S. Whitley council: WWT facility grant options mulled

SOUTH WHITLEY - Tom Bernhard, representing the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development, explained loan and grant options to South Whitley Town Council members Tuesday for the upcoming wastewater treatment facility project.“We have a loan and grant program for water and sewer projects,” Bernhard said.“We can do a project sewer extension — up to a 40-year loan with a 2.5 percent interest rate but that changes every quarter, so this rate is good until March.”Bernhard said the annual agricultural budget is $30 million a year for Indiana, once approved by Congress.“We can fund 100 percent of the project and we can also partner in with the Office of Community Rural Affairs (OCRA) to fund a project, but we need a preliminary engineering report to get the project funded,” Bernhard said. Since a preliminary engineering report was already approved for $25,000 to David Harvey with Fleis and Vandenbrink at the last meeting, Bernhard gave board members the loan/grant applications for their review.In new business, plans of having a newly-updated park have been in the works since 2008, which prompted park board members Katey Till and Coleen French to provide details on their progress.“We (park board) have worked on filing with several different grants with some small and some large,” French said. “We have made requests from local businesses, along with donations, but it has been a slow process with the way the economy is.”French said the board went through the grant process and meetings with Parkview Hospital, who showed an interest in becoming a community partner. Due to budget shortfalls, Parkview is unable to partner in 2011.“That just seems to be the pattern for us this year - everything just kind of feels like it’s in limbo right now,” French said. “We do have over $23,000 in savings and the town had allowed us $25,000 from their budget to purchase equipment in 2010, plus we also have an additional $9,500 in pledged money that is to come in the coming year.” Currently, the park board has applied for a USDA matching grant and hopes to receive notification the first of the year.“If we spend any money saved, we will lose that with the USDA matching grant,” French said. “We will hold off till the first of the year to see if we get the grant and not risk losing funding that might potentially be there.”Plans are to construct a play village in the park by the spring or early summer. The town has budgeted $15,000 in 2011 for the park, along with grants applied with the DEKKO Foundation, Lutheran Hospital, Wal-Mart and the Kellogg Foundation.In old business, Green Parrot legal owners, Randy and Linda Striggle, were in attendance to provide an update on repairs to the exposed wall since demolition of the Hicks and Deaton building, which shared a common wall.The Striggles were granted an extension of Dec. 29 to make repairs to their exposed south wall.In November, Gary Hicks (owner of the demolished Hicks and Deaton building) suddenly disputed the property line, stating that the Green Parrot’s exposed wall encroaches on his property.“I’m kind of getting discouraged about the whole thing,” Randy said. “We already have had busted pipes and heating bills are tremendous because there is no insulation on this exposed wall.”Whitley County Building Inspector Craig Wagner denied a building permit until the property line issue is resolved.“I know we are tired of it, tired of worrying about it,” Linda said. “I guess we are just at a stand still until Gary agrees with something.”In the absence of town attorney Greg Hockemeyer, council president Joan Eberhart said a survey would cost less than $500 to determine the property line.An executive meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 11 to determine the fate of this ongoing issue.“We can’t make you (Striggles) repair a building you don’t have a permit for,” council member Tonya Warner said. “We can say go ahead and do it, but that is going to come back on us (council).”In other business, Clerk-Treasurer Mitch Winger provided the council with the salary and benefit ordinance for review. The council tabled the issue until the next meeting.The next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 11.