Planned power outage in NW Linton

pexels-photo-128665

According to the Facebook page “From The Desk of Linton Mayor John Wilkes“, a power outage is scheduled for Northwest Linton at 11:30pm on Wednesday, October 26th.  The outage should last between 2-4 hours.

Planned power outage in NW Linton

pexels-photo-128665

According to the Facebook page “From The Desk of Linton Mayor John Wilkes“, a power outage is scheduled for Northwest Linton at 11:30pm on Wednesday, October 26th.  The outage should last between 2-4 hours.

New Technology Business Opens Downtown

IMG_20160426_100006

KairoTech Computer Services is kicking off their Grand Opening Week tomorrow at 1:30pm with a ribbon cutting ceremony with the City of Linton Mayor John Wilkes and the Linton Chamber of Commerce.

It has been some time since Linton has had a professional computer and electronics service center.  Their website, kairotech.com, lists the services available such as virus removal, file recovery and transfer, secure recycling, parts and software installation, regular PC tune-ups, troubleshooting, and more.

The owner, Josh Dean, has also started posting videos about current technology issues and questions on YouTube.

KT Chamber

According to a post on their Facebook page, they’re also giving away a new iPad Mini this week.

The new business should not only be a welcome asset to downtown, but all of Linton and the surrounding communities now that people are able to get service and support without having to drive an hour or more away.

 

2015 Election Results – Linton Municipal Election

VOTE by flickr-Theresa Thompson

We’ll be posting the results from today’s Municipal Election following the closing of the polls at 6pm.

(Numbers last updated 7:06pm)

Mayor

John A. Wilkes (D) John Ray Correll (R)
785 692

Clerk-Treasurer

Jathan K. Wright (D) John D. Preble (R)
897 573

City Council

Stockton 3

Tony Richards (D)
227

Stockton 4

Richard “Dick” Kaiser (D) Linda Bedwell (I)
90 227

Stockton 5

Fred Markle (D)
140

Stockton 6

Jeff Sparks (D) Christopher M. Wathen (R)
178 172

Stockton 7

Jerry L. Ellett (D) Gregory R. Sapp (R)
190 138

Official election results are at www.co.greene.in.us

2015 Election Results – Linton Municipal Election

VOTE by flickr-Theresa Thompson

Warm, sunny weather greeted voters on Tuesday, November 3rd as they made their way to the polls for the 2015 Municipal Election in Linton, Indiana. Here are the results from races for Mayor, Clerk-Treasurer, City Council.

John Wilkes defeated Republican challenger, John Correll in the Mayor’s race by 93 votes, while current Councilman, Jathan Wright, defeated John Preble for the Clerk-Treasurer’s seat. Fred Markle, Tony Richards, and Linda Bedwell will retain their seats on the City Council while Jeff Sparks and former Councilman, Jerry Ellett,  will now represent the 6th and 7th precincts respectively.

(Numbers last updated 7:36pm)

Mayor

John A. Wilkes (D) John Ray Correll (R)
785 692

Clerk-Treasurer

Jathan K. Wright (D) John D. Preble (R)
897 573

City Council

Stockton 3

Tony Richards (D)
227

Stockton 4

Richard “Dick” Kaiser (D) Linda Bedwell (I)
90 227

Stockton 5

Fred Markle (D)
140

Stockton 6

Jeff Sparks (D) Christopher M. Wathen (R)
178 172

Stockton 7

Jerry L. Ellett (D) Gregory R. Sapp (R)
190 138

Official election results can be found at www.co.greene.in.us

City of Linton Honors Fallen Police Officer: Proclaims Feb. 7, 2015 as Fred Cromwell Day

Linton Police Officer Paul Clark, middle, sharing information about his research regarding the death of Fred Cromwell. Police Chief Troy Jerrell, at right, and Mayor John Wilkes, at left, also spoke during the honorary reception.

On Friday, Linton City Hall was the site of an honorary reception for the only Linton Police Officer to be killed in the line of duty.

Linton Mayor John Wilkes read a proclamation establishing Saturday, Feb. 7 as Fred Cromwell Day. Cromwell was killed in the line of duty 100 years ago after serving six days with the local department. He also served as the fire chief prior to serving as an officer.

Linton Police Chief Troy Jerrell thanked the packed room for the show of support regarding the proclamation.

“I would like to thank everyone for their support. This is what the small community is all about,” he said.

“[We] had never came across this information… I almost didn’t believe it at first,” Jerrell added, noting Linton Police Officer Paul Clark researched the matter.

Officer Clark then explained that all law enforcement officers make many sacrifices, but Cromwell is the only Linton Police Officer to have lost his life in the line of duty.

“Everyone here has made many sacrifices, but no one here has lost their lives,” Clark explained, noting his goal in researching the matter was to find out what really happened to Cromwell.

“I believe that sacrifices need to be recognized. People need to know that this sacrifice was made,” Clark also said.

During his research, Clark discovered several newspaper articles about the incident.

One such article from the Cincinnati Enquirer, noted Cromwell was shot and killed by two burglars whom he detected in the clothing store of Louis Friedman on Feb. 7, 1915. According to the same article, bloodhounds, owned by the Linton Police Department, lost the trail about three miles southeast of Linton, where the burglars stole two horses from James Reed, a farmer living in Lyons.

Another such article, from the Indianapolis News, noted that Cromwell was killed instantly during a revolver fight at the store. Furthermore, the article states Cromwell, a night policeman, was shot in the head and stomach and that his revolver displayed three empty cartridges. There were no witnesses to the scene, but persons aroused by the sound of shots, noted two men running away from the store. The robbers, in their flight, dropped a bag containing 13 pairs of shoes.

Frank Toricelli was arrested by police in Los Angeles in connection with Cromwell’s murder in March, 1915. He was later charged with the murder of Cromwell and served life in prison.

Saturday, Feb. 7 marked 100 years since Cromwell’s death.

Several members of Cromwell’s family were present during the proclamation reading. Becky Yung, Cromwell’s granddaughter, was one of them.

She explained that the story of her grandfather was well-known within the family, but that through Clark’s research additional details were uncovered.

“We learned that [Cromwell] was apprehended and sentenced to prison – that part we did not know,” Yung explained.

City of Linton Honors Fallen Police Officer: Proclaims Feb. 7, 2015 as Fred Cromwell Day

Linton Police Officer Paul Clark, middle, sharing information about his research regarding the death of Fred Cromwell. Police Chief Troy Jerrell, at right, and Mayor John Wilkes, at left, also spoke during the honorary reception.

On Friday, Linton City Hall was the site of an honorary reception for the only Linton Police Officer to be killed in the line of duty.

Linton Mayor John Wilkes read a proclamation establishing Saturday, Feb. 7 as Fred Cromwell Day. Cromwell was killed in the line of duty 100 years ago after serving six days with the local department. He also served as the fire chief prior to serving as an officer.

Linton Police Chief Troy Jerrell thanked the packed room for the show of support regarding the proclamation.

“I would like to thank everyone for their support. This is what the small community is all about,” he said.

“[We] had never came across this information… I almost didn’t believe it at first,” Jerrell added, noting Linton Police Officer Paul Clark researched the matter.

Officer Clark then explained that all law enforcement officers make many sacrifices, but Cromwell is the only Linton Police Officer to have lost his life in the line of duty.

“Everyone here has made many sacrifices, but no one here has lost their lives,” Clark explained, noting his goal in researching the matter was to find out what really happened to Cromwell.

“I believe that sacrifices need to be recognized. People need to know that this sacrifice was made,” Clark also said.

During his research, Clark discovered several newspaper articles about the incident.

One such article from the Cincinnati Enquirer, noted Cromwell was shot and killed by two burglars whom he detected in the clothing store of Louis Friedman on Feb. 7, 1915. According to the same article, bloodhounds, owned by the Linton Police Department, lost the trail about three miles southeast of Linton, where the burglars stole two horses from James Reed, a farmer living in Lyons.

Another such article, from the Indianapolis News, noted that Cromwell was killed instantly during a revolver fight at the store. Furthermore, the article states Cromwell, a night policeman, was shot in the head and stomach and that his revolver displayed three empty cartridges. There were no witnesses to the scene, but persons aroused by the sound of shots, noted two men running away from the store. The robbers, in their flight, dropped a bag containing 13 pairs of shoes.

Frank Toricelli was arrested by police in Los Angeles in connection with Cromwell’s murder in March, 1915. He was later charged with the murder of Cromwell and served life in prison.

Saturday, Feb. 7 marked 100 years since Cromwell’s death.

Several members of Cromwell’s family were present during the proclamation reading. Becky Yung, Cromwell’s granddaughter, was one of them.

She explained that the story of her grandfather was well-known within the family, but that through Clark’s research additional details were uncovered.

