HCCF, Lanesville partner to draft comprehensive/asset management plans
Mike Arnold, Contributing Writer
The Lanesville Town Council agreed to partner with the Harrison County Community Foundation to develop comprehensive and asset management plans for the town during its regular meeting Sept. 13.
The Foundation received a grant from the Eli Lilly Foundation in 2019, with funds earmarked for planning initiatives. The county’s 10 incorporated towns will have the opportunity to draft plans from 2021 to 2023, with Lanesville, New Middletown and Palmyra chosen to begin this year. Four towns will take part in 2022 and the remaining three in 2023.
Jill Saegesser and Evan Shive, of New Albany-based economic development strategy firm The Wheatley Group, addressed the council about services it provides as project administrator for the grant.
Saegesser detailed the process, which includes a series of public meetings, surveys and other steps to establish the project schedule. Generally, Saegesser added, it takes eight to nine months for a town to complete.
“This is kind of the kickoff,” she said. “This is a road map for you for the next 10 to 15 years.”
Saegesser said they were targeting an initial meeting next month and the town would name a point of contact to schedule meetings and events. She said the town had already completed some of the preliminary items during preparation for other grants.
Councilman James Powers was named the town’s contact.
“Each step builds,” Saegesser said of the path toward finished comprehensive and asset management plans, which would eventually be presented to the county’s department of planning and zoning. “You did the hard work a long time ago when you first got your Community Crossings grant.”
In another matter, chief marshal Melvin (Lee) Hancock reported to the council that the recently concluded annual Lanesville Heritage Weekend festival did not see any major accidents or incidents. Town officers worked more than 200 hours during the four-day event, Hancock said, tending to crowd and traffic control, intoxicated persons, lost articles and domestic disputes, among other situations.
“I would consider Heritage Weekend a really good success,” Hancock added.
The council agreed, with Councilman Tom Walter extending praise for a smooth event.
“Lee did an outstanding job this weekend,” said Walter, who previously served as the town marshal.
Hancock noted that during July his department’s reserve officers worked 176 hours, which represented a savings to the town of $2,992. Since August 2020, Hancock said he calculated the reserve team’s efforts have saved the town $15,821.75.
“The guys are doing an outstanding job,” he added.
Among items related to his staff of reserve officers, Hancock also mentioned he was bringing along three probationary reserves, including officer Jack Gott, son of current town reserve marshal John Gott.
John Gott and his wife, Terri, were in attendance as Jack was sworn in by Hancock during a brief ceremony. John Gott had the honor of pinning on Jack’s badge.
Jack Gott, currently an active duty airman in the United States Air Force, will soon complete his enlistment and plans to pursue a career as a firefighter. He recently began working on a reserve basis in Lanesville.
“I really look forward to working with you,” Hancock told Jack.
Town utilities supervisor Terry Schmelz provided updates to the council on several recent projects, along with monthly wastewater and water reporting.
Schmelz said water loss for August was 23% while the wastewater system operated at 42% capacity. Work is underway to clean and paint fire hydrants, and quotes for sealing of manholes to prevent infiltration of ground water are being pursued.
Schmelz, who recently hired a part-time employee, also presented quotes from BBC Pump to upgrade the town’s current system with all submersible units. Location work for the sewer lines in High Ridge, which are slated to tap onto the town’s wastewater system, has begun, Schmelz said.
In addition, Schmelz noted he met with paving contractor Temple & Temple, concerning upcoming milling and paving work on Crestview Avenue, set to occur the first two weeks of October during Lanesville schools’ fall break.
The council also revisited the subject of a Main Street residence, which Hancock recently served with notice of violation of town ordinance for unkempt properties. The ordinance stipulates that for a property to move toward compliance, a “noticeable change” in its appearance must be observed.
The council agreed there had been noticeable change; however, additional clean-up remains necessary.
Town attorney John Smith said the property ordinance remains valid and is certainly something that could be used to ensure clean up continues.
The council will continue to monitor the situation, and Hancock said he would speak with the property owner again.
In other business, the council:
• Completed a second reading of an ordinance to establish a fund for monies the town anticipates receiving under the American Rescue Plan.
• Heard from Smith that the property owner and attorneys have been discussing an agreement to obtain an easement for the West Pennington Street extension project in hopes the easement can be finalized in 2022.
• Learned the town police department would be receiving new ballistics vests through a grant from the Gary Sinise Foundation. The vests, valued at $6,500, will be good for five years. Rechargeable flashlights and charging systems were also purchased.
• Received totals on monthly utility billing: 471 bills were issued for $48,385.30, five new accounts were opened and six closed; 37 delinquent payment letters were mailed and the utility was billed $9,096.69 by the Edwardsville Water Corp.
• Voted to advertise a surplus Geo Tracker automobile in the newspaper for two weeks with an asking price of $2,000.
• Discussed setting a special meeting the last week of September to review the 2022 budget ahead of adoption, which would occur at the next regular meeting, Monday, Oct. 11, at 7 p.m. at the town hall.
• Entered into an agreement with South Harrison Water Corp. related to service boundaries.