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Youth center may be in works for Palmyra

A new youth center may be established in Palmyra, with or without funding support from the town council.
‘A lot of youth in this town are causing problems,’ Michael Dennis said Thursday night at the Palmyra Town Council meeting. ‘They’ve got nothing to do here.’
Dennis asked the council to assist in the purchase of a lot and a building to help get the center established. He presented the three-member board with a petition with 100 names on it and said he has already been given $40,000 in donations.
‘But we still need a place to have it,’ he said.
The proposed location is on the lot next to Haub’s Hardware Store, a 3/4-acre lot that could support a 3,500-square-foot building, parking and a half-court basketball court.
Town council member Paul Eveslage questioned Dennis if the lot could hold the appropriate parking area, as dictated by the Harrison County Advisory Plan Commission.
Dennis said he and his partner are currently working on getting permits and licenses to make sure.
Ultimately, Dennis told the board $165,000 is needed to put toward the construction of the youth center building, not including what he’s gotten from donors. The funding would ensure that the town of Palmyra owns the building, which Dennis said would be beneficial in case the youth center ever ceased to operate.
Alvin Brown, town council president, said he did not like the thought of the town owning the building and asked Dennis if he had gone anywhere else first to seek funds. Dennis said he hasn’t yet sought out other sources of money.
Leslie Robertson of the Harrison County Council was in the audience and suggested Dennis approach the Harrison County Community Foundation for help.
‘If the town can’t help us out, we’re asking for help on going forward,’ Dennis said.
Councilwoman Jenny Kirkham asked Dennis why the youth could not go to the pond or to the community basketball courts.
‘Transportation issues,’ Dennis said, adding it could be difficult for kids to get a ride to and from those locations.
Dennis said he hopes to get academic programs going in the center, including hands-on education like learning how to operate tools, and he said a computer area will be provided. State-of-the-art gaming systems will also be available to play. He said the center will be open noon to midnight Monday through Sunday.
Several members in the audience, as well as members of the council, brought up concerns they had regarding the youth center. Brown said he worried that kids from outside Palmyra may come in and challenge the kids from Palmyra on their own turf.
‘I’d get strong individuals in there,’ Dennis said. ‘Most of the kids are not troublemakers; they’re following a leader.’
Dennis said the youth would be monitored closely and any perceived troublemakers would be asked to leave.
Another concern was a mixing of age groups.
Dennis said he wanted to target teens and young adults to come into the center, but still, some wondered what the effect of 14-year-olds mixing with 23-year-olds would be.
‘Why can’t it be broke down?’ one member of the audience asked.
Dennis said he wants to educate the kids and give them different perspectives, but that the youth center will be fully staffed with volunteers monitoring the interaction.
No action was taken regarding the funding, but Brown said to do a little more research, including consulting with the HCCF, to figure out what funding opportunities are available and report back at the next town council meeting, which will be Oct. 2 at 7 p.m.
Also at the meeting, the Palmyra Town Council addressed an issue its town board president has personal experience with: alleyways.
Brown said he has witnessed an argument in an alley close to his home due to the alley being blocked by a truck whose driver was unwilling to move. He went on to read two pieces of Indiana code to the crowd, regarding the definition of an ‘alley’ and what it means to obstruct traffic. According to I.C. 9-13-2-2.5, an alley is any public way in an urban district that meets the qualifications of being open to the public for vehicular traffic, is publicly maintained, is one lane wide and is designated as an alley by the local authorities on an official map of the urban district. An obstruction of traffic, as defined in I.C. 35-42-2-4, is a person who recklessly, knowingly or intentionally obstructs vehicular or pedestrian traffic, and the offense is a Class A misdemeanor if the offense includes the use of a motor vehicle. It is a Class D felony if the offense results in bodily harm.
Milltown Police Chief Ray Saylor, who was invited to the meeting by Brown to talk about alley incidents in Milltown, explained how problems there were resolved.
Palmyra resident Larry Fine, along with his pastor, spoke at the meeting regarding his use of an alley as a parking spot close to his home. According to a letter from Fine’s physician, it is recommended he park as close to his home as possible for him to be able to walk to the entrance.
At first, the board was asked if it would be possible to relinquish the alley to Fine, so he could have it for personal use.
‘That is strictly too much trouble,’ Brown said.
Fine’s next suggestion was to ask the board for time to install a 21-by-15-foot pad in front of his home.
‘How much time do you need?’ Brown asked.
Fine said he would be approaching some charitable organizations for help in gathering the funds and the labor, and would hope to have it completed before winter.
‘All you need is to cut down the shrubs, pour the gravel,’ Brown said. ‘I don’t see why it would take more than two weeks.’
Eveslage disagreed with Brown, saying it would take longer to get help from the organizations.
A deadline of early October was set.
The board also heard two requests from Palmyra Town Marshal Steve Hamm for a new edition of software, usually costing $1,795, that he could get for $795. The software would allow Hamm to produce case reports in a format acceptable and compatible with other law enforcement in the area. Currently, Hamm said some town offices, including the prosecutor’s office, will not accept his case reports as they come in.
‘You know, what’d they do 50 years ago?’ asked Brown.
Hamm said he understood, but that he does not have the time to hand-write his reports.
Kirkham made the motion, seconded by Eveslage, to give Hamm $795 to buy the new software.
Hamm also requested the use of the town car to use for his travels to the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy for his marshal update courses. Hamm said the town would probably ‘break even’ in paying for gas for the vehicle, which gets approximately 26 miles to the gallon. Otherwise, the town would pay Hamm 58 cents per mile, the national mileage rate.
‘I have no problem with that,’ Brown said.