“We learned that [Cromwell] was apprehended and sentenced to prison – that part we did not know,” Yung explained.

Linton Council Discusses Possible Loss of Business Personal Property Tax Revenue

City Hall

The Linton City Council met Monday evening, and once again the possible loss of business personal property tax income was a hot item on the agenda. Mayor John Wilkes noted that State Representative Matt Ubelhor was supposed to be at the meeting.

“I had a meeting with him a few weeks ago on this business personal property tax and he could not convince me that what the legislature is doing is right,” Wilkes explained. “He couldn’t prove to me that they were going to give us a revenue stream that would replace that money they’re going to be taking from the business personal property taxes.”

The mayor said Ubelhor agreed to attend the council meeting to explain the matter to attendees, but although the city sent him an invitation and a reminder he did not respond or show up at City Hall.

“I thank all the policemen and the firemen for coming out tonight, because their jobs are on the line if they are cutting all of these monies out of the personal property tax,” said Wilkes, adding that he still encourages everyone to contact their legislators and the governor, to let them know that the city needs that revenue.

Council President Jathan Wright reminded everyone that the council had to make a tough vote last year, after property tax caps necessitated the downsizing of both the police and fire departments.

“Now we have this breathing down our neck, and we’re not wanting to put our public safety at risk at all … Everybody contact your legislators and tell them,” he urged. “This is not a Democrat issue and this is not a Republican issue, it’s a community issue and it’s a matter of survival for our community.”

He added that it is something everybody should be passionate about.

“I’ll be truthful,” said Wilkes. “If this one passes, we will lose more money off of this one than we did off of the other one and we cannot have that. They just cannot keep doing that to us.”

He noted that legislators are trying to give communities options, but that the options are no good.

“One of them is to have local option income taxes controlled by the county, but we already have that. [Police Chief Troy Jerrell] and I were in a meeting over our 911 and we threw that out on the table to get them to put the local option income tax on– this was with our county council. Absolutely not– we’re not going to impose any more taxes. Well, I don’t like taxes either, but we have to have services and take care of our roads and take care of our people,” the mayor stated.

Council Member Linda Bedwell pointed out that the tax cuts would affect the city’s library and school, and Linton-Stockton Teacher Dan Thorlton stated that the school is struggling.

“We aren’t,” he clarified. “Our children are.”

Fire Chief Brad Sparks mentioned the two fire-related fatalities Sullivan has recently endured, and said that no one wants to see that happen in Linton.

“We had a shooting two or three weeks ago right here in town,” he continued. “That’s what this is going to affect. The roads have seen tremendous troubles this year with the weather being so bad, and that’s where that money comes from– those taxes.”

In other business, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Cheryl Hamilton presented the city with a check for the park fund.

“The Chamber does the motocross out at the Conservation Club on city property. We have a lease with them, and every year they bring us a check from the profits they make off of that. So we appreciate it,” Wilkes explained.

Tom Densford told the council that the Indiana Railroad would like to finalize a discussion that started ten years ago. He said that as far as he could tell, there was an agreement between the city and the railroad to transfer ground to the city to be used as an access road. The railroad wanted two crossings closed between 7th and 8th street.

Densford said those things were done, but the paperwork was never completed to convey the property to the city. He noted that when the railroad and Wilkes began discussions again late last year, the city wanted to extend the strip of ground to 12th street, partly in order to improve the road to the electrical substation.

The railroad has requested that the city consider closing two additional crossings at 4th and 2nd Streets SW. He said the railroad wants this done because of pressure from INDOT and the Federal Regulatory Authorities to close as many crossings as possible.

“Indiana rates among the lowest in the country at crossing safety,” Densford explained. “That [means] they rate among the highest in the country at railroad crossing accidents including fatalities.”

INDOT has money available through a grant program, which could be paid to the city to be deposited in the general fund. INDOT estimates the city would receive about $30,000 for the closings of both crossings.

The public will be asked to provide input on the subject before any closures occur.

Sparks pointed out that a closure on 2nd street could cause a problem for emergency personnel.

“If we’ve got a train across the tracks here and we’ve got to get emergency personnel across down here, obviously we’re not going to be the only ones who are going to be crossing there. There is going to be other traffic smart enough to know, ‘Hey, we’ve got a shortcut and we’re going to go over here’. If we’re trying to drive a fire truck down the side roads, it [isn’t] going to happen.”

The mayor said he will get a traffic count for that road, and the council agreed to take a look at the matter before discussing it further.

Bedwell presented an “Attagirl Award” to Jerrie Thuis, a CVS employee who Bedwell credited with helping save a citizen from a scam that could have cost the woman thousands of dollars.

“With me, it’s not all about picking up trash sometimes,” Bedwell noted. “There’s a lot more important things that go on here in Linton, and one of them is taking care of our own. That’s what we do in Linton.”

Wilkes explained that Council Member Fred Markle first introduced the “Attagirl” and “Attaboy” awards to recognize outstanding citizens.

The council approved several invoices and change orders for the wastewater plant, including:

  • A $3,200 SIDC invoice
  • An $80,933.40 Graves Plumbing invoice
  • An $8,707.42 Graves Plumbing change order
  • A $10,375.90 Insituform change order
  • A $84,566.58 Insituform invoice
  • A $4,811.10 Insituform invoice

Rediscover Downtown Linton Takes Center Stage at Chamber Meeting

Linton COC Augusty 15th 011

Rediscovering downtown Linton took center stage at the Linton-Stockton Chamber of Commerce’s meeting on Tuesday, as Kathy Matthews, secretary of the Rediscover Downtown Linton organization, shared details on the program.

“Rediscover Downtown Linton is a Main Street program. We’re here to promote community, culture, and commerce in the downtown area,” Matthews explained.

The local organization is currently made up of the following four committees: Beautification/design of downtown, organization, economic development and restructuring, and promotions.

“We’re always looking for new ideas,” she said, noting members are currently working on a retail-oriented business function event for March or April and a ‘Sweet on the Street’ event for June.

There’s also discussion of bringing  Spookfest back to downtown Linton instead of having it at Humphreys Park, Matthews explained.

“We want everybody to be thinking about Linton all year-long,” she added.

She also welcomed the following businesses to the downtown area: The Silver Lining, Dyer General Store, and #1 Asian Buffet.

Matthews is also currently working on a community calendar that will include ongoing organizational events and special organizational events scheduled for Linton and the Greene County area.

She also encouraged Facebook users to ‘like’ the Rediscover Downtown Linton page and the Linton, Indiana page.

The Linton, Indiana page is now up and running. The page includes links to local places and attractions as well as local progress.

Rediscover Downtown Linton meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. at Linton City Hall. Nobel Stallons is president of the organization.

In other business, L-S Chamber Executive Director Cheryl Hamilton noted the following:

  • The Linton Round Table has been reestablished with Linton Mayor John Wilkes. The small group meets over lunch with the mayor to discuss matters and voice concerns.
  • A fish fry is slated for April 1.
  • Motocross is slated for April 12 and 13.
  • The L-S Chamber will have a booth at the upcoming city-wide sales event. Members can drop off donations, with items to be tagged by chamber volunteers. All proceeds from the chamber booth will benefit the chamber. The city-wide sales event will be scheduled sometime in the near future.

 

 

Mayor Wilkes Continues Valentine’s Day Tradition

Photo courtesy of How Charming Photography

Linton Mayor John Wilkes spent part of his Valentine’s Day surprising others with carnations.

“I go around to all of the stores in town and in the surrounding area and give the ladies a valentine,” he explained.

Wilkes said the Valentine’s Day tradition started some time ago and he decided to continue it once he became mayor.

“Everyone really likes it and I just continue to do it,” he said. “People are very appreciative of the surprise.”

He also explained that today’s experience was full of smiling faces and very appreciative people.

“In the stores, we give [valentines] to the clerks and the business owners …but town has slowed down since the snow started,” he added.

City of Linton Moves Forward with Grant Opportunities

DTsnow2

The Linton City Council held a public hearing Monday evening, to discuss an Economic Development Planning Grant the city is applying for through the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA). The hearing gave citizens the opportunity to present their views on community development and housing needs.

The estimated cost of the study is $44,444. The requested grant amount is $40,000 and the grant match for the city will be $4,444, which will come from cumulative capital improvement funds. The estimated cost will include the study of the economic development plan, the administration of the grant, and initiating the environmental review of the project.

Mayor John Wilkes noted that the economic development plan will fit in with the city’s plan to bring industry into town and find out what type of businesses can be brought in.

During the regular council meeting the mayor was authorized to prepare and submit an application for grant funding to address the economic development plan for the City of Linton and to execute and administer the resulting grant. The grant will be submitted by Feb. 28 and the city should know whether it is approved by early April.

A second public hearing was held to consider vacating an alley so the group building the Cine Senior Apartments may put a porte cochere across it. The alley contains a gas line, which the city will have until the end of the year to cap. During the regular meeting, the council voted to vacate the alley.

