie Walorski will replace him in the House. She racked up 54 percent of local votes to Democrat Brendan Mullen’s 40 percent and emerged the winner of that contest.

Republican gubernatorial nominee Mike Pence beat Democrat John Gregg by a margin of 53 to nearly 42 percent on his way to a statewide victory.

Republican attorney general Greg Zoeller was also victorious in Pulaski County and statewide. Nearly two-thirds of local voters supported him.

The only Democrat running for statewide office to carry Pulaski County was superintendent of public instruction nominee Glenda Ritz, who edged Republican incumbent Dr. Tony Bennett by a margin of 50-56 to 40.49 percent en route to a statewide win.

Incumbent Indiana Dist. 16 Rep. Douglas Gutwein of Francesville got two-thirds of the local vote on his way to victory. Republican Sen. Ed Charbonneau of Valparaiso also won by a margin of greater than 60 percent.

Incumbent Circuit and Superior Court Judges Michael Anthony Shurn and Patrick Blankenship, as well as incumbent auditor Shelia Garling were re-elected.

Term limits created two vacancies in county offices. Incumbent recorder Lynn Wilder was unopposed in her race to replace treasurer Sheryl DeGroot. Fellow Republican Christi Hoffa was elected recorder.

Voters on the west side of the county came through for Republican Terry Young in his bid to become county commissioner again. He beat Democrat Bill Bauer by 246 votes. Bauer held a slim lead until votes from Beaver, Salem and White Post Townships were tallied. Young knocked off incumbent commissioner Ken Boswell in the May primary, in which Bauer was unopposed. Boswell beat Young four years ago when he ran as a Democrat.

Republican Larry Brady did not have an opponent in his District 2 commissioners race. He upset longtime incumbent Mike Tiede in the primary. Republicans also swept the three county council-at-large seats. Doug Roth and incumbents Jerry “Jay” Sullivan, Jr. and Roger Querry were elected. Democrat Matthew Rausch came within half-a-percent of upsetting Querry. Roth replaces Republican at-large councilman Parish Foerg, who did not run for re-election.

Incumbent Eastern Pulaski School Board member Larry Beach will be joined by Deke DeMarco, Rhonda Heims and Terri A. Johnson. Kevin Tankersley fell 16 votes short in that contest.

Incumbent West Central School Board President Jeffrey A. Tanner and newcomer David B. Allen were both unopposed.

(Pulaski County Journal - November 7, 2012)

Schools make the grade on state assessments

The four public school corporations that serve Pulaski County students scored well overall on the latest round of state accountability tests.

Schools are now issued letter grades ranging from A through F. Previously they were ranked Exemplary Progress, Commendable Progress, Academic Progress, Academic Watch and Academic Probation. State officials say the A through F labels have improved transparency by allowing parents and community members to better recognize how Indiana schools are performing.

A total of 40.9 percent of schools statewide earned As, 20.1 percent earned Bs and 20.3 percent earned Cs, according to the Indiana Department of Education. Only 18.6 percent of schools earned D or F grades statewide.

“These fair and comprehensive measures of school performance demonstrate that school leaders and teachers are focusing on the skills our students need to succeed in their academic and professional careers,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Tony Bennett said. “The result of our new approach to grading schools are already making a measurable difference in student performance, and Indiana’s educators should be celebrated for their hard work and success.”

Eastern Pulaski Elementary, Winamac Community High School and West Central High School all scored As on the latest assessments. So did Liberty Elementary in North Judson and Culver Elementary.

Winamac Community Middle School and North Judson-San Pierre Middle School both scored Bs, while West Central Middle School, North Judson-San Pierre High School and Culver Community Middle School posted Cs. West Central Elementary and Culver Community Middle School both scored Ds on this year’s assessments.

Following the move to A through F letter grades, the SBOE also adopted a new methodology for determining grades for schools and school corporations. This new methodology holds schools and school corporations to higher standards and provides a more accurate picture of their performance by incorporating student academic growth and graduation rates as well as college and career readiness indicators.

Letter grades for high schools are calculated based on performance (Algebra 1 and English 10 End of Course Assessments), student improvement, graduation rate and college and career readiness indicators (such as Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and industry certification exams or earning college credits). Letter grades for elementary and middle schools are based upon English/Language Arts and Math ISTEP+ performance, participation and improvement as well as student growth.

Letter grades for individual schools, a statewide breakdown of this year’s grades and helpful resources on A through F school accountability are available online at http://www.doe.in.gov/improvement/accountability/f-accountability.

The Indiana Growth Model tracks the progress of students from year to year and recognizes dramatic gains in proficiency regardless of whether students “pass” or “fail” a test. For more information on the Growth Model, visit https://learningconnection.doe.in.gov/ArticleViewer.aspx?art=8.

(Pulaski County Journal - November 7, 2012)

OCTOBER

County taxes due soon

Pulaski County Treasurer Sheryl DeGroot would like to remind all residents that the fall installment of taxes is due Tuesday, Nov. 13.

Payment may be made at the following locations:

Pulaski County Treasurer’s Office - Courthouse

First Federal Savings Bank - Winamac branch

First National Bank of Monterey - Monterey and Winamac branches

Alliance Bank - Francesville and Winamac branches

Key Bank - Winamac Branch

When paying at any of these locations, you must present your tax statement along with your payment.

Payments may also be mailed to the Pulaski County Treasurer, Courthouse Room 240, 112 E. Main St., Winamac, IN 46996.

Both copies of your tax statement and a self-addressed, stamped envelope are required for return of your receipts.

(Pulaski County Journal - October 31, 2012)

Where Do I Vote?

Polls will be open in Pulaski County from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. EDT on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6, in the following locations:

Beaver - St. James Salem United Church of Christ, 10934 W. 600 S., Francesville, IN 47946

Cass - Medaryville Christian Church Annex Building, 414 E. Ridge St. (corner of Ridge and National Streets), Medaryville, IN 47957

Franklin - Winamac Fish & Wildlife, 1493 W. 500 N., Winamac, IN 46996

Harrison - Gilsinger John Deere Implement - U.S. 35 S./1235 E. 250 S., Winamac, IN 46996

Indian Creek - Tippecanoe Christian Church, 5292 W. 750 S., Winamac, IN 46996

Jefferson - Bethel Bible Church, 6966 W. SR 14, Winamac, IN 46996

Monroe 1 - Jim Dobson Ford-Mercury, 806 N. Plymouth Road, Winamac, IN 46996

Monroe 2 - Winamac Fire Station, 102 W. Main St., Winamac, IN 46996

Monroe 3 - County Highway Garage, 1131 N. U.S. 35 N., Winamac, IN 46996

Monroe 4 - Winamac Municipal Utilities, SR 14/W. 11th St., Winamac, IN 46996

Rich Grove - Bethel Bible Church, 6966 W. SR 14, Winamac, IN 46996

Salem - Francesville Fire Station, 122 E. Montgomery St., Francesville, IN 47946

Tippecanoe - Monterey Town Hall, 7033 N. Walnut St., Monterey, IN 46960

Van Buren - Star City Community Center, 2550 E. Key St., Star City, IN 46985

White Post - Medaryville Christian Church Annex Building, 414 E. Ridge St. (corner of Ridge and National Streets), Medaryville, IN 47957

Voters who cast ballots on Election Day will do so in the precinct indicated on their voter registration card. Be sure to bring a photo ID with you to the polling place. If you have any questions, call the Pulaski County Clerk’s Office at 574-946-3313.

(Pulaski County Journal - October 31, 2012)

Local post offices will have new hours

The United States Postal Service will reduce retail hours at two local post offices before Christmas.

Surveys were mailed to customers in Monterey and Kewanna ZIP codes, and information was posted at both post offices to gauge input about several options, including a realignment of hours, delivery, establishment of a village post office or using a nearby post office.

Of the 597 customer surveys mailed to Monterey residents, 227 were returned, with 87 percent of respondents favoring the realignment of hours. In Kewanna, 331 of the 988 surveys were returned, and 84 percent of respondents favored a realignment of hours.

The postal service is studying options nationwide as a result of a 27-percent drop in retail visits between 2005 and 2011.

Recommended retail hours for the Monterey Post Office are 8 a.m. until noon Monday through Friday. Saturday hours will remain the same, and delivery receptacles will not change as a result of the realignment. Residents with post office boxes will still have access to the lobby to retrieve their mail and can authorize a postal employee to sign for registered or certified mail and leave it in their box.

Residents will also have access to stamp order envelopes in the lobby, which can be placed in their post office box with money to purchase stamps as specified. A postal employee will fill their order the next business day and leave the stamps in their box.

Hours at the Winamac Post Office will not be changed, so customers who need additional services when the Monterey Post Office is not open can visit that branch. They can also go to the Culver Post Office or Delong Village Post Office locations.

Proposed hours for the Kewanna Post Office are 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 until 4:30 p.m. weekdays. Weekend hours will remain the same. Other nearby post offices for Kewanna customers include Fulton, Pershing and Rochester.

The USPS may also establish Village Post Office retail locations at existing stores in both communities. Business owners contract with the USPS to provide limited services like Forever stamps, flat-rate Priority Mail envelopes and packages and a mail collection box. However, they are not authorized to weigh mail or handle more advanced postal needs. Setting up a village post office location takes between six and eight weeks. Visit www.usps.com for more information.

USPS Manager of Post Office Operations Tangela Bush, whose territory includes both affected post offices, said there are no plans to reduce rural delivery or eliminate ZIP codes at this time.

(Pulaski County Journal - October 24, 2012)

Medaryville Council discusses library fate

Patrons of the Pulaski County Public Library Medaryville branch recently asked the town council to establish a library committee to oversee decisions by the library board.

They question the cost per circulated item data the library board is citing as justification for reducing the hours at the west side branch. The library board voted recently to reduce hours but hold off on closing the branch until costs per item circulated reach $6.18. Currently each item costs $4.18, according to data shared with the library board at their September meeting.

In voting to reduce the hours, the library board cited declining circulation and increasing overhead costs to keep the branch open. However, patrons contend the decline is due in part to a reduction in adult programs, which bring people into the library. They also suggested using volunteers to staff the library and keep costs down.

Town of Medaryville attorney Amber Lapaich said the council does not have the legal authority to formally establish such a committee to oversee another publicly appointed body. Instead she suggested patrons form a citizen group, similar to the town’s holiday decoration committee, to keep tabs on the board and report monthly to the council. Such a patron group already exists and has met several times to discuss options for the library. However, members admit they’re not “politically savvy” and don’t necessarily know how to publicize their concerns.

Lapaich also suggested they submit an open records request for copies of the library’s financial statements, library board meeting minutes and other communications involving the Medaryville branch. She said this information is all a matter of public record and must be shared in accordance with state law. Information about access to public records and contact information for the Indiana Public Access Counselor can be found online at www.in.gov/pac/.

In other business, the council approved a salary ordinance on first reading and also approved the topping and removal of two trees if they are found to be located in the town right-of-way.

(Pulaski County Journal - October 24, 2012)

Commissioners award office supply contract

Winamac-based DeGroot Technology beat out two other vendors vying for the county’s office supply purchasing business.

Office supply chain Staples and Logansport-based Smith Office also submitted bids for the business. The commissioners recently gave the three vendors a list of supplies used most frequently in order to get an across-the-board cost comparison. DeGroot’s price for the requested items was $351.73. Smith Office offered a cost of $364.17, and Staples’ quote was $365.17.

The county maintenance department purchases supplies in bulk and manages inventory of items like copy paper, notepads, ink pens, paper clips, tape and staples. Supplies are delivered to each office as needed. The initial contract for bulk office supply purchases was awarded to Smith Office.

Toner for the various copiers used throughout the county is not part of the central office supply contract, as Monticello-based Copiers Plus handles the service and maintenance of the machines.

In other business, commissioners authorized maintenance supervisor Morry DeMarco to obtain prices to replace the aging air conditioning unit in the circuit courtroom and make repairs to the stucco and sidewalks at the county annex building if it’s not too late in the year to do outdoor concrete work.

Rodger Wappell with Medaryville-based Rodger’s Electric and Alarm Company advised that the first phase of the electrical work at the courthouse is complete and provided bid specifications for the second phase of the work so the county can obtain pricing from vendors to proceed with the rewiring project. However, the information Wappel submitted includes his price for materials. Commissioners discussed drawing up a detailed spec sheet for each contractor interested in performing the repairs and asked that all bids and supporting documentation be submitted in a sealed envelope.

DeMarco also told the commissioners he is preparing for the delivery of new washers and dryers in the basement of the justice center. They should be in place within the week.

In other business, commissioners also gave recycling center director Ed Clark and highway superintendent Kenny Becker the green light to tear down the dilapidated former highway garage building at the recycling center site. Clark is presently using the building to store recyclable commodities prior to selling them but said he will clean it out. The gas line that runs to the building also needs to be vacated by NIPSCO, and the electric service needs to be shut off.

Commissioners also upheld a demolition order for a house at 419 W. Jefferson St. in Winamac. County building inspector Dave Dare advised that non-occupant owner Ryan E. Galbreath has hired a contractor and plans to have the uninhabitable structure torn down by Monday, Nov. 19. A large tree fell on the house, and Galbreath opted to remove the structure rather than make repairs.

In other business, EMS director Nikki Lowry told commissioners that the Francesville ambulance hit a deer on the way to a medical call on Oct. 9. The truck’s bumper and grill brackets were bent back, but the rig is still drivable. The highest of the three repair estimates is $2,200. Lowry said the low bidder will do the repairs, which are covered by insurance, and has advised the down-time will be minimal.

She also reported that members of the health occupations class at West Central would like to shadow EMS personnel. This will mostly involve observing, as they are not licensed or certified to treat patients. Commissioners blessed the arrangement as long as the school has the necessary liability insurance coverage in place to cover the arrangement.

Lowry also advised that Winamac attorney Dan Murphy will begin handling collections of delinquent patient accounts for Pulaski County EMS after the start of the year.

(Pulaski County Journal - October 17, 2012)

Commissioners clarify rationale for awarding courthouse brick contract

Pulaski County Commissioners say they chose a Medaryville contractor who submitted one of the highest bids for masonry work in the courthouse bell tower because they were comfortable with his ability to do the work.

They awarded the contract for repairs to the crumbling brick to Kuiper Masonry, Inc. President Jim Kuiper estimates the job will cost $16,828.75 to tuck point the clock and bell towers. His bid clearly states, “This is only an estimate. Actual cost will be based on time and material.”

David Zeltwanger of Francesville, owner of DK and Sons, LLC, bid $7,450 for the project and has publicly questioned why the job was awarded to another vendor for twice as much money.

Zeltwanger submitted his estimate for the repairs on Jan. 26, 2012, along with a detailed project scope. Kuiper’s bid was turned in on Jan. 16. However, the commissioners put the work off until bats could be eradicated from the bell tower. By the time the rodents were removed, they decided the weather was too warm to proceed, as mortar can dry out too quickly in hot weather.

During their Oct. 1 meeting the commissioners revisited the six original quotes, noted that two contractors had withdrawn from consideration, and awarded the job to Kuiper, whose bid was unchanged. Zeltwanger’s base bid also remained the same, however he added a 20-percent contingency fee for freezing temperatures, as lime mortar cannot be allowed to freeze for two weeks after application. The fee, which would have only been charged if temperatures dip below freezing, would have covered the expense of enclosing and heating the bell tower area.

All three commissioners assured Zeltwanger that they had thoroughly reviewed the bids before awarding the job to Kuiper. However, they acknowledged at the meeting they only looked at the costs and not at the additional information Zeltwanger shared when he turned his estimate in. Auditor Shelia Garling said maintenance supervisor Morry DeMarco only gave her the estimates and not any additional information. In Zeltwanger’s case, his supplemental packet included extensive background about the types of materials that should be used for historic repairs to avoid causing permanent, irreversible damage to brick structures.

Zeltwanger stressed that as a taxpayer he is most concerned that the work is done correctly and questioned whether Kuiper is aware of the latest research with regard to historic preservation of brick structures. Studies indicate mixing cement with lime mortar is extremely damaging to historic brick joints. Zeltwanger instead recommends using lime mortar with a gauging agent, such as brick dust or volcanic ash.

Zeltwanger also publicly apologized to DeMarco for “calling him out incorrectly” in a letter to the editor that was published in the Oct. 10 Journal, as he did not realize at the time that the maintenance supervisor does not make a recommendation but merely provides quotes and bids to the commissioners for consideration.

“The actual work is straightforward. It’s all inside, and it’s all tuckpointing that no one is ever going to see except the maintenance people,” Zeltwanger said. “There’s no technically difficult portion of it at all.”

However, he stressed that working on old buildings like the courthouse is not a simple, straightforward matter.

Zeltwanger told the commissioners he doesn’t expect them to revisit the awarding of the work to Kuiper but said he and other taxpayers deserve to know why the bid went to a vendor whose estimate was twice as high.

“In this case because I’m intimately familiar with it, I frankly feel like you dropped the ball,” Zeltwanger said. “How do you keep that from happening again?”

Commissioner Ken Boswell, who will leave office in January, agreed that the process is inefficient and needs to be reworked.

“Bids should come in as far as I’m concerned sealed, whether it’s a bid, a quote or an estimate,” Boswell said. “All the information should be in that packet, and it should all be opened at one time.”

Boswell added that his decision to award the project to Kuiper was influenced by the fact that he attended the Feb. 20 commissioners meeting and toured the tower with the commissioners to explain the problem and the scope of the repairs step-by-step.

“I know it takes time out of his day for the vendor to come and follow up every bid, but it makes a big difference,” Boswell said. “You get that opportunity to ask questions, get input and understand what’s going on.”

President of the commissioners Mike Tiede agreed. “Jim took us up there, and it felt comfortable,” he said.

Zeltwanger acknowledged he should have followed up more forcefully with the commissioners but also noted that they have a responsibility as stewards of taxpayer money to question the broad discrepancy between the high bid of $16,962 from Winamac-based Schambers Masonry, Inc. and the low bid of $7,450 and follow up with the contractors accordingly. One vendor, Mau & Son Foundations, submitted a bid of $27,798 for materials and labor on Feb. 16 but withdrew from consideration. So did the low bidder, Winamac-based Right Angle Construction, whose estimate was $7,200 for unspecified materials and labor.

Brian Allen of Knox-based Brian Allen Masonry submitted an estimate of $8,820 for the work and noted all repairs would conform to Active Standards for Historic Repointing standards.

Both Boswell and Tiede are nearing the end of their terms. Larry Brady of Francesville is running unopposed for Tiede’s seat after upsetting the incumbent in the May primary. Boswell will be replaced by either Democrat Bill Bauer or Republican Terry Young. They will join incumbent Tracey Shorter on the three-member panel. Boswell urged the new commissioners to prioritize the establishment of more stringent, uniform bid processes for the county.

“On projects like this, everybody should know what the process is,” Boswell said. “Each vendor should be handed a packet. All the bids are sealed, the president or whomever opens them, they’re all read into the record and presented.”

He added that the vendors need to be available to answer questions and acknowledged the commissioners also have an onus to follow up.

Tiede suggested the commissioners may look into hiring an engineering company to develop a scope of work for major projects like the tower repairs. That will cost more money upfront but could result in a potential savings by making sure work is done properly and all vendors bid to the specifications necessary for the job.

Zeltwanger added that he would be happy to share his expertise and help draft a protocol for bids. He said he’s also willing to advise the county on any future masonry repairs and recuse himself from the bidding process.

(Pulaski County Journal - October 17, 2012)

County council members spar over wages

Equity, or in this case the lack thereof, in employee wages dominated Monday’s Pulaski County Council agenda.

Prosecutor Stacey Mrak appeared before the council seeking permission to hire a part-time secretary, having reduced a full-time position to part-time after another employee left as a cost saving measure.

Mrak said her office workload is such that additional administrative help is needed. Funds to pay a part-time employee are available in her budget, however the county does not have a wage set for the position.

Mrak plans to hire Leslie Link, who previously worked as her secretary before leaving to have twins, to work 30 hours per week on a flexible schedule.

She asked the council to set a wage of $15.15 per hour for a part-time experienced employee. That’s the same rate the part-time victim assistance coordinator earns.

It’s also considerably more than a number of other longtime employees who are considered part-time make. Councilman Mick Tiede, for instance, has worked part time in the assessor’s office for the past 19 years and makes $10.80 per hour.

Mrak agreed that Tiede and other employees in the county deserve higher wages. She also noted that it’s difficult to compare wages from office to office due to differences in requirements for various positions.

“I’m not trying to rip off the county, but I don’t think $10 is a worthy wage for someone who knows what they are doing,” Mrak said. She added that the computer software used by prosecutors across the state has not changed since Link last worked for her, so there will be less of a learning curve for her.

Council members noted that the hourly rate for a full-time experienced employee will increase to $15.64 in January when the new salary ordinance takes effect.

After a lengthy discussion of wage equality and the precedent that such a move would set, council members agreed to set a salary for an experienced part-time secretary in the prosecutor’s office at $13 per hour for up to 30 hours per week of work.

