May 2009

Also during the April 6th meeting, Scott Wagner of the Health Department met with us to ask us to consider removing the “Over 20 Acres” stipulation from the county’s junk and trash ordinance. Currently if you feel that someone’s place has junk or trash you can contact the Health Department to check it out.  However, if the parcel in question contains more than 20 acres it is exempt.  I’m not sure I like removing the 20 acre stipulation.  My concern is a farmer who has farm equipment sitting on his land and a neighbor considers the equipment “junk.”  Just because a plow or disc might be rusty does not make it junk. In fact, it could be a valuable piece of equipment to the farmer.  If the neighbor files a complaint, we would have no choice but to investigate it. Hopefully this will be published before our May 4th meeting so if you have an opinion I’d love to hear it.  Call me at (260) 609-2833 or email at damber@whitleynet.org. I believe this issue has two sides and if possible I’d like a win-win ending. 

On the other hand, Scott brought to us a request to investigate changing the county minimum land requirement for a septic system.  I believe the requirement is currently 1.84 acres which allows the installation of a conventional septic system. With today’s technology, Scott tells us that there are other septic systems, that while pretty expensive, do the same or better job and need less space.  We approved his looking into the situation as it could help develop land and bring more citizens into Whitley County.  I personally like the idea.

At our April 6 meeting the Commissioners appointed Bill Auer to the Whitley County Board of Zoning Appeals.  I think I stated it in a previous issue, but I would love to have names from Smith Township to submit when appointments are needed.  Please don’t hesitate letting me know if you want your name on a nomination list. 

Cathy Broxon-Ball presented the commissioners with an agreement between Whitley County Emergency Manage-ment Agency ( not to be confused with Whitley County EMS) and Parkview Whitley Hospital that would allow the EMA to assist the hospital in the event of a disaster too large for the hospital to handle by themselves.  While this is a pretty mundane agreement and makes perfect sense, I was unable to vote on it or sign it because I’m an employee of Parkview Health System, the parent company of Parkview Whitley Hospital.  I will never be able to vote on any issue involving the county and Parkview Health System, Parkview Whitley Hospital, or Whitley County EMS (managed, but not owned, by Parkview Whitley Hospital).  Doing so would be what is considered a “Conflict of Interest.”  Likewise, I had to sign a “Conflict of Interest” form for Parkview Whitley Hospital. 

We had an interesting situation to deal with this month also.  We received a complaint from a landowner who was offended because the amount of his property sale was public knowledge.  It’s true.  This is a direct result of moving towards “Fair Market Value” assessing.  The price of any sale of real estate is public record and can be viewed by anyone.  Every land transaction price must be recorded and paperwork with the sale price becomes a public record.

In between the two meetings, we hired a new highway superintendent, Mr. Mike Barton.  Mike has previously served in the same position in Huntington County.  During my campaign it became apparent that our roads’ conditions were on the minds of most folks and that we needed to do something.  I hope this is a good start but in all honesty, road funds come from gas taxes, NOT property taxes, so it’s no secret that our roads’ money is lessened when folks buy less gas.  It’s kind of a “Catch-22.”  At  a recent meeting I was asked to make a short address on the roads so here is my speech in its entirety.  “In Whitley County we have almost 700 miles of roads, most are in crappy shape, and we plan to fix them eventually!”  I couldn’t think of anything else to say.

Finally, I want to congratulate the Town of Churubusco for aggressively pursuing and getting a very nice grant for the water treatment system. I still don’t have a good handle on the “Stimulus money.”  The county applied for several million dollars towards ten projects but we’ve heard nothing as of this writing.  Actually, it’s hard to find anyone that can even help guide or direct you towards information.  It seems as though you have to hire and pay for “consultant services” in order to get anything done.  That just doesn’t seem right to me…….

Thanks for the input and kind words. See you next month.

 

  

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