February 22, 2023 at 7:57 p.m.

Town Council Meeting Notes 02/21

By Jessica [email protected]

Council President Ohmer Miller called the meeting to order.  Pastor Ed Cottrell gave the opening prayer.  The Pledge of Allegiance was then recited.  

First on the agenda was the approval of minutes from 11/29/2022 and 12/20/2022.  John Walstad made a motion to approve them, with Ed Johnson seconding the motion.  It passed 5 – 0.

Approval of claims was up next.  Ed Johnson made a motion to approve them.  Herby Asher seconded the motion.  It passed 5 – 0.

Council then moved on to old business with the CCMG (Community Crossing Matching Grant.)  Steve Robertson of Strand Associates said four quotes had been sought out.  He recommended Globe Asphalt as they had the lowest bid at $130,700.60.  Ohmer Miller noted they had done last year’s paving.  David Clouse commented they did a good job.  John made a motion to approve their bid, with Shanon Pittman seconding the motion.  It passed 5 – 0.  Robertson then stated the work would need to be done by September and the next step would be sending an award letter to Globe Asphalt so they could get the necessary bonds and insurance for the project.  Tony Akles of Strand and Associates had prepared an award letter for the council to sign.  The contract would need to be signed by the March council meetings since the project letters to INDOT are due April 6th.

New Business was up next with a Verizon antenna first on the agenda.  David Clouse stated Verizon Wireless wants to change the antennas on the water tower.  Strand saw no engineering conflicts with the project.  The original lease from Verizon did allow them to install updates.  The update will upgrade the technology to 5G.  Shanon made a motion to approve the update.  Ed seconded the motion.  The motion passed 5 – 0.  Town manager Jason Eckart had a letter of approval for council to sign.

David Clouse then moved on to water emergency response.  It is an update done every year to reflect the new council president.  Ed made a motion to approve it with Herby seconding the motion.  It passed 5 – 0.

The Davey Tree Contract was the next item on the agenda.  The ash trees will be treated in 2023.  This year is also the year for fertilization. Tree inspections are also included.  It was recommended the oak trees at the north side of the park be treated with fungicide.  The contract went up by $1,400.00 this year.  The fungicide treatment was $524.00 of that increase.  There was an overall increase of 9% in the rest of the items on the contract.  Ed made a motion to approve the contract.  Herby seconded it.  It passed 5 – 0.

Matt Tallent presented the contract from the Humane Society next.  The cost will be raised from $48.00 to $68.00 per animal dropped off.  Ohmer Miller asked how many dogs we had in a week.  Tallent says there was generally three a week.  Generally, ten days is the longest they must keep an animal, with three days being the average stay.  Right now, the first offense is just a warning, with a $25.00 fee for running at large and a $25.00 per night kennel fee.  Herby Asher how long we housed the animals.  Matt Tallent said seven days and they must pay the fine due in Hope before they can get the animals back.  Ohmer Miller asked about feral cats.  Tallent replied that we had a lot of them.  The town has stopped trapping them there were so many.  He commented that there are also lots of skunks.  He had wanted to set out food with birth control to help control the populations but was turned down by council due to the cost.  Council asked Tallent to look into birth control option again.  Shanon Pitman made a motion to approve the Humane Society contract.  Herby Asher seconded the motion.  Pittman also asked Tallent to look into Columbus Animal Control as a source for taking stray animals as well.  It passed 5 – 0.

The town recycling dumpster was up next on the agenda.  Jason Eckart expressed concern over the rising cost of the dumpster.  It currently accepts cardboard, newspaper, plastic, and cans.  It was affordable at first.  In 2019 the town spent $5,530.00 on the dumpster, $12,640.00 in 2020, $18,525.00 in 2021, and $24,214.00 in 2022.  Eckhart felt like that cost is excessive.  The dumpster is currently with Best Way and they are the cheapest.  The cost will most likely increase by between $4,000.00 to $6,000.00 this year.  Waste Management had sent out a letter last year about adding recycling to the trash program at a cost of $9.00 per household with a minimum of 300 participants.  If the whole town signed up for recycling the cost would be $6.50 per household.  Eckart hated to deprive the town of recycling but felt the $25,000.00 cost could be better spent elsewhere.  The dumpster is now dumped approximately every ten days.  Herby Asher suggested sending out a survey to see who would be interested in the Waste Management recycling program.  Eckart said he would be happy to send out a survey to see if there are 300 interested residents.  Scott Andrews suggested getting an updated quote first since those numbers were from last year.  Eckart then asked if council wanted to keep the dumpster going or remove it since it is costing the town $2,042.00 a month.  Ed Johnson asked if out of town people are using it.  David Clouse replied yes, there were Shafer Lake residents using it.  An admin fee of $1.00 per resident used to cover the cost of the dumpster, but it hadn’t in a very long time.  He cited COVID and Amazon deliveries as a source for the increase in usage.  Shanon Pittman stated an increase from $4,000.00 to $24,000.00 was not sustainable.  She asked if giving residents thirty days’ notice should happen soon. The council wanted Eckart to work on the survey, getting a quote and seeing if 300 people were interested in recycling.  That would be 40% of the town’s 800 residents.  The cost could be nine dollars or more.  David Clouse also asked Eckart to find out about a cardboard only dumpster as they were cheaper, and cardboard is what he sees the most of.  Eckart agreed to work on it and present options at the March council meeting.    Ohmer Miller commented that the dumpster should be kept going at least through April.  

