2015 News


Creek cleanup logged with jams

Plans to clean Indian Creek are in full swing again after facing several delays.

The original petition to clean the ditch began in 2002. The project had just started to flow in 2003 when it was held up in court. The project has since been through court twice.

“This is our fourth time restarting this project,” said Cass County Surveyor Jenny Clark.

Indian Creek flows in Pulaski, Cass, Fulton and White counties. The scope of the project begins with the eastern end of the creek, northeast of Lucerne, and ends at SR 119 in Pulaski County, including 70,000 acres and 35 miles of open drain. There are 559 parcels in Pulaski County that are affected by Indian Creek.

Pulaski County Surveyor Jenny Weaver-Keller said Pulaski County was previously in charge of the project but the board was dissolved.

“I own ground in the watershed so I had to recuse myself because that was one of the points from before,” she said, in reference to a court case involving the creek cleanup.

The board then appointed Clark as the ex officio. Cass County has the second largest amount of drainage and is now heading up the project.

“It’s really kind of a simple plan. Basically what we are doing is taking off the trees and any leaners. There are very few sections that are going to require any digging at all. It’s basically just going through and taking out the log jams,” Weaver-Keller said. “We want to get those out so the water can flow.”

She said the whole creek will not be dredged, just certain areas will.

The log jams and fallen trees are not only affecting the farmers’ fields but also several roadways and bridges flood when a large amount of rain happens.

“A lot of times when we get those huge floods it does go out over the roads and there are road closures due to the creek flowing over the banks,” Weaver-Keller said. “It is occurring more and more with the flooding.”

Clark said other counties are seeing the same flooding issues. The Town of Royal Center drains into Indian Creek and is affected “immensely” by it.

She doesn’t think there is one particular location that is worse than another because it is watershedwide.

Engineers have been working on the project since 2006. The recent change in the project occurred after a court hearing where it was determined that the classification of the project should be changed from a maintenance project to a reconstruction project, according to Clark.

“Since we did change from a maintenance to a reconstruction, there is a little bit more survey work that we have to do to be able to prepare a plan and a surveyor’s report,” Clark said.

“We have had several people come in and complain. It hasn’t been touched since the ‘40s, so obviously there is a lot of buildup. There is a lot of sediment,” Clark said.

The tiles that drain into the ditch have not been elevated causing smaller amounts of water to have bigger impacts.

“These outlets when they get under water, do not drain. They back up,” Clark said.

Once those plans are prepared the project will move forward to the permitting phase. Permits from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Indiana Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will need to be obtained.

A basis of what the project is allowed to do will be established, along with establishing costs. A public hearing will be set after that. Clark said there isn’t a timeline set at this time but an engineering plan could be ready sometime in the spring or summer of 2016. The project may be stalled if a property owner affected by the creek is against the project.

“Our plans that we had that we were working on were getting old. They were approximately 10 years old. A lot can happen in 10 years - high water marks, more erosion, tree falling,” Clark said. “It will take several months just to do the initial field work.”

There are portions of the creek that may not have as much work as other areas. The worst parts of the creek will be worked on first.

Funding will come from the general drain improvements by percentages. Weaver-Keller said the main costs currently are for engineering. As the project continues a percentage rate per county will be set and then collected from the land owners into the Indian Creek fund.

“We’ll build that up and pay for the cleanout,” Weaver-Keller said.

Commissioner Bud Krohn Jr. is representing Pulaski County on the five-person Indian Creek Joint Drainage Board. Others on the board are Ralph Anderson, of Cass County, Roger Rose, of Fulton County, John Heimlich, of White County, and Kevin Overmyer, of Marshall County, who is from an unaffected county.

The next meeting will be Feb. 17, 2016, in the Cass County Commissioners’ Hearing Room on the second floor.

Pulaski County is currently working on other regular maintenance for county ditches including Antrim Ditch. Some of the work will be as simple as brush removal.

(Pulaski County Journal — Nov. 4, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

More than $1.9 million has benefited Pulaski County through grants

Community grants have been awarded nearly every year since the Community Foundation of Pulaski County became a stand-alone community foundation in 2002.

Before then, as part of a five-county affiliate of the Northern Indiana Community Foundation, special project grant awards were made possible through Lilly Endowment Inc. All told, $1,924,815 in unrestricted community grants has benefited Pulaski County.

These grants are in addition to annual grant and scholarship distributions from the community foundation’s 100 endowed funds that support charitable efforts.

The Community Foundation of Pulaski County has thoughtfully awarded these grants to support community development, arts and culture, education, human services, health, and environment across the county. Every person in Pulaski County has likely been touched by at least one of these grants.

For more information, please contact Community Foundation of Pulaski County at 574-946-0906; www.cfopc.org; or visit 127 E. Pearl Street, Winamac.

(Pulaski County Journal — Nov. 4, 2015)

Winter Wonderland to focus on businesses

Planning for Winter Wonderland is on schedule but some changes will be made including where the vendors are located and an enhanced focus on businesses.

During a meeting on Oct. 21, chamber director Angie Anspach said the booths and crafts will be located in the Eastern Pulaski Elementary School gym following the Breakfast with Santa event. Winter Wonderland is scheduled for Dec. 5.

“It will be a nice flow. They can go in and see the vendors and then at 10 o’clock we are going to move everybody uptown and get it flowing,” Anspach said.

Entertainment will be uptown and the parade will begin at noon.

As for the businesses, Anspach said, “We are hoping to promote everything from the south end of town to the north end of town — get it all encompassed. We are going around to businesses to see what they want to do — if they are going to have sales, we can promote it for them. Even if they are not chamber members, we are going to do it. It is a townwide thing.”

Chamber president Judy Heater said the group is working with the historical society to host some activities in the opera house including vendor booths and Santa will be there. The gingerbread house contest will also be housed at the opera house.

Anspach said there will be a scavenger hunt this year that includes a map. The hope is to get more people into the businesses. There will be a $50 cash prize.

In other business:

Amy Cantu was re-instated as a board member after she resigned from the board.

A financial statement was approved.

The board approved to make a donation to REACT for their help during the Spirit of Pulaski County Festival.

Judy Stinemetz was nominated as the chamber secretary. The nomination was approved.

(Pulaski County Journal — Oct. 28, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Animal control warns of distemper

Pulaski County Animal Control Officer John Kleinofen warns pet owners that a case of distemper has been reported in the southwest part of the county.

On Oct. 20, Kleinofen said he received a call of a property owner who saw raccoons that appeared to have distemper, a virus that is highly contagious to puppies and dogs.

Distemper is usually spread by the secretions from an infected animal’s cough or sneeze and affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems of puppies and dogs. It is often fatal. It is not often a concern for humans but they can get the virus with no effects, according to Vetinfo.com.

Animals that can carry distemper include dogs, raccoons, foxes, wolves, skunks and ferrets. Animals that contract the virus will show symptoms of nasal discharge, coughing, vomiting and diarrhea. Raccoons will appear to be lethargic or tame.

Sporadic outbreaks of distemper are not uncommon. Tippecanoe River State Park Property Manager Vernon Gillum said at this time he hasn’t seen any signs of distemper in the raccoons at the state park property.

(Pulaski County Journal — Oct. 28, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Appraisal of land underway for second county industrial park

A preferred site has been chosen for an industrial park on the west side of the county and the results of an appraisal will soon be available.

Pulaski County Community Development Commission (CDC) Executive Director Nathan P. Origer said an appraisal of property is currently underway for the Pulaski County Center for Agriculture and Renewable Energy.

A second industrial park in the county was suggested in the 2010 economic development strategic plan but 2013 is when CDC moved forward with the project and initiated an engineering study that was completed in 2014.

The study included three potential properties. To support the project, the Pulaski County Commissioners appropriated $52,000 toward territorial engineering and site selection. The final report was analyzed and a committee decided which property had the most potential.

“There was a little bit of a back-burner time when we finished the engineering studies and we really started looking at this,” Origer said. “I do feel that we finally have some momentum on it now.”

When the strategic plan was created, the idea of a second industrial park was to attract businesses that center around agriculture and renewable energy.

“That is still something that we would like to see, but really we would like to see anyone who needs: A. rail; B. creates value-added opportunities for our agriculture economy; or C. in some way complements our existing industry,” Origer said. “We obviously are going to do our best to avoid bringing somebody that is going to compete. It’s enough they’re a labor force competition but we don’t want to put all of that taxpayer money into a new industrial park to bring in somebody who is going to compete.”

The preferable piece of property that is being appraised is about 55 acres. The park would be in the area of U.S. 421 and the CSX railroad, south of Medaryville, near the co-op. The hope is that the park will attract some smaller businesses because the property has the potential to house about two to five businesses.

Origer said a portion of the property will be set aside for a rail dock that could be used by any area business wanting to use the rail system.

As the appraisal is underway, federal guidelines of one appraisal and one review appraisal are being followed. An agricultural appraiser has been hired to complete the appraisal while the review is being completed by someone who focuses on industrial/commercial appraisals.

“Once we’ve got that appraisal done and we know what the appraiser says it is, I will informally negotiate with the property owners to get a feel for what they think of that appraised value,” Origer said. “We want to make sure that we are close enough that down the road we don’t hit an obstacle that we can’t surmount.”

Origer will ask the commissioners’ permission to work with the county attorney to develop an option on the land to offer to the owners. The initial offer would be a certain percentage of the total appraised property. Origer said there is funding set aside for an offer.

“That amount would go toward the total amount of the land when we someday would acquire it,” he said. “Once we have the option on the land that is when we move forward with shoring up the numbers that the engineers estimated for the development costs, running the infrastructure to the property.”

To help fund the land costs and utility development, grant funding will be applied for but there will still be the cost of the grant match. The infrastructure estimates that CDC has are based on running utilities from the north side of Medaryville to the south side where the proposed property is located. Origer said the utilities may only be installed a portion of the distance until there is a need to move forward.

Another issue that will need to be addressed is when the Medaryville utilities can handle an industrial park “or if as part of the project we have to include some costs for upgrading their capacity,” Origer said. “The farther you get from a town, the more expensive developing the utilities is.”

As for attracting businesses, Origer said that will take some time. The financial aspect of the project could take some time because grants are not always awarded on the first application. There will also be a question of if a bond should be obtained.

“There’s no way we could start reaching out because we don’t know when it will be shovel-ready,” Origer said.

Origer said he hopes to start applying for grants soon and possibly having grant funding sometime next year.

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

Community foundation joins the global #GivingTuesday movement

Community Foundation of Pulaski County has joined #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide. The community foundation is focusing on increasing community grants through local donations for the 2015 #GivingTuesday effort.

Occurring this year on Dec. 1, #GivingTuesday is held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday to kick off the holiday giving season and inspire people to collaborate in improving their local communities and to give back in impactful ways to the charities and causes they support.

Community foundation president Don Street said, “The community foundation is committed to fostering philanthropy in the county and growing funds to serve our communities. Through an invitation to local businesses, both large and small, we are introducing the #GivingTuesday opportunity so that they may join together in kicking off the charitable season and support our community.”

Street continued, “Alliance Bank has already committed to #GivingTuesday with a unique plan, and we look forward to many other companies joining. By committing a portion of sales, encouraging employees to participate, or offering customers the chance to add a donation to their purchase on #GivingTuesday, everyone can take part in giving back on Dec. 1.”

“Our goal is to raise $10,000 for community grants on #GivingTuesday to support needed programs and causes. An extra special bonus this year is that all of the donations will be matched $1 for $1 by Lilly Endowment,” said Wendy Rose, executive director. “Our hope is that this day will become part of a new tradition of generosity for our county.”

#GivingTuesday inspires people to take collaborative action to improve their local communities, give back in better, smarter ways to the charities and causes they celebrate and help create a better world. #GivingTuesday harnesses the power of social media to create a global movement dedicated to giving around the world. In 2014, the third year of the movement, #GivingTuesday brought together 30,000 partners in 68 countries and registered 32.7 million impressions on Twitter, with its eponymous hashtag mentioned 698,600 times.

For more details about the #GivingTuesday movement, visit the #GivingTuesday website (www.givingtuesday.org), Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/GivingTuesday) or follow @GivingTues and the #GivingTuesday hashtag on Twitter.

(Pulaski County Journal — Oct. 21, 2015)

BraunAbility investors say business to stay, grow

BraunAbility investors have met with employees and various members of the public to lay to rest some concerns about the acquisition.

On Sept. 23, it was announced that Patricia Industries is in the process of buying about 90 percent of the Braun Corporation shares. Patricia Industries is a division of Investor AB, a Sweden-based investment company.

BraunAbility President and CEO Nick Gutwein along with Patricia Industries CEO Börje Ekholm and Noah Walley, head of North American Investments for Patricia Industries, spent the day meeting with BraunAbility employees and the public on Oct. 8.

During the meeting, Ekholm and Walley talked about Investor AB and Patricia Industries and briefly about their families. Both are living in the U.S.

“We are very excited about the opportunities to grow this business and take what is clearly a strong business and make it even stronger,” Walley said.

Walley and Ekholm’s visit on Oct. 8 was the third time they have visited the BraunAbility facility.

“This is really the first time that we have been able to see the entire workforce. I think we are very excited to be involved. The more we get involved in the details of what the different opportunities in front of the company are, I think the more excited we get.”

Ekholm said both Patricia Industries and Investor AB are looking to grow the portfolio with new companies. He praised BraunAbility, when asked why Patricia Industries would want to invest in the company.

“Really what makes a difference is the culture. I think culture wins over strategy and everything, every day of the week,” Ekholm said. “What we were attracted with here was the focus on solely customer service. In this case providing mobility. To me, when you have a mission that strong and that’s so pervasive in the company, it’s a competitive advantage.”

He said there are numerous opportunities outside of the U.S. to provide mobility to the users. “We are just scratching the surface.”

When asked if the workforce and administration will remain the same, the response from Ekholm was BraunAbility already has a strong team.

“The way we like to run our companies, as owners we focus on doing what we know, which is being good owners of companies. We like to put the right boards in place and then have the board figure out the strategy and management,” Ekholm said.

Gutwein, Ekholm and Walley reiterated that BraunAbility was not for sale when approached by Patricia Industries.

“We weren’t looking but then we found someone we felt was a perfect fit. That if we said no now, we may miss the opportunity we have to have in the next 40 years,” Gutwein said.

Ekholm said future plans include growth.

“We think growth is important because it is valuable to the owners. As a matter of fact it is even more important because it makes a company stronger. It is easier to recruit people into the company that has growth,” he said.

Ekholm said the future plans include growth as a company, both in Winamac and possibly offshore.

“We are focused on doing the right things here. Now we want to ensure that we provide the right resources for BraunAbility to grow and develop. That’s our top priority right now,” Ekholm said.

Pulaski County Community Development Vice President Lawrence Loehmer said he thinks the investors’ outlook on business is “rare, compared to most Americans. You have a very different outlook and I think it is a very positive outlook. It’s very refreshing for myself to hear you talk about the value of other things other than the price tag.”

State representative Doug Gutwein was also in attendance and said this “is great for Pulaski County. They want growth and they obviously have the talent and the expertise to do that. They have shown that in the past with other companies they own and I don’t know why that would be any different. It sounds to me like business as usual.”

Pulaski County Community Development Commission Executive Director Nathan Origer believes the investors will offer new insights and guidance.

“The acquisition of BraunAbility by Investor AB’s Patricia Industries, though at first unsettling to all of us, offers the opportunity to brighten the future of the company and the community. The potential for new capital investment should mean not only the expediting of current new-product development, but greater agility for further innovation and implementation,” he said. “Finally, the great emphasis placed on talent development, as expressed by CEO Börje Ekholm, dovetails nicely with one of our primary emphases at the CDC, and I look forward to continued and expanded collaboration with BraunAbility as we seek to build an exceptional workforce in Pulaski County.”

Others in attendance included Pulaski County Commissioner Larry Brady, Winamac Town Councilwoman Judy Heater, Pulaski Memorial CEO Tom Berry Jr., Pulaski Memorial Hospital Chief Nursing Executive Linda Webb, Pulaski Memorial Hospital Chief Financial Officer Greg Malott, a representative from Congresswoman Jackie Walorski’s office and various news outlet representatives.

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

LOIT tax approved

Although the Pulaski County Council approved the ordinance to implement a new income tax, more opposition was heard regarding whether county employees will use the new time and attendance system the county has purchased.

During a meeting on Monday, the council approved the Local Option Income Tax to generate funds for public safety. Little discussion was held other than explaining why the tax is needed.

“The county is seeing a decrease in about $2 million. We implemented this tax to gain about a fourth of that back,” said county council president Jay Sullivan.

The tax wasn’t approved without opposition. Councilman Doug Roth and councilwoman Linda Powers opposed the tax.

Other opposition that came at the council during the meeting came from prosecutor Dan Murphy. Sullivan asked Murphy to have his employees use the new time and attendance system.

Murphy said he doesn’t agree with using employees’ fingerprints because fingerprints can be duplicated causing security issues.

“Also, the employees of my office and the two courts are judicial branch, and that is a fundamental difference between the executive branch, which you represent, and my office,” Murphy said.

Although the council appropriates funds each year for the prosecutor to hire employees, they are not county employees, according to Murphy.

“You can’t exercise authority across these lines because they are separate and equal branches of government,” Murphy said. “There is a fundamental problem with you requesting us and us complying with those types of limitations on our office.”

Murphy said he is required to keep track of the employees’ hours and certifies the hours that the employees work.

“I don’t know whether or not I want to be in the situation of having time cards or other things that are out of my control going to you people,” he said.

He understands there were issues in the past that the hours employees were or were not working were being questioned by the auditor’s office.

“I’m the one who is responsible for it and I’m the one who will be setting the policy in my office,” Murphy said.

Councilman Doug Roth questioned if Murphy uses the county handbook. Murphy said he will be glad to submit one. The department does follow some of the county policy guidelines.

Sullivan said the reason to use the time and attendance system is to make it easier on the auditor’s office. The system costs about $60,000 and could involve clocking in with a fingerprint or using a FOB.

“Every single step that is taken, always for good intentions, to make things easier, to make things better, it’s not necessarily right because it is an incursion into the rights of a different branch of government,” Murphy said.

Murphy said it’s his decision.

Councilman Tom Roth asked what the council is to tell the other department heads when they say their employees don’t want to use time cards. Murphy said the council has the power to dictate what other departments in the county do but not the judicial side.

Councilman Doug Roth said as he recalls when Murphy took office one of the first actions he took was to ensure that the secretaries of his department were being paid the same as others in the courthouse.

“I just wanted to point that out that you can comply when it works out for you but not so much when it doesn’t,” Doug Roth said.

No discussion was held.

In other business:

The 2016 budget and the 2016 salary ordinance were approved.

The council approved a revised salary and wage ordinance. The new ordinance reflects the change to part-time employees’ hourly rates. The change in the hourly rate will be retroactive to June 9.

Pulaski County Community Development Commission Executive Director Nathan Origer asked for the approval of Resolution 10-2015 in regards to designating property in the industrial park as an economic revitalization area. Designating the area as an economic revitalization area means that it is eligible for tax abatements. The request was approved.

Murphy requested to transfer $2,559.60 to cover the costs of transporting an individual from the Seattle, Washington, area, to the Pulaski County Jail. He is facing charges of five felonies. He also requested a transfer of $24.10 to cover the salary of the victim assistant. Murphy said the department has been awarded a grant in the amount of $62,500 but there is a shortfall in the payroll. The current pay will come from the incentive fund, according to Murphy. Both requests were approved.

Pulaski Circuit Court Judge Michael Shurn requested a transfer of $24,656.75 to cover pauper counsel costs. Shurn hopes that will cover the costs of the pauper counsel until the end of the year. The request was approved. He also made a request for an additional appropriation for civil counsel.

Pulaski County Extension Office Director Natalie Daily Federer requested to transfer $1,350 to cover the costs of envelopes, computer supplies, teaching supplies, postage and dues or subscriptions. Her request was approved.

A request by county surveyor Jenny Keller to transfer $300 to cover the costs of postage was approved. She also requested to transfer $151.31 to cover the costs of field supplies. She said she is going to purchase flags. The request was approved.

A request by Mike Fort, who was representing EMS, to transfer $4,000 for patient care supplies was approved.

Pulaski County Director of Health Terri Hansen requested a transfer of $1,500 for part-time help. She said there are several vacations that still need to be taken and there are times when no one is in the office because of training. Her request was approved.

Coroner John Behny requested a transfer of funds in the sum of $4,069 to purchase supplies. He would like to purchase a new cot that is rated up to 1,000 pounds, a cot bag and slider board. The transfer was approved.

Pulaski County Sheriff Jeff Richwine requested a handful of transfers including $14,000 for deputy overtime, $10,000 for part-time dispatch and dispatch overtime, $1,000 for travel expenses and $7,000 for dispatch overtime and schools, meetings and seminars, and $4,000 for schools, meetings and seminars. His requests were approved.

A transfer of $35.22 for the airport runway and grounds maintenance was approved.

A transfer of $400 for the probation part-time interpreter and $100 for Social Security were approved.

An additional appropriation of $2,100 into the general/IT department for operating supplies and equipment and an additional appropriation of $4,800 into the commissioners computer software and hardware was approved.

A letter regarding budget cuts to various county budgets was approved. Auditor Shelia Garling said the letters indicate how much was requested and how much that entity will receive. The council signed the letters.

Council members gave their approval for the commissioners to proceed with a courthouse renovation project in regards to a surveyor or receiving bids. Doug Roth opposed the request.

Minutes from the Aug. 17 and Aug. 18 budget workshops were signed, while the minutes from a joint session on Sept. 2 and a regular session on Sept. 14 were approved. An amendment was made to the Sept. 14 minutes.

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

Council freezes wages, continues with new tax

Members of the Pulaski County Council have decided to freeze any increases in county employee salaries to save money and have also decided to move forward with the new county income tax.

During a joint session with the Pulaski County Commissioners, on Sept. 30, the decision to freeze wages came after much debate and with opposition.

A committee of council members, Linda Powers, Alex Haschel and Doug Roth, have worked to apply a longevity matrix that was created by the sheriff’s office to county employee salaries.

“I think our committee was set up because, from what I’m hearing Shelia say, from what I’m seeing on paper, we are overspending every year,” Powers said. “So really, our goal is to figure out something that is put in place so that we have consistency with longevity and it’s standard. Then we as a council have to buckle down and not let overspending happen.”

Having consistency will help the county from worrying whether or not there is enough funding every year in regards to increases or raises, according to Powers.

Doug Roth said the matrix would allow for “predictability.” He calculated the matrix to apply to other county departments and estimated the increase would be about $42,000. That total did not include the sheriff’s office. If elected officials did not receive an increase the total would be about $32,000.

“Basically when I created ours, my thought was to have as little impact on wages right now,” Doug Roth said. “I think I came up with maybe 30 people that would receive a raise this year.”

Haschel said the increase will not be fair to everyone, but the matrix would give organization to employees’ wages and would be consistent. “You would know when you are getting a raise. I think that we have had problems with that before.” She used the example of new hires coming in and receiving the same wage amount as those who have been working for the county for years.

Powers said to make things equal among the employees and to take into consideration longevity, the council would cut wages and that was not the intention.

“Is it perfect? It’s not. Is it going to take a few years for things to separate and people to see the logic of doing it this way? Probably,” Doug Roth said.

Garling said she has a problem with the increases because although it may look like the longevity increases are possible in 2016, they won’t be next year. With those increases also comes an increase in employees’ retirement.

The percentages in the longevity matrix created by the sheriff’s office were randomly decided and not dictated by the state. How much a person could receive is based off a percentage of the sheriff’s salary. The matrix system has been used by other counties.

Council president Jay Sullivan said he doesn’t agree with the percentages being based off the sheriff’s salary. He believes it is a good starting point. He used the example that if the sheriff’s salary is decreased than do the deputies’ salaries decrease. He said there are too many variables.

The council approved to freeze wages and continue working on the matrix. Wages for county employees could increase after the first of the year, if the budget allows. Elected officials are not allowed an increase unless it is approved in the proposed budget prior to the new year.

Powers opposed the wage freeze.

Doug Roth questioned if the council would address the issue with new hires. His concern is that each time a new employee is hired that person is hired at the same wage the previous employee was making, putting little to no difference between the longevity.

A motion was approved that if any new hire or replacement hires are made, the salaries must go before the council to approve the salary.

“We are trying to get control of the fact that the longevity is not being rewarded,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan also suggested that the committee and the council take into consideration how much training a person must have for the position when looking at the matrix.

Garling also asked that the county look at the part-time rates. There are part-time employees who are stuck at the initial hiring rate of about $9.46 instead of the $13 rate. The $13 rate was not applied until after 630 hours. The council dismissed the 630 hours, but Garling said she was not instructed to give the employees a higher rate.

Sullivan said the employees would automatically get the higher rate. He said the change needs to be retroactive to June.

Doug Roth said he wants to ensure when the date of the retroactive pay is.

As discussion continued, Garling said people are questioning why the county is moving toward the Local Option Income Tax (LOIT).

Sullivan said the tax is needed because the state continues to cut funding. He used the example that LOIT may provide about $500,000 but the county is having to cut about $2 million.

“We have to do something to make sure that we are providing the necessary services to the people in the county,” he said.

The LOIT can only be used toward emergency services.

In other business:

The issue of too many dogs in the county was addressed during the joint session. Sheriff Jeff Richwine said the county needs to think about whether they want to get into the dog business, because the problem is bigger than a part-time position. Commissioner Terry Young said he has housed a dog for three weeks because no one wants to take it. Richwine said the department is beginning to calculate the number of dogs being taken from Winamac or Medaryville. He suggested maybe those towns need to help with the situation. Commissioner Larry Brady said he wanted to inform the council of the situation and hopefully a solution can be found.

Before the regular meeting, the council and the commissioners heard from various architects regarding renovations to the courthouse and other county buildings. Young questioned where the council should go now that they have an estimate of how much it will cost. Sullivan agreed with Young that something needs to be done. Some of the offices need more space and there are security issues that need to be addressed. “If we don’t do it now, we are going to have to do it later,” Young said. A motion for the commissioners to proceed with renovating the courthouse was approved. The council did not make a decision.

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

Highway department issues top commissioners’ agenda

A number of issues involving the Pulaski County Highway Department were addressed by the Pulaski County Commissioners during a regular session on Monday.

County highway department superintendent Terry Ruff first gave the commissioners some information regarding frost laws. He had examples of what other counties use. The information will be given to the county attorney Kevin Tankersley, who was not present at the meeting.

Commissioner Larry Brady and Ruff discussed one of the county roads that has failed because of a rusted culvert. Ruff said the plan is for the road to be repaired on Wednesday.

“Farmers - everybody needs that road now, so we’ve got to get it open as soon as we can,” Ruff said.

Ruff also questioned how much coverage the county should obtain on the highway department equipment. Brady suggested that if it is an important piece of equipment, such as the bucket truck, or used daily, then full insurance coverage should be obtained.

There was also a question if military equipment is available. Ruff would like a few more dump trucks. Brady said the program is still available but is not pursued as strongly as the previous sheriff. Sheriff Jeff Richwine said there is a service truck currently being borrowed by another county. Ruff said he would like to see it. The other county has spent about $2,000 on the truck so the county would need to decide how to reimburse that county.

One of the final issues was whether a lane leading to a house was considered a road. Commissioner Terry Young said it is not a road and the county does not have to maintain it. If the county were to maintain the road, it would need to meet certain specifications. A question was also made by commissioner Bud Krohn Jr. regarding a tile. At this time the county does not have any record of it belonging to the county although the county has been working with the property owner to fix a drainage problem.


In other business:

Jeff Larrison, of United Consulting, approached the commissioners to re-sign paperwork regarding the county bridge inspections. Larrison said the mileage reimbursement has changed, requiring the language of the contract to change. The re-signing of the contract was approved.

Kris Smith from Copiers Plus said the county might be able to save money with a new contract regarding the black and white copiers. The new contract would lock the price in for five years. The new contract was approved. Garling said the county has saved a large amount of money because of the new color contract that was adopted last year.

Conference requests made by EMA director Sheryl Gaillard and Garling were approved.