Tiede cast the lone opposing vote. He’s a member of a council subcommittee that is studying employee wages. Members are looking at how other counties address staffing challenges and what they pay their personnel. Tiede told the council that Pulaski County relies more heavily on part-time employees than any other, with about 50 part-timers on the payroll.

Members agreed the matter deserves further study but conceded they had to set a wage for the part-time secretary in the prosecutor’s office as she will start before their November meeting.

The council’s action in setting the wage provided an opening for auditor Shelia Garling to once again request a raise in pay for her part-time payroll clerk. Council members did not act on that request last month for fear that it would “open Pandora’s Box” with regard to county employee wages, and councilman Ron Powers’ motion to increase the wage to from $10.80 to $13.05 per hour and set a maximum of 32 hours per week died for lack of a second.

Garling pointed out Pulaski is the only county with a part-time payroll clerk and added that the job carries a tremendous responsibility. She also pointed out that council members just gave “a new part-time employee who hasn’t worked here in years” a starting salary of $13 per hour.

“I think we set a precedent here tonight,” Tiede said.

Councilwoman Alex Haschel agreed that every office thinks their employees deserve more money. She and Tiede voted against Garling’s request, while Powers and Tom Roth voted for it. Council president Jay Sullivan cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of the additional salary. Councilmen Parish Foerg and Roger Quarry were both absent.

Earlier in the meeting council members denied Pulaski County Jail Commander Phil Cherry’s request to reduce the number of hours per week worked by two longtime jail employees while giving them a pay raise. Cherry proposed the combination as a way of compensating them for dedicated service while not adding an additional financial burden to the county, as their salaries would have remained effectively the same. Council members denied this request, again citing the precedent such a move would set.

They also failed to act on Mrak’s request to pay two employees with 10 years each of service to her office one-time bonuses of $1,000 each from an account funded by user fees that the state says can only be used to cover expenses incurred by her office. Officially her request died for lack of a motion. Mrak said she will resubmit it next month along with a copy of the applicable state law explaining the origin of the funds and how they can be used.

Council members handled one more personnel matter with minimal discussion, approving assessor Holly VanDerAa’s request to move an employee who has worked part-time in her office for quite some time to 100-percent pay as she transitions into a full-time position. VanDerAa noted that the employee has been doing the work required of the position during the previous full-timer’s medical leave.

In other business, Francesville businessman Dave Zeltwanger questioned the process used by the county commissioners to award the bids for the masonry work in the courthouse bell tower. He submitted a bid of $7,500 for the job, yet the commissioners selected Kuiper Masonry of Medaryville to do the work instead, despite the fact their bid of $16,800 for the same job was more than double.

“There is money going out the door, and I am sitting here watching you guys deny wages for people who deserve them,” Zeltwanger said.

He added that the repairs to the bell tower are critical and said if they are done incorrectly they will destroy the building.

“It’s a complicated procedure, and the materials that are used have to be the right ones,” Zeltwanger said.

Council members agreed that the difference in the bids is significant. They’re scheduled to meet with the commissioners during their Monday, Nov. 15 meeting and will be first on the 8 a.m. agenda to discuss the matter in a public joint session.

Zeltwanger acknowledged he wasn’t at the Nov. 5 county commissioners meeting when the bids were opened but said he intends to be at the Nov. 19 meeting and ask some pointed questions.

In other business, council members approved a request from Pulaski Memorial Hospital to advertise an appropriation from the cumulative building fund to finance the replacement of the chilled watter HVAC system in the operating room. The hospital plans to finance the project and is seeking $96,000 per year for the next five years to repay the loan. CEO Rick Mynark told the council that the rest of the $1.7 million project has been funded privately.

PMH Director of Plant Engineering Mark Boer added that the chilled water component is critical to climate control in the operating room. Humidity, temperature and other atmospheric conditions must be precisely maintained in order to ensure a comfortable and safe surgical environment. The operating room upgrade is the first major modification of the surgical space since Pulaski Memorial Hospital opened nearly 50 years ago.

Mynark assured the council that he expects the hospital to remain independent for at least the next three to five years. IU Health has acquired several hospitals in the area. Mynark said they are in the process of “digesting what they’ve got” before looking to add more facilities. Also, Mynark said, health care facilities are waiting to see what happens with health care reform and the economy after the next election.

Sheriff Mike Gayer also requested appropriations for several big-ticket repairs at the Justice Center, including a new 911 system at an estimated cost of $388,578.12. An inspector from the state fire marshal’s office recently cited the sheriff’s office for the location of the existing unit in the dispatch center due to its proximity to a breaker box, which is a violation of federal standards.

The problem can be addressed by moving the box to the basement, however CenturyLink recommends upgrading the unit since the system is the original 911 added by the county when the service was added. Council members asked Gayer to obtain a more detailed proposal from CenturyLink prior to their next meeting.

Gayer also advised the council that the voicemail system at the Justice Center needs to be replaced at a cost of $10,996. Also, the two dryers and a washing machine used for inmate laundry at the jail need to be replaced and the ductwork to properly vent the dryers needs to be rerouted to the basement. Money for the voicemail system and new washer and dryers is available from the misdemeanant fund, which can only be used for upgrades at the jail. The voicemail system qualifies because it is used by jail employees as well as those in other parts of the building. Funds still have to be appropriated by the council before they can be spent. Final action on Gayer’s request is anticipated at next month’s meeting.

Council members also approved several routine transfers and additional appropriations that are typical as the budget year draws to a close, including funds for the Recycling/Transfer Station, EMS, sheriff, circuit court, auditor’s office, coroner, superior court, county home, county health department and economic development.

(Pulaski County Journal - October 10, 2012)

Wastequip focuses local work on hoist production

The 80 workers at Winamac’s Wastequip facility will focus solely on producing one of the company’s most desirable products.

CEO Marty Bryant said the company is shifting its entire hoist production and installation line to its Winamac facility.

‘The demand for the hoist part of Galbreath’s product is absolutely skyrocketing,” Bryant said in a telephone interview. “We don’t want to lose our market share. We want to focus and only build hoists in Winamac. We think the workforce there is so talented and has been doing it for so long and are so good at it that we decided to just invest in building only in Winamac, Indiana.”

Bryant stressed that the local workforce will not be affected by the realignment.

“This has nothing to do with trying to lay people off or cut costs or any of that. This is the best situation we could have, which is growth.”

The hoists are used to pick up various roll-off dumpsters from construction sites, apartment complexes and businesses. The Galbreath hoist is recognized as the top product in the industry. Bryant calls it “the Cadillac of hoists.”

Production at the Winamac facility will all shift to the west plant. Galbreath maintains two manufacturing facilities in Winamac, east and west, which are divided by U.S. 35. The hoist production line is set up in the west facility.

Bryant stressed there is no targeted reduction in the local workforce but said all production may occur in one building until demand necessitates adding more lines in the second local plant.

He said the company will retain ownership of the building. Bryant added that while Wastequip offers a very lucrative employee benefit package the company has had trouble finding qualified workers in the area. He said the lack of an available skilled workforce was also a factor in the decision to restructure and narrow the focus to just hoist production locally in order to preserve local jobs.

Bryant added that a team of engineers is surveying the local plant to determine what sorts of investments can be made to further strengthen production.

“We’re absolutely not planning to change an address at all,” Bryant said.

(Pulaski County Journal - October 10, 2012)

Bids accepted for big ticket projects in Pulaski County

The first phase of the electrical overhaul at the Pulaski County Courthouse gets under way this week after county commissioners awarded a contract to a Medaryville electrician.

Rodger’s Electric and Alarm Company submitted a quote of $49,750 to install a new service entrance and relocate the telephone and alarm wiring. President Rodger Wappel said the relocation work is extremely involved and time-consuming. It must be done before any actual wiring work can be completed. The actual rewiring is not included in the project approved by the commissioners.

Another Medaryville vendor was awarded the contract to make necessary repairs to the brick in the courthouse clock tower. Jim Kuiper of Kuiper Masonry has more than 30 years of tuck pointing experience, and the commissioners agreed he is the most knowledgeable about how to properly repair clay bricks like the ones in the tower.

He looked at the project back in February when maintenance supervisor Morry DeMarco first brought the deteriorating bricks to the attention of the commissioners and said the old lime and sand mortar would need to be ground out about an inch-and-a-half and filled back in with mortar from a bag similar to a pastry bag. Kuiper’s bid for the work is $16,828.75.

Council members asked county attorney Kevin Tankersley to draw up contracts for both projects outlining the expectations the commissioners have for the completed projects in hopes of avoiding any surprises.

Both repairs are among the major projects DeMarco identified as needing to be done to maintain the historic courthouse. The council included funds for building maintenance and repairs in the budget for the current year.

Some of that money may also be used to revamp the courthouse basement and give assessor Holly VanDerAa more space for her staff and files. She and DeMarco propose expanding her existing office into the boiler room and relocating the maintenance department’s office. Commissioners gave their tentative blessing to the project if a structural engineer determines it is safe to remove a wall and that safety concerns regarding proximity to the boiler, emergency exits and other building code considerations are adequately addressed.

Commissioners also approved VanDerAa’s request to move employee Cindy Hinkle into the vacant position created by longtime employee Mary Hoover’s retirement and approved a conference request for the assessor’s office.

In other business, commissioners also approved the expenditure of about $1,500 from the courthouse budget to upgrade the telephone system in the circuit courtroom and offices. That cost includes the addition of two new telephone lines, the programming of a new digital card for the phone system and two new digital telephones.

Commissioners deferred a decision on awarding the county’s annual office supply purchase contract due to a lack of clear comparison pricing between vendors. They asked DeMarco to compile a list of the 10 or so supplies the county uses the most, such as copy paper, ink pens, staples and sticky notes, and ask each vendor for their best prices on those items.

In other business, commissioners hired Indianapolis-based United Consulting to do preliminary engineering and design work for the Haschel’s Bridge decking project. The estimated $396,000 left over from replacing the bridge over the Tippecanoe River in Monterey will be used for the Haschel’s Bridge project. Trucks loaded with potatoes from Black Gold Farms drive over the bridge several times each day, and structural repairs are needed.

Commissioners also heard from a couple who own property near the Winamac Fish and Wildlife Area on CR 500 N. near CR 575 W. and recently noticed signs stating “No trespassing/Indiana Licensed Shooting Preserve” posted at intervals on the adjacent property. They are concerned that the new owners of the nearby land plan to establish a gun range there and that public safety will be compromised.

Tankersley advised them on behalf of the county that the commissioners have no say in how private property owners use their land, and that if laws are being broken enforcement is up to the sheriff’s department. Otherwise, Tankersley said they can retain private legal counsel and file a civil lawsuit alleging a nuisance.

Jeff Richwine with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division was at the meeting and advised that such shooting preserves are licensed and closely regulated by the state to allow hunters to propagate and hunt game birds or exotic animals. In order to be considered for licensed shooting preserve status, a property must be at least 100 and not more than 640 acres and at least one mile from a state-owned refuge or state public hunting ground.

The application fee to establish such a preserve is $100 per year, payable to DNR, and covers the cost of inspecting the proposed preserve and determining if the facilities for propagating animals are adequate and if the applicant is able to maintain such an operation.

If a permit is approved, the property owner is required to post signs similar to those in question in the licensed area and build a fence with at least one strand of wire around the perimeter of the preserve.

The license holder is also required by law to maintain detailed daily records of animals taken from the preserve each day and hunters participating. Preserves are subject to state inspection and other guidelines as outlined by law.

Hobart-based JD Acres, LLC holds the license for the shooting preserve in question. Documents on file with the Indiana Secretary of State’s office indicate Joe Blandford of Hebron is the manager of the LLC, and Diana Blandford, who is at the same address, is the current registered agent. The LLC was organized in 2006 and is the current with all of its business entity reports.

Richwine performed the inspection prior to the issuance of the permit and assured the concerned property owners that the Blandfords are responsible people.

Hunters can only take animals from a state hunting preserve during September, October, November, December, January, February, March and April. They are also required to meet license requirements outlined in state law.

(Pulaski County Journal - October 3, 2012)

County plan commission offers rezoning grace period

From now until Nov. 1, the Pulaski County Plan Commission is offering a grace period for payment of application fees by property owners who believe their property should be zoned differently due to prior use.

The following gives a historical perspective of the land use planning process in Pulaski County. Throughout the process as outlined below, the Plan Commission had a goal to allow all existing land uses to continue, at least with the present property owners, while preparing the county to move forward.

The Pulaski County Commissioners established the Plan Commission in 2007. The commission’s first task was to develop and implement a comprehensive plan. In April and May of 2008, a series of public meetings was held to receive input on a comprehensive plan, which included first-draft zoning maps. In addition to the meetings, surveys were distributed to all local libraries and via local newspapers. The completed comprehensive plan was approved by the Pulaski County Commissioners in April 2009.

Throughout the process of developing the comprehensive plan, the plan commission also met regularly to draft ordinances to support the plan. Drafts were prepared and distributed, and a public hearing was held in August of 2009. Changes were made to the ordinances based on citizen input at that meeting.

The focus then shifted to the completion of zoning maps, the initial drafts having been included in the comprehensive plan. These maps are necessary to support the ordinances and the comprehensive plan. The proposed maps were presented in draft form at a public meeting held in June of 2011. Property owners were invited to review the maps and to make comments and suggestions to the plan commission. Following that meeting, changes were made based on citizen input.

Following the completion of the maps, the proposed ordinances and maps were presented to the Pulaski County Commissioners in October 2011 and were approved at that time.

Many property owners are still unaware that the comprehensive plan, supporting ordinances and maps have been approved. Some property owners may be using their property for a purpose not supported by current zoning. Current owners will not have to change the use, but it is possible that future owners would need to request a zoning change or change the use of the property. To accommodate those owners, the commission is offering a final opportunity to review the maps and to apply for rezoning if property owners believe the current use should be allowed to continue if their land is sold. The following stipulations apply:

• The property owner must submit a written explanation why the parcel should have been zoned for future use as well as present use.

• The property owner must make application to have their property rezoned. This application carries a $350 fee.

• The property owner will be responsible for payment of advertising fees and will also be responsible for notifying neighbors of the property in question. These costs are in addition to the application fee. Some economies of scale may be available if advertising and/or notification can be combined in advance of a public hearing.

• If the plan commission agrees that the property should be zoned for future use, the $350 application fee will be waived and/or refunded. If not, the property owner will be responsible for the application fee.

• Following this grace period, beginning on Nov. 2, 2012, all applications for rezoning will require payment of the fee.

The plan commission is advisory only. While the commission may agree with the property owner, the commission is only able to make a recommendation to the Pulaski County Commissioners, who hold final approval.

Property owners are invited to contact Dave Dare, plan administrator at 574-946-7858 or buildinginspector@pulaskicounty.in.gov to view the maps and to make application.

(Pulaski County Journal - October 3, 2012)

RETURN TO TOP

SEPTEMBER

Hoosiers warned about scam

If you get a telephone call from someone saying you can vote by phone, it’s a scam. Indiana does not offer tele-voting.

Secretary of State Connie Lawson’s office has received complaints from voters who received phone calls offering to let them vote early over the phone.

“Under no circumstances can you vote over the phone,” said Lawson. “If you receive a call offering to let you vote over the phone, hang up. It’s a scam.

“This investigation centers around a firm called Vote USA. But there could be other similar types of illegal contact with voters and we must remain vigilant.”

Lawson’s office conducted the investigation of Vote USA in partnership with Tippecanoe County Election Board members Amy Wenrick and Jared Bond and Tippecanoe County Clerk Christa Coffey. The office also consulted with the Indiana Attorney General’s office and with attorneys general from around the country.

The caller advises voters that lines will be long on Election Day and they can vote over the phone. Caller ID list the caller as Vote USA and list the number as 425-390-8108. Voters who receive a call from Vote USA should ignore it.

Any suspicious, unsolicited political calls should be reported to the Secretary of State’s office, the Indiana Election Division or the local county clerk. Voters may call 1-866-461-8683 or 1-866-IN-1-Vote to report a suspicious call.

Hoosiers who cannot make it to the polls on Election Day may vote prior to Nov. 6 by requesting an absentee ballot on www.indianavoters.com. Absentee ballots are available beginning 29 days before the election. Hoosiers may also vote in-person up to 29 days early during business hours at most county clerk’s offices.

(Pulaski County Journal - September 26, 2012)

Weed and grass ordinance enforcement raises issues

Some Medaryville residents whose properties are in violation of the town’s weed and grass ordinance have indicated maintenance workers who come onto their property to mow had better bring the cops with them.

Town council members advised maintenance supervisor Keith Hauptli to request assistance from town marshal Brian Gaillard or another officer before setting foot on such properties.

Council members recently amended their existing weed and grass ordinance to give property owners 10 days from the receipt of a certified letter to mow their grass, pull their weeds and remove other rank vegetation that exceeds five inches in height. The letter is a “continual order of enforcement,” according to town attorney Amber Lapaich. That means the town can mow as necessary should the property again be found in violation without having to send a second or subsequent notice. Council members agreed to leave a door tag as a courtesy reminder a few days prior to mowing again. That exceeds the requirements outlined in law.

If the homeowner does not successfully appeal the violation or remedy the situation, the town “may take all reasonable steps to eliminate the nuisance and to bring the property into compliance with the ordinance.” These include entering the property, as outlined in state law, to cut, mow and/or trim the weeds, grass and rank vegetation to bring all such into a uniform height below the maximum height.

The town charges homeowners a minimum of $125 if they have to cut the grass. If the job takes maintenance employees more than an hour, additional time will be charged in increments of $31.25 per 15 minutes. Funds from the enforcement are deposited in the town’s general fund.

As a result of the enforcement, Hauptli told the town council that he does not have enough part-time hours to get through the remainder of the year. Clerk-Treasurer Judy Harwood said she would seek guidance from the State Board of Accounts on how to remedy the matter without running afoul of the town’s salary ordinance. The state maintains strict guidelines on how money in particular funds can be used and how funds can be transferred.

The council also approved Hauptli’s request to purchase a replacement pump for $250 and gave conditional approval to the acquisition of a $450 pole saw to trim trees pending approval from the town’s insurance carrier.

Council members also approved on first reading a trash ordinance to set standards for trash cart pickup. Each resident and business will receive at no charge a wheeled trash cart to use for the collection of bagged trash. Carts must be put out for collection by 7 a.m. on trash pickup day and no more than 24 hours prior to the scheduled collection time. That gives residents ample time to take the trash out the night before. Carts must be removed from the street or alley within 24 hours after the garbage truck runs. Civil penalties of $100 per day can be assessed for violations.

Council members noted that the ordinance aligns with the contract between the town and its trash contractor.

Harwood gave council members a draft of the annual salary and benefit ordinance to review informally prior to consideration on first reading at the Oct. 17 meeting.

Councilman Derrick Stalbaum publicly offered a recommendation that the town hire a part-time “utility clerk” to act on behalf of the council and allow some of their clerical duties to be done during the day, such as making telephone calls. He said doing so would solve some “communication issues” between the town council and the town hall.

Stalbaum added that it’s not necessary to hire another employee, as one of the existing deputy clerks in the office can be reclassified and placed under council control to take care of billing and receiving for all utilities and handling clerical duties for the council members.

Currently the town clerk has the ability to hire deputes as needed, but Stalbaum said the council has the authority in statute to hire employees for its utility company.

“To be honest it’s the same thing it is now with the exception of someone to handle our phone calls,” Stalbuam said.

Harwood raised questions about how the person would be bonded and on whom the responsibility would fall in the event of an audit. As the clerk-treasurer she is responsible for all of the town’s accounts. Her blanket bond covers the deputies who work under her.

“I have to stay on top of all of this. If there’s a shortage in the cash register, it still follows with me unless they’re bonded separately,” Harwood said. She added that she doesn’t want to be responsible for any mistakes made by the council’s employee should he or she transact business during extended office hours.

Lapaich said this question needs to be answered before the council proceeds.

Stalbaum said his proposal was prompted by “communication problems” between the staff and council members.

“If we have communication problems we should have a meeting and try to iron the communication problems out first and try to talk about all of this, the whole group together, rather than just dropping something and saying ‘this is what we’re going to do.’ Let’s sit down and discuss our communication problems and see what we can work out,” council president Gene Payne said.

“If that’s what everyone wants to do, we’ll head down this road. This has just been brought to my attention tonight,” Payne added.

Stalbaum disagreed and said communication problems have been discussed for the past several months without success.

“I feel like something has to be done because right now there is a major miscommunication that is going to cripple this town,” Stalbaum said.

“We can’t make decisions for this town by getting wrong information all the time and getting different information,” he added. “By getting someone in here we could use them to keep records and let us know what’s going on and make us aware.”

After considerable discussion and assurances that questions would be answered before anything is adopted, council members approved Stalbaum’s ordinance on first reading. That’s a parliamentary step to keep the process moving forward.

In other business, council members closed out the contract for the sewer project so the grant that funded the work can be closed. The contractor is still responsible for completing remediation work when weather conditions allow for grass to be planted, as the project carries a warranty through June 30, 2013.

