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 McNabb Park May See Playground Improvements

March 11, 2009 - The Carthage Town Council will help with plans to improve the playground area at McNabb Park as a memorial to two town residents who lost their lives last month in a traffic accident.

At the outset of last Wednesday's regular monthly meeting, Cyndy Butler told the council that a memorial fund for her daughter and grandson, Crysten Butler Williams and Jason Jett Williams, has been set up through the Rush County Community Foundation. Because the town is being used as a "pass-through" organization for the fund, the town council will be required to approve purchases made with the fund's proceeds.

Butler said money from the memorial fund can be used to purchase playground equipment for the town's park, and can be used to pay for a memorial sign and any installation costs for a sign or equipment. "Hopefully," she said, "we can have a nice playground."

In an effort to raise money for the memorial fund, Butler also told the council that her other daughter, Carly Edwards, and her son-in-law, Kalen Edwards, are planning a fundraising walk for 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 16. In the event of rain, she said the walk will be held at the same time on May 17.

"You just let us know what we can do to facilitate you and we'll make it happen," Council President Rick Bush told Butler. With respect to the fundraising walk, he said the town could block off roads, if needed, as well as provide a police escort for walkers.

At Butler's urging, the council OK'd the purchase of a "bouncy jet plane" piece of children's recreational park equipment in the memory of Butler's grandson. She also said they would like to get a park bench that would have Crysten and Jett's names on the back, but no purchasing decision was made with respect to that item last week.

In addition to park equipment, Butler said she knew some people who want to donate trees in memory of Crysten and Jett, and said she might be able to secure a donation of pea gravel for the playground area. Butler also said that Knightstown contractor Rusty Johnson had agreed to build a memorial wall at the park out of ceramic tiles.

"We're definitely excited about this," Bush told Butler. "It's good for you, and it's good for the town."

In other business at last week's meeting, Town Marshal Dan Murphy introduced the council to officer Derek Hall of the Knightstown Police Department, and Hall's canine partner, Buddy. Murphy explained that Hall and Buddy have been helping the Carthage Police Department on drug investigations, including a recent marijuana bust on Carthage Pike.

Hall gave the council a brief demonstration of Buddy's drug-locating ability. After sniffing around the small meeting room, Buddy located a small packet of illegal drugs that Hall had hidden near Bush.

"A lot of stuff Derek does over here greatly benefits the town of Carthage," Murphy said.

Acting on Murphy's recommendation, the council approved Shannon McComas as a new reserve officer for the Carthage Police Departmet. Murphy said McComas will replace former reserve officer Brad Rogers, who he described as a source of "headaches" and said had been "dismissed."

McComas told the council he had worked seven years for the Indianapolis Police Department and had completed several types of training, including detectives school and narcotics training. He said he now has his own landscaping business and lives west of Greenfield.

Murphy asked the council for permission to purchase a new desk and file cabinet for the CPD in an effort to update its "Barney Miller" appearance, and said he wants to paint the office and get new carpet. The council suggested that Murphy check on prices for items he wants to purchase and report back at their next meeting.

The council approved paying former Town Marshal Russell Silver $150 for work on a sign that the CPD can use when its sets up a sobriety checkpoint. Bush said the sign, which had been donated to the CPD by Knightstown, had to have some lettering redone.

In another matter involving Silver, Murphy advised that council that his predecessor, Mike Onkst, had traded Silver one of the CPD's radios in exchange for a handgun. He said the handgun, which is still registered to Silver, was locked up in the CPD's safe.

"You can't do that without our permission," Council Vice President Wanda Henderson said. "... Get our radio back and give him his gun. ... That was never approved by the board."

Chuck Todd, the town's attorney, told the council there was no need for them to pass a resolution or make a motion in order to undo the trade. Because Onkst had not been given permission to swap the radio for the gun, he said it was sufficient for the council to simply tell Murphy to return the gun to Silver and get the radio back.

Engineer Jon Query of Indianapolis firm Hannum Wagle & Cline gave the council a brief update on the town's upcoming wastewater utility improvement project. He said the next step is for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Rural Development to issue a letter of obligation, pledging grant money to help fund the project and settting forth conditions of the grant.

According to Query, bidding on the wastewater project would likely take place this summer. Actual work, he said, could start by the fall.

After Works Manager Jimmie Alcorn gave his monthly report, Bush advised the council that Alcorn was moving to Brownsville. Bush said he personally had no problem with the move and didn't care where Alcorn lives as long as it doesn't affect his job. Henderson said, "Well, let's see how it goes."

Daryle McColley spoke to the council about its plans to start holding some kind of annual festival in town. He encouraged the council to start small and consider something other than a carnival with rides, at least the first couple of years, noting that, between the cost of the rides and insurance, they can be expensive.

McColley suggested the council consider money-raising activities like fish fries, cake walks, selling booth space to vendors and a car show. Then, after a couple of successful years, he said Carthage would be in a much better position to attract companies that supply carnival rides.

The council introduced and passed on first reading two ordinances at last week's meeting. Ordinance 3-2009 amends an earlier ordinance dealing with the town's purchasing procedures, while Ordinance 4-2009 deals with public record requests submitted to the town. Under the latter's terms, the town will charge 10 cents per page for black and white photocopies and 25 cents per page for color copies.

Henderson told other council members she had recently submitted a proposal on behalf of the town for federal "stimulus package" funds. She said her proposal was to use any awarded funds to repave Main Street and Fifth Street and redo the town's sidewalks.

Clerk-Treasurer Linda McMahan advised the council that the town's 2009 budget was finally OK'd by the state, with "a little over $13,000" cut from the town's General Fund. She also said she was finishing up the town's annual report, which had not been published in the newspaper by the statutory deadline due to some problems coming up with the correct balances.


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