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December 13, 2012

Milan lake project in peril

Cindy Ward
Staff Writer

The Town of Milan is running out of time to get surveys completed to apply for grant funding for the Dam and Lake Project. That was the focus of the regular meeting of the Milan Town Council held Tuesday, December 10, in which all members were present.

In order to qualify for grant funding, the town must have at least 300 surveys completed by residents living within the town limits. Milan High School honor students were sent out to conduct surveys door-to-door, but were only able to obtain 25 surveys of the necessary 300.

"It is critical to get these surveys done as soon as possible," said board attorney Larry Eaton.

"In order to do the repairs (to the lake) it's probably going to cost close to $3.5 million. The town doesn't have that kind of money, so we've applied through OCRA (Office of Community and Rural Affairs)," Eaton said. "They have money that we can apply for and we're hoping to get some contribution from them and then work with the railroad, hopefully, and they can fund whatever we can't fund."

"We need to probably come up with some matching money besides the grant money. But, we can't qualify unless we can show that we are an economically depressed community basically, and that's why the surveys are being taken," said Eaton.

Eaton noted that the surveys may qualify the town for the OCRA grant. He said that the Wastewater Treatment Plant, which affects the entire town is downstream from the lake and that, too, could be in peril.

For those who may not be informed, Eaton explains how the lake project came about:

"In 1850, the railroad built their tracks through the (lake area). Of course they had steam engines, so they built a little pond so they would have a place to fill up their engines and get water for steam. Then, in 1949 or 1950, they were converting to diesels so they were going to abandon the pond," said Eaton. "The town had started using that as a water source - a raw water source at the time and the town actually elevated the level of the water, probably close to where it is now."

"About 12 years ago, we noticed that there was some deterioration out there. There was kind of a depression between the rails at that time. So, the town employed the architectural firm, Burke, out of Indianapolis. They came down and looked at it and we worked with the railroad at that time and some repairs were made. The pipe was eroding and rusted out and caused a whole bunch of problems," Eaton said.

"The DNR has a dam agency that inspects all dams in Indiana. They inspected this about a year ago and determined that it was deteriorating again, so it was going to have to be fixed. There are several ways to fix it. One way is to just take the dam out. And, the railroad considered that as maybe its primary option at the time, because it's going to cost less to just put in a tube or something and drain the pond," Eaton said. "Unfortunately, that would leave us with a swamp in town. So, we were trying to prevent that from happening, because it backs up to several pieces of property, including the town park, the golf course and some nice homes."

"I'm in the process of working out the agreement with the railroad on what the responsibilities are. And, I've been in touch with the engineers from CSX, as well as their attorney. We've received some support from Randy Frye, our representative. He's been working with us on it," said Eaton.

Milan resident, Phyllis Coe, was in attendance and offered her assistance in getting the surveys completed.

There are no guarantees that the town will receive the grant even if they do get 300 surveys, but in order to find out, the surveys must be conducted in order to qualify for the application.

The board plans to schedule a public hearing to go over the lake project and answer any questions or concerns that Milan residents may have.

In other business, John Ingram, town manager, reported on the trash pick-up contract with Rumpke. The number of trash pick-ups is less than what was previously estimated so they are reducing. Rumpke bills the town on the number of pick-ups, so it was decided to go with a per-household cost, which will save the town an estimated $175 to $200 per month. The new contract will take effect in April. An advertisement will be run in March to inform the public.

Gary Skaggs, town marshall, reported that they have their new cell phones and all are working good and have great service. He again requested that his phone be upgraded so that he is able to check emails due to the computerized system being down. He said that he has received several emails over the past month and was unable to check or respond to them in a timely manner. The board approved Skaggs's request.

Skaggs presented the town marshal's report, which included one theft report, three criminal mischief reports, two domestic calls, one traffic arrest, 24 traffic warnings, three VIN checks, 34 calls for service, 11 calls to assist other agencies, two fire and EMS assists, and 113 reserve officer hours.

The dog-sharing agreement with the Town of Sunman was discussed. Milan has a police dog and they are entering into an inter-local agreement with Sunman to share the use of the animal, as well as the costs associated with it.

On, December 22, a public meeting of solicitation will be held regarding Boy Scout Troop 631 soliciting donations at the four-way stop on the corner of S.R. 350 and 101. Money raised will benefit homeless veterans. Scouts will be allowed up to three hours for their fundraising event.

The municipal code will soon be put on the town's website so that people will be able to go online and look up ordinances.

Board members voted on and unanimously approved resolution 12-R1, which sets the salaries for next year. This is an annual requirement. Town employees were given a one-percent raise. This excludes board members, who did not take raises.

In other news, the following items were unanimously approved:

• Approval of the minutes from the October meeting.

• Review and approval to pay utilities and town bills.

With no further business, the meeting was adjourned. The next meeting of the Milan Town Council will take place on Monday, January 14, at 6:30 p.m., at the Milan Town Hall.

County deputies no longer able to use squad cars for personal use

Wanda English Burnet

At the conclusion of the Nov. 30 meeting of the Ripley County Commissioners, which had been recessed and then reconvened in the new annex building, commissioners voted to no longer allow sheriff deputies to use squad cars for their personal use.

Commissioner Mark Busching said the county highway superintendent Junior Heaton already had the policy in place for those who have been issued county vehicles at the highway department so it will make it more in line with what they do.

The sheriff said it was a matter of public safety and wants his department to be able to use their vehicles for personal use. He said with more police vehicles on the street, it gives a police presence, therefore making it a safer situation for the public, whether the officer is on duty or not.

The county commissioners voted that county vehicles can still be taken home, they cannot, however, be used for personal use.

The high costs of insurance for the vehicles, coupled with the fuel and maintenance charges, is one reason cited for many municipalities across the area taking a harder look at the use of government-owned vehicles. Batesville already has a policy in place and are not allowed to use their police vehicles for personal use, according to Chief Stan Holt.

Indiana State troopers are allowed to drive their cars for personal use, but that comes with a price, according to Sgt. Noel Houze Jr., public information officer for the ISP, Versailles Post.

He said he's had to drop his wife off at a convenience store before so he could answer a call. Sgt. Houze said state troopers are on the job 24 hours a day, 7 days a week when they are in their cars. "When we are in the car, we are technically on duty, even though we are not on the clock," he said. He noted if you choose to drive your car and you're called, or the situation arises, you have to respond, even if it interferes with family time.

To read these and more articles pick up a copy of The Versailles Republican at your local store or subscribe by clicking on the link above or by calling 812-689-6364.

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