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 Carthage Council Gets Water Project Update

February 27, 2008 - The Carthage Town Council received a brief update on the town's $3.1 million water utility improvement project earlier this month.

Engineer Chuck Garriott, who serves as the water project's inspector, addressed the council at their regular monthly meeting on Feb. 13. He reported that four loads of pipes had recently been delivered, but said a fifth load that spilled on the Carthage Pike as the result of an accident had not been accepted.

Garriott said that valves, hydrants and other fittings had been delivered earlier that day. He also said he thought Dave O'Mara Contractors, North Vernon, would break ground on the project's "Division B," improvements to the water distribution system, the next week.

According to Garriott, electrical service going to the utility's new water treatment facility will be overhead and not buried, as had been originally thought. He estimated that the cost of overhead service could be three times less than underground service would have been, resulting in savings for the town.

Garriott told the council that the town should also see additional savings as the result of a decision to forego a heated floor at the water treatment facility. Instead, he said the building will be heated by a less expensive, forced air system.

The council was advised by Garriott that a stone road leading back to the new water well field was expected to be finished by the end of the next week. He also reported that work on "Division C" of the project, installation of a new 150,000 gallon water tank, likely will not begin until late March.

Garriott told council members that the old Smurfit-Stone container board mill in Carthage is being used as a staging area for the project. He said all three contractors working on the project have submitted drawings for his review, and noted that the weather had not been conducive to a quick start on the project.

In a related matter, Carthage Clerk-Treasurer Linda McMahan told the council that several water utility customers had been in to complain about a 107-percent increase in rates and charges that had just gone into effect.

"It was a very irate week with citizens," McMahan said. "I wasn't prepared for what happened." She thanked town works manager Jimmie Alcorn and town employee Rob Hamilton for being present at town hall when several of these customers came into complain.

To satisfy requirements for funding for the water utility improvement project, the council originally OK'd a 126-percent hike in rates and charges last October. However, the availability of additional federal grant money allowed the council to reduce this to a 107-percent increase in late January.

Council President Rick Bush said that someone from an Indianapolis TV news program had called the town to inquire about the increase in water rates and charges. He said the town confirmed the increase, but had not heard back from the news reporter who had called.

Bush also said that the Rush County Sheriff's Department had to be called to deal with one upset customer whose service had been shut off for nonpayment. Bush said the customer claimed he had paid the bill and that the issue was being researched. If it turns out payment had not been made, Bush said the customer's service will be shut off again.

In addition to the customers upset with the higher rates and charges, McMahan also told the council that the phone and Internet service at town hall had gone out temporarily due to a lightning strike. She also advised them that she had recently been diagnosed with second stage glaucoma, but said glasses aimed at correcting the condition are helping.

"I just want everybody to know why you haven't gotten reports," McMahan said.

In other business, Brad Bueining, executive director of the Rush County Economic & Community Development Corporation, briefly addressed the council. In addition to reporting that someone had contacted him earlier that day looking for a 20,000 square foot building for a business, he also left the council with paperwork to fill out to help with revisions being made to the county's comprehensive plan.

"It's very easy for people to forget that Carthage is the second biggest town in Rush County," said Council Vice President Wanda Henderson. "We need not be forgotten ... and for a long time we have been."

Noting the town's relatively easy access to both U.S. 40 and S.R. 52, Hendersons said, "We've got a lot to offer and want people to realize it. … We really want to see our town grow." She said she thought the town needs to develop its own five-year plan and that Carthage was destined to become "a bedroom community down the road."

Bush said he thought there would be more development in the area if S.R. 3 were made into a four-lane road. Buening agreed and said he thought a four-lane road is the next best thing to having nearby access to an interstate highway.

The council discussed the hazardous conditions of a property on East First Street they said is owned by Randy Chandler. Rush County Sheriff Jeff Sherwood told the council he would check to see if the RCSD has received any paperwork to serve on Chandler, who works for the RCSD.

Bush said he thought Chandler's property, which he said has a sagging roof, open doors and no windows, should be boarded up as soon as possible. He said he had caught kids in the house about a year and a half ago, and was concerned about the hazardous conditions of the property.

The council's attorney, Chuck Todd, suggested the council look into hiring someone to codify the town's ordinances. He said he thought codification of the town's laws would be a benefit to both the council and the town's citizens.

While initial expenditures could be several thousand dollars, Todd said codifying the ordinances could save the town money in the long run. As an example, he said codification would likely cut down on time he has to spend researching past ordinances the council may have adopted.

"It would be money well invested," Bush agreed.

Council member Bill Armstrong reported that he had spoken with a company that provides amusements for town festivals. The council agreed that the second week in October might be a good time for an event in town, and Armstrong said he would relay that information to the amusement company.

The council gave works manager Alcorn permission to fix a flow meter at the water pump house. Alcorn said the cost of repair would be $1,563.41. Bush also reported that Alcorn had saved the town about $2,000 recently by making needed repairs to one of the town's police cars.

Bush said McMahan had sent a memo to town employees advising them to have their time sheets turned in by 9 a.m. on Thursday. Employees who miss that deadline, Bush said, will have to wait until the following week to be paid.

Town employee Bryan McMahan reported that the town would be getting a new 2008 mower for the same price as a 2007 model. He said a 2007 mower the town had ordered had been stolen during a recent break in at Hoosier Outdoor Power near Knightstown, and that the company is going to give them a 2008 model for the same price.



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