Palmyra to remove mobile home at Buffalo Trace
By Mike Arnold, Contributing Writer
The Palmyra Town Council voted to declare a now-vacant mobile home at Buffalo Trace Park worthless surplus property, clearing the way for eventual demolition, during its bi-monthly council and utility board meeting Dec. 10.
Council president Virginia (Jenny) Kirkham said the county parks board would like the mobile home removed but no specific timetable exist for that to occur.
The council, along with town attorney Adam Burk-hardt, walked through several options for the mobile home’s removal.
By designating it worthless surplus property, Burkhardt said the town was stating costs to sell and transport it exceed its worth.
Other possibilities discussed included sale through sealed bids or auction and donation to another governmental body or non-profit organization.
Councilman Wyman (Lee) Childers mentioned concerns about liability for the town or Buffalo Trace Park, due to the mobile home’s age and poor condition. Because of those issues, Childers said the risk of transport might nullify any remaining value.
Burkhardt said there would be liability if the town hired a contractor to demolish the mobile home. However, if town employees completed the job, there would be no additional liability than what was present during usual operations.
Acting water superintendent Steven Schmitt said the town crew could likely demolish the mobile home in one day. Schmitt said they might be able to utilize the town’s Kubota tractor for the work, which would also include digging to cap the water line and renting dumpsters for debris.
Members of the town utility department were at the mobile home recently to disconnect water service, after it was vacated by the most recent tenant, but Schmitt said they would visit again to make a final assessment.
“We’ll take a look at it,” he added.
Town Marshal Dennis Lemmel reported on a situation involving a former reserve officer who resigned in late October but has yet to return some police-issued items. Lemmel said he communicated with the former officer through text message and the individual replied he was in quarantine, which was the reason he had not been able to return the town property.
Lemmel told the council he would like to issue a letter seeking prompt return of the items.
“He’s had multiple opportunities,” Lemmel said of the former reserve.
The council asked Lemmel to provide the text messages and he agreed.
Burkhardt said his office could send a letter to the former officer on behalf of the town, indicating if the items were not returned soon, criminal and civil charges would be pursued.
In another police matter, the council voted on Lemmel’s prior recommendation to authorize an agreement with WeaponsPro of Salem to act as an authorized purchasing agent for ammunition used by the town police department. Lemmel introduced this possibility at the council’s Nov. 12 meeting. He believes the measure will save the town money, and councilwoman Christall Ingle agreed.
Burkhardt said he would draft a resolution to include the purchasing process and that it would also need to contain a cap for annual purchases, along with a few other additions.
Lemmel said a maximum amount of $1,500 would be more than sufficient.
Julie Moorman, CEO of the Harrison County Community Foundation, approached the council to discuss a planning grant obtained through the Lilly Endowment. The funds will focus on implementation of town planning and resources will be available for all 10 incorporated towns in Harrison County.
Moorman said the four-year grant could also include development of comprehensive plans and asset management, with the goal of including all the information into a county plan. A consultant will be hired to assist with administration and community conversations conducted to collect input from town residents, she said.
Exact scheduling for when grant work will begin has not been determined due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Moorman said she expects it could begin in the spring.
The purpose of her visit at the meeting, she said, was to make the town aware of the grant and some of the things that might be possible under it.
“I just wanted to come and tell you it was coming,” Moorman said. “We’ll be working with you all.”
A topic of discussion during the utility board portion of the meeting was the possibility of former water superintendent Randy Trett being paid as a consultant for his assistance with certain issues.
Since Trett’s departure from the town in August, he has been contacted to provide information on at least two occasions. Schmitt said both of those matters were emergencies and Trett’s insight was valuable.
“It’s more than worth it if it saves us hours of time,” Schmitt added.
Ingle said Trett should come before the board with a proposal that would need to include a possible rate and other terms and the council would review further.
No further action was taken.
In other business, the council:
• Voted to authorize a resolution whereby town employees expected to respond after hours would be permitted to take home town vehicles. Burkhardt prepared the resolution, which permits the take-home practice at the discretion of the water superintendent. “I think it’s a good idea,” Childers said.
• Discussed further a policy related to sharing of after-hours and weekend emergency phone duties for wastewater employees. The council took no action but planned to revisit at its Dec. 29 meeting (moved from the last Thursday of the month) after reviewing with the Indiana State Board of Accounts. (That meeting was later canceled. The council’s next meeting now will be Thursday, Jan. 14.)
• Passed a resolution allowing Clerk-Treasurer Debra Jones to accept reimbursement for funds the town applied for and will receive under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
• Agreed to leave as is holiday pay granted erroneously to two employees who received it but had yet to accrue enough time on the town payroll to be eligible to collect it. An error was acknowledged with several levels of the payroll review process.
• Mentioned the need to review and revise the town employee handbook policy on paid time off for new employees. Ingle said the wording is ambiguous. Burk-
hardt will draft language through a resolution to clarify PTO is available for new employees as soon as they complete the 90-day probationary period.
• Reviewed and discussed the request from water customer Anthony Jones, of Nadorff Road, to upgrade his current water service to a two-inch meter. Jones would like the increased flow to be able to fill sprayer tanks faster. Schmitt said he believes a one-inch meter with a two-inch line may be a better choice, as the two-inch meter would lead to a much higher monthly minimum charge.
• Examined possible options presented for Joshua Raisor to secure water service for property he intends to purchase along Uhl Lane. Raisor has proposed running a water main under several neighboring properties to establish service. Schmitt said Raisor would have to pay to run the line, secure easements, etc., which could prove costly. He added the town utility could likely perform the work but a rock hammer would be necessary. The council agreed to invite Raisor to an upcoming meeting to continue discussion of his choices.