Council members also blessed the purchase of decorative Christmas banners by the Medaryville Decoration Committee pending approval of their selection by town officials. The committee will continue raising money in hopes of acquiring new lights to decorate the downtown area next year.

(Pulaski County Journal - September 26, 2012)

Commissioners discuss several big-ticket projects

Pulaski County Commissioners hope to move forward soon with an electrical upgrade for the courthouse as well as repairs to the clock tower.

They asked maintenance supervisor Morry DeMarco to obtain additional quotes for the electrical work before their Oct. 1 meeting. One electrician who looked at the building advised that every electrical panel has piggyback breakers and that every office has power strips plugged into power strips in order to run computers, copiers and other machinery.

Commissioners agreed this needs to be addressed soon but deferred action until additional quotes can be obtained.

They also asked DeMarco to revisit the previously obtained quotes to make tuckpointing repairs to the bell and clock tower at the courthouse. The vibration from the tolling bell at the top of each hour has caused the mortar between the bricks to crumble.

Last year the council budgeted a significant amount of money for repairs such as these, however very little has been spent to date.

DeMarco also advised the commissioners that emergency access to the electrical panels in the justice center basement is blocked due to several departments storing items downstairs. These include everything from obsolete computers and copiers to old desks and furniture. Commissioners gave him permission to notify all department heads that they have two weeks to remove any items they want to keep from the basement or they will be disposed of so the county can comply with building codes.

Commissioners also clarified questions about office supply purchases made through the county’s streamlined purchasing process. The sheriff’s office buys supplies for inmate classroom instruction, and the sheriff and emergency management agency director both purchase batteries for their equipment.

Commissioners said they are welcome to take advantage of the county’s bulk purchasing power but need to reimburse the maintenance budget for such items from funds within their own budgets.

Assessor Holly VanDerAa asked the commissioners if a decision had been made yet on her request for additional office space. They suggested the best course of action may be for the surveyor and assessor to swap offices, as the assessor has a larger space and fewer employees. Both are located in the courthouse basement, which is more convenient for taxpayers who need to visit both the assessor and the auditor to complete a transaction. Commissioners had yet to talk to surveyor Joyce Weaver about the possible move. They previously discussed moving the assessor’s office to the county annex building on Riverside Drive next to the library.

Commissioners also gave a tentative blessing to the replacement of the decking on Haschel’s Bridge, which spans the Tippecanoe River on CR 250 N. Engineer Jeff Larrison with Indianapolis-based United Consulting Engineering said no land acquisition would be necessary, and the estimated total project cost of $279,000 could be paid for with extra money set aside for the Monterey bridge project.

Trucks loaded with potatoes from nearby Black Gold Farms travel across the bridge during the harvest season, and the road also gets a lot of vehicle traffic from people driving to and from Monterey.

Larrison told commissioners they would get “a lot of bang for their buck” with the project, as the bridge will be essentially new once the decking is replaced. It was one of several priorities identified in the county’s latest bridge inventory plan.

Larrison said it can be let for bid in January, and work can be done to accommodate the busy season at the potato farm.

He also advised that the Monterey bridge project to replace the structure north of town that spans the Tippecanoe River is still set for bid letting by the Indiana Department of Transportation next month. The project carries a total cost of $1.7 million, with the county’s share anticipated at $349,000. Larrison said about $279,000 of that should be reimbursed in the form of design credits, making the county’s cost for the project $73,000 based on budget estimates.

Commissioners also blessed the use of money from the county’s cumulative building fund to repay a five-year loan for a new HVAC system at Pulaski Memorial Hospital pending council approval of the appropriation.

PMH CEO Rick Mynark said the existing system is original to the hospital, which opened in the early 1960s, and is not adequate to handle the facility’s current needs. The operating rooms at PMH are undergoing a renovation, and Mynark said upgrading to a chilled water system will make it easier to regulate the air temperature during surgical procedures.

PMH plans to finance the nearly $450,000 project for five years through a local bank and use money from the cumulative building fund to repay the loan. Money in that fund is set aside for projects at the hospital.

Commissioners also approved a contract for Pulaski County EMS to use Winamac attorney Dan Murphy to handle collections pending council approval of the money to start the process. They previously agreed to use Murphy to attempt to collect on delinquent accounts as they have had minimal success using a collection agency.

In other business, property owner Jerry Locke, who recently purchased the former Bonnie’s Punkins property on U.S. 35 near Beardstown, asked commissioners for permission to close the short gravel road to the south of the property. It runs east of CR 500 N. and dead-ends at the Tippecanoe River State Park. Locke owns most of the adjacent property and is concerned about liability should a trespasser be injured. County highway superintendent Kenny Becker said the county does not grade or maintain the road. However, all adjacent property owners are required to formally sign off on the closure before it can be done.

Commissioners also approved conference requests for the clerk’s office, auditor’s office and emergency management agency.

(Pulaski County Journal - September 19, 2012)

West Nile Virus confirmed to be present in Winamac

West Nile Virus has been confirmed in Pulaski County.

The Indiana State Department of Health confirms that four of 10 mosquito pools located near the Winamac Waste water Treatment Plant have tested positive for the virus. No human or animal cases of West Nile Virus have been confirmed yet.

West Nile Virus is a potentially serious mosquito-borne illness. The easiest and best way to avoid West Nile Virus is to prevent mosquito bites.

The Pulaski County Health Department urges all residents to prevent mosquito problems around their homes by disposing of or emptying any water holding containers like buckets or flowerpots, drilling holes in the bottoms of outdoor garbage containers so water can drain out and cleaning clogged roof gutters to remove leaves and debris.

Also turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use. Don’t allow water to stagnate in birdbaths, aerate ornamental ponds or stock them with fish and use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property. Make sure the screens on your windows and doors are in good shape in order to keep mosquitoes out of your house.

When you go outside, protect yourself by using a mosquito repellent that contains DEET and follow the label directions. Wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants and shoes when outdoors, especially from dusk to dawn. Clothing should be light colored and tightly woven.

People typically develop symptoms within three to 14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito, although about 80 percent have no symptoms at all. Another 20 percent develop mild symptoms, which include fever, headache and body aches, nausea, vomiting and possibly swollen lymph glands and a rash. Symptoms can anywhere from a few days to several weeks.

About one in 150 people infected with West Nile Virus will develop a severe illness, which can include high fever, a headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent.

The Pulaski County Health Department still has Cutter Mosquito wipes available at 125 S. Riverside Dr. in Winamac. Feel free to stop in pick up a container along with more information about West Nile Virus. You can also call the health department at 574-946-6080 Monday through Friday for more information.

(Pulaski County Journal - September 19, 2012)

Council defers action on payroll clerk’s wages

The part-time employee in the Pulaski County Auditor’s office who handles payroll for the county’s 172 employees will continue to make $10.80 per hour for the foreseeable future.

County council members discussed at length auditor Shelia Garling’s request to increase the salary for that position to $13.05 an hour in recognition of the effort the employee puts in to see that everyone is paid correctly and the proper paperwork is submitted timely to the state and federal governments. Councilman Ron Powers’ motion to increase the individual’s wage by $2.25 per hour and limit her to 32 hours per week died for lack of a second.

Councilmen Roger Quarry and Tim Roth both expressed fears that giving a raise to a lone employee would “open Pandora’s Box” with regard to county employee wages.

Council president Jay Sullivan suggested that perhaps the council could reclassify the payroll clerk’s position as a part-time professional job in order to justify the raise in pay. The circuit clerk, probation and victim’s assistance departments all have part-time professional employees who make slightly more than $15 per hour. However, the county employee handbook does not officially recognize the part-time professional job classification.

“I don’t know what to do,” Garling told the council members. “She’s doing over and above what she has to do as a part-time employee.”

Garling added that the payroll clerk does not get holiday or vacation pay or qualify for benefits, nor is she asking for such at this time.

“She’s doing the work of a full-time employee in a part-time position, $10.80 doesn’t compensate her adequately,” Garling said.

“She’s been here for a year-and-a-half and knows her job. She would be hard to replace,” Garling continued. She also noted that payroll can’t be done by multiple employees in an effort to reduce hours because of the way the various withholdings and reports fit together and have to be checked to make sure everything balances.

Powers agreed that the payroll clerk’s job is “one of the most important in the county.”

He, Quarry and councilman Mick Tiede serve on the council’s new salary committee that’s charged with looking at how employee wages in Pulaski compare to those in other jurisdictions. They’re in the process of gathering salary information and job descriptions from neighboring counties as well as those in other parts of the state that are similar in size to Pulaski. They haven’t set a deadline for completing their review and bringing recommendations to the full council.

In other matters pertaining to personnel, Garling told the council that she cannot find a record of their formal adoption of a county wide “hiring freeze” in any meeting minutes. She said a voice vote was taken after sweeping layoffs in 2008 to freeze hiring, but no ordinance was ever adopted to make it the permanent action of the council.

This does not mean that department heads or elected officials have the authority to create positions or hire people. They must still come to the council for approval of an additional appropriation.

In other business, council members approved Superior Court Judge Patrick Blankenshp’s request to advertise an additional appropriation to upgrade the recording software used in his courtroom from an obsolete analog cassette system to a state-of-the-art digital recording that can later be expanded to accommodate video. Blankenship had sought funds for the upgrade during the budget hearing process, however he told the council that the equipment cost will increase after the first of the year and he would like to take advantage of the savings. Additionally he said the lull in court activity during the holiday season will give his staff an opportunity to learn the new system before they are tested during court proceedings.

Circuit Judge Michael Shurn advised that the recording software used in his courtroom is newer, and he does not need to upgrade at this time. Council members approved Shurn’s request to transfer money to cover the cost of year-end postage.

Transfer and additional requests for the prosecutor’s office and county home were also approved, as was the advertisement of an additional $12,566.10 from the CEDIT fund to cover the remaining cost of upgrades to CR 1400 W. south of Francesville to accommodate the weight of grain trucks bound for Remington Seeds. Despite the drought, between 60 and 80 loads of corn are being processed daily at the plant, thanks largely to better crop conditions to the north and west of Pulaski County. The county agreed last year to improve the road by replacing a narrow bridge so trucks could safely access the plant. Highway superintendent Kenny Becker advised that one repair is still needed on the road but said it will be handled after the plant’s busy season is over.

Council members also approved economic development Director Nathan P. Origer’s request for a budget transfer to cover the cost of attending various seminars as well as transfers for the auditor, treasurer and probation department.

Additional appropriations sought by the health department and surveyor’s office at the September council meeting were also approved.

(Pulaski County Journal - September 12, 2012)

Monterey wastewater treatment plant free of ammonia violations

Monterey’s wastewater treatment plant continues to be in compliance with state-mandated discharge levels , however a new Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) inspector has raised issues about the way records are kept.

Operator Ray Stevenson said the inspector wants one form instead of the detailed daily logs he keeps and wants him to take fewer readings. He has changed his charts per the IDEM request and written a letter in response to the inspector’s report as is required per state policy.

Monterey’s ammonia discharge levels have been well below state requirements since Stevenson took over operation of the plant a year ago. The town’s remediation plan approved by IDEM requires 11 violation-free months in the 12 month period that started Jan. 1.

Town officials were also notified by the Kankakee-Iroquois Regional Planning Commission (KIRPC) that the state has awarded them a $29,700 grant to conduct an engineering study on the 11-year-old plant. However, the town cannot engage a firm to do the study until they receive an official grant award notification letter.

Meanwhile, town officials confirmed that sewer service to the former blacksmith shop now owned by the county has been disconnected, the bill has been paid in full, and the line has been capped. The building will be torn down prior to construction of a new bridge across the Tippecanoe River just north of the town hall.

Town officials also received a certificate stating that the gazebo in Kleckner Park has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. This creates more opportunities for grants to restore the structure. However, it must be raised at least two feet above the level of the highest flood in the past 100 years. The floor of the gazebo is already two feet off the ground, and water has washed over it in the past when the Tippecanoe River has flooded. Town Council President Jim Fleury said he will look into what is required.

Council members also discussed the procedure for locating buried sewer lines when someone calls 811 before digging. The town locates utility lines in the street to the edge of the person’s property but does not locate buried lines in people’s yards. Maps of the sewer lines that were installed when the service was implemented are available for review at the town hall during business hours if a resident wants to determine where their lines are and have them marked. Town attorney Dan Murphy is reviewing the town’s sewer ordinances for clarification.

Council members also advised that fewer problems have been noted with people dumping trash at the recycling center since signs were placed there.

In other business, the new red, white and blue vinyl “welcome” banners that were put up prior to Monterey Days will soon be taken down and stored until Memorial Day next year, when they will be put back up until after the festival Labor Day weekend.

The town’s Christmas decorations will be put up before Thanksgiving and taken down in January.

(Pulaski County Journal - September 12, 2012)

Commissioners bless zoning change recommended by plan commission

Winamac businessman Tom Bonnell can proceed with his plan to expand his wood salvage business at the former Anvil & Saw location on CR 200 S. near CR 500 W.

Pulaski County Commissioners unanimously approved the plan commission’s recommendation that the property be rezoned from agricultural to light industrial use.

Their action clears the way for Bonnell to close on the purchase of the 11-acre property and 5,500 square foot shop from Paul and Sheryl DeGroot and Jeffery Mitchell with part of the money from a $132,000 revolving loan from the county’s fund. The county council’s approval of the loan was also conditional on approval of the rezoning request.

Building inspector Dave Dare also shared year-to-date statistics from his office with the commissioners. He said 12 new site-built homes have been constructed in Pulaski County so far this year, at an average cost of $133,000. Additionally five new mobile homes have gone in, and two businesses have expanded. One is Bonnell Grain Handling south of Star City, and the other is the Peak Inn in Medaryville.

Dare said a total of 19,700 square feet of living space has been added in Pulaski County so far in 2012. That number does not include garages, driveways or outbuildings.

Dare also noted that the county’s current land use maps are available on the county’s website, www.pulaskionline.org, under the ‘planning’ tab and are also an optional layer on the external WebGIS site. It can also be accessed from the county website’s ‘planning’ tab. The county recently signed a contract with a vendor to provide online layered digital mapping of Pulaski County. The service collects a variety of publicly available information, such as zoning designations, subdivisions, floodplain maps, land ownership and property tax records and aerial photography and allows users to search for it all in one place.

In other business, commissioners took several bids from office supply vendors under advisement after noting that it was difficult to compare them due to the variance in the way they were submitted. Some vendors offered a percentage off their retail prices, while others offered a slight markup over their actual cost.

Commissioners also voted to terminate the county’s relationship with 1st Source Insurance and make Gibson Insurance the exclusive broker for the Cigna medical insurance policy offered to county employees. Both the county’s current 1st Source agent and his predecessor now work for Gibson, and agent Dave Bennett of Winamac-based Bennett Insurance and Realty recommended the change based on their quality of work. He has service agreements with both companies. All contact information for county employees will remain the same, and Bennett will continue to serve as the county’s liaison. He told commissioners he continues to be very pleased with Cigna and anticipates another refund for the county at the end of the year based on cost saving measures.

In other business, commissioners signed a letter to sell the 2002 Ford E-350 ambulance that was recently replaced with a new rig to the Medaryville-White Post Township Volunteer Fire Department for use as a first responder truck.

Conference requests were also approved for the sheriff’s office, emergency management agency director and veteran’s service officer.

(Pulaski County Journal - September 5, 2012)

Francesville-Salem firefighters honored for service milestones

Francesville-Salem Township Volunteer Fire Department Chief Tim Wuethrich recently recognized members of his department for their years of dedicated service. He presented awards after a dinner served by the ladies auxiliary.

This year’s big milestone achievers were Glenn Tiede, who has been a volunteer fireman for 25 years; Ray Cooley, who was recognized for 40 years of dedicated service; and Bud Weaver, who has served for 57 years.

The auxiliary members prepared a steak to order for Weaver, who received a certificate of recognition, having been honored with a wall plaque for 55 years of dedicated service.

“These are the best bunch of guys around, and I’m pleased to work with every single one of them,” Wuethrich said.

(Pulaski County Journal - September 5, 2012)

RETURN TO TOP

AUGUST

Winamac Council approves one-way street, golf cart ordinance

Superior Street between Burson Street and Riverside Drive is now a one-way street, thanks to action by the Winamac Town Council.

The change was made to create a safe route from the Panhandle Pathway/Winamac Pathway bicycle trail through town to Riverside Drive as part of the town’s Safe Routes to School plan.

The goal is to encourage students to walk or ride bicycles to school. Superior provides a straight shot across U.S. 35 to the Eastern Pulaski campus. A crossing guard staffs the intersection before and after school.

Vehicles can now travel west to east, toward 35, on Superior in the right-hand lane. The left lane, which previously ran toward Burson Street, is now reserved for two-way pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

Ordinance violations are subject to $50 fines.

Town council members also approved an ordinance to allow golf carts to be operated on town streets under limited circumstances.

The ordinance defines a golf cart as having four wheels and a laden weight of no more than 1,500 pounds.

Before such a vehicle can be driven on town streets it must be registered by its owner with the Winamac Police Department. The $50 registration fee is good for two years, and two numerical identification decals shall be issued that must be affixed to the cart’s front and rear fenders.

Each cart owner must also provide proof of financial responsibility. Typically golf carts are insured under a homeowners or renters policy. Written proof of financial responsibility must be carried by the operator at all times.

Carts must also be identified with slow moving vehicle signs and equipped with headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signals. Most carts do not come equipped with these features.

Only persons possessing a valid driver’s license can operate golf carts, and children under 48 pounds that require a child safety seat are not allowed to ride along.

Carts shall not be operated on the town’s sidewalks, greenway trails, U.S. 35, SR 119 or SR 14. Crossing the highways will only be allowed at designated areas, and the operator must yield to all overtaking traffic.

The Winamac Police Department has the authority to cite anyone who violates the ordinance, including juveniles. This includes failure to register the cart with the police department. A first offense is punishable by a fine of $50, a second offense within a year carries a penalty of $100. A third offense within a year’s time will be punishable by a $500 fine, minimum one-year registration revocation and seizure of the cart by a wrecker. Proceeds from any fines will be deposited in the town’s general fund.

Limited exemptions may be issued by town to accommodate parades, festivals and other events.

(Pulaski County Journal - August 29, 2012)

Monterey firemen honored for lifetimes of service

Monterey residents will honor three of their own who have given a combined 180 years of service to the rural Pulaski County community during this weekend’s Monterey Days Festival.

Monterey-Tippecanoe Township Volunteer Fire Department life members Don Keller, Jim Zehner and Karl Master are the co-grand marshals of Saturday evening’s parade. They’ve served 50, 60 and 70 years respectively on the department.

“I’m the new kid on the block,” Keller quipped during a recent visit with the three at the fire hall.

He added that the volunteers didn’t have to go through a lot of training when he first joined the department in 1962.

“We were just common sense firemen,” Keller said.

Zehner, who joined the department in 1952, said there was also less concern about breathing noxious fumes then than there is now. He said firemen would crawl right into burning structures without the oxygen tanks and breathing apparatus that are in use today.

They also lacked the ability to communicate with one another and other departments via two-way radio when responding to fires.

“I can remember one time I was way in the back end of the Bruce Lake dance hall,” Zehner recalled. “Kewanna was on the top squirting water on the top. We was clear across one side of it squirtin’ and the ceiling fell in on us. There must have been insulation two feet deep up there on the ceiling. Them guys hollered at us ‘are you guys OK?’ ‘Yeah.’ They said ‘Follow the hose back. We’ll pull the hose back, follow the hose back.’ So that’s how we got out of there. It was the itchiest doggone stuff. It just itched to beat the dickens.”

Zehner also recalls once battling a blaze in Ora and sliding off an icy roof.

“It’s amazing nobody got hurt very much,” he added.

Nowadays all firefighters wear heavy duty turnout gear with their names sewn on in reflective letters. In addition to radios, they are also equipped with heat-sensing devices that emit a shrill beep and flash brightly to alert to their location should they be overcome by heat and smoke.

“We had one truck when we started out,” Master said. “And hardly any place to keep it. We had a little spot there and could barely get the fire truck in the garage.”

Master said parking was a tight squeeze in his early days. A painted yellow line was used as a guide to back the engine into its spot in a tiny garage next to the former gas station on Main Street, and firemen could only get in and out one side of the truck.

In those days the front of the building was the town hall, and a small jail was located in the back.

Buckeye Elevator donated the land for Monterey’s first fire hall in the late 1940s, and the local lumber yard gave them a break on the construction materials.

Prior to the establishment of the fire department in the early 1940s Master remembers an old pull carriage operated by town residents, including his father, Ed Master, and local businessmen.

“They pulled that old horse-drawn down the street. Of course they only served the town of Monterey. They didn’t go out in the country.”

Zehner admits that was before his time.

“Dave Williams was the first one that started it that I remember, and that was in the ‘40s. He went to the service and he got killed in the service,” Zehner said.

Master’s father took over as chief after that and was responsible for building the department’s numbers.

“Ed Master was on there when I first come on. He’s the one who came to me and asked me to go on,” Zehner said.