The council approved a resolution to update the city’s comprehensive plan. The mayor said that comprehensive plans should be updated every seven years and that Linton is a little past that time limit.

“A comprehensive plan is basically a road map or a wishlist of things that we want to do,” Wilkes explained. “And one of the main things with a comprehensive plan is that if you don’t have one when you apply for grants, if you don’t have it updated, you don’t qualify for the grants. This Stellar [Communities Grant] that we’re working on– if we don’t have our comprehensive plan updated, we’re dead in the water.”

Farmers’ Market Manager Mark Stacy presented the new market bylaws on behalf of the Park Board. Stacy noted that the 2014 bylaws and vendor handbook will be very similar to those of last year, with the only notable changes being that the season will start later and end earlier and the market hours will change from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. to 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The council agreed to look at the changes and address them at either the March meeting or at a special meeting in the meantime.

A wastewater plant invoice from Graves Plumbing in the amount of $70,232.40 was approved, as well as a change order through OCRA for an additional $165,349.36.

Wilkes noted that money is left in the OCRA funds and that the project will still come in well below budget while including some additional work to the plant. A project extension of 36 days was also approved, and the wastewater plant should be completed by March 25.

In other business, the council agreed to:

  • Approve a Communities for a Lifetime Grant agreement. The grant would include $300,000 to rehabilitate houses in Linton, starting in October or November of this year.
  • Renew the Greene County Soccer Association lease, at $1 per year.
  • Renew a fire contract with Stockton Township, which pays the city $80,000 per year.
  • Allow the mayor to move forward with considering accepting the donation of the Bailey property on A and 4th Streets. The house appraises for $220,000 and Wilkes noted that the only real stipulation to the donation is that the city not sell the property for three years.
  • Appoint Jared Albright to the city’s new Redevelopment Board. The council still needs to appoint one more member to the new board.

At the end of the council meeting, Wilkes again encouraged everyone to write or call the governor or other state representatives to oppose the elimination of the personal property tax.

“If they pass that, that’s going to hurt the City of Linton worse than the tax caps did, and you saw what happened when we did the tax caps. We had to cut our budgets way back and we lost two policeman and a fireman,” he stated.

Fire Chief Brad Sparks explained that the Linton Fire Department makes over 1,000 runs a year, and that a reduction in funding could force the city to consider a volunteer fire department instead of a full-time department.

“If we would happen to go volunteer, it’s going to be hard to find volunteers to serve the public in our area and make over 1,000 runs year. You’re going to have to find a lot of [volunteers] because it’s going to be a scheduling conflict because everybody is going to have jobs,” Sparks stressed.

Council President Jathan Wright added that this is not a political issue but is instead a community issue that is a matter of survival.

The mayor provided a list of people for locals to contact, and encouraged everyone to use the following information:

Governor Mike Pence

Office of Governor

State House

Indianapolis, IN 46204-2797

1-317-232-4567

www.in.gov.2333.htm

State Representative — House District 62

Matt Ubelhor

200 W. Washington Street

Indianapolis, IN 46204

1-317-232-9863

1-812-486-7695

Email: in62ubelhor@gmail.com or mubelhor69@gmail.com

Senator — District 39

John Waterman

200 W. Washington Street

Indianapolis, IN 46204

1-800-382-9467

1-317-232-9400

Email: senatorwaterman@iga.in.gov

 

Locals Ask State to Re-Think Tax Elimination

Photo Courtesy of 401(K) 2013, Taken November 8th, 2010

Local governments in Indiana are worried – and rightly so.

In an effort to become more pro-business and attract additional business activity, state-level lawmakers are considering cutting out the state’s property tax on business equipment, a tax that brings in $1 billion per year for local governments and schools, according to a number of sources.

Proponents of eliminating the tax say some states, such as Michigan and Iowa, have either abolished or are in the process of abolishing the tax – and are doing just fine. State-level officials argue the same, saying the boost to business activities will offset the losses — if not gain additional revenue.

Local officials are skeptical, especially since many are still licking the wounds of the statewide property tax caps introduced five years ago, which caused financial woes to already strapped public budgets.

In something of a compromise, Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s proposal to completely eliminate the tax has been changed by the Indiana legislature to shove the decision down to the counties level, providing the option, but not the requirement, to waive the tax. While seemingly a better way to give the very people who are closest to the situation the option to tax or not, the scene is now set up to pit one county against other neighboring counties since some may vie for the option while others may not.

If the worried local government leaders are correct, they say they will be left wondering where the replacement revenue will come from — and if there’s none to be had what options they have left. There seems to only be two options, namely: (1.) make cuts in workforce and services, or (2.) borrow the way out of the financial mess until something else comes along. Neither is an easy choice to make.

Recently, the City of Linton has opted for the former, while the City of Terre Haute has opted for the latter. Additional cuts would only mean more of the same.

Only time will tell what choices will need to be made.

Staff Reporter Timberly Ferree will provide an additional report on local responses to the possibility of abolishing the property tax on business equipment. 

Linton Mayor, Chamber President: Time to Move Forward

file photo

Thursday night, at the Linton-Stockton Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Dinner and Awards Banquet, both Mayor John Wilkes and 2014 Chamber of Commerce President Dale Knotts spoke about looking forward to taking Linton into a new year and beyond.

Knotts noted that it is a good time to look back into our personal lives and ask ourselves if we’re really where we want to be, what we did well last year, and what areas we can improve in this year. He said the task of the chamber is no different.

“Maybe we get in a rut, maybe we continue to do the same things and once in awhile we need to shake things up and see if we can do them a little bit better,” Knotts explained, adding that it is the job of the incoming president to look forward, not just to the next year but to the years to come.

“As we read and listen to the news, I think we’ve all probably come to the conclusion that money in the state of Indiana and money in Washington, D.C. is probably going to be a little bit harder to come by next year and perhaps the year after,” he continued.

Knotts noted that the state legislature is considering reducing the business tax on equipment.

“If that happens– and I’m not preaching politics, but the reality is that money was used for schools, hospitals, and cities. If that goes away, we’re going to have to look for a different source of funding. Mayor Wilkes and I talk often, and he made a comment awhile back that I thought was very appropriate. John said, looking at the economic situation, we’re just simply going to have to find a way to take care of ourselves. I don’t think we can depend on other folks to take care of us completely,” he stated.

Knotts said he’s an optimist by nature but realistic enough to know the chamber and the city need to think about how they’ll get through the year. He remarked that Goose Pond– love it or hate it– is important to our community, and quoted a recent article estimating that 85 million Americans watch, feed, or photograph birds, and an estimated 18 million Americans are serious birders. He also mentioned that birding ranks 15th among popular outdoor activities– just below bicycling.

“I don’t know that we have a good way to count all the folks who come into Greene County every year to drive down to the Goose Pond, but that’s one area that I think we can probably focus on and do a little bit better job of promoting. It’s down there for all the world to see,” he added.

Knotts noted that in order to support Linton, the chamber, and Greene County, residents need to rethink their purchasing habits and refocus on where they do their shopping.

“Instead of packing up and going to Terre Haute, going to Evansville, and going to Bloomington to save a few pennies, we need to do this shopping locally … That’s how we take care of each other– the merchants, the business folks, and the individuals here,” he explained. “That’s who pays the taxes to support our schools and to support the things we do. So we just need to rethink how we shop.”

Knotts said locals also need to encourage their families and their friends to come to Greene County.

“I’ve always thought the Fourth of July Parade was as good as it gets for showcasing Linton, Indiana for one day of the year. How else, or how better, can you put your best foot forward to 20,000 or 30,000 people in one day? That’s the kind of focus we need. We need to impress folks who come that day [so they’ll want] to come back and visit us again,” he urged, noting that he believes 2014 will be the 109th Freedom Festival Parade.

Wilkes explained that there are many projects moving forward in Linton, including the Cine Project, which he said will be great for the downtown area, and a multi-million dollar remodeling of the school. He also mentioned improvements to the Greene County General Hospital, totaling around $8 million, and the $4 million wastewater plant, which should be completed within the next two to three months.

Wilkes said Linton’s greatest asset is its people, and that he once read that geese flying in formation are 71 percent more effective than a bird flying alone.

“I think that’s very true with what we’re doing,” he continued. “With me trying to run the city, I couldn’t get anything done, but I think we’re about 1,000 percent better having the people we have working with us and doing the things that we’re doing. Working with people like Dale [Knotts] and these people on the committees and the hospital and the schools and everything, our community is moving in the right direction and if we keep doing it even though we are getting short-funded from the state on some projects it’s like Dale said, we’re going to start having to take care of ourselves, we’re going to have to go after grants, we’re going to have to work just a little bit harder, and then Linton will be a better place for all of us to live and to grow old in.”