Minutes from the Sept. 8 and Sept. 21 commissioners’ meetings and the memorandum from an executive session on Sept. 30 were approved.

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

Battle for the Tomahawk Friday night

This season the battle for the county football title is a story of two teams heading in opposite directions this season. Last season the West Central Trojans and Winamac Warriors entered the contest undefeated and were in select company of undefeated teams. What a difference a year makes. Both schools were hit hard by graduations and have been challenged to find replacements in several key positions.

West Central has struggled all season and is still looking for that elusive first victory. The Trojans are sitting on a 0-6 record and have been kept out of the end zone the last two weeks against Pioneer and North Judson. Offensively West Central has scored 34 points in six games while the defense has given up 252 points. The Trojans are sitting on some talent and have been in several games this season. Avoiding turnovers and one bad quarter of play will be the key to a win Friday night.

Winamac will head to Francesville Friday night a vastly improved team from the beginning of the season. The Warriors are 4-2 on the season with the team’s only losses coming from No.-2 ranked Pioneer and No.-6 ranked LaVille. With each week the team is building its confidence and getting better on both sides of the ball. Defensively, after allowing an average of 24 points per game in the first four weeks of the season, Winamac has looked like the team of old, allowing just 9 points per game in the last two weeks. Offensively the Warriors have a multitude of weapons at their disposal and you can look for each one to be used.

In the last four meetings, including postseason play, Winamac holds the advantage going 4-0 against the Trojans.

Even though Winamac has to be the favorite in the game, the Warriors cannot take anything for granted. West Central is hungry for a win and would like nothing more than to accomplish it in the Battle for the Tomahawk.

The showdown will take place at West Central High School with a kickoff time of 7 p.m.

(Pulaski County Journal — Sept. 30, 2015 • Story by Paul Hettinger)

Animal control officer having ‘ruff’ time finding shelters

Pulaski County Animal control officer John Kleinofen is having a tough time finding places to take stray animals and it doesn’t appear to be getting any easier.

Kleinofen has responded to a number of calls regarding stray animals. It has been so overwhelming that some strays are currently being housed on private property of Pulaski County residents.

Kleinofen said there are times when he has to call the shelters to ensure they have space for the animal or he can’t help the county residents that have called him.

He does not euthanize animals and he said it’s not part of his job description. The animal control officer position is part time and Kleinofen is doing his best to keep his hours low while serving the community.

“From what I’m told by people who have more knowledge than me is that about 50 percent of the animals that we have contact with are adopted and the rest are not.”

A majority of the animals from Pulaski County are transported to the Starke County Humane Society. Those that can be adopted are taken to the Pulaski Animal Center when room is available.

Kleinofen said the humane society is currently overflowing with animals. The overpopulation of the pets, “is not only a Pulaski County problem. It is a statewide problem from what I am told.”

Some of the dogs Kleinofen is coming into contact with are dumped. If there is a dog that strays from their home or the dog is tagged, Kleinofen will do his best to reunite the owner with their pet.

“If they have a tag or any identification on them, I take them home, no matter the circumstances,” Kleinofen said.

To reduce the number of dogs and cats in the community, Kleinofen is an advocate of spaying and neutering. He also said, not only are rabies vaccinations the law, but it can be a way to help identify an animal.

If a person wants to house a dog or cat for a short period of time, they should contact the local shelters.

(Pulaski County Journal — Sept. 30, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson

Town approaches county commissioners for help

The Winamac Town Council is looking to clean up the town and they have a plan that might require a little help from the county.

During a regular commissioners’ meeting on Monday, Winamac Town Council President Ken McFarland, councilman Dan Vanaman and town manager Brad Zellers approached the commissioners about purchasing a piece of property in the town limits.

The reason they were approaching the commissioners is because the property could be up for a tax sale soon and there is also an order to condemn or repair it.

Zellers said the town would like to acquire the property at 201 W. Main St. or the old Long Branch Hotel. He is hoping the town can acquire the property, so the dilapidated building can be torn down. It currently is causing an eyesore at the Winamac Pathway.

“We would like to get it down before it falls,” Zellers said.

The town would like help removing the building.

Building inspector Dave Dare said the order still stands on the property, even if the town were to acquire it. There is some funding available that could be used to help with the building demolition. The cost of the tearing down the building is estimated to be about $15,000. Dare said the town will need to bid it out because it is over $10,000.

Zellers said the town would bid it out.

“I’m sure there will have to be some attorneys involved in this on both sides to figure out the proper way to address the whole thing,” McFarland said.

Commissioner Bud Krohn Jr. suggested that the county highway trucks could be used to haul the debris away, saving the town money. “I would like to be able to help you.”

Brady said when the building is owned by the town, the county can help with the project. It’s when the building is owned by a private citizen that the situation becomes complicated.

Commissioner Larry Brady suggested that when the town is ready to move forward to let the commissioners know.

Commissioners also approved for 3.5 acres of property in the industrial park to be purchased by the town for $3,000. The advisory commission on industrial development approved the selling of the property last week. The property will be used to expand the Winamac Cemetery. The request was approved. The expansion of the cemetery will allow for additional pauper, military and veteran graves.

“I think this is a great gesture — a great move forward for our community,” Brady said.

County road 50 W. separates the properties.

In other business:

Concerns regarding an issue with the building department were expressed by two people wanting to build a small house. During the meeting, commissioner Larry Brady apologized for a miscommunication with the building department. Brady and Pulaski County Community Development Commission Executive Director Nathan Origer tried to address their concerns by educating them on how zoning in the county works and how the board of zoning functions. Building inspector Dave Dare then met with them outside the meeting. Dare later apologized for a miscommunication.

Krohn Jr. said there is a concern about the intersection of CR 550 S. and CR 300 E., near Star City, where a number of accidents have occurred. Some residents are wanting to make it a four-way stop. County highway superintendent Terry Ruff said he knowns the concerns about the intersection and it is up to the commissioners if they want to change the intersection. A cement block that was near the intersection has been removed, according to Ruff.

Pulaski County EMS Director Nikki Lowry said the department is seeing an increase in calls and she is having problems staffing the third truck. She has enough employees to staff the truck for three days. “We are not the only one looking for medics,” Lowry said. “The medic pool is pretty much dried up here.” She also said the new billing and reporting software is installed and they will begin billing with it on Oct. 1.

As the chairman of the safety committee, Lowry said she is attending a safety training seminar in October. Lowry said the committee is halfway through reviewing the safety manual and revising it. “We are hoping to finish that up by our October meeting and present it to you in November. It is more specified for our county.” She will be contacting a few county departments because they have not contacted the safety committee.

EMA director Sheri Gaillard talked with the commissioners about appointing Brady to the DPC board. A motion was made to appoint Brady to the board. He will be representing the county. She also requested the approval of a resolution regarding two signatures of county officials for e-signatures for grant funding. In the past a commissioner and the county auditor have signed for those grants. It was approved that the auditor and Brady will sign for the grants. She asked for suggestions from the commissioners in regards to low-income families who may be good candidates to receive an all-hazard weather radio. She has received 10 radios that she will give to those families. Commissioner Terry Young made the suggestion for her to contact some local township trustees.

Origer informed the commissioners that the updating of the zoning ordinance is almost complete. Due to some scheduling issues and ensuring there is plenty of time for the commissioners and the planning commission to review the changes, the public hearing regarding the ordinance will be introduced in November.

Origer requested to attend the Indiana Economic Directors’ conference. His request was approved.

Recycling and transfer station director Brad Bonnell gave a brief report on business at the recycling and transfer station including how much the county is earning by recycling. He requested permission to open a bank account to deposit the credit card transactions in. The council recently approved that the recycling and transfer station could use a credit card machine as a way for customers to pay their bills. His request was approved. A motion was also approved for Bonnell to purchase checks and transfer some funding in the account from the professional services line item of the recycling and transfer station budget.

Ruff said 18 miles of roadway have been improved with a blade mix. There is a little additional funding left that he would like to use to improve a section of roadway in Star City with hot mix. His plan is that each year there is to be a little funding left to improve a different road in Star City.

Krohn Jr. said county farmers need to beware that the commissioners are looking at implementing a frost law in the county. An ordinance is currently being created. Commissioners discussed with Ruff if there is funding in the budget available for signs to announce the frost law will be enforced in the county.

Sheriff Jeff Richwine said the new animal control officer, John Kleinofen, is running into the problem of not having a place to house the stray animals that are being captured in the county. The Pulaski Animal Center will not accept animals that are not adoptable. Starke County Humane Society is full. Some residents in the county are housing the strays until homes can be found or a shelter is open. “I think we need to start thinking about where that needs to go,” Richwine said. Young suggested that a couple kennels could be purchased and the dogs could be housed briefly for the county. Richwine said the problem with that is having someone to take care of the animals. The animal control officer is a part-time position. Richwine praised Kleinofen for his work. “He is trying to watch his hours. I know he does a good job.” Brady suggested that maybe during the upcoming joint session, the issue could be discussed.

A motion was approved that when the county home property is split and sold that the driveway stays with the county.

Krohn Jr. said he would like to see some of the military equipment and the vehicles sold. There is currently a question of which military vehicles are insured and whether those same vehicles are property plated and registered. Richwine said he is working on disposing or returning the military items. The items that are considered “tactical” cannot be sold. “There is a wisdom in keeping some of that,” Richwine said. He used the example of during the polar vortex that Pulaski County was one of a few counties helping stranded residents. “We have a bunch, so I think that some of that can be sold.”

A conference request was approved for the EMA department.

The payroll was approved.

Claims were approved with opposition from Krohn Jr. Krohn Jr. didn’t approve a few of the claims because they were questionable.

(Pulaski County Journal — Sept. 23, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

County business loan paid off in advance

The Pulaski County Community Development Commission (CDC) is excited to announce that as of Sept. 18, Winamac Lumber Yard LLC, has successfully repaid the Pulaski County Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) one year ahead of schedule.

In September 2011, Kyle Kruzick, manager of All Seasons Home Center, partnered with local contractor Phil White to operate a home-improvement store in the All Seasons buildings, owned by Kruzick’s father. Establishing the new Winamac Lumber Yard, the pair borrowed $100,000 from the RLF to acquire fixtures and equipment from All Seasons.

Effective Jan. 1, 2013, White and his wife, Jenny, who handles the day-to-day operations of the business, bought out Kruzick’s share of the company. Later, having attained a sufficient financial footing, the Whites purchased the property from the Kruzick family.

Since September 2011, Winamac Lumber has completely overhauled the store, significantly expanded inventory, re-established and then enlarged its greenhouse, and increased its workforce from three full-time and one part-time employees to six full-time and three part-time staff members. Additionally, the Whites reached an agreement whereby Healey Custom Cabinetry LLC, now operates out of the rear of the store, providing Winamac Lumber with additional exposure and business opportunities, and Patrick Healey with a convenient location for his growing operations.

For all but two months in 2012, Winamac Lumber made payments in excess of the monthly balance; these additional payments on principal, as well as wise fiscal management, have allowed the company to complete repayment of the loan twelve months early, thus increasing the amount of funding available for other borrowers.

The CDC is grateful for the opportunity to have assisted in the growth of this local business. Phil and Jenny White and all of their employees express their deep gratitude to the community for all of the support over the last four years and in the future.

The Pulaski County RLF has a balance of nearly $150,000 and grows as current loan repayments build the fund. The RLF, established with grant money received from the State of Indiana, exists to assist current and start-up businesses to grow when bank financing is either unavailable or insufficient. Funding is available at four levels: micro-financing, mini-financing, and small loans, all administered by the CDC, and regular loans, administered with assistance from the Regional Development Company. For more information, contact the CDC.

(Pulaski County Journal — Sept. 23, 2015)

County council continues to move forward with income tax

The Pulaski County Council continues to move forward with the implementing of the Local Option Income Tax, amidst great debate.

Council president Jay Sullivan said the need for the Local Option Income Tax (LOIT) outweighs the objections, during a regular council meeting on Monday.

Auditor Shelia Garling said she has heard several complaints about the tax because the county taxes are already the highest in the state. There is also much disapproval about a proposed wage increase for the sheriff’s office. At this time, according to Garling, no other department is receiving an increase.

Councilwoman Linda Powers said it’s a misconception regarding the wage increase. A committee is currently looking at implementing a wage matrix for all county departments.

Garling said there may be funding for the wage increase for the sheriff’s office in 2016. The problem is that the same funding won’t be available in 2017.

“The matrix system from what I have seen, I think it is a very good idea. I am not opposed to it, but I am opposed to anybody getting an increase or picking out a few when we still have to cut some 300-some thousand dollars,” Garling said.

During a joint session on Sept. 2, the council approved to move about $400,000 from the Rainy Day Fund to cover the cuts.

Garling said although the council decided to move the funding, the county still needs to cut $400,000. She said the funding from the Rainy Day Fund can be appropriated to cover the $400,000 loss but the cut must be done first.

“I don’t know that we can cut another $400,000 out of the budget and keep everything going like it needs to be going,” Sullivan said.

It was suggested that the $400,000 for liability insurance be moved to the Rainy Day Fund. That will allow for a $400,000 cut to the general fund budget. Garling said she would prepare an additional appropriation for December.

Sullivan said the county is facing an even bigger problem with the lack of funding for the county airport. The Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) is requiring the county to cut $36,438 from the budget. After the numbers were calculated it was discovered that the cut doesn’t leave enough for the airport manager’s salary, Social Security and the Public Employee’s Retirement Fund (PERF). Garling said the budget has to be $27,676.

“It looks like if we pay his PERF and salary for the guy that runs the place, then we don’t have any money for anything else,” Sullivan said.

As the budget was cut, the council cut everything including utilities, supplies, telephone and fuel. The salary of the airport manager was also cut by $300.

The airport cannot be sold and it cannot be closed.

Sullivan questioned if the county would be receiving the funding from the income tax in 2016. Garling said if the tax ordinance is approved before Oct. 31, it will become effective on Jan. 1, 2016. It appears the county would begin receiving funds in 2016. County municipalities that are incorporated will also receive some LOIT funding.

Concerns were also voiced about the sheriff’s office receiving a raise, while there is $2.2 million being cut from the budget. Concerns were also voiced in regards to the sheriff’s office receiving a raise but not another department.

Powers said the county had not approved a wage increase but a committee has been working to implement a wage matrix. The matrix would be used for all county departments.

“In reality there is not a whole lot of pay raises,” Powers said. “We are trying to come up with something that is consistent and that rewards people for being here for a long period of time.”

With the wage matrix, those who have worked for the county the longest would receive a raise. Those who are newly hired would not. It would put a wage gap between new employees and those who have seniority.

“Wages just keep getting higher and higher because we don’t establish an entry-level wage,” said councilman Doug Roth. He used the example that if someone quits and their wage is $20, the next person who is hired for that same position earns $20. “We can’t keep doing that. We keep bringing employees in at $17 bucks an hour, yeah, we are going to have to start losing employees.”

Powers and Roth said nothing has been approved regarding the wage matrix.

Pulaski County Sheriff Jeff Richwine said the sheriff’s office generates funding while other departments don’t. That funding can be transferred. Richwine said he represents the sheriff’s office and he wants to see the matrix implemented.

He suggested that the sheriff’s office could be used as an example to see if the matrix works.

“I understand the argument that it is not fair but that’s not fair to us. Our jobs are different. Their jobs are totally different than anybody that sits over here in the courthouse. It’s different from the county highway guys,” Richwine said.

He said his department has tried to answer every question that the council had and they found funding in the budget to make the matrix happen.

“I just hope it doesn’t disappear on us, cause there’s people over there on the department that worked very hard to answer all those questions,” Richwine said.

The county will adopt the budget in October. Any changes need to be made before the meeting and in time for Garling to change the budgets.

A joint session to discuss the wage matrix is scheduled for Sept. 30 at 7:30 p.m.

The non-binding resolutions regarding the township budgets and school corporation budgets were approved.

In other business:

Pulaski County Community Development Commission Executive Director Nathan Origer requested the approval of a preliminary resolution for an economic revitalization area (ERA) regarding property in the industrial park owned by R&S Welding. Origer said the ERA status makes the property eligible for a tax abatement. The request was approved. A public hearing will be scheduled in regards to the ERA resolution.

Origer suggested that the county take a hard look at the county taxes. He said the income tax may not be the best answer but possibly “shifting some of the burden off of income and onto property.” He said land and buildings don’t move but people do. “If you raise the taxes even more on income, you are only going to encourage more people to leave the county thus lowering your tax base.” Sullivan didn’t completely agree with Origer but appreciated the information.

Superior Court Judge Patrick Blankenship requested to purchase a new computer and computer software for $1,236.98. Funding for the computer doesn’t come from the county general fund. The council approved to advertise the additional appropriation.

An additional appropriation of $5,000 for the superior court public defender services fund was approved. Funding for the public defender services is obtained through fees and not the county general fund.

Circuit Court Judge Michael Shurn’s request to transfer $5,000 for civil pauper counsel fees and $138.91 for supplies were approved. He made the transfer request to cover the costs until the end of the year.

A resolution to authorize the acceptance of credit cards and establishing procedures for credit card acceptance for collecting payments at the recycling/transfer station was approved. Recycling/transfer station manager Brad Bonnell said there is quite a bit of interest in paying with credit cards, even though there is an additional fee to the costumer.

Bonnell said as the wage matrix committee continues to see if it is feasible in the 2016 budget, he requested that they take into consideration the special certifications that some of the employees at the recycling/transfer center have, such as a CDL. He would like to be able to offer skilled employees a higher wage. Powers said the certifications have been taken into consideration and they are trying to figure it out.

Discussion was held regarding the newly created information technology department. The county recently hired a full-time information technology employee, R.B. Walters. There was a question if that department should have a stand-alone budget. It was determined that his salary is funded by the commissioners’ fund and any overtime is funded from the sheriff’s office County Adjusted Gross Income Tax funding. Motions to transfer funding in the commissioners’ budget and in the sheriff’s office budget were approved. It was determined that any supplies and equipment needed for the department, $3,148, will come from the maintenance fund and the Cumulative Capital Fund.

Garling requested that the council approve a change to the salary and wage ordinance. She said there was a miscalculation by a penny in regards to the information technology director’s salary that must be reflected correctly in the ordinance. The change was approved.

A joint session has been set for Sept. 30 at 6 p.m. to hear from architects regarding proposed renovations that could be made to the county buildings.

Several transfers were approved. Those included $200 for health department official records, $400 for probation department part-time interpreter expenses, $155 for extension office service and maintenance contracts, $4,767 for commissioners’ schools, seminars and meetings, $6,573 for sheriff’s office cook wages, $150 for treasurer office machines, and $2,300 for auditor part-time help.

Garling presented monthly financial statements to the council. According to her calculations, the county has received $4,230,355.26 in revenues this year but spent $5,001,101. She warned the council that the county would be in the red by $770,745.74. There was a balance of $1.6 million carried over from last year that has kept the county in the black. The county will receive additional distributions in December.

Garling requested a change to the mileage reimbursement amount. The state recently changed the reimbursement amount from 44 cents to 40 cents. In the past, the county has followed the state reimbursement amount. A resolution reflecting that change was approved.

Because the county has made several cuts to the 2016 budget, some organizations will be receiving less funding. Those organizations don’t typically sit in on the budget hearings, so they may not have an idea that funding has been cut. Garling suggested that a letter be written to those organizations regarding the cuts. Letters have not been sent in the past. The council agreed that a letter would be a good idea.

Garling asked the board how they feel about the $400 transfer amount. If a department head wants to transfer more than $400 they must bring it to the attention of the council for approval. Garling said she doesn’t like that transfers less than $400 are being made without an explanation of what the transfer is for. The council agreed that the limit could remain the same, but the council wants an explanation for the smaller transfers.

Garling asked if the council would like to continue with a policy to charge a garnishment fee. Council members said they believed the county would follow Indiana Code and that they gave their approval during the last meeting. It was decided that the issue would be tabled until the joint session on Sept. 30.

Minutes from the joint session and regular session on Aug. 10 and from the budget meetings on Aug. 17 and 18 were approved. Minutes from the Sept. 2 joint session were also approved but were amended. Powers abstained from two votes that were made during that meeting. The minutes only reflected one.

(Pulaski County Journal — Sept. 16, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Garbage pickup could become stinky issue for Monterey

Monterey residents wanting cheaper prices on garbage pickup may have to do their own bidding.

During a regular meeting, town councilwoman Emily Bailey said a resident approached one of the local garbage companies in regards to serving Monterey and obtained an estimated quote that Bailey presented to the council.

It was discussed that if garbage were collected throughout the town using the same company, the town would bill each home or duplex.

Fleury suggested that the town be surveyed to see who’s interested.

“It would have to be the whole town,” Bailey said. “They are not going to bill each individual homeowner. They’re going to bill the town, so we are going to have to collect that money like the sewer.”

The problem is that some residents don’t regularly pay their sewer bill causing the town to lose money. The same could happen with garbage pickup.

Some residents use a garbage company, while others burn their trash. Some also use locals, who pick it up and take it out of town for a price. Residents who utilize a garbage company may have a contract and if broken would cost them.

Clerk-treasurer Linda McCune said there has been a problem with the county recycling and if it doesn’t stop, the county may discontinue it. The county has complained that garbage is being thrown in the recycling.

Council members will weigh the pros and cons of a townwide garbage pickup service and discuss it at the next meeting.

In other business:

A public meeting on the 2016 budget was held. No comments were made from the public. The budget will be approved during the next regular council meeting on Oct. 14.

Minutes from the Aug. 5 meeting were approved.

Fleury said the town has been corresponding with the state in regards to grant funding that the town will be awarded for upgrading of the sewer system and wastewater plant. Later in the meeting, Fleury said they need to consider what can be eliminated from the sewer project because the town may not be able to make payments on the county loan at the current loan amount. McCune suggested that the town hold a work session and speak with the engineer to “see what we are allowed to do.”

Extending the boat ramp at Kleckner Park is on hold. At the last meeting there was discussion of graveling that area. Bailey suggested the town rethink the gravel because it will wash away when it floods. Fleury said the other option is asphalt. The town will look to see how much it will cost.

Fleury said he contacted NIPSCO about rerouting an electric line that runs through a resident’s yard. He has yet to hear back from NIPSCO and will try again.

Town attorney Crystal Brucker said she has met with county attorney Kevin Tankersley and sheriff Jeff Richwine in regards to enforcing the golf cart ordinance. “We are in the process of putting together an interlocal agreement. We put that together. It is now at the county attorney’s office. We’re just waiting for them to make revisions that they might need, so that we can take another look at it and have the sheriff sign it,” Brucker said. After it is approved by all those involved, the ordinance will be enforced.

A request for a community development commission meeting to be held at the town hall on Oct. 6 was approved.

A request to block off CR 600 E., between Main and Washington streets on Oct. 10 for a private auction was approved.

(Pulaski County Journal — Sept. 16, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Fees to change at Pulaski County Health Department

As the Pulaski County Health Department is cutting the current budget and preparing to spend less next year, employees are also looking at how to generate more funding.

During a regular meeting on Monday, Pulaski County Health Department Director of Environmental Health Terri Hansen approached the commissioners with the idea of changing the fee schedule.

Hansen said it has been about 15 years since most of the fees have changed.

“I just brought this tonight to discuss it,” Hansen said.

She mentioned a number of fees that could be changed including death certificates, new permits for septic systems, annual food permits and permits for tattoo parlors.

“Genealogy research — we talked about this for a long time. We have people who come in and want to do genealogy all day,” Hansen said. A large amount of time is being spent by employees helping those who are researching the past.

Part of the problem is that the county handles the antique records and makes copies.

She has spoken with other counties that charge every half hour. She suggested charging $5 per hour. After the commissioners discussed the issue, it was decided that the department would charge $10 per half hour.

The public health nursing aspect of the department is breaking even, according to Hansen. She said a little money is made to purchase needles.

Commissioner Larry Brady suggested that the fees be reviewed on a regular basis.

Hansen said she would change the suggested fees and have the schedule signed by health department officer Dr. Rex Allman. She will present it to the commissioners again for final approval.

Hansen also requested permission to attend a fall conference. Her request was approved.

In other business:

Maintenance supervisor Jeff Johnston said several issues have been repaired at the sheriff’s office. He also gave an update on several other projects happening at the county buildings. Johnston attempted to receive bids for work at the annex job. He said the work was advertised in four different papers and no one responded. Johnston contacted someone to hopefully do the work. He requested whether the commissioners wanted to schedule a special session with the council to hear from architect in regards to the renovations of the county buildings, specifically the courthouse. “I have heard back from the architect firms that we have talked to and the costs that they have given me — there’s huge differences.” Commissioner Terry Young suggested a special meeting be scheduled with the county council to discuss it. Commissioners will try to schedule a meeting with the council.

Recorder Christi Hoffa introduced the idea of electronically recording (E-recording) to the commissioners. “Title companies and banks are getting more pressure to get things to us quicker, so they are pushing us to E-record. They want to electronically send the documents to us to be recorded.” She would like to use Simplifile that works with the software the recorder’s office already uses. “Initially, I only want to take documents that the recorder has to see.” There are other documents that are processed through the auditor’s office and the assessor’s office, but Hoffa doesn’t “want to push that” on those offices. She would like to work with the company and then introduce it to the other offices. There is no cost to the county. Simplifile charges the consumer not the county. The commissioners approved using the company with the pending approval of county attorney Kevin Tankersley.

Building inspector Dave Dare requested the approval of a demolition order of the unsafe two-story building at 201 W. Main St. in Winamac. The house was owned by Clara Roudebush. Dare said there are a number of interior issues with it. “I know it’s an old building but it has never really been maintained. There is really no history behind it. It is just one of the oldest buildings in the town.” The order to demolish the building was approved. The order is to be completed by Oct. 16. Dare also gave an update on the collapsed Monterey building and on a building in Medaryville. The collapsed building is being cleaned up. Dare showed the progress of the Medaryville building in a few photos.

Pulaski County Sheriff Jeff Richwine requested for the commissioners to sign two sheriff’s office vehicle titles. The titles were signed. Richwine said the vehicles will be auctioned.

Conference requests for the treasurer’s office, auditor’s office, recorder’s office, clerk’s office, health department and EMA department were approved. Several conference requests regarding EMA director Sheri Gaillard were approved.

A motion to sign documents regarding the commissioners’ auction of seven lots in the Monterey Property area was approved.

Auditor Shelia Garling gave information to the commissioners regarding past discussions about moving the fairgrounds.

Minutes from the regular commissioners’ meeting on Aug. 17, joint sessions on Aug. 10 and Sept. 2, and executive session on Aug. 28 were approved.

Payroll and claims were approved.

(Pulaski County Journal — Sept. 9, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Tax increase proposed during joint session

A joint session on Sept. 2 between the Pulaski County commissioners and council led to the hiring of a technology manager and to begin adopting an income tax.

The county council wanted to give a 10-percent raise to all county employees but after the numbers were calculated and it was determined that about $2 million needs to be cut from the budget, it doesn’t appear to be possible.

Councilman Doug Roth calculated the proposed salary increases to reflect longevity and a salary matrix. The county highway department and the sheriff’s office would have the largest increases.

Of the proposed county general budget that totaled $8,462,250, the council reviewed and cut about $1,590,116. County auditor Shelia Garling said the Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) has advised the county to cut as close to $2 million as possible.

Garling said the problem, according to the DLGF, is the county is “spending more than we are taking in. This year we know what we have coming in and we know what we having going out.”

As council members are looking for different options to cut an additional $410,000, council president Jay Sullivan suggested implementing a Local Option Income Tax (LOIT) that can be used for public safety costs.

He said the reason for the tax is “they have been cutting our tax revenue significantly over the last five years.”

Garling said the tax could bring in an additional $600,000 per year that would be divided with other taxing units. “The state will tell us what we have to disperse out — how much we have to disperse out.”

The tax could be in effect on Jan. 1, 2016, but Garling wasn’t sure when the county would receive the funding.

“The projection for coming in, money-wise, the county general for next year is $1.685165. That’s the projected amount that we will receive next year from the state and from fees that we collect,” Garling said. “So see, we’re talking a $6 million budget and I’m only going to receive $1.6.” That does not include property taxes but other fees.

