Empty house draws concern

LARWILL - Town council members are still concerned with the property at 202 N. Center Street which was evacuated last spring due to several violations of the town’s unsafe building ordinance per Chief Inspector Craig Wagner with the Whitley County Planning and Building Department.Owner of the unsafe structure is Ralph Fitch, who was represented by Katrina Osterman last spring. At that time, Osterman agreed with the council to make repairs to the property by Nov. 1 with updates reported every two months to council members. To date, no updates have been reported to council members and nobody has occupied the residence since Feb. 25. “They (Fitch and/or Osterman) haven’t been here all year,” council president Rick Hobbs said. “Next meeting they are supposed to come.”Trick or treat hours will be 5 to 7 p.m. Oct. 30. All council members were in agreement with the date and time. In other business, due to an emergency no burn ordinance enacted in Whitley County and around the state, Hobbs said leaves must be raked to the curb for town employees to pick up.“Too dry and dangerous to burn leaves and the fire department will fine you $250 to $500 if you are caught burning,” Hobbs said. “Put just leaves in the pile, no branches in leaf pile because it will plug up the machine ... leaf pick up is just for leaves, not rocks and sticks.”Town employee Fred Stoffel plans to pick up leaves the week of Oct. 18, weather permitting.Amendments to the town’s current sewer ordinance currently being reviewed by town attorney Greg Hockemeyer. The ordinance will include a certified inspector on all future lines connected to the town’s main sewage line.“We will also keep collecting resumes for a home inspector ... we decided to go a new way,” Hobbs said. “We need to re-negotiate the current contract on our (town) terms ... no town employees can apply for inspector’s job.” This issue was tabled until the January meeting, allowing the town to review resumes.“We are clearing stipulations up,” Hobbs said. “If the line is not passed by the inspector, it will not get hooked up ... the way it should be ... house to main.”Clerk-Treasurer Renee Sills reported on the Whitley County Humane Society contract for 2011 which has no changes and includes five animals per year.“There are also provisions that we would supply them with a list of street addresses,” Hockemeyer said. “It’s exactly how we negotiated it.”Terms of the contract, along with the yearly fee, has been tabled until January since the town has until the end of January to reply.John Elward representing Roto-Rooter was present and commented on grease dissolver blocks which were installed last spring.“Wasn’t as effective as presented to me,” Elward said. There were numerous discussions on the town’s No. 10 sewer structure located at the railroad tracks, along with the town relying on two pumps. “Town depends on two pumps that they can all flush their toilets,” Elward said. “These pumps get old and cost of one new pump is approximately $10,000 to $12,000 with a six- to eight-week delivery ... not a shelf item.”Concerns are if one pump should fail, the town must rely on only one other pump.“Part of this is also customer education as to what should be down to the line in the first place,” Hockemeyer said. Discussions on a back-up pump were discussed for the three-way pump station. “If you ever have transformer problems, it will be bad,” Elward said. “This could be bad with a lightning strike in the summer.”Moving on to No. 10, sewer structure, Sechrist will clean and maintain this structure.“There is a possibility of back-up if not monitored,” Elward said. “It needs to be maintained by manually removing debris, but it is not a bio-hazard.”The next meeting is at 7 p.m. Nov. 11.