Zehner’s father and uncle were both firemen in the department’s early days, and his son and three grandchildren are now part of the department. Keller’s dad and grandfather served as a firemen, as did his two brothers and his son.

As the department and community have grown, so to has the required amount of paperwork that must be submitted to the state.

“It’s a bigger job today than it was back then,” Master said.

“You look back at how it upgraded so much in the last few years,” Zehner said. “Gosh, it upgraded quite a bit.”

Keller said this is especially true when it comes to the state’s more stringent training requirements.

“They want you to train like you’re a paid department instead of a volunteer,” he said.

An obstacle many volunteer departments face is firefighters who work out of town and are unable to respond to calls based on their schedules.

“We always had two or three that worked at the elevator. Harold Mahler had the blacksmith shop, and my brother was in the garage right across the street,” Zehner said. “In my times it pretty much changed that everybody works out of town. Even Dick [Zehner, his son] and his gang, there are so many times he’s out of town. There’s hardly anybody in town you can count on anymore, where before you just had so many you could count on right in town.”

Despite the staffing challenges, the local firefighters remain a close-knit bunch.

Keller said that’s always been the case.

“We all did get along 90 percent of the time,” he said with a chuckle.

“Harold had the blacksmith shop about a block away. He could run down there, have the truck started and be out the door before I could get there, and I was only three blocks, four blocks away,” Zehner said. He added that Mahler wasted no time getting to a fire scene.

“If we had a fire at Ora, we could hit 80 by the schoolhouse,” Zehner said. “It had a 409 engine in that sucker. It would just fly. Seemed like he could go around that corner down there on 200 on two wheels.”

“I only rode with him once,” Master said. “I made dang sure I didn’t get up there early enough for that! He never shifted the trucks. He just put ‘em in gear. It’s a wonder the stick shifts, I never thought they’d hold up. I figured he’d break it off one of them days.”

The three also remember fighting the fire at the Ora Tavern, to which three trucks responded. Part of the roof had fallen in by the time they got there. The owners were able to carry beer out of the rear storage area before the building burned to the ground.

“I think there was a lot of people happy about that,” Master said.

Grass fires were also quite common in the Lawton area when the trains went through. Another large fire was caused by a train wreck near Bruce Lake. Firefighters spent a day-and-a-half battling that blaze.

That was before a centralized county dispatching center and a 911 telephone system. In those days each fire department had a local telephone number, and the phone at each firefighter’s house would ring steadily to notify them of an emergency call. Monterey’s number was 2641.

Later CB radios were added in the trucks so firefighters could communicate while en route to a scene.

Now each firefighter carries a pager which receives a special tone depending on whether fire or first responder services are needed.

The three firemen encourage any young person who is contemplating a career in the fire service to give it a try. Today the Monterey-Tippecanoe Township Volunteer Fire Department has 24 total members, four of whom are women. Fire chief Steve Shank said Keller still responds to calls on occasion, and Zehner and Master will come by and help fill water trucks. All three also assist with community events like the annual spring fish fry.

“Given their years of service to the town and the department we thought it was only fitting to make them the grand marshals of this year’s parade,” Shank said.

Keller, Zehner and Master will be formally recognized for their years of service Saturday at 5 p.m. prior to the start of the Monterey Days parade.

(Pulaski County Journal - August 29, 2012)

Military surplus vehicles raise questions for commissioners

Pulaski County Sheriff Mike Gayer’s aggressive pursuit of military surplus trucks and equipment for the sheriff’s office and Department of Homeland Security has raised questions about who can use them and how the county will cover the cost.

Gayer told the commissioners Monday that he has gotten quite a few supplies, like semi-automatic pistols, night vision goggles and other equipment for the department without a cost to taxpayers. The items are either shipped free, or he covers the shipping cost out of the jail commissary fund, which is where money paid by inmates for snacks, telephone cards and other creature comforts is deposited.

He has also coordinated closely with his Chief Deputy Ron Patrick, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security District 2 Task Force commander, to discuss needs they may have to assist with deployment.

“He gives me a laundry list of trucks they could use for missions,” Gayer said. “Case in point was the tornado that went through Southern Indiana. They took some of the fleet down, and they couldn’t have gotten around had they not had some of those vehicles.”

Gayer said he lists “Homeland Security District 2 Task Force” every time he requests a vehicle through the program. His request is then sent to Indianapolis and then to Battle Creek, Mich. for consideration.

When Gayer’s office receives notification that the truck is theirs, the Department of Homeland Security pays for the fuel to pick up and deliver the truck.

“The public’s perception of seeing these trucks without license plates on them is going to get a little tricky after awhile, so maybe I should try to get some of these vehicles plated,” Gayer explained.

He told the commissioners he filled out the paperwork he normally fills out for a police vehicle but selected “municipal/county highway” instead of “sheriff’s office” on each application because he didn’t want to put sheriff’s plates on all of the trucks.

He sent the applications, and they were returned stamped denied.

Gayer said he called and was told that since they were government vehicles with no titles, he has to obtain a court order to order the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to put titles on them.

He then spoke to county attorney Kevin Tankersley and asked him to do the court order as requested by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

Gayer said the state coordinator for the program “misinterprets the court order and thinks I’m suing the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles and the United States government for these vehicles. The next thing I know I’m suspended and can’t get into the website any more.”

Gayer called the program’s administrator and told him what he was trying to do. By that time, lawyers from all levels of federal government were involved.

“Now I’ve got everybody all in a big tizzy because I’m trying to get the vehicles legally titled and registered,” Gayer said.

“The memorandum of understanding says that the vehicles obtained through this 10-33 program will be utilized the first year that you get them. If they’re not, we have to turn them back in. If you don’t use it, you lose it,” Gayer said.

He added that Patrick has had all of the trucks out on mostly practice missions with the task force.

“Kenny [Becker] at the highway and Ed [Clark] at the recycling said ‘hey, we could use those semis.’ I’m thinking they’re brand-spanking new, still got the plastic on the seats. We’ve got to use them in the first year or we’re gonna lose them. They probably should be driven anyway, so we let them drive it. Now when all this blew up about the registration and who’s authorized to drive the trucks and who’s not authorized to drive the trucks, it became a big fiasco,” Gayer said.

“All those trucks are under my authority, and I know where all those trucks are at that are all sitting in this county but one. I’m going on the assumption they’re under my authority, I know where the truck’s at. Is it a bona fide law enforcement mission like the memorandum of understanding says? No, not if the county highway is using it or the recycling center is using it, but I’m also fulfilling their needs that you use them in the first year or you lose them, and I ain’t about to lose $150,000 worth of semi tractors because they are parked and all of a sudden that’s a big issue.”

“As long as it’s titled and registered and he [Becker]can use the thing and get some use out of it and keep the vehicle serviceable for when he [Patrick] needs it, I didn’t see no harm, no foul.”

Gayer said the Department of Homeland Security and Bureau of Motor Vehicles have corrected their process in light of the issue. Now, any military surplus vehicle owned by a law enforcement agency will be titled to the Indiana Department of Administration, just like state police cars, during its first year of ownership. After that year ownership will be transferred to the Pulaski County Board of Commissioners and the military will release all ownership rights.

“I thought I was doing what’s right by titling and registering and keeping the vehicles serviceable so when he [Patrick] needs them...one of the vehicles has $100,000 worth of Snap On tools in it, and the semis are worth $70,000 each. If the county, my county, can get some use out of the vehicles until a disaster occurs, I didn’t see any harm in it.

“You know they’ll start, you’ll know they’re full of fuel,” president of the commissioners Mike Tiede said. “If you leave that air compressor sit for two years, will it work? Maybe.”

“The plan is now we can move all of our equipment anywhere in the country with all of these vehicles,” Patrick said. “The state knows that, and the sheriff has gotten several rewards from the state and has been recognized for it.”

“If these vehicles start giving us problems, we’ll get another vehicle to replace that vehicle, and it will go up for auction out here. Any proceeds from that sale will go back to the county, not to the district or the state,” Patrick added.

In other business before the commissioners, maintenance supervisor Morry DeMarco advised he would repair some tears in the sheets of lead on the flat roof of the courthouse before a hard rain hits.

Commissioners also approved an annual pest control contract for all county buildings as submitted.

In other business, EMS director Nikki Lowry reported that the new ambulance is in service and running well. The service now has two main trucks and one that can be used for patient transfers.

Next she plans to work with local attorney Dan Murphy on collections from past-due accounts after county attorney Kevin Tankersley sends a 30-day letter to their current company announcing that their services will no longer be needed.

The next Pulaski County Commissioners meeting will be Tuesday, Sept. 4 at 6 p.m. at the Pulaski County Courthouse as the regular Monday meeting falls on Labor Day.

(Pulaski County Journal - August 22, 2012)

Star City sewer hookups falling behind schedule

All tie-ins to the new Star City sewer system need to be completed by Sept. 15. The Star City Regional Sewer District extended the connection deadline due to the backlog contractors are experiencing in tying homes in. The first opportunity to connect was May 1, with all homes to be tied in by Aug. 1. As of Monday’s meeting, about 20 still needed to be hooked up.

The board did not decide what to do if customers aren’t connected or granted an exemption in accordance with the district’s bylaws by the 15th. Their next scheduled meeting is Monday, Sept. 17 at 6:30 p.m., so they will decide then. Options include obtaining a court order to force the homeowner into compliance, collecting a monthly bill until they connect or turn the matter over to the county health department for enforcement. Letters will be mailed to homeowners who have not yet connected advising them of the new deadline.

Meanwhile, several residents have complained about smells coming from the goosenecks in their yards and from the pits. Project engineer Ron Lauritsen with AECOM is aware of the issues.

North Central Co-Op has also raised issues about how their business will be hooked into the system and has requested an exemption from tying in. Attorney Dan Murphy who represents the sewer system suggested they discuss their concerns with Lauritsen.

In other business, the town of Winamac will need to appoint another new member to the Star City Regional Sewer District Board. Town councilman Richard Denney was appointed to complete the remainder of Mike Pugh’s term, which ends at the end of this month. However, Denney was never sworn in and said he is unable to sit on the board.

(Pulaski County Journal - August 22, 2012)

Don’t overpay for property deeds

Copies of property deeds available through a Washington, D.C.-based company for a $87 fee are no bargain, according to Pulaski County Recorder Lynn Wilder.

Record Retrieval Department mines available public records databases and mails letters to property owners offering them a chance to purchase certified copies of their property deeds.

“This document provides evidence that your property was transferred to you,” the letter reads.

The same deed can be obtained from the recorder’s office at the Pulaski County Courthouse for $1 per page during business hours. The average deed is between one and three pages.

“It’s legitimate, but it’s a ripoff,” Wilder said of the company. “I want to make sure people don’t fall prey to paying more than they should for copies of public records.”

The solicitation letter states, “The company Record Retrieval Department is not affiliated with the State or County Recorder. Record Retrieval Department is an analysis and retrieval firm that uses multiple resources that provide supporting values, deeds and evidence that is used to execute a property reports and deliver requested deed.”

The letter goes on to state: “Record Retrieval Department is not affiliated with the county in which your deed is filed in, nor affiliated with ‘any’ other government agencies. This offer serves as a solicitation for services and not to be interpreted as a bill due.”

Wilder worries some homeowners won’t take time to read the fine print before sending a check to the company.

Questions about how to obtain a certified copy of the deed for property in Pulaski County can be directed to the recorder’s office at 574-946-3844.

(Pulaski County Journal - August 15, 2012)

Health dept. seeks additional funds for vaccines

The Pulaski County Health Department can’t keep enough shingles vaccine in stock to meet the increased demand.

Director Terri Hansen told the Pulaski County Council that her staff administered 20 doses of the vaccine in four days. She added that 14 people are presently on a waiting list for shots.

“We never dreamed it would take off like this,” Hansen told the council. “It’s been incredible.”

Hansen appeared before the council Monday night to request an additional appropriation of $10,000 to purchase more doses of shingles and Tdap vaccines.

Hansen said the health department makes about $15 per shot but needs money to cover the upfront cost. She added that most doctors’ offices don’t offer the shingles vaccine due to the relatively short shelf life of each dose. Unlike doctors in private practice, the health department administers enough shots that storage is not a concern.

Doctors recommend patients over age 50 be vaccinated against shingles. It is caused by the varicella zoster virus (VZV). This is the same virus that causes chickenpox. If you have had chickenpox in the past, then VZV is inside you. It never leaves your body and stays in a dormant state. For reasons that are not fully known, the virus can reactivate years later and cause shingles.

Almost one out of three Americans will develop shingles in their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Nearly 1 million Americans experience the condition each year. Anyone who has had chickenpox in the past can get shingles, but older adults are more likely to get the disease. About half of all cases occur in men and women age 60 years or older.

According to the CDC, shingles causes a painful, blistering skin rash that can last 2 to 4 weeks. Some people may develop severe nerve pain that can last for months or even years after the rash goes away. This is called postherpetic neuralgia or PHN. It is the most common complication of shingles. Older adults are more likely to get PHN. Shingles can also lead to other serious complications, including eye problems when shingles affects the eye.

Pain from shingles has been described as excruciating, aching, burning, stabbing and shock-like. It has been compared to the pain of childbirth or kidney stones. The pain from shingles can cause depression, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite and weight loss. Shingles can interfere with activities of daily living like dressing, bathing, eating, cooking, shopping and travel.

Shingles cannot be passed from person to person, but someone with VZV can transmit the virus to another person. If that individual has not had chickenpox he or she can develop them.

The only way to avoid getting shingles is to get vaccinated. However, the vaccine is not recommended for peple in the following groups:

• A person who has ever had a life-threatening or severe allergic reaction to gelatin, the antibiotic neomycin, or any other component of shingles vaccine. Tell your doctor if you have any severe allergies.

• A person who has a weakened immune system because of HIV/AIDS or another disease that affects the immune system, treatment with drugs that affect the immune system, such as steroids, cancer treatment such as radiation or chemotherapy;

• a history of cancer affecting the bone marrow or lymphatic system, such as leukemia or lymphoma.

• Women who are or might be pregnant.

Contact your physician or the Pulaski County Health Department at 574-946-6080 with any questions.

Hansen said the Tdap, or combined Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis Vaccine, is also quite popular among adults, especially those who have close contact with infants younger than 12 months of age. Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, cases are on the rise nationally. It’s a highly contagious respiratory tract infection that initially resembles a common cold but may turn more serious.

The disease is especially dangerous in infants, as they have not received enough vaccines to build an immunity. The best way to avoid spreading whooping cough is to receive vaccines as a child and booster shots as an adult.

In other business, the council approved surveyor Joyce Weaver’s requests to advertise additional appropriations of $3,000 for part-time help and $2,000 for gas and oil in order to close the books on the current budget.

Weaver advised that her employees have treated more than 2,500 miles of ditch bank with chemicals this year. The cost of treatment is divided between the ditches, and each is charged a maintenance fee.

Council members also approved Sheriff Mike Gayer’s request to transfer funds into training and overtime to help his department transition to a new computer system that is in the process of being installed. They also approved the motor vehicle and equipment transfers the sheriff received permission to advertise last month.

Other transfers of $400 for the auditor to pay a former part-time employee who comes in to assist with budget preparation as a consultant, $210 for the assessor’s office to buy a postage cartridge for the machine in the clerk’s office and $30.97 to pay for an annual maintenance contract for the extension office were also approved.

(Pulaski County Journal - August 15, 2012)

Illegal trash dumping raises stink in Monterey

The next time you dump trash at the county’s recycling bin in Monterey, you may want to smile for the camera. Town council members have stepped up surveillance at the site in an attempt to discourage illegal dumping.

The county provides bins in several locations, including Monterey, for the collection of paper, plastic, glass, aluminum and cardboard. Crews haul the bins to the county recycling center in Winamac where the items are sorted.

Town council president Jim Fleury said last week that he received a telephone call from recycling center director Ed Clark about people using the bins to dispose of trash. Monterey does not offer municipal trash pickup, so disposal is the responsibility of each resident.

Several residents have also complained about people dumping trash in and around the bins, especially during the recent warm weather when the smell of garbage became overwhelming. Additionally, when the wind blows, trash blows down the bicycle trail and through the town.

Town officials don’t want to do away with the recycling bin, as they agree it offers a valuable public service to the people who use it correctly. However, they warn that may happen if people continue to abuse it. Instead they hope that training security cameras on the bin and turning information about illegal dumping over to the sheriff’s office will serve as a deterrent.

In other business before the council, wastewater superintendent Ray Stevenson said the sewer treatment plant remains violation free, but a state inspector who visited recently had some procedural issues with the “self monitoring” process.  Stevenson has updated his forms to reflect the recommendations.

Council members also discussed the procedure for locating existing sewer lines and how they should be marked when a property owner makes such a request. The issue arose recently during the construction of a new home. Council members said they would review their existing sewer ordinance for guidance and consult with town attorney Dan Murphy.

In other business, clerk-treasurer Linda McCune advised that her recent budget meeting with the State Board of Accounts went well. The town’s budget proposal for the upcoming year is published for review in this week’s Pulaski County Journal.

(Pulaski County Journal - August 8, 2012)

Commissioners approve conditional revolving loan, discuss fallen tree

Pulaski County Commissioners Monday approved a loan of $132,000 from the county’s revolving loan fund pending a request to rezone a piece of land to accommodate a business expansion.

Tom Bonnell wants to move his wood pallet recycling business, T & S Recycle, LLC, from his home on SR 119 south of Winamac to the former Anvil and Saw facility on CR 200 S. near CR 500 W.

The property, which includes a 5,500 square foot shop and on 11 acres is currently zoned for agricultural use and must be rezoned to light industrial in order to accommodate Bonnell’s business.

Bonnell is working with Pulaski County Building Inspector Dave Dare’s office on the zoning issue. The Pulaski County Plan Commission will conduct an Aug. 27 hearing on the matter and decide whether to proceed with Bonnell’s rezoning request.

If it is approved, Bonnell will be able to borrow $132,000 from the fund at 3 percent interest. The 20-year loan will be amortized over a 10-year period, meaning that Bonnell will make monthly payments for the first 10 years followed by a final balloon payment to the county.

A revolving loan committee, comprised of Pulaski County Economic Development Director Nathan P. Origer, a county commissioner and representatives of the local banking community, met with Bonnell recently and issued a favorable recommendation for the loan.

County attorney Kevin Tankersley raised concerns about how Bonnell planned to secure the debt. County officials found out in January after receiving a notice from the federal bankruptcy trustee’s office that the former owners of Chesapeake Recycling had defaulted on a $155,000 loan from the fund. The county has little hope of recouping the loss, as the county’s mortgage against the land owned by the business and offered as security for the loan was not recorded when the loan was originated in 2004.

“We’re just a little gun shy,” Tankersley said.

Origer said the loan approval was granted on the condition that the county would be listed as the first creditor on the mortgage as well as on any personal property belonging to the business.

Since learning about the Chesapeake default back in January, county officials have put numerous safeguards in place to track all outstanding loans and ensure quick action should a borrower fall behind on payments.

The loan to Bonnell will leave $19,000 available in the revolving loan fund for the county to loan to other borrowers. About $5,800 is presently being repaid to the county each month by the four outstanding borrowers.

Bonnell told commissioners the expansion will allow him to make his seven part-time employees full time.

In other business, commissioners told Pulaski County Assessor Holly VanDerAa they would consider her request to relocate her office from the courthouse basement to the third floor of the county annex building on Riverside Drive next to the Pulaski County Public Library. The existing office is too small to accommodate her staff and all of the records kept there. Additionally, an office in the annex building would be more convenient to the building inspector, which would simplify the process for residents who need to obtain permits or other information.

The commissioners plan to visit the space in the annex building during their Aug. 20 daytime meeting. VanDerAa assured them additional furniture will not be necessary and that the open floor plan in the office is ideal for her staff.

Commissioners also heard from Jeff Larrison with United Consulting. He’s the engineer on the Monterey bridge replacement and advised that the final two expenses for the relocation of the blacksmith shop have been approved by the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT). He added that the project remains on INDOT’s schedule for bidding this fall.

Commissioners also discussed what to do about the tree that fell from property they now own during the July 24 storm. It is now spanning the river just to the east of the existing bridge. They agreed that since the tree was on county-owned land and has the river completely blocked that it needs to be removed as soon as possible and asked county highway superintendent Kenny Becker to make the necessary arrangements.

Becker advised the commissioners that the replacement culvert in Francesville is installed but an additional $11,000 worth of hot mix is needed to finish the road.

(Pulaski County Journal - August 8, 2012)

Task Force trains at Pulaski County Fairground

First responders from seven counties comprising the Indiana Department of Homeland Security District 2 Task Force camped out at Pulaski County Fairgrounds Monday night as part of a service and support field exercise.

The task force is comprised of agencies from Pulaski, Starke, Fulton, Marshall, St. Joseph, Elkhart and Kosciusko Counties. Members are trained to respond to natural and man-made disasters when local communities become overwhelmed and require resources beyond their jurisdictional boundaries.

That was the case in March when an F-4 tornado ripped through Henryville, injuring more than 100 people and claiming 49 lives. Members of the District 2 Task Force spent eight days in southern Indiana assisting with the cleanup and recovery effort.

Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Ron Patrick serves as task force commander. He conducts full mobilization drills like this one a few times a year so members can put their training to use and make sure all of their equipment is in working order.

“When we deploy as a unit, incident management and first responders can’t become a burden,” Patrick said. “We have to be able to self-support for at least 72 hours without any help. If we get there and have to start pulling from them we become a burden instead of an asset.”

The District 2 Task Force has the capability to deploy 120 people for seven days and without outside assistance. Their assets include several heated and cooled tents, cots and blankets, generators, light towers, Gator utility vehicles and a number of command trucks for various purposes that Patrick says he would take anywhere in the country without hesitation. Pulaski County Sheriff Mike Gayer acquired the vehicles through a federal surplus program that allows police departments to receive U.S. military supplies that are no longer needed. The government gives the vehicles to the agencies, but they are tasked with picking them up and seeing that they are titled, registered and insured. The trucks all belong to the sheriff’s office, but Gayer has made it clear that they are at the disposal of the task force should they be needed.

The 15 task force members that deployed to Henryville took two of the trucks along, and other large vehicles were placed on standby had task force members remained beyond the initial eight-day period.

Patrick said having vehicles available to the task force enhances their ability to deploy, as fire departments, for instance, cannot do without their local first responder trucks for extended periods of time.

The District 2 Task Force is one of 10 in the state and is widely regarded as the best trained and equipped.

“If we got the call tonight, we could load up and head in any direction,” Patrick said.

(Pulaski County Journal - August 1, 2012)

Neighbors pitch in to clean up storm damage

Melissa and Dave Young were relaxing in the living room of their rural Medaryville home around 8:30 last Tuesday morning with two of their four children when the wind started to pick up, knocking out their satellite television signal.

A few minutes later, a much-needed rain started to fall, and the wind continued to whip, tossing the corn in the field north of their house and causing their front door to blow open.

Melissa got up and shut it, only to have it blow open a second time. She leaned against the door to hold it shut. Her weight was no match for the gusting wind, so Dave got up to help. As the couple struggled to keep the door closed, a wind gust toppled the large tree in front of their house, sending it crashing into their porch.

“I screamed,” Melissa said. “I thought for sure it would come through the picture window.”

Less than a minute later their daughter Nikita, age 10, and a friend who had spent the night burst into the room yelling that a tree had fallen through the roof of the bedroom where they were sleeping. The girls were shaken up but uninjured, as the bunk bed on which they were sleeping was against the opposite wall.

The storm had knocked out power to the home, and continued torrential rains made it impossible to see the extent of the damage outside, so the family huddled in the living room and waited for the storm to pass.

Once the wind subsided, they found five trees uprooted and parts of two others down. Their front porch was buried by trees and branches, but their picture window was intact. Rain was pouring through a hole in the roof of the girls’ bedroom near the window, but that was the only structural damage the house sustained. They set buckets under the hole to catch rainwater and counted their blessings.

“With how much did go down, it’s amazing the structural damage is just a tree,” Melissa said.

Her minivan didn’t fare as well. It was parked beside the house, and the driver’s side rear window was smashed by a falling tree.

As the storm subsided, the family’s concerns turned to cleanup, specifically how they would move the large trees from their front and side yards.

That problem was solved when neighbors stopped by to check on the Young family and stayed to help out.

Glen Sewell lives down the road and was one of the first to arrive. He made sure his neighbors were OK then immediately set about dragging large limbs and branches out of the way.

A short time later another neighbor, Ralph Tanner, arrived with his tractor and front-end loader, logging chains, a chainsaw and a gas can. He paused long enough to gas up his chainsaw before getting to work clearing the trees from the front yard.

Sewell and Dave Young helped him cut the timber into more manageable pieces and secure the trees so they could be moved safely. Several other neighbors also stopped to assist and had the yard cleared within a few hours.

Sewell left briefly and returned with some shingles and other roofing supplies left over from a project at his house to patch the hole in the girls’ bedroom. While he was gone Tanner, Young and others continued their work with the chainsaws.

Melissa, meanwhile, was surveying her yard when her eye caught something. She bent to look closer and picked a four-leaf clover.

“Maybe it’s a sign,” she said. “I sure hope so.”

Tanner finished moving the large logs before returning to his home to clean up damage there.

“Mr. and Mrs. Tanner are wonderful people,” Melissa said as she waved goodbye to her neighbor. “His wife is the kids’ school bus driver, and two weeks ago they brought us a bunch of vegetables from their garden. We’ve helped him out, and he’s helped us out.”

Meanwhile, a second wave of help began to materialize. Nikita’s friend’s mother volunteered to take both girls and the Young’s six-year-old daughter for the rest of the day, and her husband offered the use of his chainsaw to continue the cleanup effort.

“We’ve got a good system of help on our street,” Melissa said. “We all try to live by the Golden Rule.

She said the family will put the wood from the fallen trees to good use this winter in their fireplace. They burn wood to save on heating costs. The pine is too tarry to burn in the house, but Dave said he can use it in his woodburner in his shop.

“That will at least save us some money on firewood,” Melissa said.

As the family surveyed the storm’s aftermath, their oldest son Matthias, who will turn 13 in a few days, perhaps summed it up best.

“We’re lucky, lucky, lucky,” he said.

(Pulaski County Journal - August 1, 2012)

RETURN TO TOP

JULY

Medaryville to enforce sump pump ordinance

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) has put the town of Medaryville on notice regarding possible sewer treatment violations.

The problem is caused by discharge from sump pumps and other water systems draining into the town’s sewer system. Maintenance supervisor Keith Hauptli told town council members that this has been an ongoing problem. The town has an ordinance in place that states sump pumps are not to be tied into the sewer system.

Council members discussed the matter during their meeting last week, during which attorney Amber Lapaich advised that their ordinance gives them the authority to enter homes and inspect sump pumps to make sure they are not discharging into the sewer system.

Many homeowners use sump pumps to discharge water from flooded basements to the outside of their homes. If they are tied into the sewer system they can overwhelm its treatment capacity.

Council members asked Hauptli to follow up with homeowners believed to be in violation of the ordinance.

Another perennial problem stems from homeowners who do not display proper street numbers, which are essential to help firefighters, police officers and other first responders locate homes and respond timely with necessary emergency assistance. Town officials have sent notices to homeowners that numbers need to be properly placed and can now do the work and charge owners who are not in compliance for materials and labor.

In other business, council members concurred with project engineer Randy Kriscunas’ recommendation to change the substantial completion date for the storm sewer project to July 1 and the final payment date to July 30. He advised that the contractor is completing the final items on his punch list now except for seeding, which will be done at the end of August when conditions are more favorable for seed to take root.

Medaryville Decoration Committee Chairwoman Brandi Stone advised council members that an insurance policy has been obtained for the upcoming poker run, which will result in a street closure that evening. The event is one of several fundraisers planned by the grassroots group in an effort to raise money to purchase new decorations for Christmas and other holidays for the town. Stone said an emergency plan is also in place thanks to assistance from the Medaryville Police Department and Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office.

In other business, council members approved fire chief Shaun Hauptli’s request to paint the curb on National Street across from the fire station bays yellow and declare it a “no parking” zone, complete with signage. Hauptli said firefighters have a difficult time maneuvering their trucks in and out of the garage when cars are parked along the street.

Council members also approved the purchase of new computers for the clerk-treasurer’s office from Mainstreet Communications, Inc. and a Panasonic Toughbook 53 with a Verizon 4G air card for the police department. Officers will use the laptop in their patrol vehicle to connect to county and state law enforcement portals. Deputy Marshal Sheri Gaillard said their current laptop is not designed for in-car use.

(Pulaski County Journal - July 25, 2012)

Winamac receives grant to extend Panhandle Pathway

Plans to extend the 21-mile paved bi-county Panhandle Pathway recreational trail into Winamac took a big step forward thanks to a state grant.

The Town of Winamac was recently awarded a $51,986 Recreational Trails Program (RTP) grant through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. It will fund construction of the first phase of the Winamac Parkway on the Panhandle Line.

Presently the paved trail runs from south of Winamac through Star City, Thornhope and Royal Center before ending in Cass County near Kenneth. The grant funds will allow an additional half-mile of the trail to be paved from its current endpoint at the southern town limits to the Depot at the corner of Main and Logan Streets in downtown Winamac.

The Panhandle Pathway sits in the bed of the former Pennsylvania Railroad and is extremely popular for bicycle riders, walkers and joggers.

Construction of the new portion of the trail is slated to start in the spring. First the town must raise the matching funds necessary for the grant. Fundraising efforts are being planned now to ensure the necessary cash and resources are in place to allow construction to proceed on schedule.

Information about the project is available from Winamac Clerk-Treasurer Melanie Berger or Town Manager Jim Connor.

(Pulaski County Journal - July 25, 2012)

Pulaski County Council clarifies building maintenance budget

Pulaski County government is halfway through the budget year and has only spent $12,720.84 from the $225,000 appropriated by the county council for building maintenance and upkeep.

That’s because maintenance supervisor Morry DeMarco and county commissioners, who ultimately decide how money will be spent, aren’t clear on exactly how the council expected the funds to be used, what projects should take priority or if funds can even be used for all county buildings.

Auditor Shelia Garling brought the matter to attention of council members Monday night. She is caught in the middle of the uncertainty every time questions arise, including recent inquiries as to whether funds could be used to construct a new storage building to replace the former Pulaski County Highway Garage, which has deteriorated beyond repair and poses a potential safety hazard.

“That was strictly for major fixes on any county-owned building or general upkeep,” council vice-president Parish Foerg said. “If the commissioners decided to take an office and do an electrical upgrade or new carpet or whatever.”

Other council members agreed that was the idea behind setting funds aside. Although money can be used for any county-owned building, Foerg said the thought was that the courthouse is in need of some major repairs that have been put off in recent years due to budget cuts. These include addressing a structural issue and problems with the basement plumbing before they turn into more costly repairs.

“We provided the money, but we didn’t make the executive decision on how it needs to be spent,” Foerg said, adding that the council left those decisions to the maintenance supervisor’s discretion.

He added that DeMarco was supposed to develop a priority list and submit it to the commissioners so the most urgent needs could be addressed first. Every time a repair is mentioned and the maintenance fund is cited as a possible funding source commissioners claim they’re not clear on how the council intended the money be spent.

“I know he’s trying to do some of the work himself to save the county money,” Garling said. “I don’t know what projects he’s working on. Maybe I can get a list.”

“He’s using it sparingly,” Garling added, speaking of the maintenance fund. “The commissioners are the ones that are wanting to know what buildings and what it can be used for. They thought there should have been some kind of a project or plan submitted so that we knew. It seems like nobody knew what it could be used for, so that’s why I was asking, to get a better clarification.”

One of the pending repair projects is the tuck pointing of the crumbling mortar in the courthouse clock tower. DeMarco brought a stone mason in several months ago to assess the deteriorating structure and has obtained prices and references from several contractors.

Commissioners agreed several months ago after getting a firsthand look at the clock tower to proceed with the repair. However, they decided last week to wait until fall so bats can be removed from the courthouse attic and tower first.

He added that funds were intended to address major problems at the courthouse like a previously identified structural issue and problems with the basement plumbing and drainage but were not to be limited to that building alone.

In other business, council members approved Sheriff Mike Gayer’s request to transfer $17,917 deposited in the county’s general fund after surplus police vehicles were sold at Olson’s Auction into his motor vehicle and equipment funds. Council president Jay Sullivan made the point that the transfer was essentially for bookkeeping purposes since money would have remained in the sheriff’s account had the vehicles been traded in. Gayer opted to sell the cars at auction due to a considerably higher return.

Part of the money replaces funds used from the motor vehicle fund to buy a used unmarked car for Pulaski County Sheriff’s Detective Dave Walters after his existing vehicle developed problems deemed too costly to repair. Gayer said the remainder will pay for equipment for the new Dodge Charger patrol vehicles as the items removed from the Ford Crown Victorias they replaced don’t fit in the smaller cars.

Gayer also received approval to advertise an additional $20,000 appropriation from his work release fund to purchase new computers for the jail and replace a recently totaled police car on which the insurance company paid $13,000 of the $22,000 cost.

Councilman Ron Powers had several questions for Gayer about Pulaski County’s recent agreement to house Starke County Jail inmates for $20 per day to alleviate overcrowding at their facility. The state pays the county $35 per day for each inmate that is in local custody.

Gayer said the Department of Corrections recently opened a new facility and is relying less on counties to handle its overflow. Currently five DOC inmates are housed locally. Meanwhile, Gayer said the county makes no money when beds are empty and he decided some money was better than none at all.

It costs the county $1.25 per day to feed each inmate, and the jail’s water bill may be slightly higher due to the additional prisoners. However, Gayer said the county still clears between $15 and $18 per day in profit for each Starke County inmate they house. The county’s medical insurance for inmates covers up to 100 at a time for a flat rate. Currently the Pulaski County Jail averages 68 inmates per day including the Starke County inmates.

Powers also asked about inmates with work release privileges. Gayer said that’s an option offered by either the judge or the prosecutor, but he has the ultimate authority to grant it. Each work release inmate pays $98 per week for the privilege of going to their job each day and returning to the jail when their shift is over. Their wages are also subject to federal, state and local tax withholding, and they are covered by their employer’s liability insurance while they are on the job.

Those inmates are not to be confused with those who have earned trustee status and are allowed to work outside the jail under the supervision of a deputy, jail officer or other county employee. Gayer said they helped clean up trash after both the Braun Corporation’s 40th anniversary celebration and the Pulaski County Fair, set up air conditioned tents at both events and painted rooms and the barn at Pleasant View Rest Home. The county maintains a liability insurance policy on those inmates, and participation in the program is voluntary.

Powers inquired about the sheriff’s vehicle fleet and gas costs as well. Gayer said he purchased three patrol vehicles from the current budget, two Dodge Chargers and a Dodge Ram pickup truck, and is replacing a fourth car that was totaled. He said the truck is four-wheel drive and can handle slippery winter roads better than the lightweight cars. It also has four doors so prisoners can ride in the rear seat like they would in a car.

Gayer also reported that the county’s fuel supply is in good shape, as an allocation of about 10,000 gallons of gas purchased for $3.10 per gallon from North Central Co-Op remains. Fuel is delivered to the county in 500-gallon increments for use by law enforcement personnel. He said that in the unlikely event gas falls below $3.10 per gallon deputies will use their department-issued credit cards to purchase from local stations and turn their receipts in to further stretch the fuel budget.

In other business concerning the sheriff’s office, Chris Calloway with Morgan Stanley appeared before the council as a courtesy to tell them that checks issued by the state from the sheriff’s pension fund account will now be drawn on a Comerica Bank account as recent regulatory changes no longer allow Morgan Stanley Private Bank to provide that service for funds the company manages.

In other business before the council, Terri Hansen requested to transfer money from flu vaccines and postage in order to purchase additional doses of the Hepatitis B, shingles and meningitis vaccine as well as to advertise an additional appropriation of $5,000 for the same purpose. Hansen said the vaccine is extremely popular among adults who have had chicken pox and she needs money to replenish her supply. She adds that the health department makes $15 on each shot they administer.

EMS director Nikki Lowry’s request to transfer $8,000 from her on-call budget to ambulance maintenance and repairs was also approved. The funds will cover the cost of extensive repairs to an ambulance that ran over a deer a few weeks ago and sustained extensive damage to its under housing. The remaining money will pay for the rest of the remounting project to put the boxes from the county’s old ambulance on a new chassis. The finished truck should be delivered and in service by the end of the month.

Council members approved previously advertised appropriations for superior court judge Pat Blankenship to cover expert witness fees, surveyor Joyce Weaver to purchase a printer and Pleasant View Rest Home to buy supplies and pay part-time wages.

Transfers were also approved for the extension office to cover upcoming travel expenses, Pulaski County Economic Development to pay for postage and the surveyor’s office to spend $40 on field supplies.

(Pulaski County Journal - July 18, 2012)

ISTEP+ results mixed for local schools

Eastern Pulaski Elementary retains bragging rights among local schools when it comes to annual ISTEP+ test results.

Spring 2012 results indicate 93 percent of third, fourth and fifth graders tested at EPES passed both Math and English Language Arts tests. That’s up from a combined 88.8 percent last year.

Scores at Winamac Community Middle School dipped by more than 5.5 percent to a 77.3 percent combined passing rate for 2012. That’s still ahead of the state average of 71 percent overall for the 2011-2012 school year, which is a 1-percent gain on the previous school year and an 8-percent improvement since 2008-2009.

West Central did not fare as well, with scores at both the elementary and middle schools declining to below the state average. At West Central Elementary, 64.1 percent of students passed both tests, a decline of 4.7 percent. Scores dipped by 2.6 percent at West Central Middle School, where the total passing percentage was 62.8.

Culver Elementary saw the most dramatic percentage gain among the four school corporations that serve Pulaski County. Scores were up 8.82 percent there for a 78.8 percent overall passing rate.

Meanwhile, Culver Community Middle School saw the sharpest decline, with scores 11.76 percent lower than the previous year at 54.3 percent.

Scores at North Judson-San Pierre improved but remained below the state average at both Liberty Elementary and NJ-SP Middle School, with 68 and 65.6 percent respectively.

ISTEP+ tests are administered each spring to approximately 500,000 students in grades 3 through 8. The test offers a snapshot of student progress at a specific point in time and gives educators, students and parents information they can use to identify specific strengths and areas of need at each grade level.

The goal of the test is to measure how well students perform and comprehend the skills and content outlined in Indiana’s Academic Standards.

(Pulaski County Journal - July 18, 2012)

Commissioners consider courthouse AC upgrade

The Pulaski County Courthouse, completed in 1895, may soon get a 21st century air conditioning overhaul.

Offices on the first floor and in the basement of the courthouse are cooled with older window air conditioners which work sporadically and consume considerable energy.

Commissioner Ken Boswell asked maintenance supervisor Morry DeMarco to look into the cost of installing central air on the two lower floors. Boswell noted that there are several rebate programs available to offset the cost of making energy efficient upgrades. The second floor of the courthouse is already cooled by central air.

DeMarco is also looking into the cost of upgrading the electrical system at the courthouse and said that’s his top priority with maintenance funds allocated by the county council for major repairs and upgrades.

“We sure don’t need a fire,” DeMarco told the commissioners.

He said the second priority item on his list is to repair the plumbing at the courthouse.

Since the county council clarified their intent as to how maintenance funds should be used, DeMarco said he has received a number of project requests from department heads. Pleasant View Rest Home has asked for their building to be tuck-pointed and would also like new carpeting. The Pulaski County Clerk’s Office also wants new carpeting as well as an electrical upgrade.

Boswell and president of the commissioners Mike Tiede agreed that an overhaul of the electrical system at the courthouse should be the top priority and advised that other requests should be handled as funds allow once that and other big projects are done.

Another priority is replacing the steps at all three entrances to the courthouse. DeMarco requested five quotes for the work from local vendors and received three. Commissioners awarded the project to Medaryville-based Kuiper Masonry, Inc. for $3,345 after Kuiper agreed to take the old concrete to the county highway building so it can be reused by the highway department.

In other business, commissioners formally approved the receipt of $17,000 in additional grant money to facilitate the county’s conversion to narrowband radios. Emergency Management Agency Director Larry Hoover advised that the council has already approved the necessary matching funds.

Hoover also told commissioners that the county received a $3,000 critical infrastructure grant to place a fence around the generator at the justice center. He said that should be an adequate sum of money to complete the work and is coordinating with DeMarco to get bids for the project.

County highway superintendent Kenny Becker advised that the culvert on CR 1600 W. in Francesville was successfully installed last week but said the road still needs to be paved. His department is also the recipient of a military surplus forklift obtained by the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office that will be picked up in Indianapolis this week.

Commissioners also asked Becker to coordinate with Dick Zehner in Monterey to cap the sewer system at the former blacksmith shop recently acquired by the county as part of the bridge replacement project that’s due to be bid later this year. The building’s sewer is no longer in use, but unless it is capped or taken out of service the county will still have to pay the town a monthly fee. Boswell and Tiede decided that paying $200 now to cap the system was the most fiscally responsible option.

In other business, commissioners approved assessor Holly VanDerAa’s request to contract with a vendor to produce and mail state-mandated Form 11 notices to taxpayers every time property values change, as paying $7,486.69 for the service is more cost-effective than having her staff do the work. Postage alone would cost the county $8,100.

Veterans service officer Ed Fleury’s request to lease a Xerox Color Cube 8700 desktop printer through Copiers Plus for $100 per month was also approved. Fleury advised that the machine will meet all of the needs of his office.

Commissioners also approved an upgrade to a smartphone for Pulaski County Sheriff’s Detective Dave Walters. Sheriff Mike Gayer said the extra $30 monthly fee will be paid from his commissary fund. He said having a phone with Internet access will allow Walters to instantly track stolen items through an online pawnshop registry as soon as he takes a report.