Wilkes urged anyone interested in helping out with any of the projects the city is involved in to contact him or Dale Knotts.

“We’ll be more than glad to put you to work because we need all the help we can get. We are going to work, and we are going to go forward,” the mayor promised.

Linton Chamber of Commerce Honors WorkOne and Noble Stallons

Noble Stallons, Citizen of the Year

The Linton-Stockton Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner and Awards Banquet was held Thursday evening at the Linton Elks Lodge.

The chamber honored WorkOne as Business of the Year and Noble Stallons as Citizen of the Year.

2014 Chamber President Dale Knotts presented WorkOne’s award to Nancy Karazsia, noting that the award is for significant accomplishments including growth, response to adversity, community involvement, and innovation. He said that many consider WorkOne to be one of the best kept secrets in Linton, as well as in the state of Indiana.

“Many think of this business as the unemployment office only, however this business offers a variety of services designed to provide wraparound services in all areas of unemployment and training, whether that be for local businesses, job seekers, or students. The unemployment services team assures that citizens are able to access income support benefits to which they are entitled while working with career advisors,” Knotts explained.

He added that Karazsia would celebrate 31 years with WorkOne on Friday, and asked all WorkOne staff present to join her for the presentation of the Business of the Year plaque.

Karazsia called the award an honor and a privilege, stating that the WorkOne office is special because of the dedication of its staff.

Mayor John Wilkes then named Stallons as Citizen of the Year, noting that the award is for good deeds that have made an extraordinary impact on the community.

“This year’s recipient moved to Greene County in the early 80’s and retired from his profession in 2000. He retired from his profession, but he sure didn’t retire from working and from forging ahead,” Wilkes stated. “He’s spent the last 13 years making a positive impact on our community.”

Wilkes listed some of Stallons’ accomplishments, including working with Rediscover Downtown Linton and founding the Greene County Foundation. He is also a recipient of Rotary’s Paul Harris Fellow Award and is a Linton Freedom Festival Hall of Fame recipient.

“He’s one of these individuals … whenever he speaks, whenever he talks, listen– because you’ll learn,” the mayor added of Stallons.

Attendees gave Stallons a standing ovation as he walked to join Wilkes, joking that everyone knew about his award but him. He then invited his wife Melba to join him.

Stallons explained that nothing can be achieved without people, and that people are what Linton needs to continue moving forward.

“Linton’s not about cars and trucks, Linton’s about people, and we all need to find our passion. If you don’t have a passion about something, don’t do it. Just say, ‘I’m sorry, that doesn’t fit me’. But if you have a passion for it, see John [Wilkes], see Dale [Knotts], see Cheryl [Hamilton]. These are all Energizer Bunnies, every one of them, and they know how to make things happen. But it takes people to make things happen,” Stallons stated.

He said he and his wife have lived in five states and enjoyed every one, but have stayed in Linton for 32 years. Stallons then thanked Wilkes for giving him the opportunity to make a difference.

“I heard something recently, and it stuck with me. I think every day, if we in some way could be an answer to someone’s prayer, I think that’s what life’s all about,” he concluded emotionally.

 

Linton Council Opposes Reducing or Eliminating Business Personal Property Tax

Stock photo taken June 19th, 2013

The Linton City Council Voted to adopt a resolution opposing proposed legislation to reduce or eliminate the business personal property tax. Mayor John Wilkes informed the council that Indiana State Legislature, as well as Governor Mike Pence, want to take the personal property tax off of business equipment.

“If they do that, it’s going to cut the total funding for the state by over a billion dollars. We have figured that it’s going to cost the City of Linton and Stockton Township about $500,000. When they did the tax caps and it cost us around $300,000 we lost two policemen and a fireman. If we lose this one, we’re going to lose more people,” he stated.

Wilkes pointed out that businesses that are currently ‘capped out’ on their property taxes would see no reduction in their tax payments due to a reduction or elimination of the Business Personal Property Tax, that the proposed plans make no mention of any corresponding tax increase to offset the loss of revenue, and that, if implemented, the result would be an across-the-board hike in real property tax rates that would transfer the tax burden from businesses to individuals.

“I know that for business people this is a hard thing to do,” the mayor added, “because with my business and my equipment it would save us several hundreds of dollars a year. But when I sit here as mayor and we try to maintain the services for the city, it just won’t work. They’re not giving us anything to replace it with, so I think we need to take a stand on this.“

In other business, the council voted to appoint Jathan Wright as their new president.

They acknowledged filing a petition for the city to vacate an alley so the group building the Cine Senior Apartments may put a porte cochere across it. The alley has a gas line, which will be capped and rerouted, probably this summer. The valves are situated south and north of where the alley will be closed.

City Attorney John Rowe said he believed this would be the most sensible and simplest option for all parties, and Wilkes added that the gas line is not necessary, and also that it is an old steel gas line of the type they are trying to eliminate, anyway.

The council voted to appoint City of Linton Comptroller David Sisk to the Economic Development Commission, and approved two year-round permits to sell produce at the park.

A new annual contract with the Greene County Humane Society was also approved. The city pays fees based on a five-year average of the number of animals they take in each year. This year, the city will pay for 96 animals at $45 per animal, which will amount to $4,320.

The city will also renew a lease with the Buck Creek Muzzleloaders. The organization pays $1 per year to lease a property north of the park, and the Buck Creek Muzzleloaders help the city with things such as work at the Roy Clark Building and donations of tables.

Harry Lehman was re-appointed to the Alcoholic Beverage Board.

Police Chief Troy Jerrell applauded the hard work of city employees during the recent severe weather, noting that the street department had most of the snow cleared from the streets before it could freeze. He also mentioned that power outages were short-lived.

Jerrell added that there has been vandalism to the southeast section of town, and that if anyone has any information about the incidents they should call the Greene County Crime Stoppers at 812-847-5463. A reward is offered for information leading to the arrest of a suspect or suspects.

The mayor said that all city employees handled weather-related emergencies quickly and in a professional manner, including the fire department, which battled several fires, and the water department, which handled plenty of after-hours work.

Fire Chief Brad Sparks pointed out that the fire department made two trips to one recent fire, and that they had to lay a line from a hydrant both times, which crossed Fourth Street and went up E Street.

“We had people running over the hose,” Sparks continued. “Police and fire are limited– we can’t put people there to direct traffic and keep people off these lines, but people need to watch. A one-hundred foot section of five-inch is $1,000, and the way the budgets are right now, we can’t afford to replace it.”

He added that everyone needs to be cautious when heating their houses, in order to reduce the chance of fire.

The council also approved several invoices, including:

SIDC– $3,200

Triad Engineering– $6,000

Graves Plumbing– $87,580.80

 

Congressman Bucshon Visits Linton, Praises Local Efforts to Improve the Community

(L-R) Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Cheryl Hamilton, Mayor John Wilkes, Congressman Larry Bucshon, and Clerk-Treasurer Jack Shelton

Congressman Larry Bucshon visited with Mayor John Wilkes, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Cheryl Hamilton, Clerk-Treasurer Jack Shelton, and downtown Linton retailers on Friday as part of his Rural Town and Retail Tour.

Bucshon said he wanted to see what is happening in the community and if there is anything he can do to help the area.

“I think one of the important things that I can do as a member of the federal government is to make sure if there are issues that a lot of these communities have with the government we have a good rapport with the community so we know what we can do to assist them. In this area, obviously the coal industry is really important so we talked some about that and about the challenges we have there. In fact, I talked to a young man who works at Sunrise Coal,” he explained.

Bucshon noted that he has a good relationship with Mayor John Wilkes, which meant that he was not surprised by any of the local concerns.

“What we found out is that they really have reinforced the issues we know are happening to small communities like this with the regulations and financial issues with federal budget cuts in certain areas that we know are affecting their ability to do what they’re doing,” he said, adding that at the federal level most of the issues Linton is facing are the same ones that are affecting most of the country, such as budget uncertainties.

“But the coal industry is really so important to this area because of Peabody and Sunrise, I just let the leaders here know that I’m doing everything I can to try to make sure we keep these jobs and that I know how important that is,” he stressed.

Bucshon noted that he saw many positive things during his visit, such as construction on the Cine Senior Apartments, and during his tour of the town local businessman and council president Fred Markle talked with him about the Stellar Grant the city has applied for, which would help renew and improve Linton.

“Now we’ve gotten started on this Stellar Grant, and whether we get that or not it’s a win situation because it has brought a whole bunch of people together and made them excited and got them working together. I think we’ve got as good of a chance at it as anybody else,” Markle stated, adding that it is just a nice time to be here in Linton.

Wilkes told Bucshon about the work and cooperation that went into the community holiday meal held at Saron Church Thursday evening.

“They fed about 1,000 people,” he explained to the congressman. “And that was Rotary, Civitan, the churches– they got everybody together and gave away toys and fed them and everybody was just working together.”