Councilman Mike Tiede asked if the county could use the Rainy Day Fund to cover the $410,000, if the county doesn’t receive the LOIT funding in 2016. He said he’s not in favor of a new tax but there might not be another option.

Garling said the $400,000 for the liability insurance could be taken from the Rainy Day Fund, instead of trying to cut several line items to find the $400,000. There is more than $800,000 in the Rainy Day Fund.

Of the proposed budgets, the sheriff’s office budget became a target of discussion. For the last several months, sheriff Jeff Richwine has been talking with the council about a wage increase for the sheriff’s office including deputies, jailers and dispatchers. The increase is based on a matrix and reflects the longevity of employees. The increase is estimated to cost about $60,000.

When Garling calculated the sheriff’s budget it appeared that the department has cut more than $300,000 from the proposed/advertised budget. The $300,000 cut that Garling mentioned didn’t include a 10-percent wage increase or the increase of the proposed wage matrix. It did include moving two positions, a dispatcher and jailer, into different accounts. The cut also included funding being moved from a pension fund into the salaries.

Sullivan said additional funding would need to be cut from the sheriff’s budget to cover the wage matrix increase. It was suggested that the sheriff cut an additional $60,000 to cover the wage increase.

Richwine said $70,000 in funding is available if the department doesn’t purchase two new vehicles.

As discussion continued, council members said they would still like to see if the proposed wage matrix or a raise could be given. If employees of the highway department are given a raise, some additional funding may have to be cut from that budget which is not the same as the county general budget.

Garling reminded the council that each year, the county receives less funding so giving employees a raise may be funded for 2016 but there may not be enough in the budget to cover those same wages in 2017.

“What we are doing is getting something consistent and so if the state continues to cut then we will have to cut. And if it means that we have to cut positions — they did it how many years ago,” Powers said. “Understand that this committee that we had isn’t trying to give everybody raises. We are trying to come up with consistency so that things will continue on this pattern. It’s a matrix that can continue for years and years.”

Sullivan said the new tax should help this situation.

Roth said a majority of the wages would freeze with the matrix. “I think that wages have gotten out of control.”

Council members approved a motion to begin the adoption of Local Option Income Tax for public safety of .0025 percent. The motion was opposed by Doug Roth.

A motion was approved to borrow the $410,000 from the Rainy Day Fund to cover the needed cuts unless the LOIT funding is available in 2016. Linda Powers abstained from the vote because she was late. Roth opposed it.

A public hearing regarding the budget will be held on Monday, Sept. 14, during the council meeting.

In other business:

Pulaski County Commissioners Larry Brady and Bud Krohn Jr. approved to hire R.B. Walters as the county technology manager. Brady said there were five applicants and two were top prospects.

(Pulaski County Journal — Sept. 9, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Additional cuts need made to county budgets

Pulaski County Council members have wrapped up the budget hearings deciding where an estimated $1.6 million must be cut from the 2016 budget but they are not done yet.

The council, along with the commissioners, will be meeting Wednesday at 7 p.m. to discuss where additional funds can be cut.

On Tuesday, county auditor Shelia Garling said the Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) has warned her that about $2 million will need to be cut from the $8.1 million budget.

Garling said she’s been advised by the DLGF that “we’ve spent more than we are getting and that’s the problem.”

Cuts that have been made so far are from the health department, salaries and “overall — wherever they could,” according to Garling.

The health department has cut about $152,000 but was only required to cut about $125,000. The airport is also facing drastic cuts. An estimated $56,909 will be cut from the airport funds. Garling said there just isn’t a place to cut in the airport budget and still have money to keep it open.

Bigger items such as insurance, attorney fees, Social Security and Public Employee’s Retirement Funds (PERF) will be paid for from the County Adjustment Gross Income Tax (CAGIT) budget that is set at $2.9 million. She is also estimating an increase in insurance that could cost the county more than $100,000.

The County Economic Development Income Tax (CEDIT) fund that pays for the justice center payment and the jail lease is estimated at about $2.2 million.

(Pulaski County Journal — Sept. 2, 2015 • Amber L. Tomlinson)

Purdue Extension of Pulaski County to hold poverty training

In Pulaski County, around 13 percent of the population lives at poverty level. In the state of Indiana, one in five children go hungry every day!

In order to learn how the public can help meet this great need, one must first understand poverty. Purdue Extension of Pulaski County will be hosting a Bridges Out of Poverty program on Sept. 24-25, at the Knights of Columbus in Winamac.

Bridges Out of Poverty is a two-day training program that takes a hard look at the factors that impact poverty. Then the training will focus on how everyone can better assist the community to help those in poverty move from support programs to a self-supportive lifestyle. This process takes time, education and training. This program builds upon the poverty simulation that the extension office hosted back in September of 2014.

The program runs on both days from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and participants must have attended the first day (Sept. 24) to be able to attend day two (Sept. 25). All participants receive a book and lunch will be provided for free.

Please note that there is a registration cost per day with this program but the first 20 participants that register online, their registration for both days will be waived. Those who register after the first 20 participants, the extension office will cover $20 of the registration fee. There is limited space.

Registration deadline is Sept. 10, and those who are interested in the program can register online at http://goo.gl/XOV8We. The full cost of the program is $40 for day one and $25 for day two (early bird) but after Sept. 10, the cost is $50 for day one and $35 for day two.

Questions about the program content can be directed to Karen Hinshaw at 260-358-4826.

This program is done in partnership with Purdue Extension’s certified Bridges Out of Poverty program led by Karen Hinshaw and Annette Lawler and by Purdue Extension of Pulaski County.

For more information contact the extension office at 574-946-3412.

(Pulaski County Journal — Sept. 2, 2015)

Francesville Town Council approves street use for Lincoln funeral train

Francesville Town Council members are approving some of the final details of the fall festival.

During a regular meeting on Aug. 17, council members approved for the Lincoln funeral train replica to be set on the street instead of on the railroad tracks.

Festival representatives were hoping the train could sit on the tracks and travel into town as it did 150 years ago. The funeral train carried Abraham Lincoln’s body through Francesville on May 1, 1865. It stopped to replenish water.

Ron Schlatter said the goal was to use the tracks but “there is no way that CSX will let us display on their property because of the liability that they would incur. What we would like to propose now is to put the engine, the tender and the funeral car on the street in front of the bank.”

Schlatter said he has been assured by the company that does this that the roadway would not be damaged.

The train will be delivered by semi-trucks the Wednesday before the festival. Area students will then have a chance to tour the car on Thursday.

Schlatter said the Lions Club tent will be moved and the bank drive-through will still be accessible.

Council members approved the festival to place the train on the street.

The festival will be Sept. 18-20.

In other business:

Minutes from the Aug. 3 meeting were approved.

During the department reports, the council was advised of a blown tire at a recent brush fire. The tire has been repaired.

Town marshal Doug Lee presented a proposed schedule to the council. “I have looked at it and I think it looks pretty good. It kind of gives us some broad coverage,” said council president Andy Durham. Lee also gave a brief report on the number of calls he responded to and traffic contacts he made. Lee said he is currently working on updating forms, properly equipping the police vehicle and reviewing prices for audio/video system.

Street superintendent Brad Stevens advised the council that some additional work needed to be done on the town tractor. The hydraulic leaks were fixed but the brakes weren’t working. Brush will be picked up after the tractor is back in town.

Quotes to purchase gutters for the storage building on Bill Street were tabled.

Salaries of clerk-treasurer Linda Bennett, water and wastewater superintendent Greg Stone and Stevens for the 2016 budget were approved. A raise was approved for each person.

Claims were approved.

(Pulaski County Journal — Aug. 26, 2015)

EPCSC approves 2016 budget, alternates for building project

A special meeting to discuss the 2016 budget and the alternates for the elementary building project was held on Monday with positive votes.

Superintendent Dan Foster said both issues are time sensitive due to advertising the budget in the local newspaper and the 60-day limit on the alternates elementary building project bid.

Foster broke down the budget in regards to the different funds that included the general, Rainy Day, Debt Service, Capital Projects, transportation and bus replacement.

“Right now, everything happens in six-month cycles with schools, so it is very frustrating and very challenging,” Foster said. “This is a first time for a full-calendar budget, so that has been an added challenge.”

He said it becomes frustrating when the amount each school could receive is based on the number of students. The initial number of students indicates a decrease of about 16 students compared to last year. That decrease equals about $100,000 in funds.

Some of the issues that were taken into consideration while the budget was being prepared included raises in employees’ salaries, insurance costs and an increase in products such as fuel.

“Rewarding and compensating good employees and not letting them sneak away from us is, I think, vital and I appreciate the board’s contribution to helping make sure that happens,” Foster said.

With the raises and insurance costs, he said the corporation will need to watch spending in other years.

When referring to the full-calendar year, this year was the first time the corporation has had a fiscal year that began in January and ended in December. The second half of 2014 was based on appropriations that the state approved in order to change the fiscal year. Foster said it’s hard to compare the fall of 2014 with the fall of 2015.

He also said the budget looks a bit inflated.

“You advertise the highest you can so if you have to make reductions you can still cover what you need to cover while making the reductions,” Foster said. “We do have funds to cover the budget.”

As part of the budget changes, a 10-percent increase was estimated to cover the costs of insurance. Last year, the 10 percent covered the increase.

Foster also gave a brief description in regards to the Rainy Day fund, Capital Projects and bus replacement funds.

The board approved the advertising of the 2016 budget.

In regards to the alternates for the elementary school, Foster said those were tabled because there was a question of funding. The funding is available and the board needs to decide if they want to move forward with alternates four through eight.

Alternate four includes a new air handling system servicing the old kindergarten area and alternate five is to refurbish an air handling unit in another portion of the school building. Alternate six will create a learning lab area and alternate seven includes repainting and repairing the coat closets. Alternate eight will install new electric door hardware or key fobs.

“Alternates four through eight are an additional $846,000,” Foster said. “We will receive $1.128 million on top of that. So we do have the funds to cover that in the premium bonding. We recommend going ahead with the other five alternates.”

Board woman Terri Johnston asked if Foster had determined how much was allowed for the refurbishing of each room. The question had been asked at a previous meeting. Foster said estimated it was about $4,000 or $5,000 per room at the middle and high schools. He estimated each elementary class to be about $1,200.

“There were funds in each of those, set aside particularly for furniture and or equipment,” Foster said.

Johnston questioned if it is “every room.” Foster believed it was for each main classroom.

Foster said the extra funding in the bond could be used for furniture.

“I would rather see new furniture than a key fob to open the door,” Johnston said. She said the $100,000 being spent on the key fob could be used on furniture, especially if it’s not included in the specifications. Her concern was that there may not be enough funding in the budget for the new furniture that’s needed for each room.

It was also suggested that there is funding in the Capital Projects Fund that could be used for furniture.

“I have got some feedback on the furniture and the people who have given me the feedback felt like that was important,” said board president Joe Cunningham.

Boardman Larry Beach said one of the main reasons for the upgrading and repairs was because of safety. He believes the key fobs are needed as a safety feature.

The board approved alternates four through eight with opposition from board woman Terri Johnston.

(Pulaski County Journal — Aug. 26, 2015)

County welcomes six new employees

Pulaski County is welcoming a number of new employees, the latest being a new emergency management agency director.

During a regular meeting on Monday, commissioners approved the recommendation of Sheri Gaillard as the new emergency management agency (EMA) director.

Pulaski County Health Director Terri Hansen, who was representing the EMA board, said six applicants were interviewed for the position of director.

“We had some really good candidates,” Hansen said.

Of those applicants one, Gaillard, stood out from the rest, according to Hansen.

“She has wonderful qualifications,” Hansen said.

Commissioners approved the recommendation.

After the commissioners’ meeting, commissioner Larry Brady, who was a member of the EMA board, agreed with Hansen in regards to Gaillard’s qualifications.

“She has a strong network of connections to build that collaboration that we are wanting for all of our communities. The levels of knowledge in those areas just add to the EMA program,” Brady said. “She is homegrown and from here. She is not going anywhere.”

Gaillard appears to be a jack of all trades and good at all she does. She is trained as a paramedic, county communications specialist and a deputy town marshal for the Town of Medaryville.

She was attracted to the EMA position because “it is kind of putting it all together. Everything I have done since I have graduated from high school, feels like it is all coming together. When I responded to Hurricane Sandy in New York, helping with the disaster out there, and then with the Clark County tornado that same year, it just was something that I really found a passion for — helping all those people. It is still in the emergency field but a different side of it.”

As the EMA director, there are new certifications that Gaillard will need to earn in the first year of work.

The county also welcomed a new employee at the Pulaski County Building Department, two deputies at the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, a Pulaski County Animal Control Officer and a bookkeeper for the Pulaski County Highway Department.

County highway superintendent Terry Ruff recently hired Jessica Rausch as the bookkeeper for the department.

During the hiring process, about 20 applications were accepted and reviewed by Ruff. Interviews were then conducted and Rausch was selected as the top applicant.

“Her recommendations were high and she was the best we had. I think we found a diamond in the rough,” Ruff said.

Rausch was a secretary for a local company and will begin working full time on Monday, Aug. 24. Ruff said she has been working early in the morning, trying to learn the county highway department system.

With the moving of David Webber, building official Dave Dare was in need of a new assistant.

Five people applied for the job, but only one, Quentin Blount, was hired for the job.

“I think the way he answered his questions and he seems to have a good solid head on him,” Dare said about Blount. “I think he has a direction that he wants to go and he doesn’t sound like a person that wastes his time. He sounds like he is wanting to learn more and more as he can and that’s great.”

Blount will not only be the assistant to the Pulaski County Building Official but also secretary for the Pulaski County Advisory Plan Commission and the Pulaski County Board of Zoning Appeals.

“I thought this is a really interesting job and there is a lot to learn. I’m really into environmental policy and stuff like that. I saw the position and was drawn to it,” Blount said.

Blount, who is a Winamac Community High School graduate, recently completed an internship in Ohio and came back to Indiana more than two months ago. He’s completed more than two years of college where he studied business management.

He also has some construction background as he worked for construction companies during the summer as a teen.

Dare said that being a building inspector is just one aspect of what Blount will be assisting with. Blount will also assist with clerical duties, data entry, issuing building permits, completing variance applications, working with contractors to obtain their permits and understand the zoning ordinances that are applicable to this area.

“I like the idea that he was a younger person that has some fresh college background,” Dare said. He continued to say that Blount will be an asset to the department because Blount is well-versed with technology.

Richwine hired animal control officer, John Kleinofen, on Aug. 4, as the position became available after Sarah Kasten resigned.

Kleinofen is a retired police officer from the Chicago suburb area. He was also an animal control officer in southwest Colorado. He has lived in Winamac for 16 years.

“He has some police experience and is interested in animals,” Richwine said. “He has good common sense and he seems to be real methodical about how he goes about it. He’s just done a good job for us so far.”

Two new deputies have been recently hired. Pulaski County Sheriff Jeff Richwine welcomed deputies Jim Runk and Robert Hartley.

Runk, who was hired on Aug. 10, and Hartley, who was hired on Aug. 11, are both from the county. Richwine said it was important to him that both Runk and Hartley are from the county.

“It’s important to me as far as their accessibility, they are close by. Being community guys, the people should know them and they will have that connection with Pulaski County,” Richwine said. “Jim, I liked his maturity and he has been a reserve officer for us. With Robert, he had good references. He did a very good job in his interviews, especially with the merit board.”

With the hiring of Runk and Hartley, the department will be at full staff pending the newest officers graduating the police academy. Richwine is hoping that the newest deputies will be able to attend the academy later this year or the early part of next year.

Currently, deputies Nicholas Bowyer and Phil Foerg are training at the academy. They have just completed their fourth week.

Richwine said it is almost a year before a deputy completes all the necessary training at the academy and the office.

(Pulaski County Journal — Aug. 19, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Medaryville to hold town election

Although the election of president won’t happen until 2016, many cities and towns across the state are holding conventions and elections to decide who will represent them in office.

Towns that include Monterey, Francesville and Winamac have decided who will hold an office on the town boards. Medaryville will hold an election.

Francesville: Registered voters in the town limits of Francesville will not be required to vote. The town council of Kyle Trent (R), Pamela Antrim (R) and Andy Durham (R) will remain, as will clerk-treasurer Linda Bennett (R).

Medaryville:Because there are several candidates for the seats of Medaryville Town Council, an election will be held on Nov. 3. The position of clerk-treasurer that is held by Judy Harwood (D) will remain the same.

Registered voters in the town limits of Medaryville can choose from three Democrats and three Republicans that include incumbents Corrie Hauptli (D), Carolyn Hager (R) and Robert Schultz (D) and candidates Kenny Smith Sr. (D), Raymond Saltsman Jr. (R) and Suzanne Wilcoxson (R).

Of the incumbents, Hager is the only one to serve a full four-year term. Hauptli was chosen by the Democratic Party to fill the council seat after the resignation of Gene Payne in April of 2014. Schultz was chosen by the Democratic Party after Derrick Stalbaum resigned from the council in June.

The board consists of three members.

Monterey: On Saturday, the Pulaski County Democrats conducted a town convention in Monterey. Voters were able to choose from four democratic candidates: Christine Fox, Emily Bailey, James Fleury and Douglas Denton. Fox, Bailey and Fleury were incumbents.

Laura Bailey, Democratic County Central Committee Chair, said in an email on Saturday after two rounds of balloting, “Bailey, Denton and Fleury were certified as elected to the council.” There were 40 people present for the convention.

“Because of lack of opposition filings, this served as the election for the town,” Bailey said in an email. “Monterey does not participate in municipal primaries which made the convention necessary.”

The clerk-treasurer seat was unopposed and Linda McCune (D) will remain as clerk-treasurer.

Winamac The Pulaski County Republican Party also held a convention to determine who would fill the seat of town council District #2.

On Aug. 13, incumbent Judy Heater (R) faced opposition from Ronald “Rudy” DeSabatine (R) for the District #2 seat. Unofficially, it appears that Heater won by nine votes. Heater took office in 2014 when Jim DeArmond resigned due to health issues.

Incumbents clerk-treasurer Melanie Berger (R) and town council District #3 Tom “Tommy” Murray were unopposed. James Watkins (R) will fill the seat of town council District #1, as councilman Richard Denney did not run for another four-year term.

(Pulaski County Journal — Aug. 19, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Francesville hires new laborer

A familiar face will be working for the Town of Francesville, after the town council approved hiring a new laborer on Aug. 3.

The council interviewed two applicants on July 29.

President Andy Durham questioned the council as to what direction they would like to take — if they would like to hire someone or accept more interviews.

Councilwoman Pamela Antrim said she would like to move forward so they can begin working. Councilman Kyle Trent agreed.

Durham suggested hiring Walter Craig because of his previous experience with the town. Craig was a former town street superintendent. He said it’s a tough decision because both applicants would be good employees.

Antrim agreed with the suggestion. “He knows everything. He knows the town,” she said.

The motion to rehire Craig was approved but not without opposition from Trent.

When deciding how much his wages should be, Durham said Craig’s experience should be taken into consideration. Trent said they will have to take into consideration how much is currently in the budget. No decisions were made regarding his salary.

On Aug. 6, clerk-treasurer Linda Bennett said Craig did accept the salary offered to him.

Currently, Brad Stevens is the interim street superintendent.

In other business:

Minutes from the July 20 meeting were approved.

Doug Lee, the new town marshal, was welcomed by the council at the meeting. Lee asked a variety of questions including what the town would require for uniforms and if the town is willing to buy a video camera that is required for interviews. He also asked what schedule the council is expecting from him. He will also need a bulletproof vest.

Town employee Brad Stevens was appointed to the board of zoning appeals as a representative within the town limits.

Claims were approved.

(Pulaski County Journal — Aug. 12, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Red Cross issues urgent call for most needed blood types

The American Red Cross is facing a looming shortage of the blood types most needed by patients and is calling on eligible donors with O negative, B negative and A negative blood to give now to prevent an emergency situation. Blood donation appointments can be quickly and easily scheduled by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.

Overall blood donations in the Red Cross Indiana-Ohio Blood Services Region have been approximately 1,549 fewer per month in June and July this year than the previous 10 months of the year. When demand for the most needed types begins to outpace donations, the Red Cross alerts donors to help restock the shelves.

Type O negative is the universal blood type and can be transfused to patients with any blood type. Types B negative and A negative can be transfused to Rh positive or negative patients. Eligible donors are encouraged to donate double red cells — a process where two units of red cells are collected while most of the plasma and platelets are returned to the donor — where available.

“Summer blood shortages are not uncommon, but they can be prevented when generous volunteers roll up their sleeves to help save lives,” said Vince Robinson, external communications manager for the Red Cross Indiana-Ohio Region. “Many donors have already given this summer. We’re now asking donors who haven’t donated, and those who are eligible again, to make an appointment to give now to help ensure blood products are available for patients.”

Platelet donors and those with type AB blood are also continually needed to help ensure patients receive the lifesaving blood products they need. Platelets — a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, surgical patients and bone narrow recipients — must be transfused within five days of donation, so donations are constantly needed. Donors with type AB blood are urged to give blood or platelets to restock the plasma supply. Type AB donors have the universal plasma type, which can be given to patients of all blood types.

Individuals who donated blood earlier this summer may be eligible to donate again and help patients like an expectant mother at a Red Cross-supported hospital who is currently receiving nearly 100 units of blood products a week until she delivers. Her need alone could add up to 1,100 units.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities: Aug. 19: 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus, 340 E. 50 N., Winamac

(Pulaski County Journal — Aug. 12, 2015)

Arens project receives a bid

It appears the Arens Field fuel project will continue to move forward, after the board of aviation received a bid for the improvement project.

On July 21, one bid was received from Sparling Corp. from Romulus, Michigan.

Arens Field manager Bud Widner said the bid was a little higher than anticipated, so some minor changes will be made such as instead of stainless steel it will be painted steel and a portion of the concrete will be eliminated.

Widner said Mark Schillington, of Woolpert, who is engineering the project, will speak with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regarding the changes of the project.

“It looks like the project is going to go forward,” Widner said. “Our funding part is all in place. The grant money is from the FAA fees. It’s not tax money.”

This is the second time the aviation board has received bids for the project. The first bid opening was a bust as no bids were received on July 29.

The project includes installing a 5,000-gallon, above-ground fuel storage tank. The base bid of the project was to include the design, permitting, installation, testing and personnel training of a complete Avgas aviation fuel system and fittings. Two additives were also a part of the bid specification.

The first additive includes the design, permitting, installation, testing and airport personnel training of a complete Jet A aviation fuel system including a 5,000-gallon, above-ground fuel storage tank and fittings.

The second additive to the project includes aviation fuel system site security improvements such as concrete guard posts, chain link security fencing and security lights. The work could also include the removal of an existing sidewalk and construction of a cement fuel delivery access drive.

An aviation board meeting was scheduled for Tuesday at 7 p.m. to discuss the bid.

(Pulaski County Journal — Aug. 5, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Finishing touches appear on safe routes, pathway ready for paving

Finishing touches of painted streets and signs posted are giving locals an indication that the Safe Routes to Schools project is wrapping up, while the Winamac Pathway is ready to be paved.

Winamac Town Manager Brad Zellers said signs are up and seed for grass should be planted on the Safe Routes to School project. He said the project is wrapping up but some sidewalk work will need to be completed before the project is complete.

“The trail is nice. It looks good and people are cleaning up their houses behind it,” Zellers said. “I am amazed the amount of people using it in town.”

Since the safe routes path has been paved, he has seen an increase in foot and bicycle traffic.

Safe Routes to School is using the railroad right-of-way that will be paved from Superior Street to the old depot at the corner of Main and Logan streets.

As part of the Safe Routes project, sidewalks that were in poor condition along the west side of Riverside Drive from Pearl Street to Superior Street were replaced. Intersections were also made Americans with Disabilities Act compliant with ramps.

Residents might be waiting a little longer to see the Winamac Pathway paved. The pathway travels west of the Head Start playground on Pearl, north to SR 14.

“It’s a small job and it’s hard to move in and out all of that equipment for that,” Zellers said.

Zellers said he would like to see water fountains, shelters and bathrooms put along the path but those projects aren’t in the works anytime soon.

(Pulaski County Journal — Aug. 5, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Francesville hires new town marshal

A new marshal will be in town beginning Aug. 1, after months of discussion by the Francesville Town Council.

During a regular meeting on July 20, the council approved to hire Doug Lee, of the Monticello area, as the new town marshal.

The hiring of Lee comes after several months of discussing if the town could save money by working with the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office or if the town needs a marshal.

The council accepted applications and interviewed candidates twice due to concerns of a lack of applicants and wanting to hire an applicant that graduated from the police academy to save the town money.

According to clerk-treasurer Linda Bennett, Lee, 44, has been an officer with the Monon Police Department since June of 1999. He was a former member of a drug task force that served Pulaski County, 2002-2003. He is also a former corrections officer and firefighter.

Bennett said the council favored him as an applicant because “he has had the academy and has more local law enforcement experience.”

Lee was sworn in by Bennett on Monday. He will officially begin working full time Aug. 1.

The council will now look to fill a laborer position. They are interviewing candidates on Wednesday.

(Pulaski County Journal — July 29, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Community foundation announces grant cycles

Community and youth organizations will be happy to hear that annual grant opportunities have been announced by the Community Foundation of Pulaski County. Grant applications will be available next week.

“The board of directors is excited to offer significant grants for community projects and needs,” said Wendy Rose, executive director. Community grants of up to $7,500 may be awarded to organizations for worthwhile, needed programs and projects.

Grant applications will be available through the community foundation website beginning July 31, with a submission deadline of 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11. Nonprofit organizations and groups interested in completing charitable projects to benefit Pulaski County are encouraged to apply. Details and applications are available through the community foundation’s website at www.cfopc.org.

Youth grant applications will also be made available July 31 through the Good Oil/BP Youth Philanthropy Fund, but with an earlier due date of Sept. 1 at 4 p.m. Youth grants will be awarded to improve existing programs or for new youth projects in the schools or community. This year the community foundation will match every dollar raised by the youth groups, up to $350. Interested youth organizations, associations, or civic groups that provide services in Pulaski County may apply. Applications must be submitted online.

“Annual community grant funding comes from the Community Grants Fund. Last year 12 organizations received community grants totaling nearly $37,000. As the Community Grants Fund grows, additional and larger grants can be awarded. Currently, Lilly Endowment’s Phase VI matching initiative offers a $1 match for every $1 given to help build this fund, which will enhance local capacity to address community needs,” said Rose.

Community grant applicants are invited to register for a free workshop to be held on two separate dates and times: Aug. 3 at 1 p.m. and Aug. 10 at 4 p.m. The grant application process will be reviewed along with basic proposal writing tips. First-time applicants and interested individuals should contact the community foundation office to attend.

The community foundation may be reached at 127 E Pearl Street, Winamac; 574-946-0906; or www.cfopc.org.

(Pulaski County Journal — July 29, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Winamac Town Council talks possibility of smaller pool

Talk of a smaller pool ensued during a Winamac Town Council meeting on July 13.

During the meeting on July 13, councilwoman Judy Heater asked for a $150,000 commitment from the town, so she can approach the town about a smaller pool at the same location as the former pool.

Heater said for the size of Winamac, a year-round swimming pool most likely will not receive the support it needs to be feasible. She suggested a pool that is half the size of the current one.

She would like to approach the community and ask for support of the project.

“We cannot run a pool and consistently lose money like we did,” Heater said.

Town council president Ken McFarland said he is worried that there won’t be funding for the pool maintenance in the future and that it won’t financially sustain itself.

Heater said she would ask for annual commitments.

It was suggested that instead of a commitment of $150,000 that the town make a matching commitment. The town could then show its support through donations.

Councilman Tom Murray suggested Heater find out the cost and then move forward.

He suggested that sand fill the deep end of the pool before someone gets hurt. “I’m just afraid of the liability.”

The concrete floor would need to be cracked to let the water drain. It could then be filled.

No decisions were made regarding Heater’s request.

In other business:

The council approved to adopt an investment policy. They also approved Resolution 2-2015, authorizing the investment of public funds.

A depository agreement in regards to the town funding was approved.

