By KATHY CARVEY
Just as the November 29 deadline approached, another monkey wrench has been thrown into the Green Parrot building repair project.
After the leaning portion of the building, belonging to Betty Deaton and part of the former Hicks and Deaton Hardware, was torn down earlier this year, the remaining building was left with an exposed interior wall. Owners Randy and Linda Striggle were ordered to have the wall repaired. Citing confusion about ownership of the building, which they were trying to sell, the Striggles asked for and received an extension to November 29 to cover the wall. The business and building have now been sold and Striggle assured council members at earlier meetings that new owner Adam Flores was aware of the order and would have it done by the deadline.
Striggle told the council at the November 23 meeting that there is confusion about the property line.
“Gary Hicks (former hardware owner) talked to Craig Wagner (Whitley County Building Inspector) and somehow, all of a sudden, part of the exposed wall is on his property. I don’t know why all of a sudden it’s come to this conclusion. I don’t know truly or honestly what’s going on,” Striggle said.
Council members granted another extension, until December 29. However, concern about approaching winter weather caused them to request that both Hicks and Striggle attend the next council meeting on December 14 to resolve the situation once and for all. Town attorney Greg Hockemeyer hopefully said that if the two parties can resolve the situation on their own, there will be no need for them to attend the council meeting.
Alan Tio, director of the Whitley County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) brought welcome news. Tio said the EDC has been approached by Duke Energy, power supplier to South Whitley’s electric utility, about making improvements at the town’s Hathaway Drive industrial park. The goal is to make a more “shovel ready” industrial site. According to Tio, this type of site is attractive to companies who may be wanting to locate in the Whitko area. Duke Energy is showing willingness to work together with the EDC and the town and to share in the cost.
“I wanted to look at this yet this year or next year to make sure we don’t miss the opportunity to work with Duke since they are willing to support the process financially,” Tio said.
This is not something to be done overnight: among the many steps Tio outlined were rezoning, creating a tax increment fund district and fixing a price per acre depending on location. The council agreed to set up a committee to deal with the project consisting on councilman John Dunn, EDC representative Joe Kessie, Tio, current industrial park property owners, and someone from the town utility department.
The Corner Cafe will be lit with new Christmas lights for all to enjoy. Owner Tanner Moyer asked for permission to hook up to an unused town electrical outlet behind his restaurant for a power source. Utility manager Dennis Eberhart said that the outlet is metered so that the cost can be fixed at a later date.
Park Board representative Coleen French received a verbal commitment from the council to cover insurance for new park equipment.
The process of lining up funding for the next phase of the sewer improvement project is beginning. Financial advisor Jesse Nelson from Umbaugh & Associates, reported to the council on two methods of financing: using the state revolving fund (SRF) or issuing utility bonds on the open market. SRF funding requires an application which receives a rating; a preliminary engineering report costing about $25,000 is also required. There is no guarantee that the town’s application will be rated high enough to receive funding on the first try or that the $25,000 investment will be covered. However, there are bond registration and underwriter fees to be met if bonds are sold. Nelson concluded by recommending trying for SRF monies for the $2,500,000 project.
Local resident John Bonebrake updated the council on his attorney’s position about a disputed 10-foot area along an alley near his State Street property. A neighbor, Lori Kirkendall, has repeatedly complained to the council that Bonebrake uses the strip for storage. Bonebrake said that there appears to be no encroachment and that the area may have been vacated in the past; investigation is ongoing.