Gayer also told commissioners that the department purchased a white Dodge Charger patrol vehicle to replace a car that was recently totaled, as Dodge no longer offers the white pearl gold color option.

Commissioners also approved Gayer’s request to send Deputy Tyler Campbell to a three-day bomb detection training at the end of August. Conference and travel requests were also approved for the recorder, assessor and treasurer.

(Pulaski County Journal - July 11, 2012)

Winamac pocket park plans remain in limbo

The Winamac Town Council still isn’t satisfied with plans to develop the vacant lot at the southeast corner of Monticello and Washington Streets into a pocket park.

Fred Zahrt with Greenspace Winamac had hoped to receive final approval to proceed with the project at the recent council meeting, but concerns were raised over parking for Studio 218. Zahrt envisions a small park in the spot where a gas station and car wash once stood. His proposed design for the space includes using pavers removed from downtown streets during last summer’s sewer separation project as part of the landscaping design.

In other business, council members adopted an ordinance governing the removal of fallen trees, tree limbs, weeds and rank vegetation within the town limits. The ordinance states that property owners are responsible for trimming, removing and disposing of grass or uncontrolled plant growth in excess of 10 inches high as well as removing fallen trees and limbs.

Written complaints alleging ordinance violations can be filed with the town clerk’s office. The town manager or his designee will follow up on all complaints. If he finds that a violation exists, he will send a notice via certified mail to the property owner that they have seven days to remedy the violation. The property owner will then have 48 hours to appeal to the council, which can meet in special session for that purpose.

If a property owner fails to comply, the town may employ the services of town employees or outside contractors to bring the property into compliance. The property owner will be billed for all costs, including mowing and collection fees, and fined not less than $50 and not more than $250 per violation.

Street superintendent Kevin Roe advised that brush is continually being picked up. He also reported that the water tower painting was completed recently. Town employees assisted with cleanup at the park after the recent storms.

Wastewater superintendent Brad Zellers told the council that Star City is pumping into the wastewater treatment facility and was billed for 87,500 gallons for last month’s usage. Zellers added that his department is catching up on maintenance.

In other business, council members discussed the ongoing problem with juveniles at the town park. Winamac Police Chief Mike Buchanan said he was told by the prosecutor that his officers cannot ban juveniles from the park. If there is a problem, a report needs to be filed so the matter can be addressed by the prosecutor and probation departments. Council members agreed that a policy needs to be in place so punishment can be warranted if someone commits a crime in the park.

Council members also talked about enacting a golf cart ordinance for the town. John Crist advised that each cart would have to be insured, licensed, have front and rear lights, turn signals, brake lights and a slow-moving sign. Golf cart drivers would also be required to obey all traffic laws, and carts must be eco-friendly. Furthermore, children under 48 pounds would have to be placed in a child restraint seat. Council president John Plowman is revising the ordinance prior to the August meeting.

In other business, council members approved clerk-treasurer Melanie Berger’s attendance at the Supporting Healthy Downtowns and Commercial Districts in 2012 & Beyond in Carmel on Aug. 1.

(Pulaski County Journal - July 11, 2012)

Reward for break-in information

Anyone with information about two recent residential burglaries in downtown Winamac may be eligible for a reward if they come forward.

The first incident occurred on Friday, April 27 at a home on South Market at Washington Street sometime between 10:30 a.m. and 10 p.m. Winamac Police Chief Mike Buchanan said the homeowner returned home that night and discovered U.S. currency and jewelry with a combined value of more than $1,000 missing. There were no signs of forced entry.

The second break-in happened sometime between Thursday, May 3 at 8:30 a.m. and Monday, May 7 at 4:30 p.m. This time the thief or thieves forced their way into a home at the corner of Huron and Burson Streets and made off with jewelry and money worth more than $10,000. The homeowner was out of town during that time, according to Buchanan. The Indiana State Police Crime Lab is assisting with that investigation.

Buchanan believes the two incidents are related. He encourages anyone with information about either break-in to call the WeTip hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME. Callers can remain anonymous and may receive a cash reward if information they provide leads to an arrest.

(Pulaski County Journal - July 4, 2012)

Local economy shows strengths, indicates room for improvement

Pulaski County continues to enjoy one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state at 6.2 percent for the month of May.

Economic Development Director Nathan P. Origer credits that to the diversified, homegrown local economy which is better equipped to ride out economic turbulence than one that relies too heavily on one sector, such as automotive manufacturing.

During last week’s State of Pulaski County’s Economy speech in Medaryville, Origer noted that Remington Seeds just south of Francesville on U.S. 421 has invested almost $20 million in an expansion that is adding between eight and 10 full-time and at least as many part-time jobs to the local workforce.

Additionally, Origer pointed out that Fratco has added nearly 15 jobs to its Francesville plant over the last year, has acquired a new facility in Iowa and expanded its Illinois operation.

The Braun Corporation, which just celebrated 40 years in business, recently unveiled a new taxi line and announced recapitalization efforts to keep the homegrown company in Pulaski County for the foreseeable future.

Discussions between Plymouth Tube executives and town and county officials about construction of a new electrical substation to adequately power the company’s three local mills are ongoing. Origer says greater production capacity for Plymouth Tube could mean additional jobs.

Winamac remains in the running for Plymouth Tube’s proposed $45 million expansion also. If that occurs it will add about 20 new jobs to the local workforce.

Origer notes that more than 90 percent of new local jobs are the result of startups and expansions and not of major-attraction projects. He also cautioned against holding out hope for a major, infrastructure depended employer to pick Pulaski County due to the lack of four-lane highways, limited access by rail and small local workforce.

He added that Pulaski County Economic Development is prepared to help new and existing businesses obtain revolving loans, tax abatements and other sources of funding and assistance.

For instance, Origer said the revolving loan approved last year for Winamac Lumber Yard has retained a few jobs, kept the county’s only building supply store open and kept local contractors’ money in the community.

However, Origer said the 6.2 unemployment rate can be deceiving.

“An official unemployment rate of 6.2 percent translates to something closer to seven, or, really, even 11, percent, depending on whom we include,” Origer explained. “This means that as many as 800 people in Pulaski County are out of work or underemployed. Despite this, I still hear from employers who cannot fill open positions. Some applicants fail the drug screen; some forget that if the shift starts at 8 a.m., then they need to be ready to go then, not at 8:30 or 10 — or the next day. Even if they’re drug-free, able to show up on time, and ready to work, they don’t always have the necessary skills; we need to step it up on this front.”

Fratco Director of Operations Bill Champion said about 20 percent of the people who apply for jobs with his company fail the necessary pre-employment drug screen or are fired later because they fail a random drug test. He said line employees start out making $11 an hour but have opportunities to advance into higher paying positions and receive paid job training if they demonstrate a willingness to work hard.

Becky Anspach says Thornhope-based Bonnell Grain Handling has the same problem with employees who fail drug tests or simply don’t show up to work after being hired.

Pulaski County is not alone in this regard. White County Economic Development Director Connie Neininger said employers there face the same challenges.

Origer also shared some less than stellar news with regard to poverty levels in Pulaski County.

“A study released earlier this year by the Annie E. Casey Foundation revealed that Pulaski County, at 38 percent, has the highest rate of children living in concentrated poverty of any Indiana county. The level for Indiana is 8 percent, and nationally, we’re at 11 percent. But 38 percent here in Pulaski County, that’s sad,” Origer said. “We certainly don’t have the most people living in poverty, but just as one factor of a small population and aging demographics is a lower unemployment rate, so, too, is this unpleasant blemish. At 14.2 percent, the portion of our population living in poverty is below the state level of 15.3 percent, but our median household income of about $42,000 is below the state’s almost $46,000.”

Origer said another measure used by the state to score grant applications, the Community Distress Score, also reflects poorly on Pulaski County. The score is calculated by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs. This number, ranging from 0 at best to 175 at worst, is based on factors including poverty rate and median household income, housing vacancies and median home values, and the unemployment rate and labor-force participation.

“The current worst score of any county in Indiana is 153.86; the absolute best is 4.93, with most of the lowest scores hovering about 20. With a score of 109.15, Pulaski County is ranked 15th — 15th-worst, remember — of 92 counties. Amongst 20 nearby counties, only two have higher scores. This is helpful if we’re applying for a State grant, but otherwise this ain’t good,” Origer said.

He added that he’s confident Pulaski County’s diverse economy and entrepreneurial spirit will help keep the community viable but stresses that it will also take residents choosing to shop at locally-owned businesses rather than spending their money out of town at big-box chain stores.

“There’s certainly room, in our car-reliant era, for the Winamac Plazas of the world, but downtown is, and must be, the heart of any community. Our towns need, need, need retail revitalization, period, whether along the highways or, preferably, downtown. That’s tough, of course. It requires not only the undertaking — the entrepreneurship, to provide the meaning of this French word — of risk by the fledgling business owners, but also community support. If someone opened a grocery store in Medaryville, would locals support it, or would the “too-high prices” still send folks elsewhere? Saving money, especially when the economy is as it is, is always desired, but at what cost? We all need to ask ourselves this,” Origer said.

(Pulaski County Journal - July 4, 2012)

Commissioners lift burn ban

Pulaski County residents no longer face restrictions on burning trash, leaves or other items. Commissioners agreed that the rain that fell over the weekend was sufficient to warrant lifting the ban placed in effect two weeks ago.

Starke County’s burn ban has also been lifted, but as of press-time 84 of the state’s 92 counties had some sort of ban in effect including all other neighboring counties.

The local ban did not prohibit fireworks but “strongly encouraged residents to refrain from using firework devices.” Residents who set off their own fireworks are still reminded to do so outdoors in a clear, open area a safe distance from other people and to have a fire extinguisher or hose nearby in case things get out of hand.

In other business before the commissioners, auditor Shelia Garling expressed continued frustration with the refusal of both elected and appointed department heads to follow the employee policy manual with regard to submitting payroll, terminating employees and other personnel management matters.

Garling’s office is the custodian of personnel files and timesheets, which are subject to audit by the State Board of Accounts. The policy manual adopted recently by the commissioners and council specifies rules to ensure uniform application of policies and procedures.

“As commissioners you’re putting me in a terrible position,” Garling said. “You’ve requested departments to fill out request forms when needing to attend meetings so I get to reimburse the employees daily rates for attending these meetings. I’ve received nothing nor have any request forms at all to say they attended it. How do you want me to handle it?”

Garling continued, “I am now receiving payroll that the time clock is not being used. The department that submitted it made the comment that the prosecutor’s office doesn’t have to use the time clock, so why should he?”

These are just a few of the problems that have arisen since the handbook’s adoption, according to Garling.

“Our new policy handbook is working so well that the department heads don’t have to follow it, and they’re not,” Garling said. “I have no records of comp time, vacation time or personal time, so when I’m asked what is the employee entitled to I have no idea.”

Garling told the commissioners she is having a difficult time letting things go, as the lax enforcement is costing the county money.

“We’ve been in this position where we had to cut nine positions because our county general fund was in the red. Please don’t let this happen again,” she said. “By allowing this stuff to continue, it is only getting worse. It is being seen as if one department can do it, so can another. I have to answer to the State Board of Accounts, and so do you. This doesn’t look very good for Pulaski County.”

County attorney Kevin Tankersley said the time clock is just one example of a policy that is not being followed. He said two employees were terminated recently and he has not received the termination paperwork the handbook requires the terminated employee to complete and turn in.

Tankersley said county commissioners and council members must decide whether to let things slide or enforce the handbook as it is written.

“I’ve checked. I think we clearly can enforce our handbook, but it will cause battles,” Tankersley said. He said that could be done by changing vacation time, personal time and other types of leave into “paid time off,” which would be lumped together. Employees who do not adhere to the rules with regard to time off could be reprimanded by receiving a disciplinary form, demoted a status and become ineligible for paid time off. This would allow the council and commissioners to bypass elected department heads who refuse to adhere to the policy as it pertains to their employees.

Department heads who are appointed by the commissioners would be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination.

Tankersley added that government entities are required to keep careful record of time worked by their employees since taxpayer dollars pay their salary. Ghost employment, which is defined as paying a government employee for work he or she is not doing, is a D felony punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

“We don’t want to see an employee get in trouble, we don’t want to see county government get fined. The time clock policy was an attempt to get some accountability, and it’s been fought tooth and nail. We’ve yet to hear a valid reason why somebody can’t punch a time clock,” Tankersley added.

“If you don’t work and you get paid, that’s stealing,” commission president Mike Tiede said.

Tankersley agreed that ghost employment and theft are essentially the same thing, and noted that both are D felonies.

Tankersley added that he’s been assured by an attorney with the state’s Wage and Hour Division that docking paid time off for noncompliance will not be a violation of the state’s wage and hour laws.

He said the council and commissioners will need to decide within the next few months whether to enforce the handbook as adopted or just allow department heads to do what they want with regard to their employees.

“It’s got to stop somewhere, because I don’t know what to do about it anymore,” Garling said. “I can’t follow State Board of Accounts rules. The only thing they’ve told me is that if I don’t think somebody has worked something I can deny paying it.”

Commissioners agreed to revisit the handbook and set a Friday morning executive session with the appointed department heads who are not following the policy.

In other business, highway superintendent Kenny Becker and engineer Jeff Larrison advised that INDOT has once again pushed back the letting for the new bridge over the Tippecanoe River in Monterey from September to October.

“We played by INDOT’s rules and aren’t sure what’s going on,” Larrison told the commissioners. He added that most of the work on the project will take place next spring anyway due to the weather and said it should remain on its original schedule.

Commissioners also suggested that the Board of Aviation Commissioners work with Becker and the county highway department to patch cracks in the runway at Arens Field. Money for the repairs would likely come from the CEDIT fund, and commissioners want to keep costs as low as possible.

In other business, commissioners authorized EMS director Nikki Lowry to give the collection agency the department currently uses a 30-day termination notice and allow local attorney Dan Murphy to handle collection efforts for the ambulance service since he does similar work for Pulaski Memorial Hospital and several local attorneys.

A successful collection effort could return between $50 and $60,000 per year to the county.

Commissioners also approved recycling center director Ed Clark’s purchase of a 2003 forklift for $8,900 with funds from the Solid Waste District and authorized him to spend up to $1,000 from those funds on a new computer to replace one damaged by the weekend storms.

Veterans Service Officer Ed Fleury was given permission to obtain quotes for a replacement copier/printer/fax machine for his office, and Terri Hansen from the health department was given the OK to get quotes for a generator or possibly connect to the one owned by the town at the annex building. Hansen said the department nearly lost several thousands of dollars worth of vaccines due to the weekend power outage. Fortunately employees were able to move them to another facility until the electricity was restored.

(Pulaski County Journal - July 4, 2012)

Winamac Fireworks Ordinance

ORDINANCE NO. 6 OF 2008

An Ordinance regulating the Use of Consumer Fireworks within the Town of Winamac

WHEREAS, unrestricted use of consumer fireworks constitutes a danger to the public health, safety and welfare; and

WHEREAS, unrestricted use of consumer fireworks may cause injuries to members of the public; and

WHEREAS, unrestricted use of consumer fireworks disturbs the peaceful use and enjoyment of property by Winamac residents; and

WHEREAS, the Indiana state legislature has provided that a municipality may adopt an ordinance concerning the use of consumer fireworks within its corporate limits; and

WHEREAS, the Town of Winamac desires to limit and regulate the use of consumer fireworks within its corporate limits.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED by the Town Council of the Town of Winamac, Indiana as follows:

SECTION 1: Regulation of Consumer Fireworks

(a) Definition - “Consumer fireworks” For purposes of this ordinance consumer fireworks shall mean consumer fireworks as defined by Indiana Code Section 22-11-14-1

(b) Days and Hours of Use

(1) Consumer fireworks may not be used, ignited or discharged within the corporate limits of the Town of Winamac except during the following times:

(A) Between the hours of 5:00 p.m. and two hours after sunset on June 29, June 30, July 1, July 2, July 3, July 5, July 6, July 7, July 8 and July 9 of each year;

(B) Between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and twelve midnight on July 4 of each year; and

(C) Between the hours of 10:00 a.m. on December 31 and 1:00 a.m. on January 1 of each year.

(c) The use, ignition or discharge of consumer fireworks other than during the above time periods shall constitute an infraction and shall be subject to a fine of $100.00.

SECTION 2: Effective Date

(a) This Ordinance shall become effective thirty (30) days after notice of this Ordinance’s adoption has been published in a paper as described in I.C. 5-3-1-4.

PASSED AND ADOPTED BY THE TOWN COUNCIL OF THE TOWN OF WINAMAC, INDIANA THIS 12th DAY OF MAY 2008.

THE WINAMAC, INDIANA TOWN COUNCIL

John Plowman, President

Rod Button, Member

Tom Murray, Member

Jamess DeArmond, Member

ATTEST: Judy Heater, Clerk/Treasurer

RETURN TO TOP

JUNE

Commissioners enact countywide burn ban

Pulaski County residents can’t burn trash, leaves or other items under a burn ban adopted by county commissioners.

Specifically the ban prohibits:

1. Open burning of any kind using conventional fuel such as wood, or other combustible material, with the exception of grills fueled by charcoal briquettes or propane (charcoal from permitted grill shall not be removed from the grills until the charcoal has been thoroughly extinguished);

2. The burning of debris, such as timber or vegetation, including such debris that results from building construction activities;

3. Campfires and other recreation fires unless enclosed.

Pulaski County Emergency Management Director Larry Hoover said campfires must be contained in burn rings. Dimensions of such rings are not specified.

The ban also “strongly encourages residents to refrain from using firework devices.”

Hoover brought the proposal to the commissioners in response to persistent hot, dry conditions. He said Saturday’s rain was inconsistent, with some parts of the county getting as much as two inches of precipitation while others recorded about half an inch. Temperatures are expected to remain in the 90s throughout the week with no significant rainfall in the forecast.

Commissioners agreed to review the ban each week and decide whether it should be continued or if more strict controls should be enacted.

Hoover said the ban will not effect professional fireworks shows such as the one scheduled June 30 to mark the Braun Corporation’s 40th anniversary or the annual July 4th community celebration because both shows are done in a controlled setting with the fire department standing by.

Pulaski is among 29 Indiana counties reporting burn bans. Starke, Fulton and Marshall Counties have bans in effect. So do LaPorte, St. Joseph, Elkhart, Kosciusko, Wabash, Grant, LaGrange, Allen, Noble, DeKalb, Carroll and Steuben counties in northern Indiana.

A complete list of counties with burn bans in place is available online at www.in.gov/dhs/files/burn-ban/.

In other business, commissioners also approved a formal inmate housing agreement with the Starke County to alleviate overcrowding in their jail. They will pay Pulaski County $20 per inmate per day and provide all necessary transportation to and from Starke County. The agreement can be terminated at any time by either party. Presently eight Starke County inmates are jailed in Pulaski County.

Commissioners also discussed implementation of the statewide workplace smoking ban. Smoking is already prohibited in county office buildings, however signs must be posted at all public entrances and inside the buildings in order to comply with state law. Additionally any ashtrays or designated smoking areas must be at least eight feet away from public entrances.

The new state law also bans smoking in vehicles owned by the state, such as Indiana Department of Transportation trucks and Indiana State Police cars. However, local governments can enact their own vehicle smoking policies. Commissioners noted that the recent county employee policy manual prohibits smoking in vehicles owned by the county, including trucks, patrol cars and ambulances.

Smoking ban violations other than those involving establishments that serve alcohol and sell tobacco that are governed by state excise policy will be enforceable by the local health department. County attorney Kevin Tankersley recommended health department officials coordinate with the prosecutor’s office to develop a procedure for turning over information about alleged violations.

Health Department Director Terri Hansen and animal control officer Deb Tiede also told commissioners that rabies cases are on the rise statewide. Tiede said she has submitted three bats for rabies testing in the past five weeks, and one from Starke County has also been sent in. So far one case of rabies has been confirmed.

“It’s not time to panic, but it is time for education,” Tiede said.

She added that the state recommends animals be quarantined for at least 45 days if they are in a home or other location with a potentially rabid bat. Any bat found in a home with a child or elderly person should be tested immediately for rabies so treatment can be started as soon as possible if the animal tests positive for the potentially fatal disease. Tiede said bat bites are so miniscule that people often don’t realize they have been bitten.

She added that cases of rabies in raccoons are also on the rise in Illinois. Anyone who encounters a potentially rabid animal needs to avoid contact with it and call Tiede at 219-954-0132 or the Pulaski County Health Department at 574-946-6655.

Since she handles potentially rabid animals, Tiede offered to get the pre-exposure vaccination. The commissioners agreed this was a good idea and also supported her request to purchase some more equipment to safely handle bats.

Hanson also suggested that the county call an exterminator to inspect the courthouse clock tower and rid it of bats before repair work begins on the deteriorating brick. Commissioners also recommended checking the attic of Pleasant View Rest Home for bats since the building is so old and asked Tiede to arrange for the necessary inspections.

In other business, commissioners approved highway superintendent Kenny Becker’s request to spend up to $20,000 from his road and street fund to repave streets in the West Win subdivision. Central Paving Company will do the work.