The council approved to apply for a community development block grant of $20,315 that would be used for a water and storm water plan.

Ordinance 6-2015 regarding a drug-free workplace ordinance was approved.

Ordinance 7-2015 regarding the fair housing ordinance was approved.

Theresa Calloway, president of the Pulaski County Fair Board, approached the council with a request to use the park for a tractor pull on Sept. 5 and 6. If the grounds are wet the pull will be canceled. Town council president Ken McFarland thanked Calloway for making the fair work with the restrictions that were made. He said it went well. Her request for the tractor pull was approved.

The council agreed that town manager Brad Zellers could decide when the park would be reopened because of flooding.

Minutes from the regular meeting on June 15 and emergency meeting on June 25 were approved.

Vouchers #6826-7040 were approved.

A bid of $9 per square foot to finish a sidewalk was approved.

A motion was made to approach the industrial park so that the town can expand the cemetery. The motion was opposed by Murray and Richard Denney abstained. The motion passed.

A motion was made to allow clerk-treasurer Melanie Berger to pay the bill for the fireworks once all the funds have been collected. The motion was approved. Murray said the fireworks went well this year and he would like to see it continued at the school grounds instead of the park.

Berger asked if the town would be interested in direct deposit for payroll. It would cost more than $500. She said not everyone wants it but the majority does. A motion to purchase the Keystone director deposit program was approved.

(Pulaski County Journal — July 22, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Francesville residents will have a chance to discuss rate increase

A public hearing is set for Aug. 3 to allow Francesville residents a chance to voice their concerns or ask questions regarding the proposed wastewater rate increase.

The Francesville Town Council has been working for more than a year to upgrade the sewer system and find financing for it.

In order to find the funding, the town has applied for a grant. Through the first grant process the application was dinged because the town has not had a rate increase. The town has applied for the grant again and is initiating a rate increase.

Over the past several months, town council members have debated how much the increase should be. During the first grant process, a suggested rate increase was made by the accountant firm that helped with the grant application.

At the June 15 meeting, it was estimated that the increase in the rates would bring a bill to more than $26.

The proposed rate increase for a single family dwelling unit will cost a total of $39.35. The total bill currently for a single family dwelling is about $20.35.

The sewage rates are based on the amount of water that is used on or in the property. The quantity of water used is measured by the water meter plus a base charge on the size of the water meter.

The new rate may not be applied until later this year, after the public hearing and the rate increase ordinance has been approved.

(Pulaski County Journal — July 22, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Sheriff encourages council to look at raises for sheriff’s office employees

Pulaski County Sheriff Jeff Richwine presented the idea of giving the employees of the sheriff’s office a pay raise and it might set a standard for other county departments.

During a regular Pulaski County Council meeting on Monday, Richwine said he wants to compensate the employees of the sheriff’s office for their longevity.

“I would like to see us get some longevity. I think we need some separation between the supervisors and our deputies. We need to do it in the jail. We need to do it in our dispatch center,” Richwine said.

He said there are several deputies who don’t have longevity, but some of the communication officers have been with the department for 15 years.

Richwine used the example of the difference between the pay of the deputies and the sergeant, and between the chief deputy and the sergeant is a minimal amount.

Richwine, Sgt. Fred Rogers and jail matron Carrie Aaron created a matrix that is based on percentages.

Richwine believes the raises will work with the transferring of funds and using current funding differently.

“I think it’s important. Every day in that building over there, there are people that are making decisions that if they make the wrong one — it’s not if we are going to pay but how much,” Richwine said. “I feel strongly for these people over there.”

He said he would speak with the county council and answer any questions or talk about any concerns they may have.

“I think that we have a good plan,” Richwine said. “I just don’t want it to be a lack of effort on my part that we didn’t get this done.”

Council president Jay Sullivan said his concern is not the first year of the raises but finding additional funding for future years. He said the county budget continues to get cut.

Councilwoman Linda Powers said the current compensation committee that was established to review and help resolve the EMS wage issues, has also heard several other departments want to address the longevity of employees.

“Other counties have done it and we think your idea is a good idea,” Powers said to Richwine. “We are kind of working off that because it kind of gelled with what we are working on.”

She said job descriptions and the idea of longevity raises will be reviewed while working on the 2016 budget.

In other business:

Kyle McTeigue, representing Pulaski County EMS, requested a transfer of $6,200 to purchase four new narcotic boxes that would be installed in four of the ambulances. The new boxes are more secure. The request to transfer funds was approved.

Pulaski County Highway Superintendent Terry Ruff requested an additional appropriation to cover the increase of workman’s compensation insurance. Council members approved to advertise an additional appropriation of $2,586 to cover the costs. Councilman Roger Querry suggested that the county contact the insurance company to estimate the increase for next year so that estimate can be added to the 2016 budget.

A request to transfer $3 in the county highway fund from worker’s comp to schooling, seminars and meetings was approved.

Pulaski County Sheriff Jeff Richwine requested to transfer $3,196 to purchase seven cameras for the jail. The request was approved.

Richwine also requested to transfer $21,000 to cover the costs of group insurance. His request was approved.

An additional appropriation that was previously advertised in the sum of $14,000 to cover the costs of attorney fees was approved.

Two additional appropriation requests in the Cumulative Capital Development commissioners’ fund in the amounts of $60,000 for time and attendance software and $150,000 for new financial software was approved. Those appropriations were previously advertised.

A request to outsource the printing of the assessor form 11 for a cost of about $7,000 was approved. Assessor Holly Van Der Aa said allowing the printing to be outsourced saves the county money. Budget funding is available for the printing. Van Der Aa requested permission to outsource the printing because it costs more than $500.

A transfer of $800 for the coroner’s office was approved.

A request to transfer about $5,000 in the commissioners’ fund to cover the costs of land surveys was approved.

A request to transfer $1,900 in the commissioners’ fund to cover the costs of Internet services was approved.

A request to transfer $500 in the recycling/transfer station fund from gas and oil to travel was tabled until further information can be obtained.

A library appointment of Pat Bawcum was approved by the council.

Auditor Shelia Garling questioned the county as to what to do with the change to the 630-hour rate for part-time employees. She said the almost $3 increase will use up a large sum of the part-time funds. There are about five employees who have worked more than 630 hours but have not received an increase in pay because she feels the council needs to make a decision in regards to the changes. Council members agreed that the five employees who have completed the 630 hours should be paid the increase. In regards to any new hires, the council has tabled the increase until they review the issue.

Minutes from the joint sessions on July 8 and July 24, along with minutes from the regular meeting on June 8, were approved.

(Pulaski County Journal — July 15, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Power From the Past helpless against Mother Nature

Members of the Northern Indiana Power From the Past Inc. Board and fans of the event will have to wait until next year to enjoy the tractors, antiques, vendors and fun.

The decision to cancel the event was made after much consideration regarding flooding, soggy grounds and the safety of all those involved in the four-day event that was scheduled for July 16-19.

Power From the Past president Josh Wilder said the directors and others met to discuss the situation on July 9.

“The grounds are wet and there was projected flooding again. It just became very obvious, once we had that other rain and the projected flooding, it was a no-brainer at that point,” Wilder said. “The only option we had was to cancel because we couldn’t move things to somewhere else. There are just too many things that go into the show to make the show that we couldn’t move it to anywhere else.”

Bob Smith, one of the many directors of the event, said the group is usually already at the fairgrounds setting up for the event.

“It’s kinda like being all dressed up and no place to go,” Smith said. “We usually come in the Saturday before the show. We are all kinda disappointed and I feel the community is. We are working on next year’s show already.”

In the last 38 years, this is the first time the event has been cancelled. Wilder said the event was once cut short when they “had to get out in the middle of the night, back in ‘96.” The river was slowly creeping up during the show but didn’t make an impact until Saturday night when it rose rapidly.

“We had to get on the phone and call people to come and get their tractors — anything and everything to get everything out,” Wilder said.

If the organization does something this year it will be setting up the sawmill, according to Wilder. The group also plans to thresh the wheat that was recently cut and may do that on Saturday, based on the weather. Wilder said the owner of the wheat will then sell it.

“We are all disappointed that it can’t happen. We work all year and plan then we get to this point and you can’t have it. It’s kind of a big letdown for everyone,” Wilder said. “Not only to us as a group but the town too. There are a lot of folks who come here every year.”

Wilder said there are people who have been to the event for the last 30 years and look forward to it each year.

This year the Northern Indiana Chapter 33 IH Collectors Club was to be featured. This year would have celebrated 25 years.

Wilder said that event would have made for a good show and a lot of people attending.

“This is the first time it’s run us out in 38 years. We have had some rain a few times along the way and it has gotten wet and a little muddy. It’s a little bit like farmers. They plant the crop in the spring and hope it’s good in the fall. If it isn’t they still come back the next year and do it again,” Wilder said. “There are a lot of people suffering this year because of the rain and it has affected a lot of people, maybe more so than us.”

Smith, who has been with the organization since almost the beginning, said there are a number of organizations that use the Power From the Past as a fundraiser and will be impacted.

“It’s just one of those things with Mother Nature, that you can’t battle it all the time,” he said. “We hated that it happened. We waited until the last minute to cancel it but we had to. That’s all there was to it.”

Smith was looking forward to all the people attending the event and having a good time and reminiscing.

“I was waiting to see the big tractor, the Mogul. It is a monstrous piece of equipment and the man has completely restored it,” said Smith, who does the event announcing.

He was also looking forward to the new items brought in by the antique collectors and the flea market. He will also miss the horse pull on Saturday night.

As they look to the next show, the organization is already plowing ahead. Smith said the event planned for next year, will be as it was supposed to be this year.

(Pulaski County Journal — July 15, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Open burning lights discussion

Laws regarding open burning sparked conversation during a Pulaski County Fire and Rescue Association meeting on July 2.

Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) Compliance and Enforcement Manager Brock Jones was invited to speak with local emergency responders about open burning laws and what they can do when there is a question of laws being broken.

Jones said there are a few exceptions to burning vegetation but burning of trash is prohibited.

“You guys know what the problems are and what you see day to day. There are rules that apply to businesses and residents and everyone has to comply with them,” Jones said.

He mentioned that farmers can burn for maintenance purposes. If they are burning to convert woods to farmland then it is a change of land use and they would need approval from IDEM before the burning could occur. There are also weather conditions such as high wind that would prohibit maintenance burning.

“There are multiple different ways to dispose of clean material, ideally burning is the last possible solution,” Jones said.

If an emergency responder details the open burning incident that he or she encounters, they can notify IDEM by using the department website.

“As a public official, if you guys report it and you see it and you document it — what they were burning, when they were burning, how much of it, if they have firefighting equipment on site— it is just as good as if someone from IDEM sees it. We can pursue appropriate action based on the information that you provide to us,” Jones said.

IDEM can then issue violation letters or course of action letters.

Jones also mentioned that fire departments are required to work with IDEM when they prepare to burn a house or conduct training with open burning.

In other business:

Automatic mutual aid agreements were presented to the various firefighters in the room. The mutual aid maps and agreements will allow for the dispatch center to automatically dispatch fire departments when a structure fire happens. Once the agreements are signed, the dispatch center will begin notifying mutual aid.

Although a variety of the activities that were scheduled for the fair have been canceled or postponed because of the soggy earth conditions at the fairgrounds, members of the association decided to hold the water ball contest at the Winamac fire station. Fire chief Bill Weaver said he would seek approval for the department to use the street in front of the station on Thursday at 6 p.m. The dunk tank fundraiser has been canceled.

The Pink Heals Tour that was supposed to visit Pulaski County this year will not be, according to association secretary Sherry Fagner.

Technical radio issues that firefighters and emergency responders are facing may soon be fixed by Motorola by changing of transmitter sites and reprogramming VHF radios. That reprogramming will cost money and take some time.

Emergency Management Agency Director Larry Hoover is working on purchasing remote controls for the weather sirens. The remote capability will allow the dispatch center to activate the sirens instead of firefighters having to travel to the station to activate the sirens. The sirens can be activated without activating the sirens in other parts of the county. Hoover suggested the fire departments and emergency responders discuss how often they would like the sirens to be tested.

The county is also looking to replace emergency responder radios and is trying different companies to compare feasibility, function and service. Steve Harvey, Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, said in four years the current radios will no longer be covered by a service contract and parts will no longer be made for them. The plan is to slowly replace the radios over the next five years.

The next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 3, 6:30 p.m., at the Star City Fire Department.

(Pulaski County Journal — July 8, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Ticks increase in number, greater chance of disease

Worrying about the bites of mosquitoes is not the only insect locals should be concerned about.

Warmer temperatures combined with tall wet grass and wooded areas, are the perfect breeding grounds for ticks that are increasing in number, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ticks that live in moist and humid environments, are carriers of some severe diseases and the rise in numbers means an increase in the number of human infections, such as Lyme disease, after being bit.

Andrea Keller, Pulaski County Health Nurse, is hoping that with more information about tick bites, locals will be better prepared to prevent a bite.

“I receive communicable disease reports for our county and I am seeing an increase in Lyme disease cases — more than usual for this time of year,” she said.

The number of black-legged ticks that carry Lyme disease are more common in the fall but statistics are proving the biting buggers are active now.

Ticks can also carry several different diseases including anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, southern tick-associated rash illness, tick-borne relapsing fever, tularemia and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Once a person finds an attached tick they should remove it by grasping it with tweezers as close to the skin as possible and pulling it straight out. Do not twist or jerk the tick. If parts of the tick’s mouth break off and stay in the skin, remove the mouth parts with tweezers if possible. Clean the bite and hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.

A person should consult a doctor if a fever, rash, severe fatigue, facial paralysis or joint pain develop within 30 days of the being bitten by a tick. One key sign of Lyme disease is a bull’s eye rash around the bite.

Delaying treatment could cause a person to experience severe arthritis and problems with nerves, spinal cord, brain or heart. Doctors will prescribe specific antibiotics for two to three weeks.

Ways to reduce the chance of a tick bite include wearing knee-high rubber boots, tucking in pant legs with socks, wearing light colored clothing and using insecticidal sprays.

Regularly removing leaf litter and clearing tall grasses and brush around homes and using wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to keep ticks away from play areas, playgrounds and porches are recommended tips to reduce the number of ticks.

Property owners can also consider using a chemical control agent that is applied by a professional pest control expert. Also discourage deer from entering the yard by constructing physical barriers and removing plants that attract deers.

(Pulaski County Journal — July 8, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

No bids made for Arens Field improvement project

No bids were opened on Monday for the Arens Field improvement project.

Bids were anticipated from at least three companies but at the time of the bid opening, no bids had been received.

The bid opening was initially scheduled for June 23 at 2 p.m. but was pushed back to Monday in hopes of allowing more time for the contractors to establish a bid.

Improvements to the airport include installing a 5,000-gallon above-ground fuel storage tank. The base bid was to include the design, permitting, installation, testing and airport personnel training of a complete Avgas aviation fuel system and fittings. Two additives were also a part of the bid specifications.

The first additive includes the design, permitting, installation, testing and airport personnel training of a complete Jet A aviation fuel system including a 5,000-gallon above-ground fuel storage tank and fittings.

The second additive to the project includes aviation fuel system site security improvements such as concrete guard posts, chain-link security fencing and security lights. The work could also include the removal of an existing cement concrete sidewalk and construction of a cement fuel delivery access drive.

Installing an above-ground storage tank will save money. The project was on the plan of improvements for the airport.

Mark Shillington, of Woolpert, who is engineering the project, said there are deadlines that must be met because federal funding is to be used for the project.

“The internal deadlines are much later, meaning they requested the information from us much earlier than they needed to do for their work. There is some leeway timing wise,” Shillington said. “I reached out to the FAA to say ‘how much leeway do we have? Can we give contractors two weeks?’”

Shillington said the project has hit a snag until bids are received. He will contact the contractors and see why those who seemed interested didn’t bid.

(Pulaski County Journal — July 1, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

County employees to pay more for health insurance premium

An emergency meeting on June 24 led to the decision of how the county will handle an increase in the health insurance premium.

During the meeting, Pulaski County Commissioners and council members met to discuss how the county would fund the increase that will happen in August. The increase is about 8 percent.

The announcement of an increase in the health insurance premium was made during the commissioners’ meeting on June 15. At the time the commissioners opted to think about how the increase would be funded and whether the employees would carry the load, if the county would pay for it or if it would be shared. During the June 15 meeting, the commissioners had suggested scheduling a joint session.

At the meeting on June 24, it was decided that employees would pay 30 percent and the county would cover 70 percent.

The emergency meeting was called in order for the county and the insurance company to begin working with the employee payroll and preparing for the increase.

The 30 percent that county employees will pay will begin on Aug. 1.

(Pulaski County Journal — July 1, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Commissioners prepare for 2016 budget

Pulaski County Commissioners are beginning to take a hard look at their 2016 budget.

During a regular commissioners’ meeting on Monday, the commissioners briefly discussed the budget with county auditor Shelia Garling.

Garling gave a quick overview of the county budget reports. She compared expenses from 2013, 2014 and the expenses from May 31 this year.

She recently began working on the budget because they will need to be complete by the end of June.

Garling voiced her concerns about some of the suggested estimates that were sent to her. Her fear is that those calculations may be too low, such as the Verizon bill and liability insurance. She suggested that the numbers be increased to cover costs.

Garling said she is also concerned with the annual cost the county has to pay to Four County. The county was recently required to pay additional fees that were not properly calculated in the past. The error cost the county about more than $8,000. The county will pay about $108,093 this year to Four County.

“I’m making them send me something before I budget,” Garling said.

A majority of the estimates were standard, according to Garling.

Along with calculating budget estimates, she is also working with other departments to use “other funding” for user fees instead of the county general funding.

Commissioner Larry Brady shared his thoughts regarding the budget with the commissioners through an email. He made suggestions of what the commissioners might want to change.

“We are not dealing with each department. That’s their responsibility,” Brady said.

Garling suggested that the commissioners attend a budget workshop, so they can ask questions or “if you want to ask for something out of the ordinary. There’s no guarantee you will get it but we can put it in.”

Garling said budget workshops are usually held at the end of August.

Last year, there was about $2.25 million reduced from the budget.

In other business:

EMS director Nikki Lowry requested to attend a conference regarding how to write effective policy and procedures. Her request was approved.

Lowry said the department is researching a new billing software system. The cheapest system so far has an annual fee of $6,000. If the department decided on that system it could be written in the budget for next year. She said the system will make the job of billing easier. She also said it will work with the state reporting.

Commissioner Bud Krohn Jr. questioned why the ambulance was left running for about 55 minutes as the crew ate. Lowry said the truck is left running so that the back of the ambulance where the patients are treated is kept cool. It could be a liability to a patient who has respiratory issues if the temperature of the ambulance is too warm.

Jeff Larrison, representing United Consulting that contracts with the county for bridge inspections, recapped the four-year bridge inspection contract. The company just completed Phase I in December of 2014. He presented the details of a supplement regarding the costs of the annual inspections that are required by the state. There are a few bridges that could be inspected by the county with the proper guidance, saving the county money. The supplement could cover 80 percent of the bridge inspection costs. The state must first approve the request for the supplement.

Maintenance supervisor Jeff Johnston gave a brief update on several projects including purchasing flood lights for the courthouse grounds and changing the landscaping of the justice center. A motion was made and approved for Johnston to begin with the changes to the landscape.

A motion was also made and approved to install a water line to the Pulaski County Extension Office garden behind the historical society building near the east of the annexation building and to install a sink inside the annex building. Commissioner Terry Young said, “I don’t want to tie their hands. They have a good project going on out there.” He made the motion to have the water line and the sink installed.

Krohn Jr. questioned why the maintenance department has t-shirts. “The council will not even give us money to send flowers to people,” Krohn said. “We should have the money and the right to send people flowers.” Brady said purchasing flowers for employees is not part of the commissioners’ budget. Johnston said money was available in the maintenance department budget. “I came before the commissioners and asked permission to buy t-shirts and I was given it. Otherwise they won’t have them,” Johnston said.

Emergency management agency director Larry Hoover requested the approval of a grant to purchase four controllers for town sirens. Francesville, Monterey and Winamac all have federal signal sirens. Medaryville and Star City have antiquated sirens. Hoover’s request was approved.

Pulaski County Sheriff Jeff Richwine requested to attend the national sheriff’s conference in Baltimore this year. His request was approved.

Several conference requests made by Hoover were approved. A conference request for the assessor’s office was also approved.

Commissioners read a thank you letter from the Paw Prints 4-H Dog Club. Members of the club thanked the commissioners for allowing them to train with their dogs at the highway department building during the cold weather.

Commissioners signed and approved a redaction service and support agreement with CSI for the recorder’s office.

Commissioners scheduled a joint session with the county council to discuss the increase in the health insurance. There is a question of whether the county will absorb the added amounts or whether the employee will. Garling said if the commissioners give her suggestions as to the percentages the county and employee could share, she would calculate costs for the commissioners before the next meeting. Before the decision was made to hold a joint session, Krohn Jr. asked if the commissioners made the decision, would the council override it. “The council might change what we decided. They think they want it then let them answer to the employees.” County attorney Kevin Tankersley said the decision may not be totally up to the commissioners because it affects the employee benefits.

Garling said there are two types of hosting of information regarding the time and the attendance program. She requested permission to use an off base site which was recommended by information technology company that the county contracts with. Her request was approved.

Young said there has been an offer from someone to clean up the collapsed Monterey building for free. Young questioned Tankersley as to what the county can do. “We are not to the stage that we should be negotiating with anybody. That information should be passed onto the property owner. It is the owner’s responsibility,” Tankersley said.

Krohn Jr. questioned if they can force an employee to pay back the county for their training they received when they quit. He used the example of deputies who attend the police academy, pass it and then quit because of a better offer. Tankersley said he will review the issue and see what options the county has in regards to recouping expenses.

The payroll and claims were approved.

Minutes from the commissioners’ meeting on June 1 were approved.

(Pulaski County Journal — June 24, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Society of Innovators asks for nominations

Pulaski County was distinguished with the honor of being one of seven counties to host a news conference for The Society of Innovators of Northwest Indiana on June 11.

The meeting was hosted by Pulaski County Economic Development and sponsored by NIPSCO. The initiative is called Expedition Innovation 2015 - A Call for Nominations.

Pulaski County Commissioner Larry Brady opened the call for nominations presentation. He encouraged those in the audience to become innovators and said he is pleased that the county is hosting a kick off for the second decade of The Society of Innovators.

“Over the past decade, the society has recognized a number of distinguished leaders across Northwest Indiana and promoted the importance of innovation,” he said. “We our proud of innovations demonstrated by our business and community leaders of Pulaski County, especially BraunAbility launched by the late Ralph Braun.”

He said as a community leader he challenged those in the community to use their diversity to be potential innovators.

Don Babcock, NIPSCO Economic Development Director and The Society of Innovators Board Governor, used the example of Thomas Edison’s first light bulb as a success after “finding 10,000 ways it won’t work.”

He said he is pumped about the future of Northwest Indiana and “Pulaski County is an important part of Northwest Indiana.”

“This particular effort is to pull us together to find more innovation and entrepreneurs and celebrate their successes,” he said.

He said companies like Braun need to be celebrated. He said he has heard the Braun story several times during the last 20 years. “A great person. A great organization and a great legacy.”

He encouraged those in the audience to submit a nomination of local innovators such as Braun.

“In order to make this happen, we need to enlist support at the local level,” Babcock said.

BraunAbility Brand Manager Megan Wegner spoke about Braun’s story and the five lessons that can be learned from him.

Braun was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy. Instead of choosing to rely on others he created the world’s first electric scooter. His innovations grew to the first wheelchair lift.

His lessons include putting the customer first, not making excuses, surrounding oneself with good people, never stop improving and believing in ones own God-given abilities.

Wegner said she had just started working part-time for BraunAbility when Braun was recognized by the society.

“I know, for a fact, that even though Ralph received many, many awards in the mobility industry it meant a great deal to him to be recognized by his local community and Northwest Indiana,” Wegner said.

She said he didn’t receive a lot of support, outside of his family, but continued to make a difference. She thanked those who have come together to encourage this type of entrepreneurship.

O’Merrial Butchee, director of the Ivy Tech Community College Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center, said innovators should remember not to stop because anything can be possible. She explained how the society of innovators is dedicated to discovering and honoring innovators. She also explained the values of the organization that “believes anyone can be an innovator.”

Pulaski County Community Development Commission Executive Director Nathan P. Origer gave the top 10 innovations that were created in Pulaski County including the pronouncing of “Pulaski,” and using the natural resources as tourist attractions such as the state park and the sand hill cranes.

John Davies, assistant director of the Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center, encouraged a call for nominations.

He also encouraged those in the community to embrace the Spirit of Indiana Jones. He said adventure can lead to greatness and “deepen innovation across the seven counties of Indiana.” He said it will be a team effort and innovation must be encouraged.

(Pulaski County Journal — June 24, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Town council voices concerns about downing trees

The Winamac Town Council voiced their concerns about town employees cutting down trees in town.

On June 15, electric department superintendent Doug Shorter said several trees in the town have been cut down including several ash trees damaged by the emerald ash borer.

The town has been working with Heim’s Tree Services to remove the trees.

“We went through with Jeff [Heims] and looked at all the dead ashes that are a hazard in the park where the Power Show and the fair will be,” Shorter said. “He thinks that he can just drop them for us and we can clean them up, load them and get them out of there.”

A dead oak was also removed from the fairgrounds area.

Council president Ken McFarland said he is concerned with the safety of the town employees and equipment that is being used to take down the trees.

“I don’t want to see our equipment ruined. Sooner or later something is going to fall on one of our trucks,” said McFarland. “Also the liability of our insurance.”

Shorter said Heims is removing the trees. Town employees are just cleaning up.

Town manager Brad Zellers also said the Northern Indiana Power From the Past Inc. has asked for the middle sections of the ash trees to use in the saw mill for the show.

Council members questioned if the trees could be used because of the emerald ash borers. Shorter said those who asked for the trees are supposed to be researching if the trees can be transported.

In other business:

Dave Bennett updated the council on the progress of the Safe Routes to School and Winamac Parkway. He said it would have been done now had it not been for the rain. Councilmen Tom Murray and Dan Vanaman both voiced their dislike of the path. They both believed the path to be straight and not curving. Bennett said that the path curves so that other amenities can be added such as picnic shelters. He said if a straight path were built, the town would not have been awarded the grant. “I think it is a waste of the right-of-way,” Vanaman said. Bennett said there is already an interest from the community to build shelters and benches. A motion was made for the committee to continue to plan ahead with the project such as the benches, shelters and any planting of trees or plants. The committee would ensure they have the council’s approval first, according to Bennett. It was approved.

The town received two bids regarding an electric project that will upgrade the system west of town. A bid of $104,950 was approved. The project is scheduled to begin in August and be completed by the end of October.

The council was presented a list of bids for materials that would be used in the project. A recommendation to accept the bid of $51,174.49 was made. The recommendation was approved.

Minutes of the May 11 regular meeting were approved.

Vouchers in the amount of $1,029,130.21 were approved.

Police chief Mike Buchanan said he has spoken with the parks department and his department is willing to lock the park restrooms at night. Murray said the idea sounds like a good one.

Zellers said a handful of individuals have volunteered to be part of the Greenspace of Winamac committee. New members include Judy Heater, Don Darda and Judy Poor. There are a couple more members needed.

Resolution 01-2015 to appoint a new commissioner, Brad Zellers, to the Indiana Municipal Power Agency Board was approved. Councilman Richard Denney abstained.

Ordinance 03-2015 to change the name of Winamac Greenspace to Greenspace of Winamac was approved.

Ordinance 04-2015 regarding enacting and adopting a supplement to the code of ordinances with a change to a letter to the title page was approved.

Copies of the new code of ordinance books were given to the council to review. The codes will be online soon, according to Zellers.

Councilwoman Judy Heater said the YMCA would like to put a permanent sign on the property that the town leases to them. The current lease states that the lease can be terminated in 30 days, causing a concern to spend money on a sign. A motion was made for Zellers and the town attorney to look into the matter further.

There was also a discussion about filling in the town pool due to safety concerns. Zellers said holes would need to be made in the concrete so the rainwater can drain. Sand could then fill the pool. Murray suggested making it a sand volleyball area.

