MILFORD — The December 2015 ice storm was fresh on the minds of the Milford Town Council at its first meeting of 2016 Monday evening, Jan. 11.
Council member Doug Ruch echoed comments made by Milford firefighter Scott Mast during public input concerning the establishment of an emergency shelter at the community building, including a generator in the case of power outages like those which rendered Milford largely powerless for 24 hours just before the new year. Ruch also broached the subject at an earlier meeting of the redevelopment commission, which will consider sharing the expense.
According to council president Bob Cockburn, utilities superintendent Randy Veach had already voiced his concern about the lack of a generator several months ago after another storm in 2015 found dozens of stranded motorists from SR 15 taking shelter in the community building, but the council had not taken further action. Cockburn added food could be stored and made available in the event of future emergencies. Mast also commented on the benefits of having medical personnel close by in the case of emergencies.
Town Clerk Joellen Free informed the council the American Red Cross has already designated the building as a shelter. In fact, said Free, Northern Indiana Public Service Company only elevated Milford’s status after a representative from the Red Cross contacted them at her request, as they were not responding to town hall’s calls concerning elderly residents at Leisure Living Apartments, three of whom spent the night at the Milford Fire Station.
The council asked Veach to research the cost of generators and related equipment, as well as the possibility of running auxiliary power to town hall next door.
Other issues facing the council Monday were as follows:
Doug Ruch, a volunteer firefighter, will be appointed to a steering committee formed to study the possibility of forming a new fire territory composed of Milford, Van Buren Township and part of Jefferson Township.
Milford Volunteer Fire Department chief Todd Haines was present to report his station had “about the same” number of runs as last year. The department averages between 100 and 125 runs per year.
The department’s officers will stay the same as in 2015: Todd Haines, fire chief; Rob Brooks and Steve Farber, assistant chiefs; Troy Haines, secretary; Rod Bray, treasurer; Scott Mast and Dan Duncan, training officers.
Town Attorney Jay Rigdon informed the council its ordinance banning solicitation “would not pass a court challenge.” The ordinance had only passed pending Rigdon’s approval; however, Rigdon said any attempts to limit solicitation must prove they “further legitimate government interest” and not impede freedom of speech. The town can, however, require all peddlers to purchase reasonably priced permits. They currently cost $35.
Rigdon also reported hearings on unsafe buildings will be held at 6 p.m. Feb. 3 in town hall. So far there is the possibility of three hearings, one involving a tear-down.
The council passed a motion to pay building commissioner Tom Bulger $50 per hearing.
The council passed an ordinance allowing Tim Graber to rezone his property at the northwest corner of Fourth and Main streets from public use to residential use.
Veach requested $2,326.50 for a portable analyzer for use in the lab and manholes to be purchased. The motion carried.
In police reports, Miotto said two officers, Cody Young and Brian Starr, have started Reserve Academy training.