Becker also volunteered to demolish the former county highway garage once items are removed from the building and usable items like overhead garage doors are salvaged. The facility next to the recycling/transfer station has been used for storage by the sheriff’s department and others for the past several years. However, the structure has deteriorated beyond repair and is feared to be a safety hazard due to the caving in of the roof and walls.

There are no immediate plans to construct a replacement storage facility, as it is unclear whether money in the county’s building and structure fund can be used for a new building or how large of a space is needed. The parties that use the storage facility plan to meet and draft formal proposal for the commissioners to consider at their next meeting.

In other business, commissioners accepted a bid of $2,990 from Rogers Electric Alarm to redo the grinder on the back of the generator at the justice center, approved the purchase of a black and white plotter for the surveyor’s office for $4,490 after surveyor Joyce Weaver assured them it would be adequate to meet the needs of her office and approved a travel request for the auditor’s office to send a staff member to a same-day workshop in Merrillville.

(Pulaski County Journal - June 20, 2012)

Indiana smoking ban takes effect July 1

Hoosier smokers will soon face strict limits on where they can light up.

Indiana’s new statewide workplace smoking ban takes effect July 1. It prohibits smoking in most public places and places of employment, as well as in state-owned vehicles and on school buses. Signs stating that smoking is prohibited within eight feet of the door must be posted at all public entrances, and additional signs stating that smoking is not allowed inside the building must be placed inside, even if a business owner or operator already bans smoking. Public entrances include garage doors and loading bays.

Smoking is permitted in horse-racing facilities, facilities with a gambling game license, satellite-gaming facilities, cigar bars, hookah bars, certain fraternal clubs, retail tobacco stores, bars or taverns meeting certain requirements, cigar manufacturing facilities, cigar specialty stores and some businesses located in private residencies.

In order to allow smoking however, these businesses must apply for an exemption from the ban by completing a form found online at www.in.gov/atc.

In order to allow smoking, a private club must have been organized in good faith under authority or law, been in active, continuous existence for at least three years prior to the date the application for a permit is filed, have maintained in good faith a membership roll for the prior three years and have a paid-up membership of more than 50 members at the time the application is filed.

A fraternal club, such as the VFW or American Legion, must be federally tax exempt in order to qualify for an exemption.

Both private and fraternal clubs must provide a designated smoking room or area that is ventilated to prevent the migration of smoke to nonsmoking areas on the premises. Smoking is only allowed in these designated areas, and someone less than 18 years of age cannot be allowed to enter the room where smoking is allowed. Only one room can be designated for smoking. For example, if the barroom is the designated smoking room, the bingo hall may not be.

Additionally, members of private and fraternal clubs must vote on or before June 30, 2012 to allow smoking. If the membership chooses to do so, the club can only provide alcoholic beverages to its bona fide members and their guests.

Bars and taverns can still allow smoking if they limit access to patrons 21 and over. Facilities with outdoor seating can allow smoking in these areas as long as it is eight feet or more away from the door to the structure. Liquor stores are not exempt from the ban.

Retail tobacco shops like Smoke Shop Cigarette Outlet on U.S. 35 can allow smoking if they have a valid tobacco sales certificate issued on or before June 30, 2012 and only permit patrons 18 and older to enter the establishment. Tobacco product sales must account for 85 percent of the store’s annual gross sales, food and beverages may not be sold for consumption on the premises and there may not be a designated area for customers to consume food and beverages.

Cigar specialty stores, like Linkster’s on Pearl Street, must hold a valid tobacco sales certificate issued on or before June 30, 2012; the sale of tobacco products and accessories must account for at least 50 percent of the store’s annual gross sales; and a sign must be conspicuously posted saying that cigarette smoking is prohibited.

Additionally, a cigar store must have a separate, enclosed designated smoking room that is adequately ventilated and must prohibit persons under age 18 from entering the establishment. Food and beverages may not be sold for consumption on the premises, and an area may not be designated for the consumption of food and beverages.

Smoking is only allowed in a home-based business if the employees all reside in the home and the business is not used by individuals less than 18 years of age.

Complaints for violations of the smoking ban can be filed online at http://www.in.gov/atc/2640.htm.

The Alcohol & Tobacco Commission is the primary enforcement agency. Additionally, the Indiana State Department of Health, a local health department, the Division of Fire and Building Safety and any law enforcement officer may enforce the law.

Violations are punishable by fines of up to $1,000. If an owner, manager, operator or official has been adjudged to have committed at least three prior unrelated infractions under the state smoking ban he or she can be fined up to $10,000.

Business owners and others with questions about the new law can attend a question and answer session with local officials on Thursday, June 21 at 2 p.m. at the Winamac VFW.

A multi-county town hall meeting to address the Indiana Smoke Free Air Law is scheduled Thursday, June 21 at 6 p.m. at the Bass Lake Community Center, 6996 S. SR 10.

Additional information about the ban is available from the Pulaski County Health Department at 574-946-6080.

(Pulaski County Journal - June 20, 2012)

Council approves cash for county’s human services

Pulaski County Human Services is getting a one-time financial boost from county government.

County council members approved executive director Jacki Frain’s request for a $40,000 appropriation from the CEDIT, or County Economic Development Income Tax, Fund by a 5-2 margin. Councilmen Ron Powers and Mick Tiede voted against the expenditure.

Prior to the vote, Powers pointed out that the county previously loaned the agency $25,000 and asked if a loan would be acceptable this time.

Frain replied that the agency does not have money available to repay a loan, which is why she’s seeking help to pay off old debts.

Powers then asked her if such requests would be made every year. Frain assured him they would not and promised that the agency would develop a more realistic budget that reflects all of the services provided, which include transportation, meals, administration of the food pantry, various types of assistance for low-income residents and the Head Start program for preschool-age children.

Frain said the agency has born the brunt of federal and state budget cuts to elderly services in recent years and has had to absorb them at the local level.

“More and more of it is staying at the region, but the services are still expected to be provided down here for what they’re giving us,” Frain said. “With our Community Service Block Grant, we’ve been getting $21,000 since 1981, and they still expect us to do everything we do -- operate the food pantry, see people 8 to 4, link people with all the services, help the trustees by helping people fill out their applications...”

More than 3,800 residents are served by Pulaski County Human Services, according to Frain. That’s nearly 25 percent of Pulaski County’s population. She also cited statistics that indicate 19.8 percent of the county’s population lives in poverty, and 191 elderly residents are in severe poverty. Many of those residents receive services through the Von Tobel and West Side Community Centers in Winamac and Medaryville.

“This is a tremendous influx because it will help me get through until we get reimbursed,” Frain told the council. Her agency fronts the money for many of the programs it administers and gets paid after the fact by various government agencies.

In other business, council members approved Pleasant View Rest Home Superintendent Sandy Hurd’s request to advertise additional appropriations of $5,875 for part-time help to finish the year and $2,000 to purchase household supplies. Hurd told the council that the home has maintained a steady occupancy of 14 residents since last August, which means her staffing needs have increased. Right now the home has 13 residents with one more due to arrive by the end of the month. That has also strained Hurd’s household supply budget, which was down to $400 from the $3,000 appropriated at the beginning of the year. Council members also approved two transfers of funds as requested by Hurd.

Harrison Township Trustee Betty Stinemetz also appeared before the council to voice her support for the county’s recycling and transfer station. She pointed out that the facility offers a valuable service to all Pulaski County residents and suggested that perhaps staffing concerns could be addressed by having the county animal control officer work there part-time when she is not responding to calls. Council members thanked Stinemetz for her input but did not act on her suggestions.

In other business before the council, tax abatements for Remington Seeds, Fratco and Plymouth Tube were reviewed and approved after noting that all three businesses remain compliant with the terms to which they agreed.

Council members also approved the advertising of additional appropriations for superior court, the recorder’s office and the surveyor’s office.

Transfers for the clerk’s office, planning commission, emergency management agency and pretrial diversion were also approved. So were previously advertised additional appropriations for the prosecutor’s office to purchase new computers and Pulaski Circuit Court to replace a computer.

Council members tabled Sheriff Mike Gayer’s request for a transfer for the second straight month as nobody from the sheriff’s office was at the meeting to answer any questions about it.

In other business, former Winamac Clerk/Treasurer Judy Heater is the council’s appointee to the Pulaski County Public Library Board of Directors.

Council members also gave auditor Shelia Garling permission to pay for subscriptions to the Pulaski County Journal and the Francesville Tribune from her departmental budget. The copies will be kept in the auditor’s office but will be available to all department heads should they need to see the paper for reference. The council previously cut off all newspaper subscriptions by individual departments in an attempt to save the county money. Garling handles most of the county’s legal advertising and said she checks both papers as soon as they are published to make sure notices are in and accurate to ensure that there are not delays in conducting meetings or processing claims.

(Pulaski County Journal - June 13, 2012)

Monterey Council Meeting

One of the few remaining combination freight and passenger depots for the former Chicago and Atlantic Railway Company is in danger of going by the way of the trains it once served unless someone steps forward to rehabilitate the deteriorating property.

The depot in Monterey was constructed around 1881 by local resident Joseph E. Keller, who was also contracted to build depots in North Judson and Ora.

During the railroad boom of that era, companies employed time saving and cost-cutting solutions to meet the needs of passenger and freight facilities in rural communities like Monterey by building a single structure to serve both purposes.

The depot was equipped with a waiting room, small office and baggage room and provided shelter for passengers, railroad employees and freight all under one roof. The baggage room was later extended, perhaps around World War I, to accommodate the growing community’s needs, but the configuration and character defining features of the depot remain much as they did when Keller built the structure.

Historical photographs indicate the depot underwent a major renovation sometime between 1910 and 1918. The foundation was rebuilt, a concrete freight platform was added to the south elevation of the building and a concrete passenger platform was installed along the north elevation. The new platforms replaced the original wooden structures.

It is speculated that the wooden freight platform and foundation may have started to sag in places after more than 30 years of use, leading to crooked building syndrome. The addition of concrete would have created a new, modern look for the station. Furthermore, passengers would no longer have to stand in the dust and mud when boarding or stepping from cars.

The Monterey depot likely received its cast concrete privy around the time of the renovations. It was prefabricated by Potter-Winslow Co. in Chicago and hauled to the site for installation. It features a cast concrete divider between the men’s and women’s sections. Such outdoor facilities were common at rural depots due to a lack of indoor plumbing.

The outhouse remains in its original location and is believed to be one of few surviving in the state. A 2006 study by graduate students from the Ball State University College of Architecture and Planning notes that the ground surrounding the structure is sinking into the pit below the privy causing sinkholes. The foundation needs to be stabilized and the holes need to be filled in.

The most immediate concern identified in the report is the roof, as large holes in the sheathing over the baggage room are allowing water to flow over the trusses and further their decay. Additionally the slate shingles and flashing around the chimney are no longer providing adequate protection from rain water. As a result, moisture finds its way down the exterior of the chimney, compromising the integrity of the ceiling joists over the office and waiting room.

The 2006 Ball State study estimated total repair costs at more than $75,000. The building is currently owned by the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson. They have offered to sell the structure to the town of Monterey for a nominal cost, however town officials don’t have the money to complete the necessary renovations or maintain the building once the work is done.

“Right now we’ve got some thinking to do and want to look around to see if anyone is interested in it,” Monterey Town Board President Jim Fleury said. “I hate to see it be torn down, but you’ve got to have someone interested in it.”

The study suggested the building could be converted into a multi-purpose informational and interpretational center with both public and private office areas available for display and possible retail. Specifically, it recommended adding historical displays pertaining to the depot and railroad in the waiting room, maintaining the ticket office as staff space and using the baggage room for either retail or equipment storage space.

Eventually a multi-use recreational trail will run past the depot. The nine-mile North Judson-Erie Trail extends nine miles from North Judson to U.S. 35 near Bass Lake. It will eventually connect with the Monterey Erie Trail along the same railbanked right-of-way and comprise a 16-mile-long corridor of horse, bicycle and walking paths.

The Erie Trail is part of the American Discovery Trail, which is a national initiative to connect the more than 6,800 land miles between Cape Henlopen State Park, Del. and Pt. Reyes National Seashore, Calif. in the first coast-to-coast, non-motorized recreational trail. The American Discovery Trail’s website notes Tippecanoe River State Park and Jasper-Pulaski State Fish and Wildlife Area as attractions along the route.

Fleury encourages anyone with an interest in preserving the depot to contact him at 574-542-2432 or via email at blueridge977@yahoo.com.

(Pulaski County Journal - June 13, 2012)

Commissioners cave on irrigation ordinance

An ordinance to fine farmers whose irrigators spray on county roads and regulate the closing of roads to accommodate farm irrigation is dead after being unanimously voted down by Pulaski County Commissioners.

The vote was a symbolic one, taken at the request of the farmers who packed the commissioners room at the Pulaski County Courthouse for Monday’s meeting to denounce what they feel is unnecessary regulation of the county’s economic base. The ordinance did not receive a motion for passage on its scheduled third reading on May 21 after vocal opposition from many of the same farmers and was effectively dead as a result.

Commissioners agreed then to study the matter further before taking any action. However, the state’s open door law prohibits members of any government body from meeting to discuss business outside of a called session. This week’s meeting was their first since concerns were raised about the ordinance.

“Part of our job is to hear both sides and weigh the differences and come up with the right thing,” commissioner Ken Boswell said. “I think at the moment we’re going to have to take it back, re-read the ordinance, look it over, have some debate on it, personal thoughts and decide whether it’s a matter of tweaking it, where we stand and after hearing both sides what’s going to be best for the community.”

Any rewrites would still be subject to the public notice provisions outlined in state law, including three readings and publication in the Pulaski County Journal before a new policy could be implemented. That ensures that people on both sides of the issue have an opportunity to be heard.

“Impeding the public right-of-way remains a concern for me,” Boswell said after the meeting. “There needs to be a good set of policies and procedures for when we are going to have anything temporarily impeding the access of the public transportation system in this county.”

Boswell stressed that he remains committed to passing a broad policy to set guidelines for the temporary closure of any road in the county. Currently no such policy exists.

As a result, Eric Hulmes, who farms in the Monterey area, has constructed an irrigator that crosses CR 625 E. south of town in order to spray two fields at once. County Highway Superintendent Kenny Becker previously gave him permission to close the road as necessary as long as he notifies the sheriff’s office and other first responders prior to doing so.

Both Boswell and county attorney Kevin Tankersley say that authority needs to rest with the commissioners, as it creates a major liability for the county in the event of an accident or delayed emergency response.

Hulmes was previously told that the “road closed” signs he was using were not adequate, and he has since installed gates across the road to keep vehicles from coming through when he is spraying his crops.

The road in question is gravel and does not see a lot of vehicle traffic. However, it is a main thoroughfare to the southern part of Tippecanoe Township should an ambulance or fire truck from Monterey or Culver be needed.

Hulmes said he’s spoken to Monterey Fire Chief Steve Shank since the issue was raised at the last commissioners meeting.

“If the road’s closed and they need to get down the road, run the gate down. It’s not locked, all they have to do is open it,” Hulmes said. “Or run through the corn. I’m not gonna endanger someone’s life or house or anything for that.”

The closure of county roads was one of two issues commissioners attempted to address in the failed ordinance. The other was the regulation of spray onto roads from irrigators, which has been cited as a public safety concern.

“I think the farmers are doing a great job of policing themselves this week,” commissioners president Mike Tiede said. He said he knows one vendor has received numerous calls to repair end guns on irrigators all over the county due to the threat of fines should water hit a county road.

Tiede added that he was bothered by the fact that the part of the ordinance that regulated water from irrigators spraying on paved county roads did not give farmers time to fix malfunctioning systems before fining them $1,000. A second or subsequent offense in a year’s time would have been subject to a $2,500 fine under the proposal.

“I don’t like the water shooting on the road, but it seems like a lot of people are not shooting it on the road now,” Tiede said.

Boswell agreed that farmers have stepped up since the ordinance was first introduced and are doing a better job of positioning their irrigators. He stressed that he appreciates the effort.

“This is the process. When we hear things we have to address them. Right now there is no ordinance in effect. It’s dead. There is nothing that anybody can enforce,” Boswell said.

In other business, commissioners approved a construction inspection agreement with Indianapolis-based United Consulting Engineering for $194,820. It’s the next step in the construction process for the Monterey bridge project. Engineer Jeff Larrison advised that it is still on the Indiana Department of Transportation’s September bid letting schedule and hopes initial work can start this fall. The project will take about a year to complete.

Commissioners also formalized a mutual aid agreement as part of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security District 2 Task Force stating that member agencies from Pulaski County will assist as needed throughout the district and approved a salary reimbursement grant for a portion of Pulaski County Emergency Management Director Larry Hoover’s salary.

In other business, the commissioners unanimously agreed to send a letter of support to the Pulaski County Public Library Board of Directors to encourage keeping the Medaryville branch open.

Brenda Finnegan was reappointed to another term on the Francesville-Salem Township Library Board of Directors, and Steve Lawson was appointed to fill the rest of Ron Mabry’s term on the Star City Regional Sewer District Board of Directors. Mabry is retiring as pastor of Star City United Methodist Church and is leaving the area. His term is up Sept. 1, 2014.

Commissioners also approved travel and conference requests from the auditor’s and sheriff’s offices and a one-time licensing fee for Pulaski County Economic Development.

(Pulaski County Journal - June 6, 2012)

Star City Sewer District files first liens against homeowners

Some homeowners in Star City may have a difficult time selling their property due to unpaid sewer bills.

The Star City Regional Sewer District recently filed sewer liens worth almost $6,000 against 21 property owners for unpaid bills. Liens attach to a property title. Mortgage companies require a title search before closing on a home sale and can refuse to finance a home purchase if a lien turns up.

The sewer district’s bylaws allow liens to be filed if a homeowner is 90 days or more in arrears on the sewer bill. Certified Public Accountant Sue Peppers advised the board at its May meeting that total past due accounts exceed $17,000. However, liens can only be filed on balances older than 90 days.

The district began sending partial bills of $43.83 last year when construction started. The May billing cycle reflected the first full bills of $87.65 now that the work is complete and residents are able to connect.

Peppers said it is possible some landlords don’t know their tenants have never paid sewer bills. At least one property is bank-owned.

(Pulaski County Journal - June 6, 2012)

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MAY

Farmers cry foul over irrigation ordinance

After an hour of heated discussion over a proposed ordinance to regulate agriculture irrigators spraying water onto county roads, commissioners agreed to revisit the issue before taking final action.

A group of 40 farmers packed the meeting to express their displeasure with what they say is an unnecessary ordinance that cuts into their livelihood.

The ordinance as drafted would fine farmers $1,000 for water spraying on a paved county road, with a $2,500 fine for a second or subsequent offense in a year’s time. It would also set guidelines for any farmer who wishes to close a dirt or gravel road to accommodate irrigation, as no formal policy existed previously.

Gary Brandt questioned the need for the ordinance.

“Have there been any fatalities or accidents? I know there’s a lot of ‘deer chronicles’ in our paper. I’ve never seen an ‘irrigation chronicle’.”

Commissioner Ken Boswell said that while there have not been any fatalities or serious accidents, he has gotten a number of phone calls from taxpayers who ride motorcycles or in convertible cars and either have to stop and wait for water to pivot past or get sprayed. He added that there is equipment that will keep an irrigator’s end gun from spraying on the road.

“It also fell back to the fact that we were closing roads because there were irrigators going across the roads and we were putting a procedure in place to make sure that the proper people were notified if that were to happen so the sheriff’s department would know it was done, the ambulance service would know that it was done, fire departments would be able to be contacted and know that it was done so if they had to travel down that road they would be aware that they had to make some sort of an alternative to be able to go through it,” Boswell said.

Brandt countered that the ordinance would hurt the livelihood of farmers, which are the county’s largest economic sector.

“Every one of us in this room is a responsible businessperson. We go ahead and we take out liability insurance. I don’t see the need for you guys to worry about every Tom, Dick and Harry in the county,” Brandt said. “We don’t have a helmet law on motorcycles. Do you guys worry about every person that owns a motorcycle? You should tell them to wear a helmet, but we don’t, do we. You’ve got to have a little bit of personal responsibility, and there’s quite a few of us in this room, I’d say every one of us, we want to be here. We want to be in business.”

Brandt also questioned the criteria to justify “irresponsible application of water.” He said there’s a big difference between mist blown onto the road by the wind and actual overspray from irrigators.

“There’s really no clarification on there,” Brandt said.

Commissioner Mike Tiede acknowledged there’s no way to control the wind but said he does not think the end gun should shoot on the road, especially since it can be controlled.

“Why do you want to water the road? Why don’t you want to shut the end gun off?” Tiede asked.

“Not everything works,” Brandt replied. Several other farmers chimed in and noted that electrical or mechanical malfunctions can impair their ability to keep from spraying the road. They added that repairs may take as long as a week to complete depending on how quickly a technician can come out.

Brandt added that no county in Indiana or Michigan regulates irrigators. He said the only policies he was able to locate online are in Seminole County, Fla. and in Arkansas and Alabama.

