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Oolitic Officers Ask For A Raise, Welsh Property Debate Ends
Updated July 29, 2013 9:19 PM | Filed under: Politics
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(OOLITIC) - The Oolitic Police Department asked the Town Council Tuesday night for a raise.

Deputy Marshal Bill Allen told the council the raise could be paid out of the department's town ordinance violation funds each year. He requested $4,000 for him and Chief Jon Jeffries.

Allen told the council that he and Jeffries are one of the lowest paid officers in the state for Oolitic's population and the town does not provide them the benefit of insurance.

He says the $4,000 dollars would bring them closer to other department's salaries.

Clerk Treasurer Jim Staley told the board the money was in the town ordinance violation fund and that money could only be used for the police department.

The council praised the officers for their work, but would take the request under advisement because Councilmen Billy Burnett and Dave Reynolds were not present.

In other business:

*The council opened bids for the sale of the property at the dead end of Welsh Avenue. The town received two bids one from Debra Szemsack for $2,500 and the other from Oolitic Company, owned by Jack Kellams, for $6,503.51. Kellams bid had a contingency - stating the bid was only good if the property was zoned commercial.

Town Attorney Greg Pittman told the council the property was zoned residential, but could be rezoned business, but that would take time.

"There are steps that will have to be taken to change the zoning," Pittman said. "But right now the property is zoned residential."

The ownership of the property had spurred a heated debate and court case between the town and Bob and Debra Szemsack, who claimed they owned the property. Kellams paid the town's legal fees to determine ownership in hopes of buying the property if it was owned by the town.

The court ruled the town owned the property.

Kellams wanted 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. But now zoning has become an issue.

The council voted to accept the bid from Szemsack and end the debate.

*The council awarded USA Construction, in Jasonville, the contract to make needed improvements to homes in Oolitic.

The town received funds from the Southern Indiana Development Commission to pay for the repairs.

Homeowners - 55-years-old or older or who suffered with a disability were chosen through an application process to receive the funds. Six homeowners qualified.

Each family will receive more than $21,000 to make needed repairs that the family could not otherwise afford.

* Approved a variance for Tim Atkins to move his shed and place a new driveway on his property at 105 Park Lane.

* The council approved Flynn & Sons to pave 5 parcels of roadway in the town. The city has $35,000 to pay for paving this year.

* Sue Holmes, former Oolitic Festival Committee president was awarded a certificate of service from the town for her years of dedication and service.

* The council discussed the Festival Committee becoming a part of the town's park board.

"Volunteers for the festival committee would work for the Park's Department and that way any functions the Festival Committee has would be covered under the town's insurance," said Town Clerk Treasurer Jim Staley.

New President of the Festival Committee Glenn Gross asked to meet with town officials to iron out all the details.

*Resident Paul Hudson asked the council if there was an ordinance about fencing around in-ground swimming pools. He has concerns because a resident in the 900 block of Mathis Avenue has no fencing around their pool and he is concerned a small child will fall in and possibly drown. He was also concerned about trash littering that same person's yard. The council asked Police Chief Jon Jeffries to look into the issue after Town Attorney Greg Pittman said it could fall under the public nuisance ordinance.

* The council approved the request of the Fraternal Order of Eagle to hold a road block this Saturday at Hoosier Avenue and Main Street. They also approved request from the Church of Christ to hold one on August 17 and the Festival Committee to hold one on September 7.

* The engineering firm for the Safe Route To Schools project presented the council with an updated contract for their fees to be submitted to INDOT so the project could move forward.

* Charlie Luther told the board about concerns of speeding vehicle at 10th Street and Mathis Avenue. Luther realized the town officers could not be everywhere at once and praised them for a job well done, but was concerned for the safety of small children in the neighborhood.

Police will make extra patrols in the area and if Luther sees the vehicles involved he is to call the police department and report the incidents.

* Another resident asked about parking on the north side of 7th Street. Town Attorney Greg Pittman told the council that no vehicles should be parking there because it is a no parking area. Chief Jon Jeffries was asked to address the issue

* The council vote to purchase a 2013 Ford F-150 4-wheel drive truck for the street department. The vehicle will be purchased from Bedford Ford.

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