Rebuilding the town was the main topic on the agenda for the Holton Town Board meeting held April 12 at the Holton Community Center following the devastation left behind by the March 2 tornado.
The town park will need to be rebuilt. Estimates for needed repairs and rebuilding have been submitted to the insurance company and FEMA. It was noted in the event of an additional natural disaster, FEMA will pay up to 75% of the cost to have the park updated to make it safer.
According to Bob Curl, town marshal, the park's new security system has to be replaced and he had estimates he presented.
The park's playground equipment has been damaged and will need to be checked before anyone can use it. Linda Forester, from Park Creations, agreed to officially check the equipment for damage and safety with no charge to the town.
The insurance adjustors have been to the park and marked the trees that have to be cut down or trimmed back. Board member Paul Hughes will be taking care of disposing of these trees within the next couple of weeks.
Of the 24 picnic tables at the park, only 16 remain after the tornado and two are damaged. Board member Angi Farrell will get an estimate from the man who originally built the tables and see what it will cost to replace them.
According to the town's clerk-treasurer, Gretchen Moore, the cooking grills will need to be replaced as well.
While the town of Holton received three bids for removal of the debris pile at the old Holton school, unanimous approval was given to award the contract to Mozingo Excavating at the cost of $14,300. Forty-yard dumpsters from Best Way will help dispose of the debris pile with a charge of $425 per dumpster adding an additional charge of $28.00 per load if that load happens to be overweight.
According to Moore, there have already been 14 loads of garbage carried away in dumpsters from Best Way with the town incurring the cost of $5,300.
It was mentioned at the meeting that the school was slated to be demolished on April 16 and it was.
Moore reported that street signs are missing due to the tornado and can be replaced at the cost of $385.
Ripley County Emergency Management Director Patrick Rose was at the meeting and noted that Holton is priority with FEMA to have an actual storm shelter builtthere. This could be funded at either 75% or 100% by FEMA.
Cynthia Melton, chairman for the Long Term Recovery committee, reported that the group now has bylaws as required by law.
This committee consists of Melton as chairman; Rachel Grossman, Norman Knudson, Bob McCreary, Gretchen Moore, Andy Stratton and Les Stratton.
This committee has received funding to hire positions needed to continue the efforts toward recovery. This group will also serve as an unmet needs assessment group. First, they plan to hire a construction manager, a case manager, and a coordinator.
They will meet with each family affected by the tornado. Once these positions are filled, an office will be set up in the old sewer building offices.
The next plan is to have charities consisting of help from the Amish, various churches and the American Baptist Men's group in place.
Melton recently attended a two-day case management workshop hosted in the area. She said there will be several phases to this long-term recovery process.
The final one will be to get various groups such as a Methodist group called Encore and Habitat for Humanity to rebuild homes. Melton was adamant that families who have lost their homes or who have serious damage to their homes need to apply for FEMA now and follow up by applying to the Small Business Administration.
Unanimous approval was given from the board to pursue the same policy as the water company and waive the March late fees and penalties for sewer bills to those who have been affected by the tornado.
In other business:
• Wilbur Myers, part time seasonal maintenance worker for the park, resigned as of April 12. Board members Angi Farrell and Paul Hughes both thanked Myers for all his years of hard work on behalf of the town and said he is greatly appreciated and will be missed.
• It was noted that a part time seasonal maintenance worker for the town will be needed and this will be someone who will care for the needs of the park and assist town worker, Jimmy Adkins as needed.
• Town Marshal Bob Curl reported that the police car is back in operation.
Attending the meeting were: Cathie Stratton, Grethen Moore, Angi Farrell and Paul Hughes. In the absence of board president Andy Stratton, Paul Hughes presided over the meeting.
The next meeting will be held at the Holton Community Center on May 10 at 7 p.m.
Demolition is part of progress
KAREN REYNOLDS PHOTO
Monday, April 16 was a day of mixed feelings for some as the old Holton school was taken down by Brooks and Earl Contracting of North Vernon. The school building sustained heavy damage in the March 2 tornado. According to Holton Fire Department member Frank Franklin, the land is being donated to the department by the owner, Tom Taylor. Franklin shared that he graduated from Holton High School in 1968 and that "lots of great basketball was played there," making it a sad day for him. But, looking to the future, Franklin knows leveling the school changes the landscape of Holton forever, but someday if future plans materialize, there will be a fire department building there and who knows what else?