Bucshon said that was a very good thing to hear.

“I think local communities can do things better for local communities than the feds can for you,” he responded. “The federal government needs to be of assistance, but what you’re doing locally through your churches and other organizations is really the way to elevate the community, I think. That’s the way we used to do it years and years ago … I grew up in a small town, my hometown has 1,400 people, and the churches and civic organizations and VFW halls and places like that were the backbone.”

Bucshon explained that he thinks we have gravitated towards relying more on government agencies, but that he believes there will be a new trend where our communities go back to taking care of themselves.

“We hate that we’re losing some of our funding and that’s rough on us, but we’ll adjust,” said Markle, adding that we have to.

“We hang in there don’t we, Fred?” Wilkes asked. “We do,” Markle replied with a smile.

Bucshon said he enjoys getting to visit small towns and talk to people about the things that are happening in their communities, noting that in Washington, D.C. if you do not get out and touch base with people you can quickly lose track of how policy really affects them.

“That’s one of the things that is extremely important to me because I wasn’t a politician before– I was a healthcare provider,” he stated. “When people talk about things in Washington, D.C. I can say, ‘no, I was in Linton, Indiana and let me tell you that if we do this, this is what’s going to happen to the community’. That’s why it’s important to interact and find out. Bringing the hometown story to Washington is really important and there are people out there who sometimes lose track of the things they are doing and the affect they actually have on the citizens of the country. That’s why it’s important to bring those stories back.”

 

Linton Council Approves New Water Rate Ordinance

Linton Water Tower

The Linton City Council held a special hearing before their regular meeting Monday evening and Buzz Krohn, owner of O.W. Krohn and Associates, LLP, explained the city’s proposed water rate adjustment. Later, in the regular meeting, the council approved the ordinance.

The $3.8 million water improvement project Linton planned will now be split into a couple of different pieces, with a major portion of the project being deferred from between six to eight years, due to water supply issues with the town of Dugger.

Krohn said Linton was faced with the potential of losing Dugger as a wholesale customer, and was asked to present Dugger with a compromise on their rates. He noted that a task force has been working on this since around June, and that the city will still be making critically important improvements at the water treatment facility.

General Manager of Linton Municipal Utilities Brent Slover explained that a structural engineer assessed three in-ground concrete structures at the facility, and found that they are not in good condition, so the city will move forward with construction of an aboveground storage tank and most of the rest of the project will be delayed until Linton is closer to the end of its current indebtedness.

“With regards to the wholesale rates,” added Krohn, “ we didn’t want to have one wholesale customer basically hold us hostage and not treat all of our wholesale customers the same. That didn’t seem to be fair.”

The new rate for all wholesale customers will be $2.55 per 1,000 gallons of water. That rate will not be increased for inflation or any other reason for a minimum of 3 years into the wholesale contract.

“Beyond that, they would be subject to any further adjustment that our retail customers would be subjected to, albeit if we were doing distribution system improvements or those types of improvements that would not necessarily be benefitting the wholesale customers then those would be treated differently,” Krohn clarified.

Retail customers within the City of Linton can expect an 18 percent increase in water rates to offset the reduction in the wholesale rates and improvements to the water treatment plant. Minimum water users, who receive 2,000 gallons a month, will pay an additional $1.52 per water bill. Average users, who receive 4,000 gallons a month, will see their bills increase from $16.84 to $19.88 each month.

Retail customers who live outside the city limits will now pay an additional 72 cents per thousand gallons of water, and Krohn noted that there are additional costs associated with pumping the water outside of the city.

Krohn said Linton’s retail rates will still be very competitive with the rates of other communities in the area. Bloomfield charges $18.22 for 4,000 gallons, Jasonville charges $21.40, and Sullivan customers pay $31.45.

“We’re glad that Dugger has decided to stay with Linton. We think that the prospect of losing them as a customer would have been bad for everybody, and we’re not so sure it would have been good for them, either,” Krohn stressed.

He added that although a few signatures need to be put on the agreement with Dugger that is basically just a formality.

During the regular meeting, Matt Sword of the Southern Indiana Development Commission (SIDC) noted that the city received one Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for an Economic Development Planning Grant. The RFQ was from the Strategic Development Group in Bloomington. Sword said he has worked with them on similar projects in the past and they do a pretty good job, and that the next step is an interview process with the group.

After the city makes a decision about the Strategic Development Group they can begin moving forward with the grant.

The council approved the following invoices for the wastewater treatment plant:

• SIDC- $4,800

• Triad Associates Engineering- $24,000

• Graves Plumbing- $131,638.50

• Insituform Technologies- $8,899.83

They also approved a change order increasing the length of time for the division two part of the project by 60 days.

Linton Police Chief Troy Jerrell noted that there were not too many traffic accidents during the recent snowfall.

Mayor John Wilkes thanked the utility department for their hard work over the last few weeks, and Council Member Linda Bedwell added that the guys on the trash truck have been working through the bad weather, too.

 

 

 

Two-Year 911 Dispatch Budget Contract for Linton will be Presented to County Council

11 June, 2013  Linton Police 003

County Council President Ed Cullison, County Commissioner Ed Michael, Sheriff Terry Pierce, Sheriff’s Department E-911 Coordinator Karen Oliphant, Linton Mayor John Wilkes, and Linton Police Chief Troy Jerrell met Thursday afternoon to discuss Linton’s 911 dispatch budget.

A new state statute requires the county to justify the amount of money Linton receives for its dispatch department, which only generates a little over $15,000 a year. The sheriff’s department receives all 911 calls made from cell phones, and although Linton only answers 10 percent of the landline 911 calls within the county it has been receiving $66,000 a year, which equals 30 percent of the county’s landline revenue.

At the last 911 budget expenditure meeting Cullison informed Linton representatives that their funding would decrease, and on Thursday he offered the group a couple of options including letting the sheriff’s department receive all 911 calls.

Pierce noted that in his opinion having one receiving center for the county is not good for the citizens because the increase in the number of calls that would need to be transferred would lead to problems, but the entire group agreed that the state will eventually make that option mandatory.

Cullison stated that although it is not his decision, he believed the best option was a three-year contract that would fund the city on a graduated scale where Linton would receive $25,000 for 2014, $20,000 for 2015, and $15,000 for 2016.

“If we average all those out it’s $20,000 a year, which is $5,000 a year more than you’re putting into it. The county is supporting your dispatch center $5,000 a year,” he explained to Wilkes and Jerrell.

Wilkes requested that the county only halve Linton’s funding and Cullison responded that he cannot justify $33,000 to the state.

“If you take it all away from us, then some of the services we’re providing we’re not going to be able to continue to do,” Wilkes noted.

Cullison replied that he had hit the nail on the head.

“The state is coming and saying ‘you cannot use the funds from this to supplement other stuff’, just like we have to have separate accounting for COIT now they’re making us accountable for the 911 fund,” he explained, adding that the state statute recommends going with a graduated step down in funding.

Jerrell pointed out that dispatch is a 24-hour service and no matter how many calls are received someone must be there all the time, so that should factor into Linton’s funding.

Pierce said he personally would like to see Linton keep one dispatcher because he believes that would be beneficial, but added that if he had to justify that funding he might have a hard time doing so.

“If the county, as a group, said that we have a choice and we can take the 911 calls and answer them all for $15,000 or they can take this number of calls and we’ll give them $35,000, that’s a no-brainer. If the council didn’t agree that we should answer all 911 calls then they’re not good at business. So I hope there can be some agreement worked here so that one of the dispatchers can stay.”

Cullison then asked what everyone thought about a two-year contract that would pay Linton $25,000 the first year and $20,000 the second year. After the second year they could reexamine the matter.

Pierce added that after this contract he thinks there should be more discussion about the county going to one 911 dispatch center, because there is no use waiting until the state makes them do it.

After more discussion, Cullison explained that he could not justify giving Linton more than $25,000 for 2014. He added that he thought the dollar amount of the third year would be immaterial since the state will have mandated that the county move to a single 911 dispatch center.

Pierce noted that if the number of landline phones in Linton continues to drop the county will not keep putting money into something that is not bringing money back in.

“It’s in your ballpark,” Wilkes eventually stated. “I can only ask—that’s all I can do.”

Eventually the group agreed to present a two-year contract to the County Council. The proposal calls for Linton to receive $25,000 in 2014 and $20,000 in 2015.

Read about the September 911 dispatch budget meeting here, and the October meeting here.

 

 

 

Linton Council Considers Economic Development Planning Grant, Storm Water Project

Stock photo taken June 19th, 2013

The Linton City Council met Tuesday evening.

Council members voted to vacate a portion of C Street consisting of about 25.5 feet between 10th Street NE to the west and an alleyway to the east so the existing situation can continue with good ownership of the underlying land on the part of the adjoining property owners.

