IDEM stops Roanoke from burning brush

The Town of Roanoke will have to devise a new way to dispose of brush collected from residents after the Indiana Department of Environmental Management put a stop to the town’s practice of burning it.

Phil Hibbert, the town’s supervisor of operations, passed along this news to the Roanoke Town Council at its meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 15. Hibbert explained that a representative from IDEM’s Office of Air Quality had visited the town on Tuesday, Aug. 8, and informed town employees that Roanoke’s practice of burning brush needed to be discontinued. Assistant Utility Superintendent Eric Parker noted that the town should expect to be fined.

Council discussed alternative means of brush disposal. Renting a wood chipper and making the resulting mulch available to residents was considered.

While the town contemplates alternative disposal methods, Hibbert stated that brush pickup would continue. The refuse will continue to be deposited on town property east of U.S.-24, where it was previously burned.

Council also learned that water in a lagoon that IDEM wants to see cleaned up would not be able to be discharged into a nearby river in its present state.

Hibbert informed the board that recent tests on the water performed by Element Fort Wayne revealed the presence of substances that IDEM would not allow to be discharged into a waterway. The solution, said Hibbert, would be to filter the water before discharging it. Adding that extra step to the cleanup process, though, could raise the cost of the entire project by $80,000 to $250,000, he estimated.

Hibbert stated that he directed consulting firm DLZ to contact IDEM and request that the town be given more time to close the lagoon, which is located nearby the town’s wastewater treatment plant. He also reported on DLZ’s findings in regard to sources of financial assistance for the project. While there are not many sources available to the town, Hibbert noted that a loan through the United States Department of Agriculture could be a possibility.

In other business:
Clerk-Treasurer JoAnne Kirchner reported that Bippus State Bank would now be handling all of the town’s finances. Traditionally, BSB had just overseen the town’s investments while PNC Bank handled all of the town’s other financial business. However, with PNC Bank closing in Roanoke, it became necessary to consolidate all of the town’s business at BSB. Kirchner noted that the state prefers a municipality do its banking at more than one institution, but as there are no other banks in Roanoke, it was amenable to the town’s new arrangement with BSB.

Kirchner also informed council that she had signed a loan with BSB earlier that day that will fund the construction of the town’s new fire truck. The first payment on the loan will be due Feb. 5, 2018.

Mandy Woods, executive director of the Huntington Countywide Department of Community Development, presented an updated town building code to the board. The new code, she explained, brings the town’s code into alignment with the county’s. Council said it would review the updated code and make a decision on its passage at its next meeting, Sept. 5.

Council passed an updated salary ordinance. Kirchner noted that she was still in the process of working on the town’s budget for next year.