Heater asked permission to block off the street around the depot parking lot on Aug. 8. The council did not oppose the suggestion.

(Pulaski County Journal — June 24, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Star City Sewer District concerns overflowing

Signs of rainfall being pumped into the Star City Sewer District system have board members concerned with the potential increase of costs.

Because the system is pumped to the Winamac wastewater treatment plant, board members are looking at a rise in treatment costs because of the large amounts of waste flowing through the town system.

Andy Zehner, of Zehner Excavating which is contracted with the sewer district to service the system, questioned what he can do if he finds that sump pumps are connected to the system.

“If it was a vacuum line broke or something I would have been called out. I didn’t get called out because it never got low,” Zehner said.

The system is closed and sealed so rainwater cannot randomly enter it. Catch basins and eaves of houses are most likely not tied into the system and shouldn’t be according to the district ordinance. Sump pumps are also prohibited from being tied into the system.

Waylon Burke, who is a district board member and works for the Town of Winamac, said the average flow that comes from the sewer district to the Winamac wastewater treatment plant is about 12,000 - 14,000 gallons a day. Today, there was about 24,000 gallons and on Friday it was about 40,000 gallons.

According to the district ordinance, an inspector contracted with the district can look at the various pits and if a violation is found fines up to $2,500 per day can apply until it is fixed.

It was suggested that a letter be sent to the customers of the district stating that inspections will be made and a fine can be applied. The district will also be monitoring the flow meters to see where an increase of sewage is coming from.

The district will continue to work with the town attorney to decide what steps they should follow next.

District members Pat Heisner and Mary Craig were also present at the meeting.

In other business:

The treasurer’s report for the month of June was read. Craig said accounts payable totaled $5,158.78. The starting balance for the month of June was $132,379.19 with an ending balance of $131,061.77. The report was approved.

Accountant Sue Peppers said there is about $39,000 in the rears with about $30,000 of it in liens. Craig said the district recently received $5,000 in liens. There are eight to 10 properties that are eligible to have liens applied to.

Less than a handful of people attended the board meeting because of the drainage situation in the Star City area. Heisner said commissioner Terry Young was invited but was unable to attend. She said it appears that the county has applied for a grant to fix the tiles and the drainage issues. Two community members said the drainage problem has been happening for years and hasn’t been fixed. Heisner said the commissioners are aware that there are a few tiles that are not functioning properly.)

(Pulaski County Journal — June 24, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Motion for wheel tax ends in tied vote

Pulaski County residents won’t be paying any extra taxes this year, as the wheel tax vote ended with a tie during a county council meeting on Monday.

The idea of implementing the wheel tax has been discussed the last couple of months as the county is looking for additional funds to fix the roads.

The good and the ugly regarding the tax was discussed during a joint session with Pulaski County Commissioner Larry Brady. The probability of the county receiving more money from the state to fix the roads is slim, so the wheel tax gives the county the option to raise funds used specifically for road maintenance and repairs.

During the regular county council session, councilwoman Linda Powers said, personally she supports the tax, “but representing the community, I probably would vote against it because of what everyone has shared with me.”

Councilman Tom Roth said he hasn’t heard a lot of comments, but if a resident travels outside the county they can quickly see how good the Pulaski County roads are compared to others. His concern is that the roads “are falling apart.”

Council president Jay Sullivan said the county, in the past, has been able to keep the condition of the roads in good shape without having to implement the wheel tax.

There was also a discussion of a frost law being implemented. The semis or tractors that travel through the county appear to be why the roads are tore up, according to commissioner Bud Krohn Jr. Council members appeared to agree that a frost law could help.

When the decision regarding the tax was put to vote, it was a tie. Sullivan’s vote evened up the support and the opposition of it. Support for the vote came from Roth, Alex Haschel and Mike Tiede. Opposition was from Doug Roth, Powers and Sullivan.

“I think that we can get by with what we got, as far as money,” Sullivan said.

The council was required to make a decision before June 30, per the state.

In other business:

Pulaski County Highway Superintendent Terry Ruff requested a transfer of $3,691.50 from a full-time position to a part-time position. He said the part-time position would be used to cover vacation times. His request was approved.

A transfer of $1,500 for a truck bed and hoist is no longer needed at this time, according to Ruff. He said they are going to work with what they have.

Pulaski County Sheriff Jeff Richwine said an error was made in regards to the amount that Sgt. Fred Rogers has been paid. Richwine said the difference could be paid from the jail commissary fund. Richwine said the error has been reviewed by the county attorney Kevin Tankersley and it appears that there is a difference in how much Rogers received and what he should have been paid. The request to fix the error was approved by the council.

There was a question regarding the pay rate of part-time employees being hired at Pulaski County EMS. The concern is that attracting new hires will be hard because they are being paid less than the full part-time rate. According to the salary ordinance, a part-time employee must work 630 hours at a lower rate. Council members agreed that the required 630 working hours of experience does not apply fairly to each department such as EMTs or police. Council members approved to get rid of the 630 hour probationary rate for all part-time employees. The motion was opposed by councilwoman Alex Haschel.

A request to approve the salary rate changes regarding the EMS department was approved.

Several additional appropriations were approved in the total amount of $68,764.98. Appropriations for the examination of prisoners for $25,000; the airport telephone for $2,700; insurance for $25,000; Town of Monterey loan for $15,000 and probation department computer system for $1,064.98.

Council members approved to advertise additional appropriations to cover the costs of attorney fees for $14,000 and for the time and attendance computer software for $60,000 and LOW Financials program for $150,000.

Transfer of funds for $300 for the clerk’s office, $4,206.02 in the commissioners’ fund, and $100 in the health department fund was approved.

Eleven tax abatements were approved by the council. Two of the applications did not reach the requirements of the tax abatement. Sullivan explained why those businesses did not meet the abatement requirements such as hiring new employees or why the company has laid off employees. All the abatements were approved.

Minutes from the May 11 regular meeting and the April 13 regular meeting and joint session were approved.

(Pulaski County Journal — June 10, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Francesville Fall Festival remembers part of history

The Francesville Fall Festival will have a new attraction this year as the town remembers history.

During a regular meeting on June 1, Ron Schlatter approached the Francesville Town Council requesting permission to have a full-size replica of President Lincoln’s funeral train travel through town during the festival.

Schlatter said the replica train car is traveling across the U.S. to honor the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s death. One of the stops now includes Francesville.

“This has the potential to bring a tremendous draw,” Schlatter said. “It has the potential to be a really big deal.”

The train left on April 21, 1865, from Washington D.C., and traveled more than 1,500 miles until it reached Springfield, Illinois, on May 3, 1865.

The car was dubbed “The Lincoln Special” and carried Lincoln’s body through 180 cities and seven states. It is believed that the funeral train briefly stopped in Francesville.

Schlatter said the goal is for the train to arrive on Thursday and be placed on the tracks. Students will then be able to visit it.

“Hopefully, if we get the OK from CSX, it will be taken to Monon, early Saturday morning, and come steaming into town where we will have a ceremony much like they did when it came in 150 years ago,” Schlatter said.

Schlatter said he must obtain permission from CSX but he needs permission from the town also. He said a letter from the town endorsing permission would be helpful when he is dealing with CSX.

Along with the train, Schlatter said the plan is to have a Lincoln impersonator speak before the parade and be a part of it. The group is also planning on a Lincoln look-alike contest.

There may also be some Civil War items on display and there may be a periodic re-enactment by historical society members.

At this point, Schlatter said admission is free.

Councilman Kyle Trent was absent from the meeting.

In other business:

Minutes from the May 18 regular meeting and from the public hearing on May 25 were approved.

Fire chief Lance Gutwein submitted quotes for new firefighter turnout gear. Durham said the quote will be used when determining the 2016 town budget.

One applicant was interviewed for the position of town marshal. The town is reviewing his background check and the town would like to do a financial background check. He would need to sign a waiver for the town to obtain that information.

Water and wastewater superintendent Greg Stone said the town will attempt to flush a number of hydrants and change some of the water meters. He anticipates that new meters will need to be purchased this year.

Streets superintendent Lynn Johns said at the time of the meeting, he has only received one quote regarding street repairs. He is still anticipating two other quotes.

There was a question of whether rocks could be placed under a picnic area for EMS employees. Johns said it would be less landscaping maintenance. The council said they didn’t have a problem with it.

Johns said he was contacted by a resident regarding a tree being planted in his yard. The council said they need to purchase a number of trees because several have been removed during the last couple of years. Durham said he believes the council has already approved that purchase.

Antrim said a resident contacted her about the weeds in the downtown area. She questioned if the area has been sprayed with weed killer yet. Johns said they sprayed last week. Someone also talked to her about a corner lot that is an eyesore. She asked if a letter can be sent to the property owner.

Claims were approved.

Fire contracts with surrounding counties were tabled. There was a discussion of whether there should be an increase like there was two years ago. Durham said he wants to table the contracts until Trent can voice his opinion.

Durham said the post office proposal for the sidewalk needs to be addressed. The council heard from zoning administrator Chuck Yeoman regarding the ramp and steps. The proposed change will make the entrance of the post office complaint with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Another alternative would be an automatic door. Durham said the concern is that the ramp takes up a majority of the sidewalk and even after the ramp is complete then an automatic door may still have to be purchased. The council suggested that they see another option.

Durham said a letter was written by the town attorney expressing the concerns of the town to those who may be applying for a permit. At a previous meeting, council members voiced their concerns about an elevator being built in the town limits. Bennett said since the last meeting, the organization has picked up an application for a permit but she hasn’t heard from them lately. The building may be postponed because they are looking to purchase property outside the town limits. Durham said that “at this point if anything goes any further it would be denied.”

Antrim questioned if the town has heard any information about how many dogs a resident is allowed to have. She understands that a property in town where there are a number of dogs is emitting a foul odor. Durham said he will contact the town attorney again.

Antrim also asked whether a second letter can be sent to the property owner of a garage that is about to collapse.

(Pulaski County Journal — June 10, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Golf cart ordinance moves forward

Monterey Town Council members are moving forward with a golf cart ordinance but some changes are underway.

During a special meeting on May 26, council members met to hold a public hearing regarding a grant application and old business that included the proposed golf cart ordinance and the removing of the demolished building on Main Street.

Monterey Town Attorney Crystal Brucker said she has met with Pulaski County Sheriff Jeff Richwine and county attorney Kevin Tankersley regarding the proposed golf cart ordinance.

“Sheriff Richwine indicates that they are willing to enforce the golf cart ordinance, if you want to do that,” she said. “The issue is that you have to make some decisions about how you are going to enforce that which typically is going to be by fine.”

Other questions include what funds the fines will be collected in and how those fines will be handled. Clerk-treasurer Linda McCune said it would be collected in the general fund but moved to different categories — one for the fines and one for the permits.

In the proposed ordinance, violation fees start at $50 and increase with each violation. Brucker suggested that the fee may be decreased to $25, $50 and $75 such as Culver fees.

Brucker also said that the ordinance only allows permits for golf carts and utility vehicles, not all-terrain vehicles or mopeds.

“The other thing that I think the council needs to be aware of, is I have been informed that the Indiana State Police do not recognize golf cart ordinances because if you look at the statute it indicates that we can create an ordinance for golf carts so long as it doesn’t conflict with other state statutes regarding vehicles,” she said.

There are several towns that have golf cart ordinances, but at times there could be conflicts.

“One of the concerns with the sheriff was if they are going to enforce it then they are going to enforce it across the board,” Brucker said. “They want to ensure that if you are going to ask that the ordinance be enforced that everyone understands they are going to enforce it across the board.”

The officers could enforce the golf cart ordinance when they visit town, not necessarily making extra trips to check the carts.

There could also be a cost for the sheriff’s deputies to enforce ordinances. The town makes an annual donation to the sheriff’s office each year in the amount of $1,500.

Brucker said she could work with the county attorney and sheriff regarding the details of enforcing the proposed ordinance.

Because there are substantial changes being made to the ordinance, a first reading will need to be done again.

The next meeting will be on June 10.

In other business:

A public hearing was held before the meeting in regards to the wastewater improvement project. The town is applying for a $275,500 grant to cover the costs of upgrades. This is the second time the town has applied for the grant. Wording in the grant will be changed for those who may not be familiar with engineering terms. Fleury said the town may have to look at the project and eliminate some items because of the matching portion of the grant. The town is required to make a 20-percent match.

Minutes from May 7 and May 13 meetings were approved during the special meeting that followed the public hearing.

Clerk-treasurer Linda McCune said the town has been sprayed for mosquitoes.

Brucker said building inspector Dave Dare has sent out an order regarding the cleanup of the portion of The Sportsman’s Bar and Grill that has collapsed. “The town council has the authority to appoint the hearing authority. I met with Kevin Tankersley and he agrees with that. There is not a resolution in place that names the hearing authority. The commissioners have always just done it but they do not have a resolution with the Town of Monterey.” She said the council needs to decide if they are alright with the commissioners being the hearing authority. Fleury said he believes there are some advantages by letting the county commissioners be the hearing authority. As the hearing authority, commissioners are not required to report to the town council regarding the removing of the building. The council approved to make the county commissioners the hearing authority in regards to the removal of the collapsed building. A public hearing with the commissioners to address the order was set for Monday, June 1. Because there is not a resolution in place appointing the commissioners as the hearing authority, Brucker suggested that a resolution be approved in case of future incidents. She said it would move the process more quickly if a resolution was established.

(Pulaski County Journal — June 3, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Poultry projects adjust to H5 avian influenza

With the Pulaski County Fair about a month away, 4-H members who have poultry projects are learning a new lesson due to the H5 avian influenza.

On May 27, the Indiana State Board of Animal Health said all bird movements to events in the state that allow commingling of birds from different locations is prohibited until further notice. The restriction applies to shows, exhibitions and public sales. It also includes 4-H fairs.

The virus does not present a food safety threat and the virus poses little risk to human health, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

“This was not a decision made lightly,” said Indiana State Veterinarian Bret D. Marsh, DVM. “The spread of the H5 viruses has been unprecedented, and our goal is to protect the health of small, backyard poultry flocks as much as our commercial industry from this disease.”

The highly pathogenic avian influenza has been found in 16 states including Indiana, resulting in the deaths of more than 40 million birds. One backyard flock in Indiana was diagnosed with it in early May.

Because of the ceasing of movement, 4-H programs across the state are deciding how those with poultry projects can still participate in the fair. Poultry shown at fairs primarily consists of chickens, ducks, pigeons and turkeys.

“Often times, we put a lot of emphasis on showing livestock when we need to recognize that the animal is the teaching and learning tool,” Natalie Daily Federer, Pulaski County Extension Director, extension educator, said in a letter to 4-H members. “It is the process, the responsibility, the record keeping, etc., that help youth learn about their project.”

Daily Federer is encouraging poultry members to make posters, have pictures and educate the public about their project and the importance of biosecurity and disease outbreaks.

“All members will still compete because you can complete any livestock project without showing the animal. This is done by completing the required activities and paperwork,” Daily Federer. “Youth can organize interactive demos and educational displays about their poultry project.”

The egg class will still happen, along with the egg judging. Ten-year members will also be honored.

According to the board of animal health, the restriction does not apply to private sales, so the 4-H auctions can continue, although the birds will not be present at the auction.

“Some counties do animal-less auctions due to heat or other challenges. This is not uncommon,” Daily Federer said.

She is encouraging members to come up with a fun way to auction their poultry without it being there.

Indiana joins 10 other states that have taken a similar action because of the spread of H5.

(Pulaski County Journal — June 3, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Germanfest receives new name, fresh start

For a fresh start and to open more options for vendors, the chamber of commerce Germanfest name has been changed to The Spirit of Pulaski County.

At a regular meeting on May 20, Pulaski County Chamber Board members approved a recommendation to change the name of the festival for several reasons.

“Things are going very well and everybody seems to be very motivated,” Hoover said.

Board members Amy Hoover and Mike Kasten Jr., along with executive director Angie Anspach, have been preparing for the event the last several months and have recommended a few changes that include changing the name, moving the location to the parking lot of the train depot on Main Street and bringing in more entertainment.

“We have also been contacting vendors because this year we are opening it up to both food and craft vendors,” Hoover said.

Hoover said Kasten Jr. has been working hard to schedule the entertainment that will include two disc jockeys and two bands. She said the group is also talking to different organizations to offer kids’ activities.

Another suggestion made by the group of Hoover, Kasten Jr. and Anspach, is to host a motorcycle ride. The weather will be the biggest problem with the ride.

“Other than insurance, you really don’t have any expense or cost in it,” Kasten Jr. said.

Along with the suggestion of changing the name, Hoover suggested that the board look into the festival having a website. The cost of the site would be about $10 a month and would feature the festival. She said the site would help promote the festival. The group is also planning additional advertising.

Hoover said she would receive more information about the site. A motion was approved to proceed with the website.

Heater encouraged the idea of a Web page to attract those who are outside the county.

Pulaski County Community Development Commissioner Executive Director and chamber secretary Nathan Origer said a Web page can also be created on the Pulaski Online website. Members agreed.

Hoover said plans are underway and going well.

In other business:

The minutes from the April 15 meeting were approved.

A financial statement presented to the members by Hoover was approved. Hoover said the recent fundraiser of flower baskets raised an estimated $3,000. Heater said this was the first year for the fundraiser and “we will only keep building on that.” More than 600 plants were sold.

Hoover said she filed the nonprofit federal and state tax returns.

A review of changes to the bylaws was tabled.

Origer questioned if the members want to change the date of the meeting. A three-month trial has ended since the date was changed to the third Wednesday of the month at noon. It does not appear to have increased the number of members who have attended the meetings. Origer said he will check the attendance numbers. Members discussed how other members might be able to attend the meetings if they were changed to evening times again. Heater suggested that the board members should be polled on a new time and date.

Further discussion was held on the flower basket fundraiser. There was a concern that the flower baskets should be purchased from local businesses instead of an outside company because the fundraiser could be considered competition for Mother’s Day sales. There was a suggestion that the local businesses be talked with.

(Pulaski County Journal — May 27, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Francesville council signs paperwork for grant funds

Francesville Town Council members are again looking for grant funding as they continue to make changes to the wastewater treatment system.

During a regular meeting on May 18, the council signed paperwork to move forward with a grant application through the Office of Community and Rural Affairs.

Emily Albaugh, from the Kankakee-Iroquois Regional Planning Commission (KIRPC), explained why the council needed to sign the various paperwork.

One of the forms was in regards to the council promising not to use the grant funding for anything other than what has been applied for.

There was also a civil rights certification that states that the town does not discriminate against anyone.

A disclosure report that states what funds are being expended was also signed.

As part of continuing forward with the grant application, the council approved a resolution in regards to the local match commitment portion of the grant.

In other business:

Minutes from the May 4 regular meeting were approved.

Wastewater and water superintendent Greg Stone said the interior and exterior of the water tower need to be painted. The project could take more than two weeks. Stone said the exterior has not been repainted since 2007. The interior has not been repainted since 1993.

Stone said there has been one quote received regarding repairing the streets. They are waiting to receive another.

A concern was discussed regarding the garbage at the parks. There was a question of whether the little league program should help clean up the trash. President Andy Durham said he would speak with those who are in charge of the program.

Discussion was held regarding a business that is being built in an area governed by town zoning. The concern is that a permit has not been obtained and building has already begun. There was also a concern that the zoning of the property will need to be changed. The additional truck traffic through town is also a problem because of the lack of funding to fix town roads.

A proposed idea for a ramp at the post office was given to the council. The ramp is needed for Americans With Disabilities compliance.

Claims were approved.

(Pulaski County Journal — May 27, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Building department, county commissioners question who will pay for removing building

The collapsed building in Monterey became the topic of discussion during a regular commissioners’ meeting on Monday.

The building that is a portion of The Sportsman’s Bar and Grill collapsed on April 23. Since then emergency measures have been taken to secure the area. The Town of Monterey and the county must now follow state statute regarding the removal of the building.

During the commissioners’ meeting, building inspector assistant David Webber and county attorney Kevin Tankersley gave an update on the issue.

Tankersley said there has been discussion as to who the enforcement authority is and who absorbs the costs. He said the town is right in regards to the building inspector being the enforcement authority. The enforcement authority has the power to eliminate the “immediate threat” which costs about $4,000.

The building department has also issued an order telling the landowner what he or she must do in 30 days regarding the debris.

“It is going to be significant costs to clean up that site, all of which should fall to the landowner eventually, but the landowner has already expressed an inability to pay certain things,” Tankersley said. “Foresight would tell us that we may be in a situation of who is going to pay the bill? So that is the current debate.”

A resolution was established with the Town of Monterey naming the building inspector as the enforcement authority but it was not defined as to who would pay the bill of removing the building.

Because an order was issued it appears that the county is the hearing authority, although that was questioned on May 7 during a special meeting with the Monterey Town Council. During that meeting, building inspector Dave Dare Sr. said there was a joint resolution between Monterey and the county that dictates the commissioners as the hearing authority. Town officials and the town attorney Crystal Sanders were not aware of the joint resolution. Dare also said that he and the commissioners decided that they would fund the removal of the debris and the inspector on-site.

The county has already committed to an asbestos inspection that was completed April 29.

“There has to be some meeting and discuss with the Town of Monterey counsel Crystal Sanders to see if we can’t come to some resolution as to a proper apportionment of costs, so the county taxpayers aren’t flipping the entire bill,” Tankersley said. “Mostly we want to pursue the landowner because it is their responsibility.”

Under the law a lien can be put on the property to recoup the costs. If the county cleans up the debris then the county will be responsible for the costs.

A public hearing has been set for June 1 in regards to the order.

Webber also gave updates on two properties that have received orders to fix a building and clean up property.

President Larry Brady was absent from the meeting.

In other business:

Highway department superintendent Terry Ruff presented five operation reports from 2014 to the commissioners. The reports were signed and approved.

Ruff also made a request for someone from the highway department to attend training regarding bridges. He also made a request for someone to attend a computer skills class. The requests were approved.

Ruff presented the commissioners with a request from CenturyLink to bore under CR 50 E. at 2320 S. It was approved.

Ruff said the department is currently working on patching the roads, spreading gravel and finishing the spraying of dust oil. He said they are also preparing the mowers for the beginning of mowing season.

Commissioner Bud Krohn made a motion for the county council to reconsider giving a part-time employee better pay. According to Krohn, there was only one person on the council who opposed the request. Ruff said their other option is to hire the employee full time for about four months. He would then be dismissed but they “don’t want to scar his reputation.” Auditor Shelia Garling was concerned that there might not be enough money in the budget. She said the two could review the numbers to ensure that the department does not lose money for a full-time status. The motion was tabled.

Ruff also said the fair board contacted him and asked whether some county equipment could be used during the fair. Young said the county can help the fair as it has in the past.

EMS director Nikki Lowry presented the idea of installing a keypad at the stations instead of using keys because of the number of employee turnovers. She would like to get the software so they can change it. There is a need for two keypads — one at the Francesville station and one for the Winamac station. “With these keypads everybody would be assigned a number,” Lowry said. “We can see who comes in and who goes out.” The keypads would be installed on the garage doors. She presented three different prices. Tankersley said he was under the impression that when the county upgrades the time and attendance software that keypads were included for all government buildings. Young said he would like to see what happens with the upgrading of the time and attendance system.

Emergency Management Agency Director Larry Hoover said the main reason he attended the meeting was because he read in the paper that they wanted him to start giving reports in regards to the training and the meetings he has attended. Hoover said he recently attended training that will help emergency responders access their training. “That will then help us tell the state what we need training-wise,” Hoover said. “Once we get this done, it will help not only my department, but all the county departments with grant funding because basically if we follow that it will tell us what our equipment needs, what our training needs are.” Hoover said he would start emailing them about the training and seminars.

Pulaski County Community Development Commission Executive Director Nathan Origer talked with the commissioners about several issues. Origer said Sheila Hazemi Jimenez returned the $20,000 she was recently given as part of a revolving loan fund for a restaurant. “For now she said it was in everyone’s best interest that she backed out before she got in too deep,” Origer said. Commissioners said they appreciated her decision.

In regards to the revolving loan fund, Origer requested permission for CDC to contract with the Regional Development Company that will handle the financial administration aspect of the loan fund. Origer said the company will review the application and they will be able to run a credit report. The company will rate the application with a financial score. Origer said the costs of utilizing the company will be covered in the application fee. Tankersley said he is a big fan of using an outside company to handle the financial administration. The request to contract with Regional Development Company was approved.

Origer said the Hometown Collaboration survey has been analyzed and a community forum was held. Because of the feedback the committee chose to go with the quality of life - placemaking building block. He said more details will be hashed out beginning in August.

Recycling/transfer station manager Brad Bonnell presented a recycling/transfer report to the commissioners. He said cardboard prices are “maintaining steady,” and the transfer station is “pretty basic a normal month.” He informed commissioners that he is looking to purchase a new recycling trailer that can be used at the state park. It will cost about $8,000 and is in good condition. He could use some funding from the solid waste district and from the equipment fund. He also picked up 250 recycling totes from the solid waste district to use in the pilot rural recycling program that he plans to start soon.

Sheriff Jeff Richwine wanted to make the commissioners aware of some issues that are being worked on. He said the department has started to look at cost estimates to replace the dispatch consoles. He said there is also a plan being established with EMA to replace all emergency responders radios.

Several conference requests were made from different departments including the Pulaski County Community Development Commission, the auditor’s office, the clerk’s office, the sheriff’s department, the assessor’s office and EMA. All the requests were approved.

The annual Congressional School Fund report was approved. There is a $25,000 CD. The report was approved.

Commissioners received the permit application plans and specifications for Medaryville waste stabilization from the Town of Medaryville.

A recommendation for Brady to sign the amendment to the Hoosier START agreement was approved.

A request for CenturyLink to change an address at the airport was approved.

Minutes from the May 4 commissioners’ meeting and May 4 joint session was approved.

Payroll and claims were approved.

(Pulaski County Journal — May 20, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

EPCSC board puts two phases of renovation project on hold

Eastern Pulaski Community School Corporation students and staff will have an easier time using technology as the corporation will begin using one learning management system.

School board members voted to use a learning management system after they heard the pros and cons of technology, during a regular meeting on May 11.

Superintendent Dan Foster and chief technology officer Adam Bennett presented several reasons why the system will help incorporate more technology into school lessons.

“One of the things last year that we felt prevented us from trying e-learning days was the fact that we didn’t have a common learning management system,” Foster said. “A student taking six or seven class periods would have to log in to six different places to get their homework. That didn’t seem to make sense to us.”

He also said the lack of one-on-one devices with the elementary students caused an additional reason for not moving forward with e-learning.

According to Foster, there were several different free systems that were being used but teachers were using the system that best fits their needs. The Indiana Department of Education offered a free learning management system but state officials recently found out the company that manages the system is closing.

Bennett said school corporations across the state are scrambling to find an alternative and funding to pay for it. He said the system that was offered by the department of education was “cumbersome at best. We were looking at several other options. This is the best of what we have been able to find. One of the reasons that we tabled it in November was because it was outrageously expensive.”

The prices dropped in half because the other company was closing.

One of the cons of the system is that teachers would have to enter students’ grades twice because Canvas does not synchronize with Harmony.

“Right now, there are about five schools that are looking at the same thing and basically saying Harmony needs to get that fixed with Canvas. They are in discussion right now to do that,” Foster said.

Foster and Bennett were both surprised at the teachers’ reactions toward the system, although grades would need to be entered twice until the synchronization of the systems.

“The feedback that we got from all of the teachers — several of them put that the grade book synchronization is not a deal breaker. This tool is so robust and so good,” Bennett said.

The reason the recommendation to use Canvas by Instructure was brought to the attention of the board members was because of the costs.

It would start at $5 per student for the first year. The first year is estimated to cost $6,650 based on 1,330 licenses. There is also a $4,500 fee to start up costs.

Foster said there is a technology fee that could help cover the costs.

The board approved the recommendation with a commitment of five years.

Students and staff will be able to use the system starting the 2015-2016 school year. The system can be used at the elementary school level and for e-learning days.

In other business:

Minutes from the regular meeting, executive session and special meeting on April 13 and from the special meeting and executive session on April 27 were approved.