Next, a Southern Indiana Development Commission (SIDC) representative presented the council with a plaque commemorating forty years of SIDC and Linton working together. Mayor John Wilkes thanked him, noting that SIDC has really great people to work with.

The city is eligible for a $40,000 Economic Development Planning Grant, which would take an inventory of the entire city and look at economic development needs and the potential for industrial parks. The next step towards getting the grant would be to hire a consultant to make a plan for the city, and the council was informed that any firm that is interested in consulting must submit a Request for Qualifications by the next council meeting, since the city will select a consultant based on qualifications so their plan will be within the budget of what the grant will allow.

The council also discussed the possibility of a storm water project with SIDC. In 2008, flooding impacted Indiana counties including Greene County and money to improve the infrastructure of any community within the affected counties is still available. That money will be put towards storm water projects, probably sometime late next year, and could be useful to address flooding on the east side of Linton.

There is not much information available on the funds yet, but the city could take a few preliminary steps to qualify for the money.

The mayor noted that after the flooding this July the Indiana Department of Transportation came to Linton to do an engineering study that should be given to him by the end of this week, and that when he gets that study he will look at proceeding with the project.

The council approved invoices including:

• $4,800 to SIDC for the wastewater plant

• $400,178.57 to Graves Plumbing for the wastewater plant

• A Change Order of $21,211.63 to Insituform Technologies for the wastewater plant

• A Change Order of $63,208.70 to Graves Plumbing for the wastewater plant

General Manager of Linton Municipal Utilities Brent Slover noted that the wastewater project is still within budget and in pretty good shape.

Linton Police Chief Troy Jerrell noted that people trying to raise their credit card limits during the Christmas season can fall prey to fraudulent email scams. He also warned that there have been recent thefts from people’s porches, and advised everyone not to keep anything valuable outdoors.

 

Dugger Town Council Discusses Water Contract Proposals from Linton and Shelburn

(R to L) Dugger Clerk-Treasurer Michelle Riggleman, Council President Kermit King, and Council Members Larry Bedwell and Dwight Nielson

The Dugger Town Council met Monday evening, and Shelburn Town Council President Jim Ward and Clerk-Treasurer Jay Southwood attended.

Southwood discussed the new water contract Shelburn is offering Dugger, which includes a five-year fixed water rate of $2.25 per 1,000 gallons. Southwood stated that Linton’s last offer was $2.70 with no guarantee that the price will not rise, and added that if they assume Dugger uses 5 million gallons of water a month the town will save over $38,000 dollars a year by choosing Shelburn. These savings would come from the lower water rate as well as the fact that Dugger will not have electric costs associated with their water usage if they buy their water from Shelburn.

Someone asked Southwood what will happen after the five year price freeze has expired, and Southwood said that would depend on the economy.

“I can’t sit here and tell you that we wouldn’t raise it, because I don’t know. But I hope to think we wouldn’t have to,” he explained.

Southwood estimated that it will be about two years before Shelburn will be able to supply Dugger’s water, and added that if Dugger chooses Shelburn as their supplier they will need to sign a forty-year contract because of the costs associated with preparing to provide water to the town.

“The other thing that’s different in this [contract] from Linton’s is that Linton didn’t really put it down to us this way, but they’ve told us that when they’re upgrading their water system that’s the reason for our rate increases. Okay? They told us that. That’s the reason they’ve raised the rates on us. They’re going to build something new or make it bigger or whatever they’re going to do over there,” said Dugger Council Member Dwight Nielson.

Council President Kermit King later informed the meeting’s attendees that Linton is upgrading their water treatment plant.

“I’ll tell you what Linton’s wanting to know,” King explained. “Of course John Wilkes and Brent Slover are going to have to redo their water treatment plant, period … depending on how much of a remodel they do, they want to make sure we’re staying with them. If we’re staying with them, they have to do a little more of an upgrade to keep supplying us with water. If we’re not staying with them they’re not going to have to borrow as much money, so that’s why they need a decision, too.”

Nielson and Southwood then told attendees that Shelburn’s contract states that any upgrades to Shelburn’s water system that do not affect supplying water to Dugger will not cause Dugger’s water rates to increase.

Nielson noted that they first started looking at using a different water supplier because of public outrage over people’s water bills.

A citizen asked the council how much of the savings from the reduced water rate would be passed along to town rate-payers.

“I’m just talking off the top of my head here,” answered Nielson, “but we would probably cut our rates for us. I mean, I don’t know. If it holds at $2.25 and we’re paying $2.70 now, or $2.90, I don’t see why we should have that high of a water bill.”

Clerk-Treasurer Michelle Riggleman remarked that her guess is that customers are not going to see much of a difference in their water bills because a lot of the money will go into the water fund since the town needs to fix many things they do not currently have the funds for. The council noted that at least the cost of water should not go up for Dugger citizens.

After further discussion, a woman asked the council when they needed to make a decision about which water supplier they are going to choose. Nielson responded that they are waiting on Linton’s proposal, and that he had thought maybe Linton would come to the meeting and show them something. The woman then inquired about how long the council would wait on Linton.

“Me?” asked Nielson. “I don’t want to wait on them a day. They’ve been out there for three months now to come out with a final figure for it and I don’t see it here. Why aren’t they here?”

Shelburn Council President Jim Ward stated that Shelburn will not wait much longer for a decision, adding that this is their last proposal and they expect an answer pretty shortly.

King said Linton Mayor John Wilkes had asked him if Dugger would vote on the contract that night, and he had told Wilkes they would not but that they needed a proposal from Linton by their next meeting or it would be too late. Later in the evening, he added that it might have been partly his fault that Linton representatives did not attend.

Ward reiterated that they cannot wait much longer to go after the money to start the project.

A citizen asked what would happen if Dugger signs the contract with Shelburn and Linton gets mad and refuses to supply them with water while Shelburn is doing the work necessary to be able to get water to Dugger.

King replied that it is against the law for Linton to do that.

The council decided to set a deadline for Linton’s proposal, and Ward said he wants an answer about which supplier Dugger will choose by Shelburn’s next council meeting on November 11th.

Riggleman suggested that Dugger hold a meeting with Linton this Thursday at noon, and the council invited everyone to attend it.

A man asked the council what would happen if they sign a contract with Shelburn and 18 months down the road it turns out that Shelburn cannot get the money necessary to supply Dugger’s water. Southwood answered that the contract is contingent upon Shelburn obtaining the necessary funds.

A citizen stressed the fact that Linton has always been a good neighbor that has helped Dugger in many ways over the years. When Nielson replied that he was not saying Linton was not a good neighbor, the man stated that he has called Linton representatives liars and everything else.

“They have been,” Nielson stated. “In this room, they’ve not told us the straight poop.”

A woman noted that the Dugger council lied to Linton about the first contract they signed with Shelburn, and a man added that Linton representatives were not the first group in the room who had not told them the straight poop.

Riggleman then returned to the room and informed everyone that Wilkes had agreed to meet with the council at noon on Thursday. When citizens were concerned about the fact that the meeting would be held while most people were working, King explained that the meeting would be held at noon because that was when Linton said they could attend.

“Are we done?” someone asked, and the council moved on to other business.

Read more about the matter here.

 

Linton Fire Department Selling Calendars to Fund Fire Safety Programs

Brad Sparks and Heather Graves. Submitted photo, courtesy of the Linton Fire Department.

The Linton Fire Department currently has about fifty calendars featuring fire safety tips, health tips, and seasonal reminders to sell, and they are ready to print more if necessary. You can pick a calendar up for $10 at either Linton’s Blacksmith & Company Antiques and Primitives or at the fire station between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Proceeds from the calendars go straight into the department’s fire safety programs, and Fire Chief Brad Sparks noted that with the recent budget cuts fundraisers are necessary to keep the initiatives going.

“We’ve got fire safety programs going on, and one is with Firepup and they go out and solicit money for some of the books, and then we have a Community Safety Net, which is another program that goes out and solicits money. So we really don’t have to do that, but the public is getting hit for money three different times for this. But it’s got to be done,” he explained.

Sparks stated that the importance of fire safety training is tremendous, and that over the years since these programs started the number of local fires has decreased significantly.

He said the calendar project began after How Charming Photography Owner Heather Graves, who now assists the Linton Fire Department with all of their public relations activities, asked him if she could take department pictures.

“I asked her what other kinds of things we could do for fundraisers and stuff, and she brought up the calendar and I told her that was funny because I’d thought about that,” Sparks recalled. “It was getting close to fire safety season, so we decided to put this calendar together and throughout each month we put fire safety points, reminders, and different days you need to do certain things. My initial thought was to print these calendars and give them to each kindergarten student here at Linton. And that’s what we did last year.”

