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January 24, 2013

Sunman Town Board meeting draws large crowd

Cindy Ward
Staff Writer

The first meeting of the Sunman Town Council took place on Thursday, January 17, with several citizens present voicing concerns about the negative publicity the town has received regarding the alleged misuse of the town credit card by elected Clerk Treasurer Kris Schneider, as well as issues regarding "garbage" piling up outside of Concepts Industrial.

According to the probable cause affidavit, Schneider was arrested in December for using the town credit card to purchase personal items between March 2009 and March 2011, totaling $3,600. The affidavit also states that Schneider repaid the entire amount back in May 2012. The matter is expected to be settled through the courts in April. If convicted, Schneider could be removed from office.

Citizen Harold Scharf asked if any precautions are in place to prevent this from happening in the future. Council President Wayne Jenner responded by saying that the State Board of Accounts who conducted the audit has given them several recommendations.

"On credit cards there must be receipts on every purchase and it is our responsibility to look over it every month. So, that is a much tighter control than before," said Jenner. Further questioning from others prompted Jenner to turn questions over to Attorney John Kellerman who was filling in for Town Attorney Amy Streator. Kellerman responded by saying that the town board cannot legally make a policy change on a pending case.

Mike Farrell, owner of Con- cepts Industrial, was also in attendance to seek approval for a zoning change which would enable him to expand his business by constructing a new warehouse on the newly acquired property known as 119 Western Avenue, Sunman.

Farrell said his current building is at full capacity and he is hoping to break ground on the warehouse this summer, pending a feasibility study currently being conducted by Barth and Associates. It was noted that the Ripley County Planning Commission has given the rezone a favorable recommendation.

The new building will be a high bay facility with a single trolley system. Farrell also plans to build an eight to 10-foot fence with blinders to block the view of the facility from the street. Council unanimously approved the rezone request.

Citizen Peggy Lusby addressed Farrell about the "garbage" in the parking lot of his facility. She stated that she cannot even put her home up for sale due to the trash sitting out in plain view, as well as at the trailer park. Farrell explained that he is working on getting things cleaned up, but sometimes these things take a while. She suggested he move the skids of "trash" inside, to which he responded by saying that he does not have enough space available, reminding her that he plans to erect a fence to resolve the issue.

Farrell explained that what the public is seeing are plastic shipping containers that are being moved out as quickly as possible, adding that all are completely purged of oils before they are brought into his facility. His floors have no drains and he has not experienced any water problems. Farrell added that his water usage is comparable to that of a normal household. He said that he reuses many things and produces only one 40-yard container of trash every few weeks. Farrell invited the public several times during the meeting to come and take a tour of his facility.

In response to some of Farrell's comments, Sunman resident, Ruth Riehle, presented an old Contek protest sign and said she doesn't want to see any environmental problems and would like to see the town prosper.

Former council member, John Campbell, commented that jobs are critical to the town of Sunman and if unsightly properties are being discussed, Riehle owns a "wasteland" behind the trailer courts that needs to be cleaned up, referring to a pond that is filled with black water.

Citizen Mary Hudepohl expressed concerns about a home that is being built by Holiday Homes behind her residence. She said the home appears to be situated on top of a "swale." She also added that her well water hasn't been the same since Holiday Homes started building houses there. The well is made of laid up rock. Farrell told Hudepohl that the problem could probably be solved by having the well lined and grouted to keep surface water from infiltrating it.

Being the first meeting of the year, the council made appointments. Jenner will again serve as president of the council. Streator was reappointed as town attorney. Bill Dramann will continue as the town marshal and Harvey Dobson as the regional planning representative. Kris Schneider was appointed to serve as a representative on the Sunman Chamber of Commerce and Ripley County Economic Development board. All members signed the 2013 nepotism policy.

In other business, the future of the ROD Center was discussed. Council unanimously agreed to give Strand Associates permission to contact the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) directly for advice on which way the town should go when applying for a planning grant.

