Anticipated Scottsburg sewer rate increase of 71% causes consternation at Council meeting PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marty Randall   
Friday, 22 September 2017 12:23

 

 

Though there were few residents in the audience, the public hearing held on Monday evening, September 18, lasted an hour while a proposed 71% increase in Scottsburg sewer rates was discussed.

Monday night’s hearing was for the rate hike ordinance’s second reading. A third and final reading of the increase will be held during the Council’s meeting on Monday, October 2.

The increase will help construct a new treatment plant, one that could take more than $18 million to build. It will also have more capacity to handle more flow.

During the hearing, former city councilman Terry Amick, a Scottsburg businessman, and two residents, Perry Lynn Hayes and Marsha Miller-Smith, had plenty of questions for Mayor Bill Graham and City Council members.

“I just don’t understand how you got us into this situation,” Hayes told the Council. Hayes and his wife are both retired. “Why didn’t you do this (increase) in small increments over the years?” he asked.

Mayor Graham took the lead for the Council. He explained that past councils had not supported increases and refused to consider them, despite financial signs that all was not well with the aging sewer collection system and its plant. Graham was partially corrected on this statement by Council President Bill Hoagland. “Some of us on those councils did support increases, but we couldn’t get support from the majority (of Councilmen) at the time,” advised Hoagland.

Consequently, the sewer utility’s operating funds continued to dip as more regulations and requirements were put into place over the years by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM). Operating costs also increased over the years.

“We learned you don’t tell the EPA and IDEM what to do. They tell you, and you have to do it or get penalized,” said Mayor Graham.

He said the major reason he originally ran for the office he has held since 1989 was to create a functioning sewer utility. His first project was construction of the present treatment plant at the end of North Third Street. “And by the time we got that plant on line and functioning, we lost about 1/3 of the operating capacity we’d been promised because of new regulations,” the Mayor recalled.

When Amick was council president, he and two others, Tom Lewis and Karen Gricius, supported a loan to repair the city’s collection system. Two years later, Lewis lost his chance to run again for his seat in a Democrat primary battle against now-Councilman Chuck Rose. Gricius has continually been re-elected for her seat. Amick unsuccessfully ran against Mayor Graham and so dropped off the Council.

The loan went through with the support of remaining council members Hoagland and Mark Shapinsky. Shapinsky is also no longer a member of the Council. The funds enabled the city to buy equipment and hire an additional man to seek out breaks or failing collection lines and fix them. That work continues to this day, Mayor Graham said.

Hoagland said some on the council at that time realized that additional monies should be borrowed to begin work on the treatment plant, but that idea was never supported.

“But our big problem is the treatment plant. Yes, we have old, antiquated lines. Some were installed in 1948. Our employees do a good job of locating and repairing leaks, so we don’t have as much infiltration as we once did,” the Mayor noted.

When Miller-Smith asked about a long-term plan for the sewer utility, the Mayor said such a plan is a necessary part of operating the utility. “But it’s hard to have such a plan when we have been forced to treat for things like phosphorus. That’s the latest in a long line (of trace substances) that we are required to test for and eliminate,” Graham stated. He praised plant employees for their dedication and efforts to keep the facility operating, despite the plant’s outdated design.

Noncompliance with EPA and IDEM requirements can translate into not being allowed to operate the treatment plant or daily fines or both.

Raising rates of any utility is hard to do, the Mayor conceded. “You have the public questioning you. Nobody likes to pay more, and, yes, we do worry what the effect will be on our customers, especially the elderly,” the Mayor went on. He visualized that some older persons could be forced to give up their homes and seek alternate housing because they cannot afford to pay higher rates.

Mayor Graham also pointed out that the city’s sewage treatment problem is a crisis that many communities across Indiana are facing. “Crothersville, Madison, Seymour, Austin, all you have to do is look and you will find cities and towns with the same problems. We are not unique,” he said.

The new plant will be constructed with a larger treating capacity. Amick questioned that wisdom. “If you’re only treating 675,000 gallons a day now, why build that big of a plant?” he asked.