School board members recognized the valedictorian Hannah DeGroot and salutatorian Francesca Niewiadomski, with their parents.

A financial report for the period ending April 30, claims through May 11 and payroll claims of April 2015 were approved. Foster said the fund balances are all positive. There was a concern that there were a number of bus maintenance issues. Foster said one bus was towed to Logansport because of a possible head gasket issue. “Inspections are coming up next month so that’s another part of it — trying to make sure everything is getting ready,” Foster said.

The resignation of high school English teacher Ryan Moorehouse was approved. It was effective May 7. To fill the position, Tina Stacy was hired.

A recommendation by Foster to approve summer school contracts with Kevin Zupin teaching high school economics and Kyle Johnson teaching high school physical education were approved. Foster said each class must have an enrollment of 15 students and it appears that will happen.

A request by Foster to accept the PACE grant funds and the popcorn machine from the elementary PTA were approved.

A recommendation by Foster to continue the Title I and High Ability Grant programs was approved. Foster said the two programs offer about $200,000 in funding.

Foster requested the consideration of the transfer tuition policy for the 2015-2016 school year to comply with state statutes. He said the corporation must consider how many transfer students they will accept and publish a date by which the student must apply. Foster reviewed the accepted number of students last year that included 740 students at the elementary, 350 students at the middle school and 460 students at the high school. The number will remain the same for the 2015-2016 year. The transfer tuition policy was approved.

The textbook fees for the 2015-2016 school year were approved. At the elementary school the rate is $95 and $5 for a technology fee. At the middle and high schools it is $95 and a $10 technology fee.

The 2015-2016 student handbooks for each of the schools were approved. Any changes to the handbooks were presented to the board at the last board meeting.

A request for the girls basketball team to attend an overnight field trip was approved. This is a camp the team has attended several times.

Because the bids for the elementary school renovation project cost more than anticipated, the school board approved to reject the bids and authorize rebids. Foster said after the bids have been rejected then the scope can be “realigned.” If the board had approved the bids, the elementary phase of the project would be about $2.4 million over budget. The corporation would receive new bids on July 7. Rejecting the bids will not change the end completion date that is scheduled for the fall of 2016.

Along with rejecting the bids for the elementary school renovation, the board tabled the technology and infrastructure improvement bids that were more than the estimated costs. Foster said after reviewing the project they would like to hold off on new phone cabling because they would like to use a voice over Internet protocol system. The bid also included the fire alarms and intercom systems in the schools. Foster said there are a few other options in regards to a combined phone system and intercom system, but there are some unanswered questions. The phone system was previously approved pending funds remaining from the General Obligation Bond. The project could be rebid and still completed before the completion date.

Changes made to board policy section 206 were presented to the board for a first reading. Foster said the changes were made to the evaluation tool such as a few deletions and flipping the numbers from most effective to find another job.

(Pulaski County Journal — May 20, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Winamac reviews utility rates

Winamac Town Council members gave their approval for the town to move forward with an Indiana Municipal Power Agency solar panel project during a special meeting on May 4.

During the meeting, council members talked utility budget finances and about the solar panels project.

Council members first heard from Eric Walsh of Umbaugh, who are financial advisors for the town. He reviewed each of the utilities including electric, water and sewer.

Cash balances for each utility compared with the rates were reviewed, along with operating expenses. The top 10 consumers for each utility were also pointed out.

He suggested that the town look to the future in regards to forecasted revenues and expenditures for the next five years.

“You are to the point where everything is running pretty smooth in town. You are doing a good job of getting a capital plan together and looking at a couple of big things a few years out instead of saying a year before it that ‘we are going to need a half of a million dollars,’” Walsh said.

He suggested that if the town decided that rate increases are warranted then they are done in multi-phases but approved at once, so only one public hearing has to be held.

He commended the town for working towards a positive financial status.

Council members were then presented the idea of hosting solar panels in the town limits. Dan Worhl, from the Indiana Municipal Power Agency (IMPA), said the panels will help with future costs to municipalities.

He said those municipalities that are hosting solar panels will receive pilot payments but the property must be in the town limits. If the town received payments it would benefit the general fund.

Town manager Brad Zellers said there were several different places that the solar panels could be constructed. Some were in town limits. Other proposed locations were in the town buffer zone.

Worhl said the number of panels will determine how many acres are needed. As part of the process, IMPA would first look to purchase or lease land and then work toward obtaining permits. They would ask for the standard tax abatement.

There was a question as to how the electric consumer will benefit from the solar panels. The answer, according to Worhl, is that it will stabilize the rates.

The council approved to establish a committee to research and make recommendations to the council in regards to the project.

(Pulaski County Journal — May 13, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Winamac Community High School names top graduates

Winamac Community High School has announced its top two graduates for the 2014-15 school year. Hannah Mae DeGroot, daughter of Perry and Katie DeGroot, of Winamac, has been named valedictorian and Francesca Niewiadomski, daughter of Richard and Sharon Niewiadomski, of Winamac, is the salutatorian.

While attending WCHS, DeGroot has been busy with various extracurricular activities including Student Council, Midwest Conference math team, STEM club, Sunshine Society, National Honor Society and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

She has also found time to be a three-sport athlete while attending high school with participation in basketball, golf and softball. She has been recognized as a 2014 golf academic all-state and 2014 MWC golf honorable mention. DeGroot has also achieved all-conference honors in basketball, golf and softball.

Her academic honors and awards are numerous including the Lilly Endowment Scholarship, 2012 Midwest Conference geometry champion and 2013 HOBY Indiana ambassador.

Upon graduation DeGroot plans to attend Butler University in Indianapolis and major in biology.

Salutatorian Niewiadomski has many extracurricular activities to her credit both inside the high school and outside in the community. She has been a member of spell bowl, English super bowl and Spanish quiz bowl as well as a part of the Midwest Conference writing team, Shakespeare Club, National Honor Society and Sunshine Society. The Winamac senior is a member of the St. Peter’s Catholic Church and has been an altar server, lector and vacation bible school leader.

She has accumulated several high school honors and her name has appeared on several awards such as spell bowl captain, member of the state qualifying spell bowl team, perfect speller ribbons, near perfect speller ribbons, distinguished honor roll, letter for academic scholarship and Voice of Democracy.

After graduation she plans on majoring in English literature at Saint Mary’s College of Notre Dame.

(Pulaski County Journal — May 13, 2015 • Story by Paul Hettinger)

Town, county take steps to secure fallen building

Monterey Town Council members along with Pulaski County officials gathered to discuss the best plan of action in regards to the collapsing of a portion of The Sportman’s Bar and Grill.

The building, once known as Kelsey’s Drug Store, fell on April 23 around 5 p.m. What was remaining, the north and south sections of the building, was quickly pulled down and a portion of Walnut Street has been closed for safety reasons.

The council called the emergency meeting on April 28, to discuss the best way to keep everyone safe as the collapsed building is in the road to the west. County commissioners Larry Brady and Terry Young were present with building inspector Dave Dare.

As the meeting began, Monterey Council President Jim Fleury thanked the Monterey Volunteer Fire Department for their quick response and the commissioners and Dare who arrived at the scene shortly after the building collapsed. He also thanked clerk-treasurer Linda McCune for all the calls she filtered on the day of the incident.

Town attorney Crystal Sanders said the emergency meeting was called to ensure that the town is doing everything they can to keep residents and visitors safe. The meeting was also scheduled to answer the question of what expenses the town is responsible for.

Dare said the owner of the building could not be contacted at the time of the collapse, so he instructed Zehner Excavating to demolish the north and south sections of the building that were still standing. An orange fence was also set up to secure the area off.

“I don’t think there’s any additional danger of anything falling in at this point,” Dare said during the meeting.

The next step, according to Dare, is to hire an asbestos inspector who will report if there is a presence of the fibers, the estimated amount of it and how to abate it. An asbestos abatement supervisor may also have to be hired when the debris is removed.

Fleury questioned if the town could clean up the roadway. Dare said cleanup shouldn’t occur until the site has been checked for asbestos.

A motion to have the asbestos inspection completed was approved by the council.

Dare later said the county would pay for the inspection at the cost of $1,500.

There was also a question of who owned the building. The property was recently part of a tax sale but it does not appear that a petition has been filed to take ownership of the property, according to Sanders.

The current owner, Courtney Hardin, who lives in Crown Point was contacted by Dare. Dare said at this time it does not appear that she will be able to financially help.

“She said that she actually closed the building in 2011 and at that time all of the insurance was canceled out as well,” Dare said.

Sanders said the town or county could file a civil suit against the property owner if needed.

“My recommendation would be that we contact the owner by letter and indicate to her that she has 30 days to provide some sort of financial assistance and to get these things done. I think we need to put her on notice, according to the statute, that there would be the potential for civil liability on her part,” Sanders said.

The council approved to give her 15 days to respond after the letter is delivered and that the letter be delivered to her.

Sanders said she wants to ensure that a 15-day notice is sufficient, according to state statutes.

Fleury said he is also concerned with the standing half of the Sportsman’s building and whether the outer wall is structurally sound. Dare said an engineer can be hired to look at the building.

A motion was also made to pay Zehner Excavating for the work they did on the day of the collapse. The cost was $500.

Fleury asked those in attendance if they had any questions. No questions were asked but some comments were made.

“Anything that the county can to do to help, we are here,” Young said.

The council will wait for the asbestos inspection results before they take any further actions. They also scheduled a meeting for Thursday, May 7 at 7 p.m.

(Pulaski County Journal — May 6, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

West Central announces top graduates

West Central High School has announced the two top graduating seniors from the class of 2015.

Mickayla Mary Wenzel has earned the distinction of being named class valedictorian.

Wenzel has stayed very active in high school as a member of the National Honor Society where she was vice president her junior year and president this school year. She has also been involved in student council where she was treasurer her senior year and had been part of the Business Professionals of America.

An outstanding athlete at West Central, Wenzel has participated in cross-country earning varsity captain status, and basketball where she was junior varsity captain her freshman year and went on to be varsity captain her junior and senior years. She has also been a member of the track and field team and has been active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes organization.

The senior has accumulated many honors and awards including Academic All-State in track and basketball along with Academic All Midwest Conference in three different sports. She has been named MWC Runner of the Year twice, MWC Track Athlete of the Year and a MWC Match Contest Top 10 three years running. Wenzel has also received the Bausch and Lomb Honorary Science Award.

She is active in the Teaberry Hill Estates Church youth group and in her spare time enjoys running, reading, drawing and hanging out with friends.

Upon graduation Wenzel plans on attending the University of Indianapolis to major in accounting. While at college she plans on running cross-country and participating in track and field for the Greyhounds.

Mickayla is the daughter of Kevin and Natalie Wenzel of Francesville.

Grace Whited, of Francesville, will be the 2015 West Central High School salutatorian.

She has served as vice president of the Sunshine Society, secretary of the National Honor Society and has been a junior marshal.

Whited has also found time to be involved in several clubs and organizations including National Honor Society, Sunshine Society, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Business Professionals of America and the First Christian Church youth group.

After playing basketball her freshman and sophomore years, Whited went on to manage the team in both the junior and senior seasons. She was a member of the track team and has acted in the school play the last three years.

She has a passion for Broadway musicals and reading. Her other hobbies and interests are writing poetry, volunteering her time and mission work with her church.

She plans to attend Indiana University and study biology as a pre-med student with the end goal of becoming an anesthesiologist.

Grace is the daughter of Kimberly and Daniel Whited.

(Pulaski County Journal — May 6, 2015 • Story by Paul Hettinger)

Personal property filing deadline for 2015 is May 15

County assessor Holly Van Der Aa is reminding taxpayers (business owners, individual entrepreneurs and farmers) it is that time of year to file personal property forms. Forms can be obtained from the assessor’s office or online through www.IN.Gov/dlgf.

Indiana is a self-assessment state, thus, making the responsibility of filing the personal property forms the taxpayer’s responsibility. Personal property forms are needed for business owners and farmers. Forms are to be filed in the taxing district where the personal property is located on March 1 or the majority of the year. Failure to file the forms in a timely manner can result in penalties. Also, completion of the form is a must to avoid a $25 penalty. Some items usually overlooked are: signature, 911 addresses, federal identification number (Social Security numbers are no longer acceptable), taxing district and the business activity code.

Pursuant to legislation the township trustees no longer handle personal property or real property assessing. The assessor’s office will continue to help guide a property owner in the filing of the personal property forms during business hours. Office hours for the county assessor’s office are: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (If someone is in need of assistance through the office, plan to be in the office before 3:30 p.m.) Location of the office is in the basement of the Pulaski County Courthouse on U.S. 35, Winamac.

When filling out business or farm returns, if in need of help from the office please bring the federal depreciation schedule. Additionally while auditing personal property returns, the assessor’s office has noted that many returns have been filing “same as last year” for several years. Assessors are encouraging depreciation schedules to be brought in to assure proper filing of items are being reported in the correct pools and years.

Personal property forms are due on May 15. Extensions will not be granted due to the timetable placed upon the assessor’s office, by the State of Indiana, to get values to the auditor’s office.

(Pulaski County Journal — April 29, 2015)

Pulaski County Extension Office to expand garden, programming with second grant

With more grant funding than last year, the Pulaski County Extension Office is looking to expand their garden and educational programming.

The extension office has received two different grants for the raised garden — one for $2,000 and one for $5,000.

Extension family nutrition program assistant Deb Winter said the grant funding will be used to install a water line to the garden and adding more raised beds. A new agriculture educator will also get involved and Winter anticipates local Master Gardeners helping with planting.

“We are going to be doing more educational programs with it — teaching people to be self-sustaining if they grow a garden,” Winter said. “They will have some opportunities to receive a raised bed for their home, but we are still brainstorming there.”

The first year harvest produced more than 50 pounds of tomatoes, about half a dozen peppers, along with a few potatoes and onions. It was given to individual clients or frozen for classes for soups and pastas. Some of the produce was donated to the senior center, while other produce was taken to day cares as part of educational programs.

Winter said produce was also frozen and used for other extension educational programs.

The garden this year could consist of pole beans, cucumbers, zucchinis, tomatoes, strawberries and herbs. Some growing has already begun as the strawberries that were planted last year are breaking ground.

As part of the educational programs, Winter said local students are just finishing up a six-week course in Medaryville. The youth group consists of middle to high school students who come from low-income families.

“They do the entire meal themselves from start to finish. They clean up after themselves,” Winter said. “We talk about manners and we talk about why we do things the way we do to stay healthy.”

Students also plan the meals for the next class.

Winter said the “Yummy” curriculum focuses on MyPlate that teaches healthy servings of fruits, grains, vegetables, protein and dairy. The “Yummy” curriculum is offered by Purdue Extension and promotes healthy eating and food safety.

“They have blossomed,” Winter said in regards of how students are enjoying the class. “We are trying to teach the family aspect of it too. We want the family to get involved. We are trying to teach them life skills.”

Many times the parents may not understand what healthy portions are.

“This whole project was inspired by the amount of poverty we see in our community. Our programs and projects which include the community gardens, food safety programs, healthy living programing, poverty education, youth cooking classes, etc., all are small pieces that are helping to provide youth and adults in Pulaski County with the skills and education they need to live healthier lives,” said Natalie Daily Federer, Pulaski County Extension Director and 4-H Youth Development Educator.

Not only were students treated to locally grown produce, but aprons were made for the class and other cooking utensils were given to them. Students will also be given cookbooks that were purchased by grant funding.

Winter said planning is already underway for classes in Star City and Winamac.

With the first year of the community garden and programs coming to an end, Winter believed it has gone well.

“We are going to start out slowly but hopefully more people are getting involved and more people are becoming aware. More people are volunteering,” Winter said. “If we can make people aware that we do have a poverty problem in our community then they will be there to help.”

Looking forward to the future, extension office staff have been brainstorming on the best way to use the grant funding.

(Pulaski County Journal — April 29, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Construction of Safe Routes to School to begin

After more than four years, the Safe Routes to School project is not just being talked about but will soon be constructed.

The Town of Winamac, in partnership with the Eastern Pulaski Community School Corporation, applied for and received a Safe Routes to School grant from the Indiana Department of Transportation in 2011.

The federally funded Safe Routes to School program strives to make walking and biking to school safe and more appealing, as well as building connections between families, school and the community.

Safe Routes to School is using the railroad right-of-way that will be paved from Superior Street to the old depot at the corner of Main and Logan streets.

As plans for construction are underway, Winamac Town Manager Brad Zellers and clerk-treasurer Melanie Berger spent a few hours talking with Indiana Department of Transportation officials, engineers and contractors regarding the Safe Routes to School pathway on April 14.

“They walked the project to see where the trail will be placed and little things along the way that we need to take care of as far as notifying everyone along there that this is going to be happening,” Zellers said.

Residents along the route and those who use the railroad right-of-way to access their property will no longer be able to drive there. The property belongs to the town and is not considered an alley.

Zellers said further information regarding the closing of the property will be sent to residents.

As part of the Safe Routes project, sidewalks that are in poor condition along the west side of Riverside Drive from Pearl Street to Superior Street will be replaced. Intersections will also have Americans with Disabilities Act ramps installed.

Zellers said the sidewalks on the south side of Pearl Street from Riverside Drive to the Pulaski County Human Services building will be fixed.

“Everybody is on the same page with the way things are going to be,” Zellers said. “It will be really nice for us.”

Zellers anticipates in the next two weeks, the area being flagged and marked as to where the path will be laid. Construction will then begin.

“My understanding is that they will get the trail done first because the intersections with the roads, they will cut the pavement out and put concrete for the ADA approaches,” Zellers said. “They will block off the trail at the streets because the trail is not to be driven on.”

He said the project could be done by July, weather permitting.

The Safe Routes to School is one of three projects that also includes the Panhandle Parkway and Winamac Parkway.

The path of Safe Routes will connect with the Panhandle Pathway. The Winamac Parkway will landscape the path with shelters, park areas and picnic tables.

An additional grant of $50,000 will be used to pave from the old depot to SR 14 as a part of the Winamac Parkway project.

(Pulaski County Journal — April 22, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Commissioners approve to vacate road as safety concerns arise

Pulaski County Commissioners approved to move forward with vacating a road as safety concerns are raised.

During a regular meeting on Monday, commissioner Terry Young requested the county vacate CR 1150 W., between CR 900 S. and CR 1000 S. He said the road is not worth it and continues to cost the county money.

“It is basically a path between the two landowners. Someone could go down it and have an accident,” said Terry Ruff, Pulaski County Highway Assistant Superintendent. “I don’t know what we would get out of it. It is not suitable to plow.”

Commissioner president Larry Brady suggested discussing it a little more because the road is a dividing line between two properties.

Young indicated that further discussion wasn’t needed.

“We put more into that road than we could ever receive in a year,” said Young, who was indicating lawyer fees that accumulated because of disputed drainage issues in that area.

The road will now need to be officially vacated with the proper paperwork.

Ruff also gave an update regarding the status of the county roads. He said patching is underway but there is still a lot to be done.

According to Ruff, about 19 miles were repaired last year because of the winter weather. This year there’s an estimated 20 miles of roadway that are in poor condition.

“The bottom line is that most of it is in the southern part of the county. It seems like everything is worse down there,” Ruff said.

Ruff would like to fix the roads with chip and seal layers after fixing the damaged spots. He feels that grinding the roads will just make more work.

“We are basically going to have to repair all this and our regular maintenance is thrown out the window,” Ruff said.

The idea of a frost law was again discussed during the meeting. At a previous meeting, Young suggested the county move forward with a frost law that might prevent some road damage and also collect some revenues.

Ruff said the damage to the roads happened in about a two-week span. If a frost law was in place it may have prevented some of the damage.

“If word got around it would slow everything down,” Ruff said.

There was a question as to which county fund the frost law violation fees would go into. It was suggested that commissioners research the idea more this summer.

In other business:

Pulaski County Community Development Commission Executive Director Nathan Origer said the county needs about 400 more surveys to complete an income survey for a potential EMS planning grant. Origer said 500 surveys are needed but only 100 have been submitted. The county is looking at grant funding to help build a new facility for EMS and the emergency management agency. Brady said maybe the county can encourage residents to complete the survey through the local media.

The agreement with Sheila Hazemi Jimenez regarding the revolving loan funding for the Warrior Den restaurant was approved.

Origer said changes to the zoning ordinance are in “full swing” and on schedule. Origer requested having the ordinances reviewed and changed several months ago. At the time he said the changes were needed because some of the ordinances could cause legal issues for the county.

The young professionals organization that Origer has been working to get started will soon gather at an informal meeting. It will be followed up with a lunch and learn.

The Pulaski County Assistant Building Inspector Dave Webber gave an update on a few properties that the county is watching. Work should begin soon on one of the properties located in Medaryville. Another property has several trailers on property causing a large amount of debris. Webber said a letter has been written to the property owner, prior to any orders being issued.

Commissioners reviewed a letter regarding the demolition of the Countryside Bowling Lanes. The county has been in contact with the property owner who said she would work to have the building torn down. Webber said it appears that she is having problems paying for the demolition of it. He suggested that an unsafe building order can be issued or a warning of an order being filed could be done. If the county demolishes a building then the costs would be recouped by a property lien.

The county continues to work toward equipping the transfer/recycling center with a credit card machine. The county is waiting to hear from the state on how to handle the money collected electronically such as which account the money would be deposited in and how to keep it separate from other accounts.

Transfer/recycling center superintendent Brad Bonnell requested permission from the commissioners to try a trial period of picking up a number of county residents’ recycling. He would like to see if it can be feasibly done. Commissioners granted permission for a trial run.

The county is looking to add cameras to the recycling/transfer center buildings to monitor illegal dumping. The county is having problems with the dumping of tires and trash. Violators could be prosecuted.

Pulaski County Sheriff Jeff Richwine gave commissioners a heads up in regards to purchasing a new computer server and new 800 MHz radios. Richwine said there is money in the budget for the server. Purchasing new radios and upgrading others could come from the 911 funds. The county could then work on new radios for other emergency responding agencies.

An agreement with Pulaski County EMS and Pulaski Memorial Hospital regarding inpatient transfers and returns was approved. The agreement had been tabled at the last meeting until county attorney Kevin Tankersley had a chance to review it.

Conference requests for Larry Hoover, Shelia Garling, Holly Schultz and Ruff were approved.

Several letters from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management were presented to the commissioners regarding information about a confined feeding operation farm, a concentrated animal feeding operation farm and a general permit for discharge water.

Brady read a letter regarding the Pleasant View Rest Home as being entered in the National Register of Historic Places on March 17, 2015. He commended those who made that national recognition possible including Janet Onken, who made the honor possible.

Claims were approved with the exception of one involving dry cleaning.

Minutes from the April 6 regular meeting were approved.

(Pulaski County Journal — April 22, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Hometown Collaborative Initiative Team seeks community input

With Pulaski County’s selection as one of the six Indiana communities to be part of the new Hometown Collaboration Initiative (HCI), local residents are urged to share their thoughts on the key strengths and challenges of the county.

Residents are encouraged to weigh in on three major topics: (1) the quality of life in our community; (2) the local economy; and (3) local leadership.

“Input from residents is critical,” said Pulaski County Community Development Commission Executive Director Nathan P. Origer. “The future of this community cannot be left to the hands of the HCI Coordinating Committee alone, but must be the fruit of a truly inclusive process.”

Residents have two ways to have their voices heard: complete the online HCI survey at www.indianaHCI.org/Pulaski or complete a paper version of the survey available at the following locations: Pulaski County Courthouse (auditor’s office), Pulaski County Public Library (Winamac branch), Pulaski County Public Library (Medaryville branch), Francesville-Salem Township Public Library, and Monterey-Tippecanoe Township Public Library. Please complete only one survey before Friday, April 24.

“We are partnering with local organizations to get the word out about the survey. We want to make it as easy as possible for anybody who lives or works in Pulaski County to make their opinions known,” said HCI local coordinator Krysten Hinkle. “HCI will serve as an opportunity to begin to turn vision into a reality.”

“It is important that we continue to invest in our county’s growth, retention and overall prosperity, but we can’t do this effectively without understanding the needs of those who have a vested interest in Pulaski County,” added Ryan Harrison, one of HCI’s 15 committee members.

Pulaski County residents will also have the opportunity to learn more about survey results and to share their opinions at the upcoming community forum on Thursday, May 7, at 5:30 p.m.

To learn more about HCI Pulaski County, to complete the survey, or to pre-register for the upcoming community forum, please visit www.indianaHCI.org/Pulaski.

(Pulaski County Journal — April 15, 2015)

State recognizes local dispatchers

Communication officers are the unseen voice heard on the scanner as emergency responders are called to action.

Many times they are the only connection a person has until help arrives. They are trained to stay calm and in radio broadcasting procedures and emergency medical dispatching.

Because many times communication officers are not recognized for their efforts, Indiana recognizes them during Public Safety Telecommunications Week.

Public Safety Telecommunications Week began in California in 1981 and was nationally recognized by Congress in 1991. In Indiana, it was recognized in 1999.

Public Safety Telecommunications Week, April 12-18, is a reminder to Hoosiers that help won’t arrive until the initial 911 call is made.

“I’m happy that a week each year is to recognize and appreciate our emergency telecommunication dispatchers. They are often unsung heroes in an emergency,” said Pulaski County Sheriff Jeffery Richwine. “After 32 years of working with them I can tell you from experience their voice is a welcome relief. Please join me in giving them the recognition they deserve on Telecommunications week.” 

Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office Communications Director Steve Harvey said the dispatch center has a wealth of experience that combined totals 150 years.

“Dispatchers are the absolute center of everything that occurs in public safety in Pulaski County. Police, fire, and EMS could not get to your house to help you without the dispatcher,” Harvey said. “We are the voice behind the scenes. We don’t receive nor do we need praise when we help someone. It is without a doubt one of the most important and underappreciated professions. Pulaski County should be very proud of their dispatchers and the service they provide.”

The team of dispatchers at Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office includes Harvey, 911 coordinator Carrie Harvey, communications officer I Michelle Twellman, communications officer I Lori Sturgell, communications specialist Sheri Gaillard, communications officer I Carol Crist, communications officer I Patti Jo Rausch, communications specialist Donnetta Conley, communications officer I Laura McIntosh, communications officer I Tanner Prentice, communications officer I Rick Kain, communications officer II Lisa Dommer, communications officer II Alexis Jones, communications officer II Kara Aaron, communications officer II Leslie Oliver and communications officer II Tina Wagner.

(Pulaski County Journal — April 15, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Grund joins Journal team

A new member is being welcomed to the Pulaski County Journal and The Independent staff starting Monday, April 13.

The staff at the papers are excited to welcome Beth Grund as the new sales representative.

Grund is a Winamac Community High School graduate and attended Purdue University for advertising. She has worked for the Eastern Pulaski Community School Corporation for more than three years as a teacher’s aide.

“I’m very promotional. I love working for companies and promoting products. It’s exciting,” she said.

Because she enjoys promoting projects and products she believes in, Grund has blogged since 2009.

Beth, who is a lifelong resident of Pulaski County, lives in Winamac with her husband, Jacob, and four children, whose ages range from 13-6 years old.

She enjoys gardening and playing baseball with her children.

Beth can be reached Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 574-946-6628 or by email at sales@pulaskijournal.com.

(Pulaski County Journal — April 8, 2015)

Van Buren Township Volunteer Fire Department receives grant

Taking a few minutes to fill out a grant application in hopes of helping a nonprofit organization was rewarded on Saturday.

Jean Ann Fox, of Pulaski County, nominated the Van Buren Township Volunteer Fire Department because she wanted to thank them for their countless hours of service.

“These brave men are community members that volunteer their time and spend hours in training to fight fires and be able to give emergency medical services when needed,” Fox said. “They are committed to saving lives. They are very deserving of this award.”

Fox’s application was selected as a winner in America’s Farmers Grow Communities that is sponsored by the Monsanto Fund. The program enrolls farmers for a chance to win $2,500 that is then donated to the farmers’ nonprofit of choice.

Pulaski County native Adam Deitrich, district sales manager with Channel Seed, said he was quite proud to present Van Buren Township Volunteer Fire Department with the grant funding.

