Andrews council discusses way to strengthen app for stormwater grant

The Andrews Town Council discussed ways to strengthen its application for a grant that would fund the construction of stormwater infrastructure in town during its meeting on Monday, Feb. 26.

Council announced its intention of creating a stormwater board. This entity, which will be comprised of three members, will oversee the town’s stormwater system. Council President Bill Johnson designated Councilman John Harshbarger, Councilwoman Bonnie Walker and himself as the board’s members. Johnson noted, though, that it was his hope that members of the community would express a desire to serve on the board and make his appointments of the three council members to it only temporary. Council will officially create the board at its March 12 meeting.

Council also discussed introducing a stormwater fee to residents. Clerk-Treasurer Laura Dillon suggested either a $3 fee or a $5 fee, which could be added to residents’ water bills. Alternatively, Dillon said the fee could be assessed on residents’ property tax bills.

The fee would help fund the upkeep of the town’s stormwater system. Also, like the formation of a stormwater board, the implementation of a fee would increase the town’s chances of obtaining a community development block grant through the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA), which would fund stormwater infrastructure projects.

The deadline to apply for the grant is May 25. Council hopes to have a stormwater fee in place before then.

On the topic of stormwater, Johnson continued to express hope that the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) will install a stormwater pipe in a section of Main Street when it repaves Ind.-105 this year. Johnson stated that if INDOT would be willing to install a pipe from the Andrews Dairy Store to the train track, where a pipe runs to Loon Creek, the town would be willing to lay a pipe that would extend from Terrel Street to the state’s pipe on Main Street. Such an arrangement would help abate the excessive pooling of water in that area, said Johnson.

INDOT representatives examined the street earlier that day, Feb. 26. In addition to taking a look at Ind.-105, the representatives made note of the town’s deteriorating community building, which is located behind the Andrews Municipal Building. Council discussed the facility’s fate and resolved to have all of the remaining items in it moved out so that it can be demolished this year. Rather than see the town pay to have the building razed, Utility Superintendent Colin Bullock stated that he and his team were capable of taking it down.

One of the groups that utilized the community building and found itself without a home when council closed the facility last year was Shepherd’s Food Pantry. The pantry has been operating out of the Andrews Lions Club Clubhouse since then. A representative from the pantry, Glenn Fisher, informed council at the meeting, though, that the pantry was in need of a new place to stay, as the clubhouse would be unable to house it during the forthcoming youth baseball season at the Lions Club ballpark.

Fisher requested use of the council room in the municipal building for the pantry’s monthly distribution events. Council granted Fisher permission to use the room until a more permanent location for the pantry can be identified.

With OCRA unwilling to fund the construction of a new community building on the land the current one sits on, due to the possibility of trichloroethylene vapors, council said it would explore other funding options. One of those options, said Johnson, would be to raise funds in the community for the facility. Residents would foot the bill for one half of the building’s cost while council would cover the other half.

In other business:

Council set May 4 as the date for the town’s spring cleanup day. The board noted that anything the town’s trash service provider, H&H Disposal, would not accept would be picked up by the town and disposed of in the Huntington Landfill at no cost to residents. Council stated that when it comes time for the town to sign a new trash service contract, it will favor providers that accept a wide variety of items on cleanup days.

Town Marshal Austin Bullock was granted permission to purchase patrol rifles for himself and Deputy Marshall Joseph Becker. Bullock will buy the firearms from Huntington Gun and Pawn at a cost of $500 apiece.