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Oolitic Town Council Discusses Needs

Last updated on Tuesday, September 25, 2012

(OOLITIC) - The Oolitic Town Council held a public hearing on the 2013 budget and an additional appropriation of $10,000 for the general fund.

The budget will now be considered for approved at the town's regular council meeting on October 29th.

Town Clerk Jim Staley says at least $6,000 of the additional appropriation will be used to pay electric bills and the rest to pay PERF for town employees.

Council President Delvin Nikirk says, last year the town did not appropriate enough funds to cover the electrical bills for the town.

No one spoke for or against either proposal.

In other business:

* Staley gave an update on the 300 water meters the town will be replacing. IDEM recommended replacing 10 percent of the town's water meters a year, in a move to accurately regulate water usage. Staley says the meters have been ordered and as soon as they arrive he will meet with Town Superintendent Rick Hawkins to design a plan on replacing meters.

* Glen Gross, with the Oolitic Festival Committee says their Haunted Community Center will be October 26-27 from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. The price of admission is $5. The group is beginning to set up for the event and is looking for volunteers. Anyone interested in helping can contact Glen Gross or Sue Holmes.

* Town Attorney Greg Pittman provided the council with a rough draft of a contract between the Oolitic Volunteer Fire Department and the town. There were some questions about the fire department providing EMS service, so the approval of the contract was tabled until those questions could be answered. Attorney Nathan Nikirk, sitting in for Pittman, he will look into those questions and get back with the board.

* Lewis and town officials meet on September 10th to inspect the town owned buildings for fire and safety inspections. Lewis found a few fire and safety violations. Staley says town employees have made the needed corrections and says there are just a few minor things to complete before the final inspection on October 1.

* The town approved a building permit for a garage for a resident at 208 6th Street.

* Town Marshal Jon Jefferies will check property on 10th and Walnut streets that is littered with junk, tires, trash and has high grass and weeds. He will report back to the council.

* Debra Szemsack addressed the board about a law suit the town has filed to determine who owns the property at the dead end of Walsh Avenue.

Szemsack told the board "You don't know what this law suit has done to our family."

"This is our property," she says. "It is our home, was my grandfather's home and before that my great grandfather's home. You have no idea what this is doing to our lives or the quality of our lives.....To have this happen to us is heartbreaking."

Delvin Nikirk told Debra and Bob Szemsack that they have "no hidden agenda" and the town council had no choice but to go ahead with the law suit to determine who owns the property.

Currently the town believes they own the land, but the Szemsack believe they own the property.

If the town owns the property, businessman, Jack Kellams would like to purchase it, to put up a billboard that would face Ind. 37 from both the north and south sides to advertise his Antique Mall on Main Street in Oolitic.

"You can't tell me that you will not allow Jack Kellems to put a billboard up after he has paid all these fees," Debra says.

But Nikirk assured her the council has made no decision on the billboard or if the town will sell the property, until ownership is determined.

That discussion led to how the town could come together to help residents in need.

"This town needs to wake up," Debra says. "The morale of this town is down. Why are we not helping our neighbors? We have people in need."

Bob Szemsack says the council should develop a plan to reach out and help others. He told the council he would be willing to help or organize a group of volunteers to help residents in need.

"I could mow lawns for those who can't," Szemsack says. "Winter is coming and there are those in our community that can't shovel their walks. We need to help them. There has got to be some Oolitic residents willing to lend a hand."

Szemsack says he would like the council to have a "brainstorming session" to see if something could be done to improve life in Oolitic.

Nikirk says Oolitic is not the only town that has people in need.

"The problem is that there are few people like you (Bob) who are willing to volunteer their services," Nirkirk says. "We can't make them (the town's people) come together and help. We have a festival committee that can't even get volunteers. The world is not like when we grew up. Things are different.. back when we grew up, people would help their neighbors..now everyone is scared to do anything because they could be sued or just don't want to get involved."

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