October 2009

As usual, our meeting started with Mr. Dan Sigler, our county attorney, giving his monthly report to the commissioners. Mr. Sigler reported that the agreement between Whitley County and Richard J. Bagan Inc., is complete and ready for our signatures. Earlier this year Mr. Bagan approached the county requesting CEDIT (County Economic Development Income Tax) funds to help with the revitalization of his facility so that business growth along with the addition of employees could take place. At the time the county’s position was that we’d prefer to spend the funds for technology. According to Mr. Sigler the agreement will provide Bagan Inc. with $90,000.00 over three years  in separate payments of $30,000.00 each of the three years. Naturally, we placed stipulations that must be met before actual payment is made each year. He also reported that the lawsuit filed against the county, specifically the county treasurer for “stealing” money by sending him a bill for tax collection has been dismissed. Commissioner’s Chairman Tom Rethlake asked Mr. Sigler to look into possible ordinances regarding wind powered devices. Individually owned wind powered generating devices as well as devices owned by companies may require such an ordinance. Finally, Mr. Sigler was requested to investigate the county’s responsibility for humane shelters. He reported back to us at our September 21 meeting.

Mr. Brandon Forrester, the Whitley County Engineer, presented to the commissioners, a report on the Bridge Scoring Committee’s findings. The law states that we must conduct bridge inspections every two years and every four years a company must be selected to conduct the inspection. Mr. Forrester’s recommendation was to retain USI, the same inspection firm that we’ve been using. As a member of the scoring committee I must say that Brandon did a thorough job of reviewing the proposals and I too agree that USI is the firm to use. It isn’t really a matter of Whitley County paying the bill though as this project is funded 80% by the state and only 20% by the county. 

Next we appointed a new member to the South Whitley-Cleveland Township Library Board. Renee Wozniak, the library director, presented the name of Sue Lopshire as the new board member and the commissioners agreed by a 3-0 vote to appoint Ms. Lopshire. A resident of Richland Township (Larwill area) was present to voice displeasure over the appointment as she feels someone from Richland Township should be appointed. It was then pointed out that Ms. Lopshire is a resident of Richland Township so that discussion ended. Interestingly enough, the commissioners appoint a member of both the South Whitley-Cleveland Township and the Peabody Library in Columbia City. The commissioners did ask Ms. Wozniak why, since Richland Township was a part of the library district, the library wasn’t named South Whitley-Cleveland-Richland Township Library.  Apparently no one ever gave it any thought but I also got the feeling no change would be made either.

Other business included a report on two home demolitions (Health Department ordered), Forklift training for Solid Waste and County Highway Department employees, and an agreement that since the state has delayed reassessment for another year that we will also delay our contract with Accurate Assessments, Inc., the company that we hired to do reassessing. 

Who breeched the contract first? That was the question of the day at our second September meeting. Dan Sigler, county attorney, reported that his findings show that while a city or town might be legally liable to provide animal control, a county is not. There are no rules, ordinances or laws that state a county has to provide animal control, or shelter. That said, Mr. Sigler also feels that the county might have the responsibility to provide the shelter in Columbia City with the $10,000.00 set forth in the 2009 county budget. The question is who breeched the contract between the shelter and the county first. Did the shelter breech the contract earlier this spring by telling the county that they would no longer accept county animals (and they did stop accepting county animals) if the county didn’t pay them $30,000.00 in 2009 ($20,000.00 more than the 2009 agreement called for) or, did the county breech the contract by stating that if the shelter didn’t want to accept our $10,000.00 then the county wouldn’t pay them at all????? While I’m more than willing to listen to your comments on this subject, keep in mind that all these “county” decisions were made by the Whitley County Council, NOT the Whitley County Commissioners.

Mr. Michael Barton, Whitley County Highway Supervisor, presented the latest information to the commissioners about sealing county roads as well as reporting that talks with Allen  County have started with regards to the Whitley County east county line road which is the Allen County’s west county line road. Ever wonder about who has the responsibility of county line roads? Easy answer . . . each county is responsible for their east and south county line roads. Mr. Barton believes that it would be possible to get federal funding to rebuild the east county line road and make the intersections safer. I make quite a few ambulance runs on that road and indeed the intersections are dangerous. In the first place, one of our Einstein ancestors decided that the Whitley County roads and Allen County roads won’t come out at the same location along the county line road. They are several yards from each other . . .DUH!!! If this project becomes reality the road will be widened and intersections changed to become safer. 

I’ve pretty much skimmed over the events of September but have tried to make sure you have learned about the most important ones. I’d encourage anyone to attend a commissioner meeting in the future. They are held on the first and third Monday at 1 p.m. Wondering why they are not held of an evening? That was tried a few years ago and attendance was no better than daytime meetings and . . . many county employees need to attend the meetings and we’d have to allow them “compensation” time if they attended.  More costs to the county. 

See you next month when we talk about the Churubusco meeting, a barking dog (and maybe a loud Peacock) ordinance, and the new county website. I know you’ll have trouble sleeping waiting on such great information so take my advice and drink warm milk just before bedtime . . . or . . . read this article again.  One of them will put you to sleep!

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