Jason Eckart presented Road School at Purdue University next.  He would like to attend the school for two days on Tuesday March 14th and Wednesday March 15th.  There are 103 possible classes he could attend with such subjects as drainage, new pavement technology, road rejuvenation, and grant writing.  He had already registered for the school and was asking for time off to attend.  He also asked for assistance with a hotel room for Monday and Tuesday night.  Shanon Pittman responded it was his job to attend.  Ed Johnson said yes, and he didn’t need to take time off.  Ohmer Miller suggested a $25.00 per day per diem for food, mileage, and hotel rooms.  It was pointed out the amount covered would be in the handbook.   The council agreed to cover the cost pursuant to the amounts listed in the handbook.  Herby Asher made the motion and Ed seconded it.  It passed 5 – 0.  Steve Robertson commented they sent employees there every year and there would be excellent networking opportunities for the town.

Jason Eckart then presented a park request on behalf of Main Street for Saturday April 8th from 8:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. for the annual easter egg hunt.  It is sponsored by Millers Merry Manor and Main Street of Hope normally.  Windrose Health Network is also willing to help this year.  Eckart also shared that Main Street now has a board with twelve members and all the executive board positions have been filled.  They are still looking for an executive director.  Shanon Pitman asked who was responsible for keeping the park calendar.  Ohmer Miller answered Diane was the queen of that.  John Walstad made a motion to approve the park request.  Ed seconded the motion.  It passed 5 – 0.

Eckart then moved on to the new town of Hope flags.  The original flags came from the Gettysburg Flag Co. in East Greenbush New York.  They still have the screen-print information and he would like to get six new flags.  Three white flags and three gold flags.  The three gold flags would be for Heritage Days.  The white flags would fly the rest of the year.  The total cost was $564.58.  That is $89.00 per flag plus $30.58 for shipping.  Herby Asher made a motion to approve the purchase.  Ed Johnson seconded the motion.  John Walstad asked if the town could get by without them and asked how long they lasted.  The answer was about a year.  Shanon Pitman asked if the project was originally quoted out to other companies as well.  The art charge for a new company was discussed.  The motion passed 4 – 1 with John Walstad voting no pending a new quote.  

Ohmer opened the meeting to other questions and comments.  Ed stated David had done a good job this month.  He asked about the old line on Cross Street needing replaced.  David Clouse replied it would eventually be replaced but it was not in the budget for now.  The dead end there is not up to today’s standards.  It should be looped.  David said it would be a good candidate for the next water project.  

Jason Eckart stated Buzz with wastewater would be at the next council meeting to discuss the water project.  

Pastor Ed Cottrell asked for permission to use the square on Sunday April 9th for a ecumenical worship service at 7:00 a.m.  Shanon Pittman made a motion to approve the usage and John Walstad seconded it.  It passed 5 – 0.

Council asked if Matt Galbraith had anything to add.  He stated there were three active building permits going.  He also discussed a pole barn placement at 1215 Seminary.  When questioned about the size of a building on Main Street he stated it currently occupies 34% of the property and the maximum amount allowable was 36%.  He also stated Grace Baptist Church has had two signs approved for placement on their property.  In the future they may decide to build a new church on the empty lot.  They have bought the entire strip mall and the empty lot.  Galbraith then moved on to the Billy Davis property.  It has a $14,313.00 judgement on the house and a $9,000.00 judgement on the garage.  Scott Andrews stated if he deeded the property to the town the debts would be erased, and the liens released.  Galbraith also noted the Wentworth property is still not in compliance.  They will be able to execute on the property after six months. It will then be able to be sold at a sheriff’s sale.  He closed with stating the Depot Street property needs to be secured.  

Ohmer Miller apologized for his inappropriate comment.