The reasoning behind its proposed size is economic, the Mayor explained. He acknowledged the rumor that Tokusen USA may close its doors in January because of competition from Chinese steel-makers. Tokusen has invested many dollars in modernizing its Scottsburg plant, and Mayor Graham is anticipating the plant reopening and needing not only water but also the city’s larger sewer capacity to operate.

He also said that the final solution for smaller communities may be a regional treatment facility which can serve several communities or counties. “But if you suggested such a thing now, you couldn’t get the support for it,” Graham predicted.

“Well, hindsight is 20/20, but I sure wish we didn’t have to go through all this,” Hayes concluded. Mayor Graham agreed with him. “I wish we weren’t facing this either, but we are,” he commented.

Councilwoman Gricius asked Mayor Graham if he had sought other sources to help pay for the new plant. Yes, the official said, “But there are few out there. We just don’t have that many options available to us,” he replied.

When the matter was called for a vote, four Councilmen – Hoagland, Rose, Stanley Allen and John Konkler - voted to pursue the increase and preparations for the loan. Gricius voted against it.

Arranging the financing of such a project could take nearly a year to complete, it was learned. The increase in rates will be two-fold, a portion taking effect this year and the final percentage added in 2018.

Should the measure pass on its third reading, the higher rates could take effect in November.

Covering sewage treatment costs and constructing a new plant wasn’t the only measure the Council passed that evening. Members voted 5-0 to raise electric rates 3% to meet higher prices. That increase will begin in November.

 

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Hardy Lake hosts Raptor Days, Sept. 22-24 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marcus Amos   
Wednesday, 20 September 2017 11:40

 

 

Help injured and orphaned wildlife while you see live birds of prey during Raptor Days at Hardy Lake, Sept. 22-24.

The annual Raptor Days festival is a weekend-long celebration of Indiana’s native birds of prey. It also is the largest fundraising event for Friends of Hardy Lake, a volunteer non-profit group.

Revenue from the event supports the Dwight R. Chamberlain Raptor Center and Hardy Lake. The center rehabilitates injured and orphaned hawks, owls, eagles and falcons for eventual release back into the wild. The center also houses some non-releasable raptors for educational programming.

Raptor Days kicks off on Friday with Schools Day from 9 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. Schools can bring students for live raptor and snake programs, hikes, games and crafts. Teachers must register their students by Sept. 15 by emailing This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Space is limited, so teachers should register soon. The cost is $2 per student.

On Saturday the friends group will host an all-you-can-eat breakfast from 7 to 10 a.m. The Friends of Hardy Lake also will hold a silent auction throughout the day.

On both days, tours on pontoon boats to watch for ospreys and eagles run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Boat tours cost $2 per person. Space is limited, so on-site registration is required. Also on both days, live bird of prey programs and displays will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and visitors can tour the raptor center run from 1 to 4 p.m.

On Sunday, the Friends group will serve coffee and donuts starting at 9 a.m. Silent auction winners will be announced around 5 p.m. on Sunday. You do not need to be present to win.

Hardy Lake State Recreation Area (stateparks.IN.gov/2958.htm) is at 4171 E. Harrod Road, Scottsburg, 47170. To view all DNR news releases, please see dnr.IN.gov.

 

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Jennings Twp. VFD To Host 5K Run/Walk at Austin Fireman's Festival PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marcus Amos   
Wednesday, 20 September 2017 11:39

 

 

Each October for the Jennings Township Volunteer Fire Department has hosted the annual Austin Fireman’s Festival, which is the biggest fundraiser for the JTVFD. This fundraiser helps pay for their operating expenses throughout the year. As you can imagine, making sure the members have updated, safe equipment and properly maintained trucks can be quite expensive.

For the last six years of the Fireman’s Festival, the JTVFD has hosted a Firemen’s 5K Run/Walk early Saturday morning to help raise those funds mentioned above. This year the JTVFD Auxiliary will be hosting the event!

The event will be held Saturday October 14. Registration will begin at 9:30 a.m. with the race beginning at 10 a.m. at the firehouse in Austin.

The department is actively seeking sponsorship to help pay for the event. The JTVFD Auxiliary would greatly appreciate any amount your company would be willing to donate. In return for your sponsorship, your company name will be printed on 5K event t-shirts and your company will be announced several times throughout the weekend.

