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 Town Attorneys Get Extension

April 9, 2008 - Attorneys representing the town of Knightstown have agreed to another 90-day extension of their contract to give town council members more time to considering hiring other legal counsel.

Town Council President Valerie Trump told The Banner last week that attorney David Copenhaver and his New Castle firm have agreed to the extension, the second since their annual contract expired at the end of 2007. She said Copenhaver gave her the news by phone on March 28 and was supposed to send a letter confirming the temporary arrangement.

With the first extension running out, Trump joined Council Vice President Clyde South and council member Bob Weber in voting at the council's March 19 meeting to ask Copenhaver and his firm to stay on another 90 days. Council members Terry Guerin and Steve Nelson both voted against the extension, the former wanting to only offer an additional 30 days and the latter wanting to keep the attorneys on for the rest of 2008.

While the council has received information from four other attorneys interested in representing the town, Trump said further consideration will only be given to the two with experience representing municipalities. Based on names the council has previously released, those attorneys are believed to be Chuck Todd of Cambridge City and Greg Morelock of Greenfield.

Trump said two town council members will form a committee that will go and talk to the two attorneys still being considered. While she was not sure which council members will serve on the committee, she said she will not be one of them.

As for a timeframe on when a final decision might be made, Trump said she did not know. "We'll just have to see what happens, honestly," she said. "I don't know what everyone's schedules are. ... We're having a hard time getting the five of us (council members) together."

Trump said she thinks it's important for all members of the council "to be comfortable" with whomever is chosen to provide the town's legal representation. "That's the important thing," she said.

In another matter involving a contract for services, the council voted unanimously at the March 19 meeting to renew its yearly $4,800 animal control contract with the New Castle-Henry County Animal Shelter. The council had previously held off on renewing the contract at meetings in January and February over concerns about the shelter's policy of not picking up strays on weekends or after its regular business hours.

In other business at the March 19 meeting, the council received seven bids for a 2001 Chevrolet Impala that had been used as a patrol car by the KPD, and accepted the highest bid, $1,525.50 from Shirley resident Tom Bell. The council also received three bids for a dump truck, and accepted a $1,005 bid from Adams Enterprises, which was the highest.

Knightstown Chief of Police Danny Baker provided the council with a favorable six-month evaluation of officer Derek Hall and recommended he be given a 50-cent per hour raise. Clerk-Treasurer Judy Haines told the council that under the town's personnel policies, the raise is automatic based on Baker's evaluation.

Baker told the council he wanted to use the old clerk's office at Town Hall as an interrogation room. "I need a place to interrogate people that's private," he said. "We need the privacy and security of an interrogation room. … It's a very much needed facility for us."

Trump and Guerin said they had no problem with granting Baker's request and no other council members voiced any objection. Haines asked Baker to make sure he keeps the door to the room locked.

Haines presented council members with an overtime wage report showing how much has been spent so far in 2008 on wages for each department, compared to how much is budgeted for the year. She said the report will allow the council to monitor this information month-to-month.

In another personnel matter, the council approved the resignation of utility billing clerk Sunshine Harding. Trump reported that the job vacancy had been published in The Banner and that some applications had already been received.

Weber advised fellow council members that an interlocal agreement between the town and Wayne Township regarding fire protection services had been filed with the state. He said the agreement requires the township to pay 65 percent of the Knightstown-Wayne Twp. Volunteer Fire Dept.'s expenses, with the town paying the remaining 35 percent.

Fire Chief Bob Schaeffer told the council the department had received a grant a week earlier for about $2,000 for a carbon monoxide and natural gas detector. He also reported that the department's new pumper tanker is expected to arrive in May and that a new member had recently been added to the department.

Giving a committee report, Nelson revealed that Southwest Ambulance Service logged 540 runs in 2007, with an average run taking two hours. He said there are 15 EMTs and five drivers on staff and said he thought it was "a great service … for this community."

Works Manager Mel Matlock advised the council that two permits had recently been received from the state. He said the first will allow the town to bury electrical wire on S.R. 140, south of town, and that the second allows the town to bore under S.R. 109 so that water and sewer service can be extended to a property across the street from Knightstown Elementary. The property's owners have agreed to be annexed by the town in exchange for a waiver of utility hook-up fees.

The council also unanimously adopted a resolution at the March 19 meeting dealing with a hazardous property abatement at 445 N. Adams St. Matlock said the property had a broken rear window, a cluttered garage and was in "pretty bad shape."

The next meeting of the Knightstown Town Council is at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 16, in the council chambers at Knightstown Town Hall, 26 S. Washington St.


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