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Milltown Council talks festival stage replacement, snowplow blade problems


March 18, 2015
During its meeting last week, the Milltown Town Council discussed several upcoming town projects and tackled maintenance-related issues.

Justin Barnes, town manager, often led the discussion during the March 9 meeting as most of the town's projects fall under his jurisdiction. His report was both favorable and unfavorable at times.

First up on the list was the issue of building a new stage for the festival season. In January, Barnes implored the council to begin the process of speaking with the landowner to begin the initial discussion of what kind of stage — removable or permanent — would be able to be constructed.

"He has given us permission to build a permanent structure," Barnes said. "So, that is very good news. He seemed happy to let us do it and didn't make any stipulations."

The current stage, which is not in good condition, cannot be grandfathered into the new regulations handed down by the state in the wake of the Indiana State Fair stage collapse that fatally injured seven people and severely injured 58 others.

"We don't have a choice here," Barnes said in the January discussion. "We have to abide by the rules."

The council gave him permission to begin the permit process through the state.

Barnes also reported that the town clean-up originally slated for March will be moved to April 13 through 18. The clean-up will run from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. each day.

"I believe that we can get a better turnout with this plan and that more people will be able to participate," he said. "Sometimes it's hard for people to get here just on one day."

The council also agreed to Barnes' request to enter into negotiations with the Town of Marengo on a deal to purchase its pump truck. The price, however, may not exceed $2,000.

That was the good.

To wrap up his report, Barnes informed the council of the problems the town has experienced with the new plow.

Barnes said the v-shape of the plow is not conducive to the type of snow removal that the town does.

"It's really the wrong type of plow," he said. "The v-shape causes us to only be able to move at a speed of about 15 miles per hour tops."

He explained that the crews must move slowly because the shape of the plow throws snow into the vision field of the driver, creating an unsafe situation.

But there is also another issue at hand, Barnes said.

"The blade isn't going to last," he said. "I've already had to replace the blade by making a new one. It's not the right type of blade, and it just wears out too quickly."

Barnes went on to explain that generally a snowplow blade sits on a pair of shoes that keep it from coming in contact with the asphalt and eating away at the metal surface too quickly.

"This type of plow is used for driveways and parking lots, not an entire town," he said. "We can't put shoes on this plow to keep it from wearing away."

In response to the council's questions about contacting the seller to inquire about replacements and why it sold the town a plow it cannot use, Barnes was straightforward.

"I'm not getting far. I was told we signed for it, it's ours," he said. "They basically said it's not their problem."

"So, they sold us a plow they knew we could not use," Curt Hudson, president of the council, said. "We need to discuss this with them further."

"I have had the same discussion with them," Barnes said. "I can try to get through to them and see what we can do."

In order to replace the plow, it will cost approximately $4,000.

The final item of Barnes' report was the sewer system.

"We've had a lot of issues with the cold weather," he said.

Seals have gone out of the auger system, and pumps have been a large source of anger for the town's crews.

Earlier in the day, Barnes and his crew were battling issues at the Spencer Street station.

"We've been down there all day with Aspire and Scott Rennirt," he said. "He's been pumping as we've been trying to repair."

Barnes cited issues with the initial installation as a contributing factor.

In other news, Chief Ray Saylor reported that the town police department's 2002 Ford Crown Victoria is ready to sell.

"We had the striping removed, and it really looks good," he said. "We've already had inquiries about it, but we need to go through the proper channels."

Gordon Smith, owner of Cave Country Canoes, was on hand to give an update on the repairs to his structures that house his products in the off-season, as well as plans for a new bath house.

"We've kept the open roof but have fixed all the walls," he said. "The only thing holding up the steel beams were the windows."

He said the building is much safer now due to the repairs and will look much the same outwardly with the exception of a new set of gates that will take the place of the current roll-down-type door.

"The bath house is going to look nice when we're done with it, as well," Smith said. "There will be no wood; it will be a concrete-and-metal structure."

He pointed out that such structures are stable and easy to clean.

Opening day for Cave Country Canoes will be April 3.

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Barbara Shaw
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