The question being whether to apply for a smaller grant to tear down the former ROD Center or apply for a larger comprehensive grant to tear down the building, restore the site and upgrade the park and Main Street. Council unanimously approved the request.

Schneider reported that several businesses in town have taken advantage of the 2012 Main Street grant, sponsored by the town's EDIT fund and Sunman Chamber of Commerce. Recipients were: B and G Dairy Bar, $1500; George's Pharmacy, $388.41; Great Finds Antiques, $1,500; Kreative Kids, $450; Sunman Shell, $1000; MHP, $1500, and Tha Store Cafe $335.

A preliminary field check meeting has been scheduled for 10 a.m., Tuesday, February 5, at the Sunman Town Hall to discuss the Safe Route to Schools project. Engineers, as well as others involved, such as Duke Energy, ETC.Ohio Valley Water and Gas will be in attendance. Funding for the project is being provided by the state.

Terry Knueven presented the council with two quotes for the cleaning of well #5. One was from Layne for $13,500 and the other was from Ortman for $13,700. Ortman's quote included video inspection of the well. The quotes presented do not include the cost of any necessary repairs. Phase II of the Wellhead Protection Program needs to be started. Knueven said he would like to begin seeking quotes from firms who specialize in this type of work.

Dramann said that he has received a partial report on the trailer court inspections recently conducted. A complete report will be available once owners have been notified and given time to correct any issues. He reported that Westview Mobile Home Court has not yet been issued a 2013 license.

Harvey Dobson reported that the owner of the pallet business on West Washington Street should have everything moved out by sometime in February.

Being no further business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned. The next meeting of the Sunman Town Council will be at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, February 21, at the Sunman Town Hall.

Concepts Industrial granted rezone for expansion


Pictured standing to the left is Mike Farrell, owner of Concepts Industrial while addressing Peggy Lusby seated right, front row, who lives down the road from his business and was addressing the problem of garbage at Concepts. The meeting had a heated flavor as people expressed their feelings.

School security questioned at Milan school board meeting

Cindy Ward
Staff Writer

The Milan Board of School Trustees met in special session prior to its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, January 14, for the purpose of reorganization.

Present were board members Timothy Tuttle, Gregory Lewis, Edward Amberger, Randy Kirk and Jason Honeycut. Also in attendance were Dr. Thomas Reale, superintendent, and school attorney, Larry Eaton.

Both meetings opened with the pledge to the flag. A moment of silence was held in memory of the late Nancy Hershman, who drove a bus for the school corporation.

Following the pledge and approval of December's minutes, the floor was open to patrons and staff. Karen Schmidt, middle school instructional aide, asked the board if they had considered upgrading school security since the incident at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. Dr. Reale explained that emergency response plans currently in place are under review to see where security can be increased.

Dr. Reale said that the corporation could possibly seek grants to fund physical altercations to the middle and high school buildings similar to the elementary where visitors would need to enter the front office prior to gaining entry to the rest of the building. The question of teachers carrying guns was raised by Kirk. Members also discussed having security guards and/or police officers patrolling the grounds. Dr. Reale is expected to bring further information regarding this discussion to the February meeting.

It was the opinion of Carla Holt, elementary teacher, that most teachers are able to tell which students would be most likely to cause major problems in the future. She stressed that troubled children are not receiving appropriate help in the schools, adding that the system hides behind rules and regulations of special education and mental health. Holt said that it is unusual for these troubled children to become violent or aggressive; however, instead of thinking of what's best for the children, parents come into the school to fight to keep them in the school system.

Newly elected members of the school board, Edward Amberger and Jason Honeycutt, were sworn in by attorney Eaton. Nominations of officers followed. Tuttle was unanimously nominated to continue his service as president of the board. Lewis was nominated for vice president and Kirk for secretary. Both won their respective nominations.