The calendars became a fundraising opportunity as well, and the proceeds went into the fire safety program. Sparks noted that this is only the second year of the project, and that last year things moved so quickly they did not get to add everything they wanted to. This year they put more pictures in the calendar, and next year they plan to add even more.

Sparks explained that Graves put more time into working on the calendars than anyone else, and that she did it free of charge.

“I think, if you go around and look, she’s done a wonderful job on those calendars. She’s been available to take the pictures and she put everything in the computer and did it herself,” he noted.

Sparks estimated that after selling the ads and printing the calendars the department profited about $1,200, and added that if Graves charged for her services it would probably eat up at least half of that profit, if not more.

Graves explained that she grew up with a father who was also a volunteer fireman, and that being involved in department activities has taught her more about what the firefighters and their families go through on a daily basis.

“These guys don’t get the recognition they deserve, and in going out to the businesses and soliciting them for ad space for these calendars it gave Brad and I the opportunity to show the importance of fire safety to the businesses as well as the kindergartners,” she explained, adding that there are people entering the workforce straight out of college who may not be aware of these safety tips.

“Yes, it was labor intensive and yes, it was a lot of work. But I walked away not only knowing about fire safety and how it’s changed, but also what these guys go through as a unit and what they do for the community,” Graves stated.

Sparks stressed that he wants to thank the local businesses who contributed to the calendar, because he knows the fire department is not the only organization asking them for contributions.

“It’s a competition, and we have three or four things that are going on all year long, so somebody is constantly coming through the door of a business and saying that we need this and this,” he noted. “But fire safety is very important to the community, and our businesses show 100 percent kindness. The Margrafs from McDonald’s just came up and gave us a little over $500 for fire safety, and all the money from businesses who participated in the calendars goes straight back into fire safety.”

Sparks added that he knows these businesses are pounded with donation requests, but that the funds are for the community and they are very much appreciated.

The calendars were printed in September, and Sparks and Graves hand-delivered copies to each business on October 2nd.

Calendar sponsors include: Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC, Graves Plumbing, Superior Ice, Welch and Cornett, Blacksmith & Company, Southside Express, Bloomfield State Bank, Greene County General Hospital and Clinics, Monical’s Pizza, Linton Sporting Goods, Carr-Thomas Construction, J&D Belt Service, JTB Concrete, Goodman Heating & Cooling, Anderson-Poindexter, Shields Hardware, Lakeside Body Shop, Landis Tool and Equipment Rental, HWY 54 Motors, Linton Cycle Sales, Kramer Tree Service, Miner Mini Golf, Strong AIT Center (NAPA), PDQ Rentals, Tangles and Tans, Hoosier H.I.T, Pomp’s Tires, and Major John Wilkes (City of Linton).

 

County and Linton Officials Discuss Cuts to Linton’s 911 Budget

11 June, 2013  Linton Police 003

Linton dispatchers answer 10 percent of landline 911 calls within the county, while the Sheriff’s Department responds to the other 90 percent of landline calls and all 911 calls made from cell phones. Linton has previously received $66,000 a year from county 911 funds, which amounts to 30 percent of the county’s landline revenue.

A new state statute forces the county to justify 911 expenditures, however, and during a 911 budget expenditure meeting on Thursday afternoon, County Council President Ed Cullison explained that next year the City of Linton will not be receiving that much funding.

At the last meeting, Sheriff Terry Pierce suggested that Linton Mayor John Wilkes and Police Chief Troy Jerrell look at what is physically done during 911 calls in order to get a better idea of how much money Linton might need, or be allowed to receive, from the county funds. This money can only be used to pay 911 dispatchers for the 911 dispatch work they do, and not to fund other duties they may have.

This Thursday, Jerrell indicated that since a 911 dispatcher must be present at all times, the entire time they are at work should qualify as doing 911 dispatch duties.

“That’s why I suggested, when I talked to you last time, that you try to gather that data and put those things together so there’s an explanation of specifically what your 911 dispatcher does that’s not just on the phone,” answered Pierce.

Jerrell responded that you still have to have someone sitting in that chair waiting to answer those calls and dispatch those calls no matter what, and the sheriff said that if the money can only be used for specific purposes the county has to explain those specific purposes in order to satisfy the new statute.

Jerrell said he had brought a breakdown of costs that included percentages of the time Linton dispatchers took per call and how much the dispatch-specific utilities are.

Cullison then asked how much money Linton was requesting.

“I think everybody’s agreed that it can’t be funded in the amount that it has in the past,” Cullison stated. The figures aren’t there to substantiate that, so what are you proposing? What kind of figures have you come up with, because I think the last time we asked you to go look at some stuff. So what are you looking at?”

The mayor answered that they were looking for as much money as they had before, and Cullison replied that can’t happen.

Greene County Sheriff’s Department E-911 Coordinator Karen Oliphant noted that in September, there were 9,241 landline phones in the county, 1,417 of which were located in Linton. Linton dispatch only generates a little over $15,000 annual income off its calls, and Pierce noted that the number of landlines will only continue to drop over time.

“In the future you’re going to see a central dispatch,” Pierce stated. “It’s coming and it’s going to happen. No one is going to stop it, because it’s going to be state mandated.”

Jerrell said that while he knows that will happen one day, the county is not there yet. Wilkes added that he does not want to have this battle every year, and would just as soon go to central dispatch instead.

Cullison then asked if it is time to go to a central 911 dispatch instead of continuing negotiations. Wilkes and Jerrell answered that they do not believe it is, so Cullison suggested coming to a two-year funding agreement and revisiting the issue after it expires. Wilkes said he would prefer a three-year agreement.

Cullison reminded everyone that at the last meeting he figured out that Linton should get $21,800 for taking ten percent of landline 911 calls. He asked for a figure between what he suggested and the $66,000 the City of Linton was requesting.

Wilkes then asked for $33,000, which is around twice the amount of money Linton dispatch generates. Pierce added that the county also pays for equipment going into Linton.

Cullison suggested that Linton receive $25,000 a year for two years before the issue is revisited, noting that the amount is still over what the Linton dispatch figures call for. He said he needs to be able to justify the money Linton receives to the state, and that he believes he can do that with $25,000.

Pierce stated that he thinks it is more efficient and safer for 911 calls to go to one center.

The next 911 budget expenditure meeting is planned for 2 p.m. on November 14th in the Commissioners’ Room at the courthouse. Cullison said he wants to come up with a dollar amount at that meeting.

 

Linton Council Approves $250,000 of Personnel Cuts to Fire and Police Departments

Council Meeting budget cuts 134

Those attending Monday evening’s Linton City Council meeting were greeted by home-made signs protesting suggested 2014 budget cuts to the police and fire departments. The sign-makers expressed concerns over the safety of police officers and firefighters, as well as that of the community as a whole.

During the meeting, Linton Mayor John Wilkes presented the 2014 budget and the council voted to approve a $3,111,579 budget, which Wilkes pointed out is a 15 percent decrease from last year.

Local Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) President Paul Clark asked the mayor if there would be any public discussion about the budget and the mayor replied that he would answer questions after the meeting. Wilkes then said that when he and Comptroller David Sisk first began working on the budget they cut about $250,000 of what he described as “fluff” before they needed to make hard decisions. At that point they began working with Clark, the police department, the union, and the fire department to cut about $250,000 from personnel in the fire and police departments.

The council then signed the new budget and adjourned the meeting.

Linton’s fire and police departments account for about 94 percent of the General Fund’s budget.

The local Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) has been working with the mayor since late August in an attempt to save two positions on the police force, including offering between $70,000 and $75,000 worth of alternative cuts intended to save money without impacting public safety.

Early in October, the mayor informed Linton Fire Chief Brad Sparks that the fire department could lose a position as well, and representatives from the local International Association of Firefighters and the Professional Fire Fighters Union of Indiana began searching for ways the department could resolve the situation and prevent future problems of this nature.

Linton Police Department Officers Michael Harroll and Brock Garrison have the least seniority on the police force and Firefighter Ross Gentry is the newest member of the fire department.

After the meeting was closed, Clark asked if Wilkes knew when he would be prepared to announce where the personnel cuts would come from and Wilkes replied that although the two of them have discussed it and Clark pretty much knows the answer he cannot finalize everything because two firefighters are on workman’s compensation and the city is trying to get that worked out.

“This is not something that we want to do,” stated Wilkes. “But when the money’s not there, and that’s what it boils down to, when they put the tax caps on and they cut the money out there’s no place to get the money. I do appreciate the guys working with us and trying to figure out how we can do this thing but when there’s no money there’s no money and that’s what we’re up against.”

Clark then asked if the city was taking preventative measures to make sure this does not happen again. The Mayor said that they will do anything possible to get more funds but right now there are no avenues for the city to adopt a tax to bring the money in, and added that drops in property tax money and County Option Income Tax revenue caused the current crisis. He stressed that everyone should let their legislators know what they are doing to small communities.

