Chesterton Tribune

Burns Harbor considering town hall lobby phone to contact on duty police

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By PAULENE POPARAD

When the police clerk leaves for the day and the clerk-treasurer isn’t in the building, the Burns Harbor town hall is locked, which can make it difficult to find and speak to a police officer.

At this month’s Town Council meeting, department heads suggested a telephone be installed between the inner and outer doors of the town hall entrance so the public can contact a Burns Harbor officer on duty.

The telephone would ring only into the Porter County Sheriff dispatch center that handles Burns Harbor police calls.

Anticipated cost of the phone installation is less than $1,000. Council member Mike Perrine said since the outer door now would be open, an additional security camera should be installed in the vestibule. The consensus was to get firm proposals for both the telephone and camera before agreeing to have them installed.

Town marshal Craig Barnes said last month his department responded to 845 incidents including four crashes, two resulting in property damage and two personal injury. Eleven misdemeanor arrests were made and five for felonies. Tickets written numbered 140, warning tickets 290, verbal warnings 65, assists to other departments 125, and 30 reports were taken.

Police vehicles traveled 9,147 miles in March.

The council voted 5-0 to begin paying full-time police officers a $60 per-month cellular telephone allowance since they are on-call 24 hours a day; the benefit will begin with the first May payroll.

Department heads and the Town Council president already receive the same allowance, but a decision to extend it to the four remaining council members was postponed pending an opinion from state tax officials whether it would be considered a mid-year salary increase.

In other business, the council agreed to let Plan Commission/Board of Zoning Appeals secretary Tyler DeMar coordinate revisions and updates to the town code, a portion of which was pulled from the town website recently when it was determined the online code was out of date.

DeMar asked town officials to flag those portions of the code as well as sections that are in error or need to be changed. Revisions have to begin at the Plan Commission before final adoption by the Town Council.

DeMar also said the current code books used by individual members of several boards sometimes differ so he recommended the books eventually be scrapped and the corrected ones printed or made available to members online if that’s their preference.

In 2009 the town received a grant to update its comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance but the work had to be done at an accelerated pace or the money would be lost. Since that time some surprises have occurred as to what’s in the zoning ordinance --- and what’s not.

On other matters during last week’s Town Council meeting:

• Fire chief Bill Arney said in March the Fire Department responded to 19 calls spending 16.5 hours on emergency scenes: seven were assists to ambulance calls, four vehicle accidents, three mutual aid to Portage, two brush fires, and one each to Mittal Steel and a dive team call-out. Firefighters spent 202 man hours on station duty and training; department vehicles traveled 429 miles.

• As Sanitation superintendent Arney said headway continues to be made in eliminating a sewer smell in the Haglund Road area. The sewer system is about 10 years old.

• The Town Council approved an ordinance creating a non-reverting fire fund so the Sanitation Board can pay the Fire Department $200 to flush sewer lines. The money will be used to replenish supplies.

• The Sanitation Board meets Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the town hall with safety equipment to be discussed among other matters. The public may comment at the meeting’s conclusion.

• Also approved by the Town Council was a law enforcement training and equipment fund where fees for various police services will be deposited. Barnes said he wants to initiate a $25 impound-release fee.

• Street Department superintendent Randy Skalku informed residents seasonal brush will be picked up on the first and third Mondays of the month beginning May 7. Brush should be placed in the town right-of-way facing one direction, no limb being more than 6 feet long or 6 inches in diameter. Prior to May 7 brush pick-up can be arranged by calling the Street Department. Also, May 24 is spring big garbage day when large items will be collected.

• Clerk-treasurer Jane Jordan said she’s awaiting word into which fund the town should place unanticipated county income tax money discovered recently due to a state error. Burns Harbor could receive $19,186.

• It was announced applications are due June 30 for town residents seeking educational scholarship assistance. The student must attend an upper-level institution of learning and provide proof they are accepted or enrolled there. Applications are available at the town hall and at the Chesterton High School career center.

• Students who live in Burns Harbor and are interested in how their town operates are encouraged to contact the town hall to participate in the upcoming Municipal Government Week next month.

• By a 5-0 vote a surplus town 2003 Chevrolet Impala was sold to Mark Quartuch for $655.

• The town’s Redevelopment Commission met prior to the Town Council; it was the first RDC meeting in almost seven months. The Town Council serves as RDC members. Freeze was elected commission president and Greg Miller vice-president.

 

Posted 4/16/2012