Funding set for major Warren street project

A major street improvement project is set to begin in Warren next spring.

Members of the Warren Town Council learned at their meeting on Monday, Aug. 14, that the town expects to receive a $637,425 Community Crossings grant from the state to be used toward the reconstruction of 11th Street from Ind.-5 to Wayne Street and the correction of a stormwater issue.

The estimated cost of the project is $849,900, Clerk-Treasurer Marilyn Morrison said. The town will pay the difference between the grant and the total cost, along with engineering fees and cost overruns, she said. How-ever, she warned, because no engineering has yet been completed, the cost figures are only estimates.

According to the terms of the Community Cross-ings grant, the project must be ready for construction by April of 2018.

At the same time, the town plans to take on a separate project that would include the installation of 400 feet of sanitary sewer along 11th Street east of Campbell Street, installation of a sidewalk from iAB financial bank to Dollar General and upgrading lighting.

In a third project the town hopes to accom-plish next spring, 48 street lights along Ind.-5 at the entrance to Warren would be replaced. Each light pole could cost as much as $5,000.

The town plans to apply to Huntington County for up to $100,000 in CEDIT funds to pay for the project.

All together, improvements will total about $1.5 million, Morrison said.

Council members approved making an application for CEDIT funds and hiring Spectrum Engineering to draw up plans for the lighting project.

• Council members gave unanimous approval to an updated building code, which will replace a code that has been in place in Warren since 1992.

The new code, which sets out regulations for construction projects, is also being presented to other small communities in Huntington County for their approval, explained Mandy Woods, executive director of the Huntington Countywide Department of Community Development. If all communities give their approval, the code will be standardized throughout Huntington County.

Woods said the new code brings local rules in line with state code and will “document some things that were never on paper.”

The building code must still be approved at the state level.

In a separate resolution, the council approved fees for building permits and inspections. Those fees can be updated on the local level without state approval, Woods said.

• Jonathan Dorsey, from the Region 3A Development and Regional Planning Commission, told council members that the town is eligible to apply for a grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) of up to $45,000 to pay for a comprehensive plan for the town. Warren would have to provide a match of up to $5,000, Dorsey said, but having a com-prehensive plan in place would make it more likely that Warren would receive grants for the projects included in the comprehensive plan.

To qualify for the OCRA grant, Region 3A’s Matt Brinkman said, the town will need to conduct an income survey to establish that at least 51 percent of Warren residents have low to moderate incomes. The survey would be con-ducted by Region 3A, Brinkman said, at a cost of $1,500 to $2,500.

• Council approved an across the board 69-cent-an-hour  raise for town employees in 2018. Board President Julia Glessner cast the lone vote against the across-the-board increase, saying she would prefer to see raises given on an individual basis after employee evaluations.

• Morrison said she has drawn up a preliminary budget for 2018. The spending plan has no major changes from 2017, she said, and would carry a tax rate increase of at most 3 cents. However, that increase is only a guess, she said, because the town’s assessed value has not yet been announced.

• Council approved the hiring of Erica Hensley to work part time in the clerk-treasurer’s office. Her starting wage was approved at $12.50 an hour.

• Utilities Superintendent Lee Poulson said the town’s new well is up and running, and the well it replaced has been cemented shut. The new well increases the town’s pumping ability to meet any emergency, he said.

Poulson added that the building that housed the old well will need some repairs, including a new roof, if it continues to be used for storage at Tower Park.

• Speaking as chief of the Warren Volunteer Fire Department, Poulson said the department plans to use donations to build a storage building at the fire department. The town agreed to pay insurance on the building.

Council members also agreed to purchase one set of turnout gear for the fire department.

• Morrison announced that the town is receiving a $71,026.89 refund from AEP, where it buys electricity for redistribution, because of an overcharge.
Council members agreed to place that money in the electric rate stabilization fund, which is used to absorb some rate increases from AEP instead of passing all increases along to the customers.

• A petition to vacate an alley and a section of Sixth Street, both undeveloped, was submitted by Charles M. Crain and Todd N. Smith. The street portion targeted for vacation is behind Crain Ford.

A public hearing on the vacation was set for the council’s next meeting, on Sept. 11.

• Poulson presented a quote from Tucker’s Tree Service and Stump Removal, of Hartford City, to trim and remove trees that are close to power lines. Council members asked Poulson to try to negotiate a price lower than the quoted $22,775.

• An IDEM inspection at the Warren Waterworks in July revealed several deficiencies that must be corrected, Poulson said.

Council approved the purchase of a chlorine leak detector at a cost of $1,420 and an alarm light at a cost of $172.

• The town’s small bucket truck was dam-aged in a collision with a tree, Poulson said, and will be gone six to eight weeks for repairs. The $10,769.47 repair bill will be covered by insurance, he said, but the insurance won’t cover the cost of renting a re-placement truck. Council members told Poulson to rent a truck only if needed for a specific project.

• Jeff Souder, representing the Warren Area Chamber of Commerce, told the council that OCRA has awarded a grant of $28,800 to help pay for construction of a stage at a new downtown park being developed jointly by the chamber, the town and historic Warren.

Souder said construction will start as soon as possible.

• David Swanson was reappointed to the Warren Public Library Board of Trustees for a four-year term ending in 2021.

The appointment was recommended by Robert Neuenschwander, the library’s director.

• Michael and Monica Spahr, 1601E-900S, asked the town to consider disannexation of about one acre of land along Wayne Street at CR 900S. The Spahrs own the property, as well as the adjoining property, and want to build across the two parcels. In order to build, either the one-acre parcel would need to be disannexed or the remainder of the Spahr’s property would need to be annexed.

No action was taken, but council said it would be willing to discuss disannexation.

• Council approved an end-of-year holiday schedule, giving employees Dec. 22, 25 and 26 off for Christmas and Dec. 29 and Jan. 1 off for New Year’s Day.