“They are hurting our police and our fire and that’s what’s doing it, and we need to get a money stream coming back into these communities so we can support you guys,” Wilkes added, also noting the city will try to come up with other work for police or fire workers who lose their positions.

Citizens then asked questions and offered comments. In response to a question about whether or not the budget can be amended if the city gets more money the mayor responded that it could and would be changed. Council Member Linda Bedwell stressed that the decision to cut personnel was not easy for anyone on the board.

Wilkes said the city will have to tighten its belt to make sure this is not a problem that will come up year after year.

When asked if he knew how many positions would be cut from the police and fire departments Wilkes replied they would probably lose a combined three positions and added that they have taken some money from the utilities in lieu of taxes to put in the General Fund to offset the cost of the police and fire departments, but they have reached the legal limit of how much money they can transfer in that manner.

A woman thanked the police department for helping her family through a hard time when her son was having problems with drugs.

“Because of them I have my son back,” she explained, “so I don’t want any of those jobs to be cut and I want to get rid of the drugs, too.”

The mayor responded by assuring her they know the officers are doing great jobs.

Another woman pointed out that every time someone from the police or fire department goes out on a call they put their lives on the line and stated that the community should stand behind them. Wilkes agreed and said he hopes to find a way. When she suggested the city raise money through fines on littering the mayor said his door is open to anyone who has ideas about bringing in additional revenue.

The mayor was then asked how the city will repay the grant that is currently paying the salary of the police department’s 11th officer, and Wilkes replied that they will take that money out of utilities. Police Chief Troy Jerrell said they will need to refund about $120,000 and the mayor added that although that money could pay additional salaries next year they would end up in this position again the following year.

When it was pointed out that firemen’s lives would be put at risk by a reduction to the force Wilkes assured everyone that the council is working to find a way to solve the problem. He said the only way the city could get additional money at this point would be through taxes the county would be capable of implementing and repeated his belief that state representatives need to address this problem.

After the meeting broke up, Jerrell said that while he understands there are budget problems he still hopes another solution will be found besides cutting personnel. Sparks stated that it is not over and he is glad the council is leaving the lines of communication open.

“Other than the guy who loses his job and our lives being put on the line, it’s the people who are going to suffer. I understand what John [Wilkes] is doing. He’s doing what he has to do, it’s just that everyone’s hands are tied and hopefully we can find some money,” added Sparks.

Clark noted that the FOP’s concern is that citizens will no longer be afforded the same level of police protection they have come to expect in Linton.

“I know that we will try to provide the same level of protection, and that we will try to do more with less, but the bottom line is that you are probably going to see the philosophy of policing change from a proactive approach to more of a reactive approach. That is a very big detriment to public safety because if all you can do is wait for something bad to happen and try to catch the person who did it that is a whole lot different than trying to catch bad guys before they commit crimes,” Clark explained.

He stressed that cutting police manpower by 20 percent hampers the department’s ability to catch people in criminal acts because officers will be busy responding to the crimes that have already occurred, and added that the FOP’s primary goal is to try to control the quality of life of local officers. Clark said once final decisions about personnel cuts have been made and implemented the quality of life of the remaining officers will be affected.

“We don’t want this to become a place where nobody wants to work. We don’t want to lose the experienced policemen we have because there is no quality of life here. Obviously policemen don’t take the job for money. We take the job knowing we won’t be at home with our families—we’ve all missed birthday parties, we’ve all worked nights, we’ve all been called out on our days off,” Clark explained.

He stressed that once quality of life within the department begins to drop he fears the loss of experienced policemen, since the department does not pay well or offer great benefits.

“This is not a solution,” he stated. “We did not lay off two policemen and now the situation is resolved. We laid off two policemen in the first round. We expect to be back down here fighting for public safety jobs the next time the city incurs a major expense, whether that is health insurance, liability, or litigation. That money has to come from the tax base.”

Clark added that the signs outside city hall did not come from the police department or the FOP and said it was nice to see that people cared. He also appreciated the people who attended the council meeting and were vocal in their support of the police and fire departments.

“The lady who spoke about how the police department saved her family probably single-handedly justified ten policemen’s careers in their minds. That was as touching a thing as I’ve ever seen in a city council meeting,” said Clark.

City Budget Cuts Timeline:

 

Linton Mayor to Present Final Budget at Monday’s Council Meeting

Linton

Linton Mayor John Wilkes will present his final civil city budget to council members at the October 14th meeting.

The mayor promised the budget he will present to the council will be reduced by $250,000, but said he has until Monday to make the final determination as to where those cuts will be made.

“Every department is going to take a cut—the mayor’s office, the clerk-treasurer, everybody. Anybody who’s got any money is going to lose his money because we’re taking it across the board,” stated Wilkes.

Possible cuts include the loss of two police positions and one fire fighter.

Monday’s city council meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the City Hall.

Read more about Linton’s budget shortfall at Linton Fire Department Asking for Voter Support at the Next Council MeetingLinton Mayor John Wilkes: Voter Choices Caused Current Budget Crisis,  and Linton Public Budget Hearing Addresses Possible Cuts to the LPD.

 

Shelburn to Draft New Water Contract Proposal, Dugger to Compare it to Linton’s

Linton Water Tower

The Dugger Town Council met on Monday evening and Clerk-Treasurer Michelle Riggleman read the notes from their September 30th executive session with the Shelburn Council.

Riggleman noted the two boards discussed the possibility of purchasing water from Shelburn in the future. She said both parties talked about the expectation of a new contract and also project financing through the USDA, revolving loan funds, and other funding possibilities. The fact that financing could take up to a year and a half to obtain was also mentioned at the meeting.

Council members agreed a new proposal that would satisfy both parties needed to be drafted.

Council President Kermit King explained the two main concerns he hears from Dugger citizens are that Shelburn has too many boil orders and that Shelburn may get their water contract and sell out to another company. He said Shelburn Town Council President Jim Ward stated that when a boil order is issued it only affects one or two streets and the paper announces the boil order as if it impacts the whole town. King then added that Ward told him there is no way they would sell the contract to another company because they make money from it.

“Shelburn owns their own water system so they would be silly to sell it out to Indiana American. That’s where they get their biggest amount of money to operate on. They own their own water and their own wells and their own purifying system,” King continued.

He said Shelburn was going to come up with a new proposal and then the council will compare it to Linton’s proposal in front of any town members who are interested in the matter, and that it will probably be at least November before this would happen.

A citizen asked if Shelburn had torn up the previous contract Dugger and Shelburn had signed yet, and Council Member Dwight Nielson replied that Ward said they would do that at their next council meeting. Later in the Dugger Council meeting the board unanimously voted to void that former contract. Nielson promised to attend the next Shelburn meeting to be sure they tear the contract up, and added that a lot of the wording in the new proposal will be different than in the previous one.

“We asked for something in the neighborhood of a 20-year contract where they try to hold it at the same rate that they had initially, which was $2.32.They felt like they could still do that, but one of the wordings they had in the first contract was that their loan would come from a certain group. Well, that’s not necessarily true because they might get it from a different one. But that will be put down as ‘as financing is available’ … They thought they could pretty well keep it at the same rate even though they may have to pay a higher interest rate to get it from somebody else,” Nielson stated.

He explained that after the council receives that proposal they will talk to Linton representatives again to see if Linton can bring their rates down to where Shelburn’s rates are.

“If they do, I don’t have a problem with them. If they don’t, I’ve got a real problem with them,” Nielson remarked. He went on to note that Jasonville, another water supplier, sells water for $2.56 per 1,000 gallons while Linton charges $2.90.

“Linton has got to come down a lot. They’ve got to change their ways,” Nielson added.

The council then discussed reparations Linton is asking for in the case of Dugger choosing to go with Shelburn, due to a bond issue they took out while counting on Dugger staying with them. The council said there was nothing in writing that bound Dugger to stay with Linton or help them with bond repayment if they do not.

An audience member asked how a promise from Dugger to stay with Linton until the bond was repaid could be proved and Nielson said it could not be. He then stated that with the amount of money Dugger has been paying Linton a year, they should have paid the whole loan off by now anyway.

Neilson pointed out that Shelburn will also maintain the pumps and pump house and Dugger will have no responsibility for caring for them.

“We don’t have to touch any of it! We save about another $800 a month or $850 a month that will come back to Dugger just from the electric bills for maintaining the pump house,” he explained.

Neilson added that if Linton really wants to keep Dugger as a customer they will do something different than what they are doing.

“That’s my opinion,” he said. “If they don’t, well we need to look at Shelburn really strongly. We’re going to make a move and show them what we’ve got and try to match it or get closer to it [Shelburn’s price]. I don’t know if they will—I have no idea. I doubt it with the way they’re talking and with the letters they’ve sent us.”