Gretchen Berger was approved as the corporation treasurer and Pamela Holbert as deputy treasurer. Dr. Reale or his designee was appointed to serve as the representative for the career center, Southeastern Learning Center, Wilson Education Center, and ROD. Other appointees were Kirk as the ISBA legislative representative, Attorney Eaton as corporation attorney, and board officers as the Board of Finance.

Board members also unanimously approved participation in the At Risk, Title I Program, High Ability, Prime Time, ROD Special Education Cooperative, School Food and Nutrition Program, Southeastern Career Center, Southeastern Learning Center, Textbook Rental Program, Wilson Education Center, Unified Purchasing Cooperative of the Ohio River Valley, Indiana Virtual Acacemy, Southeastern Indiana Schools Study Council, and Southeastern Indiana School Insurance Consortium.

Kirk raised questions regarding fees for participation in any of the above-mentioned areas, as well as whether or not the corporation is actively using all of the programs mentioned. Dr. Reale responded by saying that fees were paid for the Wilson Education Center and Study Council, adding that the benefits outweighed the fees.

Kirk motioned to approve the Osgood Journal and The Versailles Republican as the designated newspaper for advertisements. The motion carried. Amberger also motioned to approve a conflict of interest disclosure statement for Berger, which was also unanimously agreed upon.

Members agreed upon a regular meeting calendar for 2013-14. Meetings will continue as in the past on the third Monday of each month, beginning at 7 p.m. in the corporation administration building, with the exception of the following: February 11, 2013; March 11, 2013; January 13, 2014; February 10, 2014,; March 10, 2014; and January 12, 2014, which fall on the second Monday of the month. The executive session adjourned at 7:14 p.m., immediately followed by the regular monthly meeting.

In other business, Dr. Reale announced that veteran bus drivers, Debra Hackman and Linda Hyde, are no longer employed by the school corporation. He stated that on separate occasions, both Hackman and Hyde failed to report for their assigned duties, adding that it must have been their decision to end their employment with the corporation. These are the same two drivers who approached the board late last year to contest line 8 of the new revised employee handbook stating that if a career center driver turns down an assignment that their positions would be surrendered.

Dr. Reale said that five other drivers have expressed interest in sharing the responsibility of driving these routes – Ken Lewis, John Brandt, Susan Starkey, Luann Konradi and Sandy Smith. He said that this will save the corporation money, as these drivers will not be paid the $10 pre-trip inspection, since they all have regular bus routes. It was noted that the career center routes will be offered to all drivers annually. Carol Kimla was unanimously approved as a driver and will be assigned to route #15.

In other employee news, Dr. Reale stated that he had accepted the resignation of Brian Henkel as the reserve basketball coach. Lewis motioned to approve Steven Stirn as the boys eighth grade basketball coach and Jacquelynn Steele to serve in place of Emily Halcomb during her maternity leave. The motions carried.

In old business, discussion continued on the adoption of a 2013-14 school calendar. Amberger said that people he has spoken with prefer a calendar similar to the one used this year. Tuttle's opinion was that a one-week fall break worked best for Milan. It was decided to table the discussion until the February meeting.

Last month, Dr. Reale presented a revision to policy #9259 - Fundraising, for a first reading and sought approval. The revision stated that money raised within an organization stay with that organization and any extra money raised would also remain with that organization to be used for its common good. The board voted and unanimously approved this revision.

Other policies reviewed and approved were policy #3550 regarding the use of corporation credit cards and policy #4150 outlining the professional dress code for school staff. It was noted that there are currently no issues with staff dress.

The following other requests and items were also approved:

• Anita Boggs to take 45 members of the Future Farmers of American (FFA) to the Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, Kentucky, on February 14.

• Stefani Bedel to take 60 members of the high school band on tour to Nashville, Tennessee from April 26-28.

• Fundraising request from the boys' basketball teams to host the 2013 Southern Indiana State Tournament games for the Northeast Regional for grades three through eight on February 9-10.

