By Keith Knepp
NORTH WEBSTER — The first part of 2021 was dominated by the establishment of the North Webster-Tippecanoe Township Fire Territory, according to Tippecanoe Township Trustee Chris Francis on the past year’s work of the township board, which includes advisory members Jim Rhodes, Jim Smith and Ed Clayton.
The department will officially become a fire territory in January, but for many it will remain the North Webster Fire Department. It is the third department in the county to become a fire territory.
“The process couldn’t begin until January and it had to be concluded by the end of March,” said Francis. “We were able to get done what was needed, which is a big benefit to the taxpayers.”
Francis added the process is pretty black and white without much room for deviation. Beginning in 2022, the fire territory board will have direct oversight of the fire department.
This past summer, Francis made it a priority to perform cleanup work in the township’s four cemeteries. He personally removed 20 pickup trucks filled with debris and detritus, noting the Town of North Webster was gracious in allowing him to utilize its brush dump to dispose of the unwanted items. Francis noted the last time the cemeteries had been deep cleaned was in the 1980s. He added he performed the work himself since he is already being paid by the township and didn’t see a need to hire the work out to someone else.
Francis said restoration work also was done during the summer on the vinyl fence at Oak Grove Cemetery to remove algae growth that had overtaken it. He received assistance from the North Webster Boy Scout Troop, which he said was a tremendous help.
At the conclusion of summer, the board began working on its budget for next year, including for the new fire territory. The proposed budget given to the town council was slightly less than planned.
In 2021, a new township seal was unveiled. Also, work was done to transfer ownership of the athletic fields to the North Webster Youth League, which will continue to receive subsidy funding from the township.
“Everything I do is in partnership with the advisory board,” Francis concluded. “I value their opinions in the decisions we make.”