I knew that this job wouldn’t be easy and that I would disappoint some people while making others happy but I had to make my first “tough” decision at the February meeting. I’ve gone on record as being a proponent of a trail system. I would love to have a walking/bicycle trail running from Churubusco to Columbia City. That said, I felt compelled to make the motion that the county not accept four parcels of land from the DNR that would be given to the Eel River Greenway Task Force. Allow me to explain my decision. These four parcels first of all are former railroad parcels from the railroad that used to run through Churubusco and on to Columbia City. The entire railroad ran from Butler to South Whitley. Unfortunately, these four parcels do not connect to each other. Three are in the Collins area and the fourth is located in Union Township. I sent letters to adjoining land owners asking their opinions and a majority of them were not in favor. The task force admitted to us in an earlier meeting that they had “no plans of creating a trail” on these parcels so that coupled with the adjoining landowners comments led me to make the motion that we do not accept the land at this time. It’s my personal opinion that had this offer been made forty some years ago when the railroad abandoned the line, such a trail would have been easily made and most likely no one would have objected.
We also received a report from Paula Worden, Community Corrections Coordinator and Julie Jensen-Kelley. I think our county was ahead of the curve a few years ago when they purchased a motel and converted it to our work release center. Previously, those convicted of infractions were forced to live in the jail but be released daily to go to their jobs. This caused the jail to be overcrowded. It makes much more sense to me to have these folks working but still limit their freedom during non-work hours. If you haven’t seen the center, the next time you go to Walmart look for the big gray building with all the mopeds in the parking lot.
Last month I spoke with you about pending legislation that would do away with three county commissioners and replace them with one “county manager.” As I write this, the Senate is still pushing this bill so if you feel like we need to retain the three “elected” commissioners, please contact your state Senator, Gary “Doc” Dillon and let him know how you feel. Time is getting short!!!
On a more pleasant note, the proposed legislation to do away with townships is not going well in the Senate. I firmly believe that we need the most “grass root” government system and the township trustee is a vital part of that system. A major morning newspaper in a nearby city recently published a story that said townships are just “sitting on money.” Townships must keep sufficient money on hand to conduct business. Smith Township has over $200,000.00 in the cumulative fire fund. Is that excessive???? I don’t think so when in the next 30 days they’ll be purchasing a new fire/rescue truck and paying CASH for it. Smith Township hasn’t had to borrow money in the last twenty years. Having cash on hand is NOT wrong despite the nearby major city morning newspaper’s opinion. P.S. That newspaper, unlike this newspaper, does NOT pay taxes in Whitley County.
Please allow me to finish with one of my “famous” opinions. One of the items brought to the commissioners in February was the need for new carpeting in the Circuit Court. We were presented with one quote from a local firm. To me, that is “good news and bad news.” I want to purchase as much as possible from Whitley County businesses but at the same time I feel that big expenditures should be quoted or bid from multiple sources within the county if possible. I will strive to see that we (the county) do as much business as possible with local firms and keep our tax money at home.
Thanks for listening, and be safe!!!!