By KATHY CARVEY
PIERCETON – The town council spent a busy night at their December 13 meeting, passing three ordinances and dealing with matters as diverse as the arts and disaster management.
Ed Rock from Kosciusko Emergency Management presented the county’s Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan for council approval. This plan has been in the works for two years, Rock said. It will allow the county to plan before an emergency due to natural hazards such as tornados and floods, thus reducing potential harm. A plan like this needs to be in place for cities to work with FEMA, the Federal Emergency Disaster Agency.
“This is the key that unlocks the door to have grant money before disasters happen,” Rock said. “FEMA pays a lot after a disaster...they are willing to pay some upfront before problems happen.”
A resolution for Pierceton to accept the hazard plan passed 3 - 0. Local resident Oliver Berstein then asked if the hazard plan would have any bearing on a storm water flooding problem he has been fighting for many years and was told that it could.
The council also passed an ordinance enabling Lifeline, a youth and family assistance agency with a facility in Pierceton, to refinance its original bond taken out in 2007. Bond counsel Zach Klutz explained that refinancing would allow Lifeline to take advantage of lower interest rates while not extending the length of the loan. When making a motion to adopt the ordinance for refinancing, councilman Jerry Kreger commented that Lifeline “is doing a phenomenal job out there.” This ordinance also passed 3 - 0.
Two other ordinances were approved, one establishing a $100 fine per violation for trucks “jake braking” (using the engine to slow a truck down). The other changed the town’s agreement with Washington Township concerning a park board for Pierceton parks. The ordinance will establish a town park board with the township having a nonvoting member on the board.
Park board formation turned out to be a timely topic. A 10-year-old resident addressed the board about misbehavior at the town’s skate park. She had written a letter to the town and followed up by attending the council meeting. Living near the park, she described many problems including smoking, curfew violations, drinking, and said that neighbors didn’t feel safe.
“Kids know right from wrong and right now, all I see is wrong,” she said. “I know a lot of people worked hard to establish the park and (kids have) no gratitude or thankfulness for the park.”
Kreger responded, “You brought up a good point that people don’t feel safe. I would like to see us use surveillance equipment. I have a problem with someone not feeling safe in our parks.”
Town marshal Tim Sammons noted he had met with the girl’s mother after the letter was forwarded to him.
“We have made several arrests and the family is aware of this,” he said. “They are also aware that we can’t be everywhere at once and they will help us keep an eye on it. A lot of the arrests are people from out of town, Syracuse, Warsaw and so on. The other side is young people here who want to use it (the park) and know it’s not a place to be.”
Town Attorney Jim Walmer said he would take a look at statutes regarding park boards creating rules that police can enforce.
In other business, Brett Bailey, vice president of the Lakeland Art Association, discussed the yearly summer art festival. Bailey headed the 2010 festival and, faced with flagging participation, wants to recreate the event for 2011 to include music, dance, drama and vendors. Some of his ideas are to make it a three day event, include gallery openings, and art and antique auction, and a taste of the town.
“I hope to bring in several thousand people, not several hundred,” he said.
The festival is set for the fourth weekend in July, 2011. Council members approved use of town parks, but cautioned Bailey that his group needed liability insurance.