Warren discusses emergency meetings

The Warren Town Council met in a regular meeting on Monday, Sept. 21, at Assembly Hall, to discuss several topics including noncompliance issues with Golfo Di Napoli Dairy, a public hearing for the 2021 town budget, the annual Scarecrow Festival, Trick-or-Treating hours, two town ordinances and quotes received for a new Electric Utility bucket truck.

Three emergency meetings have been held since the last regular council meeting, regarding noncompliance issues with Golfo Di Napoli Dairy. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) was called when issues developed at the Wastewater Treatment Plant due to unacceptable discharge from the dairy.

This inspection and subsequent action resulted in the council issuing a Cease and Desist order on the Dairy’s use of the lift station at their site, as well as making additional measures being taken at the wastewater plant to alleviate the issue.

IDEM also inspected the dairy and issued a report, detailing deficiencies at the wastewater plant. The main issue is the delay in the dairy installing a pre-treatment system, which is required via the town’s Sewer Use Ordinance and in the IDEM permit with the dairy.

Levels of dumped substances have become unmanageable for the wastewater plant and the treatment plant because of increased production at the dairy.

Discussions have occurred between a representative from the dairy, the town’s compliance consultant and IDEM, which resulted in controls being placed on timely reporting by the dairy, daily monitoring of the situation at the lift station and a schedule for installation of the pretreatment by the end of September.

Emergency measures were also put in place to manually remove substances from the sewer plant to prevent discharge into the Salamonie River. In another emergency session, the order was lifted. The order put in place did not require the closing of the wastewater plant or interrupt plant operations, but made the lift station inaccessible.

The dairy owes the town nearly $30,000 in surcharges related to the discharge into the santitary system. This amount has been calculated since January 2020. The dairy has not made a payment since having been given a notice in June, and the council discussed a payment plan that was proposed by the dairy.

The total past due is to be paid over a four month period, plus what will be the current surcharge. The matter was forwarded by the town attorney for an official agreement to be put in place.

President Ethan Stivers announced the opening of a scheduled public hearing at 5 p.m. on the proposed 2021 Municipal Budget. Following a short review and following a request for public input and hearing none, the public hearing was closed.

The council reviewed plans for the annual Chamber of Commerce Scarecrow Festival and approved the plan for the festival to be held as planned on Friday, Oct. 30, following any mandates in place at the time. Trick-or-treat hours were also approved for their normal 6 to 8 p.m. on Halloween night, Saturday, Oct. 31. An additional police presence will be in place during trick-or-treating hours.

Kim Hostetler, Director of the Huntington County DCD, submitted Ordinances 2020-5, 6, rezoning of two parcels on Eleventh Street from R-4 to General Business. Following introduction of the Ordinances and discussion of related issues, the matter was tabled until certain procedural questions could be addressed. A special meeting will be scheduled when the issues are addressed or the matter will be placed on the agenda of the Oct. 19 meeting of Council.

Hostetler also discussed the need to update the Warren Comprehensive Plan so that the town would be included in a Stellar Community Application in March by Huntington City, County and Towns. No decision was made on how to proceed.

Two quotes were received for replacement of the smaller bucket truck owned by the Electric Utility. The matter was taken under advisement to further compare the quotes given.

In other business:

• The project to remove the dam on the Salamonie River is reported to be progressing, having reached the request for bids stage. The project is being done through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources with a LARE grant through that Department. Estimated project cost is $72,000, with the entire cost to be paid through the grant.

• In addition, US Fish and Wildlife will be removing at least one of the pillars near the dam area which allows accumulation of debris. That project is underwritten by that agency, again, at no cost to the town.

• Marilyn Morrison submitted the monthly financial report and reported that the new phone system had been ordered, which will replace all phones including Utility and Police as well as office. The system is expected to be installed after Oct. 15. .

• The operater of the Waste Water Treatment Plant requested permission to replace membranes at the wastewater plant for the cost of $6,000. The project, which had been discussed earlier by council, needs to be done as soon as possible due to possible failure. The council approved by consensus.