WINONA LAKE — Kevin Gelbaugh was welcomed to the table during Winona Lake Town Council’s monthly meeting Tuesday, July 16, after being announced as the new fire chief. Gelbaugh will fill the position previously held by Mitch Titus, who died in May as a result of a workplace accident. Gelbaugh declined to make a public statement at the meeting, but took his place at the table in preparation for his contribution to the portion of the meeting that includes department head reports.
The board also remembered one of its own with Public Works Director Thomas Miller paying public tribute to longtime town employee Pete O’Connell, who died July 8.
“Pete and I worked together for over 27 years and there are a lot of memories,” said Miller. “He was part of my family. I don’t do well with death. I’ve had a lot of it in my family, so I just as soon remember all the good things and know that he loves this community as I do and we all do and move on forward.”
The board unanimously approved Charles Evan Smith as a new reserve police officer and approved a resolution for the town’s comprehensive plan. In a separate vote, the town approved the first reading of an ordinance related to inspections and registrations for rental properties.
Craig Allebach announced upcoming happenings in the town, which include an upcoming Hometown Chat, scheduled for noon on July 24 at the town’s senior center.
The board approved the purchase of new fire hose for $5,416; new garage doors for $12,386.28 and approved a repair request from Miller for an amount not to exceed $10,000 to repair the town’s backhoe.
Miller told the board that his department has been challenged with residents who he says abuse the roadside pickup services provided by public works.
“People are taking advantage of a very good program,” Miller said. “People are going out and cutting tree limbs and bushes and then putting these monstrous piles out there.” Miller said the abuse of the town’s brush pickup is putting too much strain on his department. According to a flyer provided by Miller, residents are to limit their piles of brush to approximately six feel long by three feet high. Limbs are to be limited to six-foot sections and brush and leaves are not to be mixed. Grass clippings, leaves and small sticks and weeds should be placed in biodegradable bags and left for pickup. No bags over 50 pounds are allowed and residents are not to put anything for pickup in the actual street.