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Oolitic Has Two New Reserve Officers
Updated May 5, 2013 1:11 AM
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(OOLITIC) - The town of Oolitic has two new reserve officers. Those officers are Tonya Taylor and Tony Fetter.

They began their duties with the Oolitic Police Department last month.

The Oolitic Town Council Monday night discussed the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, an 800-plus page booklet adopted in 2009, demands improvements to all roadway signs, including reflective lettering.

Oolitic must comply with the government standards detailed in that manual.

Clerk -Treasurer Jim Staley will now begin the process to apply for a sign inventory grant and an estimated $31,000 grant to help replace the town's estimated 300 signs.

"The old signs will be replaced with new retro-reflective signs," Staley told the council.

Laura Slusher of the Indiana Local Technical Assistant Program says failure to comply with new government standards could result in lawsuits from drivers or their families who suffer injury or death attributable to substandard maintenance.

In other business:

* Sue Holmes, with the Oolitic Festival Committee, asked the council to approve the festival for June 15. The council approved that date.

* Staley asked the council permission to bond town employee Jeff Franklin. Franklin is a reserve officer for the police department and also is a new employee with the town's street department.

Staley says bonding Franklin will allow him to work at town hall when employees take vacation and accept payment for water bills. Staley says without being bonded, Franklin cannot legally handle town funds.

* The council is in the process of receiving three appraisals for the property at the dead end of Welsh Avenue. The council will then decide if they will lease or sale the property.

The town filed a lawsuit to determine who owned the property. During the suit Bob Szemsack claimed his wife's family owned the property, but that suit determined the city owned it.

Now businessman, Jack Kellams would like to purchase the property 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.

The town has not voted on if they will sell the property to Kellams.

But if the town decides to sell the property, Szemsack says, the town council must first have the zoning of the property changed from residential to business and develop a comprehensive zoning plan to permit outdoor advertising.

Szemsack says if the town fails to do this, they could lose federal highway funds and will be violating federal law.

President Delvin Nikirk says he will pass the information on to town attorney Greg Pittman and told Szemsack they council will not discuss the issue now because no decision has been made on what the town will do with the property.

"It will be up to Greg to tell us what needs to be done," Nikirk told Szemsack. "That is why we have an attorney."

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