Palmyra Community Center to remain closed
Mike Arnold, Contributing Writer
The Palmyra Town Council voted to continue its closure policy for the town’s community center during its regular, bi-monthly meeting Thursday evening at the town hall.
Council president Virginia (Jennie) Kirkham mentioned the possibility of re-opening the center, shuttered since last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, after she said two requests to rent the center had been received in recent weeks.
The council discussed how the center would be cleaned and sanitized after use and also pondered restrictions on food service, as well as possible liability.
Councilwoman Christall Ingle said the center should remain closed until a larger segment of the general public had the opportunity to receive COVID-19 vaccinations.
Kirkham and councilman Wyman (Lee) Childers agreed, and the council voted unanimously to keep the center closed for now and revisit in a couple months.
In another matter, resident Jerry Love approached the council seeking support for pursuit of a zoning variance for a property purchased by his family at the corner of Greene (S.R. 135) and Coleman streets on the town’s north side. Love said the home is being refurbished in hopes it can be rented as space for businesses. The proposed zoning change would rezone the property from residential to commercial.
“We’re trying to renovate it for commercial use,” Love said. “It could have two businesses in it. It’s big enough.”
Palmyra lacks a zoning board, but Love said he had been in discussions with Harrison County and hoped to obtain a letter of support from the town, which he would include with his proposal to the county.
The council voted to provide Love the letter of support, and Love agreed to supply property dimensions to Clerk-Treasurer Debra Jones for completion of the letter.
Love said talks with possible occupants for the building have all been preliminary, but his vision includes a possible coffee/doughnut shop or ice cream shop. Love also said, if the zoning change is successful and businesses are contracted, more would likely be added. In addition, he said future plans might include pursuing with the town the possibility of opening Coleman Street, north of Greene Street.
“We’d just have to see what the cost is,” Kirkham said.
During the town utility board portion of the meeting, water customer Anthony Jones appeared to discuss a prior request he made in 2020 to install a one-inch water meter to service property he purchased off Nadorff Road, outside town limits but serviced by the town water utility. He requested the larger meter to speed up filling time for agricultural sprayers and for future usage at the site, which will include a barn and residence.
“I wanted to at least pitch it and see,” Jones said of his request.
Jones’ prior request for the one-inch meter was not honored by the town, as its current fee schedule does not include pricing for that size meter. The largest available meter is 3/4-inch.
Town attorney Adam Burkhardt said the utility was working on a new policy of rates and charges but indicated it could be several months before final pricing is available.
“The town wants to get it done for you,” Burkhardt told Jones, but added there was no timetable for when the new policy would be completed.
Taking that into consideration, Jones said he would like to go forward and have a 3/4-inch meter installed and would provide necessary information to begin that process.
“Thanks for hearing me out,” Jones said.
Citing more significant weather events this winter, including ice and snow, the council discussed the town’s policy for clearing its streets. Currently, the town has no salt or spreader. Snow removal in town is handled by town employees with a tractor and one plow.
Water superintendent Stephen Schmitt, who is contracted with the town, indicated he owns a spreader and plow and would be available to further contract with the town to provide snow removal services.
Childers said the town needs to come up with a plan and process to address inclement weather and possibly look at obtaining its own equipment.
Debra Jones agreed to call around to other towns to check on their snow removal processes and bring that information to the council.
The council voted to table further discussion on the spreader and plow until October.
The council also discussed the merits of signing a contract with River Hills Economic Development District for assistance with grant administration. In the example provided, should the town apply for a grant with an organization such as the Indiana Dept. of Transportation, under the proposed arrangement, INDOT would pay River Hills for its services on behalf of the town. The council voted to enter the agreement for assistance with future grants.
Town Marshal Dennis Lemmel reported to the council that property which had been outstanding and in the possession of a former reserve officer who resigned had been returned to the town. Lemmel also discussed ongoing issues with the reserve police cruiser, which he said had recently developed exhaust and coolant leaks. He was preparing to further evaluate the issues and report back to the council.
In other business, the council and utility board:
Discussed several recent cases of possible water theft, where locks on meters had been broken or damaged. Burkhardt said in addition to any charges brought by the county prosecutor, the town also had the ability to pursue civil charges in small claims court, should it elect to do so.
Agreed to the bid specifications and contract for the town’s recent INDOT Community Crossings grant submission, administered by River Hills.
Voted to provide a cell phone for an employee assuming the title of wastewater operator.
Heard comments from residents about snow removal, tree trimming and dogs.
Passed a resolution naming William LaChappelle as a purchasing agent for ammunition for the town marshal’s department, at an annual limit not to exceed $1,500.
Considered a proposal from the Palmyra Volunteer Fire Dept., whereby a “Knox Box” would be placed on the outside of the town hall containing a key. The focus, Kirkham said, would be that if the inside of the town hall were to catch fire, firefighters could access the interior without damaging the door. “Apparently a lot of businesses have those,” Kirkham said, adding she would get more information on the costs for the council.