Speece named Georgetown police chief
By Mike Arnold, Contributing Writer
Georgetown Police Sgt. Travis Speece was formally named the department’s chief following a unanimous town council vote during its regular monthly meeting Feb. 17 at the Georgetown Optimist Club building.
Council vice president Ben Stocksdale, who headed a search committee tasked with selecting a permanent chief, said Speece’s experience in a leadership role for the department in 2020 made him the logical choice.
“I think Travis, personally, has done an admirable job over the past year,” Stocksdale said.
Speece was promoted to sergeant in January 2020, following departures of chief marshal Dennis Kunkel and Sgt. Charlie Morgan.
Stocksdale said selecting Speece represents the town council’s commitment to the police department and its future. Speece was being compensated at the chief’s rate following his promotion to sergeant and will continue there in accordance with the town’s salary ordinance.
“We want a Georgetown Police Department; we stand behind that,” Stocksdale added.
Council president Chris Loop and councilman Gary Smith echoed Stocksdale’s sentiments about Speece and his contributions to the town force.
“We do appreciate his service this past year,” Loop said.
“I think we couldn’t pick anyone better,” Smith added.
In another matter related to ongoing downtown revitalization plans, engineer Bob Woosley announced the second phase of the town’s sidewalk rehabilitation project will soon begin. Sidewalk and retaining wall improvements along Main Street (S.R. 64) were completed on the downtown’s western side in 2020; this segment will move more to the east. Woosley gave specifics about the areas where new sidewalks and retaining walls will be constructed and said, in some cases, existing sidewalks were found to be in satisfactory condition and will remain.
Options were obtained for necessary property easements prior to initial sidewalk work, and those easements will now need to be secured, Woosley added.
In addition to sidewalk upgrades, research and conversations will also occur concerning another push button crosswalk along Main Street (a push button crosswalk is scheduled to be installed between the current town hall and old town hall site).
Woosley also addressed the council regarding a study conducted last year to assess options to better utilize space and plan for future needs at the current town hall. Through those discussions, the town also reviewed possibilities for two lots it owns west of the Georgetown Bakery, including using them for parking.
Loop said turning those lots into a parking area would eliminate the potential hazard of crossing Main Street to walk to Georgetown Park and the increased parking could become an asset as downtown business development and tourism increase.
“It creates a public parking area, which is very handy,” Loop added.
The council voted to allow Woosley to begin seeking quotes for the additional parking lot work with a budget not to exceed $125,000.
In another matter involving the future of its downtown, John Beams and Stan Walk of Destination Georgetown addressed the council to provide a summary of their group’s renewed efforts, following a year complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beams said the organization is affiliated with the Indiana Main Street group and features new board members for 2021.
Destination Georgetown hopes to use a community assessment to expand its focus on organizations with emphasis on business relocation and retention. Future plans include developing an investment group to purchase and improve town properties for business and community uses and launching a mascot.
Beams said Destination Georgetown became a member of the One Southern Indiana tourism organization.
Walk added they have also been looking at several ways to generate funding, such as discount coupon books for area businesses.
Beams and Walk will return to the council’s March meeting to present a Destination Georgetown’s budget and plans.
Joel Kintner, who manages softball league tournaments at Georgetown Park, approached the council to discuss erosion of the surface at the playing field. He said the damage seems to be caused by runoff and is prevalent along the first-base line.
Woosley said he was aware of the issue and a project had been scoped to permanently repair it. He believes the problem can be corrected by adding material to the playing surface.
The council voted to proceed with plans for the improvement with a budget not to exceed $15,000.
Kintner agreed to obtain two quotes for the material and labor and will return to the council for review.
In another matter related to the Georgetown Park softball facilities, Kintner said the Clarksville Parks Department had offered four sets of bleachers to Georgetown at no charge. The only stipulation, Kintner said, was Georgetown would need to arrange for the bleachers to be transported to its park. Kintner said he might be able to secure a semi to assist with delivery to the park for the town to unload and place the bleachers.
The council agreed and passed a resolution to accept the bleachers as surplus property items.
Woosley also mentioned a possible project that would expand an existing sewer lift station near the Edwardsville United Methodist Church near Interstate 64 exit 118 and Knable Road. The location is outside town limits; however, the town provides sewer service to the area, which recently became a sought-after location for development. Upgrading the lift station would better accommodate any growth, Woosley said.
The area is part of a Tax Increment Funding district and, if a development such as an apartment complex was to be constructed there, the town could realize an additional funding source through the annual collection of TIF revenue.
Woosley and town attorney Kristi Fox received the council’s go-ahead to begin work on an inter-local agreement between the town and Floyd County for the lift station relocation project along Knable Road. It was also suggested that tap fees the town receives from new sewer customers in the area could be applied to cover some of its costs related to the lift station upgrade.
In other business, the council:
Discussed with Chief Speece the future of several of the department’s patrol cars and the status of the interview process for a vacant patrolman position. The department will move forward with final interviews to select one candidate. Councilman Billy Haller agreed to sit in during the interview process.
Received an update from Fox about the ongoing Lakeland Estates asset purchase matter. Fox presented a contract for the services of a closing agent for the transaction, which the council accepted. Fox said easements are being finalized and gave details on the time line for when closing might occur.
Agreed to conduct a future public hearing on the concept of a storm water fee increase. Woosley said he would follow up with the town’s storm water board. Rate consultants Baker Tilly would be engaged to perform an analysis of current fees, tap fees, etc., to determine if it would be feasible to charge a different rate for structures such as apartments, etc. A possible public hearing could occur at the April meeting.
Listened to Woosley’s update on current construction projects, including parking lot improvements at the old town hall and basketball court upgrades at Georgetown Park. Woosley also addressed two recent situations where town sewer lift stations were damaged due to electrical issues and clogging. To combat clogging, following Woosley’s recommendation, the council voted to proceed with hiring Aspire Industries to complete work on an upgrade to the pumps at the west lift station.
“This will pay for itself in seven to eight months,” Woosley said. “It saves on your pumps big time.”
Budget for the equipment and installation is $25,000.
The council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 29, at 6:30 p.m. at the Optimist Club building.