SOUTH WHITLEY — The severe storm on June 29 left quite a mess in the town of South Whitley which prompted resident Les Hoffman to attend the town council meeting Tuesday evening regarding limb pick-up.
“I don’t know if there is a rhyme or reason how they pick up sticks,” Hoffman said. “The last town gentleman that picked those up was very timely. Right now, they don’t seem to be on a timely basis at all and there should be a system for stick pick-up by finishing one neighborhood at a time.”
Utilities Manager Dennis Eberhart intervened stating prior town council members signed a policy on the size of sticks for pick-up with a letter mailed to every South Whitley resident.
“There was also some restrictions on sticks and debris being bagged with smaller limbs and to not mix leaves with them,” Eberhart said. “Residents are to receive a red ticket if bundles are too large for pick-up.”
Town Council Vice-President Bill Boggs said town employees are currently picking up large limbs which can be chipped, with twigs being picked up in the future.
“They (town employees) will be getting the other (smaller) limbs and sticks later,” Boggs said. “The big piles can be chipped so they are first for pick-up.”
Town Council President Tony Starkey said limb pick-up would need to be discussed among town council members and advised Hoffman to attend the next scheduled meeting.
“I think this (limb pick-up) deserves some town council conversation,” Starkey said. “Limb pick-up complaints should go to Clerk-Treasurer Bob Gould who will then contact Eberhart.”
With the retirement of South Whitley Electrician Dave Mains approaching and the Columbia City Electrical Department to aid with the town’s emergency electrical needs in the future, resident Mike Renschler was also in attendance and voiced his concerns on tree limbs close to power lines which need to be maintained.
“We (town council) are working with sub-contractors now on this,” Starkey said. “Pole to house is homeowners responsibility.”
“Bottom line is we (town council) are looking at getting a sub-contractor in at some time and getting the town cleaned up,” council member Steve Smith said. “And, the town will maintain it.”
Renschler also said it has been a month since the bad storm and his limbs are still not picked up.
In new business, Don Bentz representing Preferred IT Group in Columbia City presented information to town council members regarding the purchase of new computers for the clerk’s office and police department which will increase staff productivity by ensuring technology infrastructure is running cost-effectively. The town’s current server is approximately 12 years old with Gould losing a lot of data on a daily basis.
“We (the town) are losing data off our current server resulting in extra work,” Gould said. “It is taking four days to put the data back in because our current system is not saving.”
Bentz provided four different quotes which included replacing the clerk’s office server, storage unit for Universal Serial Bus (USB) hard drives and back-ups, replacing work stations, and updating anti-virus protection. USB is a type of connector which allows the user to attach peripheral devices to their computer.
“Your current server is running on crutches,” Bentz said. “We (Preferred IT Group) could add wireless access points that will talk with this unit.”
“We (the town) have a crummy (computer) system here and there is no doubt we need a new system,” Starkey said. “I don’t know whether we need a $4,000 server, but we (the town) do have a variety of options here for us.”
Town council members advised Gould to seek more computer quotes.
“I would like to see what the market is,” Smith said. “We (the town council) only have one quote in front of us.”
Bentz said a $4,000 server is definitely not a “top of the line” server with hard drives more costly.
“There would be costs with a server license too,” Starkey said. “There is no doubt we (the town) need decent (computer) equipment.”
South Whitley Sgt. Mikel Vandevender said there is currently no Internet connection on the police department’s outdated computer system.
Gould reported on a request for additional handicapped parking at the South Whitley Public Library (SWPL). Currently, handicapped parking is located on Front Street in front of the library.
“Can we go to Maple Street for more handicapped parking which isn’t so busy?” Gould asked.
With the SWPL adding a parking lot last year , Town Attorney recommended a handicap parking space in this lot.
“If there are 15 spots in this (new) parking lot, there has to be one handicapped spot,” Hockemeyer said.
Board members requested town employees to mark the new handicapped parking spot.
In old business, the town’s utility policy will soon be reviewed and updated with a special public meeting set for 5 p.m. on Aug. 14 in the town hall.
“This Aug. 14 meeting will be an information gathering public work session regarding the town’s current utility policy,” Starkey said.
Phase II of the waste water treatment facility continues to progress as Project Manager David Harvey with Fleis and Vandenbrink presented Change Order Number Three to town council members.
“Change Order Number Three is for additional personnel services on-site at the waste water treatment plant,” Harvey said. “This change order is for six (additional) days and what is covered here is improving the control system reliability security at the (waste water treatment facility) plant and adding firewalls at a cost of $6,867.45.”
Harvey outlined a couple of Phase II cost reductions, including elimination of a $648 knox-box rapid entry system for firemen to enter burning buildings, which the town does not participate in, and reducing the number of trees to be re-planted in the flood plain with a credit of $7,300.
“The big cost item was replacing the perimeter fencing and as part of the project we are installing new fencing,” Harvey said. “The existing fencing that is at the waste water treatment facility is over 30 years old and we asked the contractor (Gerig-Ottenweller) to replace that fencing and a price to have the fencing vinyl coated because it is in a residential area.”
With a price tag of $30,268 for additional fencing with vinyl coating, Smith suggested galvanized fencing which would save the town $8,368.
Harvey also suggested adding an access platform for the blowers above the flood plain at the treatment plant at a cost of $3,160, relocating a yard hydrant at no cost, and new power feed for the laboratory building by eliminating the electrical switch gear on the floor building. Cost is $2,734 requiring an additional three days of work.
“When you add this all together you come up with six (additional) days for completion of this (Phase II) project,” Harvey said. “Completion with these changes is pushed back from Jan. 18, 2013, to Jan. 24, 2013, for Phase II completion.
In the remaining contingency on the project, Harvey said the town remains $326,000 under budget on original contingency.”
Board members approved $26,713.45 for Phase II additions and credits.
Authorized by the state, Phase II includes upgrades to the waste water treatment plant by enlarging the main water inceptor along Water and Main Streets, constructing a headwaters work building, and a new electrical building on an adjacent property.
Clerk-Treasurer Bob Gould reported on a rate study which will be conducted with Certified Public Accountant John Julien at Umbaugh and Associates due to discrepancies in the town‘s budget.
Hockemeyer continues to review the town’s water sewage policy discount available for residents during the months of June, July and August.
“I’m just hesitate to change anything too drastically,” Hockemeyer said.
Boggs believes this issue will be tabled until next summer since August is one week away.
The board approved Keystone as the payroll software provider for the town.
In conclusion, two executive meetings are scheduled this Saturday regarding personnel issues. The first meeting is at 8 a.m. to discuss job performance evaluation of individual employee, and the second meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. to discuss the position of town manager. The meetings are not open to the public and the town council may not take final action regarding the subject manners.