June 21, 2023 at 3:15 p.m.

Town Council Meeting Notes 06/20

By JESSICA DECKARD | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Council president Ohmer Miller the opened the meeting with a prayer and the pledge of allegiance.

A public hearing was held for the water and sewer rate changes. Krohn and Associates representative Brandon Barthel gave a brief statement about their water rate survey. The rate increases are just enough to keep up with water expenses. He offered handouts for rate comparisons with other similarly sized communities. Ohmer asked if there were any questions. There were none. The public hearing was closed.

A public hearing on the OCRA (Office of Community and Rural Affairs) was then opened. Victoria Bechert of ARA read the following statement:

On or about June 30, 2023, the Town of Hope intends to apply to the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs for a grant application from the State Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Wastewater / Drinking Water Program. This program is funded by Title I of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, as amended. These funds are to be used for a community development project that will include the following activities: Upgrades to the wastewater grinder at the Wastewater Treatment Plant and installing a new force main that routes directly from the Goshen Meadows Lift Station to the wastewater treatment plant facility. This will alleviate capacity issues at the Moravian Lift Station. In addition to these improvements, the force main that serves Miller’s Merry Manor is to be rerouted to discharge into the gravity sewer system in the Goshen Meadows lift station service area. The total amount of CDBG funds to be requested is $580,000.00. The amount of CDBG funds proposed to be used for activities that will benefit low to moderate-income persons is approximately $345,796.00. The Applicant also proposed to expend and estimated $200,535.00 in non- CDBG funds on the project. These non-CDBG funds will be derived from the following sources: Town of Hope ARPA Funds.

There was no public comment, and the public hearing was adjourned.

The approval of minutes from the May 16, 2023, town council meeting was first on the agenda. Ed Johnson made a motion to approve the minutes with Herby Asher seconding it. It passed unanimously.

Approval of claims was next. Herby Asher made the motion to approve the claims. John Walstad seconded the motion. It passed unanimously.

Ordinance 2023-2 for the water rate change was presented for the second reading. There was one question from a resident in the audience. She did not understand the letter she received. Town Manager Jason Eckart offered to explain it to her after the meeting. Herby Asher made a motion to accept the rate change ordinance. Ed Johnson seconded the motion. It passed 5 – 0.

Wastewater rate change ordinance 2023-03 was then presented for a second reading. Herby Asher made a motion to approve it. John Walstad seconded the motion. It passed unanimously.

Resolution 2023-01 was then presented. It authorized the town to submit the OCRA grant and local funds for the wastewater project. Herby Asher made a motion to approve the resolution with Ed Johnson seconding it. It passed 5 – 0.

The council then moved on to old business. Jeff Yarnell was first on the agenda representing the FRHC Replay non-profit organization. They help cover costs for student sports and musical equipment as well as camps and costs associated with dance classes. They are hosting a fundraising event on the square from 6 – 8 p.m. on July 8, 2023. They will have hot dogs and root beer and a truck to fill with donations of used equipment.

Yarnell then asked for permission to use the square for Smoke on the Square on May 17 and 18, 2024. He asked for permission to use the middle of the square and the first row of inside parking all around the square. He asked for the first row of parking to be closed so there were no cars parking near the hot smokers during the event. He commented that a poly tote had been added for wastewater to alleviate the drain issue from previous years. There will be a band on Friday and two bands on Saturday. Ed Johnson motioned to approve the event with Shanon Pittman seconding the motion. It passed unanimously.

Whitney Budd of Students’ Fund of Hope then asked for permission to use the square for a fifth anniversary celebration to be held from 5 – 7 p.m. on August 6, 2023. The event would have balloon animals, the annual school supply giveaway and the annual start of school prayer circle. She also asked for a bounce house to be manned by a member of the fund. Ed commented that bounce houses were not allowed on the town square. Budd replied they had been allowed to have a bounce house in the past. Ohmer stated they would have to have insurance to cover it. Budd stated the fund had a two-million-dollar policy to cover all their events and there would be limits to how many children would be allowed in the bounce house at one time.

Budd then asked permission to use the square for their movie night at 6 p.m. on September 8, 2023. Budd stated that the fund lost money on the event every year, but the goal was to give a fun night to families that may not be otherwise able to afford it. They did it to make memories. The event would include a free will offering dinner, photo booths and activities. “Spider Man Across the Universe” will be the film this year. She asked for use of a microphone and for HPD to be present. Shanon Pittman made a motion to approve both events. Ed Johnson seconded the motion. It passed unanimously.

John Parmley was next on the agenda to present the Town of Hope Insurance policy, but he was not present. The new renewal was accepted at last month’s meeting.