“In those the first citation they give them 30 days to comply because it is a mechanical malfunction. If they comply they take the data to the county and say ‘I got it fixed.’ If they don’t, it’s negligence,” Brandt said.

“There isn’t a model I’ve found that’s like that [the proposed Pulaski County ordinance] anywhere in the United States, and I would like to know who designed that model for this ordinance and how?” Brandt added.

“There wasn’t a ‘model’ that was followed, to my knowledge,” county attorney Kevin Tankersley said. “This is a draft done from scratch. There were several complaints about the danger of high-pressure water going onto roadways. When they first read it the sheriff was brought over and it was discussed that this would fall into his discretion and his officers’ discretion.”

Tankersley added that the intent is not to penalize a farmer if the wind blows a little bit of water onto the road but rather to address high-pressure water going onto the roadway.

“There were a lot of people that complained about driving a car down the road at night and being hit with a large amount of water… motorcycles and those types of things,” Tankersley said.

Brandt also questioned what he called the “extreme” dollar amounts attached to the ordinance, which Tankersley defended as to serve as a deterrent.

“You’ve got to understand, I don’t think anybody expects this ordinance to be enforced on anybody unless it’s pretty clear that they are being careless,” Tankersley added. “We’re not going to wait until somebody is killed before we write and enact an ordinance.”

“If we had a fatality or an accident then you would get fined, but getting fined because you have a little bit of water in case somebody might get hurt. I could walk out of this building and I might fall down the stairs,” Brandt responded. “The whole process of us taking liability insurance out is to protect somebody from getting hurt. We really don’t need the county to worry about it.”

Tiede added that the county also has a potential liability should someone get hurt driving down a wet road.

Most newer irrigators are equipped with shutoffs for their end guns, however spray from some of the older models cannot be easily controlled.

Eric Hulmes, who farms near Monterey, also addressed the commissioners. His closure of CR 625 E. with gates is one of the main issues at the center of the controversy, as issues have been raised over emergency vehicle access.

“The first thing we did before we constructed either of the pivots was call Kenny Becker at the county highway department to ask him if there was any standards, if there was anything we needed to do before, because we didn’t want to open the county up to any liability, we didn’t want to open ourselves up to any excessive liability, and we wanted to make sure it was applicable to do, because we are talking about a major investment,” Hulmes said.

He added that Becker told him there was “nothing on the books that you can’t do this.” He said Becker told him to notify the sheriff’s department, who will in turn notify EMS, and notify the local fire department.

He said Becker also told him to put a road closed sign and sawhorse up to indicate the road was closed, which he did.

He said he was soon told that bigger barricades were needed because somebody could drive around the signs he was using. “To be even more in line with the county, we bought posts, gates, put the sign up, just like we’re supposed to do, and the next thing we know our picture’s in the paper,” Hulmes said. “We’re still doing what we’re told to do. At this point we’ve already made a major investment to irrigate both sides of this gravel road that maybe one or two cars drive down a day. We’re not talking about a major thoroughfare.”

“You’ve been very compliant with what you’ve been asked,” Boswell told Hulmes. “Unfortunately when that came out there was no procedure or nothing in place to say that we make sure the right people were notified or how we do this. You were kind of given through Kenny some ideas of this is what needs to be done and you did it.”

Boswell added that he’s heard from Monterey residents on both sides of the issue and said several are concerned about emergency vehicle access to the south of town.

“Nobody is trying to intentionally endanger anybody or cause any property damage,” Hulmes added. “We are stewards of the land. That is our job. It’s our pride. We take pride in it.”

Hulmes added that irrigators are major pieces of equipment that cannot be moved easily and said the issue has been oversimplified.

He and several other farmers also questioned why farmers have been singled out given the fact that McDonald’s, the Braun Corporation and several residential property owners have lawn sprinklers that spray the roadway.

Tankersley said the ordinance sought to strike a balance between the need for farmers to irrigate their crops and concerns over public safety when large amounts of water hit a roadway and potentially make it slippery.

“What we can do now is take into consideration the large amount of concern we have from the farming community. A 30-day window is an idea of allowing you to fix it. This is written to address two or three guys in the county that are not responsible. This gives the sheriff something they can do to force some kind of compliance with public safety,” Tankersley added.

All three commissioners took notes during the meeting and promised to revisit the ordinance before enacting anything. Their next meeting is Monday, June 4 at 6 p.m. at the courthouse.

In other business, commissioners also set a May 22 effective date for the county’s new zoning ordinances, which will be enforced by the building inspector’s office.

Commissioners also approved an extension of the county’s medical insurance contract with Cigna with an increase in copayments for the PPO plan and coinsurance for the HSA option. With the changes, the county’s annual cost will increase $23,000. That figure could possibly drop if commissioners accept Cigna’s quote for dental insurance.

Commissioners also approved prosecutor Stacey Mrak’s request to purchase computers from DeGroot Technology for her office to replace 2005 models currently in use. Assessor Holly VanDerAa’s software purchase and a conference request were also approved. So were conference and meeting requests for the clerk’s office, sheriff’s office and auditor’s office.

Approval was granted for a year’s extension of the Cass/Pulaski Community Corrections grant and for a $2,000 local match request for the midwest Indiana economic development website.

Commissioners tabled a request from Erica Gudas to pave three miles of CR 300 E. at CR 100 N. after county highway superintendent Kenny Becker advised that paving materials cost $100,000 per mile.

Maintenance supervisor Morry DeMarco advised that bids ranging from $7,000 to $16,000 have been received for repairing the clock tower brick in the courthouse. A decision on hiring a contractor to do the work was tabled until the next meeting.

(Pulaski County Journal - May 23, 2012)

Star City Sewer District prepares for first hookups

The first customers of the Star City Regional Sewer District are expected to connect this week.

Inspector Craig Allen with Tri-County Builders and Development, Inc. advised that permits have been pulled for the first 11 hookups. He will schedule the necessary testing for each home as it is connected and will work to minimize inconvenience to residents during the process.

Allen’s contact information is available at the sewer district office.

Residents received their first full monthly sewer bills for $87.66 in anticipation of the system going live and being ready to tie in. Certified Public Accountant Sue Peppers told the board that the most recent billing cycle represented among the lowest in terms of on-time payments since the district began billing residents when construction began.

She speculated that some residents were perhaps unaware that their bills were going up but also noted that several residents have outstanding balances of more than $600.

Total past due accounts exceed $17,000, and the district is prepared to file liens against properties with bills that are 90 days or more past due. Peppers said it is possible some landlords don’t know their tenants have never paid sewer bills.

The board also agreed to use United States Infrastructure Corporation (USIC) to locate buried utilities during the connection process. The company charges a one-time fee of $1,500 and $20 per locate, which will only be billed if lines are found. Several nearby communities use the company, which has representatives available around the clock.

As the project winds down, the board is left with $46,000 in a use-it-or-lose-it contingency fund that can be spent to equip the district. President Pat Heisner recommended spending about $26,000 on the construction of a 24-foot by 24-foot post frame building near the lift station to serve as an office and storage building. The district presently rents an office in the community center for $260 per month. The building would also require a well and a sewer connection.

Heisner also suggested purchasing a lawnmower, a seven-foot chain link fence around the lift station, a dehumidifier and steel shelving for the lift station and computer software.

Treasurer Mike Pugh noted that the money has to be spent soon or it will revert to another project. Claims for the items will be submitted to the project administrator for approval.

Star City Regional Sewer District Secretary Becky Anspach opposed the expenditure, saying she had not seen any of the quotes prior to the meeting.

“I don’t feel comfortable making a decision on purchases that I’ve never seen. I can’t possibly say I’m OK with that,” Anspach said. She requested that in the future information be given to board members for review prior to their meeting so they can make an informed decision.

(Pulaski County Journal - May 23, 2012)

Revolving loan guidelines revised after $155k loan default discovered

Pulaski County Commissioners have approved additional administrative guidelines for the county’s revolving loan fund (RLF) after learning earlier this year that a borrower defaulted on a $155,000 loan in 2008.

The former owners of Chesapeake Recycling borrowed $175,000 in September of 2004 to purchase new equipment. The last payment made to the county was in November of 2008, which covered their obligation through the end of that calendar year.

The final scheduled loan payment was due in September of 2009, along with a balloon payment at the end of 60 months.

Pulaski County officials were unaware of the outstanding loan until Economic Development Director Nathan P. Origer got a letter from the U.S. trustee’s office with the Department of Justice in South Bend stating that the county had been named as a creditor when Chesapeake filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Origer brought the matter to the attention of county attorney Kevin Tankersley and commissioners in January.

At the time Origer told them that he found no record that information about the outstanding loan was passed along when the auditor’s office changed hands in 2009 and said information about the loan was not included in the monthly reports he received from Auditor Shelia Garling.

Chesapeake’s bankruptcy attorney advised the company to include the loan in their filing just in case, which is how the county came to be notified.

It is unclear whether the county will be able to collect on the debt, as the county’s lien on Chesapeake’s personal property expired in 2009 with the scheduled final loan payment and was not renewed. Additionally, the county’s mortgage against the land owned by Chesapeake as further security for the loan was not recorded when the loan was originated.

Since learning of the default Origer has worked with the auditor’s office, commissioners, Tankersley and his board of directors to strengthen the revolving loan fund’s administrative procedures.

In addition to the existing RLF guidelines, the county attorney is now responsible for reviewing any and all documentation regarding security on the loan. This shall include, but is not limited to, any mortgage on real property provided as security for the loan and any UCC Financing Statement on any personal property provided as security. The county attorney shall also ensure that any UCC Financing Statement is filed with the Secretary of State’s Business Services Division, whether it is filed by him or the borrower’s attorney.

The economic development director will be responsible for making sure the county attorney has taken all of the steps outlined above, see that the mortgage is recorded with the county recorder’s office and record all of the dates in a master checklist for each awarded loan. The county attorney, auditor and economic development director shall also receive and file copies of all documents.

If a borrowing business is sold to an individual or company not party to the original RLF agreement during the repayment period, the county now has the option to continue the loan or require repayment before the transaction can take place. The economic development director will be responsible for making sure any changes in ownership are reflected in the county’s records, and the county attorney will make sure any applicable mortgage or UCC filing will be amended or replaced as appropriate. The economic development director will then record any updated documents with the county recorder.

Monthly loan payments are due in the auditor’s office on or before the due date. The auditor or deputy will provide a receipt to the borrower, keep a copy and provide a copy to the economic development director. An auditor’s office representative will ensure the payment is deposited and properly credited, and the economic development director will record the payment in a RLF spreadsheet and retain the receipt in a file dedicated to the particular loan in question.

In the event of a delinquent payment, the economic development director will contact the delinquent borrower on the first business day of the month immediately following the missed payment to remind him that a payment is due and ensure it is made promptly. If payment is not made within five days of the notification, the borrower will be assessed a penalty equal to five percent of the total payment due. The penalty must be paid along with the owed payment, and the county attorney will be responsible for notifying the delinquent borrower of any fines assessed.

If problems arise and the borrower is unable to make a payment, a meeting shall be called with the economic development director, the county attorney, a county commissioner and the borrower and/or his attorney or other appropriate representative to explore options to avoid default.

The economic development director’s monthly report to the commissioners will include a report on the status of all outstanding loans. He will also communicate monthly with all borrowers to enquire of the current status of operations and share those findings with commissioners.

The economic development director is also responsible for making sure the county attorney or the borrower’s attorney file the proper paperwork to secure the loan should the repayment period be extended beyond the initial term and include the new dates in the master checklist.

Lastly the economic development director shall remind the county auditor to have the commissioners sign a loan release at their next meeting following full repayment of all principal, interest and penalties, if any.

Origer will present information about the revolving loan fund on Thursday, May 21 at the Pulaski County Public Library in Winamac. His 5:30 p.m. talk will include an overview of the fund, information about how it can help new or established businesses and revolving loan success stories. The presentation is free and open to the public.

Council approves one way street

The street that connects the Panhandle Pathway to the Eastern Pulaski Schools campus will soon be one way in order to accommodate foot and bicycle traffic.

The Winamac Town Council approved a request from Safe Routes to School Committee Chairman Dave Bennett and Friends of the Panhandle Pathway President John Bawcum to make Superior Street one way west to east for vehicle traffic to accommodate the Safe Routes to School plan. The initiative encourages students to either walk or ride bicycles to school in an effort to promote fitness and healthy lifestyles. The new street direction must be advertised before it can take effect.

Council members also approved an amendment to the town’s zoning ordinance that sets minimum dimensions of 24’x24’ for new dwellings in areas zoned R-1, Single Family Residential and R-2, Two Family/Multi-Family Residential. This will limit the potential placement of older model manufactured homes on lots in town.

A zoning map amendment to change several parcels owned by the Jenkins family along Old SR 14 by the river road from R-1 to A-1, Agriculture was also approved.

So was Bennett’s request to mount security cameras on the town light poles near his storage units at the corner of Logan and Madison Streets, as there have been multiple break-ins there over the past several months. The town still prohibits hanging any sort of signs or flyers on its poles.

Council members also approved a handbook change to set the mileage reimbursement rate to the federal standard and increased the daily meal allowance for town employees who travel from $25 to $35 per day.

A change to the town’s voting districts for municipal elections based on the 2010 census results was also approved. So was the annual YMCA swimming pool lease after council members agreed to pay the Y $2,500 per month on June, July and Aug. 1, for a total of $7,500 instead of making a lump sum payment. The pool is slated to open May 26.

Council members accepted a bid of $1,852 from Heims Tree Service for tree trimming, as they turned in the lowest bid.

Council members also approved a payment of $123,336.14 to LGS Plumbing, Inc. of Crown Point for improvements to the sanitary sewer system. That’s $9,600 less than the certificate for payment submitted by the company due to several incomplete items on the project’s final punch list.

The town still has money in the project’s retainage account that will not be paid until the work is satisfactorily completed. Attorney John Kocher did advise the council that they can assess liquidated damages of $1,000 per day retroactive to the originally scheduled completion date if the contractor still refuses to do the rest of the work as previously agreed.

(Pulaski County Journal - May 16, 2012)

Commissioners move forward with county employee drug testing policy

Pulaski County employees will soon be subject to random drug tests as well as screenings if a supervisor believes they are under the influence while at work. County commissioners authorized local vendor Cathy Fritz of Cathy Fritz Consulting to draft their drug testing policy in order to ensure that it meets federal guidelines for employees who operate county-owned vehicles.

Fritz charges $150 for the 30-page policy, which will be included as an addendum to the recently adopted county employee policy manual.

She advised commissioners that the Department of Transportation has strict guidelines with regard to drug testing policies and said the county is subject to audit to ensure that they are being followed. Fritz said a random audit isn’t likely but warned that any sort of fatal accident involving a county employee in a county-owned vehicle would trigger one.

Under the policy, employees who take prescription medications like narcotic pain pills and anti-anxiety drugs that show up in a drug test will need to show that they are under a doctor’s care and have a valid prescription. If they fail a test and cannot prove they are taking pills under the supervision of a physician, Fritz recommends that they be terminated.

The employee would be eligible for rehire upon successful completion of a drug or alcohol treatment program if a position becomes available and a last chance agreement stating that further drug use will be cause for termination is signed.

In other business, commissioners passed an ordinance regulating road closings for irrigation systems on second reading. Larry Brady of Francesville, who is running against incumbent commissioner Mike Tiede, raised concerns over the possible closure of CR 625 E. south of Monterey, as it is a main access point for first responders and a viable alternative route is not available. Brady said the farmer who owns the surrounding fields has put up large metal gates to close the road, and he fears they pose a safety hazard.

County attorney Kevin Tankersley assured him that nowhere in the ordinance does it say closing a county road with gates is allowed, nor is it a guarantee that a road can be closed to accommodate an irrigator.

The proposed ordinance prohibits the spraying of water from irrigators onto paved county roads and requires a farmer who wants to close a dirt or gravel road to apply for a permit from the county highway department to do so. A permit would only be granted if the county highway superintendent determined that the closure would not adversely effect emergency vehicle access or infringe on the rights of other property owners.

“This ordinance is not a guarantee that you can buy a permit and close a road,” Tankersley said.

Should a permit be granted, proper signs would need to be placed at intersections to alert motorists to the road’s closure, and the sheriff’s office would notify emergency personnel that the road was closed.

Farmers who violate the ordinance would be subject to hefty fines. Enforcement will be up to the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department.

Commissioners will consider the ordinance on third and final reading at their May 21 meeting. It must also be published in both county newspapers before it can be enforced.

In other business, Jeff Larrison with Indianapolis-based United Consulting advised the council that the Monterey bridge project is on the Indiana Department of Transportation’s September bid letting schedule now that the final parcels of land have been acquired. The relocation of the former blacksmith shop to Culver will cost the county an additional $22,046.50 in business relocation and moving costs as outlined in state law and approved by INDOT. Tiede asked whether this money would be paid to the property owners or to professionals and was told that professional service providers would be used.

Larrison also told commissioners that the county will need to pay $177,000 to INDOT before the project can be let for bid. He added that the project remains well under budget, with a total price tag of $2,170,000. Work should start this fall and be finished in the summer of 2013.

Commissioners are also prepared to replace the bridge over the Hill Ditch on CR 1600 W. to accommodate the weight of trucks that serve Remington Seeds. They approved Pulaski County Highway Superintendent Kenny Becker’s recommendation that a culvert be installed to replace the bridge at a cost of about $52,000, as doing so will be quicker and much less expensive than redoing the decking for $71,000.

Commissioners also accepted a quote from Talbert Manufacturing, Inc. for $15,390 to purchase a trailer for the highway department. Their bid was considerably lower than Northern’s price of $23,650.

In other business, commissioners discussed whether the county’s liability insurance policy to allow inmates to work outside the jail under supervision requires that they be supervised by a sheriff’s deputy or jailer or just that they be supervised. Tankersley said he would need to review the policy before he could offer a definitive answer.

County Home Superintendent Sandy Hurd raised the question, as inmates assist with a variety of tasks at Pleasant View, including mowing and yard work, painting and other maintenance projects. All work is done under the supervision of Pleasant View staff, and Hurd is pleased with the job the inmates are doing.

Commissioners also approved Hurd’s request to replace a part-time employee and agreed to let her take one of the surplus printers from the basement of the justice center to use for printing medicine sheets and other items.

Commissioners also accepted Pulaski Circuit Court Judge Michael Shurn’s request to transfer $951 from the cumulative capital development fund to pay for a new CPU and hard drive for his court, pending council approval. Shurn also told commissioners that he is working on a system by which the sheriff’s department and Pulaski Memorial Hospital can email him probable cause affidavits which can be signed with a signature application and sent back to them for immediate action.

Commissioners also accepted a bid from Allen’s Automotive for $3,160 to rebuild the motor in the Dodge pickup truck used by the county recycling and transfer station. Director Ed Clark advised that forklift repairs are scheduled this week, and he’s hopeful problems can be remedied.

CASA Coordinator Sarah Kroft received the blessing of the commissioners to work out an arrangement with the Purdue Extension Pulaski County office for Internet service at the county annex building similar to the arrangements brokered by the veterans service and building inspector’s offices in which they each pay a nominal monthly fee.

Pulaski County Human Services Director Jacki Frain asked commissioners for a one-time additional appropriation of $40,000 from the CEDIT fund to offset funding cuts and help with cash flow issues. Commissioners took the request under advisement.

Commissioners did approve a set of standard operating procedures for the county’s revolving loan fund to ensure greater accountability and more precise tracking of funds.

Prosecutor Stacey Mrak’s request to replace a part-time employee who is transferring to another county job was also approved.

(Pulaski County Journal - May 9, 2012)

West Central school board approves staff contracts

Classified employees of the West Central School Corporation will get pay raises at the start of the next school year.

School board members approved contracts last week that include a 20-cent-an-hour bump in pay for school time employees, a 30-cent-an-hour raise for 12-month staff and a $2 a day raise for bus drivers.

Superintendent Charles Mellon noted that it’s the first raise the school support staff has received in three years.

In other business, board members accepted Mary Craig’s resignation and approved the shift from a temporary to a full-time contract for family and consumer science instructor Stephanie Thilges. She will teach the state-mandated careers class.

Board members also approved a medical leave request for Cheryl Podell and a temporary contract for West Central graduate Michael McCarty to fill in during Megan Jungels’ maternity leave.

Bobby Quimpo was hired as a chemistry and physics teacher at the high school. Board members also approved Kasey Lowry’s transfer request from fifth grade to elementary special needs.

In other business, board members approved the textbook adoption committee’s recommendations for elective courses, many of which are aligned with Ivy Tech for dual credit. Students enrolled in the medical terminology course will pay full price for their book, but it will be theirs to keep. The rest of the approved textbooks will be rentals.

West Central High School Principal Don Street advised board members that the renewable energy course incorporating the recently completed wind turbine at the school is scheduled for next fall. Street said he’s hoping for double-digit enrollment in the course.

Board members also approved an eighth grade field trip to Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.

The last day of school for West Central students is Thursday, May 24. Baccalaureate and commencement exercise are scheduled for Sunday, May 27.

(Pulaski County Journal - May 2, 2012)

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