By DENISE FEDOROW
NAPPANEE — Multiple lightning strikes last week damaged the wastewater utility building and its equipment.
Water & Wastewater Utility Superintendent Gale Gerber informed the board that the wastewater utility “took multiple lightning hits” last week. Gerber said damages so far were up to $9,000 and he expected that amount to be higher as several key pieces of equipment and the plant itself were damaged.
This is not the first time the plant has suffered lightning damage. Gerber said the problem is that the plant is on a very high voltage line that runs from Syracuse to Bremen.
“But we’ve got to get it under control,” he said.
Gerber said he contacted Northern Indiana Public Service Co. and is also looking into more lightning protection. He said a lightning voltage survey of the city is being done at no cost to the city.
While the damages have been turned into the city’s insurance company, the utility has had to make claims for lightning damages several times already, so Gerber is looking at taking a “multi-level approach” for solutions.
“We can’t keep spending thousands and thousands of dollars in (replacing) equipment,” he said.
City Court system changes
City Court Judge Christopher Walters received approval to switch computer systems from Keystone to Odyssey.
Walters explained all courts across the state are going to a new system called Odyssey and the state is encouraging all courts to eventually be on this same system. Walters said currently the city has a Keystone system which costs $2,010 a year in maintenance agreements. He said the new system would be paid for and monitored by the state of Indiana.
Clerk-Treasurer Kim Ingle told the board that she expected the change and budgeted for it.
Nappanee Public Library’s children’s librarian Cheryl Meyers and Director Lisa Krull received the board’s approval to block off the small parking lot on the east side of Elm Street between the post office and the library for the summer reading program June 6-28.
Knepp Sand & Stone is donating two tons of sand to create an archaeological sand pit that the different age groups will be using for different activities during the summer reading program. The sand pit will also be used for the June Second Saturday library event.
The request also included having the city take away the sand at the end of the program. The sand will be donated to the parks department. Meyers said the sand pit would be covered at night.
A marketing strategy for the city’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program was approved by the board. Scott Hughes, Hughes & Associates, told the board that a website for the program is almost ready to be launched. He expected it would be ready in a week or so and would have the marketed properties listed on the site.
Hughes gave a brief update on each property. He said the property on East Broad Street was nearly completed and would soon be on the website. All other properties were progressing and the property on South Main Street was on hold until the city sells at least one property.
The city received a grant to rehabilitate abandoned homes in the city and resell them to low- and moderate-income, first-time home buyers.
In other business, board members:
• Approved purchasing two monitor/defibrillators from Physio-Control at a cost not to exceed $61,488.
• Approved excavation on public property for a new sewer line at 152 N. Madison St.
• Approved construction of a private driveway at 956 E. Marion St.
• Approved 2012-2013 contracts with Historic Landmarks Foundation for consulting with Historic Preservation at a cost of $4,000 for the two years.
• Approved a request by Peg Hunsberger to replace a sinking sidewalk and pave a utility alley. Hunsberger said she and a neighbor are going to have concrete poured in the alley. Mayor Larry Thompson said he was fine approving the request as long as the property owners realized even though they were using their time and money to improve the alley it remains a public alley. He also advised taking advantage of the city’s 50/50 matching sidewalk replacement.
• Approved adding Donny Aleo and Zach DeMeester as probationary fire department members.