“I come from a long line of firefighters in Cass County, so I know how much hard work you guys put in that is easily overlooked and underappreciated,” Deitrich said. “So from me to you — thank you.”

America’s Farmers Grow Communities launched in 2010 and includes 1,324 counties in 40 states.

Kevin Russell, district sales manager with DeKalb Asgrow, said since the program has started $1.4 million has been given.

“I love when it’s going to a fire department because I know it will be put to good use,” Russell said of the grant funding.

He thanked the firefighters for their time and service and Fox for applying for the grant.

The money will be used to purchase new bunker gear for the firefighters.

(Pulaski County Journal — April 8, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Health departments statewide watching Indiana HIV epidemic

As state officials react to the public health emergency in Scott County due to an outbreak of HIV, local health departments are watching and waiting for instruction.

On Friday, state health officials reported a total of 81 HIV positive tests which includes 74 confirmed and seven preliminary cases related to the outbreak in Scott County. Because of the outbreak, Gov. Mike Pence has declared a public health emergency.

According to state health officials, the public health emergency declaration was issued in Executive Order 15-05 that allows the state to coordinate a multi-agency response including Scott County Health Department, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug treatment facilities, academic and local medical providers, other state agencies and other partners.

Pulaski County Director of Environmental Health and Office Manager Terri Hansen said the outbreak was a topic of discussion at a recent health department officers meeting. The outbreak of HIV wasn’t something health departments have thought about as an epidemic but it’s something they are now discussing.

“If people have any questions at all we can direct them to the people that they need to talk to, whether it be AIDS Ministry or the state department of health. We would do everything that we could to help them get where they need to go,” Hansen said.

State health officials recommended that all Hoosiers know their HIV status.

Locally, AIDS Ministries Assist of North Indiana will hold HIV testing on April 16 at the Pulaski County Health Department.

(Pulaski County Journal — April 1, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Medaryville opens bids for lagoon project

Two bids were received and opened by the Town of Medaryville on March 26.

During the bid opening, the bids of $880,000 and $718,000 were opened. The bids were not approved, but will be reviewed and a recommendation will be made to the town council by the McMahon Group, an engineering, architecture and building firm, that was hired by the town to oversee the lagoon project.

The upgrading of the lagoons is needed for the sewer treatment system to be in compliance with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management guidelines. In 2013, the town was advised of being in violation of the wastewater permit in 2011.

According to town officials, the state made changes to the permit but the town did not receive it, causing the data to appear as noncompliant. Violations include the lagoons not consistently meeting the current E. coli limits because of excess algae.

Because of the noncompliance threat, the town has been a part of a pilot bio-dome wastewater treatment that has proven to work.

If the town fails to comply with the state then a penalty of $2,500 per day could apply.

On Aug. 19, Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann announced that Medaryville is one of 12 Indiana communities receiving grants totaling more than $5.4 million for wastewater and drinking water programs. The funding is managed by the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) and made possible by the federal Community Development Block Grant.

The total project is estimated to cost about $850,000. As part of the grant requirements, the town is responsible for a match of $400,000.

(Pulaski County Journal — April 1, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Medaryville Town Council to define what junk is

Questions of whether the current town ordinances would allow for enforcing someone to remove junk from a person’s yard, was a debated subject during a Medaryville meeting on March 18.

Councilwoman Corrie Hauptli said as the town has begun enforcing the garbage cart ordinance, some are questioning why the town is allowing properties to be cluttered with trash and junk.

“It’s always been an issue of who defines trash and what you define as trash,” Hauptli said. “What avenue can we take to get these people to move the furniture in their yards?”

She used the example of household furniture and mattresses being stored on residents’ front porches or someone who has a couch in their front yard.

Councilman Derrick Stalbaum voiced his concerns about how any new ordinances and definitions will be written.

“I don’t know how far I want to go with micromanaging and being overly descriptive,” Stalbaum said. “I’m all about defining what junk and garbage is. I don’t want to be overbearing with it either. That’s my biggest concern.”

He said there is a difference between items that are usable and items that are trash.

Hauptli said she would like to see what other towns or cities are saying about junk or trash.

“If you are going to cite people for not pulling their garbage cans back then you are going to have to cite them because they discard their furniture out in their yards. These are the complaints that we are getting and it is not a matter of micromanaging. It is a matter of the quality of your town. It is a matter of your property values,” Hauptli said.

County attorney Amber Lapaich said she would review the current ordinances and see what can be done to address the issues.

In other business:

Minutes from the Feb. 18 meeting were approved.

Claims from the general fund in the amount of $44,127.32, water fund in the amount of $11,787.50 and in the wastewater fund in the amount of $6,084.73 were approved.

A utility report with two adjustments that total $491.20 was approved.

A request to purchase new locks for the Medaryville baseball building at a cost not to exceed $600 was approved. It was suggested that more than five keys be purchased for those who may need access to the buildings.

Council members questioned whose responsibility it is to make sure that a wastewater flow meter is calibrated annually, after they reviewed a letter regarding a violation. Councilwoman Corrie Hauptli questioned if the company that the town contracts is responsible or if the town is. “I think this is something that we definitely need to stay on top of.” Corrie suggested maintenance supervisor Keith Hauptli follow up on it and let the council know at the next regular meeting.

A letter regarding the modification to extend the wastewater project bid deadline date was accepted by the council. The date was extended until March 26 when the bids will be opened.

Ordinance 2015-03-01 concerning the construction of additions and improvements to the sewage works and the issuance of revenue bonds was approved.

Some changes were made to the license for the use of the baseball diamond property including a spelling correction; changing the name of the baseball program to Medaryville Baseball Program; changing the insurance to read “additional insured;” the time period the baseball program will use the field; and that the town is not responsible if concessions are lost due to vandalism, fire or other reasons, were approved.

(Pulaski County Journal — March 25, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Weather not the cause of countywide travel advisory

A travel advisory has been announced for Pulaski County but it’s not due to current weather conditions.

On March 19, the advisory was posted to warn residents that the conditions of the roadways, both gravel and pavement, were hazardous due to potholes.

Pulaski County Commissioner Larry Brady said, “Due to the depth of the frost line this past winter, the conditions of our roads throughout the county have deteriorated with the spring thaw. Caution should be used when traveling throughout Pulaski County.”

He said there is “no rhyme or reason” for the damage that is on roads throughout the county and not in isolated areas.

Drainage issues in certain areas are being considered a factor in the deteriorating conditions. Because of the current conditions, CR 1250 W., north of SR 14 is closed.

Brady said highway department employees are doing their best to fill in the holes and smooth the gravel, weather permitting.

“Crews are doing what they can with the amount of money that they get from the state,” Brady said.

The money the county is bringing in may only be enough to make repairs to the roads, not reconstruct them because of high costs. Roughly 11 miles are showing signs of deterioration.

If a driver doesn’t think a pothole problem has been reported they can contact the highway department at 574-946-3942.

(Pulaski County Journal — March 25, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Council approved new officer, new firefighters

Winamac Town Council members took care of a few human resource issues during a regular meeting on March 9.

During the meeting, the council approved hiring of a new police officer and three new firefighters, plus discussed hiring summer help.

Police chief Mike Buchanan said those officers who were a part of the interview process unanimously decided to make Matt Pickens their recommendation to hire.

Pickens is currently a Pulaski County Sheriff’s Deputy and recently completed 40 hours of basic training. Before he was a deputy for the sheriff’s department he was a jailer.

Buchanan said Pickens has not attended the police academy but will begin in July.

“We feel that in that amount of time, Matt will be able to pick up on everything — the way we work, the paperwork. He will be fully trained so when he goes to the academy, he can go right on the road,” Buchanan said.

Pickens lives in Royal Center and moving to the area is not out of the question, according to him.

Fire chief Bill Weaver said the department interviewed four individuals for fireman positions. Three of those individuals, Cory Wank, Pam Ricks and Lee Neva were approved by the membership. Wank and Ricks are trained firefighters and first responders. Weaver said Neva will need training.

“This will put us up to 19 and our full roster is 23,” Weaver said.

The three firefighters were approved.

Council members also approved the fire protection contract with the Winamac Volunteer Fire Department. A contract for fire protection services from Franklin Township was also received.

Along with the new officer and firefighters, it was announced that park manager Rick Dilts is looking to retire in January of 2016. Town manager Brad Zellers questioned if the council would approve hiring a part-time person with the hopes of he or she becoming full-time when Dilts retires.

“I would hate to get into next summer and we hire somebody for that position and it just doesn’t work out,” Zellers said. “It would be nice if Rick could train somebody and get them going.”

Zellers said he thinks the funds are available to hire someone.

A suggestion was made that Zellers review the current applications he has and see if someone might be interested. There is also a position open at the wastewater department.

In other business:

Minutes from the Feb. 9 meeting were approved.

Claims were approved.

Three bids for a new bucket truck were presented to the council. Heater suggested that Zellers and electric department superintendent Doug Shorter review the bids and use the lowest bid to purchase the truck if it meets all the specifications.

A contract with Dan Vanaman for the mowing of the cemetery and Decker Drive was approved with Dan Vanaman abstaining from the vote.

Town council president Ken McFarland volunteered to be the fifth member of the wellhead project.

A section of ground in the park will be fenced in for a dog park after the council approved for funding a portion of it. The area is 150 feet by 100 feet. Fencing for the area will be about $5,510. The council approved $4,060 to pay for the fence, while the 4-H dog program will pay for the labor. Councilman Richard Denney made a pledge of $260 toward the project.

A request by Angie Anspach to use the town parking lot for Germanfest on Aug. 8 was approved.

Water and street superintendent Jeremy Beckner asked permission to attend the Indiana Rural Water Association meeting with Brett Beach. Council approved the request.

(Pulaski County Journal — March 18, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Monterey sets special meeting to discuss flooding, wastewater disposal

A special meeting has been set by the Monterey Town Council after two matters were voiced during a regular meeting on March 11.

Town councilwoman Chris Fox and council president Jim Fleury decided to schedule the meeting for March 25 at 7 p.m. after an issue of flooding was brought to their attention and there was a legal question regarding the disposal of portable toilet waste.

During the meeting on March 11, a few town residents voiced their concerns about flooding on Maple Street. Andy Zehner said the storm sewer drain appears to be clogged and the flooding is in his garage. Another resident, Josh Stacy, who lives in the same area, has a bit of moisture in his basement.

Zehner, who is part of Zehner Excavating that is contracted with the town, said the storm sewer drain would need to be opened and jetted with water. He suggested a camera be sent through the drain to see if there are roots.

“With spring coming we are probably going to be getting a lot of rain anyway and with the severity of what you find, we will need to decide how we are going to fix it,” Fleury said.

Along with the flooding issues, council members discussed how many portable toilets they want to rent for the parks; whether those units should be handicap accessible; and if the town would be responsible for the treatment of the waste from the units.

The town has received two quotes regarding the portable toilets. One quote is local but the company is waiting for their Indiana Department of Environmental Management permit.

As discussion ensued, there was a question if the town should rent handicap portable toilets that are a little more expensive.

Fleury said his concern is if the town is responsible for the toilet waste and how it is processed. The question will be forwarded to the town’s legal counsel.

The discussion was tabled until the special meeting.

Emily Bailey was absent from the meeting.

In other business:

Fox and Fleury tabled the discussion of restoring the gazebo at Kleckner Park. The town would like to receive three quotes in regards to the project. Doug Denton said the project may be considered a public works project requiring several permits to be obtained or a commercial project. It was suggested that the council contact the Pulaski County Building Inspector to find out. Clerk-treasure Linda McCune suggested the council establish a plan so everyone is on the same page before receiving quotes.

Minutes from the Feb. 11 meeting were approved.

Two quotes were reviewed for the maintenance of the heating and air conditioning systems. Fox and Fleury reviewed the quotes and after some discussion decided to table the issue due to wanting more information. They want to ensure that both quotes include servicing three heating systems and Fleury wants to know more about the companies’ weekend and after-hour rates.

Fleury voiced a few questions regarding trees that are near streetlights and causing traffic issues on the roads. He questioned if the town is responsible for trimming trees that are obstructing streetlights or if the property owner is. He also asked who is responsible when limbs are hanging in the roadway causing the road to be one lane. The questions will be forwarded to the town legal counsel.

Zehner requested for his company to have an extra key to the buildings, in case he is not in the area to work on the sewer system. A motion was approved to allow Zehner to have another key.

Fleury said people are parking in the handicap parking uptown but they do not appear to have a handicap tag in the vehicle or a handicap license plate. He said when there is snow on the roads then the blue handicap paint is covered. He would like to see signs and know how much it costs.

McCune presented a Cummins Crosspoint contract to the council. McCune said the annual contract is for the inspection of the generator that served the sewer treatment plant and the town hall. The contract was approved.

An annual contract of $1,400 with Keystone for the billing software was approved. McCune said the cost has increased about 3 percent.

(Pulaski County Journal — March 18, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Town offers user-friendly website, online bill paying

With the launching of a new website, the Town of Winamac is also offering residents another option to pay their utility bills.

Although the site has the same address, www.townofwinamac.com, it has a new look that went live on March 2.

“It needed an update,” said clerk-treasurer Melanie Berger. “It was discussed last fall by the council and they decided to move ahead with it.”

The idea of the site was to update and add information, while also making it more user-friendly.

Town manager Brad Zellers said the website “is really nice. It’s a lot simpler to navigate. I think more people will use it.”

Although the site is live, there may be a few additions or changes that the public may see. Berger said there may be a few other community organization links added.

One of the current links is to the Eastern Pulaski Community School Corporation.

Along with the new site look, Berger said utility customers can now pay their bills online. “There were a lot of people asking for it.”

When looking at the home page there is a “pay your bill online” link on the right side. The link opens to Invoice Cloud. Customers can then enter their billing information and pay their bill. Berger said customers will also be able to view their utility bills and their history.

Offering the online paying is costing the town about $50 per month. Users are charged $4.95 per transaction. Berger said the monthly cost will be paid for from the utility funds, but paying the additional cost per transaction is not feasible for the town.

Zellers said there are still a few bugs to work out in regards to using the online paying. He used the example of making sure the name on the billing is what is used when paying online.

Berger also advised users that no spaces are used when entering the account number.

Because of the newness of paying online, Zellers said the town will see how successful it is and decide if it is worth offering.

Customers still have an option of automatic utility bill payments from their bank account.

For more information contact the town hall at 574-946-3451.

(Pulaski County Journal — March 11, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Hospital celebrates National Patient Safety Awareness Week

Pulaski Memorial Hospital is celebrating National Patient Safety Awareness Week, March 8-14, by spotlighting ongoing efforts that keep patients safe.

Those at Pulaski Memorial Hospital exemplify this year’s theme “United in Safety” as everyone from the hospital board of trustees to the housekeeping staff takes a role in patient care.

Chief nursing executive Linda Webb said the hospital is doing a number of different activities with the staff “to showcase the processes that we have in place to improve patient safety.”

PMH has been recognized at the state and national levels for reducing patient harm and improving quality and safety outcomes for its patients.

“PMH recognizes staff members as patient safety advocates — this showcases how individual dedication to patient safety throughout the organization contributes to overall quality and safety,” Webb said. “All levels of staff are recognized for their efforts from physicians to nurses to housekeepers. Everyone plays an important role in patient safety.”

PMH is part of the American Hospital Association’s Hospital Engagement Network that was created in 2011 with three-year goals of reducing patient harm by 40 percent and readmissions by 20 percent.

With new processes, technology, standardization and continual monitoring, PMH has realized an 84-percent reduction in patient harm since 2011.

“Even though it was a formal program in 2011, these are processes that we have always looked at. Being involved with the Coalition for Care has really given us more opportunity to look at best practices and implement processes,” Webb said.

There are 10 categories of harm reduction: adverse drug events, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, central line-associated blood stream infections, patient falls, obstetrical events including early-elective deliveries, pressure ulcers, preventable readmissions; surgical-site infections, ventilator-associated pneumonia and venous thromboembolism.

The hospital staff reviews how the hospital compares statewide and nationally. PMH has an active performance improvement committee that meets monthly and reports progress and process changes to improve quality and patient safety.

“There are areas that we are well above the state or national initiatives and there are some that, because our volumes are so low, if you have one or two things, we kind of fall out. That is the importance of doing it right the first time,” Webb said. “Looking comparatively we are doing very well and just the different things that we have implemented to help our patients and our staff.”

Along with implementing certain processes the hospital uses technology to safeguard against patient harm. Examples include bedside barcoding of medication, safety alerts built into an electronic medication administration record, computerized physician order entry, IV smart pumps that are programmed with standardized IV medications, medication reconciliation process and automated medication dispensing cabinets.

As hospital staff focus on patient safety, they are implementing bedside shift reporting to keep the patients well informed of their plan of care. The pharmacists also make rounds on patients to provide education on new medication.

“Patient and family engagement in reducing errors is critical,” Webb said. “All patients should speak up if they have a question about a medication or treatment.”

When the hospital staff is discharging patients, they are given all the information they need to take care of themselves. Nurses provide follow-up calls after a patient goes home to clarify any questions about their care or provide any assistance needed.

(Pulaski County Journal — March 11, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Commissioners eye new downtown business with revolving loan funding

Downtown Winamac could soon be seeing a new restaurant in town as the Pulaski County Commissioners approved to loan money for the project on Monday.

During a regular meeting, Pulaski County Community Development Commission Executive Director Nathan P. Origer presented a revolving fund loan to the commissioners. Origer said Sheila Hazemi has successfully made it through the first step of the application process.

Hazemi said she is interested in establishing a fine dining restaurant on West Main Street. She has worked in her family business for about 15 years. She would like to open the business sometime in May.

“I sat in the initial meeting with the finance board and I think that I related to Larry (Brady) that she has a heart in it and I think that we need some businesses here in town. I would 100 percent grant this,” Young said.

County attorney Kevin Tankersley pointed out that there will be very little collateral in this loan. Hazemi said the money will be used to purchase stoves, ovens, freezers and a craft table.

Tankersley said if the money is used in “fixtures” then those items become part of the real estate. Hazemi is renting the space, so in turn any improvements made to the building would belong to the landlord.

“Collateral was the biggest concern, I think, of the discussion. All the members of the committee were cognizant of that,” Origer said. “The restaurant business is always a bit of a higher risk than most other start ups.”

Before the application was presented to the commissioners it was presented to the revolving loan fund board that is made up of two bankers, one CDC member and two elected officials.

Origer said the committee took into consideration that the landlord is reasonable with his rent, compared to some of the other asking prices he has seen in Winamac.

“He is really interested in getting a tenant and has been a lot more flexible,” Origer said.

The vote to approve Hazemi’s application was split, according to Origer. He said the CDC member pushed the application forward.

“Even those who voted ‘no’ were not opposed to it, they just had understandable concerns about the risks given that the collateral will be in personal property and not real property,” Origer said.

Hazemi requested about $20,000, which would include upgrades to the interior of the building and appliances. Origer said he is confident in presenting it to the commissioners. The loan is for five years at a 3-percent interest rate.

Paperwork will need to be completed as the next step of the revolving loan funding.

In other business:

Emergency Management Agency Director Larry Hoover requested the commissioners’ approval to accept an annual grant that covers about 50 percent of Hoover’s salary. The funding is based on job performance. The request was approved.

Conference requests made by Hoover were also approved.

A board of finance meeting was held with the commissioners and county treasurer Lynn Wilder. During the meeting, members of the board approved the minutes from the Feb. 17 meeting and also discussed an investment policy. Wilder presented the policy to the board during a previous meeting and said that having a policy is strongly recommended by the state. Tankersley reviewed the policy and questioned if the risk of investing would create better returns. Wilder said at this time the county investments are certificates of deposit. Board members approved the investment policy. Wilder also presented the board with a review of two cash management system bids that were accepted by the board during the Feb. 17 meeting. Wilder suggested that the board approve the bid from First National Bank as the cash management system because of a higher return. Her suggestion was approved.

Willie DeGroot of DeGroot Technology presented a proposed plan to the commissioners in regards to upgrading the Internet bandwidth. He said the Indiana Office of Technology is requiring a larger connection. Commissioners approved for DeGroot to move forward with a network switch and do a fiber-optic upgrade. DeGroot hopes that after the initial cost that the county will save money on monthly costs.

Commissioners approved an official bond for Mark W. Boer of the Pulaski Memorial Hospital.

A lease agreement with the copier company the county contracts with was approved. Several departments recently received upgrades of copiers in hopes of saving the county money.

The Pulaski County Medical Service Billing Policy was approved.

Conference requests from the auditor’s office, commissioner Larry Brady, and the sheriff’s office were approved.

Commissioners approved to resign a rezoning request that was submitted to them last month. The property in question is north of Winamac.

Commissioners approved the block hours for DeGroot Technology.

Auditor Shelia Garling submitted a claim to the commissioners that she had concerns about. She said according to the policy handbook, the county will not pay for tips and will not pay more than the daily food allowance. The claim was presented last year but they denied it. It was then presented to Garling again. She brought it to the attention of the commissioners, who approved to pay the amount of the food allowance. That does not include any extra cost or the tip.

Payroll and claims were approved.

Minutes from the regular meeting on Feb. 2 and Feb. 17 and minutes from the executives sessions on Feb. 9 and Feb. 18 were approved.

During the public comment of the meeting Larry Rausch said he appreciated that the commissioners approved to pay the county home employees two-week severance pay. “I have a concern for them — what the closing has done for them out there.” He is aware that the council must approve the request. He would like to see them change the severance pay to four weeks. Tankersley said the county may not be able to pay the severance because the county doesn’t pay for work that isn’t done. The issues will need to be addressed by the state board of accounts.

(Pulaski County Journal — March 4, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

West Central work session reviews the strategic plan

The West Central School Board was recently enlightened as to where the school is headed in the future and how the corporation is moving forward to meet the state educational expectations.

During a work session on Feb. 19, the board heard from school principals, Dan Zylstra and Pat Culp, the technology director Kris Aschbrenner and superintendent Don Street.

The strategic plan that was developed in 2011, addresses issues such as technology, academics, buildings and grounds, the corporation vision or mission, educational goals, financial goals and policy goals.

Street said the plan is “revised based on the needs of the district. Then in a year or two we will revise it again.”

One of the main topics regarding technology was the 1:1 program that students, staff and parents are learning the benefits of. Students are using Chromebooks or iPads as educational tools.

Street said the 1:1 program is one of the items in the strategic plan that has been accomplished by the district.

In regards to academics, school principals are looking at inclusion practices in regards to special needs students and middle school students.

Inclusion practices for middle school students include changing the student schedules to eight periods in a day. Students will continue to receive 80 minutes of math and language arts. It allows for students to receive 40 minutes of instruction and then return for 40 minutes of additional assistance.

“The labs will allow kids to get some remediation if they need it or if they are high-ability they can have some advanced work,” Street said. “It shouldn’t take away. It should get the same amount of instruction.”

Board members also reviewed the Capital Projects Plans for the next three years. Street said the aging of the buildings is being taken into consideration and updates will soon need to be done.

Some of the areas that need a serious look include the sewer drains, electric panels, lighting, windows, doors, security system, restrooms, storage, locker rooms, sidewalks and fitness facilities.

“We need to take a closer look at updating because eventually these things are just going to wear out,” Street said. “We probably got our money’s worth out of quite a few of them.”

Of the items that were mentioned, some are in the Capital Projects Plan, while some are not, according to Street.

A few of the projects such as the electric panels that are original and sewer drains will need to be reviewed by professionals because of the extensive updating.

“Maybe a few things can be done in the next couple of years but we are looking down the road maybe five years,” Street said.

The strategic plan will now be revised and presented to the board for approval.’

(Pulaski County Journal — March 4, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Medaryville council talks problems with trash

Medaryville Town council members voiced their concerns about trash and trash carts in the town limits.

Town councilwoman Corrie Hauptli said there have been several complaints about the accumulating trash in residents’ yards.

“Since we are getting the garbage cart ordinance rolling, citations are being written, that has been the biggest complaint that I hear. So I thought before the spring season, before everything hits and people are outside we can attempt to have people clean up their yards,” Hauptli said.

She questioned if the current garbage ordinances address issues with cleaning up yards. She was going to ask town attorney Amber Lapaich regarding the situation but Lapaich was not present at the meeting.

Councilwoman Carolyn Hager said she was curious about what is considered trash and what is considered what other people use.

“That is why I wanted to talk to Amber about how we can make definitive descriptions as to what is acceptable and what is not acceptable,” Hauptli said.

She cited the ordinance regarding trash being on the properties in the town limits and how it is unlawful to store, dump or accumulate any kind of garbage.

Councilman Derrick Stalbaum said before it was that the council didn’t want to define what trash is, but now the council may want to move forward after some discussion.

Several ideas were discussed about cleaning up the town and how it can be done without an extra expense to anyone including a townwide clean-up day.

The council will wait to talk with Lapaich.

In the meantime, council members remind residents that if they are concerned with garbage in someone’s yard then they need to let town officials know which residence or yard needs to be cleaned up.

There was also a question of if a resident can cancel their garbage collection service with the town. According to Stalbaum, who cited the town ordinances, “if you accumulate garbage whatsoever you have to have a garbage cart provided by the town. There is no way of going through a third-party vendor except the one the town is going through.”

Maintenance supervisor Keith Hauptli said one resident is not using the trash carts. Stalbaum said in that situation the town can write a letter to the resident and after 10 days can remove the trash. A fine can then be applied.

“If there is no question whether it is junk or garbage, I have no qualms about us serving them. That’s my opinion,” Stalbaum said. “If there is trash, it’s a safety concern. It is a health violation for the town.”

Stalbaum advised Keith to start noting addresses and letters will be sent out.

In other business:

Minutes from the Jan. 21 meeting were approved.

Claims of $40,446.20 in the general fund, $12,942.27 in the water fund and of $45,417.03 in the wastewater fund were approved. Clerk treasurer Judy Harwood said the wastewater claim amount is substantially higher than usual because a payment of $40,064.44 was made to pay off a bond.

Utility adjustments in the sum of $48.54 were approved.

A request to purchase emergency lights for the new town truck was approved with the stipulation that not more than $750 can be spent.

A request to rebuild two meter heads and assemblies for $1,817.50 plus shipping and handling costs was approved pending there would not be additional costs regarding the labor of the installing the equipment.

The council gave Keith Hauptli permission to look into the expense of new water pumps and adding phosphate to the system to reduce the damage that iron and chlorine are causing on the system. Stalbaum told him to move forward with it and receive some quotes to present to the council.

Stalbaum said the town is requesting permission to extend the letting of the bids regarding the wastewater treatment plant project by 30 days because there is a change to the one of the items necessary to the project. New bid specs must be sent out, according to Stalbaum. Stalbaum said the council is waiting for the approval of the 30-day extension to receive an efficient bid.

Medaryville Little League representatives, Sue Nielson and Rob Connor, approached the council to cover concerns that council members were having in regards to the program and the town now owning the baseball field. Some of the concerns were the electric costs and how they’re paid, who will take care of the buildings and maintenance of the property, and who pays for the insurance for the building. Stalbaum said he would like to see a certificate of liability insurance and insurance that covers the players before the season starts. No decisions were made and a lease agreement is being created based on the discussion and will not be completed by the time the baseball season begins.

The third reading of Ordinance 2015-02-01 creating a nonreverting fund titled “Ordinance Violation Fund” was approved.

Council members agreed that if they are contacted again by Energy Efficiency Telamon Corporation in regards to future solar energy being produced on town property, they will proceed with the process of an application.

(Pulaski County Journal — Feb. 25, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Stinemetz named 2015 Halleck Community Service Award winner

A number of words could be used to describe this year’s 2015 Halleck Community Service Award recipient but the one most people may use to describe her is — selfless.

According to those who nominated Judy Stinemetz for the award, they consider her as being a person concerned more with the needs and wishes of others than her own as she volunteers numerous hours to different organizations and causes in the community.

Because of her selfless actions, Stinemetz was named as the 2015 Halleck Community Service Award recipient.

The annual award that is given to a Pulaski County resident who has demonstrated outstanding community service, was established in 1979. The inaugural award was presented to Winamac physician and surgeon and community leader H.J. Halleck. Halleck not only served the community as a physician for many years but was also a political and civic leader.