Steve Robertson then presented a CCMG (Community Crossing Matching Grant) paving update. Globe Asphalt will start paving on July 5, 2023. They will begin with the concrete ramps on West Drive and Jackson Street with milling and paving to follow. It should take about a week and a half to complete the project. Robertson stated it would disrupt Deckard Tool the most. John Walstad asked about the double yellow line on Hauser Drive. Robertson responded the town would be responsible for replacing the line. Shanon Pittman asked about the manhole at the end of Union Street. Robertson replied it would be repaired at the town’s expense since it is out of the limits for CCMG.

Jason Eckart then moved on to the Washington Street sidewalk project. The ground has been trenched out and the first pour is happening today. One hundred to seventy-five feet is done. Eckart stated he was happy with how it looked. The project will be done in two weeks. He asked for approval to pay them in two weeks when the project was completed. Their contract stated payment for half up front and the other half at completion. He was asking now since the next billing cycle is not until July 20, 2023. Shanon Pitman motioned to approve the payment. Town lawyer Scott Andrews asked if the payment would be subject to Jason’s approval of the project. Jason Eckard and Ed Johnson decided they would sign off on the project together before payment was made. It was approved 5 – 0.

Council then moved on to new business. The cameras at Norman Park and the Utility Office are not working. Hoosier Security came out on Thursday to fix them, but they are already going offline again. John Walstad stated the teether ball at Norman Park was missing. Ed asked Scott Andrews to send a letter to Hoosier Security. Jason Eckart has called several times about the camera issues, and they have been unresponsive. Herby Asher asked if we have a contract stating they must service and maintain the cameras. Scott Andrews asked if there was a contract and stated he would draft a letter.

Matt Galbraith then presented the Hull subdivision. Tom Hull wishes to have the lot line between lots 59 and 60 erased creating. Lot 60A. The property address is 435 Robbins Street. The Planning Commission has approved the change at their meeting. Ed stated no other building could be built on it. Herby Asher made a motion to accept the change. Ed seconded the motion. It passed unanimously.

Hope resident Johnny Caldwell then discussed having Union Street from Seminary to South Street paved. He had a petition with at least thirty-five signatures. Ohmer stated it could be done, but not today as that is a big job. Johny Caldwell then asked for gravel and the holes filled in. Ed asked if the town owned it or if Miller’s did. The town owns it. Steve Robertson said Strand and Associates will come up with a free rough estimate for paving it before the next meeting. It would not be simple, as a railroad used to run through there. The track is now gone, but the soil could be contaminated. It has also been used as a log yard for many years and is not stable. John Walstad recalled a lady who lived at 651 Union Street who used to come to town in her wedding dress. It took an ambulance fifteen minutes to get to her via that road in an emergency. GPS uses that road to direct travelers even though it is not very passable. Herby Asher asked why it had never been paved. Steve Robertson replied because it was part of the railroad. Ed Johnson recalled when it was a two-lane buggy road. John Walstad wanted to see it paved since the log yard is no longer and business. Their heavy equipment had been used as an excuse for not paving it for many years. Shanon Pitman commented that the equipment had to access Seminary Street to get to the log yard without ruining them so that argument did not make sense.

Linda Foote was next on the agenda. She presented a petition to change the chicken ordinance with two hundred and twelve signatures. She got chickens for her twenty-one grandchildren. She commented eggs are healthier when fresh. Her coop is located fifty feet from the nearest trailer, and she cleans up after them, recycling their waste. She also stated that other cities in other places like Chicago, New York Washington D.C. and Los Angeles allow chickens with certain limits like no roosters. She donates eggs to family and puts them in the local blessing boxes. She also runs the clothing closet at the Moravian Church and gives them away there as well. Ohmer asked if she had chickens. She replied that she had 22 of them. Matt Tallent gave a little background and shared last month Linda Foote’s neighbor had made a complaint about her chickens. She was told she had to rehome her chickens within 30 days as she was in violation of a town ordinance preventing chickens within town limits. She lives on Aiken Street right on the edge of town. Directly behind her yard is a field. Ohmer recommended that they do not enforce rehoming. The limit is 11 chickens. The council will meet and take it under advisement. She lives right next to the trailer park, not in the trailer park. She is just south of the trailer park. Foote was granted a moratorium for the next 30 days. Herby Asher asked how she recycled the waste. She keeps it in a barrel and mixes it with food compost, then puts it in her garden. A local resident is attendance commented chickens cause histoplasmosis and she had been battling it for years.

John Parmley never showed. Council discussed if he had communicated, he would not be there. He had not but had been in communication previously.

Matt Tallent then shared that on April 8, 2024, Bartholomew County will be hit by a total solar eclipse. He has been attending eclipse planning meetings and hotels are already sold out for the Jason Eckart suggested the town make it an event.

Matt Galbraith commented he owed the town a monthly report.