By Leah Sander
WINONA LAKE — The Winona Lake Town Council has approved rules for allowing its members to meet electronically, and did so on Tuesday, June 15, with two members voting virtually.
The council OK’d the resolution with a 5-0 vote at its regular meeting on that date at Winona Lake Town Hall. Council President Rick Swaim, Vice President Denny Duncan and Member Heather James voted in person, and Members Jim Lancaster and Jim Zachary voted online.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state had allowed local government leaders to meet virtually as much as they desired. However, that’s now being limited as the pandemic is ebbing.
“The Legislature has realized that there will be circumstances where people because of COVID or because of other situations may not be able to participate in the meetings in person and so they have changed the statute to allow the participation in electronic meetings,” explained Town Manager Craig Allebach.
The resolution allows the town to comply with new state rules. The resolution reads in part, “A member who participates by an electronic means of communication shall be considered present for purposes of establishing a quorum and may participate in final action only if the member can be seen and heard.”
The resolution also says “a member may not attend more than fifty percent of the meetings in a calendar year by an electronic means of communication unless the member’s electronic participation is due to military service, illness or other medical condition, death of a relative or an emergency involving actual or threatened injury to persons or property.”
Following recommendations developed in Indianapolis, the resolution does require physical attendance on matters involving adopting a budget, making reductions in personnel, imposing or increasing a fee or penalty and establishing, imposing, raising or renewing a tax. The same goes for initiating a referendum or exercising the council’s power of eminent domain.
The full resolution may be found here.
Cherry Creek Update
The council also heard an update from Allebach on work to address an E. coli issue at Cherry Creek.
Jefferson Elementary School students brought the issue to the council’s attention at its last regular meeting in May.
“We met with the students and teachers up at Jefferson as well as The Watershed Foundation and Darci Zolman with the county and we decided to purchase two (dog waste stations), one for each side of the creek and The Watershed Foundation is to donate those and so those are in and I think actually today they were put up,” said Allebach.
“And the students provided me some proofs for some signs … and so we have that given to a marketing group to reproduce those … so we’ll have 16 signs with four different types of sayings on them, so the idea is once we get the signs in, we’ll post four of the signs and then have the others for backup,” he continued. “In the corner of them, they’ve got a QR code and if you click on that, that QR code goes to the (students’) video that you guys saw last month.”
The council also heard various concerns and updates related to Winona Lake trails.
Nick Hauck asked that people remember to wear helmets while riding a bicycle on the off-road mountain bike trails and go in the right directions on them.
“Mountain bikers go one way; walkers and runners go the opposite direction,” he said. Rules for the trails are posted at them.
Winona Lake Police Chief Joe Hawn asked that people contact police as soon as possible to report issues at the trails. People have been delaying reporting problems, which makes it more difficult for the police department to track down the culprits, he said.
He said for non-emergency problems at the trails, people are to call 574-372-9511.
“We’re really moving along on the greenway that runs from Grace College Miller Field to Christ’s Covenant Church,” Allebach told the council.
“The greenway bid … for segment five, which is from Lakeland Christian Academy to Raccoon Run is out and that will be awarded very shortly too,” he said.
In other business, the council:
- Heard from Allebach that the roundabout at Pierceton Road and CR 250E should be finished “in the next month or so.”
- Approved purchasing a leaf vacuum truck from Brown Equipment Co. of Evansville for $181,500.
- Heard about various upcoming activities in Winona Lake.
- The Blackburn Run 4 Others at 9 a.m. Saturday, June 19, at the Trailhouse.
- The Warsaw Breakfast Optimist Club Triathlon at 8 a.m. Saturday, June 26, at Winona Lake Limitless Park (WLLP).
- myTEAM Triumph Firecracker 5K at 9 a.m. Saturday, July 3, at WLLP.
- Winona Lake’s Fourth of July parade at 6 p.m. Saturday, July 3.
- The Symphony of the Lakes’ Salute to America concert at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 3.
- Winona Lake’s fireworks at 10 p.m. or dusk Saturday, July 3.
- The Village at Winona’s Touch-A-Truck event from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, July 17.
The council’s next meeting is 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 20, at Winona Lake Town Hall.