Oolitic Town Council Approves Five Areas to Focus Grant Funds

(OOLITIC) – Faced with stormwater issues and limited funds, the Oolitic Town Council voted on five areas to try to concentrate grant funds if approved.

 These areas include:

  • Area 12 – 6th and Oak Streets – there is no metal pipe and the roadway is being eroded.
  • Area 10 – Near Oolitic Manor – currently there is no stormwater drainage at all.
  • Area 15 – at Nikirk and Candlelight Road – the council notes this would be costly to address.
  • Area 2 – Near Hoosier Avenue and Eighth Street.
  • Area 4 – The washout area near Ninth Street.

In 2010, the officials identified at least 19 different areas that needed to be addressed. As time progressed some of these issues began to cause some major issues – including washed out roadways.

The challenge that the Council faces is identifying which projects to complete first with their limited funds.

Even with the grant funding, the town will have to locate additional funds to complete the projects that will cost between $600,000 to $750,000. The grant will require a 10 percent match from the town.

Those other funds will include a loan as well as current reserve water/sewer funds.

The construction and additional costs have not yet been finalized.

Grant Survey

The town is conducting a survey of 39 residents to try and qualify for the grant funding. Officials have until August 15, 2019, to have the survey completed. Officials say that by the August meeting they should have better cost estimates of how much each project will cost.

Jenkins Property 

The contract work near the Jenkins property has not begun. Officials awarded the contract to Tipton Construction. Work has been delayed because poor weather conditions delayed the construction company from completing other projects, thus putting them behind schedule. There were also questions regarding the marking of utility lines which has not been completed.

Oolitic School

There were no other updates on the Oolitic School. Developers are searching for more property around the building to make it more marketable to buyers.

Street Department

The Street Department reported that the new brush drop off site is making their jobs more efficient. So far, they have hauled off 15 loads. The brush drop off site for Oolitic residents is by the Water Treatment Plant.

Councilman Addresses Concerns

Town Councilman Glen Gross addressed some issues that residents have contacted him about.

  • Vegetation blocking motorist’s view at the intersection of  5 Street and Lafayette Avenue.
  • Cedar tree branches are growing out into the roadway at Hillside Drive and 10th Street.
  • Residents on Lafayette Avenue are complaining the street needs to be paved. Zach Bell of Street Department reported they are trying to obtain a Community Crossing grant to pave the road.
  • Complaint on parking on Indiana Avenue – the area gets congested with vehicles parking on the streets.
  •  There was still no action on the chimney repair at the Town Hall, and nothing has been done about insulating the Town Garage.
  • The condition of the snowplows and whether they were ready for the winter season.  Zach Bell reports they are working on acquiring some trucks from the City of Bloomington. They will know around October about the acquisition of a dump truck which they can fit the sander on.

Ted Maze was questioned about enforcing town burn ordinances, to which residents are required to notify the town if they plan to have an open burn in the town limits. Either by informing the Clerk Office, or Fire Department. The fire in question was not attended by the resident, which is a requirement.

Glen Gross questioned officials about town employees not notifying the Town Council before going on vacation. Gross stated that by law employees must notify the council in advance of any vacation.

Gross was also asked about creating more policies for roadblocks the town conducts. This includes safety vests and making sure children have vests. The town normally hosts six roadblocks a year.

The council also asked the town attorney who would be responsible for damage done by cement or concrete trucks on a housing construction project done close to the roadway.  The roadway was severely damaged and needs repaired. Attorney Greg Pitman said it would be the contractors’ responsibility to repair the damage.

The Street Department of Oolitic is back down to only two employees after one of the employees quit after finding a better paying job. The street department employees are paid $14 an hour, and president Bill Kendall told the Town Council that they may need to start looking at a better salary ordinance in the near future.

With only the two employees at the Street Department, they have been able to accomplish a lot of work within the last couple of months.

 Zack Bell reports that they are still about two months behind; however, he gave the Council a report on their progress.

  • Thirteen sewer repairs
  • Nine water leaks fixed
  • Seven storm drains fixed
  • Replaced over 650 feet of  water line
  • Repaired a hydrant over by Rolling Acres

In addition, Bell reported that two issues that the Council wanted to be fixed are now corrected.

Bell also thanked the Clerk/Treasurer for helping him get adjusted to the new job. He also thanked the Town Council for their support as well as Marshall Jon Jefferies and Ted Maze for notifying them of water issues, sewer and other places that need to be taken care of.

“The list is long, but we are working through the list to try to get things taken care of,” stated Bell.

During the meeting resident, Leah Gross asked Town Council member Johny Spears why he was not running for Town Council. Spears replied that he was moving out of the town, and would not be able to run for the position. She also voiced concerns that current Clerk-Treasurer Jessica Staggs home was up for sale and asked if she would be running for office.

President Bill Kendall told Gross she was out of line and should not be asking personal questions in a public meeting. She then asked why other council members were not included in the discussion of the Lawrence County Community Crossings grant, which upset Kendall who requested Town Marshall Jon Jefferies to come to the meeting if Gross continued to ask questions. 

Clerk- Treasurer Jessica Staggs told WBIW that she is a current resident of the Town, and she is running for Clerk-Treasurer and that will not change.