Chesterton Tribune

Burns Harbor officially owns its own sewer plant

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Burns Harbor is now the official owner of the sewage treatment plant formerly owned by International Steel Group.

“We have concluded the transaction,” town attorney Robert Welsh told council members at Wednesday’s meeting. “The sewer plant, and the three plus acres it sits on, is now in the name of the town.”

The town continues in a contractual arrangement with ISG, soon to be Mittal, to run the plant.

The process has taken a few years, during which time, the owners of the plant have changed twice; first from Bethlehem Steel to ISG, now from ISG to Mittal.

The town has not had such good luck in its dealings with the Indiana American Water Company.

The town has finished paying off the bonds on the water system and would like to transfer ownership, and responsibility for maintenance, to IAWC.

That is if they could ever get anybody from IAWC to return a phone call. Welsh said he has been trying for some months now to discuss the ownership transfer with Randy Moore, vice-president of new business at IAWC, with no luck. “Nor have I received any communication from any other IAWC representative,” he said.

Town engineer Lee Nagai confirmed that there has been a good deal of turnover in higher management lately at IAWC.

Council member Poparad urged Welsh to “go up the ladder,” and make contact with officials higher up in the organization.

The $358,819 remaining in the Sewer Fund may be transferred either to the Rainy Day Fund or the General Fund, clerk-treasurer Jane Jordan said.

Growth Continues

“We’re busy,” acting building commissioner Gene Weibl told the council. Seven new residential construction applications were filed in April, four more in May. Six new occupancy permits were issued for April and “three or four so far in May,” Weibl added.

Weibl, who is serving as building commissioner until the town can find a replacement, said he is also working to get residents around town to deal with unsightly piles of brush.

Council members thanked Weibl for his service and said the town has received seven applications so far for his replacement. The council will set a meeting to interview candidates and will notify the public of that meeting.

Police Chief Jerry Price reported that the department handled seven accidents in April; two with injuries and five with property damage. Eighteen arrests were made; two felony and 16 misdemeanors.

Officers issued 84 tickets, 52 warning tickets and 91 verbal warnings; made 80 assists and answered 35 complaints. Squad cars traveled 6,673 miles.

Price repeated his request that residents contact the police department if they’re interested in organizing a National Night Out event, when citizens show solidarity against drugs and crime.

“We’re still looking for input from the public. Give us a call,” Price said.

Price submitted for review by the council and town attorney, a written “force continuum” guideline, outlining the steps officers need to take before using physical force, when and how to use force. Welsh took the proposal under advisement and will meet with Price to discuss the guidelines prior to the next council meeting.

Street commissioner Doug Wentz said he has some funds left over in his paving budget and is analyzing needs around town. Besides that he said “It’s just mow, mow, mow.”

Council member Bernie Poparad noted that the street department employees have been working hard around the street and building department offices; with a new safe, new computer and recently a new door installed.

Council members agreed that to avoid double and triple handling of sewer bills, payments should be directed to Laurie McCormick at the Building Department offices, 310 Navajo Trail, if hand delivered or mailed. The drop box in front of the town hall will remain in place.

The fire department responded to one structure fire in April, one vehicle accident, provided mutual aid five times, put out two wild fires and two rubbish fires and answered one false alarm, Bill Arney reported. Firefighters put in 94 training hours and 45 duty hours, with three training nights.

The council approved purchase of three new radar units for the police vehicles at a cost of $2,700 and six new pagers for firefighters at a cost of $3,167, which will come out of the Cumulative Capital Development Fund. President Jim McGee, Poparad and Richard Bolinger voted in favor of the expenditure. Louis Bain and Michael Perrine were absent.

Leann Perrine, park board president, announced that hiring of summer help is underway and orientation training has begun for the park department’s summer programs.

Rebuilding Together provided help in the park, mulching and refurbishing, she said.

Expenditure of the CEDIT (County Economic Development Income Tax) funds dedicated to park improvement is “on track,” she said. “We’ve got a lot of projects going on.”

The park department will also receive over 50 free trees, thanks to resident Jim Brocksmith.

Brocksmith purchased Red Pine and Norway Spruce seedlings in bulk and had too many left over to plant on his own property and offered them to the town.

Operation Lifesaver

The council unanimously supported making the week of May 18, Operation Lifesaver Grade Crossing Safety Week. Residents are urged to observe driving safety laws, exercise caution when crossing rail lines and observe and obey crossing gates to prevent accidents and loss of life at grade crossings of railroads.

Over the past five years, 35 accidents in Porter County at rail crossings have killed ten people and injured five.

In other business, the council approved spraying the town three times in 2005 for mosquito control. The budgeted $400 is the same amount the town spent last year.

The council also approved renewal of the town employees’ health insurance, which carries a $250 deductible for each employee.

The council took no action on the flex-time versus over-time pay question for town employees. Price asked the council to allow him to continue to grant over-time pay, or flex-time, as needed. He said he did not spend the entire amount in his budget last year for over-time. “It’s not planned over-time,” he noted, “it’s coincidental over-time. Sometimes you can’t just leave.”

Street Commissioner Doug Wentz said he would be comfortable with a limit on accrued flex-time.

A workshop on the firearms ordinance is expected to be scheduled the first week of June, depending on all council members availability. “We need to have it dealt with,” said Poparad.

Three bids were received and opened for the town’s used Cub Cadet mower. The successful bidder offered $710.05.

Poparad accepted an invitation offered by Claude Martinez, of VFW Post 503, to be a part of the Memorial Day ceremonies, May 30, at Hawthorne Park. Everyone is invited to attend.



Posted 5/12/2005