• PTO fundraiser where students will sell items from Little Caesar's Pizza from January 17 through February 1, to raise money for the library project.

• Middle school cheerleaders to hold a Valentine's dance on February 14.

• A lease agreement for MIST to use the pool on February 9 for their Lapapalooza.

• Resolution permitting Berger to continue paying the 2012 appropriations bills and to encumber appropriations for bills created in 2012 and payable in 2013.

• Payment of vendor checks, payroll checks, deposit advice, and the financial report.

In the superintendent's report, Dr. Reale said that he has received the preliminary budget from the state. He said that although there are some reductions in certain areas, the school should be fine for the upcoming fiscal year.

In closing, Dr. Reale and other members welcomed Honeycutt to the board and wished him a successful four-year term serving students, staff and patrons of Milan School Corporation. Honeycutt said that he is looking forward to serving on the board, adding that school security is his top priority.

With no further business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned at 7:42 p.m. The next regular meeting of the Milan Board of School Trustees will be Monday, February, 11, in the school administration building.

Holton swears in members, organizes board for 2013

Karen Reynolds
Contributing Writer

The Holton Town Board met January 10 beginning the meeting by the swearing in of two re-elected officers: Andy Stratton and Angi Farrell.

The board was duly re-organized as needed by law. Andy Stratton will continue in his role as president. The entire board will serve as the board of finances and the board of public works. A reminder was given that at the year-end meeting on December 27 the 2012 budget needs were approved and the proposed ordinance 2012-10 was presented for a first reading. Resolution 2012-10 was approved unanimously which allows a sewer rate increase of $5.00 per sewer bill per month.

An Americans with Disability Act resolution, 2013-01 was adopted as an ADA transition plan to satisfy the provisions of the ADA Act for the Town of Holton and includes a grievance procedure. The resolution, in part, states that the Town of Holton adopts the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act standards for accessible design and the 2005 guidelines for accessible public rights.

The town of Holton provides, upon request, appropriate aids and services leading to effective communication for qualified persons with disabilities so they can participate equally in the town's programs, services, and activities. This resolution will be posted at the sewer office. The actual plan identifies problem areas. The town is aware that all existing sidewalks have to be compliant with access for persons with disabilities. The board hopes to have this finished very soon.

According to Gretchen Moore, town clerk, at this time, the outstanding sewer bills have been decreased from $24,000.00 to $10,000.00. Twenty-two liens were recently filed at the courthouse, with a total of $9,300.00 being due to be collected. At the time of the January meeting, all bills were balanced to zero, as requested by the Holton Water Works.

Theresa Hartwig, from the Commonwealth Company, was on hand at the meeting to discuss the possibility of Holton getting some grants to help towards construction of storm sewers. There are no deadlines to apply for this grant but the town will need to write a letter of intent. Moore stated that Mary McCarty may be able to help the town with a Community Focus grant.

Discussion concerning a possible retirement fund for Town of Holton employees was tabled until a later time. According to Bob Curl, town marshal, this would probably cost the town about $5,000.00 more per year. It is 19.7% of the base salary and takes about six months to implement.

Currently there is no retirement plan for employees. Moore will check into it and bring back more details at the next meeting.

In other news, placement of the playground equipment donated by Rising Sun Regional Foundation was discussed and tabled until warmer weather.

Holton residents who received a letter about cleaning up their property will now be charged $30.00 per day as no clean-up was forthcoming.

Those attending this meet ing were Andy Stratton, Angi Farrell, Paul Hughes, and Gretchen Moore. Town board meetings will continue to be at 7:00 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month in 2013.

The next meeting will be February 7 at 7:00 p.m. in the Holton Community Center building.


Pictured from left is Holton Clerk-Treasurer Gretchen Moore, swearing in board members Angi Farrell and Andy Stratton. The ceremony was held at the first meeting of the year held at the Holton Community Center, where the meetings are scheduled to be held each second Thursday of the month beginning at 7:00 p.m. unless otherwise posted.

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