By Keith Knepp
NORTH WEBSTER — Township Trustee Chris Francis and the Tippecanoe Township Advisory Board spent Wednesday evening tying up loose ends in completing their business for 2021. The brief meeting was the last to include the North Webster Fire Department, as beginning next month the newly created North Webster-Tippecanoe Township Fire Territory will blossom into existence.
To that end, it was proposed and agreed upon that the new fire territory’s meetings would take place monthly in 2022, alternating its dates each month to coincide with either the regular township advisory board meeting and the North Webster Town Council meeting. The first scheduled meeting of the fire territory board will take place at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 4, at the Tippecanoe Township building, 102 S. Morton St., and will immediately precede the township advisory board’s first meeting of 2022.
Additionally, it was announced at the meeting that North Webster resident Mark Lawson was approved to be the at-large member of the fire territory board. He will become the fifth member of the board. Lawson was approved by the North Webster Town Council to serve a one-year term on the board. The town council and the township advisory board will alternate approving the fifth member of the board every other year.
North Webster Fire Department Chief Jeremy Likens addressed the advisory board for the final time holding that title. He informed the board that the department responded to total of 92 calls in November, including 21 fire, 66 EMS and five in Noble County as part of its contract. December totals included 62 calls, including 13 fire, 45 EMS and 4 in Noble County. The 2021 totals to date included a total of 834 calls, which was up from 729 the previous year.
Likens also announced that the planned audit of the fire department has been pushed back to 9 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 26, due to some missing training dates data. He said they are “97% done” in preparing for the audit, but need the dates to be completely ready. He also noted that they received eight applications to join the new fire territory department and will be testing six of those applicants and will bring recommendations to the fire territory board next month.
Francis advised the advisory board of potential discrepancies in the proposed 2022 contract with Washington Township in Noble County. The question regarded what services would be contracted with Washington Township and how the billing would be handled. Approval of the contract was tabled pending clarification.
The advisory board also approved Francis’s recommendation to begin the process of acquiring the former theatre building and property in North Webster at a cost of $50,000, with the intention of demolition due to its unsafe nature. Francis said that there was enough money in the 2021 “rainy day” fund to cover the cost of the purchase from the current owner.
Francis provided an update on the removal of the dirt pile at Webster Cemetery and said that the work was nearly complete. Further cleanup work at the cemetery, including removal of natural growth, was tabled until 2022. He also announced that the township budget for 2021 was well into the black, saying that the township’s budget was “well managed this year.”