By David Hazledine
MILFORD — Van Buren Township Trustee Advisory Board held its last regular meeting of 2021 Dec. 8. The meeting was also attended by members of the Milford Volunteer Fire Department, including Chief Virgil Sharp who confirmed the department would be receiving a grant for new mobile radios through the American Rescue Plan.
The grant was made available through the Kosciusko American Rescue Plan Act Committee, county commissioners, and county council.
Until the announcement, there had been questions as to how Milford Fire would pay for the planned countywide upgrade to a new 700 MHz communications system. The department is primarily funded by the Van Buren and Jefferson Township boards and Milford Town Council.
According to Sharp, the grant does not cover new pagers, however, and he obtained a quote to purchase 30 pagers for $20,880, including chargers and a three-year warranty. The board voted to approve the purchase, which will be paid for out of the 2022 cumulative fire fund. The township’s final bill will depend on upcoming decisions from the town council and Jefferson Township. Milford Town Council will meet Dec. 13.
Sharp and Assistant Chief Steve Farber also reported they would be traveling to South Dakota Jan. 3 for the final inspection of the department’s new pumper truck, which had undergone production delays. They expect the truck to be in service before the end of January 2022.
As a result of the delays, the board encumbered $420,871 to 2022 for the final payment on the truck.
Discussion then turned to the railroad track running through Milford just east of the fire station, thereby cutting off residents on the east side of the township from timely fire response when trains are stopped in town and blocking all crossings, an increasingly regular occurrence in recent years.
Advisor Robert Beer expressed his support for stationing a vehicle equipped with water on the east side of the tracks. “We’ve got to help people on the other side of the track,” said Beer, “They pay as much taxes as we do.”
Trustee Becky Alles commented it was a “good time to have a discussion,” and board members agreed to revisit the subject at the Jan. 4 meeting.
Alles reported township assistance was $618.51 for September, $624.75 in October and $934.42 in November. She predicted an increase in assistance requests as heating bills rise.
Alles also reported payments from the cumulative fire fund for pumper truck equipment previously approved by the board totaling $19,128.
The board approved the transfer of $15,000 from the township fund to the rainy day fund. Alles hopes to use the funds for cemetery restoration.
The board voted to renew its contract with Kyle’s Lawn Care LLC., for 2022 at a cost of $6,720 for cemetery lawn care.
The next meeting of Van Buren Township Board will be at 6 p.m. Jan. 4, 2022.