To receive the award, a person must be nominated by a community member or a member of the Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce. Committee members of the chamber then name the winner.

Stinemetz was nominated by Connie Reid, of Star City.

“Judy does so much for everybody and doesn’t want any recognition or doesn’t want anybody to give her anything. She just does it,” Reid said.

Reid has known Stinemetz for what she considers a long time. The two have worked at the food pantry together and as the Women of the Moose.

The idea of nominating Stinemetz came to her after she read in the Journal that nominations were being accepted by the chamber.

“She doesn’t think about herself. She thinks about everyone else. She is always there when something needs to be done,” said Reid. “She’s just a good person.”

Reid describes Stinemetz as giving, a go-getter, trustworthy, organized, determined, caring, generous and selfless.

Stinemetz, of Winamac, retired from Pulaski Memorial Hospital after 37 years as the food service manager. She continues to support the hospital as a member of the hospital auxiliary of which she has been able to volunteer time for the past four years.

While she worked for the hospital she felt she was serving others. Stinemetz retired about six years ago.

“I have to stay busy and there is always something to volunteer for,” she said. “I like to help other people.”

Her passion for helping others was influenced by her parents who helped her when she was raising her children. She in-turn helped her children in their times of need. Helping people “is what I have done for 40-plus years, with my profession and that. Helping people is keeping involved and doing for others.”

Stinemetz is currently the Pulaski County Human Services Food Pantry Coordinator and has been volunteering for the program for about two years.

According to the nomination submitted by Reid, Stinemetz organized Women of the Moose in Winamac, is a member of the cystic fibrous organization in Pulaski County, and helps with voter registration absentee voting and the poles on election days.

She was a past president of the Winamac Alumni, past president of “Women of Pulaski County” and has volunteered with Head Start for many years.

“Judy will always help her community for a cause she believes in by financial or moral support to get the job done in a great way,” Reid said in the nomination.

Stinemetz also volunteers her time for the Pack-A-Backpack fundraising and serving funeral dinners. She will also be helping the YMCA with a fundraiser.

Judy and George Stinemetz are the parents of six children and numerous grandchildren.

A banquet to recognize Stinemetz, along with 2014 Business of the Year Riverside Rentals, will be held on March 31.

(Pulaski County Journal — Feb. 25, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Grant funding allows manufacturing coalition to reach more students

Pulaski County was recently awarded in the second round of Innovative Career and Technical Training grants that are designed to target new learning opportunities at the regional level, with collaborations between local businesses and education partners.

The Innovative Curriculum grant supports key sectors of Indiana’s state and regional economics including agriculture, advanced manufacturing, energy, automotive, construction, precision machining, robotics and welding.

With the grant funding, more than 2,500 students will be served and the vast majority of students will receive dual credit to post-secondary study or industry recognized credentials.

The Pulaski County Community Foundation that is the fiscal agent of the grant will receive $82,354. That funding, along with a $28,195 local match, will be used by the recently formed Pulaski County Manufacturing Coalition which will lead proposed innovative curriculum, called RAM-Tech, through integration and alignment to business needs, state-approved standards, and Amatrol curriculum.

The idea of applying for the grant was introduced to Pulaski County Community Development Commission Executive Director Nathan Origer by one of the career cooperatives. The grant criteria follows the lead of the Pulaski County Manufacturing Coalition that is an informal group of local human resources and operations employees from local companies. Origer said the group meets once a month or every other month to discuss issues and offer incumbent workforce training on soft skills with Ivy Tech.

“We have known that soft skills are not the only thing that need to be addressed, but hands-on stuff is really hard for us to do with the group because we don’t have one centralized sharable location,” Origer said. “Maintenance and repair is something that everyone knows is a big issue. We started looking at the approved courses that the state has and saw it was there. We decided this is something that we wanted to pursue.”

According to the grant application, the RAM-Tech pipeline program “will introduce industrial repair and maintenance curriculum.” It will offer students a Workforce Investment Act and INtraining-approved certified production technician training program.

The matching funding for the project will come from CDC, PACE, private cash donations and in-kind donations. Origer said quite a number of local employees are making a contribution.

The cash donations will help fund the training modules and computers and the in-kind donations will come in several forms such as developing the curriculum, working with maintenance employees to ensure the curriculum ties in with local maintenance, and ensuring that the program offers dual degree opportunity and/or professional certification.

Origer said students will need to finish a few college courses before they will be able to attend the maintenance and repair classes.

“The final class will be where at least part of it will be an internship or other on-the-job opportunity,” he said. “That is another aspect of the in-kind matches that most of the employers have agreed at least tentatively that they will take on students in their final year of this. Their maintenance people will be shadowed.”

The curriculum that is proposed to start in the fall of 2015, will be offered at West Central but the hope is to make it available to students at both schools.

(Pulaski County Journal — Feb. 18, 2015)

Monterey holds public hearing regarding wastewater project

It was déjà vu for Monterey Town Council members at a regular meeting on Feb. 11.

Before the official meeting started, a public hearing was held in regards to the town applying for a grant that would fund improvements to the wastewater treatment system. The council is applying for a grant in the sum of $162,500 with a $40,000 match.

“The reason for the upgrade is that a lot of the equipment is getting old and some of the improvements that we want to make are just improvements,” said town council president Jim Fleury. “Some of the things are getting to the point that they are going to be major expenses if they fail on us.”

The wastewater system treats 31,000 gallons per day and includes an extended aeration treatment facility. The sanitary sewer collection system is a 100-percent separate vacuum system with no bypass or overflow points.

In the past the wastewater system has had several violations. Several improvements have been made but more are needed to ensure the system is within the Indiana Department of Environmental Management standards.

This is the second time the town applied for this grant. The first time the town financed an engineering study to determine what needs to be upgraded or improved.

The town is continuing to obtain enough data to finish an income survey that will be used in the grant application.

“We need about another 15 or so,” said clerk-treasurer Linda McCune.

Emily Albaugh, community development planner for the Kankakee-Iroquois Regional Planning Commission (K-IRPC), will be the grant writer for the project.

Albaugh had the council sign various paperwork for the grant including that a public hearing was done and no complaints were made.

There were a few questions made in regards to the grant such as if the town pays for the service of the grant writing. Albaugh said the town doesn’t pay unless the town is awarded the grant.

McCune asked if the town needs to do anything additional in regards to the grant process.

Albaugh said the grant may not have been awarded because of the technical wording in the application.

“These projects are very hard to explain in layman’s terms. When it is, you are dealing with very specific trade lingo, so we are trying to find ways to make it more understandable to the average Joe Reader but still be able to explain that it is a wastewater project,” Albaugh said.

Albaugh said K-IRPC is working on the wording.

In other business:

Pulaski County Sheriff Jeff Richwine met with the council and said it appears that the county commissioners will allow the sheriff’s department to help enforce the proposed golf cart ordinance but it is being reviewed by the county attorney Kevin Tankersley. The council is reviewing the different options regarding how they will enforce the proposed golf cart ordinance. One option was working with the sheriff’s office. Richwine believes there is a way to do it but they are working out the details. “We are not making a decision on the ordinance, one way or the other, until we get some feedback,” Fleury said. The town has proposed the golf cart ordinance to allow golf carts on the roadways. Currently it is against the law for golf carts and utility vehicles to be driven on roadways.

Doug Denton requested for the town parking lot and the streets to be closed for the Monterey Days festival.

Fleury talked with the council about making upgrades to the gazebo at the park. If work is completed on the structure, certain restrictions might exist because it is a historic site. Council members agreed that the idea can be further researched. Purchasing a plaque for the site was tabled.

Minutes from the Jan. 14 meeting were approved.

(Pulaski County Journal — Feb. 18, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

More data needed for town income survey

Winamac employees will soon be pounding the pavement, visiting a number of homes as they need more data to complete an income survey.

Winamac Town Officials said town employees will be going door-to-door in order to complete 240 surveys.

The town recently sent out 369 income surveys by mail but only received 129 back. The survey is used to determine if the town can qualify for grant funding that will be used for a well study, in the hopes of locating an area where a new wellhead can be drilled.

Town manager Brad Zellers reminds residents that receiving grant funding can help save residents money. He said without the survey it cannot be determined if the town qualifies for grant funding.

“The more people that do that — it shows certain incomes — the more you qualify for when a project does come by,” Zellers said.

The survey asks basic financial questions and the information obtained will not be used for any other reason than the survey.

Clerk-treasurer Melanie Berger said the town has a list of people that need to be contacted and the town has until mid-April to get it done.

If the town does not qualify for grant funding, town officials will have to find other sources of income for the project or wait another year to reapply for the Office of Community and Rural Affairs grant.

When town employees go door-to-door they may be seen in a Winamac Town vehicle or will have their town issued identifications.

In other business:

Minutes from the Jan. 12 regular meeting were approved.

Vouchers #5740-5941 were approved but questions were asked regarding a handful of purchases. Most of the questions involved the purchasing of equipment. Councilwoman Judy Heater questioned what the amount is that a superintendent or town manager can spend to purchase various items without having it approved by the council before the purchase is made. Councilman Richard Denney said, “I would like to know if they spend more than what’s allowed for them to spend. That’s all I care about. That is why they are in these positions to make these decisions and if we allow them to spend $5,000 without asking then they can do that. If they overstep their bounds then we have work to do.” No solid answer was given. As discussion continued regarding the vouchers, Denney said he is not in favor of the town making a donation of $2,000 to Pulaski County Human Services because that is taxpayers’ money. “Human service is a county organization as far as I’m concerned and it should be supported by the county and not the Town of Winamac.” Heater said the organization does numerous things for residents in the town and county. “Right here in Winamac, there are an awful lot of people who need transport. They need the meals. They need the energy assistance. They do invaluable work for our elderly citizens.” Denney opposed the motion.

Tim Murray was appointed as the town representative to the Alcohol Beverage Control Board. Councilman Tom Murray abstained.

A list of uncashed and undeliverable checks was presented to the council. Berger asked permission to place the money back into the proper account. The request was approved.

Berger asked if she could write off some accounts with the stipulation that if they want back on the utilities then they will have to pay the delinquent accounts. Her request was approved.

Council members approved for American Legal to update the town codes for one year.

Council members decided to auction a number of items including a few vehicles. One of the items that was suggested to be auctioned was the town garbage truck. Denney said there is no need for the truck. Council president Ken McFarland said he doesn’t think the town needs it either. The vote to keep the garbage truck was approved 3-2.

A request by Zellers to be a member of the Indiana Municipal Electric Association for $8,500 per year with the stipulation that the town pay for the safety meetings as they happen and at the same price as was quoted. Denney opposed the motion.

Council members approved a three-year contract with a 3-percent raise each year with councilman Dan Vanaman to mow the cemetery and Decker Drive. Heater opposed the vote because she feels it should be let to bid. Vanaman abstained from the vote.

(Pulaski County Journal — Feb. 11, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Francesville Town Council talks sewer permit, pumps

As the April 1 deadline for having a new sewer disinfection system operating approaches, the Francesville Town Council continues to move forward with purchases of equipment and changes to a permit.

During a regular meeting on Feb. 2, Jon Borgers, a representative from the company that designed the disinfection system, gave a report on changes that will need to be done to the disinfection system plan before a permit for the project can be issued.

A letter was given to the council regarding a few changes that include adding a ventilation system to the chemical room and showing how the drums can be stored on secondary containment pallets. If all the changes are approved it could take about two more weeks before the permit is obtained by the town.

“One thing that IDEM [Indiana Department of Environmental Management] talked about are these drum pallets,” Borgers said. “Those drums will need to sit on something and hold that chemical in the event that the drum was punctured or had a leak in it.”

The drums with different chemicals will need to be on separate pallets.

Borgers also gave the council quotes on new pumps for the system. Council members, along with water and wastewater superintendent Greg Stone, reviewed the quotes that ranged in price from $2,550 to $2,600. Borgers suggested purchasing three or four pumps.

“You need two and then you need a backup. A lot of times you will see four,” Borgers said. “The lifespan of these pumps is not great. You can get a year or two out of them and that’s about all you can expect.”

Borgers doesn’t think more than a gallon or two per day will be pumped.

Council president Andy Durham asked if Borgers knew anything about the quality of the pumps. Borgers said they work with both pumps in their designs and he doesn’t recall having an issue with any of them.

Council members approved purchasing three pumps that cost $2,600 each. It could take about three to four weeks before the pumps would be available.

The plan is to have the system ready by mid-March so any problems can be worked out.

Councilman Kyle Trent was not present at the meeting.

In other business:

Minutes from the Jan. 19 meeting were approved.

Clerk-treasurer Linda Bennett said former Pulaski County Sheriff Mike Gayer has been patrolling the town and making a presence at the school. Durham later questioned if Antrim thought they should take applications for a marshal. No decisions were made.

Claims were approved.

Durham said the security camera that will monitor the recycling center has been ordered. Approval to purchase the camera for about $500 was approved during the Jan. 19 meeting.

Darlene Mellon was appointed as the Francesville representative to the Kankakee-Iroquois Regional Planning Commission.

Mellon was also appointed to the Pulaski County Community Development Commission.

(Pulaski County Journal — Feb. 11, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Commissioners talk weather, saving money

Several inches of snow caused a bit of discussion at a regular Pulaski County Commissioners’ meeting on Monday.

During the meeting, commissioners talked about plowing snow, creating a snow delay for some employees and what to do when highway signs are hit.

As the meeting started, highway superintendent Mark Fox was asked how the plowing went during the recent snowstorm. Fox said there were a few minor issues with the equipment but nothing that couldn’t be handled.

Later in the meeting, commissioner Terry Young gave the public a reminder.

“We had an issue the other day, towards the end of the week. With this weather, if the public sees a sign down or someone hits a sign they need to report it to the county highway or commissioners for safety reasons,” Young said. “It was a really bad intersection and at night it would be a really bad deal.”

Young said Fox and the highway department quickly took care of the problem after they were notified.

In regards to a county snow delay, commissioner Larry Brady said county officials are talking about the options of a delay.

“If in inclement weather, do we shut down the county, the county offices? We are kicking around the idea of doing a two-hour delay,” Brady said.

According to Brady, employee safety would be the reason for the delay. He suggested that the delayed two hours could be used as comp time or employees could work during their lunch hour to make up time.

“Granted you have some employees who are here in the Winamac area and they may not be affected and they could still come in at the regular hour. But we have individuals living on the other side of the county and getting them on the road in the daylight is just a thought,” Brady said.

He would like to see suggestions made and possibly approved sometime soon.

In other business:

Two bids for a new highway department truck were opened. Fox will review the bids and make a recommendation at the next commissioners’ meeting. A bid for an upfit on the truck was also opened.

Kris Smith, from Copiers Plus, discussed a few different ways the county could save money on copies. Brady said the county has experienced several overages and officials are trying to find ways to fix the problem. Initially, the cost of copies per month was $4,180. In the last few months it has cost $5,353. There have been a few copiers added to the contract but the main costs are color copies. Smith made a suggestion of replacing some of the current color machines that will decrease costs. The savings could be about $1,500 a quarter. Young and Brady agreed that if there is a better way to save money then they should proceed. A motion made by commissioner Bud Krohn to proceed with changes was approved.

David Webber, assistant building inspector, presented a recommendation to rezone 50 acres north of Winamac from A-1 to RR-1, or recreational use. Bobby Rugg wants to use some of the property to create a recreational park. Young said the planning commission didn’t have any negative comments in regards to the rezoning. A motion to rezone was approved.

Holly Van Der Aa, assessor, requested to make changes to the assessor’s office staff. Pat Tiede is planning to retire on Feb. 27, so changes are needed, according to Van Der Aa. “I have a wonderful staff. They do a great job for the county.” A motion was made to approve the changes. The changes will now be presented to the county council.

In regards to old business, commissioners have been discussing whether sheriff deputies can enforce a proposed golf cart ordinance in Monterey. The idea was brought to the attention of the commissioners during the last meeting by sheriff Jeff Richwine. Richwine questions under what authority can the sheriff’s office enforce the proposed town ordinance. Attorney Kevin Tankersley suggested tabling the issue until he can review it further. Young said he feels the county should support the town ordinances. Richwine said he will be meeting the Monterey council on Feb. 11. The issue was tabled until further review by Tankersley.

An application for a buried telephone line in the area of CR 50 E., starting at CR 150 S. traveling south to Vander Hagg’s Inc. was approved.

The Nordic Energy Service contract was approved. The contract allows the county to save money on natural gas.

Commissioners received two letters regarding two feeding operations from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM). The letters are in regards to IDEM renewals of the operations. The renewals are for five years.

Conference requests from the auditor’s office, animal control, dispatch and emergency management agency were approved.

Minutes from the Jan. 20 meeting and the executive sessions on Jan. 26 and Jan. 30 were approved.

Claims and payroll were approved.

(Pulaski County Journal — Feb. 4, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Eastern Pulaski takes precautions with lockdown

Eastern Pulaski Community School Corporation, along with Culver Community School Corporation and Rochester School Corporation locked down the buildings following a general threat made to area schools.

As per precautions at EPCSC, superintendent Dan Foster called it a soft lockdown with all the doors being locked and entrance into the buildings through one door. Students were not able to leave the buildings for recess or cadet teaching.

“It was just making sure that the outside doors were locked, like they are supposed to be already and a little more due diligence when someone rings the main buzzer that we know who they are. I think the offices did a great job of that,” Foster said. “Education went on and it was a pretty good day.”

The soft lockdown included locking down the perimeter of the school buildings. Officers escorted those students who left the school for the co-op program.

“I thank sheriff Richwine and the Winamac Police as well,” he said. “I think it went very well and I am sure that I will be talking to the sheriff or Chris Schramm that if they saw anything that they think we should do, we will certainly look at that.”

The “general threat” was not a direct threat to the schools but there was credible information that school corporations and police took seriously. Law enforcement was sent to the area schools as the threat was believed to have been generated in the Kewanna area.

Sheriff Jeff Richwine said it appears the message was posted online by a Kankakee Valley High School student in Wheatfield. Indiana State Police were able to track the message to him.

“I thought it went very well. The school called and the Winamac PD and ourselves posted officers at Eastern Pulaski and then we had two deputies at West Central,” Richwine said. “We got a lot of good feedback from the community on it.”

Police from the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, Winamac Police Department, Fulton County Sheriff’s Department and Rochester Police Department responded to area schools.

(Pulaski County Journal — Feb. 4, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Police coverage continues to be concern for Francesville

Pulaski County Sheriff Jeff Richwine gave Francesville Town Councilmen a little direction as they try to decide if they want to hire a new town marshal.

During a regular meeting on Jan. 19, councilmen Andy Durham and Kyle Trent discussed what would be the best option for the town to take in regards to police coverage.

The town has been without a town marshal since August of 2014 and has been relying on the sheriff’s department officers to patrol the area.

Coverage for the area has been slighted because the sheriff’s department has seen a large overturn of officers. Richwine said the department is at full staff but four of the deputies will soon be headed to the police academy for training.

Durham said there seems to be some interest in the marshal position but the council wanted to speak with Richwine to see if there were other options such as contracting coverage through the county or sharing an officer.

Richwine said he spoke with the deputies and two of them are interested in helping, but “I guess I can’t really give you a promise that they are going to come because it is volunteering for them. I can’t order them to come over and work. We can set up a schedule to make sure that the deputies come through here on their patrols to help out.”

At this time Richwine said he can’t give them a commitment. He did say that he is open to sharing a deputy but he’s not sure that they can force someone to live in the town of Francesville.

“There would be other people involved in that decision, that would be the commissioners and the council, but I would be willing to discuss that,” Richwine said.

The idea would be that the town would help fund an officer that would cover Francesville but also work for the county. As discussion continued, it appeared to the councilmen that it could be next year before a contracted officer could be a reality.

Durham said trying to schedule officers for a year wouldn’t help the town. Trent is concerned that if they hire someone that person may still have to go through the academy which will take more time.

“The problem I have with part-time people is if they’re working for another department and then something goes on and they take our vehicle to back up their guys — who’s liable for their actions while they are doing what they are doing? That’s the piece that kind of makes me leery,” Trent said. “If we were contracted through the county and if they had to go cover a county call — they are a county officer.”

Trent said he is also concerned that a new officer needs to have a good working relationship with the sheriff’s department.

“The thing that scares me is just turning them loose out there and not having a clue what they are doing. When I came into it, I had other people to work with. I had people at the county that I could depend on, who helped show me the way,” he said.

Richwine said future Francesville officers are welcome to train with the sheriff’s department. “That does a lot of things. That will put him in the circle of trust.”

Durham thinks that they need to see who is interested. He doesn’t have a problem continuing with the contracting idea but he’s concerned with the lack of coverage that is happening now.

Trent said if the town is going to hire someone then they need to create a job description that will help ensure the right officer is being hired.

“You don’t have a large pool to draw from. You will either find somebody you don’t want or you end up with someone you like but they don’t stay,” Trent said.

It was suggested that the town attorney look over the job description and a contract.

Clerk-treasurer Linda Bennett said former Pulaski County Sheriff Mike Gayer would be interested in working part-time. Durham told Bennett to contact Gayer and see if he is still interested in helping.

Councilwoman Pamela Antrim was not at the meeting.

In other business:

Minutes from the Jan. 5 regular meeting were approved.

Street superintendent Lynn Johns reminds drivers that when snow is being removed from the downtown area to be aware of the plows and equipment. Vehicles should avoid being in the same area as the equipment because it slows the process and causes safety issues. Town employees try to remove the snow at 5 or 6 a.m. and have had issues with trying to work around vehicles.

Clerk-treasurer Linda Bennett asked the council if there is a way to help a woman whose water bill was overwhelming because of an unknown leak. The leak was found by town employees and water was running into a tile undetected. She approached Bennett to see if she could work something out with the town in regards to her bill that was more than $1,000 compared to the monthly average she uses. Bennett said other towns have an amnesty for issues such as this. The customer would pay what they typically pay and the rest would be written off. Durham said if it can be legally done, he doesn’t have a problem with it. He does not feel there was an issue of neglect by the resident because she would not have known about it until she received a bill. Bennett said she will further research it. Trent said as long as it can be done fairly he doesn’t have a problem with it.

Quotes for snowplows were presented to the council for review in the hopes of preparing for the purchase in the budget next year. The town would like to replace two plows because they are not in good shape. No action was taken.

A motion to purchase a security camera that will monitor the recycling trailer area was approved. The camera system will cost about $500 and will be installed by the town.

Johns said they would like to see hand tools and other equipment that they use on a regular basis equipped on the new truck. Many times employees have to return to the shop while working on a project in town to get the equipment they need such as screwdrivers and wrenches. They would like to see one set of tools on the truck and the other tools to be left at the shop. Bennett said there is some funding in the budget for tools and additional money can be taken from the utility funds.

Claims were approved.

(Pulaski County Journal — Jan. 28, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Medaryville Council talks baseball

Medaryville council members are preparing a lease agreement or memorandum of understanding with the Medaryville baseball program as the town has newly acquired the baseball field.

During a regular meeting on Jan. 21, council members were informed on how the baseball program and the American Legion collaborated. The program currently had 86 players and 10 baseball teams during their last season.

Medaryville Council President Derrick Stalbaum spoke with the baseball program coordinator Rob Conner. The two spoke about liability insurance and also about the annual donation the town makes to the program.

“I want to do a yearly lease, that way we always have someone on the council who knows what is going on,” Stalbaum said. “I wanted to make sure that if his position changed, it was consistently renewing that lease, with whoever is in charge. That way there is always consistent communication.”

Stalbaum said the program has liability insurance for the players, but insurance for the grounds was handled by the American Legion.

Clerk-treasurer Judy Harwood said she spoke with the insurance company and there will be an additional cost to cover the grounds. The council agreed that the insurance should be handled as if it were part of the town parks.

There was also a question whether other entities or individuals could use the field. Stalbaum said he feels that it can be worked out but it would not interfere with their schedule.

“I’m looking at this property as a park but it requires permission to use it. I do want it to be public and I do want other organizations to use it,” Stalbaum said. “I’m sure we will have to make some kind of procedure for that as well, like the shelter.”

Stalbaum said the buildings are currently being taken care of by Conner. The town currently mows the area, but some trimming may need to be done.

“I think that this is something that we should discuss with the maintenance department because if we are owning the buildings and are responsible for the buildings, we need to make sure that whoever we are giving permission to take care of the general maintenance is taking care of the general maintenance,” said councilwoman Corrie Hauptli.

Town maintenance supervisor Keith Hauptli was not present at the meeting.

There was a question of whether the town would get involved with the baseball board.

“I don’t want to micromanage their program. They are doing a great job as it is and I don’t want to get involved in that,” Stalbaum said.

At the time of the meeting, Stalbaum was not sure if the program is run by a board or by one person. Stalbaum said he will speak with Conner again to find out their management structure that will be needed due to the lease or memorandum.

Another concern was whether the town will continue to make a monetary donation to the program. The town may not make a donation because of town funding now being used for improvements to the grounds.

Stalbaum also questioned who would pay for the utilities at the property. Harwood said there may have to be an additional appropriation made to cover the costs of the electricity. Stalbaum said he will ask Conner about the costs of the electricity.

It was suggested that Conner or someone from the program attend a meeting to answer questions.

In regards to the purchasing of the property, the town received two cards of thanks from Susan Nielsen and Rob Conner.

In other business:

Minutes from the Dec. 15, 2014, regular meeting and the Dec. 29, 2014 special meeting were approved.

Claims in the general fund of $94,972.78, water fund of $40,650.68, and wastewater fund of $181,508.88 were approved. Clerk-treasurer Judy Harwood said the reason for the large wastewater claim amount is because of the early payoff of a bond.

Harwood requested permission to make a monthly transfer of $1,000 from the wastewater operating fund into the wastewater replacement fund for 2015. The transferring of funds into the replacement fund for the lift stations that may need to be replaced in the near future because they are 20 years old. The recommendation to transfer funds was made when the town was applying for a recent grant.

Bruce Breedon, interim president of Energy Efficiency Telamon Corporation, spoke with the council about a future solar energy project that the town could become involved with. If the town allows solar panels to be built on town property, the land would be leased with Telamon. Breedon said there are no upfront costs and the town would have to be chosen from a lottery for the project. Breedon said he will need to know if the town is interested in the project in February.

Cheryl Stone, of the decorating committee, said the group is working on a few future fundraisers. One fundraiser is a sock hop that they would like to have in May. The council said the newly acquired property by the baseball field may be available to use as long as it doesn’t interfere with the baseball program. It was also suggested that Main Street could be used. Stone said if the council knows of anyone who wants to volunteer during the events.

A motion to make an utility adjustment for the month of December in the sum of $33.17 was approved.

A motion to pay for repairs of the police vehicle brakes and an oil change in the sum of $1,436.50 was approved.

Resolution 2015-01-01, designating employees to appear for small claims court, was read and approved by the council. The resolution allows for Harwood or deputy clerk Jackie Hines to appear for small claims court on behalf of the town.

Second reading of ordinance 2015-02-01 in regards to creating a nonreverting fund titled “Ordinance Violation Fund” was approved. According to the state board of accounts, the town has to establish an ordinance to direct the violation funding to specific funds.

Council members gave Harwood permission to submit a press release regarding the Medaryville application being approved for the national flood insurance program.

Stalbaum was appointed to be the Kankakee-Iroquois Regional Planning Commission Board representative for the town.

An election of officers was held. Stalbaum will continue as the president, while Hager will remain as the vice president.

(Pulaski County Journal — Jan. 28, 2015 • Story by Amber L. Tomlinson)

Pulaski County gets boost for placemaking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Income survey needed for water well field study

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zellers named town manager

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Berger was appointed to the Northwest Indiana Solid Waste District.

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

Emergency transfers approved by council

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

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

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

She said she only transfered what was necessary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Her requests were approved by the council.

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

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

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

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

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

In other business:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t become victim to the jury scam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Pulaski County Journal — Jan. 7, 2015)

Winamac Town Council prepares for a new year

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

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

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

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

The ordinances were approved but Murray opposed the motion.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In other business:

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

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

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

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

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

Pulaski County Journal

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Winamac, IN 46996

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