The JTVFD understands the tough economic times that our community is facing. The department feels this is a great opportunity for community members to get out and enjoy the festival.

The course is a 3.18 miles through the streets of Austin, Indiana. The course begins and ends at the Jennings Township Volunteer Fire Department on West Main Street. We will have people passing out water throughout the 5K run. Mile Splits will be available for those runners that are interested. Awards will be given out in the following categories:

1st & 2nd place adult female and male runners.

1st & 2nd place adult female and male walkers.

All participants will be given a participation ribbon upon completion of the course.

The course will be clearly marked and we will have firemen throughout the course in case of any emergencies or questions.

Early Registration Deadline will be postmarked September 29. Adults: $15.00 Students: $10.00 Seniors (55 and over): $10.00. Register after September 30 through the day of the race for $5 more! Adults: $20.00 Students: $15.00 Seniors (55 and over): $15.00

To guarantee yourself a t-shirt, pre-register today!

Make checks payable to Jennings Township Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary and mail to JTVFD Auxiliary, P.O. Box 41, Austin, IN, 47102. Include, name, age, address, phone number, email address, run or walk, shirt size – please add $3 for 2x or bigger, also include signature of participant and parent and guardian signature.

 
Free legal advice provided each month to those needing help PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marty Randall   
Wednesday, 20 September 2017 11:37

 

 

Free legal advice is being provided to persons needing help on civil matters at the Scott County Courthouse on Wednesday, October 11.

An attorney will be present in Suite 222 from 12 noon to 4 p.m. Appointments are not needed. No criminal cases can be assisted. Civil cases include divorces, paternity, custody, parenting time, guardianship, consumer defense, landlord/tenant issues, debt collection, credit and wills and estates.

Attorneys cannot appear in court but can be invaluable in helping persons prepare for court hearings.

The free service has been provided once a month on second Wednesdays by a grant obtained by Scott County courts. The local courts and Southern Indiana Pro Bono Referrals Inc. are sponsoring the service.

Pro Bono Referrals is a non-profit organization which refers qualifying low-income Indiana residents with civil legal needs to volunteer attorneys in Scott, Crawford, Clark, Floyd, Harrison, Orange and Washington counties. Local attorneys volunteer their time and expertise to assist with legal matters.

People can also call Pro Bono at 812-288-8002 on the third Tuesday of each month through November from 4 to 6 p.m. for brief telephone conferences. On-line, responses to civil problems can be sent by submitting questions to www.indianalegalanswers.org.

 

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Fair Board sets October 28 demolition derby at fairgrounds PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marty Randall   
Wednesday, 20 September 2017 11:36

 

Fair Board sets October 28 demolition derby at fairgrounds

Members of the board of directors of the Scott County Fair Association are gearing up for a demolition derby scheduled for Saturday, October 28.

Because daylight hours are shorter, organizers are planning to begin action around 4 p.m. that Saturday. Talk of adding trucks and other vehicles to the derby was also heard during the Fair Board’s annual meeting on Tuesday night, September 12.

The date will also be used by the Scottsburg FFA to put on its annual livestock show at the fairgrounds. FFA’ers will operate food concessions during both events.

In fact, October will be a busy month at the fairgrounds on U.S. Highway 31 South, Scottsburg.

An auction is planned for Saturday, October 7. On Saturday, October 14, a car show is scheduled around the former Saddle Club building.

October 28 is reserved for the FFA beef show and the demolition derby.

Information about the demo derby will be released in the near future.

Discussion of updating the fairgrounds’ website occupied some time during the meeting. Boat, RV and vehicle storage will begin on October 1. Jonathan Abbott will chair this project and can be reached at 812-595-2993. He will be assisted by board president John McNeely.

Sue Smith, Adam Gasser and Robbie Combs were re-elected to the board for three-year terms. McNeely was re-elected president, Combs as secretary and Doug Kirby as treasurer.

Memberships in the Association are still available. To obtain a membership, send $25 per person/family to the attention of Fair Board treasurer Doug Kirby at P.O. Box 512, Scottsburg, IN 47170. Organizations can join for $50, and memberships for businesses are $100.

The board will next meet at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 10, at the former Saddle Club building.

 

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