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 Fire Department Gets Generous Donation

June 3, 2009 - The Knightstown-Wayne Township Volunteer Fire Department recently learned it will be receiving a sizable donation that will allow it to replace equipment due to become obsolete at year’s end.

Fire Chief Bob Schaeffer explained at the Knightstown Town Council’s May 21 meeting that the self-contained breathing apparatuses the department bought new in 2006 will not be able to be used starting in 2010. Because the manufacturer of the SCBAs is no longer going to produce them, Schaeffer said the gear will not be able to be certified, as the law requires.

“There are a lot of fire departments in Indiana caught with this particular problem,” Schaeffer told the council. “And it’s a big problem.”

The fire department’s chaplain, Mark Tabb, said that the department’s past success in getting grants made it unlikely that it would be able to get another this soon to cover the cost of new SCBAs. He said he decided to look into securing a donation from a private foundation.

Tabb said he contacted Helen Rosburg, an heiress of the Wrigley chewing gum family who he is working with on a book. While he had planned on just asking Rosburg, who lives in Florida, for suggestions for possible funding sources, Tabb said she offered to have her own foundation purchase the new equipment, which is expected to cost around $77,000.

Because the fire department is not yet a 501(c)(3) organization, the council had to vote to OK approval of the gift in order for it to qualify as a tax deduction for Rosburg’s foundation. The council also voted to give Council President Valerie Trump, who was ill and did not attend the May 21 meeting, permission to send a letter to the foundation’s attorney verifying the money will be used for the SCBAs.

Schaeffer also told the council the fire department had learned it will be receiving $3,765 from the Henry County Community. He said the money will be used to buy a positive pressure fan that will help clear smoke from burning buildings and a special ventilation chain saw.

“We’re constantly striving to make the fire department better,” Schaeffer said. He gave the council a handout showing that the department had raised $463,173 since 2005 for new equipment, with 94 percent of that coming from grants, and only six percent from the town.

In another piece of good financial news, the council also learned the town may be eligible to get about $44,000 through the state’s Office of Community and Rural Affairs. Michael McDaniel of the Eastern Indiana Development District said the grant would reimburse the town for the remaining expenses it had as the result of storms in May 2008 that had not already been covered by the 75-percent reimbursement already paid by the federal government. The council plans to hold a public hearing at its June 18 meeting on its plans to apply for this grant.

On a less favorable financial note, the council approved the recommendation of the town’s clerk-treasurer, Judy Haines, to cut $82,502.92 from the town’s 2009 budget, which the state had said needed to be reduced. The town’s General Fund was cut from $751,508.92 to $711,369, and the Motor Vehicle Highway and Park funds were cut from $72,881 to $42,076 and from $61,635 to $50,077, respectively.

The council also learned the town’s insurer has billed the town $2,500 to cover the cost of hiring an outside an attorney to evaluate whether the town’s policy covered a potential legal claim a former police officer had threatened to make. The town’s attorney, Gregg Morelock, said he’d never seen an insured billed for outside legal counsel before a lawsuit was filed, and suggested the council try to resolve this through the town’s insurance agent.

In other business, the council passed a 30-page ordinance designating certain areas in town as flood hazards. The ordinance is on file at Knightstown Hall and may be reviewed there in its entirety during normal business hours.

The council voted to pay the remaining balance on what was owed for the new radio system at the KPD. The final bill was a little over $49,000, about $6,000 more than had been originally OK’d by the council.

A $10,500 bid from Denny Clark and Glenn Crosson for purchase of the old Knightstown Town Court building on East Main Street was approved by the council. The new owners said they had no problem with the KPD keeping its security camera atop the building, and said they would provide the town with a letter to that effect.

A bit of park-related business, the town council approved paperwork related to the donation of property near Sunset Park by Ruthie and Norm Bohnert. The land allows the park to extend the ball diamond’s right field fence to be consistent with the left field fence. The council also approved the installation of perimeter drain in the outfield.

Mac O’Connor, president of the Knightstown Department of Parks and Recreation Board, updated the council on Sunset Park matters. He said the park board’s meeting time has changed to the second Saturday of each month, at 8:30 a.m. at Knightstown Town Hall, and reported that town council member Bob Weber had to step down from the park board due to a conflict with his work schedule.

The council approved hiring Leary Construction to do routine five-year maintenance on the town’s water tower at an estimated cost is $8,900. They also gave Works Manager Mel Matlock permission to purchase up to 50 street signs for $1,198.


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